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DATE

News (chronologically)

5/4/04

Milwaukee Mile tidbits  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com,  I went to the Milwaukee Mile today to check out the testing going on there and went to the office to get the itinerary for the races this year.  As I was looking through the 3 day itinerary for Champ car and IRL, I was surprised to find out who the sponsor was for 225-mile IRL race here in Milwaukee which I do not plan to attend.  I am a Champ Car loyalist.  Of all the headquarters we have here in Wisconsin - Miller Beer, Harley Davidson, Briggs and Stratton, John Deere, Tombstone Pizza, Allen Bradley, the race is being sponsored by 2 car owners. John Menard and A.J. Foyt.  It's called the Menard's A J Foyt Indy 225.   I asked the ticket office what the ticket sales count was and they said it is even, but with Champ Car selling a bit faster.  I noticed that The Mile is very neutral to both open wheel series because they are promoting a discount if you buy both races as a package rather than individually.   I am surprised OWRS didn't protest this. Could the ticket sales of the IRL race be high because Marlboro, Honda and etc bought lots of tickets to be given away, or do they wait until just before the race and see what the sales are and buy bulk to give away? Also the Busch series race is a one day event with practice, qualifying, and race all on the same day. How will the Cup drivers do a double if the Savemart/Dodge race has qualifying the same day? Is this correct?  John Fletcher, Milwaukee WI  Dear John, Thanks for this information.  To answer your questions, yes it is quite possible that the IRL sponsors have already bought their bulk free giveaway tickets so they have time to distribute them to customers.  Champ Car doesn't have any sponsors who give away tickets anymore, so the attendance you see is real.  We have always been vehemently against free ticket giveaways because once fans know they can get tickets free, the next year they don't bother buying them.  When Marlboro, etc. gave tickets away in CART it had the same devastating effect on subsequent ticket sales.  Ticket discounting is a more prudent way to build attendance.  As to your Busch questions, the Busch race at Milwaukee is on Saturday and the Cup drivers qualify at Infineon on Friday, so they can be in Milwaukee for the 1-day Busch race.  Mark C.

5/4/04

Team Rahal to again provide Toyota Atlantic test  The Snap-on Stars of Karting announced today that Team Rahal, one of the leading open-wheel racing teams in North America, will again provide a full-day Toyota Atlantic Championship test to the ICC and ICA category winners of the 2003 Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow competition. The two rising stars will each participate in a full-day test in Team Rahal's Argent Mortgage Toyota/Swift with Team Rahal's Toyota Atlantic team at a date and venue to be determined.

"We at Team Rahal are pleased to present the testing opportunity to these future champions, an opportunity that they both will richly deserve," said Bobby Rahal, Team Rahal owner who won the 1986 Indianapolis 500 and three Champ Car championships. "They both had fantastic seasons in their respective divisions and they both have a bright future ahead of them. I have always been a big supporter of karting and this is an inaugural step to new possibilities in future Motorsports. Team Rahal has been involved with the Snap-on Stars of Karting program from the first year and we are proud to continue our involvement in helping develop the next generation of racing champions."

The Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow represents both the pinnacle series in the sport of kart racing and a legitimate step to a possible career in motorsports for some of the younger talent this form of racing provides. Stars gives racers the chance to move onward. Likewise, the racers in the Snap-on Stars of Karting series are among the most talented, promising upcoming drivers, and warrant attention in their own right.

Team Rahal is now in its second decade as one of the leading open-wheel racing teams in North America. Based in Hilliard, Ohio, the team is co-owned by three-time CART champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman. Currently the team campaigns cars in the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series and the Toyota Atlantic Championship.

5/4/04

Renault 2000 series announces TV production deal  North American Formula Renault organizers announced an agreement today with Image Productions to produce thirteen 30-minute shows for television broadcast of the North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship. The format will be a half-hour magazine-style show focused on each race meeting, which will provide significant marketing advantages to the drivers and teams racing in the North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship.

The broadcasts will include highlights from each race and will feature interviews with the top finishers. The magazine-style format will also create the opportunity to give viewers a ‘behind the scenes’ look at a race weekend in the ultra-competitive environment of North American Formula Renault, as well as feature segments highlighting the series, sponsors, drivers, and teams as they fight for the championship and the comprehensive prize package valued at $315,000.

“We have been hard at work as we continue to develop all the elements necessary to successfully promote and develop the North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship, and this is a very big step for our drivers and teams, so we are very much excited to have a company like Image partner with us,” said RaceTeam Promotions President John Kolody.

Image Productions was founded in 1995 and is a full service production company. Image has extensive experience in motorsports, and was most recently involved with producing hour-long shows for the CASCAR West Auto racing series for the Sportsnet network in Canada.

Series officials are working to finalize agreements regarding the broadcast of the programs, and an announcement is expected soon. Image Productions is also working to finalize the on-air talent for the program, and is likewise expected to make that announcement this week.

5/4/04

Mosley gives complete summary of F1 summit  FIA President Max Mosley has given the following details of the Formula 1 meeting in Monaco.   "It was a very good meeting. Where I had expected very significant dispute and debate, there wasn't any. It was very constructive. In a nutshell the proposals for 2008 we simply announced. We went through them all with the teams and discussed them all in some detail. As far as doing things sooner than 2008, there was a wide measure of agreement that we need to bring in changes much sooner. I think we are going to see a new engine formula in 2006."  Full Story

5/4/04

George, IRL drivers to visit nation's capital  Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and CEO Tony George and five Indianapolis 500 drivers, including three-time winner Johnny Rutherford, two-time winner Al Unser Jr. and 1998 winner Eddie Cheever Jr., will visit Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, May 5 for a ceremony hosted by Congresswoman Julia Carson and the Indiana Society of Washington, D.C. Also visiting the nation's capital will be 2001 Indianapolis 500 MBNA Pole winner Scott Sharp and recently retired Indy 500 veteran Robbie Buhl. The ceremony will honor the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, the most prestigious auto race in the world, on Sunday, May 30 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Members of Congress and the media will be welcome to ride in an IndyCar Series two-seater race car that looks nearly identical - except for the rear seat - to the Delphi-sponsored car that Sharp will drive in this year's Indianapolis 500. A Purex-sponsored IndyCar Series car formerly driven by Buhl will be on display. Sharp and Unser will compete in the 88th Indianapolis 500. Cheever owns Indianapolis 500 participant Red Bull Cheever Racing, while Buhl is co-owner of Indy participant Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Rutherford is a driving coach for the Indy Racing League and drives the Pace Car at league events.

5/4/04

Highlights from Champ Car Teleconference  Sébastien Bourdais, Mario Haberfeld and Toyota Atlantic sensation Andrew Ranger were guests on today's Champ Car media teleconference.  Full transcript.  Here are a few highlights:

  • Sebastien Bourdais confirmed he will do LeMans this year

  • Mario Haberfeld will test with Walker Racing two days at Homestead next week

  • Andrew Ranger said the Fran-Am car had much less grip and you slide around a lot more than a Toyota Atlantic car he is driving this year.

  • Andrew Ranger has not mapped out his career goals year-by-year yet.  How many years he will be in Toyota Atlantic depends on how well he does this year. Wants to win some races and the championship first.  He did say he had good backing from Tide and other companies and, although he did not say it, it sounded as though they are prepared to move up the ladder with him if he continues to be the sensation he has been so far.

  • The topic of push-to-pass came up.  "If the button gave more HP there would be more  passing for sure," said Bourdais, "but the current level is a good compromise."  Both Mario Haberfeld and Sebastien agreed 50 HP is the right level for now.

  • Heat could be a factor in Monterrey on May 23rd since the track already has low grip level (cars slide around a lot) and the race is in a much hotter time of year for 2004.

  • Haberfeld and Walker have decided to stick with the Reynard chassis for the time being since additional monies could not be found to buy Lolas.

5/4/04

Dyson team fits in Mosport test  Dyson Racing this week conducts its second major test since the opening of the 2004 American Le Mans Series season at Mosport International Raceway. The team will be concentrating on continued tire development and engine mapping.

“We won’t be racing at Mosport until August,” said Chris Dyson, the 2003 ALMS LMP 675 champion, who with co-driver Andy Wallace last season won his class and finished second overall at the legendary Canadian road circuit. “But it’s a very demanding track, and a car that goes well here will probably go well anywhere we race. From a competitive standpoint, I like Mosport because it’s a driver’s circuit. Several of the turns basically flow from one into the next, so you have to have a good rhythm to go fast there. And it’s also a special challenge because there’s basically nowhere you can fly off the road without putting the car and yourself at extreme risk. And I guess I also like it because Mosport has several very high speed corners, so it’s a track that plays to the specific strengths of our Thetford / Norcold Lolas. We all love it.”

Last year’s ALMS LMP 675 and LMP 900 classes have been combined into a single top prototype sportscar class, dubbed LMP-1. This year if Dyson and Wallace, and their teammates, James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger, want to win at Mosport, they’ll have to beat the legendary Audi R8 head-to-head.

Weaver and Leitzinger accomplished that task last season at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, and the Dyson team came close to beating the Audis in several other races in 2003. Last year the Dyson cars swept the front row in qualifying for the Mosport event. Team owner Rob Dyson is optimistic about the team’s upcoming test. “Based on our testing at Mid-Ohio, I think our cars will be very competitive with the Audis at most of the tracks where we race,” said Dyson. “Goodyear has worked hard to give us the tire that we’ll need to compete with the Michelins that the Audis run, and the results from Mid-Ohio suggest that we’re in pretty good shape in that area. How we do at Mosport this week should give us further indication.”

5/4/04

Formula BMW USA completes first two tests  The inaugural Formula BMW USA Championship made additional steps towards its opening rounds as the first two of 10 official test sessions were recently completed.

Five teams and nine drivers from ages 15 to 21 attended the first official test at Sebring International Raceway on April 12 and 13. A second test was held April 22 at Putnam Park in Mount Meridian, Ind.

Participating were five of the six BMW Junior drivers -- Graham Rahal (Team Rahal), Jonathan Summerton (HBR Motorsport), Trevor Daley (Atlantic Racing), Tom Milner (Team PTG) and Billy Johnson (Team PTG). James Hinchcliffe, recently signed with AIM Autosport, will attend the upcoming May 12, 13 test at Mid-Ohio. Other drivers that attended were Red Bull Driver Search winner Matt Jaskol (Team Autotecnica), Alexis Fenton (Team Autotecnica), Andreas Wirth (HBR Motorsport) and Tom Sutherland (Team PTG).

"To have nine drivers at our first test was fantastic, especially considering the tight timeline we have had." said Alex Schmuck, Formula BMW USA Manager. "All of our six scholarship winners have signed with teams now and five of them attended the first test. This is a clear signal that when presented with this opportunity they chose to take it. In fact, seven of the nine drivers at the Sebring test attended our January licensing school in Valencia, Spain."

The teams at Sebring were supported by a full staff from BMW Motorsport that included, Michael Muhlberger (Project Manager Formula BMW), Juergen Breuer (BMW Motorsport Technician), Mike Strotmann (Formula BMW Operations/School), Jurgen Gnamm (Technical Series Coordinator) and Harald Waldherr (Schnitzer Motorsport Engine Technician).

"In the last few months we have assembled the infrastructure of our series," continued Schmuck. "Our specially constructed trailer is stocked with spare parts from Mygale, the Magny-Cours, France-based car manufacturer. Michelin North America is on board with tire service and will be at each official test and all of our races. We had a full support team of Formula BMW staff from Germany at Sebring and they have now fully trained our Formula BMW USA personnel. Overall, I think we have made a very strong start to the season."

With the pre-season testing ban delayed until May 1, Formula BMW USA teams can continue to test at any track not visited by the Championship. The next official test is scheduled for May 12 and 13 at Mid-Ohio. The season begins at Lime Rock Park on May 28-31.

5/4/04

Venue changed announced by Skip Barber  Rounds seven and eight of the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER Magazine, originally scheduled for June 11-13 on the all-new Shenandoah Circuit of Summit Point Raceway in Charles Town, W.Va., has been moved to June 4-6 at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit, just outside of Tulsa, Okla. In part because of weather issues this spring, Summit Point management was concerned the new track would not be completed in time for the Skip Barber National event.
2004 Skip Barber National Schedule:
1&2 Mar. 17-19, Sebring (Moon/Ramos)
3&4 Apr. 23-25, VIR (Moon/Prey)
5&6 May 21-23, Rd. America
7&8 June 4-6, Hallett
9&10 July 19-21, Mosport
11&12 July 24-25, Mt. Tremblant
13&14 Aug. 6-8, Rd. America
Current Points Standings:
1. Benny Moon, 62
2. Chris Prey, 55
3. Marco Andretti, 53
4. Victor Ramos, 52
5. Robbie Pecorari, 40
6. Gerardo Bonilla, 36
7. Jason Bowles, 23
8. Chris Pither, 19
9. Jeff Relic, 19
10. Lorenzo Mandarino, 17

5/4/04

Mosley gets go-ahead from teams  The Formula One teams have agreed to sweeping changes that will dramatically change the future face of Grand Prix racing, according to the sport's boss.  F1 president Max Mosley said the teams were in almost complete agreement over the "revolutionary proposals".

One of those proposals includes using a single tire manufacturer and smaller engines, by 2006, Mosley said.  He also believes the meeting had ended any threat of the carmakers setting up their own championship in 2008.

However, a senior F1 insider cast doubt on Mosley's positive assessment of the meeting, saying it was little more than a discussion group.  "An agreement was reached in principle but, as ever, the devil is in the detail."

It is also believed that a new qualifying system may be introduced by the end of the season.  Team bosses expressed their satisfaction after leaving the meeting.   "I was enormously pleased," said Eddie Jordan, whose team has struggled to compete against better financed rivals.

The changes may also have much to do with Michael Schumacher's continued domination of F1 - the German, in the Ferrari, has won the drivers championship for the last four years and the first four races of this season.

The introduction of a single tire manufacturer and smaller engines are measures designed to allow all teams to compete on an equal level and increase competitiveness.

Mosley said engine manufacturers were spending as much as £1bn a year on 14 of the 20 cars that currently race - an amount that he said was not sustainable. He said there was a wide measure of agreement to reduce engine costs by 50%.   Other measures including technical changes to the cars were also agreed to, he said.

Mosley said commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone had agreed to increase revenue payments to teams in line with what had previously been agreed with the GPWC group of carmakers before talks between the two sides broke down this month.  "Everything the GPWC set out to get, they have got," Mosley said. "Their raison d'etre has disappeared." BBC

5/4/04

More Bernie and Champ Car feedback    I just finished reading the article "Why Bernie Ecclestone could, and should, buy Champ Car now," and I think the thought the author put into it is a work of art. The idea of having the best Champ Car drivers racing against the best Formula 1 drivers has me drooling. You have provided more racing, more competition and more opportunity for top level drivers to prove themselves, like a Justin Wilson. It would be awesome if you could take it one step further and have the bottom 10 drivers from each F1 league race against the top F2 drivers (assuming there's an F2 east and west). This would make the bottom 10 have to prove themselves against the up-and-comers and would hopefully ensure that the best of the best are in the two F1 leagues. On a side note, I think you have devised the recipe to destroy the oval cartel. How could NASCAR compete globally with this mega racing idea? Even American reports, both good and bad, would have to report on the Super Bowl of racing. I hope Bernie reads your article. Thanks, Joe Yack P.S. As much as I love Champ Car, Michael Schumacher would still end up being the champion, but there would be a lot more excitement. 

Another writes, Dear AutoRacing1, Your proposal does make sound business sense, conceptually. The problem is there are too many super egos involved. If we can put the egos aside I think there are some facts that go beyond speculation and bump right up against reality for both F1 and Champ Car, the most significant of those being a need for common equipment. Once the equipment becomes completely interchangeable between Champ Car and F1 then we have the prospect of a marriage.

The initial period for the future partners to romance one another, the courtship, will be driven by the need for a long term agreement between F1 and Champ Car specifying interchangeable equipment in both series. It’s all become so expensive that greater economies of scale must be generated in order for the equipment manufacturers to stay economically interested. F1 is much too expensive so costs must come down aggressively. I am in complete agreement with Mr. Mosley that ALL the high tech driver aids must go! Here the Champ Car electronics package trumps the F1 package. Keep the push to pass button and if it’s decided both will use a standing start (I would hope so) then launch control is kept purely for safety reasons.

Champ Car is much more affordable than F1 but some cost reductions couldn’t hurt. Champ Car is a one trick pony in that they have just one chassis (tub) and just one engine. Not much “competition” in that. As Ford hasn’t yet caught on to the marketing brilliance of private labeling (re-badging) their Cosworth mill as a Jaguar, Aston Martin, Lincoln, Volvo . . . . Land Rover (why not?) or a Chevrolet (WHY NOT?) it is clear that additional engine and chassis suppliers are desperately needed to broaden Champ Car's appeal and enhance the level of competition. F1 brings greater diversity to Champ Car and, under a common spec, why wouldn’t any current F1 supplier not want to sell into Champ Car as well! Add to this mix Champ Car’s need for a lighter, nimbler, NARROWER chassis, one more adept at scooting around narrow street courses, and the wisdom of common mechanical specifications is clear. The argument now becomes which engine spec should be embraced by both F1 and Champ Car. Ladies and Gentlemen in this corner weighing in at 183 cubic inches and 870 horsepower wearing Ferrari red cam covers is the naturally aspirated V10 and in this corner, weighing in at 161.703 cubic inches and 750 horsepower wearing Ford blue cam covers is the turbocharged V8. Which motor should be the future of both F1 and Champ Car?

F1 enjoyed a superb period of competition under their turbo specifications. Champ Car has always been about turbo motors. My vote would be for retention of the current 2.65 liter turbocharged V8. It is a known entity to all including current F1 engine suppliers, is highly dependable, and it's not impossible for a motivated auto manufacturer (Audi) to get into quickly. A turbo motor also has relevance in the real (commercial) world and is quiet. The noise the V10 produces will become an issue at Champ Car inner-urban venues! Remember the hassles ALMS had to put up with in DC! Under this proposal maybe Honda, Toyota and Chevrolet would see the folly of their ways, abandon the IRL (especially the Bow Tie Guys), and jump into the engagement party for this marriage before all the limos pull away from the announcement party. Because both are active in F1 maybe Toyota and Honda can be squeezed to abandon the IRL in much the same way they were squeezed to abandon CART. After all, turn about is fair play! And NONE of the CART traitors should be welcomed back by either Bernie or OWRS! They made their beds. Now let them sleep in them! Besides, they have their beloved NASCAR.

Once the foreplay of a common mechanical specification is completed to everyone's mutual satisfaction, and isn’t that what foreplay is all about, both sets of principals will have had the opportunity to gauge the others needs and wants. Maybe after a season of running under the common specs and with a couple of contrived combined Champ Car and F1 events (Las Vegas) to gauge fan (customer) support for the new product the principals might draft a pre-nup and pursue a combined global presence. As they move into this phase of heading toward the alter the inevitable question becomes “Who’s on top?” Does Bernie buy out Champ Car and run the whole thing his way or does OWRS license F1 for their use in North America and maintain a separate corporate structure?  As noted there are huge egos at work here. I can’t see Bernie writing the earth shattering check that would make The Three gladly walk away so I foresee separate corporate structure united under a new marketing umbrella and a common equipment specification. James Anderson

5/4/04

Spike TV rebranding gets in gear  This TV Week article says, Marking its first branding initiative since its relaunch last August, Spike TV will attempt to drive its viewership with a new campaign emphasizing its auto-related programming.

The network will proclaim May to be "Motor Mayhem Month" as it spotlights its car-culture programming. Saturday nights will be branded "Saturday Night Drive," with new episodes of reality series "Ride With Funkmaster Flex," "Reality of Speed," "Trucks," "Horsepower TV" and "Car and Driver Television" shifted into prime time, network President Albie Hecht said last week.

At the end of the month, the network will decide whether to make "Saturday Night Drive" permanent.

Mr. Hecht spoke about Spike's new tack while attending the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, held April 16-18 and co-sponsored by Spike. He rode in the pace car. It was his first time at an auto race. "It's the Spike life, man," he said.

While competitors such as MTV's "Pimp My Ride" and "American Chopper" have become the latest cable reality buzz makers, Spike TV has quietly built up its own auto programming-with no fewer than six shows related to cars, trucks, racing and motorcycling.

In June the network will roll out a new, more mechanical look and feel-with a revised, workmanlike yellow and black logo. The May branding shift and Grand Prix sponsorship are at least partly an effort to snag more automotive advertisers. Since its belated rebranding Spike TV has made steady progress in growing its audience, but hasn't yet broken out of its former TNN ratings strata to join the lofty realm occupied by other Viacom networks, such as Comedy Central and MTV.

For instance, this year, according to Nielsen Media Research, the network had its best quarter yet-0.8 for men 18 to 49 (up 14 percent from last year) and total day household of 0.5 (up 25 percent). But in terms of ad sales, the network had more modest gains. TNS Media Intelligence/

CMR reports the network received $260 million in ad dollars in 2002 and $280 million in 2003 (for about half of the year, it was still branded as TNN).

Mr. Hecht said his network has gained a sense of identity since August.  "It used to be we were the old TNN, then we are the one changing their name, then the one with the lawsuit," said Mr. Hecht. "Now we don't have to describe ourselves four levels deep. People know who we are."  According to a cable programming analyst with a major ad-buying firm, Spike TV is "on the right path, but they haven't reached the finish line yet.  More....

5/4/04

The time is right for Bernie  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Just read Mark Cipolloni's latest article, Why Bernie Ecclestone could, and should, buy Champ Car now.   It sounds like a great idea, especially the “Playoff Races”. You would think those venues would be champing at the bit to have these Playoff races at their facilities! Tickets would be hard to come by.   The one thing that worries me about Bernie buying Champ Car, is how closed off the teams and drivers in F1 are to the fans. If you want to build a fan base, you need to start with the young fans. They need to have the opportunity to see how the cars look up close…..the kids today will be the drivers and mechanics tomorrow.  On another note, one other thing……saw a McDonald’s commercial last night with Tony Stewart…..McDonald’s sponsors Bourdais’s car, they need to get him in a commercial…..Thanks for your time and keep up the great work.  Tim Clingenpeel  Dear Tim, While there is a sound argument for allowing fan access to the teams and drivers, when a sport gets so popular that crowd control becomes an issue, then something must be done.  Perhaps F1 is too exclusive, but it doesn't appear to have a popularity problem.  In general people want what they can't have.  As for your McDonald's comment.  Absolutely.  NASCAR succeeds because just about all of the sponsors in the series feature their drivers in their TV and print ads.  Champ Car and the IRL fail because they are not able to convince their sponsors to do the same thing, hence the drivers never become household names and the sport flounders.  Mark C.

5/4/04

Ferrari promotes Todt  The Ferrari Maserati group today announced management changes that will see Jean Todt, head of the group’s Formula One team, move up the corporate ladder. While Luca di Montezemolo continues to head the Ferrari Maserati Group as its President and C.E.O., the following changes will come into effect as from 1st June 2004:

- Martin Leach takes on the role of Maserati C.E.O;
- Jean Todt takes on the role of Ferrari Managing Director, while maintaining his present responsibilities within the Gestione Sportiva;
- Amedeo Felisa assumes the responsibilities of Ferrari Deputy Managing Director.

Antonello Perricone leaves Maserati to take on other responsibilities within the Fiat Group.

5/4/04

Stoddart hopes for some flexibility at today's meeting  Although Max Mosley has said he will push forward his plans to reform F1 even if the teams do not agree to his proposal, Paul Stoddart heads into Tuesday's meeting hoping for some flexibility.  Mosley's plan, released prior to the San Marino GP, will see a change from V10 engines to 2.4 liter V8, which will have to last two races weekends. There will also be a ban on driver aids such as traction control and power steering. The grid will increase from ten teams to twelve, and there will be only one tire supplier.   While many of the teams are in favor of the idea of making F1 more attractive, most approve of only some of Mosley's ideas. The FIA President hopes to push through his proposal in time for the 2006 season but no later than 2008.  "I'd like to think that Max will look at it objectively because there are things in there that won't suit the sport, things that won't suit the teams," Stoddart told Reuters.   "What we must not fail to do this time is to equalize the sport a little bit. We don't always want to see the same one or two cars win."  Planet F1

5/4/04

Webber visits Turkey  Mark Webber became the first driver to visit the site of next year’s inaugural Turkish Grand Prix last week when the Australian star dropped by to check out construction of the Turkish circuit.

The 5.37km undulating circuit – which is situated on the Asian side of the historic city – is set to host its first Grand Prix next summer and Webber gave it the thumbs up after being briefed on the project and taken on a guided tour to view the track layout and the work in progress.

“It’s going to be a pretty impressive race track,” the Jaguar driver told the Turkish media. “There’s one section which leads on the back straight which they are telling me is going to be quite heavily banked – I can’t wait to tackle it in a F1 car! It’s quite bizarre to be driving down what will be the main straight on mud and soil, but you can already see things taking shape.

“The work they’ve done in only 150 days is very impressive and having met with the site’s technical management, they are really thinking a long way ahead to ensure the track provides the best possible for the drivers, the fans at the track and those watching on TV.

“I know the project is something the Turkish people are very proud of and I’m sure the first Grand Prix will be a great sporting event for the whole country as well as a tremendous challenge for the teams and drivers.”

Meanwhile, Turkey have confirmed that they have signed the World Health Organisation's tobacco control treaty thus ensuring that the inaugural event will not see fully tobacco-liveried F1 cars in action.  Jaguar F1

5/4/04

Latest F1 news in brief
''Bernie woos votes by doubling money
Rossi defeats F1 speculation
F1 drivers like Spain
Agrees with 'half' of Mosley rules - Stoddart
Ferrari 'drafted' Mosley reforms?
Briatore leads push for F1 reform
Chinese track nearly complete
Badoer back in action
More aero fruits for Sauber car
Toyota vows to 'grin and bear' it
Sato 'up to speed' for race in Spain
Glock 'gains confidence' in Jordan
Jaguar fix Webber's engine fault
Montoya is 'frustrated'
'Nice' to hear Ferrari interest - Button
F1 'future' starts Tuesday - Mosley
Panis - TF104 'better' than predecessor
Grove unveil 'further improvements' 

5/3/04

Businessman Gentilozzi races full throttle ahead  This Lansing Journal article says, Even though Paul Gentilozzi heads a $75 million real estate company, his office at Gentilozzi Real Estate barely hints at his true passion.   To tap into Gentilozzi's other side, visit him at his other business: Rocketsports in East Lansing.   At Rocketsports - by itself a $10 million company - Gentilozzi and his 60 employees have built more than 50 race cars and hundreds of engines.  "I've raced everything," he said. "Cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles. If it moved, I wanted to make it go faster."

How fast is fast?  Try 175 miles an hour.  But Gentilozzi is quick to add: "If you're going 180 and the other guy's going 182, you feel like you're going slow. It's only fun if you win."  That's a philosophy he's been building since childhood.   Many of his earliest memories involve racing and race cars.  "I've loved cars since grade school," Gentilozzi said.   "You had to read a book a week, and I read every book we had about cars."

Gentilozzi, 54, got his first taste of racing when a schoolmate let him drive his go-kart.  "It's his drug," said brother Tony Gentilozzi, who is eight years younger. More.......

5/3/04

Will NASCAR be popular in Mexico?  A reader from Mexico writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com,  I have to admit that I do not share your opinion on what would happen to Champ Cars if NASCAR ever put a race at the Autodromo in Mexico City. You fail to realize that the Mexican fans and the American fans belong to totally different markets. NASCAR is so successful in the US because: #1 Open Wheel racing civil war, #2 the France family has done a tremendous job in taking advantage of it to market their product. However, for Mexico the split didn't mean much. The most successful Champ Car races in Mexico are post-split events. The marketing of NASCAR, which is what makes it so successful in the US, means nothing on this side of the border and I don't think the France family has any serious interest in turning a 100% US domestic product, in five years, into a tremendous International phenomenon. Just because it worked in the US doesn't necessarily mean it will work everywhere else. 
 
The Mexicans love Open Wheel cars; Stock Car racing is appreciated but it is regarded to be in a level below Open Wheel racing.   Again, as I said before, a NASCAR race here would be a successful event, not as big as a Champ Car race and therefore it wouldn't represent any threat to the Champ Car World Series in this country.  Roberto Reyes, Mexico City  Dear Roberto, Never underestimate the marketing savvy of NASCAR.  They seldom make a mistake, and if they have decided to go into Mexico, rest assured it's with the intent of being hugely successful.  Though we must admit, NASCAR was a total flop in Japan for several years running, the Japanese fan being far more sophisticated, found stock car racing rather silly.  Mark C.

5/3/04

Jeff Gordon hit by bottle again  Jeff Gordon said his car was hit by a bottle after the race, a week after fans littered the track at Talladega Superspeedway with cans and containers at the end of that race. "Hopefully the tracks can start taking some action, maybe putting some signs up saying that maybe legal action will be taken if anything is thrown over that fence," Gordon said. "I think it's a good idea to take some action and be proactive instead of reactive after it happens." Roanoke Times

5/3/04

Overnight California ratings up 14%  Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway drew a 5.6 overnight rating and an 11 share from Nielsen Media Research, today's Sports Business Daily reports. The rating is 14.3 percent higher than the 4.9 overnight figure the race drew in 2003, when it wound up with a final figure of 5.3/13. For the weekend, the race trailed the 8.3/18 that NBC drew for its Kentucky Derby coverage and the 6.0/12 that ABC drew for Sunday's NBA playoff game between the Lakers and the Spurs. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter

5/3/04

BMW runs at rev limit during race  Even with the new Formula One engine regulations, the BMW P84 engine is more than capable of being raced on the limit even in the race.   Thanks to the innovative television coverage which shows the rev counters on the cars this year, the engine of the WilliamsF1 BMW FW26 is still a number one talking point when it comes to discussing the most powerful engine in Formula One. "The rpm measurements shown on TV screens are realistic," confirmed BMW Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen.

According to Theissen, the development of this season’s Formula One engine was a huge challenge because an engine that could be raced at its limit during the race, and not merely for one ‘flying lap’ during qualifying, was required.  "Our main aim was to produce an engine that would be capable of spending the whole race on the limit," explained the German. "That’s more important to us than looking for the last two or three bhp. We are now in a position whereby the qualifying rpm can be used during the whole race, and in top gear."

Despite what one might think, this is not something to be taken for granted, even in the hi-tech world of Formula One. "It is actually very unusual," admitted Theissen. "Normally, the top gear would be set 500 to 1000 revs longer, because you would usually race more than five seconds in top gear. You also need a reserve of 200 to 300 revs for slipstreaming so that during an overtaking maneuver you’re not restricted by the rev limiter."  With the 'Circuit de Catalunya' having a full power ratio of about 60 percent, the circuit is one which will see the BMW WilliamsF1 Team benefit from its powerful BMW P84 engine.  BMW WilliamsF1 Team

5/3/04
Industry News

Beer battle in China  The stage has been set for the first big battle for control of a large Chinese group by foreign companies after Harbin Brewery Group ended a strategic alliance with SABMiller, the world's second biggest brewer.   The move opens the way for a possible fight with Anheuser-Busch, global market leader, for control of Hong Kong-listed Harbin.  The severing of the partnership follows a surprise move by Anheuser to buy a 29 per cent stake in the 104-year-old Chinese brewer, trumping initial efforts by SABMiller to buy the stake.  The end of SABMiller's strategic alliance with Harbin, which could be announced on Tuesday, is a blow for the international group's hopes of winning control of a fifth or more of the rapidly growing and fiercely contested Chinese beer market.  Shares in Harbin were suspended on Monday after the Hong Kong stock exchange said the company was preparing a price-sensitive announcement.

The apparent setback for SABMiller, which paid HK$675m ($86.5m) for a 29.6 per cent stake in Harbin last year, has sparked speculation that the Chinese brewer might seal a new alliance with Anheuser or that the US brewing giant might be planning to take over Harbin completely.  However, analysts said SABMiller could try to counter such a move by making its own takeover offer.  Under Hong Kong stock market rules, if Anheuser and SABMiller go above a 30 per cent stake, they will be forced to launch a takeover offer for all the shares they do not own. Both companies are understood to have no immediate plans to launch a bid but are reviewing the situation closely. Financial Times

5/3/04

PDM IRL team closes doors   PDM Racing, which gave two-time champ Sam Hornish Jr. his IRL start in 2000, appears to be throwing in the towel. One of the original IRL teams back in 1996, PDM has fallen victim to the escalating costs of keeping up with Penske, Ganassi and Andretti. "It's pretty bleak right now because we closed the doors last Friday," said owner Paul Diatlovich, who first came to Indianapolis as a mechanic in 1975. "I'd love to run Jimmy Kite again in May but we don't have the budget. "It costs $475,000 just to lease an engine for Indianapolis and another $100,000 for an update kit. We ran Jimmy last year for $200,000.." Diatlovich said he has no regrets. "I got to do things my way for 10 years and what a great time it's been," he said.  --SPEEDTV--

5/3/04
Industry News

VW strikes big deal in China  Volkswagen AG, Europe's largest carmaker, agreed with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. to build an automotive plant outside Shanghai in order to boost sales in Asia's fastest-growing vehicle market. The Wolfsburg, Germany-based company also will increase its stake in its Shanghai Volkswagen joint venture by issuing about 150 million euros ($179.7 million) worth of shares to increase its capital to about 780 million euros, it said on OTS news service. The new plant will have a production capacity of 150,000 vehicles annually, with Volkswagen and Shanghai Automotive each owning half. The German carmaker plans to increase production in China to 1.6 million vehicles a year by 2008, it said. Volkswagen controls more than a third of the Chinese market.

5/3/04
Industry News

Nextel International to offer cross-border service  In a matter of days, Latin Americans will be able to talk over thousands of miles by pushing a single button. Officials with NII Holdings Inc., an offspring of Nextel Communications, said Thursday they will roll out a cross-border, push-to-talk service for its clients south of the Rio Grande in the first week of May. "The tests are complete and the service works phenomenally well," Chief Operating Officer Lo van Gemert said in a conference call after the wireless carrier released its first-quarter earnings report. NII has been growing by leaps and bounds in Latin America as it carves out a lucrative niche through its proprietary Direct Connect, a walkie-talkie technology that's popular with construction, transportation and security companies. NII introduced cross-border capability on its Direct Connect technology late last year for customers on the Mexican-U.S. border. Now it's extending that option across the region - a potentially big draw for multinational companies looking for a quick and efficient way for staff stretching from Mexico City to Buenos Aires to stay in touch. NII officials declined to say Thursday how much they plan to charge clients for the service. But the new option is likely to further boost the company's average revenue per user, which already stood at $55 a month in the first quarter, more than three times the industry average for wireless providers in Latin America. NII estimated in late February that revenue will jump 28% to $1.2 billion this year and that its subscriber base will grow by 19%, or 285,000 customers.  Nextel

5/3/04

The Rock will soon be 6 feet under  North Carolina Speedway stands as still and silent as "The Rock," the 20-ton blob of granite outside the main gate.  "The Rock," its jagged face engraved with 31 winners of NASCAR races, lends geologic symbolism to the track's nickname and fixes the precise point where fans reflexively gather for photo ops. The gray mass rises 8 feet above the sandy soil and, quite appropriately, sinks 6 feet below the surface.  If a Texas lawsuit results in a widely reported settlement, "The Rock" will rest 6 feet under, literally and metaphorically.  The track lost its fall race to California last year and could lose its February race at any moment. The France family controls NASCAR, North Carolina Speedway and International Speedway Corp., which is the defendant in a suit filed by a shareholder in the other track giant, Speedway Motorsports Inc.  Winston-Salem Journal

5/3/04

Mother Nature rains on IRL's parade   Sarah Fisher was on Good Morning America this morning with the 2 seat Delphi IRL car. Charlie Gibson interviewed her in Times Square, but they didn't go for a ride. It was raining, as if someone upstairs was sending the IRL copycats a message.  Sarah did a very good job explaining things about the car such as G-forces, and also how she's accepted by the male drivers, etc. One thing she said that was kind of ironic. She told Charlie Gibson that the cars go so fast, that at 200 mph, you could run them upside down on the roof of the (New York) tunnel. Given all those airborne episodes last season, she's right, they do fly upside down very well, but it's the sudden stop at the end that hurts.

5/3/04

NASCAR Chicken Soup for the Soul is best seller  In less than a year since publication, Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul (Health Communications, 2003) is now the best-selling NASCAR publication of all time. "It is a great honor and we are very appreciative that the NASCAR community has embraced this book with such enthusiasm," said Matthew Adams the book's author. Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul features inspirational stories written by fans, media and many of the sport's biggest names including Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett, and Tony Stewart. The book's charitable beneficiary is the Victory Junction Gang Camp. Matthew Adams can be contacted at NASCARSoul@aol.com or by calling (401) 499-2665.

5/3/04

Monaco summit to shape F1's future  The future face of Formula One will be brought into sharp focus at a meeting of teams and the sport's governing body on Tuesday. The team bosses, along with technical experts and engine specialists, have been invited to a Monaco summit to discuss the International Automobile Federation (FIA)'s proposals for a major shake-up from 2008. FIA president Max Mosley wants to reduce engine capacity, from three liter V10s to 2.4 liter V8s, outlaw most of the sport's electronic gizmos and introduce standard engine control units (ECUs). Other measures aimed at slashing costs, highlighting driver skill and making Formula One affordable enough for new teams to come in, include having only one tire supplier. The radical proposals are the most far-reaching the sport has been presented with and the FIA can impose them from 2008, since the existing 'Concorde Agreement' between them and teams will have expired by then. But they could be introduced earlier with the teams' agreement. The big question remains the stance of the major carmakers although Ferrari, the sport's biggest and most evocative name, have been supportive of change. "We think the aim of the proposals is very positive," engine expert Paolo Martinelli said at the last San Marino Grand Prix. "We have to consider what we can do for the future of the sport. "We have to give priority to safety, to maintain or improve the spectacle and to design a formula that still allows for the peak of technology but at reasonable cost."  Reuters

5/3/04

NASCAR confiscates engine  Bill Davis Racing experienced engine woes last weekend. Rookie #22-Scott Wimmer broke engines on Friday and Saturday because of two different problems. The team was forced to go to a third engine for the race. Wimmer started 39th and finished 30th. The second engine was confiscated by NASCAR for further examination. FoxSports/Sporting News

5/3/04

NASCAR still looking at spoiler options  UPDATE NASCAR officials are telling crew chiefs they've decided to drop plans for any more aerodynamic rear-spoiler changes this season. Another half-inch cut in the rear spoiler had been planned for July at Chicago; that cut has been postponed until next year. Winston Salem Journal  5/1/04 - Nextel Cup Series director John Darby said Friday NASCAR is weighing options on whether to make an additional cut to cars' spoilers this season. "What we're doing is working through the process and trying to decide, is it better to do a half (inch) in July and another half (inch) at the end of the year, or to leave everything alone and do a full inch at the end of the year," he said. Darby said the main concern over making an adjustment during the season is its possible effects on the 10-race "Chase for the Championship. We'll be watching these next couple races and finishing the process of watching how the teams have adapted to the first cut (in the spoiler)," Darby said. "The championship chase will enter into it, I'm sure, that being so new." Darby said teams were probably split about whether to cut the spoiler before the end of the season, but in any case, an additional inch will be cut from the spoilers by the start of the 2005 season. ThatsRacin.com

5/3/04

Newman wants fuel pumps changed  Ryan Newman says NASCAR's next safety move should be to eliminate mechanical fuel pumps on engine blocks and allow teams to install safer electrical fuel pumps, which could be installed inside the fuel cell. "You can get them for $20 at any NAPA store," Newman says. Newman is also pushing NASCAR to eliminate mechanical dashboard gauges in a safety-related move. But he says when he raised the issue with NASCAR, he got no response. Winston Salem Journal  Fuel Line Problems: With the change in fuel providers to Sunoco this year, some teams have had to change fuel line manufacturers. One engine man said that "a couple of brands have been more sensitive to the Sunoco fuel," so several teams changed lines as a precaution. Some teams have noticed the lines are wearing out faster. FoxSports/Sporting News

5/3/04

Milwaukee Mile news  Race team testing is free to spectators during NASCAR and Champ Car testing the week of May 3! Fans can watch in South Terrace Bleacher section FF from 10:30am until 5:00pm on the following days:
Monday, May 3 and Tuesday, May 4: a number of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams, including Wisconsin driver Chris Wimmer
Wednesday, May 5: a number of Champ Car teams including Newman/Haas Racing.
The scoreboard dating back to the mid-1960’s at The Milwaukee Mile has been taken down, making way for a new scoring pylon.  Construction progress made thus far has virtually leveled the infield landscape, allowing the position placement of a new 10 position vertical scoreboard, the build-out of press box facilities to accommodate timing & scoring, the re-paving of hot pit and new pit wall construction, and the construction of a permanent infield media center/critical care building. The infield road course is also getting completely redone to host a variety of racing events in the not-so-distant future.  Milwaukee Mile

5/3/04
MotoGP

Sete wins in the wet at Jerez  When Valentino Rossi claimed his fifth successive pole position and his second in two rounds for Yamaha, the rest might have been forgiven for heaving a sigh of despair. In fact there was a collective sigh of relief when Sete Gibernau headed up an all-Honda podium to show that the Doctor is not going to prescribe the course of events all season. As the unceasing rain lashed down on a crowd of over 124,000, local hero Gibernau grabbed the lead and held it from start to finish of the 27-lap race to go top of the world standings from Max Biaggi, second after a determined mid-race burst was repelled by the Spaniard. Gibernau also set the fastest race lap of 1m 53.508s, 11 seconds outside the track record. Third and on the Jerez podium for the first time was Alex Barros, helped by a fall from Marco Melandri when the Italian looked set for his own first podium in the premier class. Rossi, never really in touch with the front of the race, held off Nicky Hayden’s late charge to end up fourth - the first time in 24 races that the Italian maestro has not appeared on the podium. “To be honest I didn’t expect this,” said a delighted Gibernau, “because we have had problems with the bike since South Africa that we still haven’t worked out. We still have a lot of work to do: just because we won today doesn’t mean we will win every week but for now, at least, I am very happy.” Gibernau is the first Spaniard to win at Jerez since Alex Criville bowed out of racing, and continues Honda’s remarkable streak of success there: this is their 15th win in the 18 races staged at the southern Spanish circuit.

5/3/04

Tony Stewart out of control again  For the second straight race, Tony Stewart was involved in some bumping and banging on the track and became the object of a rebuke by another driver. A week earlier at Talladega, it was Kurt Busch who criticized Stewart for wild driving after the former series champion hit Busch, starting a 10-car crash. Stewart was warned twice by NASCAR to calm down during that event and then hit Terry Labonte in a post-race accident when Stewart tried to take a shortcut to the pit lane to avoid debris on the track. He was called to a private chat with NASCAR officials Friday at California Speedway, but there was more of the same Sunday. Stewart banged together with both eventual race winner Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace in separate early accidents. "I don't know what's wrong with that guy," said Wallace, still angry with Stewart after being knocked out of the race later when Busch hit the wall and slid right in front of Wallace's already-damaged No. 2 Dodge. "He has really been messing up a lot lately. He got me in the back at Martinsville. He caused a huge wreck last week at Talladega and then he runs me right through the fence this time. ... Then he pulled up beside me and starts flipping me off on the restart. I'd like to take that finger and jam it up rear end...The kid needs to calm down a little bit. ... He's really frustrated for some reason."  AP Story

5/3/04

Latest F1 news in brief
''Snowball effect' begins for BAR
'Senna saved my life': Button
Bernie nearly lost his billions
BMW engine is 'highest revving'
Button convinces Schu to quit?
'Michelin equals advantage': Michael
Schu worried about Barcelona
Rain in Spain
Button chases Ferrari
Button shelves maiden win?
Jordan coming good?
Better in Spain? - da Matta
'Hard tires' go to Catalunya
Webber wants points
'Don't expect miracles' - Ralf
BAR to 'make mistakes' - Willis
'GPWC funeral' staged Tuesday - sources
It was meant to be a secret - Rossi
Memorial at 'Senna Chicane' - Adelaide
Dixon to get another F1 test
Schu on a 'bucking bull'?
Da Matta's glum
Revised corner at Circuit de Catalunya
Fisichella 'desperate' for top drive
Montoya and MotoGP
Schu expects Button to fly
'One of my favorites' - Pantano
Klien at Milton-Keynes
'It was getting so boring' - Heidfeld
BMW unlikely to quit F1 - Theissen 

5/2/04

Barrett released from hospital  Stanton Barrett was examined and released from Loma Linda Hospital following his crash on the 22nd lap of Sunday's Auto Club 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at the two-mile California Speedway. Barrett's #94 AmericInn Chevrolet hit the fourth-turn wall, where SAFER barriers had been added earlier this year. "It felt like a tire was going down and that's how things got started," Barrett said. "I didn't have any control after that. "I definitely commend NASCAR and California Speedway for the SAFER barriers. I started shooting up the track and, for some reason as I headed toward the wall, I remembered they were there. I thought, 'Hey, maybe this won't hurt as bad,'" he said. "It still hurt . . . but not as bad as concrete. I'm really glad those were in place, and I think every driver in NASCAR should be happy too."

5/2/04

IRL cars won't turn now   It seems the IRL's latest Band-Aid solution to try and stop their cars from flying has caused another problem.  We heard one of the drivers say the IRL cars were now undrivable and the reason is the new wicker bill that runs the length of the cars (see photos below). This wicker bill is supposed to stop the cars from flying by slowing the speed if they get sideways and keeping some downforce on the top of the car.  The result is the cars don't want to turn and have been "pushing" right into the wall.  Recall the fins that they used to run on the engine covers in CART to help stop the rear end from coming around too quickly if the car got loose.  Similar idea.


Photos by Dan Helrige & Dana Garrett/IRL

5/2/04

Petty says NASCAR should boycott Talladega  Kyle Petty says NASCAR should boycott Talladega Superspeedway after fans littered the track last weekend with trash and debris because that race finished under caution. "They should not allow a race back at Talladega for throwing beer cans on the race track," Petty said. "When we've got guys riding around [under caution] at 70, 80 mph, throwing beer cans on the race track, it's dangerous. We should not go back to that race track. That's pitiful that those people call themselves fans. That's Kyle Petty's opinion and I'll stand by that forever. I don't care how disgruntled you are, that's crap. I've been to football games and didn't like the endings. Did I pick up crap and throw it down on the field and hit the guys in the back of the head or throw stuff at the coaches. No." Roanoke Times

5/2/04

Next time NASCAR will stop the race  NASCAR president Mike Helton said that if they're unable to finish a race under green and fans litter the track again, series officials will end the race immediately without completing the full distance. Yet, the deluge of debris symbolizes NASCAR's dilemma: The balance between entertaining fans (NASCAR Bubbas) and creating a safe and competitive race. The line has blurred in recent years as NASCAR changed rules and its way of thinking to appease fans. Series officials altered the points system this season. They've stopped races late to get a green-flag finish for more than five years. They asked Goodyear to construct a tire that wears more to create more passing and reduce the number of ho-hum, fuel-mileage finishes that occurred last year. "There's a lot of influence in our decision-making process by fans and their reaction to things, but there are limitations," NASCAR president Mike Helton said Saturday at California Speedway, site of today's Auto Club 500. "We can't please them completely, but we strive to. The sport doesn't work without them. Period."  Roanoke Times

5/2/04

Button credits Senna's death for saving him   "If safety rules weren't changed after Senna died my Monaco crash last year could have been fatal," Button told The People.  During Saturday's second practice session in Monaco Button lost control of his BAR005 under braking and hit the barriers. He spun across the track and slammed sideward into a second barrier, which, although is surrounded by tires, is essentially just solid concrete. Button, though, escaped without any serious injuries.  "He wrote the rules while he was racing and the only positive thing you can take from his death is that afterwards safety was changed. It's helping us even now. Since Senna's accident they have changed the cockpit padding and the safety cell, which is what helped me in Monaco.  The cockpit padding has really helped but I would never fall into the trap of becoming over-confident because that's when things can go wrong. If you crash into a wall flat out you are going to hurt yourself no matter what the safety is like.   Senna was a fantastic driver and although I never met him people have told me that racing was his life.  I enjoyed the battle between him and Prost. It's probably the best racing I have ever seen. Senna demonstrated his strength and showed how focused he was by managing to beat his team-mate Prost. And that was no easy feat. He always raced on the edge."

5/2/04

A lap of Barcelona with Jenson Button  

“A lap of Barcelona starts with a very fast entry to the first corner where I will be doing around 110 km/h in top gear before braking hard to the first double corner. The first part of this is taken in second gear at over 120 km/h and I will then accelerate through the left hand part of the corner, taken in third gear just before turning to the left and hitting the apex at around 175km/h.”

“Turn three is a very difficult corner as, like much of the circuit, it is affected a lot by the wind direction. I will take it in fourth gear and depending on the wind I will probably hold around 210 km/h through this corner, I have to be very precise and look after the tires as well as getting the apex correct.”

“A short straight, where I will briefly take 5th gear and reach about 285 km/h, leads into the tight right-hand turn four where I will drop down to 2nd gear and apex at just under 120km/h. I will briefly get into 4th gear before going down to 2nd gear for the tight left-hand corner, which I take at 95 km/h.”

“Again a very short straight where I reach around 260km/h in 4th gear leads into the next left-hand corner taken at around 130 km/h in either 2nd or 3rd gear. I will accelerate out of this reaching just under 250 km/h in 4th gear before braking very lightly and holding 4th gear through the 200 km/h corner that leads on to the back straight.”

“The back straight is also affected by wind and I will reach just under 300 km/h but may use 5th or 6th gear depending on whether I have head wind or tail wind. I will brake hard before another hard left-hand corner, taken at around 100 km/h in 2nd gear. I briefly reach 3rd gear before braking again and changing down to 2nd gear for the next right-hand corner taken at around 115km/h.”

“This leads straight into the final two corners, which are extremely fast, and challenging. They are both taken in 4th gear, the first corner at just under 230 km/h and the final corner at 220km/h. These are very exciting corners where I pull a lot of G force and can make a significant difference to my speed on to the straight. I will cross the finish line at just under 275km/h in 5th gear before finally taking 6th gear on the long straight.”

5/2/04

Ferko breaks silence in NASCAR lawsuit  Francis Ferko, the Speedway Motorsports Inc. stockholder whose lawsuit against NASCAR could bring changes to the Nextel Cup schedule, gave his first substantial interview since the suit was filed two years ago to the Dallas Morning News this week.   Ferko is 49 years old and lives in Plano, Texas. He has a degree in microbiology and a masters in business. He works in the food service industry, likes country music and scuba diving and swears he's never met or spoken to SMI chairman Bruton Smith.  "There's absolutely no connection between us," Ferko told the Dallas newspaper. "It's so funny to me that people think that. The NASCAR and ISC people can't believe it, but it's true."

Ferko said it would be "gratifying" if a settlement of his suit, as is expected, results in a second Cup date for Texas on the 2005 schedule.  "If I'm in the stands when that day comes, I will hold up my beer to everyone and say, 'Here you go. Let's go green.'"

Ferko said he didn't intend for the lawsuit to lead to the shuffling of races that could remove dates from tracks like Rockingham and Darlington.  "If that happens, I'm very sorry," said Ferko, who attended his first race at Bristol in the mid-1990s and said he has been to several tracks since. "I like Darlington and Rockingham and all the old, traditional tracks. That's where the roots are, and they have wonderful races.  I'm not an old-time NASCAR fan, but I really appreciate the traditional fans. I understand how they deride all the changes that have occurred." Charlotte Observer (Subscription Required)

5/2/04

Summary of opinions on F1 rules changes   Since the GPWC again threatened to start their own series when disagreements arose and Max Mosley announced significant changes for F1 in Imola there have been a lot of statements made from a lot of people,  Here is a brief summary from GP2004.

  • The GPWC manufacturers, BMW, Ferrari, Ford, Mercedes and Renault ended their commitment stated in the memorandum of understanding (MOU) from December 2003, because they feel Bernie would delay the bigger payout to the teams (50 percent more) on purpose. Therefore the intention to sign a contract in July was impossible to meet. But Bernie denies this.  “There are two reasons, why nothing happened. First the modified Concorde Agreement, which was based on the manufacturers organization agreement, was for half of the teams unacceptable. It would have made the rich teams richer and leave the poor teams poor. They just did not want to accept extra bonus payments to Ferrari, Williams and McLaren. The second obstacle was, that more money to the teams means less profits for the holding company. That requires a refinance of our Eurobond, which is paid back by the profits of the company till 2010. In order to refinance it, we needed the guarantee from the manufacturers to stay at least till 2010 in Formula One. But nobody wanted to make any commitments longer than 2 years.”  Goschel from BMW replied: “That is a problem that Bernie and the banks have to solve internally.”  Goschel, however, did not go back to the plan of the GPWC implementing their own championship:  “We do not want to push anything. Now the ball is in the hands of the banks and Ecclestone. They have to come up with something better.”  In the meantime Bernie has modified the existing Concorde Agreement and asked the teams to sign. If they do so, they get 50 percent more from the 1st of June. Most of the teams are prepared to do so, which would mean that the power is back in his hands.

  • At the same time Max Mosley is making publicity for a cheaper Formula One. Bernie says:
    “We must stop the need to spend money.

  • Frank Williams agrees: “Winning becomes too expensive. If we carry on like this, we are all out of business in one or two year’s time. Therefore I am open to all proposals.”  Mosley would like to hear them.. and as such he has invited all team principals and technical directors to discuss a set of rule changes on May 4 and 5 in Monte Carlo, all aimed at reducing the cost, bringing back the spectacle, put more emphasis on driver skills and allowing new teams to join. The plan is to have 12 teams on board.

  • Most of the new rules make sense, but some of them don’t. It is the same as usual, as Mosley has made a list of 32 changes, hoping to get 20 through. In brief: 2.4 l engines with 8 cylinders and no variable inlet and outlet systems or high pressure injection, standard electronics, standard brakes, hand shift gearboxes, manually controlled clutches, one tire manufacturer, no power steering, a reduction of the minimum weight to at least 550 kg, smaller wheels at the front and bigger at the rear, dramatic test restrictions (maximum 15,000 km per year), the possibility to sell and buy chassis, no tire change in the race.

  • On top of this Bernie wants a new qualifying system: Friday single lap with a standing start, Saturday two 30-minutes sessions, then the best times from Friday and Saturday will be aggregated. Officially these proposals are for 2008, but it is clear that the intention is the introduction in 2006, some parts of it as soon as next year.

  • Not all might agree. On the engine side Ferrari and Renault are favoring the V8, but BMW wants to carry on with their V10. They propose to increase the lifetime to three instead of two races to reduce costs. Internal calculation shows that a V8 is only 5 percent cheaper than a V10 on the material side.

  • But it needs a complete new concept, which costs a fortune in development. Most of the manufacturers are against a standard ECU, but can live with the ban of traction-control and other systems. Ferrari is against test-restrictions, Michelin against the tire monopoly, Minardi against an unequal distribution of the money and the increase of the teams, if not all 12 teams are guaranteed to get money. Williams doubts whether hand shift gearboxes save money.

5/2/04

Biffle wins Busch race in California  Greg Biffle won Saturday's Busch Series race at California Speedway. ``The guys never gave up and I never gave up,'' said Biffle, a former Busch Series champion who won his second race of the season and the 13th of his career.

5/1/04

No new Ford engine heads yet  According to Robert Yates,  the new generation Ford cylinder head will not be used here at the California Speedway. This fact overrides engine designer Doug Yates’ hopes. The new cylinder head is still several weeks away from being run in competition; and then only in a limited number of cars. But it has been tested several times at Kentucky Speedway for durability; and returned good results.  Ford Racing

5/1/04

Briatore calls for 20 races   Renault F1 team boss Flavio Briatore has suggested that the F1 season be extended to twenty races. “From an entrepreneurial point of view, it's nonsense to cover five times as much test mileage as race mileage," Briatore explained in Capital. “The public want to see thrilling battles but, instead of giving them what they want, we're giving them extremely complex technology.”

5/1/04

Auto Club 400 sold out  California Speedway announced today that Sunday’s Auto Club 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race is sold out; however, infield wristbands for $45 remain on sale, according to Bill Miller, president of California Speedway. It marks the eighth straight year the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race has sold out at the two-mile D-shaped oval. "After having our biggest Saturday crowd ever, it gives me great pleasure to announce the sellout of the Auto Club 500. This is another great achievement for California Speedway and once again shows the popularity of NASCAR racing in Southern California,” Miller said. “We are looking forward to a tremendous race on Sunday, which will set the tone for our Labor Day Weekend Pop Secret 500.” Individual tickets for the Sunday, September 5, Pop Secret 500 went on sale today at the speedway inside of Gates 12 and 14. Tickets were also available on the speedway’s website at www.californiaspeedway.com and by phone at 1-800-944-RACE (7223). Tickets sellers will also be available inside Gates 12 and 14 on Sunday. “NASCAR’s return in September will be special with the ‘Finish Under the Lights’ Pop Secret 500,” Miller said. “We definitely want to encourage our guests coming out on Sunday to purchase their tickets for September as NASCAR’s stars return to Southern California.” Tickets for the Pop Secret 500 are $105 and $65. The weekend also features a 300-mile NASCAR Busch Series race on Saturday.

5/1/04

BMW chief back Mosley's aims   On the eve of the FIA's summit with Formula 1's team bosses in Monaco on May 4, where discussions over the radical proposals planned for introduction in 2008 will take place, BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen has said that the German manufacturer supports the FIA's determination to increase the spectacle. Theissen also agrees that the cost of competing at the top level have spiraled upwards, but reiterated that as far as the technical regulations are concerned BMW is prepared for further debate. FIA president Max Mosley wants to introduce 2.4-litre V8 engines which must last two grand prix weekends as well as standard ECU units, while the governing body wants to outlaw traction control and a variety of other driver aids with the intention of bringing the role of the driver to the fore. "For me, the paper is made up of two parts," said Theissen. "The first part's aims we support. These are aimed at making the driver become more important by outlawing the electronics. These are then no longer aims but the technical solution. Part of the proposals I find very interesting. I am sure that we will be prepared to accept one or two of the proposals and maybe we can even offer a couple more."  Autosport

5/1/04
MotoGP

Valentino Rossi on pole in Spain  UPDATE  Rain at Jerez today ensured Valentino Rossi the pole for his 2nd straight race. Rossi broke the track record on Friday by more than 1 second.   Rossi, who moved to Yamaha after many years of success with Honda, showed Honda that it's the rider more than anything that makes a MotoGP bike go fast. 4/30/04 - Valentino Rossi dominated the first free practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, finishing over half a second clear of his nearest rival. The Italian's best lap was 0.3secs faster than his own record from last year's event and enough to keep his former Honda team at bay. The Honda effort was led by Nicky Hayden, who lapped a fraction faster than his teammate Max Biaggi this morning, with Colin Edwards fourth. Team Suzuki with Kenny Roberts was fifth, just a tenth behind Edwards.

5/1/04

Stewart meets with NASCAR  Nextel Cup director John Darby wouldn't go into specifics regarding his discussion with Tony Stewart on Friday morning, but did say he was confident it was a productive session. "It went real good," Darby said. "As normal, when we're up in the front of the trailer with the door shut, that's where it stays. But we had a real good conversation. We'll be alright." The meeting was spurred by what some folks deemed over-aggressive driving by Stewart last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, including a run-in with Kurt Busch that resulted in the "Big One," and a post-race collision with veteran Terry Labonte. Stewart, following his Busch Series qualifying run in the #29 Chevrolet on Friday, walked to the #5 hauler and apologized to some of the crewmen, then entered the hauler, presumably to speak with Labonte. Darby doesn't see it as any issue any longer. NASCAR.com

5/1/04

New shock and sway bar rules  NASCAR's latest tech bulletin, which goes into effect here in Fontana, covers some left-front spring tricks discovered during post-Texas inspections last month. NASCAR issued a technical bulletin in the Cup series this week prohibiting the pre-loading of sway bars beyond the limits of the driver's weight in the driver's seat or on the left door top. Basically, the move will prevent teams from using as heavy a spring on the left-front and left-front will travel closer to the track. ThatsRacin.com

5/1/04

Attempted fraud almost cost Bernie his billions   Had it not been for quick thinking staff at Lloyds bank, Bernie Ecclestone could have found himself short a couple of millions, or even billions, earlier this week. The F1 supremo's wife was the target of a female crook who attempted to get away with identity theft, one of the fastest-growing crimes in the UK. The fraudster attempted to imitate Slavica Ecclestone and obtained a passport in her name. The unnamed lady then tried to transfer money from Slavica's bank account into a new one she had set up in the ex-model's name.

She was thwarted, though, when the staff at Lloyds TSB became suspicious. They quickly closed down the account and cancelled both the checkbook and card that had been issued to the crook.

Ecclestone was recently ranked in the top ten on the Sunday Times Rich List, with a fortune of £3.2billion. However, it is not known whether the thief was able to obtain any of that and deplete the couple's bank account before she was stopped.

Upon hearing about the attempted fraud Bernie and Slavica were said to be "stunned". A friend of the couple told The Sun: "They're flabbergasted that anyone could have cloned her identity in this way. Slavica is grateful that the bank managed to nip this in the bud before it went too far."

But they weren't the only ones taken back by the brazen act. The police, who believe the thief may have had inside help at Lloyds bank to get Slavica's details, added: "She (Slavica) is one of the world's richest women. If you can clone her identity then you can do it to anyone."   Planet F1

5/1/04

IRL/Champ Car tidbits  IRL news tidbits from this SPEED TV article:

-- A couple of Honda teams were grumbling after the Indy test but Dan Wheldon jumped up to fifth quick on Wednesday. "Honda has some things coming for May," said the IRL point leader.
-- Look for A.J. Foyt to run a third car at Indy (maybe Tyce Carlson or Jaques Lazier) but don't look for Luis Diaz to be in a third Chip Ganassi car unless the field needs to be filled and that could be a problem anyway because he'll be running in the Grand Am series in Quebec on bump day.
-- John Andretti, Buddy Lazier, Jaques Lazier and Jeff Simmons were walking the pits last week with their helmets -- but no sponsorship money.
-- Felipe Giaffone said his ride with Dreyer & Reinbold only took 24 hours to consummate and "was done by fax."
-- Scott Dixon, so impressive in his recent testing with Frank Williams' Formula One team, says he's not sure what's going to happen in 2005. "I loved driving those cars and I sure hope they choose me. That's what I want to do ... more than anything."
-- Sarah Fisher, back in an Indy car for the first time in 2004, has Bryant Heating & Cooling as her Indy sponsor but no guarantees after May 30.
-- Last week I (Robin Miller) mentioned that Chris Pook was advising Open Wheel Racing Series. Pook advises me to get my facts correct -- he is still involved in Championship Auto Racing Teams and CART Inc. but has nothing to do with OWRS.

5/1/04

New Barrichello website  The NTNZ Corporation would like to announce the launch of a vibrant new web site, the official home of Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello. You will find all the information you need on the Brazilian Formula One driver from the past to the present at www.barrichello.com.br. The site is available in three languages, Italian Portuguese and English, with up to date news, a forum and a question and answer section where you can ask the man whatever you want, F1 related of course!

4/30/04

What does Penske have up his sleeve this time?   As can be seen in the three photos below, Team Penske rolled out an all-white G-Force chassis at Indy during the test this week, with no markings on the car (except rear wing had Marlboro on it) and a driver with a plain white helmet. Sam Hornish nor Helio Castroneves have a plain white helmet, yet timing and scoring listed this #66 with Sam Hornish Jr. as the driver.  Was it really Sam behind the wheel?  Is Penske preparing this car for a possible late entry for a third driver as a field filler to ensure 33 starters?  Why would Sam be wearing an all-white helmet to match the all-white car when he would normally wear his regular helmet? If you look at the driver's eyes in the left photo, they could be Sam's or Gil's but they are not Helio's.   Could it be Gil de Ferran who will come out of retirement for this one race?  If we had to guess, we suspect de Ferran will run a third car for Penske in the 500. Something is up and we have not put our finger on it just yet, but never underestimate Roger S. Penske to pull a surprise out of his hat.


Photos by Dan Helrige/IRL

4/30/04

IRL officials and teams happy with Indy test results   The first extended test of the aerodynamic package that will be used in the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 drew rave reviews from Indy Racing League officials and teams.  Twenty-seven driver-car combinations took to the 2.5-mile oval on April 28-29 in preparations for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on May 30. Opening Day for the Indianapolis 500 is May 9. Despite less than ideal conditions, IRL Senior Vice President for Racing Operations Brian Barnhart was pleased with the results of the test.

"As we were with the April 3 engine test, we were right where we anticipated," Barnhart said. "We got some good quality track time. We had between 6,000 and 6,500 miles between the two days with our new configuration on the motors and the new specs on the chassis, and we haven't had a failure with engines and the chassis are running the speeds we anticipated."

The results have been speeds significantly slower than Helio Castroneves' pole-winning lap of 231.732 mph in 2003, but Barnhart anticipates speeds will get faster as teams become more acquainted with the package.

"As the teams get more track time and get more familiar with these specs and the track gets more rubber in it, it will be in a position where they can run a little harder," he said. "We've said all along that we anticipate pole speeds in the 224-225 (mph) range. Of course at Indianapolis, pole speed is dictated by weather and track conditions, but sometime during the month, you'll see someone running a 223 or 224 (mph), which is where we said they'd be running right out of the chute."  [Editor's Note:  If the speeds only dropped 6 MPH with the new smaller engines, why bother?  Give the teams another year and they will be back up to 231 MPH.  Then we suppose they will reduce the engine size again to 2.5 L this time.  Time for Toyota, Honda and Chevy to open their check books again and spend millions more for yet another engine redesign.  This would not be an issue for road courses where HP must go up significantly before it becomes a safety issue, i.e. speeds too high.  Such is the high cost of open wheel oval racing - costly crashes destroy cars and human bones and runaway speeds are constantly a safety issue.]

4/30/04

Barrichello on top Friday at Mugello 

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari B 1m20.299s 62
2 Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda M 1m20.467s 60
3 Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m21.835s 56
4 Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m22.630s 55
5 Jenson Button BAR-Honda M 1m27.156s 36

4/30/04

Jourdain and Allmendinger in Cinco de Mayo event   In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, RuSPORT drivers Michel Jourdain Jr. and A.J. Allmendinger will participate in the 17th annual Cinco de Mayo "Celebrate Culture" Festival in Denver's Downtown Civic Center Park on Saturday, May 1. The Cinco de Mayo holiday commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Jourdain and Allmendinger will be on hand to promote Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford Spanish-language telecasts that air on Fox Sports en Espanol, Hispanic America's first and finest sports channel, as well as the August 15 Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver. The Champ Car presence will be felt throughout the event, as a Gigante RuSPORT show car will be on-location, with Jourdain scheduled to participate in an autograph session from 1-2 p.m. and Allmendinger signing autographs from 3-4 p.m. Both autograph sessions will be held at the Comcast/Fox Sports en Espanol display located on Calle de Comcast (Comcast Street) on Broadway in front of the Denver Public Library between 13th Avenue and the Broadway Food Court. In addition, Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver organizers will be in attendance to distribute ticket information. The event will also feature several giveaways, including The Ultimate VIP Race Weekend Package which provides two overcrew credentials that allow access to the race track, paddock, and pits throughout the weekend, two Kangaroo.tv rentals, two Champ Car Pace Car rides, lunch for two on Saturday, August 14 at the RuSPORT hospitality coach and the opportunity to watch qualifying from Jourdain's pit box, and two premium three-day grandstand tickets. Five pairs of three-day grandstand tickets will also be given away. Fox Sports en Español is available through affiliated cable systems and through DIRECTV and Dish Network satellite providers.

4/30/04

New episode of Dangerous Curves on Spike   Fans of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will not have a race to watch this weekend, but they can get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the personalities that power the Champ Car World Series on Spike TV’s Sunday Champ Car show Dangerous Curves. The show, which gives viewers an in-depth look at the Champ Car World Series, will visit 1996 series champion Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) at his Las Vegas home as Jimmy gives fans a chance to see what he does with his time away from the track. Host Bronte Tagliani will join Vasser as they check out his unique collection of gadgets and toys that he has amassed over his racing career. The program will also take fans deep into the paddock to join team co-owner Paul Newman with guests Paul and Heather McCartney and Tom Cruise as the legendary stars took in some Champ Car racing at Long Beach two weeks ago. In addition, show segments will focus on how Champ Car drivers and their families maintain their relationships while on the road. A piece on the new Champ Car scoring system and a behind-the-scenes view at the all-driver autograph session from Long Beach will round out the episode. Dangerous Curves can be seen at 1:30 p.m. Sunday on Spike TV. Spike TV and HDNet are the television homes of the Champ Car World Series and will give fans a chance to follow all of the open-wheel racing action throughout the 2004 season.

4/30/04

Last gasp attempt for Champ Car at Milwaukee   Indy Car style oval track racing is pretty much dead.  NASCAR rules the ovals in the USA.  Ticket giveaways in the IRL are common to make it look like there is some hint of interest.  Champ Car has struggled on the ovals too and this year they are down to just one oval race at the historic Milwaukee Mile.  Making matters worse is the fact that the IRL will be racing there this year as well and they have the advantage of massive ticket giveaways from Marlboro, Honda and Toyota to pad their numbers.  Last year Champ Car ran under the lights for the first time in Milwaukee and although attendance was up, it still was a marginal attendance at best, though it was frigid cold and the qualifying rained out the night before.  This year they will be under the lights again, and we suspect they are going all out in one last attempt to fill the grandstands.  The track will be having a 2-for-1 ticket package and some reserved bleacher seats will be as low as $20.  If they still get a marginal crowd we suspect Champ Car will finally give up on the ovals because, as we have maintained for a very long time, for open wheel racing the ovals are done, stick a fork in them.  NASCAR rules that roost.  Mark C.

4/30/04

Two Champ Car races pick up sponsorship   Coming off a successful opening race to the 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford campaign and preparing for a May 21-23 event in Monterrey, Mexico that is on pace to break its record for ticket sales, the Champ Car World Series is starting to attract the attention of major national companies that wish to join in the racing action. This week saw a pair of upcoming races sign new sponsorship deals, as events in Milwaukee and Cleveland announced new partnerships in mid-week press conferences. The season’s only night race will take place on the weekend of June 3-5 at the venerable Milwaukee Mile, and will now be known as the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 250 after Wednesday’s announcement. The multi-year agreement was unveiled to the media on Wednesday with defending Milwaukee race winner Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) on hand to help make the announcement. “We are ecstatic to have Time Warner Cable and its Road Runner high-speed services join us for the much-anticipated return of Champ Cars racing ‘at the speed of night’,” said Milwaukee Mile Vice-President and General Manager Mark Perrone. “This is a perfect match as the Champ Car drivers will be racing wheel-to-wheel at blurring speeds, while Time Warner Cable’s Road Runner service is all about performance and speed for its customers.”

The Cleveland event will welcome back long-time backer U.S. Bank as a presenting sponsor for the July 1-3 U.S. Bank Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland. The U.S. Bank announcement, marking the eighth time that the bank has been involved with the Cleveland race, came on a sunny Thursday in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square with Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell in attendance. “We are extremely happy to be renewing our partnership with U.S. Bank,” said race General Manager Rena Shanaman. “Over the years, U.S. Bank has proven its commitment to both the City of Cleveland and the Grand Prix with its unwavering support. Rena and her great crew, Champ Car, U.S. Bank and everyone involved with running this event at Burke Lakefront Airport has done a great job in making this race as much a staple of a Cleveland summer as going out on Lake Erie or going to see an Indians game,” said Mayor Campbell. “We are very pleased to be able to showcase our city to an international audience by hosting this event.”

In addition to the two Champ Car race sponsorships announced this week, Argent Mortgage also revealed that it would again be the presenting sponsor of the Toyota Atlantic event in Milwaukee. Argent Mortgage, which is the primary sponsor of the Team Rahal Toyota Atlantic entry of Danica Patrick, will sponsor the race now known as The Toyota Atlantic Series Presented by Argent Mortgage Company.

4/30/04

Monterrey ticket sales slightly ahead of last year  In a press release Monterrey Grand Prix announced that they have sold 19,534 grandstand tickets so far, an improvement of 3.2% against the same date last year. They have also announced that they will have concerts Friday and Saturday after track activities with rock bands Moderatto and Fobia. However, the big news is that the concert on Saturday will be with the rock band from Chile called "La Ley."   "La Ley" is considered to be the most popular active rock band in Latin America.   Jose Arrambide

4/30/04

Can't get enough of Dale Jr.?  Dale Earnhardt Jr., current point leader in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the 2004 Daytona 500 champion, will appear on newsstands this week as one of PEOPLE Magazine's "Most Beautiful People." (AOL members can get a sneak preview at keyword: People) Junior is pictured leaning against his Budweiser race car, and is among the elite "most beautiful" list that includes Jennifer Aniston, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees and Andre 3000 of the hip-hop group OutKast.  Earnhardt Jr. has appeared multiple times in People, making the "Sexiest Men" list (2001), "Most Intriguing People" (2001), and "Most Eligible Bachelor" list (2002)... He was most recently profiled after his Daytona victory.  Yes, Dale: Dale Jr. will be featured on Monday night’s (May 3) episode of “Yes, Dear” on CBS-TV at 8:00 pm ET/PT. Junior is among the guest stars including ultra-cool singer-songwriter John Hiatt, hockey legend Gordie Howe and uh… um… Fabio. (Which one of these don’t match the others?) This is Dale Jr’s first appearance on a prime-time network sitcom. [Editor's Note:  What's rather disheartening is the fact that Dale Jr. is a driver of marginal talent, primarily winning on the restrictor plate tracks where his team clearly has an advantage, i.e. he has a car that can't be beat.  Yet they have blown this guy up into being some kind of a superhero when in fact he's riding on the coattails of his great father, Dale Sr.  What happened to the day when sports superstars were the greatest athlete?  Is it a sport, or the PT Barnum Circus?]

4/30/04

Movie script concerns Earnhardt family  As thousands of fans go to Mooresville today to celebrate what would have been Dale Earnhardt's 53rd birthday, an ESPN crew will be in Cabarrus County re-creating scenes from the Intimidator's life. Since mid-April, the TV moviemakers have spent time in the neighborhood where Earnhardt grew up. They've filmed at local tracks. They've held open casting calls in Concord to add local flavor. But as close as ESPN producers say they have gotten to Earnhardt's roots, they don't have approval from the people who were closest to him: his family. Out of concern for inaccuracies in the script, Dale Earnhardt Inc. -- the company run by Earnhardt's widow, Teresa -- hasn't endorsed the film. "Our job at Dale Earnhardt Inc. is to perpetuate what Dale was all about," said DEI spokesman Steve Crisp, adding that the company is reviewing a second copy of the script. "To accurately do that, you have to stick with the facts." One of Earnhardt's sisters said she is upset that ESPN didn't contact her side of the family to discuss Earnhardt's childhood. Because they didn't, she said, the movie gets things wrong, including where her father worked and where her family lived. Still, producers of the movie say they're being true to Earnhardt and his legacy. "This isn't a documentary. It instead is a movie that is a dramatic presentation telling the story of Dale Earnhardt," said Will Staeger, executive producer of ESPN Original Entertainment. "We feel we have a pretty good grasp of the essence of the man." See full story at ThatsRacin.com

4/30/04

Green/White/Checkers  On Wednesday, NASCAR vice president of corporate communications Jim Hunter defused a misunderstanding that appeared in print following events last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, specifically investigating the use of green-flag finishes in the Craftsman Truck Series with the possibility of their deletion. "There is no effort going on right now to do away with having green-white-checker finishes in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series," Hunter said. "What the reporter failed to say was that when we instituted that in the Truck Series, most of its races were on short tracks. And I said that we would have to look at that at some time in the future." NASCAR.com

4/30/04

TV ratings up for Talladega  UPDATE The final TV rating for NASCAR's Talladega race was a 6.3/15 Share with 6.789 million households tuned in.  It was the highest rated sports show of the week. This rating is up slightly from last year's 6.2/15 Share rating, welcome news for NASCAR after the previous races saw a drop in viewers. The Busch series race on Saturday drew a respectable 2.1/6 Share rating. Mark C.   4/27/04 - Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Aaron's 499 from Talladega Superspeedway drew a 5.9 rating and 13 share in overnight Nielsen Media Research numbers from the nation's largest television markets, today's Sports Business Daily reports. The rating is up 3.5 percent from the 5.7 overnight figure from last year's spring race, which drew final figures of 6.2/15. The race was the top-rated sports event of the weekend, edging the 5.813 that ABC drew for the NBA playoff game between the Lakers and the Rockets. Saturday's Aaron's 312 Busch Series race drew a 2.1/5 on Fox. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter

4/30/04

Tagliani to MAMA Spring event at Road America   Rocketsports driver, Alex Tagliani joins the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) for an exclusive two-day preview of over 60 new vehicles at Road America, courtesy of Bridgestone, title sponsor of the 2004 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford. A variety of manufacturer representatives will also be on hand April 29th and 30th for an unprecedented range of activities, including on and off-road driving, track driving, karting and an autocross. The second annual media event gives industry journalists an opportunity to test-drive numerous vehicles on the famed 4.048 mile permanent road course, set in picturesque Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. In addition to comparing notes with and gaining Tagliani’s professional driving insight, media attendees will go karting with the driver of the No. 8 Johnson Controls Lola. “Road America is one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable courses on the Champ Car circuit, and I welcome any opportunity to drive it,” said Tagliani, who’s earned two consecutive podium finishes and three top-three starts on the 49 year old track. “I love to drive and am partial to my Johnson Controls Lola, but I’m excited to test-drive so many vehicles and judge their handling and performance. Of course it’s not racing, so the performance expectations are different, but this is a great opportunity to be among a group of people who are just as interested and knowledgeable about cars. Lots of good feedback for manufacturers and consumers come from events like this. “This will be a different experience on the track and I appreciate the invitation from Road America and Bridgestone. I’ll be back to compete at Road America in August with my team and am confident that Rocketsports will continue to have good results here this year,” concluded Tagliani.

4/30/04

BMW engine passes another endurance test  The BMW P84 engine successfully passed another endurance test over the San Marino Grand Prix weekend, most notably in the final laps of the race when Juan Pablo achieved rpm levels on a par with those achieved during qualifying, which enabled him to defend himself against Fernando Alonso's attack. This achievement has underlined the value of the work we've carried out over the last few weeks. Our on-going development effort in Munich is focused on achieving maximum revs and output in the second half of the engine's 800-kilometre lifespan, i.e. during the race. We're working on achieving this even whilst in seventh gear, which on some circuits is engaged for more than five seconds at maximum revs. In the past, it was customary to make the top gear longer, by 500 to 1,000 rpm, in order to reduce this continuous load. Our recent development strategy is primarily directed at those components which have to sustain high thermal and mechanical loads. We have subsequently developed significant expertise in both design, aided by computer simulation, and in high-precision manufacturing, an advance which stands us in good stead for the single engine rule. For BMW, the Formula One project has once again proved to be an effective foundation as these insights are now filtering into the development of production engines. Demand on the engine at Barcelona is average, with a moderate proportion of the lap taken at full throttle. With an 880 meter start/finish straight though, every extra bit of horsepower pays dividends. The BMW WilliamsF1 Team clearly has a significant gap to close to the competition but we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to achieve this.   --BMW--

4/30/04

US Bank to sponsor Cleveland Champ Car race  US Bank will once again sponsor the 2004 Champ Car race in Cleveland. Labatt Blue and Bridgestone are also sponsors.  "Our goal is to equal last year's attendance, which was 110,000 over three days," Rena Shanaman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  She views that mark as attainable even though, unlike last season, this race will not be run at night. Instead, the green flag will drop Saturday afternoon at 5, then go for the checkered flag before sunset.   While several support races will be run during the day, those who wish to get in other Fourth of July weekend activities prior to the feature will have that opportunity as well.  Considering the race last year did not start until after 9:30 p.m. and ended minutes before 11, there should be time left over to tour Cleveland's downtown entertainment areas. "Our competition is very, very comfortable with that start time," Shanaman said.  Champ Car had 18 cars in its recent opening race in Long Beach, Calif., and looks for more by its fifth stop in Cleveland. "We look to have 20 [cars] at Monterrey [Mexico] and at least that many, if not more, at Cleveland," Shanaman said.

4/30/04

2005 Champ Car date set for Long Beach  According to the Long Beach GP website, Save the date! The 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will take place April 8-10, 2005 and will feature, once again, the Champ Car World Series as its headline event.

4/30/04

Manufacturers in F1  The automobile manufacturers have been a part of Formula 1 since the early 1980s when the first big companies came into the sport to join Ferrari and the Cosworth-engined teams. Since then there has been a constant presence, ebbing and flowing depending on results and circumstance. Manufacturers have never been committed to the sport if it does not serve their purposes at that particular moment. The one exception has always been Ferrari but then that was an independent operation until Enzo Ferrari died in 1988. Since then it has been the goal to win and it has taken a lot of time to build up to the success we are now seeing. The problem is that in the interim the support from parent company Fiat has waned as has the Italian firm's economic fortunes and as a result Ferrari has become increasingly dependent on sponsorship, particularly from Marlboro. With Ferrari unable to fund itself and Marlboro being forced to leave the sport in 2006, and the additional problem that Ferrari now has shareholders to answer to, there are fears that one day Ferrari may decide that F1 no longer makes financial sense. The company has done enough to live off its reputation for 20 or 30 years and it is a very real possibility that Ferrari's best option faced with these circumstances would be to leave the sport. However Formula 1 and Ferrari are in many ways linked intrinsically and thus it is in everyone's best interest that the costs in the sport are brought down so that Ferrari can afford to compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Toyota which appear to have almost limitless budgets. The fact is that no-one can really afford F1 as it now is and there must be a reality check if the sport is to prosper. The new F1 rules for 2008 are designed to be exactly that. They aim to create a mix of technology and entertainment which is sustainable without costs getting out of control. There are some manufacturers who may use the opportunity to get out of F1, saying it is no longer what they want but the fact remains that with the new rules there is still some leeway for technical excellence without it being entirely dependent on who has the deepest pockets.  Grandprix.com

4/30/04

Saelens gets look at new Panoz   Former French Formula 3 champion David Saelens got his first look at his new ride in the American Le Mans Series on Wednesday and the Belgian racing star was suitably impressed.   Saelens spent the day testing at Road Atlanta in the new Panoz Esperante GT-LM, the car he will share with Gunnar Jeannette as the Panoz factory racing team returns to action for the first time since 2002. The team will make its debut June 25-27 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the next race on the ALMS schedule.  Full Story

4/30/04

Latest F1 news in brief
'Badoer unhurt in Monza crash
Massa at Fiorano
BAR outpace Ferrari in Italy
Willis to Ferrari?
Webber goes to Turkey
BAR 'can win races' in 2004
Silverstone wash-out
Minardi run at Mugello test
Richards doubts Villeneuve return
Imola might stay in F1 - Schumacher
Villeneuve likely to return - agent
Ferrari could quit Formula One
Button is 'driver of moment' - Alonso
Rubens is Ferrari 'weak link'
Jordan and the Paralympics
Minardi wins new sponsor
Jacques didn't 'give up' - Jock Clear
BMW cautious on Mosley's rule reform
'We don't have the speed' - Alonso
Arden set sights on Formula One
Jaguar in Belgium
Button: Skilful 'off' the F1 circuit 

4/30/04

New IRL engine sound is deafening   We have had numerous reports from the Speedway over the last two days they the sound of the new IRL engines have a note that is leaving people with their ears ringing.  One reader wrote, - After breakfast at Charlie Brown's in Speedway, I dropped by the track to briefly watch the practice session today. The newly configured engines resonate in such a way that they actually hurt my ears. They are very loud. I would consider ear plugs a must. Both Rice and Manning had hit the first turn wall prior to my arrival. That will do it for me for a while......While a F1 car is loud, it has a note/frequency that is tolerable  Apparently the new IRL engines running at the RPM that they are, emit a sound that hurts one's ears.  Take ear plugs with you if going to the track we are told.  It's quite bad.

4/30/04

Monkey see, Monkey do   Champ Car brought their two-seat car to Manhattan and drove it on the streets of Times Square recently.  They filmed commercials and gave some media a ride in the car.  Lo and behold, the IRL is playing copycat again.  They will now bring their two-seat IRL car to Manhattan on May 4th and give media members a ride on the streets in front of the ESPN Zone. Rumor has it they are looking for a concrete wall to hit.  The IRL has been a total failed concept, which has destroyed countless cars, hospitalized countless drivers and has been a box office and TV rating disaster.  They have had to resort to copying and stealing everything from Champ Car to survive.  With deep pockets they have lured everything out of the Champ Car paddock by making teams/drivers/sponsors financial deals they could not refuse.   They lured their engine manufacturers.  They couldn't get their own sponsors so they steal them from Champ Car.  Their short track oval racers turned out to be wankers so they stole the road racing talent from Champ Car.  Their venues were pitiful so now they want to go road racing and be in Mexico and Canada. It's rather pathetic really.  What they don't realize is they have failed, and they have no future.  They alienated all the Champ Car fans who will never, and we mean never, support the IRL for what they have done to ruin the sport, and, as they continue to morph into CART, they alienated all their original short oval track fans who hated everything about CART in the first place.  The IRL leadership is completely lost and their tactics have reached desperation levels. The sight of Tony George, the President of the IRL, slinking around unshaven, wearing a cowboy hat, and sitting in the grandstands at the Long Beach Champ Car race trying to disguise himself as a fan to see what he can copy or steal next, is the sign of a very desperate leader.  They have no vision unless you call playing copycat and stealing from your competition vision.  It's all downhill from here.

4/29/04

IRL moves in on another Champ Car sponsor   The IRL continues to pluck the Champ Car paddock clean of drivers, teams, sponsors and manufacturers.  Rahal/Letterman Racing, with three Honda G -Force cars entered for qualifications in the 88th Indianapolis 500, today announced a partnership with CENTRIX Financial as the primary sponsor for the team's No. 17 Rahal/Letterman/Team CENTRIX Honda G-Force Firestone Indy car for the May 30 racing classic. The No. 17 Team CENTRIX Honda G-Force entry, driven by young star Vitor Meira, will first hit the famed "Brickyard" on Sunday, May 9, when the Speedway opens for practice runs.  CENTRIX is the sponsor of the Denver Champ Car race, or at least they were.

4/29/04

Team Rahal names Indy 500 lineup  Team owners Bobby Rahal and David Letterman today announced the Rahal/Letterman Racing driver lineup for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500- Mile Race set for Sunday, May 30, with Buddy Rice, Vitor Meira and Roger Yasukawa filling the three-car entry for the Ohio-based racing operation. It is Team Rahal's first three-car entry in the Indy 500.

4/29/04

Champ Car in One Lap of America race  One of the most unique racing events in the United States will have a decidedly Champ Car presence. Series officials announced today that Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will sponsor a 2003 Ford Focus SVT outfitted with ultra high-performance Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position tires in the 2004 Tire Rack Cannonball One Lap of America, presented by Car and Driver. The Focus will be driven by Champ Car Pace Car team veteran Kelly Williams of Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Bridgestone Field Support manager Mike Swope of Louisville, Ohio, and will compete in the Econo Car class. The unique event is nearly a 24-hour-a-day driving experience combined with time trial competitions on race tracks throughout the United States. Drivers competing in the One Lap of America will drive more than 5,000 miles with only "the finest meals found at gas stations and convenience stores" to sustain them. No support crews are allowed and only one set of tires and two spares can be used by each team. "On behalf of everyone associated with the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, we are extremely proud to support this wonderful and unique event through our sponsorship," said Champ Car president Dick Eidswick. "Through our association with the Bridgestone brand and Ford in the Champ Car World Series, we have immeasurable respect for the quality of both Bridgestone tires and Ford vehicles. We have no doubt that Kelly, Mike, the Bridgestone tires and the Ford Focus SVT are more than equal to this grueling challenge." In addition to the Focus being driven by Williams and Swope, Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC is supporting the car driven by "The Bachelor" Andrew Firestone and his brother, Adam, in the One Lap of America. The Firestones' car features Bridgestone/Firestone Vehicle System's state-of-the-art Praxis system, an aftermarket suspension system which offers the driver three levels of suspension tuning-from highway to touring to track-at the touch of a switch. "This is turning out to be quite an event for Bridgestone," said Bridgestone/Firestone Vehicle Systems managing director John S. Vincent. "We're happy to have the Champ Car team on-board for this race. They are obviously a very strong partner for Bridgestone in many ways, and we're excited they'll be competing on Bridgestone tires with a Bridgestone team member behind the wheel. It should be a fun event for everyone and now we're anxious to get started."

4/29/04

Two Three drivers crash at Indy   2nd UPDATE  Alex Barron limped into his garage after going to medical with his foot bandaged and iced.  4/29/04 - Make that three drivers in the wall.  Alex Barron just smashed the exit of the Turn 1 wall, slid through the short chute and hit the wall a 2nd time in Turn 2. He was not injured.   The IRL cars have less down force this year, although Indy has always been a low down force track. After years of 100% throttle glued-to-the-track down force, the IRL drivers are finding the Indy track a handful even at the slower speeds.  This means you won't see any close racing this year.  The low down force setup will see the cars strung out.    4/29/04 - The cost of the IRL just keeps getting higher by the day.  According to this Indy Star article, you can write off two more IRL cars.  Who pays for them?  Two crashes in Turn 1 marred the start today of a second day of open testing for next month's Indianapolis 500. Driver Buddy Rice hit the wall exiting the turn, causing practice to stop for about 40 minutes while track workers tried to fix the SAFER barrier. Rice was checked at the infield hospital and was cleared to drive. Rice hit the outside wall coming out of Turn 1, then slid down across the track before stopping near the inside wall. Darren Manning, a driver for Target Chip Ganassi, later also crashed in the same turn. but was not injured. Rice, who drives for Team Rahal, had completed just five laps with a top speed of 213.967 mph when he crashed.

4/29/04

Waltrip to get honorary degree  NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip will deliver the commencement address to the 137th graduating class of Kentucky Wesleyan
College in his hometown of Owensboro, Ky. on Saturday, May 8 at 10 a.m. CT in KWC's Hocker-Hall Grove. The three-time NASCAR Champion will be presented KWC's highest honor, the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, (LL.D.) following his address to the graduating class. "Not only has Darrell Waltrip reached the pinnacle of the motorsports world, but he had also conceived and founded a ministry to racing families," said KWC President Dr. Wesley H. Poling. His commitment to his sport and to the personal faith of his fellow sportsmen is exemplary, and we are proud to recognize his achievements."

4/29/04

Pizzonia soon to be a father  WilliamsF1 test driver Antonio Pizzonia found out yesterday that he is about to become a father. The Brazilian's long-time girlfriend, Pan-American Long Jump champion Maurren Maggi, is pregnant. The couple, who lives in Monaco, was surprised by the news - and so were their families. But Pizzonia, 23, admitted they had plans to "expand the family in two or three years anyway". Maggi, also Brazilian, who was training for the Olympics, is considering an early (she's 27) retirement from her career.

4/29/04

The King on TV  Richard Petty, NASCAR's winningest driver and leader of the most successful stock car racing organization in history, will appear on Dennis Miller Thursday night, Apr. 29. The nationally-televised show, hosted by the five-time Emmy-award winning comedian, is scheduled to air at 9:00pm (EDT & PDT), and three hours later at 12:00am (EDT) on CNBC. Petty Enterprises fields the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge of driver Jeff Green and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge of driver Kyle Petty on NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series. The teams compete this weekend in the Auto Club 500 at the two-mile California Speedway in Fontana, just east of Los Angeles. Dennis Miller is a one-hour topical interview talk show featuring what it calls, "reasoned discourse, opinion and humor." Petty was scheduled to tape his segment late Thursday afternoon at CNBC's Los Angeles studios prior to the national airing that same night.

4/29/04

Smaller IRL engines have no low RPM power   A common complaint about the new smaller 3.0L IRL engines is they have no bottom end power coming out of the pits.  The engines are optimized with peak power being produced in a very small RPM range at the top end.  In the 100% throttle oval-only IRL there's no reason to need much power at the bottom end because the driver runs the engine at full throttle the entire race, except when exiting the pits.   The 3.0L engines are the same displacement as a 3.0L F1 engine, but it runs at just over 50% of the RPM (IRL engines around 10,000 RPM, F1 approaching 20,000).  The IRL engine makes about 650 HP and the F1 engine about 925 HP, but the F1 engine makes its power in a very wide range compared to an IRL car.  Low HP, no low-end power, and coupled with the fact an IRL car with driver weighs about 400 pounds more than a F1 car, and you have the recipe for a real dog of a road racing car.  If the IRL were smart they would stick to what they do best and stay a 100% oval track series.  If the Toyota Atlantic cars and the Formula Renault V6 cars (support series) outperform the IRL cars on road courses (all projections say they will) the IRL is going to be the laughing stock of the road racing industry, another black mark it does not need.

4/29/04

Franchitti unhurt   Dario Franchitti had a close call about 45 minutes into the three-hour afternoon practice yesterday at Indy. Franchitti brushed the wall, bringing out the caution flag but the Andretti Green Racing team driver was not injured.  The gusty winds at the speedway are said to have contributed to the incident.

4/29/04

Dominguez chosen as health program spokesperson  Wednesday the Mexican Secretary of Health kicked off a program called "Mexico Sin Riesgo" (Mexico Without Risk).  The main objective is to lower cholesterol levels in all Mexicans. Mario Dominguez was chosen as the spokesperson for this program.  Jose Arrambide/AutoRacing1

4/29/04

Senna's greatest drive Although many feel that Donington in 1993 was the late great Ayrton Senna's greatest drive, Senna himself felt that his first win in 1985 at Estoril in horrible conditions was his greatest drive.  Nigel Roebuck explains the story in this article.

4/29/04

Latest F1 news in brief
'Ralf quick on rainy day
BAR pace 'annoys' Villeneuve
'I was never a playboy' - Button
Chiefs forget why F1 exists - Lauda
Juan was 'upset' says level-headed Schu
Schu 'mindful' of BAR challenge
BAR car only getting better - Sato
Schu coughs at 'clean sweep' claims
Spain bids to keep Formula One
GPWC take 'first steps' to new series
Threat to axe Brit GP is real - Stewart
Head tells Juan to 'stop bleating'
Villeneuve and Williams - sources
F1 refugees in Le Mans 'superteam'
Non-GPWC teams were to get 'nothing' - report
Did Ferrari dream up Williams' nose?

4/28/04

Honda slips to No. 3   It looks like participating in the IRL isn't helping Honda one iota.  Honda reported its third year of record profit Tuesday, a day after Nissan overtook Honda as Japan's No. 2 automaker.  While profits rose 8.8%, they fell short of expectations.  Honda Chairman Yoshihide Munekuni will resign at the end of June to be a company advisor and won't be immediately replaced.  This coupled with the report below that Hyundai has now tied Honda in the JD Powers quality survey, and just one point behind leader Toyota, means the Japanese giants can't afford to get too complacent at the top.

4/28/04

Don't look now, here come the Koreans  It looks like OWRS is aligning themselves with the South Koreans at just the right time.  Honda and Toyota had better be looking over their shoulder.  Interestingly, BMW is 4th behind Hyundai, another manufacturer that is aligning themselves with Champ Car. USA Today reports -   In the J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey out Wednesday, Korean automaker Hyundai Motor America shocked the auto industry by scoring a virtual dead-heat with quality leaders Honda and Toyota, tying Honda with 102 problems per 100 vehicles and just one point behind Toyota.  Driven by that extraordinary improvement by Hyundai America, Korean manufacturers, Kia Motors included, now rank higher than European and U.S automakers for vehicle quality based on complaints reported by customers during the first three months of ownership.
2004 QUALITY RANKINGS (by Manufacturer)
Company Problems per 100 vehicles
Toyota 101
Honda 102
Hyundai 102
BMW 116
Industry average 119
General Motors 120
DaimlerChrysler 123
Subaru 123
Ford 127
Mitsubishi 130
Volkswagen 141
Nissan 147
Suzuki 149
Kia 153
Porsche 159
Source: J.D. Power and Associates
"A decade ago, as Korean manufacturers struggled with a universally poor reputation for vehicle quality, none would have predicted they could not only keep pace, but actually pass domestics and other imports in terms of initial quality," said Joe Ivers, partner and executive director of J.D. Power and Associates.  Hyundai's one-year improvement was so great, and so altered this year's industry average that automakers like Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler, which improved in quality and handily beat last year's industry average of 133 problems per 100 vehicles, remained below this year's much lower industry average of 119 problems per 100 vehicles.  More....

Nameplate

Problems per 100 vehicles

Nameplate

Problems per 100 vehicles

Lexus

87

Lincoln

121

Cadillac

93

Pontiac

122

Jaguar

98

Subaru

123

Honda

99

GMC

127

Buick

100

Ford

130

Mercury

100

Mitsubishi

130

Hyundai

102

Saab

133

Infiniti

104

Jeep

136

Toyota

104

Mini

142

Mercedes-Benz

106

Land Rover

148

Audi

109

Saturn

149

BMW

109

Suzuki

149

Oldsmobile

110

Kia

153

Volvo

113

Nissan

154

Acura

117

Mazda

157

Chevrolet

119

Scion

158

Industry average

119

Porsche

159

Chrysler

120

Volkswagen

164

Dodge

121

HUMMER

173

4/28/04

Time running out for Sarah Fisher   This Indy Star article talks about how the IRL's most popular driver, Sarah Fisher, is running out of time to make a career in top-level racing.  She can't find sponsorship and teams won't hire her for her talent, only if she can bring money.  She's never run consistently up front in the IRL, though admittedly she never had the best equipment.  From where we sit she gets far too much press given her results.  She should not be treated special just because she's a women.  She should be treated equally with all the other drivers and the amount of column inches she gets should be based on her results.  This is a sport, not a show.  The athletes that perform should get the most coverage, and those that don't produce, should not.  The media slights all the male drivers by giving her an ungodly amount of attention compared to what they get.  Equal rights?  What's fair is fair, it works both ways.

4/28/04

Junqueira pleased with first run   Bruno Junqueira, 27, was pleased with the results from the first day of testing his No. 36 PacifiCare Honda/G-Force/Firestone race car around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) during the two-day Open Test in preparation for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500. He completed 50 laps for a total of 125 miles and ranked 15th among 26 drivers who ran laps during the day. It was his first time to drive at IMS since the 2002 race where he started on pole and led the first 32 laps before engine failure ended his race.

"We are just learning about the car but I am pleased with our results today," said Junqueira, who will attempt to qualify for his third Indy 500 after participating in the event in 2001 and 2002. "We didn't run very much this morning but were able to put in more laps in the afternoon and by the end of the day the car had a good balance. For sure we were probably running more downforce than most teams today but we are taking things step by step. We were able to run consistent lap times and the balance of the car was good. The windy conditions were not ideal, it was making everything more difficult but you never know what the conditions will be in qualifying or the race so it is important to be prepared. You need a car that is good in all conditions."

NHR's Director of Special Operations Jim McGee was also pleased with the progress of the team on their first day on-track together. "We got off to a good start today," said McGee. "We didn't have any big issues with the car. It's new and the guys did a good job preparing it for today. We lost a little time this morning due to a gearbox issue but it was resolved and the rest of the day went well. We are getting a feel for the car and for each other. Overall everyone worked together well."

The team will complete the two-day test tomorrow and continue to prepare for opening day for the 88th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 9.

4/28/04

Penske teammates pace first test day at Indy   Two-time IRL IndyCar® Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. posted the fastest speed of the first day of testing for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 on April 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hornish, driver of the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, had a quick time of 41.0451 seconds (219.271 mph) in the afternoon session. His teammate, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, was second at 41.0480 seconds (219.256). Robby Gordon was third-fastest of the day at 41.1107 seconds (218.921 mph).

"It was a good day for the Marlboro Team Penske guys," Hornish said. "We tried to work on the car all day long and make it a little bit better. It's a long race out here and you have to have a good-handling car. Everybody is kind of up in the air with what they're supposed to be doing because of the new engine right now. It makes it tough. We spent a little bit more time out there than probably what we wanted to today, but I felt like we got a lot accomplished, got through a lot of things.

"(The race) is going to be a lot about patience, a lot about making moves at the right time." Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in the No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone was fourth quick at 41.1191 seconds (218.876).

FASTEST SPEEDS OF DAY (COMBINED SESSIONS)
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1 6 Sam Hornish Jr. D/T/F 219.271 mph
2 3 Helio Castroneves D/T/F 219.256 mph
3 70 Robby Gordon D/C/F 218.921 mph
4 1 Scott Dixon G/T/F 218.876 mph
5 10 Darren Manning G/T/F 218.319 mph  More.... | Top-3 Press Conference

4/28/04

Dominguez feels pressure to win  In an interview with "El Universal"  Mario Domínguez promised a podium in Monterrey, and said he will do his best to make it first place. He says he feels a bigger responsibility now that Michel Jourdain is in a transition stage with a new team and knows he has to win for the Mexican fans more than ever.

4/28/04

Comparing Imola and Monza  A reader comments on Steve Levinson's latest article, Under The Emilia-Romagna Sun, Imola Ten Years After, Dear AutoRacing1.com, It was very benevolent of you to send Steve Levinson to Imola to cover the Grand Prix. His article captures the atmosphere and feeling of a special place. I was also fortunate to attend this year not to mark the tenth anniversary of Senna's death but to celebrate his life.

I have also been to Monza. There are many similarities yet many stark differences between the two. To sum up the differences Monza is urban while Imola is a more relaxed country atmosphere. Monza is practically a suburb of Milan while Imola is about 30 miles from Bologna in the farmlands.

To start both autodromos are in parks and are very easy to get to via public transportation. Monza has a much better infrastructure and is more compact for walking to different parts of the circuit. The circuit and grounds at Monza are basically flat. This makes for some ingenious "Italian engineering" to garner viewing positions in trees, on scaffolding, on billboards and even through some billboards. Imola has many hills, elevation changes, and rugged terrain. Catching the first glimpse of the hillside above Tosa is a mind numbing experience. Certainly the old farmhouses within the circuit enhance the feeling of being in Italy and the atmosphere at Imola. The view from Acque Minerali of the red rooftops of the village of Imola is indescribable. The grounds at Monza are flat which makes it hard to see from any general admission area.

Monza is subject to a much stricter scrutiny. At some parts of the track there are ticket checkpoints every 50 feet and the military police are very much evident and in control. At both races I witnessed several shell games. At Monza the military police make it a huge priority to arrest the con artists while at Imola no one seems to care about them.

Monza is more fan friendly in that there are two restaurants under the main grandstand. One of which is where Alberto Ascari ate his last meal moments before his fatal testing crash. Monza also has many signs pointing the way to various grandstands and parts of the track. At Imola you are very much on your own when it comes to navigating the grounds.

Of course the tifosi are out in all there glory at both places. At Monza tradition dictates running onto the track to the podium after the race.

A side trip to Maranello and Modena is a requisite part of the itinerary to either GP. This time I was able to visit the Ferrari museum, Fiorano test track, Enzo Ferrari's tomb and Parco Enzo Ferrari, the site of the former Modena Autodromo.

Both tracks have so much history and character. This is what is sadly lacking from the sterile and generic modern circuits that Bernie favors for his precious cigarette money. The mere mention of Monza conjures many images, the banking, the Race of Two Worlds, Alberto Ascari, tifosi just to name a few. I was fortunate enough to walk around the banking and even wrote Forza Ferrari on it. For me Imola is forever linking with Gilles Villeneuve. It is the sight of his last GP start and the infamous race where Didier Pironi disobeyed team orders to pass him for victory in the 1982 GP. Gilles was killed a few weeks later at Zolder.

There is a real connection here between Gilles and Senna. Gilles was very upset at the circumstances of Imola and was not himself. At Zolder he was pressing to prove himself and refused to talk to Pironi or many team members. Many commentators believe this caused his actions on the track and resulted in his fatal accident. Senna was said to be upset at Imola due to suspicions of traction control and other irregularities on the Benetton. Some people attribute these circumstances to his fatal accident.

If I could only go to one it would be Monza, however, having been to both if I were given the option of attending only one again it would be Imola. I truly hope that Bernie gives me the opportunity to return to Imola to hear the hills scream with the sound of F1.  Michael Crane

4/28/04

Ferrari aims to win all races in 2004  According to Autosport Magazine, Ferrari  believes it can win an unprecedented clean sweep of victories this season after yet another dominant performance during last weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix.   Michael Schumacher became the first man since Nigel Mansell in 1992 to win the first four races of the season and has set up the prospect of claiming victory at every race.   Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said: “We should try to win them all. It would be brave to say we will, but that’s our ambition.”   Brawn believes the key to Ferrari achieving the target will be conquering the team’s bogey tracks of Hockenheim and the Hungaroring, where warmer temperatures and the type of asphalt do not suit the team’s Bridgestone tires.   “There are tracks where we don’t get to test and we won’t know whether or not we’re in good enough shape until we get there and see how the package works,” Brawn told Autosport.  “Last year we weren’t strong at Hungary or Hockenheim.   “Some of the reasons for that are understood – both car and tire. We’ve addressed those so we should be in better shape.” Schumacher’s own performance behind the wheel has left the team in no doubt he can clinch the record.  Sporting director Jean Todt says the six-time world champion could be performing better than ever this season because he is no longer pressured in chasing a world record number of titles.   “He’s not thinking about beating records because they are all beaten,” said Todt. “So he has space to enjoy and deliver. It means he is slightly more relaxed, but in a good way.” 

4/28/04

Haas and Honda almost teamed up in 1996   This ESPN.com article talks about how close Honda and Newman/Haas Racing were to teaming up in 1996, however, Carl's loyalty to Ford was a show stopper according to Carl.  This year they team up for a one-off IRL race - the Indy 500.  As we have seen in the past, once a team or a sponsor puts one foot in the door at the IRL, they are eventually lured over full-time by lucrative financial deals that the IRL can afford and Champ Car can't because the IRL has the huge financial backing of car companies willing to spend big money.  While Champ Car gets a maximum of $4 million per year from Ford, Honda and Toyota are said to each spend anywhere from $50 to $100 million per year in the IRL paddock.  So how long will it be before Newman/Haas shifts over to the IRL?  The only thing stopping them is the integrity of Carl Haas and Paul Newman, something you don't find with many team owners.  This also underscores why Champ Car must attract more engine manufacturers with deep pockets who are willing to invest in the series and stem the stealing by the IRL and the wealthy oval track brethren.

4/28/04

Richards will retire when Button crowned champ  No, Dave Richards is not unhappy and the BAR team has gone from strength to strength under his management. Instead he plans to retire from the team the day Jenson Button is crowned the F1 Drivers' Champion, and that's a dream Richards hopes Button fulfils in the near future. "I feel very much that he can achieve that," Richards said. "When that happens, that's the day I'll leave."

4/28/04

An Interview with: Brian Stewart, Jesse Mason & Leonardo Maia   Brian Stewart is well recognized due to his involvement in motor sports for more than 35 years. He formed his own racing team in the 1970s and was one of the most successful team owners in CART's Indy Lights, winning two championships. Some of his former drivers have included Paul Tracy, Cristiano da Matta, Bryan Herta and Jaques Lazier, and he moved his team to the Menards Infiniti Pro in 2002. Thanks for joining us today.  Full Transcript

4/28/04

Why no red-flag at Talladega  The final four laps of the 188-lap race at Talladega Superspeedway ran under a yellow flag. The final caution, brought out by Vickers' spin, came too late for NASCAR to throw a red flag and stop the race, and also too late to get a restart. Had Vickers' incident come on lap 182 instead of 184, the race would have been stopped. "We would have had time to clean up, open the pits and still have at least three laps to get up to speed and race," NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter said on Monday. "We missed by two laps." NASCAR informs the teams at its drivers meeting each raceday morning of the last lap when a red flag will be waved with the aim of insuring a green-flag finish. At Talladega, there would be no red flag from lap 183 on. So when the late caution came out, the field was frozen, under another NASCAR edict that forbids racing back to the yellow flag. At precisely that point, #24-Jeff Gordon was ahead of #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. The freeze-frame moment was recorded by what NASCAR calls "scoring loops," a series of marking spots around the track where electronic lines under the surface register the running order from signals transmitted by transponders in the race cars. At Talladega, there are eight markers imbedded under the 2.66-mile track. "We go back to the nearest scoring loop to the accident and then to whatever video is available," Hunter said. In this case, the video showed the caution came while Vickers' wreck was in progress and Gordon was nearly a full car length ahead of Earnhardt Jr. "Gordon was first when the caution came out and also first to cross the loop line," Hunter said. As for managing a restart with just four laps to go, the problem was not so much cleaning up the debris from Vickers' incident but sorting the running order through the full field where cars were racing three wide when the caution fell. With the red-flag option gone, the result would have been, at best, a one-lap shootout. Memories of massive pileups at Talladega and Daytona on two-lap restarts made that call a no-go. "We wouldn't start it with two to go at Daytona or Talladega," Hunter said. Alabama Live

4/28/04

Slowest Dega Cup race ever  A track record 11 caution periods over 55 laps caused the average speed to be 129.396mph, the slowest in a NASCAR Winston/Nextel Cup race at Talladega. The record (130.892) was set in 1975 in a race won by Buddy Baker.

4/28/04

Pruett, McMurray fastest at Infineon  Road-course specialist #39-Scott Pruett and #42-Jamie McMurray posted the fastest time on Tuesday during a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup test session at Infineon Raceway. Pruett, who will compete for Chip Ganassi Racing at the Dodge/Save Mart 350 in June at Infineon Raceway, turned the newly repaved 12-turn, 1.99-mile road course in 1 minute, 16.2 seconds, 94.016mph , as did McMurray. Boris Said holds the official track record of 1:16.522 seconds 93.620mph, set in 2003. "The tires are not as big of an issue now with the track repaved," said McMurray, who placed 20th in his first start at Infineon Raceway in 2003. "The track is real smooth and it's going to be a lot faster, at least one second faster. I really enjoy coming to the road courses. It's a nice change."
The rest of the drivers and speeds:
#18-Bobby Labonte, 93.893mph
#41-Casey Mears, 93.647
#16-Greg Biffle, 93.623
#9-Kasey Kahne, 93.039
#45-Kyle Petty, 92.498
#22-Scott Wimmer, 91.787
#21-Ricky Rudd, time unavailable
#59-Klaus Graf, time unavailable
All times were supplied by the race teams. Infineon Raceway PR

4/28/04
Industry News

California to test lights Friday  California Speedway will light up the entire facility of the 2-mile, D-shaped oval for the first time on Friday, April 30th. The multi-million dollar lighting project began in October 2003 in anticipation of the “Finish Under the Lights” Pop Secret 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race in September. Approximately 130 light poles (29 grandstand, 24 skybox and 74 free standing) will light the racing surface from the oval’s exterior. An additional 390 mirtran lighting structures are located throughout the infield inside the retaining wall. 1,500 lighting fixtures (bulbs), 250 tons of concrete and 200 miles of wire were used to make the system. Once lit, the massive lighting system will utilize 2.5 million watts of power. California Speedway PR

4/28/04

Monterrey fans to race against racing heroes The organizers of the Monterrey Grand Prix are going to have a special event this Thursday 29th of April. Some of us lucky media members and some lucky fans will get the chance to drive side-by-side with some Champ Car drivers. The drivers confirmed are Michel Jourdain Lascurain, Mario Domínguez, Roberto González, Rodolfo M. Lavín, and Oriol Servia. The race will be held in the portion of the track used as pits for the Toyota Atlantics Series. This will be a dream come true to some of the fans.  Jose Arrambide/AutoRacing1

4/28/04

Latest F1 news in brief
'Williams wants Button back
Pizzonia quickest
Pizzonia and Webber for BMW-Williams?
Todt 'scared' by Honda progress
Imola - not dead yet
Ferrari teams 'A' and 'B' test 
BAR is F1's 'team of the moment'
Michelin have a dig at Bridgestone
Ralf can't be passed - Briatore
Teams may embrace change - Mosley
Boss 'feels sorry' for Sato
Trulli had 'no power' at Imola
Ralf jumped the start - Alonso
I apologized to Jenson - Ecclestone
We're 'well behind' Ferrari - Button
No more back-of-the-grid McLaren - Dennis
Drivers regret Imola axe
Renault to fight back in Spain
Mosley has majority support - Report 

4/27/04
Industry News

Accused Mickey Thompson murderer may be set free   Defense attorneys for a former business partner of auto racing legend Mickey Thompson asked an appellate court Monday to immediately release him after the panel dismissed murder charges against him.

The three-justice panel ruled Friday that Orange County prosecutors had no authority charging Michael Goodwin with the slaying of Thompson and his wife in 1988.

The ruling is not finalized for 60 days, but Goodwin's attorneys sought an order for immediate finality on the decision, an appeals court clerk said. The justices can rule immediately but have up to 30 days to reach a decision, the clerk said.

Goodwin's attorney, Jeffrey Benice, did not return messages seeking comment on Monday.

Goodwin has been held since his 2001 arrest in the slayings of Mickey and Trudy Thompson, who were gunned down outside their home. Witnesses said they were shot by a pair of gunmen who fled on bicycles. Goodwin had pleaded innocent; he faced life in prison without parole if convicted.

Orange County maintained it had jurisdiction because part of the planning for the slayings allegedly occurred where Goodwin lived. Los Angeles County, where the killings occurred, has never filed charges.

Prosecutors alleged Goodwin arranged the deaths after a falling out. Goodwin has said he and Thompson had settled their business dispute.  AP Story

4/27/04

Ferrari's interest in Button peaks   This tsn.ca article says that Jenson Button's performance in this Formula One season has peaked the interest of Ferrari officials. Technical director Ross Brawn admits Button's name has been put on a short list of candidates to replace Michael Schumacher, when the German decides to retire.   "One day Michael's going to stop and you've got to look around and see who's the best at that stage," Brawn told BBC radio. "I think Jenson will be on that list for sure." In the past, Kimi Raikkonen, Juan Pablo Montoya and Felipe Massa have also been mentioned as possible replacements for Schumacher. Button's timing couldn't be better. Raikkonen is off to a horrendous start at McLaren, one year after challenging Schumacher for the championship. He scored his first points of the season on Sunday at San Marino. Montoya is slated to join Raikkonen at McLaren next year and is not expected to get a lot of support at BMW-Williams in his final year with the team. Massa was placed back at Sauber this year after one year of testing with Ferrari to help strengthen his F1 experience. "I think (Jenson) will be hot property in the next couple of years," added Brawn. "I think he showed signs in the early days but if you get in the right environment and the right people behind you believe in you, it raises your game." Button currently sits 17 points behind Schumacher in the title chase, but is just one back of Rubens Barrichello for second place. Schumacher's current deal is set to expire in 2006 but many don't expect the 35 year old to see that contract to its fruition.

4/27/04

SAFER Barrier to be installed at TMS before IRL race    Installation of the new Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barriers is slated to begin the week of May 10 at Texas Motor Speedway. The project is scheduled to take two to three weeks and will be completed in time for the June 12 Bombardier 500k Indy Racing League IndyCar Series event. Approximately 6,300 linear feet will be installed around portions of the 1.5-mile track at a cost of approximately $1.7 million to complete. The work will be done at night to avoid conflicts with the speedway's full schedule of on track events. "We are pleased the SAFER barriers will be in place before the IRL race," said speedway president Eddie Gossage. "It's unfortunate that it couldn't happen before our NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event back in April, but the engineers that developed the SAFER Barriers only recently completed their survey. This is certainly a big step in the right direction where safety is concerned." The speedway spent $400,000 on upgrades to the crash fence prior to the April Samsung/RadioShack 500 race week. The existing fence on the outside crash wall was reinforced and a new 10-foot fence was constructed on top of the inner crash wall. The speedway's parent company, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. has placed Wes Harris, SMI vice president of development, in charge of the project. The steel tube and foam SAFER barrier was developed by the University of Nebraska, the Indy Racing League and NASCAR. John Rohde, associate professor of civil engineering for the University of Nebraska, met with speedway officials in late January to do a site survey.

4/27/04

Trulli fastest at Silverstone Tuesday  

1 Jarno Trulli Renault M 1m17.298s 79
2 Antonio Pizzonia WilliamsF1-BMW M 1m18.291s 102
3 Marc Gene WilliamsF1-BMW M 1m18.604s 70
4 Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m19.341s 42
5 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m19.406s 50
6 Franck Montagny Renault M 1m19.717s 97

4/27/04

Massa fastest at Mugello Tuesday  

1 Felipe Massa Ferrari B 1m19.529s 72
2 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m21.610s 77
3 Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m21.680s 101

4/27/04

Argent Mortgage title sponsor for Kansas race   Argent Mortgage Company LLC announced today it has an agreement to serve as the title sponsor for the IRL IndyCar® Series race set for July 2-4 at Kansas Speedway. The three-day racing event, featuring the 200-mile per hour Indy cars and top open wheel drivers and teams, will now be known as the ARGENT MORTGAGE INDY 300.  "We are pleased to be working with Team Rahal and to be the title sponsor of this exciting Kansas Speedway IRL event," said Wayne Lee, president of Argent Mortgage Company. "Our auto racing programs with Team Rahal have allowed us to showcase the traits of a winner. Teamwork, determination and performance under pressure are essential both on the track and when working with the independent mortgage brokers we serve. I can think of no better place for Argent to celebrate the Fourth of July, than at Kansas Speedway." "We're excited to team up with Argent Mortgage for our Indy Racing League event," speedway President Jeff Boerger said. Argent has proven time and again that they understand motorsports, and their involvement with the IRL certainly proves that. Kansas Speedway has had some exciting IndyCar events over the past three years, and this year's ARGENT MORTGAGE INDY 300 will prove to be no exception."

4/27/04

Teams line up behind Mosley plan   UPDATE Although FIA President Max Mosley has declared that, with the Concorde Agreement approaching its expiry date, the sport's governing body are in a position to introduce these proposals for 2008 whether the teams like it or not, a report in The Independent claims that such draconian measures won't be required as the teams 'are lining up to support Mosley's plans'. What's more, they want the changes to be implemented two years before the FIA's proposed launch date, i.e. 2006.  4/26/04 - This UK Independent article is an excellent read about why the teams may indeed all line up behind the Max Mosley F1 plan.  Six teams have aligned themselves with the initiative, the brainchild of the governing body president, Max Mosley, and the F1 commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone. They are BAR, Williams, Sauber, Toyota, Jordan and Minardi. But on the very day that it was revealed that the US advertising giant Interpublic had paid Ecclestone $93m (£52m) to take the rights to the troubled British Grand Prix off their hands, Ecclestone, Mosley, the German banker and Formula One management representative, Dr Gerhard Gribkowsky, and the FIA race director and safety delegate, Charlie Whiting, were all in Maranello visiting the Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo. It is safe to say they were not merely there for afternoon tea and scones. Indeed, during the weekend, the Ferrari technical director, Ross Brawn, let slip that had he been asked for a wish-list on future F1 regulations, it would have looked like the paper published by the FIA. With Renault likely to throw in their lot with the so-called independents because the team principal, Flavio Briatore, has an interest in the Mecachrome company that is already preparing a prototype 2.4 liter V8 engine, and Ford's interest in attracting 'independent' customers for their powerplants, that could leave McLaren and Mercedes - the architects of the moribund Grand Prix World Championship - between somewhere rocky and somewhere hard.

One of the biggest sticking points will be the standard engine electronic control unit. No manufacturers want to see any restriction on electronics, since it would strike at the very heart of the technological progress and excellence imagery on which they base their Formula One involvement and advertising. It is, however, an absolute cornerstone of Mosley's game plan. Take control of the electronics and, hey presto! - you get the control you need to police things such as traction control, which he has long been determined to kick out once and for all.  Restrict track testing, and teams initiate more in-house test programs on static rigs. But restrict electronics in this way and what do you replace them with?

4/27/04

Monterrey fans will have access to museums  Fundidora Park has 2 small museums, "El Centro de las Artes" and the "Pinacoteca."   In the past these museums remained closed during the Monterrey Grand Prix, but this will be different for this year's event. Veronica Treviño, head of the PR Department of Fundidora Park, announced today that both museums will be open and will be free of charge during the upcoming Monterrey Grand Prix.  Jose Arrambide/AutoRacing1

4/27/04

Kelley to run Fisher at Indy   Kelley Racing announced today that Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems will be the primary sponsor of the No. 39 entry for Sarah Fisher at the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 30. Bryant has returned with Kelley Racing for their sixth year of sponsorship with the team and their 39th year of sponsorship in the Indianapolis 500. Bryant is the longest running non-automotive sponsor in the Indianapolis 500 field. Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems began their involvement in the Indianapolis 500 in 1958, sponsoring driver Eddie Johnson's entry. Johnson finished ninth and Bryant's legacy at the 500 was born. "Over the years, drivers such as Eddie Sachs, Rodger Ward, Scott Brayton, and Arie Luyendyk have proudly carried Bryant's colors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said John Gibbons, Bryant brand manager. "This year, the Bryant tradition continues with Kelley Racing and driver Sarah Fisher."

Fisher, who will be piloting a Dallara/Toyota/Firestone entry for May, posted the fastest one and four-lap qualifying speeds by a woman in Indianapolis 500 history in 2002. "In 2004, I am more prepared than ever for the Indianapolis 500," said Fisher. "I am as fit as I have ever been and I am feeling great about the month ahead. Kelley Racing is just like Kelley Automotive in Fort Wayne-professional and first-class." Fisher has a best qualifying effort of ninth at the Speedway (2002) and a best finish of 24th (2002) and will be making her fifth attempt at Indianapolis in 2004.

4/27/04

The battle for F1  Recall that we predicted months ago that the breakaway GPWC would be stillborn, or would die soon after birth, because there would be too many conflicts of interest for a car manufacturer run series to survive.  This Grandprix.com article summarizes the current situation and explains why Max Mosley's latest suggestions for F1 will likely be adopted.  We believe you will see some major cost reductions in F1 in a year or so.

4/27/04

Latest F1 news in brief
'Senna made no mistake' - Gachot
Montoya slams 'unfair' FIA
Bernie said sorry to Jenson
FIA document is 'smoke screen'
Berger in Senna's Lotus
Ferrari fights for Imola race
F1 got 'lazy' - Ecclestone
Schu: eight tenths quicker
Ferrari request pitlane clarity
Mercedes 'in trouble' - Haug 
'No choice' on radical F1 changes
BMW threaten to quit F1
Head backs Montoya over clash
Button has Ferrari future
Schu and Juan chat at Imola
It wasn't 'all Michael' - Williams
'Nothing wrong' with Imola moves - Andersson
Mosley drives away F1 sponsors
Brit GP threat is serious - Mosley
Honda nearly dumped BAR
F1 carmakers won't commit - Bernie
Trulli and Bernie have dinner
BAR removed 'shark fin' wings
Montoya aggression 'okay' with Ralf
BMW down on power
More engine improvements - Renault
Richards vows to leave BAR
One more step to climb - Button
Theissen wants overtaking 'regulation'
Ratzenberger was 'good friend' - Gachot
No pitlane speed increase - Imola
Pressure didn't get to Briton
Richards 'copied' Todt's leadership
'No-one will sign' new Concorde - Andersson
Bernie should keep F1 - Mosley

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