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DATE

News (chronologically)

4/26/04

Anton's vision   A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1, I have been hearing radio advertisements for the Indy 500 on Milwaukee, WI radio stations and it's almost May.  My God, how bad are the ticket sales that they have to advertise in Milwaukee?  Way to go Anton.  This must be the vision you had eight years ago. Arno Fritz, Milwaukee, WI  Dear Arno, His vision has destroyed an entire sport. Like we said on numerous occasions, if Tony was the President of any normally run company, he would have been fired years ago.  So flawed was his vision he had to do a 180-degree about-face and try to morph the IRL into what CART once was.  In doing so he not only pissed off the loyal CART fans, he has now managed to piss off the oval short trackers who supported his all-American, all-oval concept in the beginning.  With the oval cartel's financial support Tony may have the hammer to nail CART's coffin shut, but he's smashed just about every finger on his two hands and he's still swinging. Run for cover. If he gets ahold of Long Beach, he'll destroy that last open wheel American stronghold too.  We predict that Champ Car fans will be so pissed if Long Beach becomes an IRL race that there will be a near 100% boycott of the event by Champ Car fans.  Tony will have to bus in the short trackers from the Midwest who despise street racing.  That ought to go over real well.  As a contingency plan, Champ Car is planning a big street race in the LA area on the same weekend as Long Beach if they lose Long Beach.  We suspect the fans will follow Champ Car to the new venue which should assure the complete collapse of the Long Beach Grand Prix.  May it rest in peace. We shall cherish the fond memories.  Mark C.

4/26/04

Four complete Indy rookie orientation   Ed Carpenter, Kosuke Matsuura, Mark Taylor and Luis Diaz passed the four required speed phases during Rookie Orientation Program activities April 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Jeff Simmons and Marty Roth completed three of the four phases and are eligible to participate in practice during the Month of May. Larry Foyt tested for A.J. Foyt Racing but did not have to complete the speed phases due to his previous high-speed experience. The Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is designed to provide first-year drivers an informal opportunity to get acquainted with the 2.5-mile oval. Drivers had to complete four 10-lap speed phases, which were set by IRL Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Brian Barnhart based on the weather and track conditions. They were: Phase 1: 195-200 mph; Phase 2: 200-205 mph; Phase 3: 205-210 mph; and Phase 4: 210 mph-plus. In other IndyCar Series news, Felipe Giaffone was named as the replacement for recently retired Robbie Buhl in the No. 24 Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Giaffone will make his debut as the IndyCar Series Open Test, which has been rescheduled for Wednesday, April 28 and Thursday, April 29 due to anticipated cold weather in the Indianapolis area.  IRL

4/26/04

Speedway pioneer terminally ill  Fluella Ummel, a long time member of CART's Race Control Staff is terminally ill and is receiving hospice care at home in Syracuse, Indiana. Fluella came to the Indy Speedway in the 60's and made history as the first female course observer ever. She was CART's "Recorder" in Race Control from the early days of the organization until the late 90's. Her husband, Eldon, was the Pace Car Official during that same period. Her smiling face and optimistic disposition made her a legend in the organization even though she mostly remained behind the scenes. Both she and Eldon also managed the Stant/Ideal hospitality suite in the Speedway's Gasoline Alley during the month of May for many years. Please keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers!  Her address is 1011 E. Northshore Dr., Syracuse, IN 46567.

4/26/04

Cold weather postpones Indy 500 test   Due to forecast highs in the 50s, the IndyCar(R) Series Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been rescheduled to Wednesday, April 28, and Thursday, April 29. It was originally scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, April 27-28.  [Editor's Note: They must have memories of Tony Renna.  One of the theories for his crash was that it was too cold for the tires.]
WHAT: IRL IndyCar Series Open Test
WHEN: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Thursday, April 29, 2004
WHERE: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

4/26/04

PacifiCare to sponsor Junqueira for 500   Newman/Haas Racing unveiled its program for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in advance of a two-day open test scheduled for April 27-28. Brazilian Bruno Junqueira, who has competed for the team since 2003, will drive a PacifiCare-sponsored Honda/G-Force/Firestone entry in the event set for May 30.  More....

4/26/04

Honda adds Newman/Haas for Indy 500   Honda has further strengthened its lineup for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 with the addition of a one-car entry from Newman/Haas Racing for driver Bruno Junqueira. The addition of the Newman/Haas team gives Honda a total of 11 entries for the 500-mile classic, the largest ever for the manufacturer.  Brazilian Junqueira, now in his second season with Newman/Haas, will drive a PacifiCare-sponsored Honda/G-Force/Firestone entry for the team. In his first Indianapolis 500 in 2001, Junqueira earned "Rookie of the Year" for his fifth-place finish after starting 20th. The following year he won the pole and led the first 32 laps before mechanical problems ended his race.  More....

4/26/04

Drake gets IPS ride for Indy   Jay Drake climbed out of his sprint car after a victory in Anderson, Ind., on April 18 and climbed into an IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series™ car on April 23 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Drake, 34, of Val Verde, Calif., completed a deal with team owner Gary Peterson less than 24 hours before taxiing onto the historic 2.5-mile oval in the No. 25 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Inc. Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone during an Open Test in preparation for the Futaba Freedom 100 on May 22.  Drake got in 33 laps (fast of 178.518 mph) in the afternoon session of the Open Test, which had 16 driver/car combinations. It was the second time ever in an Indy-style car for Drake, who completed his IRL rookie test in 1999 at Texas Motor Speedway.

“It’s very exciting to first of all run this type of race car,” said Drake, who won the fifth running of the Glen Niebel Classic to open the Valvoline National Sprint Car Series season at Anderson Speedway in the No. 20 Tony Stewart Racing Mopar/Vital Express Beast/Mopar. “It was fun. We only had the last hour, but I got to turn a few laps there, so it was a valuable day. If nothing else, I got to run some laps around Indianapolis, which has been a lifelong dream of mine.

“Right at the end there, I was starting to get comfortable, and started running laps at speed. I wish we would have had the whole day because I think we really would have made some progress. Nevertheless, we’ll get to come back race weekend and at least be that much farther ahead. We learned a lot today.

“Just to drive around the (Speedway) in a passenger car was a big thrill for me. To actually go out here and run a race car at speed and get to come back and actually run a race is something I’ve always dreamed of doing and never thought I’d have the opportunity to do. So this is a huge opportunity for me and something I’m looking forward to.”

4/26/04

Mexico gets it, Champ Car goes to the movies  No, Stallone is not making another bad movie about Champ Cars. Starting this past Saturday a lot of movie theaters in Monterrey, Mexico are showing a commercial for the Monterrey Grand Prix just before the feature movie. It's on big screen, in Digital Dolby, and it's just like you see in the USA Coke commercials for NASCAR.  Why is it that Champ Car can't do this in the USA? Jose Arrambide/AutoRacing1.com

4/26/04

Bernie apologizes to Button  Bernie Ecclestone told Autosport that he apologized to Jenson Button for his suggestion to BAR team principal David Richards to "think again" after signing the Briton from Renault at the end of the 2002 season. Jenson scored his third successive podium finish at Imola on Sunday, and Ecclestone was big enough to admit he was wrong to question Richards' decision. "I apologized to Jenson," said Ecclestone. "I didn't think he was going to get the job there, so I apologized afterwards. Now I'm more happy for him than his father, to be honest!"

4/26/04

Spoiler change coming  Nextel Cup director John Darby says teams will have to cut one-half inch off of the cars' spoilers before the race at Chicago on July 11. Many teams have reserved tests anticipating the change. FoxSports/Sporting News

4/26/04

Robbie Buhl retires   UPDATE Felipe Giaffone was confirmed Sunday as the replacement Indy Racing League driver for the retiring Robbie Buhl at Indianapolis-based Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Another ride-buying foreigner takes the place of an American in the IRL. The irony of it all. 4/23/04 - Robbie Buhl will watch IRL IndyCar® Series races from the other side of pit wall.  After 21 years in the driver’s seat, Buhl announced his retirement on April 23. He will remain co-owner of the No. 24 Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone entry with Dennis Reinbold.  “It was not an easy decision,” said Buhl, 40, a Detroit native and Cleveland resident. “My life has been racing, but personal goals continue to evolve for all of us. I remember when my goal was just to drive in the Indy 500. Now I’ve started in the front row, started in the back row, and I’ve led the race. I may leave some unfinished business at the Brickyard, but this is the right decision for everyone -- my family, my team, and me. I’m healthy, happy, and walking away on my own terms.”   Dreyer and Reinbold will announce a new driver for the No. 24 entry next week. Longtime team sponsors Purex and Aventis will remain with Buhl’s team, with the expected addition of new partners.  “I worked hard in the off-season, and I’m probably in the best shape I’ve ever been in as a driver,’’ said Buhl, one of two active drivers from the inaugural IRL 1996 season. “But the mental part of this sport requires 110 percent of your attention 110 percent of the time, and it was just my time to say ‘enough.’ IRL  [Editor's Note: Our sources tell us Purex cut way back on the sponsorship and the team had to seek a funded driver to survive...so Robbie was semi-forced into retirement. No one voluntarily retires right before Indy, the biggest race. Felipe Giaffone and Max Papis are two names among many who are rumored interested in the ride.]  

4/26/04

Traction Control has to go  I was at Tosa (a turn at Imola) and it was quite apparent to me how ridiculous it was that the premier racing series in the world has traction control. Not one car the entire race got even a small wiggle coming out of the corner. They simply got on the gas out of the corner, put their foot down, and there was that insulting gurgling of the traction control until the power came on full. I know it's not easy to drive the things, but hell....the best drivers in the world shouldn't have traction control, and the FIA should ban it. I think it is a joke. Maybe the racing wouldn't be so bad if the driver's skill had a little more to do with it. I race F2000 Zetec, which have only 160hp, but even in those there is tremendous driver input getting the power down. It matters how you drive it. Shouldn't that be the case in F1? It was great being in Imola, but the "race" was boring. Not one pass for position in Tosa. Yawn!!!!! I read the site first thing every morning when I get to work. Thanks for telling the truth...someone has to. Ira Fierberg, USF2000 Zetec Championship, #27

4/26/04

ALMS teams, drivers lead way in LeMans test  Racing teams from the American Le Mans Series led a record-shattering day in the GTS and GT classes and two former series driving champions were in the fastest overall car of the day Sunday as 52 teams tested for the 72nd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The world's most famous endurance race will be held June 12-13. Former series driving champions Allan McNish and Frank Biela were aboard the Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx Audi R8 that was the fastest car of the day in eight hours of testing at the 8.46-mile Circuit de La Sarthe.  More....

4/25/04

First Champ Car race on Spike TV bombs  2nd UPDATE Champ Car got a small bump in their TV rating for Long Beach. When the live HD Net rating was added to the Spike TV rating the number of viewers jumped from 319,000 to 411,000.  Still nothing to brag about, but a bigger increase than we expected for high definition.  Apparently people are really starting to buy into the high-definition sets.  We are trying to determine how many more watched the live internet broadcast using the new Race Director feature on the Champ Car website.  Perhaps they broke 1/2 million total viewers.  Mark C.   4/22/04 - A reader responds, Dear AutoRacing1, While it would be terrific to have Champ Car races on network, let's be realistic. The only way Champ Car can get onto one of the big 4 is via enormously expensive time buys. Open Wheel racing just isn't drawing viewership numbers big enough to justify any other scenario. The IRL may be on ABC, but that's purely a byproduct of the Indy 500 - if they were to try to get a separate TV package for their other races it would be on a time-buy basis, the viewer numbers just aren't there. So it's a chicken and egg situation. Champ Car has to rebuild its fan base, stabilize its market identity, improve its marketing and gradually build viewership numbers until the networks come knocking. Any other approach is unsustainable, as established by that bankrupt company known as CART. Don't forget to add in Fox Espanol along with HDNet, and be sure you consider the whole International TV package once that's established and stabilized. How about a number for total households in North America - Canada and Mexico included? It would have been nice if your headline were "Spike Long Beach ratings increase 235%" rather than "ratings bomb". The glass is half full, my friend. Lando Magee, Houston, Texas  Dear Lando, While you make some good points (especially about combining all the various ratings to give a total no. of viewers - OWRS needs to publish this), you must know that we look at it on a cost per viewer basis.  Certainly CBS costs much more per broadcast when in a time buy situation.  However, CBS races generally garner from 1.5 to 1.8 million viewers for each Champ Car race.  Compare that to the 319,000 that tuned in last Sunday.  That's 5 times more viewers.  If the cost on CBS isn't five times more (it's not) than CBS is cheaper on a per viewer basis.  How does a team walk into a potential sponsors office and try to sell them with a 0.2 TV rating?  How many engine manufacturers are going to want to build engines for a series with 0.2 TV ratings? Of course TV ratings are not everything, but they are the cheapest way to reach eyeballs, which in turn helps to sell sponsorship.  It's a vicious circle.  Since most of the races are taped delayed on Spike in the majority of households anyway, they would be better off broadcasting the races in Prime Time on Sunday evenings.  The ratings would be far higher.  The Indy 500 used to get ratings of 14 and 15 when it was taped delayed in Prime Time on ABC.  When they made it live in the afternoon the TV Ratings plummeted to under 10 and now down to 4+.  Mark C.  4/21/04 - We made a big pitch last year about why OWRS needed to move more races to CBS, not less.  Well they decided not to put any on network TV and now they are paying the price.  The final rating on Spike TV for this weekend's Champ Car race in Long Beach was a 0.2/0.5 Share with 205,000 households (319,000 viewers) tuned in. This number does not include those tuned in to HDNet and to the internet broadcast (we will attempt to get a cumulative number). Dangerous Curves got an additional 175,000 households at 10:30 AM Sunday morning.  While pathetically low, last year's Long Beach race on SPEED TV garnered only 87,000 households, so it's 235% higher in 2004.  Paul Gentilozzi said Viacom was really going to get behind Champ Car.  Well they had better start advertising the race broadcasts on CBS and MTV soon, because if they don't embrace Champ Car fully, forget about it.  Mark C.

4/25/04

Ecclestone demands F1 shake-up This Agence France-Presse article says, Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone called here on Sunday for the FIA to rush through radical rule changes after admitting the sport has "become lazy" and needs a "shake-up."  The sport's governing body, the FIA, announced plans for a meeting with Formula One team bosses in Monaco on May 4 to discuss changes proposed for 2008 when the current contract that governs the sport comes to an end.

But Ecclestone believes the sport needs to act immediately to improve its entertainment value after five-time world champions Ferrari dominated the opening races of the year.

"Its about time we went back to basics," said Ecclestone. "Well, it is back to the future actually. We need a big improvement, we need to stand back and look at what we are doing wrong.  Maybe we can bring the changes forward if we can get unanimous agreement. We need a bit of a shake-up because we got lazy and we need to give good value to television and to the public."

The proposals include ideas such as a change of engine size, a ban on driver aids, more changes to qualifying and a rule that will allow teams to hire or buy cars from each other to reduce costs. [Editor's Note: The only issue is the fact that Schumacher is head and shoulders above the other drivers and that is why he is winning all the races.  If it was the car Barrichello would be finishing 2nd each week and he is not.  To shake-up a sport because one athlete is simply better than all the rest is preposterous.]

4/25/04

Alonso blames Ralf Ten laps from the end of the race in Imola today, Fernando Alonso attacked Ralf Schumacher under braking at Tosa. Although he put his Renault alongside Ralf’s FW26 the German turned in, effectively closing the door, which resulted in the two touching. It was a close call, though; it could just as easily be said that Fernando was too ambitious. "I tried to overtake him and he closed the door, unfortunately we touched. At least we both finished the race (Ralf claimed seventh), so that was okay. I think he saw me trying to pass, and he closed the door in a bad way,” the Spaniard said. Renault's Engineering Director Pat Symonds was not as polite: "Fernando's aggressive drive nearly came to nothing after another dubious maneuver by Ralf, but I hope the stewards will come to the right conclusion." The stewards are indeed now investigating the incident - which is bad news for Ralf after he was given a reprimand by stewards in Bahrain for his accident with Takuma Sato.

4/25/04

Papis/Fellows/O'Connell Corvette smashes LeMans record The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team set record times today during preliminary testing in Le Mans, France. The open test day is the only time participants in the sports car classic can run on the famed Sarthe track before qualifying in June. The day was used by the two factory Corvettes and some 50 other entrants to prepare their cars and acquire important data from this rarely used circuit. The #63 Corvette C5-R, driven by Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Max Papis recorded a best time of 3:49.982; the #64 Corvette C5-R, driven by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen recorded a best lap of 3:50.079. The times represent a significant leap in development, with the two cars besting last year’s test session times by roughly 10 seconds.  [Editor's Note: Amazing what happens when you get rid of inferior Goodyear rubber and switch to Michelins.  The tires are the biggest reason for their increase in speed.]  

“We tested over 11,000 miles since last season in preparation for Le Mans,” said Harry Turner, GM’s group manager for Corvette Racing. “We’ve improved on virtually every single aspect of the program; the times we posted and the efficiency we showed is better than we expected and it is due to the hard work of everyone at Corvette Racing.”  The works Corvettes put on a display of absolute efficiency, with both running nearly the same number of practice laps despite different testing priorities; both also eclipsed even the faster, lighter prototype cars in total laps completed.

“This is representative of our tremendous team effort to constantly improve ourselves,” said Doug Fehan, program manager for Corvette Racing. “We talked about our improvement all winter, now we’ve walked it.”

Team members evaluated a variety of modifications specifically engineered for the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition, the drivers provided feedback on the new side windows, front fascia fairings and a different rear wing angle—all developed for the high-speed straights of Le Mans.

“I am extremely proud to be a part of the Corvette family today,” said Max Papis, driver of the #63 Corvette C5-R that set the fastest GTS lap in practice. “Everyone here works very hard and I was provided a great environment to drive well. All three of us on the team are comfortable with the way the car feels and we are excited for the race in June. This is a real team.”

Merely two tenths of one second separated the two Chevrolets, a remarkable feat considering the 8.46-mile length of the Sarthe. Both cars beat last year’s test and qualifying times by a significant margin while the closest competitor in today’s session was more than three seconds behind.

Combined Practice Times – Gran Tourisme (GTS) Class No. Car Drivers Best Time
63 Corvette C5-R Fellows, O’Connell, Papis 3:49.982
64 Corvette C5-R Gavin, Beretta, Magnussen 3:50.079
69 Ferrari 550 M Bouchut, Goueslard 3:54.105
66 Ferrari 550 M Enge, Kox, Menu 3:54.115
65 Ferrari 550 M Rydell, Turner, McCrae 3:56.026
62 Ferrari 575 GTC Hezemans, Barde, Deletraz 4:00.780
61 Ferrari 575 GTC Bosch, Sullivan, Biagi 4:04.394
60 Pagani Zonda Alliot, Hallyday, Kumpen 4:14.394

4/25/04

Imola Highlights
Four out of four
Blind or stupid?
Not enough pace
Alonso investigated
Not quick enough
First point
Faster than Kimi
What's da Matta?
Eight cylinders
Bruni's bad brakes
Double retirement
Drivers escape sanction
Ralf blocked Rubens
Sato looks ahead
Down on power
David takes a risk
Birthday boy

4/25/04
F3000

Liuzzi wins at Imola   Vitantonio Liuzzi took a convincing win in the first round of the FIA International Formula 3000 Championship held at Imola on Saturday afternoon. The Arden International driver, who has been touted as a strong title favorite, took his Lola B2/50 to register his first win at this level.  The Italian led from pole position and controlled the race immediately, opening up a healthy gap to his pursuers, even re-joining after his pit stop still at the head of the field. The former World Karting Champion, who is managed by former Lotus F1 boss Peter Collins, took the flag 8.8 seconds clear of countryman Enrico Toccocelo to open his and Arden’s account for the 2004 season.

"It's unbelievable to finally win, especially after last year when I was really close to the victory in Hungary," said a happy Tonio. "We worked really hard in the winter and during the practice yesterday. So I think we did quite a good job. I'm really happy about everything!”  Second place for Toccocelo sealed the Spanish BCN Competicion’s best ever result in what is their second year in F3000. The experienced Italian was happy to be on the podium at his home track, saying. “I kept up with Liuzzi´s pace on the first part of the race, but unfortunately some drivers blocked me after my pit stop and I lost time. But I´m very satisfied and have a good feeling for the next race at Barcelona.”

Completing an excellent weekend for Arden, Robert Doornbos grabbed a podium place in his first F3000 event, delighting team boss Christian Horner. “For a rookie Robert kept his cool. He made a great start and we timed the stop well. To finish third on his debut was excellent."

Pre-season pace setter Jose Maria Lopez showed that he could be a threat to the Arden team later in the season with a spectacular display that should have seen him claim a podium position. However the Argentine crashed his CMS Lola at the tricky Variante Alta chicane when in 3rd place, just after setting the fastest lap of the race at 1m39.847s.

Results
Pos. Driver Nation. Team Time
1. V. Liuzzi ITA Arden International 52:46.960
2. E. Toccacelo ITA BCN Competicion 52:55.813
3. R. Doornbos NEL Arden International 53:18.048
4. R. Gianmaria ITA AEZ I.E. Engineering 53:20.465
5. T. Enge CZE Ma-Con 53:21.475
6. J. Van Hooydonk BEL Coloni Motorsport 53:31.021
7. Y. Schroeder FRA Durango 53:32.782
8. A. van der Merwe RSA Super Nova Racing 53:32.997
9. P. Friesacher AUT Super Nova Racing 53:33.321
10. T. Schmidt GER Ma-Con 53:46.118
11. J. Heylen BEL Team Astromega 54:01.951
12. M. Lauda AUT CMS Performance 54:14.103
13. R. Ribeiro BRA Durango 54:26.160
14. F. Monfardini ITA AEZ I.E. Engineering 53:00.172
15. N. Verdonck BEL Team Astromega 53:01.180
Not Classified
J. Lopez ARG CMS Performance 29:19.826
E. Guerrieri ITA BCN Competicion 17:18.835
C. Artam TUR Coloni Motorsport 5:44.540
Fastest Lap
J. Lopez ARG CMS Performance 1:39.847

4/25/04

Ferrari will fight to keep Imola   Ferrari will fight to keep threatened Imola on the Formula One calendar after Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix, says company president Luca di Montezemolo.   "Italy remaining with just one grand prix is unthinkable," the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper quoted him as saying. "I am sorry that there are problems when everything seemed to be resolved," he added.  "We are tied to Imola and we will defend it."

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone said earlier in the year that the circuit near Bologna, which is looking for government funding to upgrade the facilities, would be making its final appearance on the calendar this season.  The Formula One championship has already been stretched to an unprecedented 18 races this year and Turkey is due to make its debut in 2005.

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari's six-times world champion who won that race and has a better record than any driver at Imola, said this week he would do what he could to keep Imola's hopes alive.  "It's good to come here. Obviously, we all know about the rumors about the future of the San Marino Grand Prix. So, from my side, I hope that they don't come true," he said.  "If I can do anything, then I will try. But I think there is very little in my hands to do."  A banner displayed in the main grandstand opposite the pits on Sunday tried to look on the bright side: "Bernie: Imola...looking forward to seeing you at GP 2005," it said.  Reuters

4/25/04

Mosley: FIA will do as it sees fit   After unveiling his blueprint for the future of F1, FIA president Max Mosley has said that next month's meeting in Monaco will merely serve to give the various Formula One team bosses a chance to express their views on the future of the sport - because the FIA will force through whatever rules it sees fit in time for the 2008 season.

In the interest of democracy, he has invited all ten F1 team owners - plus a technical person from each operation - to a Monaco summit in two weeks to allow them a voice in the future direction of the sport.

"I believe the teams, including the most successful ones such as Ferrari, will agree to the changes we're proposing, because they are all suffering because the costs have got completely out of control," the president told BBC Sport.

"Quite a few will agree to a lot of the changes even without much persuasion, but it doesn't really matter because, from 1 January 2008, the Concorde Agreement is no longer in force, so the FIA can do whatever it wants. That will be the rule book for the 2008 world championship - at which point, people will have to decide whether they want to enter or not."

"All of these things should make the racing closer and more exciting but, at the same time, [bring] the costs down dramatically, which will reduce the difference between the top teams and the teams with smaller budgets," he reasoned, "And we hope the combination of all those things will make the racing a great deal more entertaining to watch."

"If certain teams want to break away, fine - there will still be plenty left in the FIA world championship, including Minardi," said Stoddart, "But it won't happen. There will not be a breakaway. It's a non-starter."

"It's sad [that] we are going to have another round of discussions to discuss what we have already discussed," he sighed, "We are getting closer to finding a solution for all the problems in F1, and hopefully these meetings in Monaco will go some way towards doing it - but I have my doubts. It takes a long time to decide anything, and when you think you've decided something, it all changes again.  It's about time people actually woke up to themselves, sat down and sorted out the problems instead of pretending to do it. It should be like electing a pope - put everybody in a room, lock the bloody doors and nobody leaves until the white smoke comes out of the chimney!"

4/25/04

Weather update from Imola   UPDATE Clouds still hang over Imola on Sunday morning after a deluge of rain overnight. There is still standing water around the circuit after the twelve hour shower but the chance of more rain has lessened. Latest forecasts say there could be more rain tonight but the chances of a wet race now seem slim. However members of Renault are still making preparations for a damp track with predictions often wrong.  4/24/04 - A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, It is 8:45PM in Bologna, and a storm has just rolled into town in the last hour. It is raining and there are high winds. It was very hot and sunny at the track today all day, but that now appears to be over. Ciao. Ira Fierberg, Hermosa Beach, CA; Bologna, IT.

4/25/04
Drifting

Attention Florida Drifters  Due to the success of the first DRIFT MIAMI we have been inundated with questions about how someone can get started drifting and where can they practice. Well, ask no more. DRIFT MIAMI, in conjunction with Hialeah Speedway and Combustion Inc., is pleased to announce that we will be holding a Drifting Practice and Clinic at Hialeah Speedway Sunday, May 2nd. If you are new to Drifting here is your chance to try out what is the fastest growing form of motorsport in the United States in a controlled, safe and legal environment. If you have Drifting experience this is your chance to sharpen your skills and test your vehicle. Some of Florida's best Drifters will be in attendance to answer your questions and give you some tips in the art of the Drift. Registration is from 9:00 to 10:00am Sunday morning. The Drifting starts at 10:00 and runs till 2:30pm. All cars must be safety inspected and all participants must wear a helmet and have a valid Drivers License. Pre-Registration is $25.00 Go to www.sfmreport.com to pre-register using Pay-Pal Registration the day of the event is $30.00 $5.00 (spectators) So mark Sunday, May 2nd 9:00am on your calendar and get ready to Drift!

4/25/04

Reminder - Live timing  This is a reminder that we implemented a new F1 live timing feature on AutoRacing1.com.  Whenever the F1 cars are on the track during a race weekend, the live timing window is active.  You can access the live timing page via our F1 Page or by clicking here.  Next up is the race from Imola at 8:00 AM EDT.

4/25/04

Latest F1 News in brief 
Button plans Imola win
Ralf distracted?
Race rain 'definite'
Be patient, Kimi - Ron Dennis
Teams complained about BAR wing
Rossi invited to second F1 test
Zsolt gets new engine 
Zanardi at Imola
Schu village demolished
No smoke at Imola start
Minardi to stay in 2008
Michelin to leave 'control' F1?
Brit GP has '50/50' future
More horses for Button
More Ferrari developments
Rossi to emulate Surtees?
Is 'safe' F1 still spectacular?
Wouldn't swap his Button
Senna looked serene
Lock the doors - Stoddart
Senna wanted Ferrari drive

4/25/04

Bridgestone wants to stay in F1  The FIA's latest proposals to bring down costs in F1 includes a proposal to move toward a single tire supplier to eliminate the tire war.  This would reduce the escalation of speeds and reduce costs.  Bridgestone has gone on record as saying they are interested in staying in F1, tire war or not.  Michelin is not so sure.  A Bridgestone spokesman said: "We have a commitment to Formula 1, we want to work with the manufacturers in the sport and there are also a number of technical benefits relating to road car tires which evolve through competing in motor sport. We would want to be involved whether there is competition or not."  Michelin's competitions boss Pierre Dupasquier said: "We came into F1 at the request of some of our partners who thought, and still think by the way, that going with us could give them an advantage over Bridgestone.  If there is no longer competition, then perhaps there is no longer any point, but we weren't thinking about that when we came in and we haven't given the matter serious thought yet. There is a long time to go before 2008 so we will sit and wait to see what transpires with the FIA."

4/24/04

IPS test times at Indy  Thiago Medeiros, in the No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry, topped the speed chart at 46.9930 seconds, 191.518 mph, in the afternoon session to lead Open Testing for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series on April 23 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Teammate Arie Luyendyk Jr. was second (47.0626 seconds; 191.275). "It was wonderful," said Medeiros, who is coming off a victory in the Phoenix 100. "We were quick in the morning and then quickest in the afternoon, too. The track will be very different in May because there will be 10 days of IndyCar Series rubber. We're just trying to find the baseline set-up to start the race weekend since we don't have much time to work during the race weekend."  The Futaba Freedom 100 will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. (EDT) on May 22.
FASTEST SPEEDS OF MORNING SESSION
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1 11 Thiago Medeiros D/I/F 190.714 mph
2 91 Paul Dana D/I/F 190.586 mph
3 5 Arie Luyendyk Jr. D/I/F 189.839 mph
4 24 Brad Pollard D/I/F 188.449 mph
5 2 Phil Giebler D/I/F 188.175 mph
FASTEST SPEEDS OF AFTERNOON SESSION
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1 11 Thiago Medeiros D/I/F 191.518 mph
2 5 Arie Luyendyk Jr. D/I/F 191.275 mph
3 4 Marty Roth D/I/F 191.051 mph
4 91 Paul Dana D/I/F 190.315 mph
5 2 Phil Giebler D/I/F 190.293 mph
FASTEST SPEEDS OF COMBINED SESSIONS
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1 11 Thiago Medeiros D/I/F 191.518 mph
2 5 Arie Luyendyk Jr. D/I/F 191.275 mph
3 4 Marty Roth D/I/F 191.051 mph
4 91 Paul Dana D/I/F 190.586 mph
5 2 Phil Giebler D/I/F 190.293 mph

4/24/04

IRL TV rating for Japan tanks  If you thought Champ Car's TV rating for Long Beach was bad on Spike TV (0.2), the IRL's TV rating on ESPN2 for Motegi, Japan was even worse.  While the race got a terrible 0.9 last year on ABC, this year on ESPN2 it plummeted to a 0.1, a drop of 89%.  Neither series has a loyal enough fan base to get a decent rating on a cable channel.  Either they pay to put them on network TV and get around a 1.0 give or take 1/2 a point, or they go invisible on cable TV. 

4/24/04

Latest F1 News in brief from Imola 
Jenson on the Button
Schu nearly lost it
Montoya amazed
Still quite nervous
Sato overdrives
Klien avoids penalty
Loss of concentration
Raikkonen woe - again
Fisichella's gearbox broke
Pantano outpaces
Minardi not proud
Montoya ran light
Life's exciting moments
They disagree
Ferrari onlookers
Old team admire Jenson
Button on fumes

4/24/04
World Series by Nissan

Firman quits World Series by Nissan  Ex-F1 driver Ralph Firman has quit the Gabord Competition team because he was very unhappy with the car. So his seat is vacant now. Gabord will start here in Zolder with Juan Cruz Alvarez only. The main problem at Gabord is that all the good mechanics and engineers from last year (championship with Franck Montagny) left for the newly founded Pons Racing, and Gabord hired a whole bunch of inexperienced people. Firman already left for LeMans to do some testing there. Guenter Reinhold/Autoracing1.com reporting from Zolder

4/24/04

Tire flex really noticeable  A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, I could not help but notice how much the drivers were getting their cars sideways at Imola today during qualifying.  The drivers were throwing their cars around and bouncing off the curbs and hanging their tail way out.  It was impressive. The drivers hands looked like they were going almost full lock to full lock.  How come Champ Cars look like they are always on rails?  Joseph Anthony Marconi  Dear Joseph, Impressive indeed.  Champ Cars look like they are on rails because 1) They weigh almost as much as a Sherman Tank, 2) Their low profile tires have a short and stiff sidewall, which contributes to the overall stiffness rate of the suspension.  As can be seen in the photo to the right taken today at Imola of the McLaren, the deflection of the tire sidewall is noticeable, even on TV.  Hence why a F1 car is much more exciting to watch than a railroad car (oops we mean Champ Car).  This is why the next generation Champ Car must scrap their 15" wheels and go to a smaller 13" wheel with higher, more flexible tire sidewalls.  They also must take weight out of the behemoth, lethargic, drive-on-rails, monsters.  The devils in the details as they say.  Mark C.

4/24/04

Montoya destroys track record in qualifying at Imola 

 P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
 1. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'19"805 222.527 Km/h 3 (First lap ever under 1:20)
2. 4 R. SCHUMACHER Williams BMW M 1'20"423 + 0'00"618 3
3. 1 M. SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'20"440 + 0'00"635 3
4. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'20"566 + 0'00"761 3
5. 9 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'20"632 + 0'00"827 3
6. 11 FISICHELLA Sauber Petronas B 1'20"716 + 0'00"911 3
7. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'20"927 + 0'01"122 3
8. 10 SATO BAR Honda M 1'20"984 + 0'01"179 3
9. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'21"181 + 0'01"376 3
10. 17 PANIS Toyota M 1'21"231 + 0'01"426 3
11. 14 WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth M 1'21"458 + 0'01"653 3
12. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'21"669 + 0'01"864 3
13. 16 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'21"737 + 0'01"932 3
14. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'21"799 + 0'01"994 3
15. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas B 1'22"154 + 0'02"349 3
16. 15 KLIEN Jaguar Cosworth M 1'22"246 + 0'02"441 3
17. 18 HEIDFELD Jordan Ford B 1'23"055 + 0'03"250 3
18. 19 PANTANO Jordan Ford B 1'24"643 + 0'04"838 3
19. 20 BRUNI Minardi Cosworth B 1'26"463 + 0'06"658 3
20. 21 BAUMGARTNER Minardi Cosworth B 1'27"319 + 0'07"514 3

4/24/04

V10 to V8 will not save money  The F1 engine formula currently utilizes 3.0-litre V10 engines and a raft of proposals released by the sport's governing body recommends a change to 2.4-litre V8s in the interests of reducing costs and curtailing performance levels. BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen of BMW said, however: “The objectives we fully support but I'd be careful to keep the objectives apart from the solutions. Cost reduction is the most urgent thing and I think we should try to get that done before 2008. Given that, we would not propose a different engine format. If we move from 3.0-litre V10s to 2.4-litre V8s, it will mean that for one year we will have to do two engines in parallel. The costs of the V8 would be no more than 5 percent lower and so, in total, it wouldn't be a cost reduction. But, we support extending engine life, even beyond two races. That would take power down and mean a massive cost cut. I think we need to spend a bit more thought on it.” The FIA is likely to counter, however, that the capacity cuts are the most effective way to reduce performance, and point out that this year's doubling of the engine mileage has not, in fact, reduced power. Theissen's opposite number at McLaren Mercedes, Norbert Haug, said: “My personal view is that a change of engine regulations doesn't help to save money. Two cylinders less to save money on parts, I don't think is the right choice.” Haug emphasized, however, that Mercedes-Benz and McLaren will play a full and constructive part in the FIA's forthcoming discussions.  Autosport [Editor's Note: As we have said time and again, if Champ Car switched to a V10 engine, it would not necessarily mean a rise in cost, 5% perhaps.  What is key to keeping costs down is the banning of exotic materials and, as Mario Theissen points out,  extending engine life to more than two races.  Recall the original six race proposal.  A six race engine would reduce power, but most importantly cut engine rebuild costs by a factor of six - a massive savings.]

4/24/04

Schumacher again nips Button, leads Free Practice #4 at Imola 

 P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
1. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'20"125 221.639 Km/h 7
2. 9 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'20"150 + 0'00"025 15
3. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'20"844 + 0'00"719 13
4. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'20"844 + 0'00"719 10
5. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'20"975 + 0'00"850 7
6. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'20"996 + 0'00"871 10
7. 10 SATO BAR Honda M 1'21"159 + 0'01"034 14
8. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'21"198 + 0'01"073 12
9. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'21"199 + 0'01"074 14
10. 16 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'21"257 + 0'01"132 13
11. 4 R.SCHUMACHER Williams BMW M 1'21"271 + 0'01"146 10
12. 17 PANIS Toyota M 1'21"296 + 0'01"171 12
13. 14 WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth M 1'21"393 + 0'01"268 16
14. 11 FISICHELLA Sauber Petronas B 1'22"022 + 0'01"897 10
15. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas B 1'22"077 + 0'01"952 8
16. 15 KLIEN Jaguar Cosworth M 1'23"222 + 0'03"097 8
17. 18 HEIDFELD Jordan Ford B 1'23"551 + 0'03"426 13
18. 19 PANTANO Jordan Ford B 1'24"736 + 0'04"611 7
19. 20 BRUNI Minardi Cosworth B 1'26"199 + 0'06"074 10
20. 21 BAUMGARTNER Minardi Cosworth B 1'27"451 + 0'07"326 13

4/24/04

Schumacher nips Button to lead Free Practice #3 at Imola 

 P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
1. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'20"856 219.635 Km/h 13
2. 9 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'21"165 + 0'00"309 11
3. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'21"583 + 0'00"727 10
4. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'21"764 + 0'00"908 14
5. 4 R.SCHUMACHER Williams BMW M 1'21"864 + 0'01"008 13
6. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'21"954 + 0'01"098 13
7. 10 SATO BAR Honda M 1'22"013 + 0'01"157 11
8. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'22"051 + 0'01"195 6
9. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'22"164 + 0'01"308 5
10. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'22"462 + 0'01"606 13
11. 14 WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth M 1'22"707 + 0'01"851 10
12. 17 PANIS Toyota M 1'22"885 + 0'02"029 14
13. 11 FISICHELLA Sauber Petronas B 1'22"991 + 0'02"135 6
14. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas B 1'23"105 + 0'02"249 10
15. 16 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'23"482 + 0'02"626 17
16. 19 PANTANO Jordan Ford B 1'24"255 + 0'03"399 13
17. 18 HEIDFELD Jordan Ford B 1'24"907 + 0'04"051 10
18. 20 BRUNI Minardi Cosworth B 1'26"783 + 0'05"927 11
19. 21 BAUMGARTNER Minardi Cosworth B 1'27"539 + 0'06"683 13

4/24/04

Latest F1 News in brief 
Minardi run new aero package
F1 reform surprise
GPWC lied, says Jordan
Race rain for Imola
F1 faces series split
F1 reacts to radical reform
ITV wins F1 until 2010
McLaren confirm Maik split
Ferrari aims for clean sweep
Second fiddle to Ferrari?
FIA to sanction GPWC series
Minardi tribute
Changes at Honda
More Renault steps
No cheap engines
No Verstappen comeback
Bridgestone graining
F1 needs revolution: EJ
Brundle slams Bernie
Button doubts Imola win
Tires singled out
Senna punched me: Irvine
Formula Ferrari
Davidson should be on F1 grid
What went wrong?
F1 against engine change

4/23/04

Ferrari sets up JV importer in China  Ferrari today announced that it has entered into a strategic alliance with Wo Kee Hong through its subsidiary Italian Motors - the sole agent for Ferrari and Maserati cars in Hong Kong - and Poly Technologies, a subsidiary of Poly Group, to set up an equity joint venture company in Mainland China. The JV, named Ferrari Maserati Cars International Trading and in which Ferrari will hold a majority stake, will be the sole importer of Ferrari and Maserati cars in China, responsible for the marketing, sale to dealers, spare parts and accessories supply, and after-sale technical supports for both brands.
Ferrari, Wo Kee Hong and Poly Technologies will own 40%, 30% and 30% respectively in the JV. The three parties have mapped out detailed development plans for the first three years’ operations of the JV. At the initial stage, they will set up a national dealership network with over 10 strategic locations in major cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Dalian, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Congqing, Wuhan, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Ferrari Maserati Group has been present in China since 1993. With the entry into the World Trade Organization, China commits to relax import restrictions and reduce tariffs on motor cars. Due to this reason the Group decided to strengthen its direct presence in China, providing its customers with excellent quality, performance and service in the sale and maintenance of the cars.

In 2004, several events of Ferrari Maserati group are planned in China, in particular the opening of a new showroom in the center of Shanghai (June 6th) and the participation of Scuderia Ferrari in the F1 Grand Prix (September 26th).  Ferrari

4/23/04

HBO special on Zanardi wins award   The Champ Car community wasn’t alone in its appreciation of last July’s HBO “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” segment featuring the inspirational story of two-time Champ Car champion Alex Zanardi and his 2003 quest to return to a Champ Car cockpit following the loss of both of his legs in the 2001 event at EuroSpeedway Lausitz.

On April 19, the National Television Academy awarded HBO with 8 Sports Emmy Awards, more than any other network, including the Outstanding Long Feature Award for Gumbel’s stirring profile of Zanardi. The award was one of two presented to “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

"One of our goals here at HBO is to spotlight the stories that touch people's emotions," said Ross Greenburg, president, HBO Sports. "Alex's journey was the type of compelling human interest piece that truly inspired us all. We're honored to have been able to tell his story and this Emmy Award is a testament to how powerful a story it is."

The incomparable Zanardi—who has become an inspiration to many around the world—discussed with Gumbel the events leading up to and following the devastating accident in which he not only lost his legs, but nearly his life.

The special segment feature footage from Zanardi’s home in Monte Carlo. Bryant had a reflective discussion with Zanardi concerning the day of the crash, what he went through, when and how he found out he had lost his legs, his reaction, and his focus to get on with life and live it to the fullest.

The feature went on to show the champion doing the things he loves to do, despite his handicap. He took the viewers on-board his luxurious boat demonstrating the different prosthetic legs that he had available for swimming, and showed off many of his other “toys.”

However, the most amazing “toy” he could possibly play with was the specially-modified Champ Car that was outfitted with hand controls for him not only to complete the final 13 laps he missed following the crash in 2001 at the German superspeedway, but to complete them at an average speed of over 194 mph. As “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” so artfully showed, Zanardi was successful in completing his mission.

4/23/04

Things are looking up for Monterrey  Autoracing1.com visited the Monterrey, Mexico track today in Fundidora Park and met with the race director to get the latest information about the status of the next round of the Champ Car World Series.  That feature article can be found on our Home Page.

4/23/04

Who is in charge at McLaren Mercedes?  A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1, On 4/21,Mercedes sports chief Norbert Haug admitted the McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team were too ambitious in their development for the 2004 Grand Prix season and that he ruled out a major new development of chassis and engine for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on July 25th. Instead, they plan to work on the existing model. On 4/23, McLaren says that they are focusing on a revised version of the design, designated MP4-19B, to turn its fortunes around. The new car is likely to race for the first time in the German Grand Prix on July 25. Who's in charge of the program development over there? Warren Davis   Dear Warren, Clearly everybody thinks they are in charge and one half doesn't have a clue what the other half is doing, and their performance this year bears that out. We smell an eventual falling out if the relationship is that arms-length apart. Mark C.

4/23/04

Newman/Haas seeks design advantage  Newman/Haas Racing announced today it's partnership with Computer Aided Technology, Inc. (CATI) for the 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. After having won four Champ Car championships to date, the team has enlisted the support of CATI to help them in their quest for their fifth title in 2004 with PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira and McDonald's® driver Sebastien Bourdais.

"The ease and sophistication of CATI's SolidWorks package will not only enable us to improve our design process it will also allow our engineering department to be more productive," said Brian Lisles, General Manager of Newman/Haas Racing. "We are already using the advance capabilities of SolidWorks to produce designs for new parts for our cars as we press forward with our objective of winning the 2004 Champ Car World Series championship."

Computer Aided Technology, Inc. (CATI), headquartered in Buffalo Grove, IL, provides the Midwest with five full-service facilities, supporting Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin with the mission to unite quality people with advanced technology to create complete solutions for maximum business results. CATI is the original SolidWorks Reseller and the Top Reseller of SolidWorks in the Midwest. CATI is dedicated to providing comprehensive solutions to engineering, manufacturing, and educational sectors and offers a full suite of SolidWorks Solution Partner technologies including CAD, CAE, CAID, CAM, ECAD, and PDM solutions.

4/23/04

Trust to sponsor Jordan  Jordan Grand Prix has announced that Dutch computer firm Trust will sponsor the team for the remainder of the season. Trust's logos will continue to appear on the front wings and mirrors of the EJ14 cars and on the overalls of drivers Nick Heidfeld, Giorgio Pantano and Timo Glock. "We have enjoyed a robust relationship with Trust during the course of the winter and the beginning of the season and I am pleased to confirm they will be sponsoring Jordan for all of 2004," commented team boss, Eddie Jordan. "Trust as a company is totally committed to supporting motorsport and F1 in particular and I'm delighted that they will be involved with the Jordan team. They have a vibrant and dynamic brand in Europe and are a perfect fit with Jordan. We're looking forward to doing some exciting business and promotions together throughout the year." Michel Perridon, C.E.O. of Trust International B.V. added: "Our experiences with Formula 1 in 2003 were tremendously positive for the company and therefore we wish to continue backing motorsport. "Trust will once again get the maximum result out of this sponsorship by using for example promotional actions on a European level. The co-operation between Eddie Jordan and myself went very well, we are very happy to continue this co-operation in the form of a sponsorship contract for the 2004 F1 season."

4/23/04

Talks breakdown, F1 future in doubt again  The GPWC has pulled out of talks to come up with a new Concorde Agreement, accusing other parties in the negotiations of failing to fulfil their obligations. In an official statement issued at the start of the San Marino Grand Prix weekend, the GPWC claims that 'despite all reasonable efforts to implement the memorandum of understanding between GPWC Holdings BV and the shareholders of SLEC Holdings Ltd, [it] has decided to end negotiations on the future structure of Formula One, due to SLEC shareholders' failure to comply with key points agreed in the MoU'. "Accordingly, and in the best interests of the sport and the teams, GPWC has terminated the MoU with FOA and SLEC shareholders, thereby releasing GPWC from the standstill provision in the MoU," the statement concluded, raising the specter of a rival breakaway series to F1 being resurrected by the car makers. The fact that the memorandum had been signed appeared to have signaled the end to the possible 'civil war' between the GPWC and the existing F1 set-up. "When we realized that our commitment to implement the MoU was not met by the other parties, we had to make a decision in the best interest of the sport, and end negotiations," confirmed Professor Jurgen Hubbert, the chairman of GPWC.

4/23/04


2nd Cup date may cost TMS 2nd IRL race  From Dallas Morning News.
1. TMS may have to move (to summer) or get rid of 2nd IRL race to add 2nd NASCAR race
2. Say's IRL 2005 finale may be at LVMS.
3. California Speedway has yet to sell all of its 90,000 tickets for May NASCAR race

The other problems that come with the settlement fall on the shoulders of TMS president Eddie Gossage. Getting a Nextel Cup race in the fall may mean losing the IRL season finale.   The IRL event this year is scheduled for Oct. 17 at TMS. The probable date for the 2005 second Cup race at TMS is Nov. 6. No one from TMS, the IRL or NASCAR would want to schedule those two events only three weeks apart at the same track.  That leaves Gossage with two options: Move the second IRL weekend to another date, or give up the second IRL weekend.

The only logical place for the second IRL race at TMS would be late August or early September, possibly Labor Day weekend. It also would have to be a night race because of the extreme heat in North Texas that time of year.  That would place the event almost two months after the early June IRL event at TMS, and two months before the second NASCAR weekend. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series also races at TMS both IRL weekends, but the second truck event could move to the second Cup weekend.

Whether the second IRL race is moved or eliminated, the season finale probably is going elsewhere. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a good candidate to host the IRL season-ending event in 2005 [Editor's Note:  Is this another IRL attempt to head off Champ Car now that they are rumored to have their season ender on the strip in Las Vegas?  Rest assured, if the IRL goes back to the Vegas oval, they will fail miserably....again.].   TMS officials have one other problem that comes with the long-awaited second Cup race. Be careful what you wish for. Now you have to prove you deserve it.  The Cup weekend has sold out every year since TMS opened in 1997, packing more than 200,000 people into the facility. But will all those people show up twice a year?

The California Speedway, which got a second Cup weekend this season, hasn't sold all of its 90,000 seats for the May 2 race. No doubt some of those people who previously attended the May race are skipping it to attend the Labor Day weekend event.

4/23/04

Greg Ray sues AJ Foyt  IRL driver Greg Ray has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Texas racing legend A.J. Foyt. The suit, filed April 7 in Tarrant County, alleges Foyt never paid Ray when Ray drove for Foyt's IRL team in 2002. Ray alleges he and Foyt had an oral agreement on a two-year contract worth $100,000 a year, plus all expenses and 40 percent of the purse winnings. Ray said he couldn't discuss the case. The lawsuit states Foyt "lied, stole money and placed Ray's life in danger in lousy equipment. Perhaps Mr. Foyt's ego is what motivates him to lie, cheat and swindle drivers." Foyt said Thursday that he never had a contract with Ray, and Ray did not bring all the sponsorship money he promised. The suit says Ray brought $100,000 in sponsorship money to the team. Ray also said he is considering legal action against IRL team owner Tom Kelley and Trim Spa. Kelley fired Ray to hire Al Unser Jr. in 2002. Trim Spa was Ray's sponsor last season but is no longer associated with the team.  Dallas Morning News

4/23/04

Junqueira and Carpentier top Portland test  The 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season got underway with a strong event last weekend in Long Beach, but the teams and drivers fighting for the series championship didn’t stick around to enjoy what they accomplished in Southern California.  In fact, teams were already underway with preparations for the May 23 Telmex/Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey well before the streets of Long Beach were reopened to commuter traffic, heading north to Portland for two days of testing on the 1.969-mile road course at Portland International Raceway.  Full Story

4/23/04

Nissan World Series

Keohane lands at Carlin  UPDATE AutoRacing1.com has learned that Keohane will drive for Carlin on a race-to-race basis as their 2nd driver.  Tiago Monteiro will drive every race as their #1 driver.  4/23/04 - Michael Keohane, who was close to landing a Champ Car ride with Dale Coyne Racing is in Zolder, Belgium today driving the Carlin Motorsports entry in the Nissan World Series.  AutoRacing1.com has a photographer on site and will have photos from this event later this weekend.

4/23/04

Some Rockingham Notes/Comments  Rockingham has gone the way of North Wilkesboro. And Hickory. And Bowman Gray. And Raleigh. And Asheville-Weaverville. The news out of Daytona is, once again, sad. We will race no more at North Carolina Motor Speedway. NASCAR will sacrifice it for a second race at Texas as a part of a convoluted settlement of a convoluted lawsuit. NCMS will be dropped from the 2005 schedule. The next schedule will also be without one of the Darlington events, the old track finally losing out to progress and legal battles. Phoenix is expected to add a second race for the 2005 season as the sport continues a trend away from its Southern roots toward nationalism. The official announcements will not come until later in the summer, and few people in the sport were willing to talk as the news trickled out this week. People in and around Rockingham were more than willing. "We're mad, we're angry and we're disappointed that we weren't given a chance," Rockingham city manager Monty Crump said. "This was a done deal. We were set up to fail." There's a lot of truth behind Crump's claim. The races at Rockingham could've easily been saved by moving the winter race to the summer, by adding lights and by NASCAR acknowledging that North Carolina Motor Speedway was an important part of the sport. Roanoke Times

4/23/04

NASCAR mum about Texas settlement  The legal turtle, known in NASCAR circles as the Ferko lawsuit, pulled its head into its shell Thursday. Francis Ferko, an SMI stockholder, started his suit against NASCAR two years ago, arguing the sanctioning body broke a promise to give the Texas racetrack a second date. NASCAR officials refused to talk about anything to do with Ferko and Texas. NASCAR, wholly owned by Bill France and his family, replied to all Ferko inquiries with a generic statement from general counsel Gary Crotty. "NASCAR will continue to respect the court's request not to publicly comment on this pending litigation," Crotty said. Daytona Beach News Journal

4/23/04

Brundle's Blast for Ecclestone  According to this sporting life article, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been accused of jeopardizing the future of the British Grand Prix. Earlier this week Ecclestone issued an unequivocal warning that the race will be axed from next year's Formula One calendar unless further improvements are made to Silverstone. Ecclestone made it clear a new pit and paddock complex needs to be built at the circuit, bringing it into line with the modern, new tracks in places such as Malaysia, Bahrain and Shanghai, otherwise this year's event in July will be the last. Yet Martin Brundle, chairman of the British Racing Drivers' Club who own the track, insists funding is in place for what is the last phase of Silverstone's modernization.

The project has been signed off and could get under way as early as tomorrow, however, one signature is still required - that of Ecclestone. Ecclestone's name is needed as he has pumped in one third of the 60million (dollars) required to bring Silverstone up to scratch, with a proportion of the money so far spent on access roads and car parks. The BRDC and Interpublic - who this week sold the rights for the race back to 73-year-old Ecclestone's Formula One Management company - have each supplied the other third. As the British Grand Prix would appear to be firmly in Ecclestone's hands, Brundle is understandably concerned it will make way for another new venue.

4/23/04

McLaren confirms management structure  According to this grandprix article, the new structure at McLaren and Mercedes=Ilmor has now been confirmed by McLaren with Hans-Ulrich Maik, the managing director of Mercedes-Ilmor having left the company which he has been running since November 2002. Martin Whitmarsh takes over the operational management of the entire McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 program but gives up his position as managing director of McLaren Racing. This role now goes to Operations Director Jonathan Neale

The 41-year-old physics graduate joined McLaren from British Aerospace in 2001 after heading BAe's Hawk Fast Jet program. He spent 10 years with BAe after starting his career working on semiconductor design and electronic warfare systems for submarines and surface ships at Phillips Defense Systems. After joining BAe as a design engineer he moved into management and in 1995 gained an MBA from Manchester University.

It remains to be seen whether or not there will be a change in the technical structure at McLaren where the current team of Technical Director Adrian Newey, Chief Designer Mike Coughlan and Executive Director of Engineering Neil Oatley have been struggling to produce a winning car since 2002.

4/23/04

McLaren Pushing Ahead with New Chassis  According to this Speed article, after enduring frustration in both the performance and reliability departments this year with its MP4-19 chassis, the McLaren-Mercedes Benz team is focusing on a revised version of the design, designated MP4-19B, to revive turn its fortunes around. The new car is likely to race for the first time in the German Grand Prix on July 25.

"With the current car we will obviously do what we can, but we really are pushing hard on the MP4-19B," design chief Adrian Newey told Autosport. Newey revealed that the new car will include bigger changes than there were between the never-raced MP4-18 and the current model. "From a performance point of view, they were the same car," Newey declared. "I would hope that the MP4-19B will represent a step forward."

Engine unreliability has been another problem this year and there have now been personnel changes within McLaren-Mercedes in order to try to resolve matters. Key among them: Martin Whitmarsh, formerly managing director of the team's umbrella company, McLaren International, has been moved to the position of general manager of the West McLaren Mercedes F1 organization. There, he will be responsible for both the chassis and engine programs. Whitmarsh will be replaced as overall MD by former operations director Jonathan Neale.

4/23/04

BAR 1-2 in 2nd free practice at Imola  Lucky Strike B·A·R Honda locked out the top of the timesheets in today's first free practice session for this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix as Jenson Button and Takuma Sato ended the day 1st and 2nd respectively. Third driver Anthony Davidson posted the 6th fastest time to split the Ferraris, Renaults and McLarens.
 

P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
1. 9 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'20"966 219.337 Km/h 25
2. 10 SATO BAR Honda M 1'21"159 + 0'00"193 25
3. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'21"164 + 0'00"198 23
4. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'21"586 + 0'00"620 18
5. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'21"604 + 0'00"638 25
6. 35 DAVIDSON BAR Honda M 1'21"643 + 0'00"677 30
7. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'21"661 + 0'00"695 25
8. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'21"788 + 0'00"822 25
9. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'21"795 + 0'00"829 17
10. 4 R.SCHUMACHER Williams BMW M 1'22"057 + 0'01"091 24
11. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'22"096 + 0'01"130 20
12. 14 WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth M 1'22"167 + 0'01"201 28
13. 17 PANIS Toyota M 1'22"768 + 0'01"802 22
14. 16 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'22"780 + 0'01"814 23
15. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas B 1'23"043 + 0'02"077 27
16. 15 KLIEN Jaguar Cosworth M 1'23"211 + 0'02"245 15
17. 11 FISICHELLA Sauber Petronas B 1'23"335 + 0'02"369 28
18. 37 WIRDHEIM Jaguar Cosworth M 1'23"470 + 0'02"504 24
19. 38 ZONTA Toyota M 1'23"500 + 0'02"534 20
20. 18 HEIDFELD Jordan Ford B 1'23"866 + 0'02"900 15
21. 19 PANTANO Jordan Ford B 1'24"091 + 0'03"125 19
22. 20 BRUNI Minardi Cosworth B 1'25"653 + 0'04"687 16
23. 21 BAUMGARTNER Minardi Cosworth B 1'25"760 + 0'04"794 10
24. 40 LEINDERS Minardi Cosworth B 1'27"025 + 0'06"059 22

4/23/04

Nissan World Series

Keohane lands at Carlin  Michael Keohane, who was close to landing a Champ Car ride with Dale Coyne Racing is in Zolder, Belgium today driving the Carlin Motorsports entry in the Nissan World Series.  AutoRacing1.com has a photographer on site and will have photos from this event later this weekend.

4/23/04

Wirdheim: F1 should be like Champ Car  F1 test driver and F3000 champion Bjorn Wirdheim had this to say in this Swedish article - Björn did a very good test for Patrick Racing. He enjoyed it much more than he had done in any F1 team.  "It (referring to his Patrick Racing Champ Car) was exactly what I wanted to do. CART is like F3000 but bigger, as I think F1 should be.  Everything was ready for the signature when the bad economy hit CART and the team was sold." [Editor's Note: With the radical F1 changes proposed by the FIA today, we are getting closer to the day when both series can run to almost the same specification.  Maybe that's the plan......]

4/23/04

Wilson to run 24 Hours of LeMans  From the Jan Lammers website: Justin Wilson will compete in the Le Mans 24 h. race this year for RFH, the team of former F1 and CART driver and Le Mans winner Jan Lammers.   The line-up consists of Wilson, ex-f1 driver&F-Nippon champ Ralph Firman and F-Nippon champ Tom Coronel.   Jan Lammers: “To be honest, financially I would have been better off if I had chosen other drivers, but I would rather not hire a plastic surgeon from Hollywood who steals the show with money, drives as a backmarker and scars our image permanently. I want top drivers. I have them now."

4/23/04

Ford seeks women driver  Ford racing director Dan Davis has seen enough of rising open-wheel driver Danica Patrick to believe a woman can succeed at racing's highest levels. He also has seen enough talented young drivers come out of the U.S. Auto Club midget ranks and achieve NASCAR success to believe that is the quickest route to the Nextel Cup series. So Davis is putting Ford's considerable resources to work to meld those two beliefs and provide a woman with an opportunity to earn a full-time NASCAR ride. With input from Lyn St. James, who since retiring as a driver has been an activist for women in racing, four candidates have been chosen for a tryout May 4-5 at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway. USAC car builder Bob East will evaluate them and if he is convinced one shows promise, she'll be given a second look the next week at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Assuming all goes well, the goal is to get her into a few USAC midget races late this year with an eye toward a possible full-time ride with team owner Steve Lewis in 2005. "When it occurs that a woman makes it in NASCAR, we'd like (her) to be a Ford driver," Davis said. "This is just the first step in a long process. We'd like to get a sponsor involved, but if not, we'll pay for it."   Indy Star

4/23/04

Teams to test at Indy  Testing begins today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for next month's Indianapolis 500 and the support race, the Freedom 100 for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series cars.  Today's action involves the 18 Pro Series cars entered in the event. The Indy Racing League's four rookies -- Mark Taylor, Ed Carpenter, Kosuke Matsuura and Marty Roth -- will participate in the Rookie Orientation Program on Monday, followed by full IRL testing Tuesday and Wednesday.  Twenty-six IRL cars are scheduled to test in what will be the only opportunity to run the new 3.0-liter engines before the track opens for practice May 9. The list of drivers includes all of the 22 who ran last week in Japan except Tony Kanaan, who has a Firestone tire test May 3-4 at Texas Motor Speedway.  The four additional cars at the open test will be for Al Unser Jr., Sarah Fisher, Robby Gordon and a Newman/Haas driver who has yet to be named (expect former Indy pole winner Bruno Junqueira).  All testing sessions are free and open to the public. Infield seating is restricted to the south end.  Indy Star

4/23/04

Schumacher easily tops San Marino Free Session 1 

P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
1. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'20"084 221.752 Km/h 11
2. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'21"443 + 0'01"359 12
3. 4 R.SCHUMACHER Williams BMW M 1'22"250 + 0'02"166 13
4. 35 DAVIDSON BAR Honda M 1'22"398 + 0'02"314 20
5. 9 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'22"448 + 0'02"364 10
6. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'22"796 + 0'02"712 11
7. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'22"927 + 0'02"843 11
8. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'23"054 + 0'02"970 4
9. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'23"083 + 0'02"999 13
10. 38 ZONTA Toyota M 1'23"161 + 0'03"077 20
11. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'23"197 + 0'03"113 8
12. 14 WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth M 1'23"417 + 0'03"333 11
13. 11 FISICHELLA Sauber Petronas B 1'23"528 + 0'03"444 9
14. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas B 1'23"562 + 0'03"478 13
15. 17 PANIS Toyota M 1'23"790 + 0'03"706 13
16. 10 SATO BAR Honda M 1'24"061 + 0'03"977 11
17. 37 WIRDHEIM Jaguar Cosworth M 1'24"152 + 0'04"068 29
18. 16 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'24"752 + 0'04"668 12
19. 18 HEIDFELD Jordan Ford B 1'24"955 + 0'04"871 12
20. 19 PANTANO Jordan Ford B 1'25"375 + 0'05"291 12
21. 15 KLIEN Jaguar Cosworth M 1'25"679 + 0'05"595 9
22. 39 GLOCK Jordan Ford B 1'26"254 + 0'06"170 14
23. 20 BRUNI Minardi Cosworth B 1'27"933 + 0'07"849 14
24. 21 BAUMGARTNER Minardi Cosworth B 1'29"312 + 0'09"228 14
25. 40 LEINDERS Minardi Cosworth B 1'29"414 + 0'09"330 19

4/23/04

FIA proposes massive F1 changes  [Editor's Note:  Hmm....these changes, if adopted, certainly will reduce the cost of F1 to the point a 2nd World Championship series might be feasible as outlined in our Phoenix is about to rise article.  With that said, what's the chances all these proposals will get adopted?  Remember the 6-race engine idea?  It's now just one.  This proposal moves it to two.]  The FIA president Max Mosley has proposed a raft of drastic changes to Formula 1's 2008 sporting and technical regulations in a move to 'improve the racing spectacle' and put a greater emphasis on driver skills by 'eliminating electronic driver aids'. The depth and scale of the proposals could change Formula 1 forever.  It is required in the Concorde Agreement that the FIA must announce the 2008 regulations by no later December 2005.

"The reason for doing it now is that I think there is a really serious problem in Formula One with the amount of money that is being spent," he told Reuters. "I think it is the biggest package of changes Formula One has ever seen."

There can only ever be one World Championship winning team, and as a result the manufacturers are going to seriously consider whether their enormous investment is worthwhile, when the best they can achieve is the odd win, and perhaps third or fourth in the championship. Mosley is aware that should they choose to pull out of F1, as they have in the past, the consequences would be catastrophic.

"Several of the major manufacturers are starting to look at what they are spending on engines and wondering whether they are getting value for money," he said. "Teams are finding it difficult to get enough sponsorship to meet their costs. There is a risk that we will start to see big problems if we don't do something.

As for the spectacle: "If people don't go and watch it, it doesn't matter how cutting-edge it is. It will fail," he said. "People are really interested in the human contest but obviously in very high performance machines. If you have too much technology and not enough driver, the public will start to lose interest."
Engine
- 2.4 liter V8;
- maximum of four valves per cylinder;
- two-race engine (fool-proof method for ensuring this rule is observed, plus carefully calculated penalty system for unscheduled changes);
- list of components which must be made from a specific material and/or using a specified manufacturing process;
- ban on variable geometry inlet and exhaust systems;
- standard ECU (under FIA control)
- ban on ultra high pressure (direct injection) fuel systems enforced by means of FIA ECU;
- maximum modulus of elasticity (stiffness) of materials reduced from 40 Gpa to 32 Gpa (throughout car).
Transmission, braking and steering
- manual gearbox with electronic over-rev safeguard;
- manually operated clutch;
- ban on electronically controlled differentials;
- ban on power steering systems;
- standard brake discs, pads and calipers.
Chassis
- weight limit reduced by at least 50 kilos (to eliminate ballast and thus reduce kinetic energy in an accident);
- a combined tyre and aerodynamic package to be published no later than 31 December 2004 to achieve specific targets for cornering speeds, straight-line speeds, grip and braking performance, taking weight reduction into account;
- tyre (wheel) width reduced at front, increased at rear to allow weight distribution consistent with no ballast and to give greater drag (total of front +rear widths to stay same).
Sporting
- no spare car allowed during entire Event;
- cars to be held under parc fermé conditions during entire Event;
- one tire supplier only, all sporting aspects of supply contract under control of FIA;
- drastic restriction on private testing, limited by mileage rather than number of days, enforced by means of FIA ECU;
- two (identical) sets of tires for qualifying and race;
- Friday practice: package to ensure cars run, possibly to include a qualifying session;
- new qualifying system to be discussed with commercial rights holder (broadcasters), teams and race promoters;
- if qualifying continues to be with race fuel, consider whether amount of fuel in refueling rig before race should be fixed annually in sporting regulations with amount of fuel in car for qualifying and race free (to encourage fuel efficiency);
- no tyre change during race (except genuine puncture), refueling to stay;
- consider if constructors’ points should be scored by a maximum of four specified cars (two teams) per constructor (to encourage major teams to make cars and information available to teams coming into Formula 1, see below);
General
- no restriction on the sale, loan or exchange of chassis and components between teams or to new entrants in the championship;
- twelve entries to be accepted each year, entries to close on 1 July for following season;
- guaranteed entries each year for teams with long-term contracts to compete in championship;
- technical and sporting rule changes for future seasons to be subject to a majority vote of the teams already contracted to compete during the season in which the rule changes will apply;
- technical rule changes concerning Formula 1 to be announced in June to take effect on 1 January of the second year following the announcement (for example, a - technical rule change for 2012 would be announced no later than 1 July 2010, having first been approved by a majority of the teams already contracted to participate in 2012);
- no rule changes after entries close for a given Championship without consent of all accepted teams.

4/23/04

Latest F1 News in brief 
Stewart asks government for help
No Toyota deal for Jordan
Prost 'more skilful' than Senna
F1 drivers in debt to Senna
Schu's fire still burns
Can Renault fight Ferrari?
Blue Ferrari
Formula 'Thrashed'
Rossi's future in Formula One
Schu resists Imola axe
Was Sato 'overdriving'?
Don't write McLaren off: Whitmarsh
Max went to Roland's funeral
Blame Williams, says Montoya
Schu wants F1 power cut
Personnel changes at McLaren
Renault whiz not changing teams
Button befuddled Montoya
Newey pushes 'B spec' McLaren
Renault clock most miles
Mosley to end F1 tire war?
Monaco unveils F1 garages
Wirdheim could race for Jaguar
Minardi show off new kit
F1 aces remember May 1, 1994
F1 heads for radical shake-up 

4/22/04

NASCAR weekend nets $142 million for Vegas  The 2004 NASCAR Weekend in Las Vegas had a record $142 million impact on the local economy, the greatest impact in the seven-year history of the event. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority’s annual study revealed that the final number of $142,673,400 was 7.3 percent greater than in 2003. The numbers are based on interviews with race fans during the March 5-7 weekend and reflect the amount of money spent – both gaming and non-gaming – during the four-day event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “NASCAR Weekend once again provided an economic boon to Las Vegas,” said Las Vegas Motor Speedway general manager Chris Powell. “This event has become one of the most anticipated stops on the NASCAR circuit for hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world.” The study estimated approximately 92,350 visitors attended the race from outside Southern Nevada. These visitors provided a non-gaming impact of $85,361,900 to the local economic market.

4/22/04

LB Trans-Am race to air  The Motorock Trans-Am Series season opener, part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, will air on tape-delayed basis this Sunday, April 25, on Spike TV at 10:30 a.m. (EDT and PST). The race will run in the time slot occupied by “Dangerous Curves,” during the cable network’s popular “Power Block.” The race aired live on cable high-definition network HDNet, as will every Trans-Am race this season. A full television package, along with tape-delayed coverage will be announced soon.

4/22/04

Toyota Atlantic TV schedule  Fans of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama will once again be able to catch up with all of the rising stars in North America's premier open-wheel driver development series on television in the United States and Canada, as series officials today confirmed that all 2004 events will once again be broadcast on SPEED Channel.

"SPEED Channel provides great coverage for Toyota Atlantic, and we are pleased to have SPEED back for another great season in 2004," said Toyota Atlantic managing director, Vicki O'Connor. "Racing aficionados watch SPEED Channel religiously, and by having our events air on SPEED, our drivers and teams gain the recognition they deserve. I strongly believe our television coverage is a major reason why Toyota Atlantic graduates routinely have great name recognition when they reach the highest levels of open-wheel racing."

Veteran announcers Greg Creamer and Ralph Sheheen will share play-by-play duties for SPEED Channel's Toyota Atlantic coverage, and will be joined in the booth by 1990 Toyota Atlantic - Atlantic Division champion Brian Till, who will provide expert analysis. Sharing the duties on pit lane will be 1987 East Coast Atlantic champion Calvin Fish and another veteran motorsports announcer, Rick DeBruhl. Television production will once again be handled by Los Angeles-based Mullin Production Group under the direction of John Mullin for the 11th straight season.
Event Date Event/Track/Location SPEED Air Date Time (ET)
April 18 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach April 25 12:00 Noon Long Beach, Calif.
May 23 Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix May 30 1:00 p.m. Fundidora Park - Monterrey, Mexico
June 5 The Milwaukee Mile June 6 2:00 p.m. West Allis, Wis.
June 19 Champ Car GP of Portland (Round 6) June 26 2:00 p.m. Portland International Raceway - Portland, Ore.
June 20 Champ Car GP of Portland (Round 5) July 3 2:00 p.m. Portland International Raceway - Portland, Ore.
July 3 Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland July 11 1:00 p.m. Burke Lakefront Airport - Cleveland, Ohio
July 11 Molson Indy Toronto July 17 11:00 a.m. Exhibition Place - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
July 25 Molson Indy Vancouver August 7 12:00 p.m. Concord Pacific Place - Vancouver, B.C., Canada
August 8 Champ Car GP of Road America August 15 3:00 p.m. Road America - Elkhart Lake, Wis.
August 15 Centrix Financial GP of Denver August 21 12:00 Noon Denver, Colo.
August 29 Molson Indy Montreal September 4 2:00 p.m. Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
September 12 Champ Car GP of Monterey September 26 2:00 p.m. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - Monterey, Calif.
NOTE: Dates and times subject to change. Check local listings. Schedule includes initial air dates and times on SPEED Channel, and does include dates and times for rebroadcasts.

4/22/04
Industry News

Nextel reports strong Qtr.  Nextel Communications, Inc. today announced strong financial and operating results for the first-quarter 2004. Highlights compared with last year's first quarter include a 31% increase in revenue to $3.1 billion, a 33% increase in operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA) to $1.2 billion, and a 184% increase in income available to common stockholders to $591 million, or $0.53 per share. Last year's first-quarter revenue was $2.4 billion, OIBDA was $906 million, and income available to common stockholders was $208 million, or $0.21 per share. During the quarter, free cash flow increased 152% to $507 million over last year's $201 million.

4/22/04

More good press for Champ Car  This Sports Illustrated Magazine article is more good press for Champ Car - a generally favorable article considering the circumstances.

4/22/04

Robby Gordon shakes down Indy Car at MIS in preparation for Indy  

4/22/04

ALMS to test for LeMans  Eleven racing teams from the American Le Mans Series will be in France this weekend to take an important step in their preparation for the 72nd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The world's most famous endurance race will be run June 12-13 at the Circuit de La Sarthe. The 50 teams that have been invited to compete at Le Mans, plus reserve cars, are required to participate in Sunday's traditional Pre-Test day. After undergoing scrutineering on Friday and Saturday, teams will have eight hours of testing time on the 8.625-mile La Sarthe circuit on Sunday, the only chance they will have to test on the full circuit prior to the start of official event practice in June.

4/22/04

NASCAR tidbits  Robby Gordon and Richard Childress Racing officials have denied recent reports that Gordon will be dismissed as the driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet. Robby Gordon finished 30th at Martinsville and ranks 25th in the points standings . . . Nextel Cup drivers go from the short and tight track at Martinsville to the long and wide track at Talladega this week. "At Talladega, you are running 190 mph, but there is a car 2 inches off your front bumper and a car 2 inches off his front bumper and there is a car 2 inches off your rear bumper and a car behind him, another 2 inches back," Kyle Petty said. "Tap your brakes under those conditions and there is going to be a real mess. I'm not talking about stomping on your brakes or anything else. Simply tap your brakes and they are going to be picking up car pieces for a good while. Brakes are only for going into the pits."

4/22/04

Brack not ready for 500   Indy Racing League driver Kenny Brack has decided he will not be ready for next month's Indianapolis 500. The 1999 race winner told Team Rahal officials Wednesday he would prefer to wait until after the 500 to return. Brack has not been in a race car since suffering multiple career-threatening injuries in an accident Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway. Brack said his decision was not based on his recovery. He has been walking without crutches since the middle of March. "That part is going smoothly," the 38-year-old Brack said. "But I could not put anybody in a bad position. "I wouldn't know if I was 100 percent until I got back in a car, and we've run out of time to do that."  Indy Star

4/22/04

Hendrick signs two drivers  NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick has signed developmental deals with two local drivers. Kyle Krisiloff, 18, of Indianapolis and Boston Reid, 22, of Logansport will have opportunities this season to compete in stock-car races for Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick has an agreement with Indianapolis-based SS Racing to run Krisiloff, grandson of Mari Hulman George, in 13 ASA events. Reid will be paired with Blake Feese, 22, of Saybrook, Ill., in an ARCA deal with Bobby Gerhart Racing.  Indy Star

4/22/04
Formula BMW

Hinchcliffe complete successful test   James Hinchcliffe completed his first test in his Formula BMW ride this past weekend at Shannonville Motorsports Park. Located near Bellville, Ontario the 17-year old turned some fast test runs under dry conditions on the legendary Canadian circuit.  After signing with the AIM Autosport race team on April 2, Hinchcliffe and his race team received delivery of their FB2 car the following week. After some preparation work, pedal and steering adjustments and the pouring of a proper seat, the plan was made to shake the car down and make minor handling changes to get the feel of the BMW design.

“It was hard driving around at the slow speeds when I knew that car could do much more,” stated Hinchcliffe, who was forced to run the necessary 50 mile break-in procedure. The young Canadian was ready to turn some test laps at speed and compare himself to the other BMW drivers who were in attendance.

The team did several runs logging over 165 miles in the first day with short runs and many testing adjustments. “We were doing a lot of changes to the set-up of the car just to gather as much information as we could about how the car reacts. I was really impressed with its set-up capabilities”, explained Hinchcliffe. The AIM Autosport team was looking forward to day two where longer and faster runs were in the plans. One session Saturday morning is all Hinchcliffe could get in before the skies opened and the rain began to fall. With the late signing and arrival of the car, rain tires and wheels were not yet ready as the team was forced to stay off the track.

“The car is outright awesome,” explained Hinchcliffe. “With other teams here we were able to see how we stack up against the competition. We got enough data to take and analyze before our next test to see where we can improve. The AIM Autosport squad is so professional in the way they approach motorsports and I can’t wait to get the season started.”

The twelfth grade Oakville Trafalgar Secondary School student will look to continue the success garnered by last year’s Fran-Am Championship winning team. Due to logistic reasons, the AIM Autosport group will be forced to miss the Putnum Park test. Two more tests planned at Shannonville and Mosport will take place as Hinchcliffe will look to become even more comfortable with his ride in the hunt for the first ever Formula BMW USA Championship.

The young Canadian is looking forward to the upcoming season. Hinchcliffe will compete in the entire Formula BMW USA championship, selected Formula Ford 1600 races and karting events throughout North America in 2004. Stars of Karting and SKUSA events are on the schedule for Hinchcliffe as he will continue to train and hone his skills in the shifterkart ranks.

4/22/04

Interview with Mark Taylor and Ed Carpenter  

INDY RACING LEAGUE
WEEKLY TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
Ed Carpenter and Mark Taylor

4/22/04

Latest F1 News in brief 
F1 aces play soccer for Ayrton
Pantano's familiar territory
McLaren step was 'too big'
Rossi tries Ferrari for size
Rain not expected at Imola
Britain set to lose GP in 2005
Schu plans on 'four from four'
Theissen supports Imola axe
Rubens in Portugal
Schu blamed himself for Senna crash
Jordan lost a friend in 1994
Prince Andrew in China
Bernie's tobacco solution
Imola lost its spectacle
Senna was better than Schu
A1 and Bahrain
No F1 boycott in Spain
Williams not ready to win: BMW
Toyota engine is most powerful

4/22/04

First Champ Car race on Spike TV bombs  UPDATE A reader responds, Dear AutoRacing1, While it would be terrific to have Champ Car races on network, let's be realistic. The only way Champ Car can get onto one of the big 4 is via enormously expensive time buys. Open Wheel racing just isn't drawing viewership numbers big enough to justify any other scenario. The IRL may be on ABC, but that's purely a byproduct of the Indy 500 - if they were to try to get a separate TV package for their other races it would be on a time-buy basis, the viewer numbers just aren't there. So it's a chicken and egg situation. Champ Car has to rebuild its fan base, stabilize its market identity, improve its marketing and gradually build viewership numbers until the networks come knocking. Any other approach is unsustainable, as established by that bankrupt company known as CART. Don't forget to add in Fox Espanol along with HDNet, and be sure you consider the whole International TV package once that's established and stabilized. How about a number for total households in North America - Canada and Mexico included? It would have been nice if your headline were "Spike Long Beach ratings increase 235%" rather than "ratings bomb". The glass is half full, my friend. Lando Magee, Houston, Texas  Dear Lando, While you make some good points (especially about combining all the various ratings to give a total no. of viewers - OWRS needs to publish this), you must know that we look at it on a cost per viewer basis.  Certainly CBS costs much more per broadcast when in a time buy situation.  However, CBS races generally garner from 1.5 to 1.8 million viewers for each Champ Car race.  Compare that to the 319,000 that tuned in last Sunday.  That's 5 times more viewers.  If the cost on CBS isn't five times more (it's not) than CBS is cheaper on a per viewer basis.  How does a team walk into a potential sponsors office and try to sell them with a 0.2 TV rating?  How many engine manufacturers are going to want to build engines for a series with 0.2 TV ratings? Of course TV ratings are not everything, but they are the cheapest way to reach eyeballs, which in turn helps to sell sponsorship.  It's a vicious circle.  Since most of the races are taped delayed on Spike in the majority of households anyway, they would be better off broadcasting the races in Prime Time on Sunday evenings.  The ratings would be far higher.  The Indy 500 used to get ratings of 14 and 15 when it was taped delayed in Prime Time on ABC.  When they made it live in the afternoon the TV Ratings plummeted to under 10 and now down to 4+.  Mark C.  4/21/04 - We made a big pitch last year about why OWRS needed to move more races to CBS, not less.  Well they decided not to put any on network TV and now they are paying the price.  The final rating on Spike TV for this weekend's Champ Car race in Long Beach was a 0.2/0.5 Share with 205,000 households (319,000 viewers) tuned in. This number does not include those tuned in to HDNet and to the internet broadcast (we will attempt to get a cumulative number). Dangerous Curves got an additional 175,000 households at 10:30 AM Sunday morning.  While pathetically low, last year's Long Beach race on SPEED TV garnered only 87,000 households, so it's 235% higher in 2004.  Paul Gentilozzi said Viacom was really going to get behind Champ Car.  Well they had better start advertising the race broadcasts on CBS and MTV soon, because if they don't embrace Champ Car fully, forget about it.  Mark C.

4/22/04

Horner: Enge belongs in Champ Car  UPDATE  Put Enge in a car, ASAP!  I was severely disappointed to find out that Marques was getting the ride than Enge. If Champ Car wants to become tier number two to F1, the F3000 drivers need to clearly see that Champ Car is the way. Furthermore, the respect for driver quality will soon be quelled by scooping up all the F3000 and Atlantic champions into Champ Car. At that point, clearly Champ Car would be the way if you want to race the best and to give you a shot at F1 (that is not to say that many F1 drivers would have an easy time in Champ Car anyway). If Enge was to get a ride in Champ Car, the top 3 drivers over the past 3-4 years from F3000 would be in Champ Car (Junqueira, Bourdais, Enge). Give the guy a ride and a chance....I'm sure he can do better than many others in the series. D. Hughes, Jacksonville, FL  4/21/04 - This week's Autosport Magazine has quotes from Arden team owner Christian Horner and Tomas Enge regarding Enge's choice to race in F3000 again.  Driving for Arden International, Enge (pictured right) should have been the Formula 3000 International champion in 2002, but he was docked his win and 10 points in Hungary for failing a drugs test.  As a result he finished third in the championship, six points behind champion Sebastien Bourdais. His team boss from that year, Christian Horner, believes his Czech charge proved enough back then to make this year’s return unnecessary.   “It is a waste of Tomas’s talent putting him in F3000 again,” says Horner. “Someone with his ability should be in Champ Cars or Indy Cars. It’s great he sees F3000 as a step back to the top, but he’s already shown us enough.”   Horner also fears that Enge’s return can only harm his reputation. He says: “He had a great season with us in ’02, winning four of 12 races. This year he needs to exceed that just to make an impression. Even then, if he wins everyone will say it’s because he’s got so much experience. If he doesn’t he will be written off.  “He’s up against it too, joining a new team and with pit-stops to be taken into account. A year in sports cars won’t have slowed him down, but he’s going to find a bunch of youngsters coming through capable of having a go at him. Tomas isn’t the sort of person who’s afraid of anyone, but the pressure is on him to perform.”   Enge goes on to say, “I have heard everything since signing,” he shrugs. “Some people think it is a good thing, others think it is a bad thing. But rather than talk about it I want to shut people’s mouths with my results. That’s the target for a racing driver, isn’t it? It’s all about beating other people on equal terms. So let’s see what happens when the season starts.”    Some, including Christian Horner, Enge’s team boss at Arden International in 2002, argue that the 27-year-old has already done more than enough to justify his place higher up the racing ladder. After all, he has raced against and beaten the likes of Justin Wilson and Sebastien Bourdais on a regular basis in the past.   “It doesn’t matter who has been faster than who in the past,” counters Enge. “I am not jealous, because these people are racing in the series they are in because they belong there, and I don’t think that just because I beat them I deserve to be there too. You can say that in ’02 I drove as well as Sebastien [Bourdais], that’s a fact. But if I can get a seat in Champ Cars, it doesn’t mean that I would automatically be as fast as him again. I need to work at it, prove again that I deserve the chance, and then get out there and do the job.”   “We know that there are a few possibilities in America or F1 for next year, or maybe even later this season. The goal is to do the best job possible and use F3000 to get me back to where I want to be.”

4/21/04

Rahal to be inducted   As a child, Bobby Rahal dreamed of racing cars on the same tracks as his heroes Dan Gurney and Graham Hill.  He never thought he would become a racing hero. On April 22, Rahal, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner, will reach another racing dream when he becomes the newest member of the prestigious International Motorsports Hall of Fame. In a special presentation in Talladega, Ala., Rahal will be inducted along with "Red" Farmer, Bill France Jr., Shirley Muldowney and Bill Muncey. Rahal retired from competitive driving in 1998 but still owns three racing teams.

4/21/04

Rossi stuns F1 establishment in first F1 test  UPDATE Added photo of Rossi with Michael Schumacher courtesy of Ferrari.  4/21/04 - This Autosport article says, Moto GP World Champion Valentino Rossi is lapping the Ferrari test track at Fiorano today and the Italian superstar has already shown a massively impressive aptitude for Formula 1. Rossi had never driven any kind of single-seater before today's outing in a F2003 behind closed-doors at Fiorano, but he has already gone faster than Ferrari tester Luciano Burti's mark for the day. Rossi is reported to have made a huge impression in lapping the track in 59.0s - that's only three seconds off Michael Schumacher's record.

4/21/04

PUMA extends deal with PKV Racing  Following a successful first season, PKV Racing today announced an extension of their existing supplier agreement with PUMA that will renew the global athletic brand’s services to provide the second-year Champ Car team with fireproof racing suits, footwear and racewear for drivers Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings, Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and their respective PKV crew members (Photo above by Adriano Manocchia). “We thank PUMA for the ongoing support they have shown us over the winter, and for turning around a sizeable order even after a late start to the 2004 Champ Car season,” said PKV General Manager Russell Cameron. “It became evident in Long Beach that PUMA’s product line for PKV Racing complemented the team’s new livery, as the eye-catching racewear drew its fair share of attention in the paddock.” PUMA representatives were on hand last weekend for the season opener in Long Beach, and were once again proud to display their logo on the duo of 750hp Lolas for PKV Racing. “At PUMA we are delighted to continue our partnership with PKV Racing” said PUMA Sport Promotion Manager Motorsport Bruno Vaglienti. “The team was PUMA's first racewear partner in the US and we are very happy to continue working with them in the upcoming season.”  PKV Racing

4/21/04

Senna feared Schumacher's car was illegal  This week's Autosport Magazine is a special edition on Ayrton Senna.  In it is a piece on what we have heard for years, that Michael Schumacher's car was using traction and launch control.  Senna pushed too hard to stay ahead of the illegal car and crashed, killing himself.  The Autosport piece  - "Sources close to Ayrton Senna have revealed the Brazilian’s final grands prix were overshadowed by his conviction that arch rival Michael Schumacher’s Benetton was illegal.  Although the 1994 Benetton was never found to be outside the regulations in post-race checks, former teammate Alain Prost and team boss Ron Dennis both claim Senna did not feel he was competing on a level playing field during that season.  Prost said: “After I retired we started to talk about a few things, personal things… he called me a few times, sometimes for no reason. He just wanted to talk a little bit. He had problems with the car, and he was convinced that Benetton was cheating, and he was very upset about that. I don’t say that – it was him saying that to me!”  Dennis was not as specific about Senna’s beliefs, but he did hint that the Brazilian was not entirely supportive of Schumacher.  “He [Ayrton] felt that there was a part of Formula 1 that was prepared to win at all costs and there was a group of people that fell into that category, not just drivers but elements of teams or whole teams,” he said. “He felt that certainly Michael fell into that category. That was never his way of doing F1; it was never mine or my team’s way of doing F1.”  The suspicions about Benetton revolve around the possible use of traction control and launch control, which had both been banned before the start of the 1994 season.  The FIA, motorsport’s governing body, analyzed the team’s software systems at the time and found options to engage the banned systems, but it concluded that there was no definitive proof they had been used during a race.  Benetton was warned that year after illegal modifications were found on its refueling equipment.  Interestingly, many of those same people are still with Schumacher at Ferrari and their domination continues. 

4/21/04

Portland testing update  No test times for some teams today from Portland.  It rained all night and into this morning.  Most will run tomorrow when weather should be a bit better.  May see a few times from today.  Stay tuned....  Mark C.

4/21/04

Haug admits they were too ambitious  Mercedes sports chief Norbert Haug has admitted the McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team were too ambitious in their development for the 2004 Grand Prix season. "Yes, we made mistakes. We have problems with the whole package. We wanted to take a giant stride in development and perhaps it was too big," he told Stern magazine. McLaren have notched up a paltry four points after the opening three races but Haug ruled out a major new development of chassis and engine for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on July 25. Instead, they plan to work on the existing model.

4/21/04

Dalziel test at Portland  Fresh from a victorious season-opening weekend at Long Beach, California, Toyota Atlantic Championship leader Ryan Dalziel flew north to the Portland International Raceway, Oregon to test his #28 ProWorks Sierra Sierra Enterprises car yesterday in preparation for Rounds 4 and 5 of the series there in June (18-20th). As the only double-header event on the 12-race Toyota Atlantic calendar, the Portland weekend could be crucial to championship challenges. With this in mind several of the teams in the series flew directly to Oregon following Sunday’s opening round in the glamorous surroundings of Long Beach. Dalziel and Sierra Sierra Enterprises dominated events in California with the ‘flying Scot’ leading home a team 1-2 finish for the Nevada-based sophomore squad. Portland holds happy memories for Ryan as he enjoyed an equally dominant weekend there last year capturing pole position before going on to score his second win from three races. The 22-year-old’s margin of victory over Joey Hand in second was an impressive 14.4 seconds! Testing at the 1.9-mile permanent road course yesterday Dalziel and the team concentrated on fine-tuning the set-up from last year’s triumph despite the changing dry to wet conditions. At the end of the day Ryan and team-mate Andrew Ranger were once again placed at the top of the time sheets, continuing to set the pace as they have done since testing commenced back in March.

Reflecting on his preparations Ryan commented: “We enjoyed a couple of hours solid running before the rain fell. This isn’t unusual for Portland so it was good to be able to test both dry and wet set-up’s as we could encounter similar conditions when we return to race in June. My car was good straight off the back of the truck from California. We worked on last year’s set-up and really there wasn’t a lot else to do as we set the pace once more. I think with all the experience gained from last year’s campaign we’re really in great shape for this season. Long Beach was the perfect result to kick start the year and I know we’ll be competitive at every track. There are a couple of races to run before we get back to Portland and they both hold good memories for me. I finished second in Monterrey, Mexico in my Toyota Atlantic debut and I won Milwaukee last season, my first win in the series and all the more special as it was from pole and on an oval!” Ryan leads the Toyota Atlantic Driver Standings with 34 points. Monterrey, Mexico hosts Round 2 of the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship on 23rd May..  Sierra Sierra Racing

4/21/04

Tracy's secret  UPDATE A reader responds, You are spot on about how Tracy passes the backmarkers. Standing on the new permanent bridge we could watch passing at both turn one and turn six. I got to comparing Tracy’s passes to those of Bourdais. There was to be a clear difference. Tracy passed with intimidating authority. The corner worker never had to wave his blue flag. But it seemed that many times Bourdais needed the assistance of the blue flag. And please note, I picked Bourdais to win the race and the championship – so I’m not dumping on him. I’m just reporting on what I clearly witnessed. However, I am aware that N/H had resolved themselves to accept the two lower spots on the podium, so why not wait for a safe pass. And it will be a long time before we forget how Tracy put his championship in “unnecessary” danger with his passing attempt in Miami.   On a related note, while there are many things involved in da Matta’s lack of success, I continue to believe that he needs to sharpen his passing.  Jeff Skinner, Northridge, California  4/21/04 - Studying the lap times last Sunday - on cold tires/heavy fuel Paul Tracy is clearly the best....really, no one else is close...also, he really lays down the times late in the session...those two attributes are going to make him tough to beat this year...A few guys have his outright pace over a lap but no one is doing it as consistently...the other thing we noticed is that when he laps guys you can tell they are intimidated...as if they are scared to get in his way...almost like Michael Schumacher...It is up to the others to really step up their game...right now, none of the other drivers are the complete package Paul Tracy is.  Can they meet the challenge?  We shall know in a few short weeks.  Mark C.

4/21/04

Sabates lashes out at NASCAR  Chip Ganassi Racing part-owner Felix Sabates lashed out at NASCAR Tuesday for stripping 25 driver points from Jamie McMurray as a result of his car being confiscated March 26 during the race weekend at Bristol. The violation was similar to those of the teams of Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch last season, which resulted in NASCAR confiscating both of those cars. Stewart did not have any points taken. Busch did. However, it was the only Cup race Busch entered in 2003, making the penalty virtually meaningless. "This is pure, unadulterated (BS)," Sabates fumed. "You have got to be consistent in this sport. NASCAR is not too consistent right now. "(Joe) Gibbs (Stewart's owner) didn't get any points taken from him when this happened to Tony last year and Tony was in the hunt for a championship." Sabates said he and primary owner Chip Ganassi asked for an explanation of the penalty from NASCAR President Mike Helton but didn't receive a satisfactory response. "The only sorry excuse they had was that they took points from Kyle Busch. Well, big (expletive deleted) deal. He was running one race and the penalty came out after the damn season was over," Sabates said. "We are in the middle of a championship battle with an even greater priority this season with the 26-race deal and we lose points for the same violation as someone else and they didn't lose points. That is (BS)." Sabates was also livid at the slow response time of the penalty, which came three weeks since the cars were taken. "They told us that day what was wrong. What the hell have they been doing?" he said. "This is just sorry--- management, sorry management." ThatsRacin.com

4/21/04

Berger to drive Senna Lotus  Ayrton Senna's McLaren teammate Gerhard Berger will drive a lap of honor of the Imola circuit on Sunday, in honor of the Brazilian who was killed at the Italian track in May 1994.  Berger will driver Senna's 1986 Lotus 98T, a car in which he won two rounds of the World Championship. The main grandstand at Imola will be renamed 'Tribuna Ayrton Senna' in honor of the three-time World Champion.

4/21/04

Schumacher blamed himself for Senna accident  This Planet F1 article says, Ten years after the death of Ayrton Senna the question still remains, what or who was responsible for his untimely death at the San Marino GP. But Michael Schumacher believed at the time that he knew the answer - he was to blame.

According to Di Spiers, who was in charge of the Benetton motor home in 1994, Schumacher was very upset after the race despite having won it. The German's distress caused by the fact that he felt responsible for Senna's accident, which cost the Brazilian his life.

"He cried his eyes out," she told The Times. "He said it was his fault because he pushed Ayrton too hard, which it wasn't, of course. But he was heartbroken and we tried to comfort him."

Schumacher and Senna had often pushed one another hard on track striving to get the upper hand as the young Benetton driver attempted to surpass the three-times World Champion. But Schumacher, won went on to win the 1994 World title, does not regret their battles as he feels they won him Senna's respect.

"There were many circumstances where I felt I was not respected at all by him and at certain times he tried to teach me a lesson on the circuit," he said. "But from this base, at the beginning of my Formula One career, I believe I became respected by him and I can be proud that we got on well at the end."

While some of the drivers flew to São Paulo to attend Senna's funeral Schumacher opted not to. However, it's a decision he now regrets.

"To feel what I felt at that time it was not necessary to go to church or be present at the funeral," he said. "I don't go to church, but I know what I believe, what I think and what my emotions are. It would have been easy to be there because Ayrton was my idol from back when I saw him in a go-kart race."

Explaining why he didn't attend he said: "At the time, my emotions and feelings about racing were confused. I didn't know if I wanted to continue racing. It was only after a test at Silverstone that I felt I could go on. Without that test I would not have been able to go to the next race feeling sure I could drive normally."

4/21/04

One small - but crucial step - for series This SPEED TV article talks about how making the Long Beach race was a small, but crucial step, toward restoring the Champ Car series to its former greatness.

4/21/04

Champ Car show goes on This Portland Oregonian article talks about about Champ Car's upcoming race in Portland and how glad the Portland folks are that the Long Beach race was a huge success.

4/21/04

McMurray and Foyt docked points  Jamie McMurray and Larry Foyt were docked 25 points apiece Tuesday by NASCAR for bringing cars to Bristol Motor Speedway that did not meet specifications. The cars were confiscated March 26 during a pre-event inspection and have been held by NASCAR at its research and development facility in Concord, N.C. "The process of gathering data from the two cars we confiscated has been completed,'' said Nextel Cup series director John Darby. ``In addition to collecting the data we needed, we have been able to refine the overall process so that we have the ability to react very quickly to this type of situation in the future, specifically if this should occur in the final 10 races."

4/21/04

Latest F1 News in brief 
Sauber unveil improvements
Imola is tough, says Massa
Bernie takes control of Brit GP
Brawn tells rivals to 'take risks'
Michelin eye Imola win
Fisi fond of Imola
Prost remembers Senna
Nick stays positive
Hill: Senna made a mistake
Albers and F1
Rubens: Remember Ayrton's 'life'
Jordan and Senna
Rubens wept at Senna funeral
What's Bernie up to?
Webber: don't slow F1 down

4/21/04

Lawsuit not settled, Burton crashes  This Progressive Index newspaper article says, Despite published reports which say the lawsuit between NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway stockholder Francis Ferko is close to being settled, NASCAR president Mike Helton insists there is no deal on the table.   Ferko is suing the sanctioning body to get a second Nextel Cup date for TMS, which has played host to only one race every season since its inception in 1997.  "That's still in its process," HeIton said in the garage area at Martinsville Speedway on Friday. "But our policy is not to comment on it."...............Haas CNC driver Ward Burton scared himself on the outskirts of Danville on Monday at 7:30 a.m., when he feel asleep behind the wheel of his Chevy Suburban heading south on Route 29, hit a guardrail and tumbled down an embankment. The impact totaled Burton's ride, but he learned a valuable lesson.  "I'm not sore at all, but it was pretty irresponsible on my part putting my family through what I did," the 42-year-old said. "I made a pretty stupid mistake and I'm going to make some more, but I won't make that one again."  Burton became drowsy after completing his daily workout at 4:30 a.m., but he ignored his body's request for sleep and tried to make a two-hour trip from his Halifax County home to the Haas CNC shop in Charlotte, N.C., for a team meeting at 9:30 a.m.   "I had my whole day worked out, but I nodded one time," Burton said, shaking his head with disgust.

4/20/04

Hill: No one to blame but Senna himself  According to this TSN.ca article, Damon Hill says no one is to blame for the death of Ayrton Senna, except the Brazilian himself. "I have listened and read endless theories about why, or how, he could have crashed on such a 'simple' corner like Tamburello," the former world champion and Senna's teammate in 1994 wrote in the Times newspaper on Tuesday. "I am convinced that he made a mistake, but many people will never believe he could." Hill says Senna was a great driver who always pushed the car to the limit when he raced. As for speculation that the failure of a modified steering column was to blame for the crash and subsequent death, Hill says that's not possible. "It is inconceivable to me that Ayrton's column could have broken with the power steering working normally, which I believe it was from the data subsequently retrieved from his car," he writes. "In fact, the column could easily withstand the considerably increased loading for the whole race distance." Hill added that following the crash, he drove the remainder of the race with the power steering capability turned off as a precaution. Recently, an Italian supreme court re-opened the possibility of a new trial in the Senna death. In the first trial, team principals Frank Williams, Patrick Head and Adrian Newey were acquitted of manslaughter charges in Senna's death. "No one other than Ayrton Senna and me know what it was like to drive that car, through that corner, in that race, on that day, on cold tires. Ultimately we will never know what Ayrton was thinking, or what really happened." Hill says for a long time he questioned whether or not the race should have continued on that fateful May afternoon. Teams were not informed of Senna's death until after the race was completed, which was won by Michael Schumacher. "I thought for a long time that the blame lay at the feet of those who make the rules," he wrote. "But now I see it as it is. It is sport. It is entertainment. "You don't have to do it. Ayrton did not have to do it. He had a choice on that Sunday and, incredibly sadly, he made the wrong one."

4/20/04

IRL notes of interest   Dan Wheldon, 25, who won the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi on April 17 and has finished in the top 10 in nine consecutive IRL IndyCar® Series events, responded to a post-race question about a potential future in Formula One with a stare and snicker.  "I came over to America in 1999 because I thought the way the motor racing over there, in comparison to Europe, works is there's a lot more opportunity," said Wheldon, a native of Emberton, England. "I've certainly been graced with a great opportunity with Andretti Green Racing, Honda, driving the Jim Beam car.   This league is truly amazing. I mean, there is no championship in the world that you can compete in knowing that probably 12 to 15 cars can actually win the race. To win is so, so difficult, but it makes it so, so rewarding when you do. I mean, I just love being part of it.   We have great teams. There are a lot of good drivers. We have great engine manufacturers. I just enjoy this league a great deal and look forward to being here for a long time. I think now that I won this race for Honda, it will help me stay here for longer."..........IndyCar Series team owner Michael Andretti will be interviewed on the premiere episode of "Driving Force" on Speed Channel.  Andretti, who fields the IndyCar Series entries of Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta, will be interviewed during the one-hour program.  "Driving Force," which is hosted by Dan McLaughlin and Heather Pennell, airs at 8 p.m. (EDT) on April 21.

4/20/04

M'Ville truck ratings on SPEED  The NASCAR Craftsman Trucks Series race from Martinsville scored a .77 (470,000 households) on SPEED Channel. Ratings for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series are up 61 percent from 2003 (.69 three-race average in 2003, 1.11 three-race average in 2004).

4/20/04

SAFER going up at Lowe's  The most extensive SAFER barrier installation at any NASCAR-sanctioned speedway is underway at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Approximately 6,100-linear feet of the steel and foam energy-reducing barrier will be in place for the Coca-Cola 600 Month of May race events. LMS PR

4/20/04

Photos of Tom Cruise at Long Beach  Actor Tom Cruise was a guest of Paul Newman at last weekend's Champ Car Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  The photos below were taken by Dan Boyd.  Cruise is the passenger in the 2-seat car shown.

4/20/04

Newman/Haas car at McDonald's convention  Newman/Haas Racing is very well represented at the McDonald's Worldwide Convention which is going on now in Orlando, Florida. The Newman/Haas McDonald's car (Sebastien Bourdais) is displayed prominently at the convention. Paul Newman will make an appearance with Mike Roberts, President of McDonald's USA, in front of all 9000+ attendees.

4/20/04

Martinsville overnight TV rating  The overnight TV rating for this past Sunday's Nextel Cup race from Martinsville on FOX was a 4.4/11 share, down from a 4.6 rating last year.  However, because the red flag caused the race to run late the rating from 5 to 6:45 PM went up to 5.4/11 share.  The final last year was 5.3/14 share.  We suspect the final rating will be down again, which means NASCAR will be batting 1,000 for 2004 - every race has had lower TV ratings than the year before, on average 5% lower.

4/20/04

Panoz factory team to enter GT-LM class  According to this Motorsport.com article Panoz Motor Sports, one of the most successful entrants in the history of the American Le Mans Series, will return to the series and race a new Panoz Esperante GT-LM in the June 25-27 event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The full factory entry in the GT class of the ALMS will be driven by Gunnar Jeannette of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and David Saelens of Belgium as Panoz Motor Sports returns to action for the first time since the end of the 2002 season.

The GT-LM is based on the Panoz Esperante road car built by Panoz Auto Development and is powered by a 5.0 litre modular V-8 engine from Elan Power Products. It will race on Pirelli Tires. The car has been under development and testing for several months in anticipation of its competitive debut. "We're back," said Don Panoz, owner of Panoz Motor Sports. "We wanted to build and race a car that is more in line with the cars that we sell for the road, so we took some time away to make that happen. We're looking forward to racing at Mid-Ohio."

4/20/04

Jos' camp feeling 'positive' after Jordan meeting  According to this Planet-F1 article Jos Verstappen's agent Raymond Vermeulen is feeling confident about the Dutchman's future after meeting with Eddie Jordan on Monday. Vermeulen and Jordan met for the first time since negotiations to get Verstappen into this year's Jordan broke down two weeks before the season-opening Australian GP. They were both invited to the Dordrecht headquarters of Trust, who sponsor both the driver and the team, at the request of the company's CEO Michel Perridon.

Although Verstappen's website is quick to insist, "no conclusions should be drawn" from the meeting Vermeulen admitted he is feeling optimistic about The Boss' chance of returning to the F1 grid.

"My presence at that meeting has to been seen as a positive signal and comes as a result of the renewed co-operation between Trust and Verstappen, that is why Michel Perridon invited me," said Vermeulen. "Both parties have underestimated the faith of this co-operation. That is why we can still see a future for Jos Verstappen in Formula One."

4/20/04

Ecclestone secures rights for Silverstone GP  According to this BreakingNews.ie article The future of the British Grand Prix appears to be secure after Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone bought the rights to the race. Ecclestone has long been a critic of Silverstone, the circuit which hosts the race, but has used his own money to improve facilities there and has taken that a step further today by taking control of the event itself. The Englishman, through his Formula One Administration company, has bought the rights to the grand prix off Interpublic, who owned them until 2015. Silverstone’s owners, the British Racing Drivers’ Club, welcomed today’s news and said they expected the race to continue to be held at the Northamptonshire track.

A statement read: “The BRDC believes it is of paramount importance to the sport and industry in the UK that we retain the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. “We are continuing discussions with our partners, including Formula One Administration, the Interpublic Group and the British government, and remain committed to playing our part in retaining the Grand Prix. “In the expectation that Mr Ecclestone wishes to retain the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, we welcome the acquisition of the rights to the event by FOA. “We look forward to hearing Mr Ecclestone’s plans for the future success and stability of the British Grand Prix.”

4/20/04

Schwan’s Dodge Boasts New Paint Scheme  The #49 Schwan’s Home Service Dodge of driver Ken Schrader will take on a new look beginning this weekend at the 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The car, fielded by BAM Racing, brings a darker blue to the front end and roof of the Schwan’s Home Service Dodge, making it stand out even more on the race track.

“This jazzes it up a good bit and I think our fans are going to really like it,” said Schrader. “It will be a lot easier to find on the race track, and the ‘Schwan’s’ stands out a little bit better too. We don’t want anybody missing that part of it!” Said Howard Miller, Vice President of Corporate Relations, Schwan’s: “We chose to brighten up the car to more closely match Kenny’s wonderful personality. In addition, we believe our employees and customers will find the new color scheme more appealing and more quickly spot their favorite driver.”

Is the change permanent? “Yeah, about as permanent as anything can be in this sport,” said Schrader. The new paint scheme will first hit the track for pole qualifying Friday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

4/20/04

Resurfacing may get more extensive at Martinsville  According to this Slam! article A resurfacing job scheduled to begin next week at Martinsville Speedway may get a lot more extensive if inspection crews find more evidence of failing spots in the concrete turns. A large chunk of cement came loose in the lower groove of the third turn during Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race, leaving a pothole about a foot wide by a foot long and a depression as deep as 7.6 centimeters. The race was red-flagged after Jeff Gordon ran over the chunk and damaged his car, and repairs to the track took over an hour.

Track president W. Clay Campbell said Monday he still doesn't know what caused the cement to come loose. He said the track had been inspected after a truck race Saturday night and nothing appeared wrong. "If we could have seen that problem ahead of time, it wouldn't have been a problem," Campbell said. "We inspect the track every night."

The cement that came loose was at an expansion joist where grooves filled with flexible material allow the track to grow and shrink in extreme weather. The cement had been in place since 1976, Campbell said, and had been ground down for leveling purposes just over a year ago. That work turned the .526-mile oval into a two-groove racing surface, a development heralded by drivers as a big improvement.

Crews will begin removing all the asphalt from the track next Monday, Campbell said, but he's not yet sure whether the concrete repairs can be restricted to the affected area or need to be more extensive. "I don't want to hit the panic button over one problem, but while it may be a small problem, it caused a big problem," he said of the delay. "I don't want to have to redo everything just because of one issue."

The asphalt replacement will cost about $250,000 US. The repair of the pothole could prove as easy as cutting out an area 60 cm wide by 60 cm long and pouring concrete to match the rest of the surface. The turns at Martinsville were milled last year to remove some lumps and add small grooves that evened the racing speeds in both grooves. Campbell, who was part of the crew that laid the lower groove in 1976, said the grinding could have compromised the concrete that broke off, and that softer tires used in the race could have been a factor, too.

4/20/04

Interpublic to ditch British GP   This Autosport article says, The Interpublic Group is to terminate its contract to run the British Grand Prix at Silverstone following this year's race in July. As part of the termination, Interpublic will pay $93million to Formula One Administration.

Interpublic, the world's second-largest advertising company, was bound under the contract to promote the event until 2015. In its annual report last month, it estimated that this would cost approximately $460million.

Following this year's event, Interpublic and its subsidiary, Silverstone Motorsports Ltd, will be released from their obligations as the promoter of the British GP. Interpublic will pay the $93million to Formula One Administration to terminate the contract, but will remain bound under its Silverstone lease and its obligations to the British Racing Drivers' Club, which is the landlord of the circuit.

Interpublic will continue to honor its Silverstone lease until the end of 2007, and has estimated further costs of $62million, which includes payments of the remaining amounts under the promoters agreement for the 2004 British GP.

4/20/04

Latest F1 News in brief 
Jordan meets Verstappen agent
Button on a roll
BAR strengthens challenge
Trulli pleased with engine step
New Renault is four tenths quicker
Toyota look long term
Sato disappointed
Alonso on attack despite errors
Panis remembers fallen drivers
New trucks for Bridgestone
Ferrari billed Imola favorite
We don't belong in top ten: Da Matta
Brawn in conflict
Imola to host Michelin fight back?
Hill remembers Ratzenberger
Speed is Senna's legacy: Cristiano
F1 to boycott Spain?
Webber keen to forget flyaways
'Senna' returns to race track
Pantano turns the corner
Kimi gets Bandini award
Remembering Roland
Jaguar unveil new sponsor

4/19/04

Petty to appear on CNN  Kyle Petty, driver of the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge, will be interviewed live nationally at 3:15 p.m. (EDT), Wednesday, Apr. 21, by CNN. The interview will be part of the show Live From . . . with Kyra Phillips and Miles O'Brien.

4/19/04

Feedback on Champ Car TV  Dear AutoRacing1.com, A few notes following the Long Beach Grand Prix. First of all, I think the TV production was awesome. I watched the race on HDNT and it was magnificent, from the pre-race till the end. I switched to Spike TV to see the difference and I would recommend people try and get the HDNet feed, there are no commercials you get to see the entire race and beautiful pictures. Now, my only problem with the broadcast has to be Bob Jenkins. I was never a fan of him being the Indy voice and all, but I am willing to give him more time to acclimate himself to the series. Jenkins needs to learn the pronunciation of the drivers' names. You can't be the voice of a series and repeatedly call Tarso Marques (Marquis), and you definitely can't mispronounce Herdez (one of our biggest sponsors). I think the producers should have been correcting him during the broadcast. When the Spike feed went to commercial, there was another announcer that continued the play-by-play announcement of the race and that guy was great. I felt like this was a hot race with close battles, I think that guy should get more air time, because he was great. Made me feel like I was watching the Spanish Channel soccer announcer with the Goaaaaallllllllll calls! He has a more British accent and I frankly looked forward to them going to commercial to hear this guy call the race.  It was great! All said, this race was great, the production was great. I liked the fact that the owners of OWRS spoke directly to the fans and this was a top notch production. Now let's get racing. Ray Jaber, Florida  Another writes,  Dear AutoRacing1, I know it's not your deal, but I thought I'd give some constructive feedback to Champ Car through you.
1. Dangerous Curves is ok. I think as time goes on Bronte will become more comfortable and the show will flow a bit better. The production seemed a bit Mickey Mouse. Also, showing a clip of Penske in the final segment was a mistake in my opinion. 2. Bill Jenkins is very stiff as always. Mispronouncing team names and driver names is bad. The good banter between Varsha and Kendall last year is gone. Jenkins seemed like he never called a Champ Car race before and he was calling it for people that never saw one before. Once again perhaps as the season winds on he will improve. I just felt like coming out of the box it was very important to have it great, for those who were watching for the first time. 3. Toyota advertisement. What's up with allowing them to advertise Toyota IRL commercials during the race? They never mentioned or show the IRL logo, but we knew who they were talking about. I know money is money, but that just seemed wrong to me. Why couldn't they do an Atlantic's commercial instead? I thought you might like to share this fans perspective. Thank you, Sam Mancuso, Miami, FL

4/19/04

The real winner was Champ Car  This SPEEDTV article says, Paul Tracy and Paul Gentilozzi took the checkered flags here Sunday afternoon but the real winner was Champ Car.

Following a winter of discontent, defections and depressing news, the series formerly known as CART finally opened its season with 18 cars.

But the most impressive numbers were in the grandstands, paddock, pits, convention center and standing at the fence around the 1.9-mile street circuit.

Despite all the uncertainty just a few weeks ago about whether Champ Car would even answer the bell in 2004, the people of southern California turned out just like they have for the past 30 years.

Sure, it wasn't the largest crowd ever and there were some empty seats, but the estimated 75,000 fans answered the biggest question hanging over open wheel racing's most storied weekend in this country.

The three-day turnout was somewhere between 150,000 and 170,000, not bad considering it rained most of Saturday,

"Under the circumstances, I am both surprised and pleased," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Long Beach Grand Prix Association. "You just can't say enough about how supportive our fans are and it's great to see them come out and support this event every year."But, six or eight weeks ago if you'd told me we'd have this kind of response, well it would have exceeded all my expectations."

Gerald Forsythe, one of the principals of Open Wheel Racing Series who also fields a three-car team in the series he now co-owns, didn't totally share Michaelian's viewpoint.

"I know it's easy for the press to hang on the negatives and I can see where the public might have wondered what was going on because they're on the outside looking in," said Forsythe, who lost at least $30 million as CART's largest shareholder.

"But I've got two great partners who are determined to see Champ Car succeed and I have no doubt we'll be successful. Thanks to our fans and partners we've gotten off to a good start here and now we can build on that. "To say our work's done, we know that's not true. But the doomsayers can now go take a rest."............"Tony George has tried to kill us but he won't succeed," said Paul Newman, now in his 20th year as a Champ Car owner with Carl Haas, of the Indy Racing League founder. "There are too many people out there who prefer open wheel racing on street and road courses.  I feel a loyalty to these people."

4/19/04

Paul Newman to skip Indy 500   The Newman half of Newman-Haas Racing doesn't intend to be a part of the team's return to the Indianapolis 500 next month.

Actor-racer Paul Newman has long been a vocal critic of Tony George and the Indy Racing League. His ire was raised again in January when George attempted to purchase the assets of a bankrupt CART so he could shut down the series.

Asked if he planned to join partner Carl Haas in bringing a team to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time since 1995, Newman offered a succinct reply: "I'm not gonna be there."

Jim McGee, who has spent the past several years as team manager at Patrick Racing, is heading up the Indy program for Newman-Haas, where he previously served as crew chief for Mario Andretti. McGee skipped Long Beach to continue preparations for the May 9 start of Indy practice.

A Newman-Haas spokesperson said the team is waiting until it has its car, sponsor and driver set before making an official announcement. Brazilian Bruno Junqueira, who won the 2002 Indy 500 pole for owner Chip Ganassi a year after finishing fifth in the race, is almost certain to be the driver.  Indy Star

4/19/04

Long Beach attendance  While no attendance figures are ever released by the promoter (Dover) at Long Beach, the estimated attendance for this year's Toyota Grand prix of Long Beach was 75,000.  Add to that the 52,000 people on Friday and estimated 55,000 on Saturday and the total 3-day attendance was about 183,000.

4/19/04
MotoGP

Rossi does it again  Valentino Rossi is rewriting the MotoGP record books in the same way Michael Schumacher is reshaping Formula One history. Landmarks of all kinds flashed past as the Italian made a breathtaking debut for Yamaha, only Max Biaggi able to rival his pace.  Could 'The Doctor' operate as effectively in his new surroundings? Would he take a while to settle into the job of sorting out the Yamaha? Was this the chink in the Rossi amour his rivals had been waiting for? Yes, no and no were the answers to the three big questions ahead of the opening round of an eagerly-awaited MotoGP series.

Once Rossi had confirmed pre-season potential with the 21st pole position of his premier class career - the first for his new marque in two years - the writing was on the wall, and it spelled out 'Yamaha' in big letters.

Off the line like a startled hare, Rossi had his own game plan and stuck to it.

"My plan was to get a good start and set a high rhythm and I managed to do that," said the 25-year-old Italian.

Though last season's main competitor Sete Gibernau tried to go with the World Champion, it was perennial enemy Max Biaggi, now the Honda standard-bearer, who carried the fight to Rossi from the first to the last of the 28 thrilling laps.

On the final circuit Biaggi looked to have pounced at the right time, but the indomitable Rossi fought back to assert his authority three corners from home. It was small consolation to Biaggi that he eclipsed the lap record with a best lap of 1m33.208s in his vain pursuit.

4/19/04

Latest F1 News in brief 
Rubens not F1's 'nice guy'
Weather halts French test
Panis expects no Imola cure
Williams fix JPM's Bahrain glitch
Theissen pessimistic
Hill's life changed on May 1
New Renault not as 'stable'
F1 boss eighth on 'rich list'
Ralf eyes brother's pace  

Sauber to build own gearbox
Irvine sued
'Long journey' to first win
Rain to fall at Imola
Montoya ignores Ferrari
Dixon drives with broken ankle
Run-off changed at Bahrain
Senna versus Schumacher
Gordon in talks with Williams
Da Matta disillusioned
Glock in action
No points in sight for Toyota
Ferrari send F1 drivers home
Senna was 'pretty shaken up'
McLaren's gearbox problem  

4/19/04

Champ Car fans boo Rahal  All weekend long in Long Beach all we heard were cheers except when Bobby Rahal was introduced as the owner of the Danica Patrick Toyota Atlantic ride.  Then the fans let out a loud boo because they feel Rahal betrayed the Champ Car series in the 11th hour.  They won't soon forget.

4/18/04

Gentilozzi takes victory at Long Beach   Paul Gentilozzi continued his love affair with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday by winning his record fifth Motorock Trans-Am Series race at the famed temporary street circuit.

Driving the No. 3 Jaguar XKR, Gentilozzi started fourth and took the lead from polesitter and Rocketsports Racing teammate Tommy Kendall (No. 11 Jaguar XKR) in turn one on the first lap. Gentilozzi then benefited from Boris Said’s bad luck in turn eight when the driver of the No. 33 Ford Mustang spun into a tire wall just after briefly taking the lead from Gentilozzi.

Gentilozzi then held off a hard-charging Greg Pickett (No. 6 Jaguar XKR) for the victory. Pickett, who started second to last due to a technical infraction in qualifying, made up 14 positions and battled Gentilozzi through the final lap to finish second, a record .233 of a second behind.

“This is a special place for me,” said Gentilozzi, the only multiple-time Long Beach winner. “Boris raced me for awhile, then he backed off. Then I would race him and he’d back off. We were going back and forth, then at the end, as is always the case at Long Beach, something exciting happened Boris spun, and I just made it through the corner.

“Then, I thought I was home free,” added Gentilozzi. “That late caution let Pickett get up behind me, and he had a really good car. On that last lap he raced me harder and maybe I backed off too much and he got up next to me. Then it was just typical Trans-Am, with rubbing and racing.”

“We bought this car from Paul,” said Pickett. “Paul had been telling me for years to make it easy on myself and buy one of his cars. I took his advice and it’s really a solid piece. It is easy to drive. I have a great family to support me, a business that does well, and this is just a hoot. I couldn’t be more thankful.”

Said recovered from his late spin—caused by oil laid down on the track by a cracked oil pan in Kendall’s Jaguar—to finish third. John Baucom (No. 86 Ford Mustang) recorded his best career finish of fourth, ahead of Michael Lewis in the No. 12 Jaguar XKR.

“We were having a great race with Paul,” said Said. “We had a really fast car. We were just pacing the tires at the end. Paul got into some oil and I passed him. Then, unfortunately, I made a mistake in the oil, and he got by.”

The 45-lap race ran in one hour, 13 minutes and 59.463 seconds at an average speed of 71.814 miles per hour. Gentilozzi led every lap and also set the fastest race lap of one minute, 23.082 seconds (85.275 mph). The race was slowed by two caution flags for 10 laps.
1. Paul Gentilozzi, Jaguar XKR, 4, Running.
2. Greg Pickett, Jaguar XKR, 16, Running.
3. Boris Said, Ford Mustang, 2, Running.
4. John Baucom, Ford Mustang, 17, Running.
5. Michael Lewis, Jaguar XKR, 5, Running.
6. Mike Davis, Ford Mustang, 7, Running.
7. Max Lagod, Chevrolet Corvette, 15, Running.
8. Jorge Diaz, Jaguar XKR, 3, Running.
9. Philip Simms (R), Chevrolet Corvette, 12, Running.
10. Randy Ruhlman, Chevrolet Corvette, 11, Running.
11. Tommy Kendall, Jaguar XKR, 1, Mechanical.
12. Bob Ruman, Chevrolet Corvette, 10, Running.
13. Joey Scarallo, Chevrolet Corvette, 14, Mechanical.
14. Edison Lluch (R), Chevrolet Corvette, 8, Contact.
15. Tomy Drissi, Jaguar XKR, 6, Contact.
16. Ross Murray (R), Dodge Viper, 9, Contact.
17. Vincent Ashton (R), Chevrolet Camaro, 13, Contact.

4/18/04

Gerald Forsythe: Defeat is not in my vocabulary   In an exclusive interview with Corsa News and AutoRacing1.com today in Long Beach, Gerald Forsythe had the following comments to say:

Q: In the last six months of saving the Champ Car Series, what was the biggest hurdle?

A: There is no one thing that stood out as most challenging.  I have great partners.  We are going to make Champ Car World Series the best open wheel series in North America and one of the best in the world.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge going forward?

A: We produce a better TV show.  I am very excited about the Spike deal - we have all the ingredients for success.
Q: What about engines?

A: Hopefully Ford will be able to step up to continue.  We are discussing the future with them now, but we are also talking to several other manufacturers around the world. First we must decide on our next engine formula before we come up with a new chassis formula.
Q:  What does the future hold?

A: All the sponsors here this year want to be here and I think in the next year you will see a lot of new sponsors come into the Champ Car series. The future of the Champ Car series is bright. Defeat is not in my vocabulary.

4/18/04

Quote of the week   After today's race in Long Beach Paul Tracy commented on the fact that after the first corner melee, the race ran green the rest of the way.  To that Tracy said, "when we had all the so-called superstars here we had non-stop yellows because they crashed all the time.  We have a great group of drivers in the series now."  Now they are all over in the IRL where they continue to crash all the time, only now it's into concrete walls, which destroys cars and breaks bones.

4/18/04

Damaged track delays NASCAR race  The Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville Speedway was delayed more than one hour after a pothole developed in the track's concrete surface in Turn 3. The Nextel Cup Series race was red-flagged for one hour, 17 minutes and 28 seconds after 290 of 500 laps, after Jeff Gordon's DuPont Chevrolet was damaged by a stray piece of concrete. NASCAR and track officials immediately concocted a patch of quick-sealant for the hole, which was 12 inches by 12 inches and "two to three inches deep," applied it and then used jet dryers in an attempt to dry it more quickly. Officials also sealed two additional holes "about the size of a baseball," one in Turn 3 and another at the entrance to Turn 4. "It's a real similar situation to when you have to make an emergency patch on an Interstate or something," Nextel Cup director John Darby said. "We have special patching materials today that dry quickly and are very hard and very effective."

4/18/04

Tom Cruise in Long Beach   Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise got to ride in the 2-seat Champ Car today in Long Beach before the start of the 30th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Cruise, a guest of Newman's along with Paul McCartney, took a ride in Champ Car's new 2-seater with veteran Roberto Moreno prior to the start of the race. The "Days of Thunder" star, who got into SCCA racing after meeting Newman in the late '80s, raved about the acceleration and brakes upon climbing out and gave Moreno a bear hug. McCartney turned down the invitation to take a lap but watched the race from the Newman-Haas scoring stand with his wife, Heather Mills  SPEEDTV.com

4/18/04

Ranger eyes Champ Car   He's only 17-years old and he's only a rookie in the Toyota Atlantic Series, but already the Canadian sensation says he's looking to move up to Champ Cars.  He said this during today's post-race press conference where he finished 2nd in his debut.

4/18/04

Dalziel wins Toyota Atlantic race in LB   Pole sitter Ryan Dalziel of Ireland led flag-to-flag to win the 2004 Toyota Atlantic series opener in Long Beach this morning,  Second was rookie sensation Andrew Ranger of Canada.  Ranger, in his very first race started 5th and moved up to 3rd early in the race and then benefited when Jon Fogarty broke while running 2nd.  Lynx driver Brian Sellers came home third.  The level of talent in the Toyota Atlantic series is higher than we can remember in years and we predict that all of the top three drivers and Fogarty are future Champ Car material.  When you add in Bremer (4th), Danica Patrick (5th), Jonathan Bomarito (6th), Rocky Moran Jr. (7th), etc and you begin to wonder how all this talent is going to find a seat in Champ Car.  More......

4/18/04

Push-to-pass loophole uncovered   Here's a little tidbit of info about the push-to-pass button we bet you did not know.  As advertised, each driver gets 60 seconds of 50 extra HP each race.  However, for safety reasons there's a little loophole in the rules that we're sure each driver will try to exploit.  Recall that the extra boost stays on until the throttle drops under 85%.  So, for example, if a driver has one second of extra boost coming to them coming out of the hairpin and they press the button as they apply full throttle, the 1 second remaining will expire but the engine will continue to produce 50 extra HP until the throttle drops to less than 85% - i.e. under braking for the first turn, which is a good 10 seconds or more down the road from the hairpin.  Why does it work this way?  Because they don't want a driver to suddenly slow down on a straightaway and have a driver who may be right behind under their rear wing to be caught off-guard and run into the back of the leading car.  Mark C.

4/18/04

Townsend Bell spotted in Long Beach   We ran into Townsend Bell here in Long Beach and quizzed him on what he was up to.  "I'm still looking for a ride and keeping my options open.  There's no seats available here right now but maybe something will open up later in the year."   We talked about the state of open wheel racing and how difficult it is to get a sponsor right now.  "Somehow the business model in open wheel racing has to change to make it more attractive to sponsors," stated Townsend Bell.

4/18/04

F1 people on Britain's Rich List   Bernie Ecclestone is the eighth richest man in Britain, according to the latest edition of the Sunday Times Rich List.  Ecclestone and his wife Slavica are said to have a personal fortune of £2.32bn, though this doesn't include the recent property sales which added another £40m to the Ecclestone coffers.  Thanks to his superb property portfolio, former Jaguar and Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine is now wealthier than his former employers. The Ulsterman is (joint) 267th in the rankings with a personal fortune of £153m.  Former racer Martin Birrane, who now owns Lola, amongst other things, is 372nd (£105m) ahead of 1979 World Champion Jody Scheckter (443rd £90m), who made a killing in the arms industry.  Under-fire McLaren boss Ron Dennis is 491st (£82m) ahead of Frank Williams (527th £76m) and Eddie Jordan (777th £50m).  More.....

4/18/04

Da Matta disappointed with season so far   Toyota's Cristiano da Matta confessed that he was unhappy with the season so far after three races. The Brazilian driver believes the team should have achieved far more by now. "For me it's been very disappointing to see where we stand so far," he said. "We'll keep working hard and keep trying to make it better and hopefully we can find the solutions as soon as we can because right now we're still not where we want to be."   More.....

4/18/04

Ford contract through 2004 only   On or about     April 1, Ford notified Champ Car it would not exercise its option to extend its current contract to supply Ford/Cosworth XFE engines to the Champ Car World Series beyond the 2004 season. “They (Ford) don’t want to renew the contract exactly as is, nor do we,” says Open Wheel Racing Series principal Kevin Kalkhoven. “So, we’re renegotiating. It’s not a big deal, although some may try to make it a big deal. There will be a new agreement.” While Davis stops short of matching Kalkhoven’s confidence, he sees no major impediments to a new contract renewing Ford's relationship with Champ Car. “The last agreement was a two-year deal where we determined the terms in the fall and then signed the contract in December of 2002,” he says. “So if you go by history, we’ll wait until the end of the season to decide on the terms. But I don’t see any gnarling, snarling things in the way.”  SPEED TV   [Editor's Note:  Let's hope OWRS can convince Ford to badge the turbo Cosworth engines with more brands from the Ford family to get a little competition going in the series.  Perhaps the engines can have multiple badges like we have proposed for years with Volvo, Jaguar, or even Mazda]

4/18/04

Long Beach better than Mediterranean   This Long Beach Press Telegram article says, Engines howl, crowds pour in; this is better than the Mediterranean. 

We once knew a newspaper publisher who found auto racing about as exciting as watching paint dry, but you have to take that in context. He didn't like beer, either. And he probably never mingled in the crowds, with screaming engines piercing the air, on a gorgeous Grand Prix race day in downtown Long Beach.

This is enough to stir anyone's juices, even his. For 70 million Americans who love the sport, there is something obsessive about superpowered vehicles competing at the edge of death and destruction, even on an oval track. But street racing is something else.

Downtown Long Beach isn't Monte Carlo, the Mediterranean hometown of Formula One racing, it is better. Fewer Greek magnates and sleek minxes, to be sure, but more earthiness and more energy. For sure more beer.

And in its own way, more beauty. No casinos, palace or villas, but from the air, especially, the palms, the high rises, the sparkling Pacific encircling the Queen Mary, even the somber harbor cranes in the distance, are a stunning backdrop.

More beautiful, perhaps, because downtown has come so far from its low point of years ago, when the open-wheel racers roared past empty storefronts and a decadent PussyCat theater. One aging race driver, recalling those early days, told a newspaper columnist the Long Beach of today with its new office towers, condos and apartments, some still a-building, looks nothing like before. He should have lived here.

He should live here now. We know most of the history, and most of the yet unsolved troubles, and we could tell him a lot more about what's special downtown, and not just downtown.

Among the special things of course is this weekend, race weekend, the 30th anniversary of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Attendance will be 200,000, more or less, and the economic impact $40 million or so, but the numbers tell you nothing. Downtown again is throbbing with noise and human energy, an extraordinary experience, unlike anything on the Mediterranean, unlike anything anywhere.

This year is special for another reason. The Grand Prix, much like its early days of bare survival, almost didn't make it to 2004 because of infighting in the race industry, bankruptcy of the sponsoring agency and other problems too arcane for most of us. Much like watching paint dry.

But it did make it. The trials and preliminary races are done, the crowds are pouring in, and even from where we sit blocks away, we hear the rising, faint howling of engines turning at 15,000 rpm. The excitement is growing. We only wish that former publisher could see us now.

4/18/04

Klien accident curtails Jaguar test   Jaguar F1 driver Christian Klien suffered a high-speed spin, resulting from suspected rear suspension failure, that required extensive repair work in testing yesterday at Imola in preparation for next weekend's Imola race . Therefore, the team  returned to base to finalize preparations for the upcoming San Marino GP in the Milton Keynes based factory.

4/18/04

Champ Car must sell itself   This Indy Star article talks about how the Champ Car World Series has gotten past all the BS and now must go about selling itself to sponsors, TV viewers and manufacturers. 

4/18/04

So much for the close racing  For the side by side, most competitive series in the world, or so they say, we've got bad news.  Now that the aerodynamics have been altered to string the cars out so they don't crash together as much, the last two races had stats are as follows:
PHOENIX; Tony Kanaan Led 191 of 200 laps 95.5%
MOTEGI; Wheldon Led 192 of 200 laps 96.0%

  Much More...click on 2004 archives button below
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