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DATE

News (chronologically)

5/17/04

NASCAR schedule realignment, how big a story is it? 

KEN SCHRADER, Driver, #49 Schwan’s Home Service Dodge:
“Who would have thought, say, 20 years ago that on the weekend of Indianapolis 500 qualifying and a month before the Formula One cars came to the United States that the biggest story in racing would be what a bunch of stock car guys were going to do in Rockingham, North Carolina? “Regardless of whether you think it was a good move or a bad move, you gotta admit – nobody would have ever figured that day would come. We’ve come a long way.”

KYLE PETTY, Driver, #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge:
“Racing is still our main thing but, as far as the fans are concerned, we’ve almost transcended that. Everything is entertainment, and there has always been a lot of hoopla that goes around the entertainment industry. It’s not the same as Brad Pitt wearing a skirt in a movie or Mel Gibson producing a movie on his own, but there is a growing interest in what we do. People like what they have seen and they want to be part of it. The story has been about where we are going to do what we do. And as long as the possibilities exist for changes in that area, there will continue to be a good bit of public interest in it.”

DERRIKE COPE, Driver, #49 Advil Ford (Busch Series):
“I think the drivers probably paid less attention to it than anybody. From our standpoint, they tell us where the races are going to be and that’s where we show up to race. From a standpoint of the sport as a whole, it was a different story. It affects the bottom line for everybody, and can affect it negatively or positively. The new travel expenses . . . how will they measure up against what should be greater sponsor support because of more races in the biggest markets? From that standpoint, everyone in the garage was interested. People I know at home (Spanaway, Wash.) were interested mainly because they wanted to know if they were going to be able to see more races. They want a race in Seattle. So the interest level there was high for this announcement, but it is staying high for what they hope will be the next announcement.”

STANTON BARRETT, #91 AmericInn Chevrolet:
“The AmericInn people are located pretty well out of the NASCAR areas (Chanhassen, Minn., just outside of Minneapolis) but they have been very interested in what NASCAR was going to do with the Cup and Busch schedules. Obviously, it plays a role in their sponsorship support but they were getting calls from franchisees all over the country. “I’ve heard ‘All politics is local,’ but that could easily apply to racing too. You watch it on TV, you want to see it in person too. That’s natural. “My buddies in California were excited about getting the second race at Fontana this year, but they were pretty pumped about the new race at Phoenix too. Adding in Las Vegas, that gives them five races a year close to them where, not so long ago, there weren’t any at all.”

5/17/04

Qualification order for Bump Day    Here is the qualification order for Bump Day, Sunday, May 23, 2004 assuming they all make attempts.  Some are already qualified, but are at risk of being bumped and may have to re-qualify.
1 - Tony Kanaan #11T
2 - 66T TBA
3 - #98 PJ Jones
4 - #27T Dario Franchitti
5 - #21 TBA
6 - #25 Marty Roth
7 - #23 TBA
8 - #13 Greg Ray
9 - #18 TBA
10 - #14T AJ Foyt, IV
11 - #26T Dan Wheldon
12 - #66 TBA

5/17/04

Monterrey native Gonzalez looking forward to home race   PKV Racing’s Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Roberto Gonzalez (#21 Nextel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will be one of four drivers competing in his native country of Mexico this weekend, but the 28-year-old will have hometown advantage and the crowd in his corner when the bell rings Sunday afternoon for this 750hp prizefight at Fundidora Park.

After running (Nextel’s parent company) NII Holdings, Inc. livery on his eye-catching PKV Racing Lola in Long Beach, Gonzalez returns home this weekend to take aim at the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix with the Nextel brand proudly displayed on his sidepods. Monterrey will mark the first of seven international races this season where the Nextel logo will be displayed as a result of sponsorship from the telecommunications giant.

“Monterrey is obviously a very important event for me and my sponsor, Nextel International,” said Gonzalez. “We’ll have a number of people at the race track including special guests and sponsors. The races in Monterrey and Mexico City are the backbone of our program, and I expect to perform at my highest level this weekend, for myself and for Nextel. In years past I have attended the race here and witnessed first hand the enthusiasm of the Mexican fans. They are unlike any other fans in the world with the level of enthusiasm and excitement they bring to the event. Thanks to Nextel, this year I have a chance to make them cheer for me, and I will do everything I can to get results.”

5/17/04

Formula Renault heads to Mont Tremblant    The North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship will return to action for round two of the 2004 championship this weekend at the beautiful Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Canada as part of the Grand American ‘6 Hours of Mont Tremblant’ race weekend. North American Formula Renault 2000 staged a successful inaugural race weekend at Phoenix International Raceway in April, with fifteen drivers taking part in the weekend as the Formula Renault category continued its worldwide expansion into the North American market.

5/17/04

Roth refuses to give up ride    This Indy Star article talks about Marty Roth and his refusal to give up on his dream of making the Indy 500 despite being pathetically slow.  Let's just hope he doesn't kill himself, or worse yet, someone else. It must be oval racing where age is not as critical as in road racing.  Oval racing, lazy racing as Niki Lauda calls it, doesn't take fast reflexes, hence an old man like Roth can perhaps get by if he gets lucky and hits the setup just right.

5/17/04

Montoya: "I don't need a Rubens like Schumacher does"    According to this F1Racing.net article, most Formula One drivers would sign a 'number one' contract. Germany's Nick Heidfeld does not agree with his countryman Michael Schumacher's superior status at Ferrari but, given the chance, he'd sign a similar deal. ''I don't think it's fair,'' said the Jordan star. ''But if it's there and available, you have to take every advantage.'' Renault's Jarno Trulli agrees, ''but on the sporting side, I'd say no.''

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, meanwhile, claims he is talented enough to not require a driver like Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello to contractually support him. ''Don't need it,'' he snapped at reporters. You can either do your job or you cannot. Simple. It must mean you're scared, I think.'' In one swift stroke, then, the 28-year-old ruled-out the possibility of ever becoming a driver like Barrichello, even if it meant steering the fastest car. He scoffed: ''I'd rather just race go-karts.''

5/17/04

Will Rice and Wheldon have at it again?    Two Toyota Atlantic veterans at the clean end of the stick at Indy. They had the right engines. The IRL isn't really the best way to determine if a driver is good or not, but neither of these guys have any Champ Car experience and they're ahead of a lot of guys that do. If anything, there are a bunch of other Honda engines that they are ahead of.  At Milwaukee in 2000 Buddy and Dan were running 1-2. Buddy was on pole and was the early leader. Dan clearly had the dominant car. Less than 1/2 way through the race Buddy's car started to go away and Dan was making his way by. They ran side by side for about a lap and then along the front straight Dan started to swerve and bang wheels with Buddy. The idiot ended up taking them both out. It was somewhat similar to what Dan tried to do to Hornish last year at Indy...with similar results to him. Dan's a dirty racer...he learned that in England, not here.

5/17/04
Karting

Keep your eye on this American    Ron White is a kart racer that has been exceptional over the past couple years here in the States. He has won the SKUSA Pro-moto Championship and many, many races. This weekend he went to Sarno-Napoli, Italy to race in the first round of the CIK-FIA European Championship. They run a series of qualifying races and 2 'main' races in the CIK European championship. Ron finished 2nd in the first main and he won the 2nd main. Apparently, it was raining a lot during the weekend, a condition that Americans can't drive well in! I think this is the first time an American has won a European kart race since Lake Speed in 1978. Not really sure on that one. Here's the link. The 'ICC' class that he was in is a 6-speed, 125cc, watercooled purpose built kart engine.

5/17/04

Champ Car transporters meeting for Mexican jaunt   A reader writes, I was leaving the grocery store this evening, and one the the huge Newman/Haas Transporters was just turning onto one of the feeder roads here in Austin, Texas. I jumped in my car and followed it. It kept going south and finally got on I-35 southbound toward San Antonio. I was hoping it was going to pull over and stop, so I could find out what it was doing in Austin. I followed it for quite a ways. They probably thought I was a stalker!  Rae Matthews, Austin, TX  Dear Rae, The Champ Car Team transporters are rendezvousing in Texas as they prepare to cross the border into Mexico for this weekend's race in Monterrey.

5/17/04

Further evidence IRL has morphed into the old CART   [Editor's Note: Recall all the bragging by the IRL camp about their artificially created close racing (pack racing) that we vehemently argued was sending drivers to the hospital at an alarming rate the past 6 years.  Now they are talking about cars that are harder to drive and will string out like the Champ Cars do for the sake of safety.  Like we said, everything the IRL fans liked about the original IRL is mophing into what CART once was, sending those fans scurrying for the doors never to return.]  According to this Indy Star article, Andretti Green Racing's Dan Wheldon, who qualified in the middle of the front row between Rice and AGR teammate Dario Franchitti, said Sunday that he can feel his car moving around more on the racetrack. "Not in a bad way. Just a more challenging way," he said.  Franchitti predicted difficulty in getting the cars properly balanced so they'll perform consistently through the 30-lap runs between pit stops.  "The sweet spot for the car is smaller," he said. "That's challenging, but that's what we want."

The drop in horsepower was evident in the qualifying speeds. The drivers expect it to be just as noticeable in the race. The onus will be on them to sustain momentum through the turns.  "In the corners, you're working on the mechanical nature of the car, just like before," said Scott Sharp, who will start 20th. "But coming out, it's about horsepower."

Two-time winner Castroneves, who qualified a disappointing eighth, said even small mistakes are going to have large consequences.  "If you make a wrong judgment now, you're going to lose more than you're used to," he said. "It might take a whole lap to get all the way back up to speed again."

Rice agreed: "If you start to drop off, it's going to be bad," he said. "You're going to go down a lot faster."  That was precisely the intent outlined by IRL vice president of operations Brian Barnhart in discussing the changes last month. A field of cars running at different speeds accomplishes two things: It breaks up the dangerous packs and creates more passing.

"It's not really in the best interest of anybody to get cars stuck side by side," Barnhart said. "I want to be able to race side by side, and I want to be able to race nose to tail, but if you're better than me or I'm better than you, you need to be able to pull out and pass."  Hornish, a two-time IRL champion who'll start 11th in his first Indy 500 at Team Penske, said fans enjoy pack racing a lot more than the drivers do.  "When you have the whole field up there running together, it gets dangerous. There's no room for error when you're that close," he said.

5/17/04

The movies comes to Monaco with Jaguar   Ocean's 12, the much anticipated sequel to the worldwide box office success of Ocean's 11, will be launched at the Monaco Grand Prix (22nd & 23rd May) exclusively by the Jaguar Racing team and key members of the Ocean's 12 cast. For the first time in Formula One, imagery from the movie will form a central part of Jaguar Racing's presence at Monaco, with branding unique in its scale and scope appearing across the entire team, from team shirts, driver & mechanics overalls to the team's pit-lane garage, as well as the cars themselves. It is the first time Hollywood has formed such a deep partnership with a Formula One team to reach F1's worldwide TV audience of over 400 million for the season's most glamorous race. Jerry Weintraub, Producer of Ocean's 12, said; "The Monaco Grand Prix is the highlight of the global racing calendar and Ocean's 12 will be one of the most exhilarating, thrilling and stylish films of the year. This partnership reflects how Formula One is the perfect audience for us and Jaguar Racing the preferred partner. The cast can't wait to see their names hurtling round the streets of Monaco at more than 250kph." The groundbreaking Monaco F1 launch stems from a partnership between Ocean's 12 and Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin - all of which take starring roles in the film. Released this December, Ocean's 12 stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta Jones, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac and Julia Roberts. Joe Greenwell, Chairman and CEO, Jaguar and Land Rover, and Board Director Jaguar Racing, said: "Ocean's 12 oozes style, sophistication and luxury - qualities integral with the cars in the movie. We're bringing together Hollywood's biggest movie of the year, the biggest race in the F1 calendar and some of our most desirable cars - it's an incredibly exciting mix." Jaguar Racing will be announcing a new sponsor at 13.15hrs on Wednesday 19th May at Collection De Voitures Anciennes De S.A.S, Le Prince De Monaco Terrasses De Fontvieille. (Royal Car Collection Museum).

5/17/04
German DTM

DTM to race in downtown Shanghai   [Editor's Note: Three years ago Champ Car could have done a deal to race on the downtown streets of Shanghai, in the new Pudong District.  AutoRacing1.com had published the street circuit layout back then (see article) as presented to us by the promoter.  Instead they let Bernie Ecclestone beat them to the punch with a track built one hour outside of Shanghai.  All three of the DTM's manufacturers - Audi, Opel and Mercedes - will take part in the one-off event, which means the series will beat Formula 1 to holding a race in Shanghai. Instead of using the nearby state-of-the-art track, the DTM will race on a temporary street circuit layout in the Pudong district of the city, which has 17 million inhabitants.  DTM boss Hans Werner Aufrecht said: "The DTM is pleased to accept the offer to stage a city race in Shanghai. This is a decisive step in the development of the DTM. This is certainly the most significant race in the series outside Germany. "Shanghai is a fascinating metropolis of the utmost economic significance and personifies the rapidly growing Chinese market. It is something quite special to be able to stage a DTM race in this exciting place in front of tens of thousands of spectators. The invitation underlines the increasing international significance of the series as the blue-riband event of touring car racing."]  Touring car and Audi fans can look forward to a very special type of event: on 17 and 18 July, the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) will be competing in an away race right in the heart of boom town Shanghai, China. Audi will be fielding their two works teams, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline and Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest, in the "East Race Festival". Though not part of the DTM series, in which Audi just celebrated its first victory with the A4 DTM, the city race in Shanghai is expected to attract worldwide attention. The roughly 2.85-kilometre circuit is situated in the centre of the Chinese metropolis in the immediate vicinity of Orient Pearl Tower, one of Shanghai's landmarks. The "East Race Festival" is to be established as the major sporting event of Shanghai. At the same time, it will be the first large-scale international car race to be staged in mainland China. "The fact that the city of Shanghai has selected the DTM as its partner for this new motor racing highlight proves the high prestige enjoyed by this series," says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "For Audi, China has meanwhile become one of the world's three major markets. Consequently, we particularly welcome the opportunity of being able to present the fascination of the DTM along with our technology," adds Erich Schmitt, Member of the Board Purchasing, who is responsible for the Chinese market at AUDI AG. "AUDI AG's DTM commitment also stands for the performance of the brand." Since 1988, Audi have been the leading manufacturer of premium cars in China. In addition to the A6, the Audi A4 has been produced at the Changchun plant since April 2003. China imports the Audi A8, Audi A4 convertible, four-wheel quattro and Audi TT. The new A8 was launched on the Chinese market in mid-2003. After Germany and the United States, China has meanwhile become the third-largest A8 market in the world. Altogether, Audi's 2003 vehicle sales in China amounted to 63,531 units. In the first quarter of 2004, Audi posted a 44 per cent increase over prior year sales. Neither is China new terrain for Audi Sport: last year, Emanuele Pirro did a few laps around the "Forbidden City" in Beijing in an Audi R8. In Shanghai, the car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans aroused attention as well. "The stints with the R8 in China were a very special experience for me," says Emanuele Pirro. "There was an incredible amount of enthusiasm and interest. I'm sure that the DTM race at Shanghai will be a resounding success and that we'll be autographing more pictures than anywhere else before."

5/17/04

Latest F1 News in brief  

Montoya wants Monaco 'tire advantage'
Michelin has 'one lap' advantage - Fisichella
Davidson 'on the mend'
Honda to unveil 'Monaco' engine
New Monaco 'the pits' for fans - da Matta
Button to 'knock out' opposition
Webber votes for 'top ten shoot-out'
Sato ends French test on top
Panis 'realistic' for Monaco struggle
Electronic ideas 'are limitless' - Dalla
Ralf rules out Monaco victory
New Renault is 'harder to drive' - Bell
Position vacant at Renault F1 team
Ferrari 'must improve' - Ross Brawn
Montoya would never support Schu 
Montoya is F1's 'best overtaker' - Williams
Indian F1 hopes 'take a hit' - report
Alonso to star in Renault advert
Former F1 ace convicted for 'negligent homicide'
Winning Monaco 'like winning Indy 500'  
F1 aces to 'get involved' in rule changes
Button wants 'Monaco comeback' win
Coulthard and Jaguar
Williams 'feels torn' about F1 drivers
India 'to overturn' F1 tobacco ban? 

5/16/04

Junqueira runs 350 miles - last chance before Indy   After successfully qualifying in fourth place yesterday for the 88th Indianapolis 500, Junqueira spent the afternoon working on the race setup for the May 30th race. The team decided to end the day at 5:15 p.m. CST and Bruno was fourth fastest for the day at 217.839 mph (ran 137 laps in spare car). Bruno said afterwards, "We worked on the race setup today to finish our preparation since we won't be here next week. And we won't run much on Carburetion Day because we don't want to put too many miles on the engine so we really needed to finish everything today. We learned a few things today but we wanted to run in traffic more. I wasn't able to run behind anyone because I was by myself on the track a lot today. When I finally got behind the Andretti/Green drivers I did one lap but then the yellow came out for Helio. This is another time that it would have been good to have a teammate so we could work together to get a good car in traffic which will be important on race day. I'll have to learn about the car in traffic on Carb Day and hopefully the car will be good in the race. Yesterday was a good day for us but today was not as good. The engineers did a good job to get a good car for qualifying even though we didn't get to run much in qualifying trim. I'm sure they can do the same for the race setup."

5/16/04

Fernández Racing forums to be turned off again   Recall that Fernández Racing had to turn off their discussion forums when he quit Champ Car in the 11th hour and went to the IRL because the Mexican fans bombarded his forums calling him a traitor.  Since they turned them back on the attacks stopped, but 80% of the discussions are about Champ Car, not about the IRL, which clearly is not what they hoped for.  This time the excuse is they are redesigning their website and the new one won't include discussion forums, which is too bad for the Mexican race fans, most of whom can read and speak some English, but can't write it.  This will be another nail in the IRL's coffin because the Mexican fans will resent the IRL even more now.  Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico

5/16/04

PJ Jones to race for Beck   PJ Jones announced today in Indy that he has done a deal to attempt to qualify for this year's Indy 500 driving for Greg Beck - Beck Motorsports.  "The deal was finalized yesterday morning," Beck said. "We worked hard on this all week and Mike said earlier in the week he wanted to do something. This makes a lot of sense.  Mike Curb stepped up to help us out and to get this done now instead of next week."

5/16/04
Moto GP

Sete wins 2nd straight at LeMans   MotoGP race results from the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, the third round of the 2004 World Championship.
1. Sete Gibernau SPA Telefonica Movistar Honda 44min 22.75 secs
2. Carlos Checa SPA Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha 44min 24.421 secs
3. Max Biaggi ITA Camel Honda 44min 24.658 secs
4. Valentino Rossi ITA Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha 44min 27.022 secs
5. Colin Edwards USA Telefonica Movistar Honda 44min 38.505 secs
6. Marco Melandri ITA Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 44min 40.975 secs
7. Alex Barros BRA Repsol Honda 44min 50.406 secs
8. Troy Bayliss AUS Ducati Marlboro 44min 54.28 secs
9. Makoto Tamada JPN Camel Honda 44min 55.914 secs
10. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro 45min 2.262 secs
11. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda 45min 10.375 secs
12. Kenny Roberts USA Team Suzuki 45min 34.89 secs
13. Jeremy McWilliams GBR MS Aprilia 45min 46.141 secs
14. Ruben Xaus SPA d'Antin Ducati 44min 23.773 secs
15. Kurtis Roberts USA Proton Team KR 44min 24.402 secs
16. Michel Fabrizio ITA Harris WCM 44min 24.563 secs
17. Nobuatsu Aoki JPN Proton Team KR 44min 33.36 secs

5/16/04
German DTM

Audi A4 wins   In only its third race the new Audi A4 DTM has clinched its first victory. In a hot battle at Adria International Speedway near Venice (Italy) Mattias Ekström kept his cool: having started from pole, the DTM's 25-year-old shooting star positioned himself at the front of the field, setting the pace over 47 laps with a dominant lead, then making the Audi works team win its first race in the DTM since 1992. For the other Audi drivers, the race turned into a rather turbulent experience: after touching the car of team-mate Martin Tomczyk, Tom Kristensen received a drive-through penalty, as did Christian Abt for a clash with Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Emanuele Pirro for speeding in the pit lane. Frank Biela was forced to retire, because his left rear wheel had not been properly fastened during the pit stop. Afterward Mattias Ekström said, "The race seemed incredibly long to me, as it was very hot and the track is so slow. If you lead the field far ahead of the competition, you count each lap. We were absolutely bent on clinching this victory and have truly deserved it. Audi was quickest in all of the practice sessions, I took pole and controlled the pace during the race. For me it's been a perfect weekend with a perfect car and a perfect team. I wouldn't mind, if things continued going this way."
Adria (I), 16 May, DTM round 3
1 Mattias Ekström (Audi A4 DTM) 47 laps in 57m 52.607s
2 Christijan Albers (Mercedes) + 3.156s
3 Jean Alesi (Mercedes) + 10.198s
4 Gary Paffett (Mercedes) + 14.294 s
5 Timo Scheider (Opel) + 24.003s
Positions after 3 of 10 rounds: 1 Albers, 26 points; 2 Ekström, 24; 3 Paffett, 15; 4 Tomczyk, 11; 5 Kristensen, 10.
Next race: EuroSpeedway (D), 6 June


Photos courtesy of Audi

5/16/04

Corona starts TV ads   As of today Corona is showing TV ads on National TV in Mexico, but especially on Monterrey local tv stations with Rodolfo Lavin driving his car. There is an off camera voice saying, the speed is back and Corona is honored to present the Corona Forsythe Racing team to Mexican fans, we will see you in Monterrey. Corona is blitzing the media with all that they have, for this a Tecate sponsored race. Too bad TECATE doesn't have a driver to strike back, Adrian Fernandez having moved to the IRL. Tecate took the money they used to give Fernandez and is now doing race sponsorship and track signage at Champ Car races. Long Beach was a prime example.  Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico

5/16/04

Lavin named Grand Marshal, Tecate afraid of Corona   Sunday afternoon Rodolfo Lavin will be the Grand Marshal of the "Vochos Series" (A series that runs with the popular Volkswagen Beetles) race in Monterrey to be held at "Autodromo Monterrey". Lavin will be there with the Corona Team Girls. (That's a match we would love to see TECATE Girls vs Corona Girls). We hear that TECATE was afraid of a big Corona PR onslaught this year for the Monterrey Grand Prix and pressured OCESA to keep "Copa Corona" out as a support series.  Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico

5/16/04

El Norte starts countdown to Monterrey GP   Monterrey's most important newspaper, and a sister newspaper to Reforma (both newspapers are owned by Monterrey group "Editora El Sol") today started their official countdown to the Grand Prix. From today until Thursday the paper will have the bios of the drivers, and special articles and reports of the Grand Prix in the sports section. Friday, Saturday and Sunday they will have a special section dedicated to the Grand Prix that will be free with the newspaper. Today for example, there is the bio of Jourdain, and an article on his family life with his new wife Nora Chedraui. There is also an article on Ricardo Hernandez, a Monterrey fan that went from volunteer to pit captain. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico

5/16/04

Corona attacks Tecate on home turf   Rodolfo Lavin became the first driver to arrive in Monterrey for the Monterrey Grand Prix a week from today. He arrived Saturday morning. Corona has a full schedule of public presentations of Lavin and a lot of PR from Saturday through Tuesday. Monterrey is the hometown of Cerveceria Cuahtemoc (The brewery that owns TECATE), and Corona (headquartered in Mexico City) has decided to attack Mexican beer rival TECATE on its own turf, and on its own Grand Prix. Corona has been preparing for this. Friday the city was full of posters of Lavin`s car, and Lavín's helmet. The posters are all over the city, especially on the roads that lead to Fundidora Park where the track is located. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico

5/16/04

Indy Tidbits   This Indy Star article says, The top two qualifiers at Indy Saturday, Buddy Rice and Wheldon, were 1-2 in the 2000 Toyota Atlantics series championship [Note: Once again, even Champ Cars minor leaguers excel in he IRL]. . . . Team owner Greg Beck has a deal to field a car next week, but a formal announcement is not expected until a day when he can get more extensive coverage. . . . Greg Ray's IRL team still has not appeared on the track, and the 1999 league champion has cited a financial problem as the reason. Robert Clarke, the vice president and general manager of Honda Performance Development, said Saturday that Access Motorsports owes an undisclosed amount of money on its engine contract. . . . The Menards Infiniti Pro Series will have between 17 and 20 participants for next weekend's race, executive director Roger Bailey said. The first practice is Thursday. . . . Al Unser Jr. said he wants his son, Al, to eventually pass through the Pro Series. But the two-time Indy winner said he won't start a team. "I don't write the checks, I take them," he said. The younger Unser is racing this year in the Toyota Atlantics series [Note: We can tell you the kid's mother, Shelly Unser, does not want Mini Al on ovals]. . . . Scott Sharp's streak of six top-10 starting spots in as many races ended Saturday when he qualified 20th.

5/16/04

No official minimum, but...   This Indy Star article says, IRL rules do not list a minimum speed drivers must reach to qualify for the 500.  But Brian Barnhart, the league's senior vice president of operations, said Saturday that he has told teams they must give a legitimate effort in qualifying, a statement necessitated by the possibility that there won't be a full field of 33 cars this year.  "I want no one taking advantage of a situation if we don't have the right number of participants," Barnhart said. "I don't want someone to post a 140-mph average just to put a car in the show. That's not what we're about."

5/16/04

Foyt blames Toyota for lack of speed   This Indy Star article says, A.J. Foyt stood in his garage in Gasoline Alley 30 minutes after the end of qualifications Saturday and just shook his head in disbelief.  On the video display above his head were the grim results of the day.  His two drivers, son Larry Foyt and grandson A.J. Foyt IV, occupied the final two spots among the 22 first-day qualifiers.  Rookie Larry Foyt brought up the rear with a four-lap average speed of 213.277 mph. Foyt IV, who finished 18th in his first Indianapolis 500 last year, qualified in the final 15 minutes of the session with a speed of 214.256.  But A.J. Foyt, the man who raced in 35 Indianapolis 500s and won the race four times, wasn't upset with his drivers. He felt both did as well as could be expected under the circumstances.  Instead, Foyt's frustrations were directed at the Toyota engine package.  "We just don't have the horsepower with the Toyota engine," Foyt said. "We're just down. I knew the first two races that we were down, but I didn't think we'd be off this far. We're just short of power.  Honda is the one with all the power and the same is true for Chevrolet. I'm not going to say Toyota won't win the race, but right now as far as on the high speed stuff, they're hurting."  [Editor's Note:  If we were Toyota we would tell AJ to take a walk and find another engine supplier. AJ stated on live TV yesterday for everyone to hear that he was keeping a lot of wing in both cars and not trimming them out for a pole run so his drivers didn't crash.  Then he turns around and blames Toyota because both of his cars are dead last.  Why doesn't AJ just admit his son and grandson don't have the talent to be front-runners.  They have been back markers in Indy Cars and NASCAR from day one, and if they had talent AJ would have been able to trim the cars out on Saturday and they would have been faster. It's an insult to our intelligence, and we're sure Toyota's, to blame their lack of speed on Toyota.]

5/16/04

Gordon unhappy with Stewart   Tony Stewart found himself defending his on-track actions again Saturday night. This time, his target - #24-Jeff Gordon - is willing to forgive and forget, at least for now. With 40 laps remaining in Saturday night's Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway, Stewart and Gordon were racing for position when Stewart nudged Gordon's #24 Chevrolet up and out of the main racing groove. Gordon wobbled and lost a position. He was running in the top five and eventually finished sixth. Stewart finished fourth. After the race, Stewart made an unexpected visit to Gordon's hauler and spoke privately with Gordon for several minutes. "From where I was at, it seemed like he just body-slammed me for no reason but he came up to me in the trailer and said he was sorry he got loose," Gordon said. "I questioned it. He was like, "Hey, I'm telling you the truth, I got loose.' I'll have to look. They say he got loose the time before that. Maybe he did. If he did, then I'll accept his apology. If he didn't, then he certainly needs to get his act together." Asked immediately after the race about the incident, Stewart said he knew Gordon was "mad at him." "I just got down into (Turn) 3 and I got loose and we made a change (on the last pit stop) and that's probably what made it loose," Stewart said. Earlier Saturday, during a visit to the Richmond's infield media center, Joe Gibbs, Stewart's car owner and coach of the NFL's Washington Redskins, said he did not believe Stewart's actions were a pattern of bad behavior. "Generally over the years, Tony may have had some stuff happen on the race track, but rarely with another driver. I think he has a great reputation with the other drivers," Gibbs said. "Rusty (Wallace) said the other night he and Tony had talked. I know Tony talked to Terry (Labonte) after that situation. I just kind of feel like it's just one of those things that happen. It has been a series of things that have happened here that haven't been good to him." see full story at ThatsRacin.com

5/16/04

Mansell says Schumacher will break his record   As Michael Schumacher closes on one of the few remaining records - he's only six poles away from Ayrton Senna's record of 65 pole positions, and he's about to break a tie with Mansell by winning the first six races this year, Mansell is not entirely impressed.  He tells Richard Rae in the Sunday Times, "I drove in a much tougher era with competition from drivers like Senna, Gerhard Berger, Jean Alesi, my teammate Riccardo Patrese, a young chap called Schumacher and myself.   And there were a lot of cars then, 26, not 20," he adds   "Most importantly, and people tend to forget this, the cars were often unreliable. It was a big part of the driver's job to be constantly listening to the car and making adjustments, because there was no two-way telemetry then, no way the mechanics could make ongoing adjustments with their computers while you were out there on the circuit.   Put it this way: if I'd been able to go 43 races without a mechanical failure like Michael, well, I'd like to think I might have been world champion more than once."  As for being at Monaco next weekend to see his record broken, Mansell says, "There just doesn't seem much point," he admits, "because unless he makes a human error he'll walk it. Ferrari have so much in reserve," he adds. "We saw in Barcelona that they can operate at nine-tenths of maximum and still be easily good enough.   "What does strike me though is that the rules currently seem to make life even easier for the leading team," he continues. "Take overtaking. If today's rules had been applied in Monaco '92, Senna would have been called in for a 'stop and go' penalty for some of those blocks he pulled."  "We were race drivers," says Mansell, "getting past moving targets was our job.  "In Barcelona, Schumacher didn't have to overtake anyone on the circuit; he did it in the pits. Again that's not his fault, but it shows there's something badly wrong. A lot of it is down to the circuits, and the changes made to them as a reaction to Senna's death in 1994.  Basically a lot of them have been sterilized; drivers can go off and not be penalized, or damage their cars on big curbs. And it's hard to make driving errors because the electronics control everything for you; things like traction control and launch control take driver ability out of the equation.  I understand why they've come about," he adds, "but I have to say they've hurt the sport."  "Things happen for a reason, and I'm pretty happy with the way they've turned out. If Michael breaks my record, good luck to him because make no mistake, he's a great driver."

5/16/04

F1 may be too late for Indian driver   Motor Sports Association of India president Nazir Hoosein has said promoting Narain Karthikeyan would not only help the ace driver realize his dream of driving a Formula One car but also quicken the arrival of Grand Prix racing in the country.

Not expecting the F1 to come to India before 2010, Hoosein said funding Narain would serve the twin purpose of helping him break through into elite racing while also boosting the fans' interest in the sport back home.  "Narain may be too old by the time F1 arrives in India, which at a tentative estimate would be six or seven years down the road. In fact, he should be promoted to accelerate the interest in F1 to shorten the time," Hoosein told PTI in an exclusive interview on Sunday.

The motor sports chief ranked the 27-year old Indian among the best of new generation Formula racers.  "He is very good and could be placed alongside some of the newcomers in F1," said Hoosein.  Asked if Narain's dream of becoming the first Indian to drive in an F1 race was fast becoming a mirage due to lack of sponsors, he said, "if the money comes in, it is still possible."  More from Press Trust of India article  [Editor's Note:  With the large Indian population in the USA, one would have thought that OWRS would have gotten a ride for Narain by now.  Indians in the USA need a sports hero to cling onto because they really have not had one.  Even if Champ Car never races in India, he would be good for the Champ Car series.  Unfortunately this kid is still racing in F3000 class formulae.  He did a very respectable job when he tested a F1 car.  Clearly the kid can drive.]

5/16/04

NASCAR driver safety campaign   U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who was the Grand Marshal for the 400-lapper at RIR last night, has joined forces with NASCAR to launch a new traffic safety program aimed at improving driving conditions on America's highways.

5/16/04

NASCAR adds twist to All-Star race   NASCAR officials have announced significant changes for the Nextel All-Star Challenge at the 1.5-mile Lowe's Motor Speedway (Concord, N.C.) on May 22. The event, formerly known as The Winston, will keep its three-segment, 90-lap format, but drivers will be subject to a random inversion after the first segment. In the past, everyone was inverted after the second sprint.   Another change involves the eligibility of past all-star champions. Two former winners who aren't already in the race each will receive a free pass into the shootout, as long as they are still active in the sport. The move will allow 1986 Daytona 500 victor Geoffrey Bodine, the 1994 winner, and Mark Martin (1998) to compete.

5/16/04

Aprilia: Official bike of Rocketsports  While the quartet of Rocketsports Racing drivers may prefer four wheels when it comes to on track competition, the racers immediately look for their Aprilia two wheelers as soon as they climb out of the cockpit.  With four busy drivers needing to find their way around the paddock after the Rocketsports Racing team expanded at the start of the 2004 season, Aprilia USA brought its championship heritage in World Superbike and MotoGP racing to the Champ Car team in the form of stylish and sporty scooters for use throughout the season.

Europe's second-largest two-wheel vehicle manufacturer, Aprilia is the only brand to offer a full range of products from the 50cc scooters loaned to Rocketsports Racing to the RSV 1000 Factory, the hottest sport bike on the market. Aprilia is an industry leader in technology, design, and production techniques, skills honed in years of racing success, including 22 World Championships.

The retro version Mojito Scooters run by Trans-Am Champions Paul Gentilozzi and Tommy Kendall have a classic Italian flair with full fenders and a wide body that give the scooters a unique, low profile. With a 50cc air-cooled two-stroke to optimize power to weight, the scooters ensure that both Gentilozzi and Kendall always cruise the pits in style.

“Lots of character and classy,” said Gentilozzi about his new Mojito. “It’s perfect for getting me where I need to be. I get stopped frequently as I move through the paddock, so I need the breaking to be spot-on and good pick-up for those times I need to jet.”

When they’re not racing their Jaguars in the Motorock Trans-Am series, Gentilozzi and Kendall cover a lot of ground over a weekend. As series partner and team owner, Gentilozzi fulfills a double-duty at every race and his Aprilia gets him from the paddock to anywhere he needs to be during a busy race weekend.   With duties as a Champ Car broadcast analyst demanding he get from the Trans-Am paddock to the broadcast booth, Kendall feels his Aprilia is a necessity during a busy weekend.

“I love my Aprilia scooter! With my feet being in the state they’re in, anytime I can ride rather than walk is a God-send for me,” said Kendall. “The scooter is not just a luxury, but a necessity at the track.”  Kendall suffered serious injuries to his feet in a heavy crash more than a decade ago. His Aprilia helps him get around pain-free and also ensures he can meet his fans in the paddock, something made possible with the reliable ride.

“I’ve been an Aprilia fan for more than 20 years and when they came on board as a Rocketsports partner I became a customer too,” he said. “From motorcycle racing to auto racing it’s a nice melding of two worlds.”

Champ Car drivers Alex Tagliani and Nelson Philippe ride SR 50 DiTech Scooters, which reflect the racing heritage of the Aprilia brand. Inspired by MotoGP and World Superbike racing designs, the SR 50s feature fuel-injected, water-cooled motors that offer awesome performance while delivering more than 120 enjoyable miles per gallon.   Tagilani and wife Bronte, who hosts Spike TV’s Dangerous Curves, are often seen touring the paddock together on his Aprilia SR 50.  

“Having my Aprilia scooter handy has already helped me get around the paddock quickly,” said Tagliani. “It’s attractive and easy to maneuver through crowds of race fans.”  Racing-inspired wheels and brakes make stopping as efficient as possible - critical in the crowed pits at a race!  “It’s super, easy to drive and sporty. A very cool way to get around,” said Philippe.  
For more information about Aprilia visit www.apriliausa.com

5/16/04

Tony George now in the parking lot business   Did you know that quietly the Indy Speedway has been buying up all the homes and businesses surrounding the Indy Speedway in recent years?  Why?  Because they are now in the parking lot business, making money from parking to offset some of the loss from a downturn in attendance.  As an example, the Speedway used to make millions of dollars from pole day qualifying for the 500 when attendance was over 200,000.  Now with perhaps 10,000 or so in attendance, that revenue stream is all but gone.

5/16/04

Cars cutting grooves in track   The IRL teams are running soft springs in the back of the cars at Indy to get the rear wing out of the air as much as possible.  As such the bottom of the cars are dragging the track and sending sparks flying from the skid plates.  As such, the cars are tearing grooves into the track surface.

5/15/04

Indy feels like a morgue   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I went to the Indy qualifications today like I have for the past 36 years, rain or shine.  Never have I seen so few spectators there on pole day.  I remember when I used to go and they would have over 200,000 on pole day.  Today they were lucky if they had 12,000 in attendance.  I felt like I was sitting in a morgue.  It is sad what Tony George has done to this race and to the sport of Indy Car racing.  This race and the sport is dead.  I won't be going back.  It's NASCAR and Champ Car for me going forward.  Scott Sanders, Chicago, IL

5/15/04

Can the Southern 500 be saved?   Dear Autoracing1, I am the rare Champ Car and NASCAR fan and I continue to love your site.  With the NASCAR realignment, I am hearing that this year will be the last Southern 500. Why? I am reading that the new Mother's Day race will be a 500 miler instead of the 400 mile race (once called the "Rebel 400" years ago) we now have in the spring. So why not rename the 2005 May race the "CAROLINA DODGE DEALERS SOUTHERN 500"? This would make this race the successor to the very prestigious race that exists today AND might help sell tickets which Darlington has been having trouble with. Besides, if they can move the Southern 500 from September to November, why can't they move it to May?  Renaming this race would keep the great history of the Southern 500 intact - Elliot and the Winston Million, Ned Jarrett winning by x laps back in the 50s, Jeff Gordon's multiple consecutive wins in the 90s. Despite the new "NASCAR - Timeless" ads we see on TV, I fear another piece of NASCAR history is going away.  Is there anything fans can do to save the Southern 500 and all it represents?  Chris Silhavey, Stratford, CT  Dear Chris, You have a good idea and you have a right to be concerned that NASCAR is abandoning a lot of its history, but who are we to argue given their success?  Try writing to NASCAR and make the suggestion, but I suspect NASCAR is more focused on the future than the past.  Mark C.

5/15/04

Herta crashes hard at Indy   Qualifying came to a halt today at Indy when Bryan Herta spun in the first turn and hit the wall. He was wheeled away on a stretcher, but was later released from the track's infield hospital. The SAFER barrier sustained extensive damage, forcing a delay while track workers repaired the wall.  Herta had just completed a warm-up lap and had taken the green starting flag when he lost control in the middle of the corner and struck the outside wall with the right rear of the car. He made another half-spin, and the car stopped between the first and second turns with heavy damage to the right side and rear.   Herta flashed a thumbs-up sign as he was wheeled to an ambulance for the ride to the hospital, where he was treated for abrasions to his right leg and foot. He will be examined again Sunday before he is cleared to drive.


Photos courtesy IMS

5/15/04

DHL to sponsor Michigan race   Michigan International Speedway (MIS) and DHL company officials jointly announced today that DHL, the world’s leading express and logistics company, will make its first venture into NASCAR by title sponsoring the DHL 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at MIS on Sunday, June 20, 2004. In a defining moment for the U.S. express delivery market, DHL completed its acquisition of Airborne Express in August 2003, bringing much-needed competition to the US market. Long a market leader in international express delivery and logistics, the company is now focusing on expanding awareness of its services in the United States through a comprehensive brand building and awareness campaign. “Sponsoring the DHL 400 affords us the opportunity to build brand awareness of our flexible, innovative and service-oriented products here in the U.S.,” said Karen Jones, vice president of brand management for DHL-Americas. “This partnership fits well within our overall campaign to establish DHL as a strong, third competitor in the domestic express and logistics market.”

5/15/04

Newman: "Breaking up open wheel racing was unconscionable"  UPDATE A reader responds, Hooray!! Paul Newman is a man of principle. He had the guts to say what NO one will say; it is ALL about cubic DOLLARS as to why Ganassi, Penske, Andretti & Rahal moved to the IRL. They are all road racers and are only doing this because of the $$ given to them. If they had any GUTS they would have stayed in Champ Car and now the IRL would be out of business!!!!!!!!!! My wife and I will NEVER support King George and his loyal subjects and the CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES WILL BE HEALTHY. They finally have some leadership that says "forget about the IRL, we don't want to be like it, we don't want their ovals and they have nothing to offer us. We will operate in the world-wide market and be successful. We rest our case. We believe we speak for millions of fans throughout the US (George has forgotten about us totally). Could you forward this to Paul Newman, please? Harvey & Gail Pelovsky, Champ Car fanatics from Wells, Maine 5/14/04 - Below are select quotes from Thursday's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SPEED Channel. Hollywood legend, accomplished racer and race team owner Paul Newman sat down with Dave for a rare interview, talking about everything from how he got interested in racing to the lengthy battle between Champ Car and the IRL. More......

5/15/04

Pole Day at Indy lacks any excitement   There are only about 12,000 people total in the grandstands, there is no buzz in the air here like there used to be, and everyone will make the field, regardless if they have any driving talent or not.  AJ Foyt said on a live ESPN interview that he was going to keep a lot of wing in the cars of his son Larry Foyt and grandson AJ Foyt IV so they don't lose control of the car.  "We are not worrying about speed," said Foyt.  Why worry about speed when there are not enough cars to fill the field and everyone will qualify? 

5/15/04

Reader berates Bruce Martin   Came across this Letter to the Editor in this week's edition of National Speed Sports News addressed to IRL shill Bruce Martin who writes for the paper - Bruce Martin, thanks for the usual interview with Tony George. This is a man who has misled so many for so many years. What he told the racing world about what his “dream” was has never been true. Why do you and others let this man get away with the double-talk he has used for so long? Also, have you noticed in your interview, and those of those of others, that Mr. George can’t seem to put two words together to make an understandable sentence? Why are race teams and their money following a man who can’t answer a straight question with a straight answer? Why do people put up with this hypocrite? Tom Johnson Nampa, Idaho

5/15/04

Portland race will go on with or w/o sponsor   A new and improved Champ Car World Series will hit the road course at Portland International Raceway from June 18 to June 20. Now, if promoter Mike Nealy can find a title sponsor, maybe the open-wheel series won’t have to open its wallet too wide.  “I wouldn’t say we’re close to anything,” Nealy says of the hunt for a sponsor. “We’re trying whatever opportunities are out there.” Champ Car’s new president, Dick Eidswick, says the Portland race will go on even if no local backing is found.  “Our commitment here doesn’t require a sponsor,” he says. No sponsor is needed this year, that is, because the series expects to pick up most of the costs and is willing to spend an estimated $3 million on the Portland race, in hopes of luring big sponsor bucks next year.  Portland Tribune

5/15/04

Toyota moves design of Tundra trucks to USA   Toyota Motor Corp. is moving more design and engineering responsibility to the United States for cars and trucks sold in the country, starting with a pickup intended to win sales in a vehicle segment dominated by U.S.-based rivals. The chief engineer for the redesigned Tundra pickup will be based in the United States., a first for Asia's largest automaker, said Takeshi Uchiyamada, head of Toyota's research and development programs, in an interview. Toyota also has hired designers from General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group to work on its North American models.   "We need an American sense about our designs that is tuned to American values," Kevin Hunter, vice president of Toyota's Calty U.S. design effort, said at the opening of a new design center Friday in Ann Arbor.  Detroit Free Press

5/15/04

OWRS must not overdo street races  UPDATE Another reader writes, I know that I am a little behind in responding to this. I believe that CCWS should keep the classic formula for which tracks/street courses they should use. I agree with the author of the article and with Paul Newman that Road/Street/Oval make a better championship. I also agree with you (Mark) that ovals are extremely dangerous. Why not use the flat ovals (rovals) like Brazil or Phoenix. Also I would be disappointed if CCWS went to more street courses. The courses that they are making are getting thinner. Why not use the street course in Phoenix or Dallas that F1 used during the eighties. Or find cities that have wide streets like Market Street in San Francisco. Market Street is three to four lanes wide. Why not incorporate part of a freeway for a street race. Peter Swanson  Dear Peter, Champ Car may choose to race the flat ovals at Milwaukee, EuroSpeedway and the roval in Brazil as you suggest, but only if the attendance at those venues can support a Champ Car race.   The OWRS Business Plan does not include going to venues that are money losers.  Their goal is to build huge events around the globe in markets that can support it.  We can tell you that they have had dialogue with EuroSpeedway and the roval in Rio, but again, it must make economic and commercial sense. Transforming Champ Car from a domestic series that occasionally dipped its toe in international waters, into a true international caliber world championship series will take time and careful planning.   Mark C.  5/14/04 -  A reader, who speaks for many, writes, Dear AutoRacing1, I am as staunch a Champ Car supporter as you will find....BUT, frankly I'm getting physically ill hearing about all these damn street races they're trying to secure. Do they want to be a TRUE World Series Championship? Or do we want to spend the year racing around on Mickey Mouse street circuits all for the "Urban draw"? There are a zillion awesome ROAD COURSES out there in the world. Why isn't OWRS looking at those? Racing in a parking lot in Manchester? C'mon!! Rockingham is just sitting there. The Lausitzring is just sitting there! Could you possibly imagine what the attendance would be if we secured multi-year deals and raced there year in and year out? I am a true fan of what Champ Cars was built on...DIVERSITY!! That includes ovals. Without a few ovals then we're just another road/street series. Many, many drivers agree with this. They want anywhere from 5-6 ovals on the schedule. But at this point in time it's not economically viable to do this. But let's give us at least 2 or three. And NOT in the U.S.! We do Milwaukee and then we're off to Germany and the Rock. Once the last shovel of dirt is thrown on the IRHeLL and NASCRAP has peaked, which I think it already has, then we come back and conquer this country like never before. I know you don't agree with the "oval thing" but that's what built this series and that's what will keep it the most challenging series in the world. Okay..let's forget the oval thing for a minute....what about all these "appropriate" road courses going unused throughout Europe? Why aren't we going after them instead of these ridiculous street races? Frankly if OWRS continues down this path my interest and support will fade. We need more circuits like Mexico City. Real true road courses. Not racing around friggi'n parking lots! James M. Shaw  Dear James,  We could not agree more.  Some of the street circuits Champ Car has attempted to run on in the past have been absolutely horrible. They need to visit Adelaide, Australia to see what a proper street circuit should be.  We do agree, there are many great road courses in the world just begging for a F1 or Champ Car race, but we are not so sure Champ Car is popular enough right now to pull a decent crowd at, say, Imola, which is a bit remote when compared to a downtown street race.  Manchester, England could be a great course, parking lot or not, they just need someone to lay out a track that has common sense...or they should not bother at all.  Except Monaco, which is steeped in tradition, you won't see Bernie Ecclestone agreeing to take F1 to a Mickey Mouse circuit.  As for the ovals, we agree they add diversity and some people hate to let them go entirely, but we feel the IRL needs to stay focused on their niche (ovals) and Champ Car on its niche (road and street circuits).  This will help to eliminate much of the fan confusion that now exists and is hurting both series.  Besides, can Champ Car teams afford to buy new cars every time one smashes an oval track wall?  The Europeans tried racing open wheel cars on ovals decades ago.  They declared it ludicrous and stuck to road racing.  Open wheel cars on ovals are strictly an American thing because of the influence of Indy.  If Indy had been a road course, ovals would have died a century ago in America.  They are perfect for NASCAR, but too costly and too dangerous for open wheel cars. One needs to study the grim statistics of the IRL, which we have published, to see how dangerous and costly the ovals are for open wheel cars. Mark C.

5/15/04


Angry Champ Car fans   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, Paul Newman was quoted as saying "I'll tell you, I talked to a lot of fans in Long Beach and they are angry. They are angry at the teams that have deserted Champ Car".  I agree. I am more angry, however, at the oval Champ Carel and T. George's attempts to kill Champ Car.   I have no problem with the IRL being an all oval series. I have no problem with there being 2 competing series, if the fan base will support it.  I do, however, have a major problem with T. George's attempt to kill a series which I love and to ruin road racing in America.  Can you imagine how ridiculous it would be to see the "crapwagons" lumber around Mid Ohio?  Ugly, Ugly, Ugly cars. Much like the 24 Hours of Daytona was emasculated by the crappy Daytona Prototypes, the dumbest race cars ever seen, especially when compared to the Audi R8.  I know I am a bit of a zealot, but since T. George and gang tried to kill Champ Car, many of my friends who are Champ Car fans and I have made it a point to boycott IRL sponsored companies, despite the fact that I have three friends who drive in the IRL series!  I refuse to shop at Target (no great loss, as it ain't exactly Saks Fifth Avenue, but I did shop there for household stuff to support the Champ Car sponsorship--I still have the Vasser toothbrush!); I don't go into 7/11 anymore; I chose not to purchase a new Toyota Truck to haul my shifter kart around in when my lease on the current Tundra expired.   I will not watch David Letterman's show any more, even though I have enjoyed it in the past--I'll watch Leno; and finally, I will not attend the US Grand Prix, choosing instead to fly to Imola so that none of my money supports T. George or his "league."   I would be interested in seeing some kind of poll or petition from Champ Car supporters who would join a boycott of the IRL's supporters.  Ira Fierberg, Hermosa Beach, CA  Dear Ira, Yes, many Champ Car fans are angry at T. George as are many former IRL fans.  As we have written, the IRL not only alienated Champ Car fans, the also have alienated the oval track fans that originally supported them because they morphed into everything Champ Car once was.  The IRL's future looks very bleak.  They will fail big time at the road racing venues they are eying, looking 3rd-rate in the eyes of road racing fans.   NASCAR is getting stronger and stronger in the USA and the IRL's numbers are going down - TV, race attendance and the size of their grids.  The IRL races at many of the same markets as NASCAR.  If you are a sponsor, why would you care about the IRL in those markets when you have Nextel Cup which gives them far better exposure?  Whether they realize it or not, NASCAR, not Champ Car, is the the IRL's #1 enemy, and eventually NASCAR will steamroll the IRL into oblivion. Come to think of it, it almost already has, though T. George just hasn't realized it yet. Mark C.

5/15/04

Cup cars make less HP than passenger cars   Did you know that at restrictor plate tracks Nextel Cup cars only make 415 HP at the rear wheels?  Yes, and that is less than many passenger cars you can buy off the showroom floor these days. In fact, in the next few years you will see many more cars having HP numbers greater than a Nextel Cup car, some as high as 600 HP.  Just add the right tires and springs and these cars will go out and blow away a Nextel Cup car at Daytona and Talladega and then drive down the street to Acme for some grocery shopping.

5/15/04

Ex-F1 driver convicted   Former British Formula One driver Jonathan Palmer was found guilty of negligent homicide for a 1996 car crash, but the seven-month jail sentence was dropped, news reports said Friday. In the case described in court Thursday, Palmer overtook another car but crashed head-on with an oncoming vehicle near Sintra, about 25 kilometres outside Lisbon, the newspaper Publico reported. The sentence was cancelled by a 1999 amnesty for sentences below 12 months.  AP report

5/15/04

De Ferran glad he walked away   A good interview with Gil de Ferran and his feelings now that he has retired as an active driver and taken up TV Analyst as a part-time profession. More....

5/15/04

Humpy Wheeler comments on NASCAR schedule   Some interesting quotes from SMI and Lowe’s Motor Speedway President Humpy Wheeler in response to Friday’s live SPEED Channel coverage of the NASCAR press conference. Wheeler was SPEED Channel’s studio guest following announcements from NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France regarding the 2005 race schedule. He thinks it's inevitable that NASCAR will race in Mexico, Canada and overseas.  More....

5/15/04


Changes to NASCAR schedule to affect IRL schedule   Changes are coming to the Indy Racing League's 2005 schedule, some of which became necessary Friday when NASCAR released its schedule earlier than normal.  With NASCAR adding a second Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway next season, the IRL faces the potential loss of one of its major races -- the late-season date at TMS. The new Cup race is Nov. 5.

Also problematic for the IRL is the new spring Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway. The IRL has traditionally raced there in late March, and most promoters prefer not to have top-level races that close to one another.  The IRL can't easily move its Phoenix race to the fall because the track will host another Cup race Nov. 13.  "The landscape has been altered," conceded Ken Ungar, the IRL's senior vice president of business affairs.

Events are being considered for 2005 at the California tracks of Laguna Seca and Infineon Raceway (Sears Point). The IRL is interested in landing a promoter for a street race in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Also new for 2005 will be the loss of Nazareth (Pa.) Speedway, which will cease operations as a spectator venue at the end of the season, its owner, the International Speedway Corp., said Friday.

IRL spokesman John Griffin said ISC has promised to retain its inventory of events -- currently eight of the IRL's 16 races.

IRL officials visited ISC-owned Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International Raceway, a permanent road course, on May 7 and found the circuit closer to meeting race specifications than expected. ISC must approve the improvements before the IRL can move forward with a race.

The IRL also has had discussions with the owners of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Complex in Lexington, the Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wis., and Portland (Ore.) International Raceway [All rumored to possibly lose their Champ Car date if OWRS moves the series more international].

League officials have track visits planned for early next week, although they would not reveal the itinerary. The IRL's 2005 schedule is expected to be released in July or August.

The league's goal is to expand the schedule to as many as 21 races in the next couple of years.  Ungar said the loss of the second Texas race is not definite. He plans to meet with Eddie Gossage, the track's executive vice president and general manager, when the IRL races there June 10-12. Gossage said Friday the track and the IRL are going different directions, with the former getting a second Cup race and the latter adding road course races, but he didn't rule out a second date.  Indy Star

5/15/04

Patrick Racing announces associate sponsor   Patrick Racing announced today that STACKER 2 will be an associate sponsor for the team during the 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar season. STACKER 2, an Ephedra-free dietary supplement, will appear on the #20 Patrick Racing Chevrolet/Dallara/Firestone car, the firesuit of driver Al Unser Jr. and crew uniforms beginning with Pole Day qualifying for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Saturday, May 15, 2004.   “Patrick Racing is pleased that STACKER 2 has decided to expand its involvement in motor sports by choosing to become an associate sponsor for our team,” Pat Patrick said. “STACKER 2 is a quality company with experience in racing sponsorship. We look forward to their involvement for the 2004 IRL season and hopefully, for many years to come,” he concluded.

5/15/04

Today's Indy 500 qualifying order  

Car   Driver
52 Ed Carpenter
70 Robby Gordon
11T Tony Kanaan
36T Bruno Junqueira
16 Roger Yasukawa
6 Sam Hornish Jr.
70T Robby Gordon
3 Helio Castroneves
8T Scott Sharp
7 Bryan Herta
8 Scott Sharp
16T Roger Yasukawa
26 Dan Wheldon
10 Darren Manning
41 Larry Foyt
7T Bryan Herta
13 Greg Ray
4T Tomas Scheckter
15T Buddy Rice
6T Sam Hornish Jr.
27T Dario Franchitti
12 Tora Takagi
5 Adrian Fernandez
14 A.J. Foyt IV
20T Al Unser Jr.
25 Marty Roth
26T Dan Wheldon
51T Alex Barron
39T Sarah Fisher
14T A.J. Foyt IV
24 Felipe Giaffone
1 Scott Dixon
12T Tora Takagi
5T Adrian Fernandez
3T Helio Castroneves
51 Alex Barron
10T Darren Manning
27 Dario Franchitti
52T Ed Carpenter
36 Bruno Junqueira
1T Scott Dixon
2 Mark Taylor
15 Buddy Rice
20 Al Unser Jr.
4 Tomas Scheckter
55 Kosuke Matsuura
11 Tony Kanaan
39 Sarah Fisher
55T Kosuke Matsuura
17 Vitor Meira
2T Mark Taylor
24T Felipe Giaffone

5/15/04

Sato on top again   Takuma Sato resumed his place at the top of the timesheets on the final day at Paul Ricard. For the second successive day the BAR driver held off McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen who was just a tenth of a second slower than Sato. Testing times from Paul Ricard
1 Sato BAR 1m10.472s
2 Raikkonen McLaren 1m10.537s
3 Montoya Williams 1m10.769s
4 Montagny Renault 1m11.085s
5 Coulthard McLaren 1m11.163s
6 Pizzonia Williams 1m11.272s
7 Panis Toyota 1m11.815s
8 da Matta Toyota 1m12.045s
9 Glock Jordan 1m13.768s

5/14/04

Homestead Again To Host NASCAR Finale   For the fourth consecutive year, NASCAR's premier series, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, will conclude its season at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the running of the Ford 400, on Sunday, November 20, 2005, NASCAR officials announced Friday.

This fall, Homestead-Miami Speedway will host the third annual Ford Championship Weekend, the season-finales for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series, November 18-21, 2004. The 2004 Ford Championship Weekend will feature the final event of the inaugural Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL CUP Championship on the Speedway's state-of-the-art, 20-degree variable banking. The new championship structure virtually guarantees a multi-car shootout for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship on an annual basis at the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"In what is quickly becoming a tradition, we are thrilled that South Florida will be host to the final race of the season for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series for the fourth consecutive year," said Curtis Gray, President, Homestead-Miami Speedway. "With some of the world's best racing on the Speedway's 20-degree variable banking, the location of South Florida in November, and the new Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship, Ford Championship Weekend continues to emerge as one of the premier events in all of sports."

5/14/04

BAR Prepares For Monaco At Paul Ricard   Following last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, in which B·A·R produced a solid two-car points finish, the team today completed a four-day test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. All three drivers took part in the four-day, one-car test, using chassis 006-02.

The first day's programme (Tuesday) was brought to an early conclusion when third driver Anthony Davidson trapped a nerve in his back under heavy braking. He was only 2 laps into the afternoon's running when his back problem arose, and after being given the all-clear by the doctor at the trackside medical centre, Anthony visited the local hospital for a precautionary check-up. He is now receiving physiotherapy treatment and is expected to be fit and well for his free practice duties next Thursday.

5/14/04

Toyota completes Ricard tire test   According to this crash.net Article The Toyota team has completed a four-day tire test at the Paul Ricard HTTT in the south of France, despite being hampered by poor weather during the week.

Running at the track acknowledged as its 'home' in Europe, the Cologne-based squad gave each of its three primary drivers - Olivier Panis, Cristiano da Matta and Ricardo Zonta - the opportunity to evaluate the latest Michelin offerings, while also preparing their cars for the next three or four races on the schedule.

Panis ran at the start of the week, using the longer of two circuit options to prepare his TF104 for the two races that follow next weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, before switching to the shorter layout to fine-tune his settings for the tricky principality circuit.

"We had a big Michelin tyre test for the next three races, which all take place within the next month, so I put in a full four days," the French veteran reported, "Early in the week, we ran on the long version of the circuit to prepare for Canada and the Nürburgring but, on Wednesday and Thursday, the weather hindered our progress, and the results weren't entirely clear.

"On Friday, we ran on the short circuit to prepare for Monaco, and that should work out quite well. We have to be realistic, though, so I don't expect Monaco will be our best race of the year."

da Matta joined the session mid-week, completing 177 laps on the short circuit.

"I put in two days working in preparation for next week's Monaco Grand Prix," the Brazilian said, "On Thursday, I worked on suspension and tyre constructions, but we had a few problems in the morning, before starting to get some positive results. Then the weather took a turn for the worse later on! On Friday, the weather was kinder and we had a successful day, completing the programme successfully even earlier than we expected."

Zonta's programme ended on Wednesday, when he was replaced by da Matta, but the official test driver still managed to complete a healthy amount of work in preparation for Nurburgring and Canada.

"We had a very constructive first day, working on tyres, software and other small parts," he revealed, "I put in nearly 100 laps of the long circuit - a total of nearly 600km - before a rain shower ended our day early. On Wednesday, the changeable track conditions caused by intermittent rain made it impossible to complete our planned programme, but we still put in some mileage on wet tyres and carried out some work on minor chassis details."

5/14/04

Rain washes out Indy happenings   Off and on rain showers all day long washed out all practice for the Indy 500.  Today was a critical day for some teams who were saving today to trim the car out for tomorrow's pole day qualifying.

5/14/04

Fontana race moving up to 2nd on 2005 schedule   California Speedway’s Auto Club 500 will be the second race on the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule, following the season-opening Daytona 500. The race, which has been the 10th race on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule since 1998, will be held on Sunday, February 27.

NASCAR released its 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule today at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va.
The speedway’s second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race next year, the “Finish Under the Lights” Pop Secret 500, will once again be held on Labor Day Weekend, Sunday, September 4.

“Moving the Auto Club 500 to the second race on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule opens up tremendous marketing opportunities for the speedway to build off the momentum of the season-opening Daytona 500,” California Speedway President Bill Miller said. “In addition, it provides more distance between our two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events, the largest single-day ticketed sporting events in the state, providing us more opportunity to prepare for and position the second race in this marketplace.

“We will build off the foundation established last year with our new NASCAR-only ticket packages, when the second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series date was announced at California Speedway,” Miller continued. “The fans in Southern California have shown their passion for NASCAR racing at California Speedway with eight consecutive sellouts. Our fans will be ready to welcome the Daytona 500 winner, and all the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series stars, with great enthusiasm. The excitement of the early season date at California Speedway will feed off the energy created by the Daytona 500, and I look forward to one of our most enthusiastic crowds ever.”

5/14/04

ALMS names Duncan   Scott Duncan, a veteran motorsports sales executive with a successful track record, has joined the staff of the American Le Mans Series in the position of Vice-President, Sales and Marketing. He will assume his new duties May 19.  Duncan, 35, will head all sales activities for the American Le Mans Series, a professional sports car racing series based on the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition to series sponsors, Duncan will also identify and negotiate potential event, contingency and team sponsors, as well as advertisers for television coverage of races, the American Le Mans Series Radio Web and AmericanLeMans.com, the official website for the series.  Duncan will also work closely with the marketing and promotional staff of the series to build the American Le Mans Series brand.  "We are very pleased to welcome an individual with the experience and proven results of Scott Duncan to our team," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "His contagious energy and enthusiasm will be part of an entirely new approach to our sales and marketing efforts, and he's ready to tackle this new challenge head-on." 
"I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the American Le Mans Series, which I feel is one of the best opportunities in motorsports," said Duncan. "The entire organization is a fantastic 'one stop' marketing opportunity, and I look forward to contributing to the continued growth."

5/14/04

Dominguez lands Telcel sponsorship   UPDATE   Correction: Telcel IS NOT competitor of Telmex but its sister mobile telephone company. Telcel is Mexico's largest cell phone company.  5/13/04 - According to this Mexican newspaper article, Mario Dominguez has landed Telcel as a sponsor.  Telcel is a leading phone company in Mexico and competes with Telmex, which is co-sponsor of both Mexico Champ Car races.

5/14/04

Bristol Announces 2005 Schedule   Bristol Motor Speedway and NASCAR, today, officially announced the Speedway’s 2005 race dates. Bristol will host both of NASCAR’s top touring series the first weekend in April and all three top NASCAR touring series the final weekend in August. Because Easter falls on the final March weekend in 2005, Bristol’s annual spring race weekend returns to the month of April for the first time since 1999 when Rusty Wallace grabbed his 50th career victory.

The 2005 BMS season opens with Charter Pole Day on Friday, April 1, featuring NASCAR Busch and NEXTEL Cup Series practice and qualifying for the weekend’s races. On Saturday, April 2, fans can watch final NEXTEL Cup series practice, as well as 250 laps of action in the Sharpie Professional 250 NASCAR Busch Series event. The Food City 500 caps off the weekend on Sunday, April 3. “NASCAR’S Most Popular Race,” the Sharpie 500 runs under the lights on Saturday, August 27. The O’Reilly 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event will run Wednesday, August 24, and the Food City 250 NASCAR Busch Series race will run Friday, August 26.

“In a year of change on the NASCAR schedule, I know that fans are happy that Bristol keeps its traditional dates,” said Jeff Byrd, president, Bristol Motor Speedway. “These two weekends impact many events in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, and almost every resident. We thank NASCAR for releasing its 2005 schedule this early so that our fans and our community can make plans now for next year.”

5/14/04

Major ISC Announcements   International Speedway Corporation today announced the following: The Company will acquire the assets of Martinsville Speedway, which hosts two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events annually, for $192 million. The acquisition will be funded by $100.4 million in proceeds from the sale of the assets of North Carolina Speedway (“North Carolina”), which currently hosts one NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event annually, and $91.6 million in cash.

Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (“SMI”) will purchase North Carolina for $100.4 million, as per the terms of a settlement agreement in the Ferko/Vaughn litigation filed with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division. The Settlement Agreement releases ISC and NASCAR from all claims related to the litigation. The released claims include, but are not limited to, allegations or assertions with respect to the awarding and/or sanctioning of races, the effect of the common control of NASCAR and ISC residing in the France Family Group, and the market power either individually or jointly of NASCAR and ISC.

Separately, the Company received NASCAR’s approval for the realignment of several NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races within its portfolio beginning in 2005. The net result is the addition of a second Cup event for Phoenix International Raceway and the reduction of Darlington Raceway’s event schedule by one Cup date. ISC also intends for Nazareth Speedway’s NASCAR Busch and IRL IndyCar events to be realigned to other facilities within its portfolio and will cease major motorsport event operations at the facility after completion of the track’s 2004 events.

The acquisition of Martinsville and the sale of North Carolina will happen in a series of transactions that will essentially occur simultaneously. Martinsville is privately owned, and the France family, which controls in excess of 60% of the combined voting interest of ISC, indirectly owns 50% of Martinsville. The addition of an incremental NASCAR NEXTEL Cup date resulting from the Transactions was integral to the Company’s decision to settle the Ferko/Vaughn litigation through the sale of North Carolina. “Martinsville has a long and rich tradition of world-class racing since its inception in 1947 and will be a prized addition to ISC,” stated Lesa France Kennedy, President of ISC. “With Martinsville, we add two successful NEXTEL Cup events that have sold out annually for over a decade, which is a testament to the commitment and hard work of Clay Campbell and his team. We believe we can help build upon their successes through our expertise and strong relationships with corporate partners. The facility, which has made significant capital improvements over the past several years, affords us expansion opportunities such as seat and suite additions, as well as increased revenue opportunities from additional corporate spending. Martinsville has a passionate and devoted fan base, and we will continue to offer these customers a premium race experience. We are pleased to welcome Martinsville to the ISC family and look forward to a successful future with Clay and the rest of the outstanding employees at Martinsville.”

Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, SMI will purchase North Carolina for $100.4 million in cash. The sale of North Carolina is expected to close following the satisfaction of conditions as provided in the North Carolina Asset Purchase Agreement and the Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement is subject to Court approval, which the Company anticipates receiving within the next 30 to 45 days. Ms. France Kennedy commented, “We have always viewed Martinsville as a uniquely attractive asset, and, while it is disappointing for us to part with North Carolina, the long-term strategic and financial rationale for the Transactions is clear. We believe the lawsuit is without merit, the likelihood of a material adverse outcome would have been remote, and we would have ultimately prevailed in the litigation. However, the Transactions created the opportunity for us to gain an incremental Cup date for our portfolio and settle the lawsuit. Furthermore, the Transactions will be immediately accretive and are consistent with our long-term strategy of growing our portfolio of high-quality tracks and major race dates. We can now focus all of our time and resources on enhancing value for our shareholders.”
The purchase prices for the assets of both facilities are subject to certain non-material adjustments and prorations at closing, and both are expected to close within the next 30 to 45 days in ISC’s third quarter. ISC expects to record an approximate $36 million after-tax gain, or $0.68 per diluted share, from the sale of North Carolina and will reflect the facility’s operations as discontinued in the Company’s financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”).
Significant Realignment Initiatives Announced for 2005

NASCAR has approved ISC’s proposal for the realignment of several NEXTEL Cup dates, including races at Phoenix, Darlington and California Speedway. Phoenix will host an additional NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event, Darlington will now conduct one NEXTEL Cup race, and California’s Spring NEXTEL Cup weekend will move to the week after the Daytona 500 in February. The race date realignment is expected to result in a positive incremental impact to the Company’s revenue and earnings beginning in 2005.
“The second Cup date in Phoenix strengthens our national presence and raises our value to our marketing and broadcast partners, providing another opportunity for them to access this key market,” commented John R. Saunders, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of ISC. “In addition, race fans in the Southwest will have another opportunity to experience the excitement of live NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing. We will install lighting at Phoenix in order for the facility’s 2005 spring race to finish under the lights during east coast prime time, typically a time of day with larger television audiences.”

5/14/04

Fellows gasses up his karting series   According to this Slam Motorsports Article Ron Fellows has signed a deal with Sunoco that will see his karting championship series funded by the gasoline retailing giant through 2007. Fellows, a three-time defending champion in the American Le Mans Series GTS class, said yesterday the grassroots program has succeeded beyond even his own expectations.

"Karting lays the foundation for youngsters who hope to have a career in auto racing," the Toronto driver said. "It has come a long way from the time I was in a kart." Fellows said the fact that Canada produces world-class race drivers way beyond the kinds of numbers in other nations proves that programs such as the Sunoco Ron Fellows Karting Championship do work. "What it provides is inexpensive, close competition, developing all aspects of what it takes to be a race car driver," he said.

The Fellows series started in 2002 and has grown into one of the best venues for grassroots racing in North America. "It makes me enormously proud to see the change in the performance and presentation of teams and drivers who have come through the series," Fellows said. The series runs from May through September and involves six race weekends and six racetracks. In its first year the series had just four classes of drivers. This season there will be 10 classes ranging from the seven horsepower Canada Junior class to the 40 horsepower Formula Senior class.

Fellows takes an active role in running the series. "It's great to be out there seeing these kids develop," he said. "Each year we pick our top three graduates and, with the help of Sunoco, fund them fully for a year in the Bridgestone/Formula Car F2000 series."One of the Fellows graduates -- Alison McLeod of Mississauga -- has been picked by the Ford Motor Company to follow a path designed to bring young women into the NASCAR Nextel Cup series.

5/14/04

Toyota Atlantic PR Manager resigns  Effective today, Nate Siebens, PR Manager for the Toyota Atlantic series, has resigned to take another PR position in the motorsports industry, which we should be hearing about soon.  We hear he is moving to the Grand-Am series to work with former Champ Car PR Director Adam Saal.

5/14/04

Nazareth Speedway to Discontinue Operations in 2005   Earlier today our parent company, International Speedway Corporation, announced that it intends to realign Nazareth Speedway's NASCAR Busch and IRL IndyCar series events and will discontinue all spectator motorsports events at the end of the 2004 season.

"As President of Nazareth Speedway since 2000, I have strong personal ties with the surrounding communities. And, while we've been able to do some great things at the speedway, we haven't been able to achieve the level of support that is necessary to grow our business. I would like to recognize some local companies that have been wonderful partners of Nazareth Speedway over the years, including Air Products, Key Pontiac, Lehigh Valley Hospital, Martin Guitar, Pepsi and Service Electric. We certainly appreciate their endless support and for standing behind us over the years. Each of these companies is truly a leader in the Lehigh Valley business community. In addition, I would like to extend a special thank you to our other partners - Firestone, Goulds Pumps ITT Industries and General Motors - for being a part of the Nazareth Speedway family."

"Finally, I would like to thank the group of loyal fans that have stuck by Nazareth Speedway through the years as events have come and gone, through the snow and the sunshine. I hope that we will see you out at the Speedway for our two events in 2004, which will continue as planned - the NASCAR Busch Series Goulds Pumps ITT Industries 200 on May 22-23 and the Firestone Indy 225 IRL IndyCar Series weekend, August 27-29."  Craig Rust/Nazareth

5/14/04

LVMS NASCAR dates moving to second weekend in March for 2005   Nevada’s largest annual sports weekend has a new date for 2005. Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s NASCAR Weekend is scheduled for March 11-13, 2005, a week later than in recent years. Again in 2005, the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 is scheduled to be the third stop on the NASCAR Nextel Cup tour. The 2005 event will mark the eighth visit of NASCAR’s most elite series to Las Vegas’s 1.5-mile superspeedway. The Sam’s Town 300 NASCAR Busch Series event will precede the NASCAR Nextel Cup event on Saturday, March 12. Qualifying for both races will be held Friday, March 11.

5/14/04

Texas Receives Two NASCAR Nextel Cup Races For 2005   NASCAR today announced the NASCAR NEXTEL CUP Series schedule for 2005. Texas Motor Speedway will host two events next season. In 2005, fans will be able to see the stars of the Nextel Cup Series in the speedway’s traditional spring race, the Samsung/RadioShack 500 on April 17, and at the new fall event, the Lone Star 500 on November 6.

“This is a day our fans have dreamed about for eight years,” said speedway president Eddie Gossage. “We appreciate the leadership of Brian France and are excited about working with NASCAR in building this new race into another marquee event on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule.” Gossage also announced the addition of a NASCAR Busch and Craftsman Truck Series event to the Texas schedule as part of the Lone Star 500 weekend. The Truck Series race will be on Friday night, Nov. 4 with the Busch Series race on Saturday, Nov. 5.

“It’s going to be a tripleheader NASCAR weekend,” said Gossage. “This is going to be a huge weekend for racing and we know the fans are going to love it.” Gossage was also pleased the Samsung/RadioShack 500 was moving back two weekends later in April. “Moving back two weeks takes us off the Final Four weekend and also away from the switch to Daylight Savings Time,” said Gossage. “This is another plus for our fans."

5/14/04

New Champ Car series leader brings changes  According to this Statesman Journal article, The Champ Car World Series has gone a different way with its newest leader. Former presidents Andrew Craig and Bobby Rahal had racing backgrounds. Chris Pook is a promoter by trade. New president Dick Eidswick is a venture capitalist by trade with no racing background. He is a native of Ashland and a 1954 graduate of Ashland High School. Eidswick was at Portland International Raceway on Wednesday as part of the promotion for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland on June 18-20.

When the partners of Open Wheel Racing Series — fellow venture capitalist Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi — were in negotiations to buy the assets of Championship Auto Racing Teams, Eidswick was tapped to help in the process. “The three owners wanted somebody to come in and run it who had experience running a company and had experience with difficulty, with trouble,” Eidswick said. “Unfortunately or fortunately in my life I’ve had a lot of experience with both.”

His lack of racing background — Eidswick attended a few races in Southern Oregon growing up, but wasn’t a fan — has been an asset for a series trying to get on strong financial footing. “My business background has helped to resolve a number of issues that were created during that difficult period and taking a look forward at the financial controls that you need in an effort like this,” Eidswick. “In a sense, it’s an exciting business, auto racing, but it is a business and it has to be conducted like a business with forecasts and budgets and plans that extend beyond just the near term.”

Already, the Champ Car World Series has put itself in a better financial position. Last year, more than half of the races were promoted by Champ Car, the series was paying for television coverage and heavily subsidizing all of its teams. This year, only a few races — including the one at Portland — are being promoted by the series, but that could change.

“We wanted to lay out certain venues that were important to Champ Car and in a case where we couldn’t find an appropriate promoter in those markets, we decided we have to promote it ourselves,” Eidswick said. “Where we have a promoter that steps forward, we would certainly entertain that. It’s whatever is in the best interest of the series in accordance with its long-term plan.” The series has a full field of cars — 18 at the season-opening race at Long Beach — though there is skepticism about the dreaded “Field Fillers.” Still, on the business side, Champ Car is already on better footing than it has been in the past.

5/14/04

TAG Heuer Partners With Chip Ganassi   TAG Heuer, the fourth largest luxury watch brand worldwide and the leader in professional sports watches and high-speed timekeeping, is further solidifying its relationship with professional motor racing with the signing of the Chip Ganassi Racing team for official timekeeping and public relations activities. The agreement gives TAG Heuer exclusive status as Official Timekeeper, Official Watch and Chronograph, and Official Partner of legendary Chip Ganassi Racing for Indy League Racing/IndyCar (IRL), Grand-Am, and NASCAR racing events.

“The addition of Chip Ganassi Racing to our roster of professional auto racing partners is a tremendous plus for TAG Heuer,” says Jean-Christophe Babin, TAG Heuer’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Chip Ganassi’s stellar track record of picking winning drivers who are superb competitors has led his organization to be one of the most dominant dynasties in the history of sports. Ganassi is to IndyCar what Ferrari is to Formula 1. With Indianapolis 500, IndyCar Series, NASCAR Nextel Cup, and other major wins on their tally sheet, the team’s commitment to excellence and performance is a perfect match for TAG Heuer’s parallel commitment to excellence and performance in precision timekeeping. This partnership will allow our watchmakers to test our timepieces in extreme conditions – in particular in terms of G-force, dictated by the very high speed and unique kinetics of oval speedways.”

“Our new partnership with TAG Heuer comes at a very exciting time for the team, as we gear up for what could well be our best season ever,” says Chip Ganassi. “TAG Heuer’s contributions to the art of watch making and science of timekeeping have raised the bar for the sport of motor racing, and to have our team associated with that high level of quality and precision is a winning combination.”

In addition to branding, advertising, and promotional opportunities, the partnership between TAG Heuer and Chip Ganassi Racing will include point-of-sale distribution of a special die-cast Target Ganassi IndyCar at TAG Heuer retailers, and providing Chip Ganassi Racing drivers and staff with TAG Heuer timepieces in all their racing activities. TAG Heuer ambassador and IndyCar 2003 Champion, Scott Dixon, is driving in 2004 for Target Ganassi Racing Team together with Darren Manning.

5/14/04

New IRL engines lack torque   This ESPN article talks about the lack of torque in the new smaller rev limited IRL engines.  If and when they try to go road racing with this engine they will find them to be quite slow compared to a Champ Car which generates more HP and more torque thanks to its turbo.

5/14/04

Dangerous Curves goes international   One of the highlights of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford is in its international flavor and this week’s edition of Spike TV’s Dangerous Curves will take fans south of the border to Mexico. No Mexican driver to date has won a race in Mexico, but after Mario Dominguez’ (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) drive resulted with a podium finish last season on home soil in Mexico City he became an icon, and host Bronte Tagliani will be visiting Dominguez as he shows Spike TV viewers his lifestyle in one of the largest cities of the world. Dangerous Curves will also feature a piece on the DAGs (Data Acquisition Guys) of the individual teams, focusing on the Rocketsports duo that service the cars of Alex Tagliani (#8 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Nelson Philippe (#17 LeasePlan Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). This episode, which will air Sunday afternoon at 1:30 Eastern Time and is replayed at 12 a.m., also takes a moment to look back at last year’s race in Monterrey, Mexico and will give a sneak preview to next week’s Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix. Dangerous Curves will then step into pit lane, with an inside look for Champ Car fans to understand the anatomy of a pit stop. Drivers will be interviewed during this segment as they discuss the importance of their crew doing this critical work.

5/14/04

IRL tidbits   Team owner Morris Nunn said Thursday that unless somebody comes forward with financing for a second car, Tora Takagi will be his only Indy 500 entry. "We have the cars and we have the capability to run another car, but it's expensive. We need some financial help," he said. "I don't want to put a car in there just for the sake of putting it there." . . . Once he settled on his decision to start an IRL team, Pat Patrick said picking the driver was easy. He wanted 42-year-old Al Unser Jr. "because I think he feels like he has to prove himself again." . . . Former Team Green owner Barry Green, who sold the operation to brother Kim and Michael Andretti in December 2002, paid a brief visit to the garage Thursday. He said he spent the winter cruising the Caribbean on his boat and has been working on his golf game. "I don't miss all the worrying that goes with owning a race team," he said, "but I miss being a part of it." . . . Owner Greg Beck said Thursday that he still doesn't have a deal with former Indy winner Buddy Lazier.  Indy Star

5/14/04

Many IRL drivers can't deal with cars now   [Editor's Note:  Spoiled by years of 100% throttle high down force cars, the IRL drivers actually have to drive the car now with the new aero rules in the IRL and they are finding themselves in the wall or spinning.  The less talented ones just simply drive slow.  If race day is a bit windy look for a lot of wrecked race cars.]  From the Indy Star: Scott Sharp wasn't the only one to hit the SAFER barrier Thursday. Race rookie Darren Manning slapped it exiting the same turn, producing a rubber stripe of about 10 feet. Manning, who drives for Ganassi Racing, downplayed the significance of his contact, but he also realized it was his second such touch in less than a month. He brushed the wall during the Indy Racing League's open test last month at the Speedway. Manning blamed the first incident on the wind; this one was a result of going too fast on his first full lap out of the pits, he said. Teammate Scott Dixon told him the cars are more difficult to drive this year with the rule changes, and Manning believes it. "They've taken the cars out of the sweet spot," he said. "The first year (here) I would have liked a little more of a break. This is harder than I expected."

5/14/04

Greg Ray reader feedback   Greg Ray’s plight highlights how far Tony G. the IRL and company have departed from the founding principals of the IRL. This painful search for $ confirms how the IRL might as well be Champ Car 10 years ago. Racing is expensive and big budget teams will always dominate and small budget teams will struggle. Good try Tony, but your misleading of the fans based on an all American, “lower budget” formula has proven you wrong once again. Your desire for control and ultimate ego driven approach has ruined open wheel racing in the US. Good luck Greg! Bruce Guthrie Santa Monica, CA   Another writes, I am not surprised that this team is in this position. They have an organization that is put together of guys who want to race and only worry about the business side of things when the time comes. I have dealt with these guys before and they are just having their day. Greg Ray has to stop worrying about suing people like Foyt and Trim Spa and work for his money just like everyone else does in racing. I personally think the IRL and HONDA would be much better off without this team. Please keep me unknown 

5/14/04

Latest F1 news in brief
Sato raves about new Honda
Heidfeld 'not cleared' to test
Brazilian 'back at the races' - Rubens
Schu 'sounded horrible' - Ross Brawn
Webber out to 'destroy' F1 teammate
Sauber 'not ready' for big guns
Dixon 'dreams' only of Formula One
Sato 'leads pace in France'
'Man Friday' Davidson's Catch 22
Toyota to 'clean out' F1 line-up
'Arden F1 hopes fading' - report
Jaguar ready to update wind tunnel
Bridgestone 'must improve' tire - Brawn
Brawn doubts 'six lap' qualifying
Monaco's 'the place to win' - Webber
BAR 'think hard' about Spanish form
Williams try to 'kick Ralf out' - Weber
Why has McLaren failed? - analysis
Ferrari test on two fronts
Renault 'is F1's slickest crew'  

5/14/04

Unser Sr. to be honored by Coast Guard   Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Sr. will be presented with the Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award on May 19 in Washington, D.C. The ceremony, which will also honor five Congressmen, will take place at the Rayburn House Office Building.

Unser has volunteered his time and services to assist the United States Coast Guard in its national boating safety program and its objective of increasing public awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning hazards.

Unser, who now serves as a driver coach and consultant for the Indy Racing League, nearly fell victim to carbon monoxide poisoning while boating on Arizona's Lake Powell in 1995.

After a windstorm, the anchor line got wrapped around the propeller of the right engine of Unser's boat. Unser left the light plant running while he dove underneath the water to try and free the line from the propeller.

"There's an airspace, and I would come up and get a breath of air and go back down to get the prop loose, but I was breathing actually 100 percent carbon monoxide," Unser said. "It was in a pocket in back of the boat, and the air can't escape. Instead of just a little bit that you could take, I was breathing 100 percent.

"I never lost consciousness, but I couldn't walk. I couldn't get up. They had to pull me back up. I should have died. It was that bad."

After being hospitalized and given oxygen for several hours, Unser recovered.

"There are so many people that die every year from it," Unser said. "They're trying to prevent that from happening, and keep kids and people from the back of the boat, diving and playing when the engines are running. They don't even know that there's carbon monoxide gas back there. They have no idea. Pretty soon you lose your senses, your equilibrium, and you drown."

Recreational boaters can be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning both inside and outside of the boat due to gasses produced by engines and generators.

Unser's partnership with the Coast Guard has helped educate more than 20 million people about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning while boating. In addition to his work with the Coast Guard, Unser remains active in autoracing as a driver coach and consultant with the Indy Racing League.

5/13/04

Audi builds new R9 prototype for LeMans   Audi will build the successor to its all-conquering R8 prototype in readiness for a factory return to the Le Mans 24 Hour. Work on the new car being designed to the new-for-2004 prototype regulations was put on ice during the second half of last year when Audi pushed the green light on its DTM program. Now, the German manufacturer’s sports boss, Wolfgang Ullrich, has revealed the car will definitely be built and, most likely, raced. “We decided more than one year ago to design this car, and we will build it,” Ullrich said. “The only question is when we will run it.” Audi has not revealed the stage at which work on the car, codenamed R9, has reached. A mockup of the monocoque is finished, suggesting the design is more or less complete. Ullrich has not put a timeframe on the project. He said it was Audi’s intention to have a continuous presence at Le Mans and in sports car racing.  Autoweek

5/13/04

New ALMS team formed   The GT class of the American Le Mans Series has grown with the formation of SpeedQuest Racing, a new team that will make its debut in American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio, the next round of the professional sports car racing series June 25-27 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The team, co-owned by Eric Burch and Romeo Kapudija, will campaign a pair of Porsche 911 GT3 RS machines in the Mid-Ohio event, with tentative plans to run all of the remaining eight races on the 2004 ALMS schedule. Kapudija, from Lincolnwood, Ill., and veteran ALMS driver Shane Lewis of Jupiter, Fla., will co-drive one of the cars at Mid-Ohio, while the other will be shared by open-wheel racer and ALMS newcomer Chris Green of Montreal, Canada, and a second driver to be named. Burch said that Green, 20, "in our estimation is certain to be one of the future stars of this sport. He has accomplished a great deal in his young career and is looking forward to his rookie season in the ALMS." The team will carry the logos of Hazardous Sports, a line of motorsports-related sportswear, and Hazardous will market its products through the race team at ALMS events. Burch, who is serving as Team Director, and Kapudija have acquired many of the assets of Zip Racing, a team that competed in the American Le Mans Series in 2003. In addition to the two race cars, the new team also acquired pit and shop equipment and will use the Zip Racing transporter. SpeedQuest Racing will operate out of a state-of-the-art shop in Chicago that was formerly used by a Champ Car team.

5/13/04

Greg Ray statement   Comments from GREG RAY, driver/owner #13, pertaining to Access Motorsports and its participation in this year’s Indy 500, as well as the remainder of the IRL IndyCar Series season:  More.....

5/13/04

Scott Sharp hits wall hard at Indy   Right at the end of practice (5:53 p.m.) #8 Sharp did a quarter-spin and made hard contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 1 with the rear of the car. Sharp climbed from the car without assistance from the Delphi IRL Safety Team.

5/13/04

Notes from Indy  Not much that's exciting to report here from Indy.  It's deader than we have ever seen it. Absolutely no buzz in town at all about the race.    As we reported Greg Ray hasn't shown up. We are beginning to think he won't have the money to make the trip. Word here is he hasn't paid his engine bill to Ilmor (rumor -- not a known fact -- but sounds logical).  We're hearing he owes between $350,000 - 400,000 for the engines used to date.  He didn't run at the IRL Spring Training but he came to the track and watched from pit lane. We talked to him there at the end of Jan. He told us he was getting a late start and would be OK for the first race. He raced at Homestead, Phoenix and Japan. If you consider Toyota is offering a two race engine package for someone trying to get in the 500 in an abbreviated program for $150,000, including technical support, that bill Greg owes sounds about right. The Toyota deal was for practice, qualifying and the second engine for carb day and the race. That's about 1000 miles total for both engines so it probably won't be asked for until the second weekend when the last minute deals are done. There wasn't a rebuild in that program so 1000 miles would be the total which could be done easily since it's not like a driver has to worry about being bumped out of the field here.......Yesterday Ed Carpenter did the most laps in one day with 287 laps......We don't expect to see Tony George digging in his pockets to help anyone but we could be wrong. There could be some last minute deals but Tony isn't giving out the money like he used to......We think Greg Ray filed suit against AJ Foyt to get the money, perhaps from a settlement, to run the team.  He's an optimist if he thinks he'd get it that fast. Maybe he thought Tony would step in and be the peacemaker with funding.  We could see AJ asking Tony to make the situation go away.....We hear Honda won't be supplying any additional drivers with engines. They've done their part with 11. When we asked about the situation with Greg Ray, and if there was a chance if he won't be competing could the engines be made available to another driver, we were told it is possible those engines will be reassigned but our source didn't know for sure. Guess Greg still has next week to show up. Greg put out a press release that says all the right things but said he's trying to run the whole season, not just Indy.......Memo Gidley is walking around hoping to get a ride. Not too many teams with extra cars to run. Max Papis is here and we could see Ganassi running a third car with him since Max drives for him in Grand-Am.  Haven't seen Luis Diaz but we think he has a Grand Am race at Mont Le Blanc the second weekend which would mean he has to qualify the first weekend. Since he hasn't shown up yet, count him out........Also here is Jimmy Kite, Buddy and Jaques Lazier, PJ Jones (don't know if he is actually looking for a ride but maybe that is why he is here)......Patrick Racing cancelled their press conference scheduled for Friday morning.  We asked why but it seems they didn't give a reason.  Their driver Al Jr. finished 23rd in practice on Wed., which was actually 21st when you take out the T cars. He ranked 20th today in the short 3 hrs or so they ran interrupted by a couple of long, long yellows for debris. It rained this morning and they ran from 3 - 6 pm in cooler temps.....Oh, and now Team Penske is having a 10 AM press conference on Friday. Maybe it wasn't Patrick's idea to cancel the conference, but at Roger's request.  We've seen Pat Patrick here but not Carl Haas during practice.

5/13/04

Castroneves fastest on rain abbreviated day  Helio Castroneves became the first driver to top the speed chart for the second time as he led the fifth day of practice for the Indianapolis 500. Castroneves turned a lap of 221.156 mph in his No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone late in Happy Hour to take the top spot from Rahal-Letterman Racing's Roger Yasukawa. "Unfortunately, I did have a draft," Castroneves said. "Today it seems the speeds came down slightly because of the rain. The track was cooler. That means we have more drag, so we were slower down the straight. It might be easier going through the corners, but on the straights, we were just a little bit slower. It was important to test today to have a little bit of an understanding of going from the hot weather to not so hot." Yasukawa posted a fast lap of 221.093 in his No. 16 Rahal-Letterman Sammy Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone. Castroneves' teammate, Sam Hornish Jr., was third-fastest at 220.956 mph in his No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone entry. Practice was delayed more than four hours by rain, then ended early when Scott Sharp spun and hit the SAFER Barrier in the short chute between Turns 1 and 2. Sharp was uninjured in the incident.
Pos Driver Diff Time Speed Lap C/E/T Status
1 Helio Castroneves (3) 40.6952 221.156 39 D/T/F Pit
2 Roger Yasukawa (16) 0.0116 40.7068 221.093 27 G/H/F Pit
3 Sam Hornish Jr. (6) 0.0368 40.7320 220.956 45 D/T/F Pit
4 Buddy Rice (15) 0.0697 40.7649 220.778 11 G/H/F Pit
5 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.0780 40.7732 220.733 17 D/H/F Pit
6 Vitor Meira (17) 0.0905 40.7857 220.666 28 G/H/F Pit
7 Kosuke Matsuura (55T) 0.0941 40.7893 220.646 39 G/H/F Pit
8 Adrian Fernandez (5T) 0.0973 40.7925 220.629 12 G/H/F Pit
9 Tomas Scheckter (4T) 0.1527 40.8479 220.330 17 D/C/F Pit
10 Adrian Fernandez (5) 0.1694 40.8646 220.240 11 G/H/F Pit
11 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.2140 40.9092 219.999 23 D/H/F Pit
12 Bryan Herta (7) 0.2357 40.9309 219.883 30 D/H/F Pit
13 Mark Taylor (2T) 0.2949 40.9901 219.565 12 D/C/F Pit
14 Darren Manning (1T) 0.3036 40.9988 219.519 22 G/T/F Pit
15 Alex Barron (51) 0.4058 41.1010 218.973 14 D/C/F Pit
16 Alex Barron (51T) 0.4149 41.1101 218.924 12 D/C/F Pit
17 Felipe Giaffone (24) 0.4806 41.1758 218.575 23 D/C/F Pit
18 Ed Carpenter (52T) 0.5375 41.2327 218.273 19 D/C/F Pit
19 Al Unser Jr. (20) 0.5969 41.2921 217.959 41 D/C/F Pit
20 Bruno Junqueira (36) 0.6010 41.2962 217.938 22 G/H/F Pit
21 Scott Sharp (8) 0.7445 41.4397 217.183 35 D/T/F Pit
22 Dario Franchitti (27T) 0.8423 41.5375 216.672 7 D/H/F Pit
23 Tora Takagi (12) 0.8471 41.5423 216.647 17 D/T/F Pit
24 A.J. Foyt IV (14) 0.9689 41.6641 216.013 43 D/T/F Pit
25 Larry Foyt (41) 1.2247 41.9199 214.695 30 G/T/F Pit
26 Tora Takagi (12T) 1.3523 42.0475 214.044 26 D/T/F Pit
27 Marty Roth (25) 2.0737 42.7689 210.433 23 D/T/F Pit
28 Sarah Fisher (39) 2.4357 43.1309 208.667 6 D/T/F Pit
29 Dan Wheldon (26T) 3.4192 44.1144 204.015 1 D/H/F Pit
30 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 29.5502 70.2454 128.122 1 G/H/F Pit

5/13/04

Special Qualifying Format To Be Used For Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix   In the ongoing quest to provide the best racing for its millions of fans around the world, the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford is implementing a new qualifying procedure for next week’s Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, a format that guarantees that fans watching both at Fundidora Park and on television will have non-stop action every time that the Champ Cars are on track.

The special format will continue to feature sessions on Friday and Saturday, with championship points up for grabs on each of the two days. The idea behind the new format is to avoid periods of inactivity during Champ Car qualifying sessions and provide more action for the fans.

Drivers will be split into two groups determined by a random draw for Friday’s session with each group running for 15 minutes with a guaranteed 10 minutes of green flag action with no lap limitations on the drivers. After the two 15-minute sessions, the fastest five drivers in each session will move on to a final 15-minute segment to battle for the day’s championship point.

All previous times will be erased, with the times in the final session setting the top-10 grid positions for first-day qualifying. The rest of the field would be set provisionally by using the first-session times. The leader of the final Friday session would receive a championship point, but would not be guaranteed a front-row starting spot as was the case last season. The driver will however, be guaranteed a spot in the final Pole Shootout session on Saturday.

Saturday will see a different format again, with all 18 drivers participating in a 30-minute session with 20 minutes of guaranteed green flag time. There will again be no limit on the number of laps that a driver may run during the 30-minute session. The top nine drivers plus the fastest driver from Friday – or the fastest 10 from the first session if the Friday leader is among them – will then participate in a Pole Shootout, in which each driver will get seven laps to attempt to earn the pole. As is the case on Friday, all drivers in the Pole Shootout will have their times erased and will have their final qualifying positions determined by those seven laps.

Final grid positions 11-18 will be set using the times from the first Saturday session, with the top 10 coming from the second session times. The penalties for causing a red flag will be slightly modified, as the driver that causes a red flag in qualifying will still lose his fastest lap but will not have to serve an additional time penalty.

“We are constantly looking for ways to make our racing more exciting for the many fans that show up at Champ Car races,” said Senior Vice-President of Operations John Lopes. “We believe that this new format will provide intense, hard-fought action for our fans and create drama during both of the two days of qualifying. We are especially excited to try this new format for the benefit of our Mexican fans that come out and support Champ Car so strongly.”

5/13/04

No IRL road course tests yet  UPDATE  Mr. Nation is correct, as far as I know, in stating that the IRL did not give away any tickets to the race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. What he left out was the fact that Marlboro and the Homestead-Miami Speedway both gave out large number of tickets. I still have tickets that were given to me by both Marlboro and HMS that I couldn't even give away!   Marlboro even sent tickets to my wife and she is not even a smoker. My contacts at the Speedway tell me that Marlboro purchased (at a discount rate) 25,000 tickets from the Speedway for the IRL race and HMS gave out about 5,000 themselves around town. Also each Toyota dealer in south Florida received a large amount of tickets. They ran a promotion in which anyone who test drove a Toyota would receive a pair of tickets. This promotion ran for about 2 weeks before the IRL race at HMS.  Name Withheld by Request  5/13/04 - IRL spokesman Fred Nation disputes two items in recent stories: Nation said a contention that IRL attendance Feb. 29 at Homestead, Fla., was "fewer than 20,000 with perhaps 4,000 paid" was false. "It was closer to 30,000, and we didn't give any tickets away," Nation said. Nation also said driver Paul Tracy's comment that the IRL has tested at Mid-Ohio and was "four seconds slower than an Atlantic car" was false. Nation said the IRL has not yet conducted road course testing.  Source: Portland Oregonian article

5/13/04

New Honda engine propels Sato to top at Paul Ricard    BAR's Takuma Sato has told autosport.com that he's delighted with the power from Honda's new Canada-spec powerplant after topping the third day of testing at Paul Ricard in southern France on Thursday.
Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda M 1m10.830s 107
2 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes M 1m11.130s 39
3 Franck Montagny Renault M 1m11.437s 93
4 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m11.446s 64
5 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW M 1m11.632s 63
6 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m11.843s 74
7 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m12.628s 89
8 Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m13.391s 52
9 Giorgio Pantano Jordan B 1m13.500 75

5/13/04

Champ Car owners are not sure of Portland's future   This Portland Oregonian article says, The Champ Car World Series is spending between $2 million and $3 million to put on a successful race here June 20. But it doesn't know what Portland's response will be.  It could see a collective yawn and thousands of empty seats at Portland International Raceway. Or perhaps a solid crowd of 70,000 or 80,000 fans will buy tickets to watch the likes of Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais race on the West Delta Park road course?

With 39 days to go and still no major sponsorship announcements, Champ Car might have reason to re-evaluate its position in Portland, where attendance has fallen at least 20 percent and the city's interest -- once white-hot -- has cooled. But after two days of meetings with various business leaders and city commissioner Jim Francesconi, Champ Car president Dick Eidswick talked in positive terms Wednesday.   "The good news is that business leaders are in strong support of our race and what we're trying to do here," Eidswick said Wednesday. "Portland was so important to us we were willing to promote the race ourselves. We wanted to be in this marketplace."

However, Champ Car needs some indication the Portland market -- a popular venue since 1984 -- remains economically viable. That is why Champ Car will not sign an extension with the city until it sees the public and corporate response at the race June 18-20.

"We've made the commitment. We're coming to Portland. We're bringing the drivers. We're bringing 18 cars here to make a good show," Eidswick said. "We're going to do our part. What we're asking Portland to do is have the businesses do their part by supporting this race, by coming to this race, by sponsoring it and doing whatever it takes to make this a successful, marquee event."

Eidswick said he knows the rival Indy Racing League has indicated interest in running at PIR in 2005, but he doesn't see the IRL as a threat. He wondered if the IRL was simply stirring the pot here to aggravate Champ Car.

"I don't really include them in our thinking at all," he said of the IRL. "I know they're thinking about having some road races next year. I don't know that Portland is on their short list. According to what I've heard, they've been here, they've talked. But Portland is our race if we do a good job and we're going to approach it that way.

"We have to come to an agreement with the city in order to negotiate an extension," Eidswick said. "We want very badly to put together our 2005 schedule by the end of the summer so we need to get these races pinned down. . . . "We've been here 21 years. This is a natural for us to include in 2005 and beyond."

Tim Ramsberger, Champ Car's vice president of race promotions, works directly with the three venues that Champ Car is self-promoting -- Portland, Cleveland and Denver. He was in town to discuss marketing, promotion and sponsorship sales with local promoter Mike Nealy of Global Events Group.

"I think the market is responding to us now," Ramsberger said. "We have a credible presence now that we've come out of Long Beach (the season opener). Ticket sales are going well, we've got potential sponsors coming on board. I think it's all just a matter of time.

"It has been 'wait and see' up to this point. But now we're starting to emerge out there. I think (business) people see that we're back. I think our death was highly exaggerated in the market. We have less than 40 days. I wish we had more. But I think the Portland business community is going to respond."

Notes:  At some point, Nealy will announce a title sponsor for the Champ Car race and a sponsor for the June 19 Trans-Am race. He remains hopeful that longtime sponsor G.I. Joe's will be involved in some fashion. . . . Representatives of U.S. Bank, Lufthansa Airlines, Albina Community Bank and Key Bank were among those scheduled to meet with Champ Car on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . .

Ramsberger said Champ Car "is taking the entire financial risk" for Portland, so revenue generated by ticket and sponsorship sales will go to pay Champ Car's expenses. . . . The July 3 race in Cleveland has U.S. Bank as its major sponsor. . . . Champ Car is in partnership with Centrix Financial to stage the Denver race Aug. 15.

5/13/04

2-seat car visits Portland   UPDATE Here's John's article (in the Portland Oregonian about his ride yesterday. Very good read written by a "dyed-in-the-wool" stick and ball writer. This is why Champ Car needs to do this everywhere it races, year after year.  5/12/04 - Sebastien Bourdais was at the wheel of the 2 seater, driving media members around at PIR today. There will be a column in tomorrow's Oregonian by Sports Columnist John Canzano about his experience. He was interviewed on a local sports show this afternoon.  While talking about it on the sports radio station here KFXX 1080 the fan, the host of the talk show who also got a ride, was astounded. His name is Mark Amazon and he said he had no idea that it was that athletic and that he changed his mind about drivers being athletes. Before today, he didn't think it could be that hard. After 3 laps with Sebastien, he said he was exhausted. 3 laps. Champ Car needs to do more of this, much more.  They can start by building two more and getting them on the road and also to the overseas venues.  Here's some photos of him prepping for the ride.  Reader Patrick Harte, San Francisco CA suggests that Champ Car should have a drawing...a lucky spectator gets a ride in the two seater, after qualifying perhaps? They could use it to promote races. Buy a 3 day ticket and you can enter into the drawing. After reading about some of the journalists' experiences, who wouldn't want to buy a ticket in hopes of landing 3 laps at speed?   “It’s not that far off the real car. The balance is good and it handles pretty nicely,” Bourdais said. “I really like it when the guy behind me starts freaking out.” Selected writers, television broadcasters and radio announcers all took the opportunity to experience the sensations that they had only come close to describing when the Champ Cars come to Portland. KATU TV sports reporter Katy Brown took one of the first high-speed rides Wednesday and came away with a whole new appreciation. “It gives you a whole new respect for what Champ Car drivers do,” Brown said. “Now I know what it is really like to go through the Festival Curves! It is a lot more physical than I expected. I don’t know how these guys do it for 92 laps.” John Canzono, columnist for The Oregonian, agreed with his television counterpart. “It is beyond as fast as you thought it could possibly go,” Canzono said. “It’s exhausting. It’s unbelievable how quick it is.” The car will make stops at a number of Champ Car venues this year and has already run in Long Beach as well as in Times Square in downtown New York City. 

5/13/04

Team Rahal announces name change to IRL program  Team Rahal announced today it is changing the operating name of the team's IRL IndyCar Series program to Rahal Letterman Racing. Rahal Letterman Racing is a LLC, which operates under the corporate entity of Team Rahal. The IRL IndyCar Series program will be the only program to carry the Rahal Letterman Racing moniker.   "In 1996 I had the good fortune to enter into a business partnership with my longtime friend David Letterman in what has been known as Team Rahal," said founder Bobby Rahal. "I have always felt that the name Team Rahal didn't truly reflect the partnership or Dave's involvement in the business. He has been an integral part of the team's success over the past eight seasons, and I can't think of a better place to announce this name change and to honor his involvement than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."  "I'm very proud, it's a great day in my life," said Letterman. "This is something I've dreamed of since I was a kid. I'll try not to embarrass the team."

5/13/04

New Dalziel website   Following his success in the opening round of the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship at Long Beach last month, Ryan Dalziel has now re-launched his official website, www.ryandalziel.com, with a bold new retro-look mirroring the 22-year-old Scot’s distinctive personal styling!

The Sierra Sierra Enterprises racer commissioned British-based MSO.net to design and develop the makeover of his website. The site boasts a unique design concept while still clearly delivering to Ryan’s fans and casual observers all the information required on the Scottish charger’s latest exploits as he continues to make a name for himself in North American racing circles.

In addition to the site content, press and fans can register online to receive Ryan’s newsletter direct to their mail boxes, allowing everyone to get the latest on the #28 ProWorks Toyota Atlantic title charge.

“I fancied something that would reflect part of my personality,” remarked Dalziel when commenting on his latest online presence. “I gave MSO.net a 70’s retro brief as I love the designs and artwork from that period and I think they captured my request extremely well with the strong visuals, bold colours and Flash introduction. It’s not all about the looks though as it’s easy to manage content and will allow me to keep the media, fans and potential sponsors updated with my progress throughout the 2004 Toyota Atlantic season and beyond.”

Dalziel, currently spending some time back in Scotland, heads back to America next week before flying south to Mexico for his next Toyota Atlantic race, Round 2, hosted at Fundidora Park, Monterrey 21-23rd May.

5/13/04

Monterrey GP announces Grand Marshal   The Grand Marshal has just been selected for the Monterrey Grand Prix.   This year the position will be filled by the priest Roberto Infante, “Padre Infante” as he is called is well known in the city because he manages, and is the founder of, the Poor´s Kitchen.  Founded in 1961 the Poor´s Kitchen feeds 2000 people daily (mainly kids).   In related news, while staying in Monterrey for an event with his sponsor, Michel Jourdain Jr visited the biggest public hospital in Monterrey.  Upon arrival he went directly to the pediatric wing, he talked with the kids, signed autographs, posed for some pictures, but mainly cheered all the kids.  Jose Arrambide

5/13/04

Patrick Racing struggling at Indy  This Indy Star article talks about the struggles of Patrick Racing this year at Indy.  The team came together late and is struggling to find the speed to get up to the top of the speed charts.

5/13/04

Ford evaluates four women drivers  Last week in Indianapolis, four young women race-car drivers were evaluated over two days as part of Ford Racing's new initiative to identify a young female driver with the potential to develop into a race-winning NASCAR driver. Although a number of qualified candidates were considered, Erin Crocker (Age 23; Buffalo, N.Y.), Alison MacLeod (Age 14; Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), Michelle Theriault (Age 18; Atlanta, Ga.) and Lynsey Tilton (Age 17; San Diego, Calif.), were selected based on their racing accomplishments, background and recommendations from renowned USAC Midget team owner Bob East and female racing legend Lyn St. James, and subjected to a comprehensive program that evaluated their skills both on and off the track. The first part of the evaluation included an on-track session at Anderson Speedway (Anderson, Ind.) in a Ford-powered midget car owned by East, who has discovered and developed several current NASCAR stars. East's son, Bobby, who currently leads the USAC National Midget Car standings, shook the car down before each session to establish a baseline around the quarter-mile circuit, and all four drivers spent time in the car being observed and receiving instructions and advice from East. The second part of the evaluation took place at the National Institute of Fitness and Sport, located on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, where the drivers were put through a physical and mental readiness assessment administered by Human Performance International designed to evaluate their physical and mental fitness. After undergoing a battery of physical tests that measured muscular strength and endurance, each candidate underwent a number of mental tests designed to evaluate their concentration, information processing and visual tracking skills. As a third part of the test, the drivers also underwent a media training and evaluation session where they were introduced to some basic concepts and recommendations on how to best interact with the media. Ford Racing

5/13/04

A letter from Mario Theissen    In his column on the team’s official website, www.bmw.williamsf1.com, BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen provided his point of view with regard to proposed cost reductions in F1…..Dear motor racing enthusiasts,

Prior to the Spanish Grand Prix, many of the well-known faces of Formula One met in Monaco for a highly constructive discussion, at the FIA meeting on 4th May. The goals listed in the FIA proposal are aimed at significantly reducing the costs while improving the show. Quite obviously, BMW is supporting these goals.

But in spite of all these discussions you must never forget that Formula One is the pinnacle of motor racing and should keep this position, concerning sport, business and technology in equal measure. For BMW, this position represents the main reason for its Formula One involvement.

When it comes to the cost reduction measures, BMW is mainly dealing with those measures concerning the engine. In Monaco, everybody agreed that the costs in this area must be dramatically reduced. All engine manufacturers have agreed to jointly frame the proposition for engine regulations in order to achieve this goal.

We are supporting many of the technology recommendations of the FIA proposal and we will bring in further proposals at the forthcoming meetings of the task force. The key factor to reduce engine costs - particularly for the independent teams who have to pay for their engines - is the number of engines that are required over the course of a season. We are prepared to extend the mileage of an engine to three race weekends. Should this measure be combined with a limited testing program, a 50-percent reduction of the engine production costs will be viable.

The technological concept of the engine, however, is far less important when it comes to reducing the costs. Bearing in mind the stability of the regulations and to avoid a further increase of costs, we are proposing a perpetuation of the current 3-litre V10 concept. The increased mileage and technical limitations would reduce the horsepower output of the engines by some 100 bhp, thus increasing the lap times and reducing the top-speeds without losing the fascination of the 10-cylinder engine.  Sincerely,  Mario Theissen

5/13/04

Latest F1 news in brief
Grand Prix drivers 'to stage meeting'
Max Mosley 'resigns' as chairman
Queen of England opens 'Paragon'
Coulthard pans 'Friday driver' rule
BMW pledge 'more revs' to Williams
'Jacques was in Monaco' - Pollock 
Ralf has 'done Toyota deal' - Coulthard
Pitstop was no 'conspiracy' - Rubens
Winning Monaco is 'special dream' - Panis
'Reliability' to undo Schu sweep - Todt
Four drivers on Williams 'A-list' - report
Sauber 'aim fire at McLaren' - Rampf
Button suffers 'no ill effects' - France
'Heidfeld crashes Jordan' - France
'Rain falls on Ferrari tests' - Italy
Ralf points finger at FIA's Whiting
'Don't discount Williams' - Barrichello 

5/12/04
Industry news

Driver physical training workshop   While physical training is always an important element in an IndyCar driver’s race preparation, it is especially significant leading up to the Indianapolis 500. That’s why drivers such as past IRL champions Scott Dixon and Sam Hornish Jr. as well as rookie Kosuke Matsuura call on PitFit Training to help them prepare physically and mentally for the month-long festivities leading up to the legendary Memorial Day weekend race.

“We start distance training events to build up the driver’s ability to handle race length stress on the body during the first part of April,” explains PitFit Training president Jim Leo. “Specifically, we’ll have our drivers do a couple of three-hour plus bicycle rides which simulates the race distance. This prepares the driver not only physically, but helps with mental preparation as well. The exercise also conditions the aerobic system to basically become efficient at burning fat as a fuel source just like a marathon runner.

“The guys who are in good shape use fat the whole race, and when they get to the last 25, 30 laps they can rely on their physical preparation to be a little more sharp and a little more alert. Drivers basically race like they train. It’s our goal at PitFit Training to ensure they can achieve their peak performance, especially for such an important event.”

PitFit Training will offer racers at all levels the same physical training knowledge and equipment utilized by the company’s top-level clientele thru an Improved Driver Performance Workshop on Sunday, June 6 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Fastimes Indoor Karting Center on Indianapolis’ northeast side.

“Physical training is key to the success and safety of drivers at all levels of the sport, but not everyone can afford the intensive services that are available to professional drivers,” Leo says. “PitFit Training’s Improved Driver Performance Workshop is designed to give racers of all ages, at all levels of the sport the knowledge and tools they need to start an effective training program to meet the individual’s needs.” Registration is available at www.pitifittraining.com. 

5/12/04

What about Germany?   A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, The last few weeks we heard a lot of rumors about 20 or more drivers on the Champ Car starting grid. It seems they will stay with 18 cars. Do you know whether there is any hope for German fans to watch the races on TV?  Not every fan has internet access. I think a lot of German fans are disappointed with the lack of available TV in Germany. Thanks for your very good information, Friendly regards, Alex Bresserer, Germany  Dear Alex, Champ Car could have done a deal with Eurosport and been done with it for all of Europe.  Instead they have chosen to do individual deals in each country, which is extremely time consuming for their skeleton staff.  We suspect they will be unsuccessful in doing TV deals in most countries for 2004 because most of the available inventory is taken by now with other TV programs.  If Champ Car wants to become a true international world championship series, they had better get the international TV right.  Sponsors will have little interest in the series because both the domestic and international TV packages are pathetically weak and draw far too few viewers.  We said they had to put all their races on CBS in the USA so ratings would be high enough for teams to attract sponsors and the series to attract sponsors.  Because that did not happen, OWRS will have to write big checks for a much longer period of time to keep the series and teams afloat.  Blank sidepods give the series a bad image and the minimal TV ad revenue that comes because of their low ratings on Spike and Moteurs TV (UK) will keep the series in the red for a long time.  They desperately need engine manufacturers who are willing to spend money in the series, and they need them now.  Mark C. 

5/12/04

Formula BMW

Frisselle & Jensen Motorsport tops Mid-Ohio test   At the 3rd official Formula BMW USA series test held at Mid-Ohio, young hot shoe Brian Frisselle from Hawaii, driving for Jensen Motorsport, finished the day with a 1:25:7 good for the fast time.  A bit of drama though, as he stuffed the car at 4 PM, so they had to quickly change his nose to get him back on track at 4:45 in time to put on a new set of tires. Full report later.  Mark C.

5/12/04

Champ Car signs licensing agreement with Kangaroo TV   For fans of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, one of the main attractions of the series is in the opportunity to see the latest technology on display in the 750hp turbocharged race cars of the Champ Car World Series.

At Champ Car races, the latest technology doesn’t stop at the end of pit lane. With the help of W.A.V.E.S. and its new Kangaroo.TV system, fans in the stands can use the latest hand-held technology to keep up with all of the on-track action. The ground-breaking system that allows fans to follow on-track action through video, timing and scoring and audio feeds will be available at most stops along the Champ Car schedule in 2004 as Champ Car World Series LLC signed a new licensing agreement with W.A.V.E.S., a wholly owned subsidiary of Kangaroo Capital Inc.

“In marketing we want to express the same leading edge technology that is deployed in Champ Car racing,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “Our association with Kangaroo.TV allows us to achieve this while adding value to our Consumer experience on site. Our fans have responded enthusiastically to the new technology provided by W.A.V.E.S. and we are pleased to have Kangaroo.TV with us again in 2004.”

Kangaroo. TV will be designated as the “Official and exclusive on-site audio/visual supplier”. The service was successfully introduced in 2003 and received rave reviews from race fans, teams and drivers. The 2004 Long Beach Grand Prix kicked off the second year of offering this highly innovative product.

“W.A.V.E.S. is proud to be part of the Open Wheel racing tradition in North America” said Alain Charette, the vice-president of Corporate Development. “Last year’s debut with Champ Car was very exciting and enabled W.A.V.E.S. to make very interesting inroads in others sports series. Our key objective with Champ Car will be to create cross marketing initiatives that will be mutually beneficial to the fans and event partners.”  Champ Car

5/12/04

Tickets flying out the door for Denver GP   Three days, 18 open-wheel racecars and drivers from around the world, a 1.65-mile track, nine hairpin turns and more than 100,000 attendees. The CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver is set for August 13th through August 15th, and with ticket pre-sales to past attendees trending the 2003 pace, Denver looks ready to host the largest crowd in the race's history. The Grand Prix kicks off ticket sales to the general public through Ticketmaster on this Friday, May 14th. Race-goers can purchase tickets online or find local ticket outlets at www.ticketmaster.com. "Tickets are flying out the door to last year's attendees. This is truly an affirmation that Denver embraces the Grand Prix and agrees it's a great way to spend a summer weekend seeing the best that Denver has to offer," said John Frew, general manager of the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver. "The Grand Prix offers Coloradoans and residents of neighboring states a way to enjoy Denver's restaurants, culture and a world-class sporting event. We are thrilled with the community's early response to this event." Reserved seating starts at $35, and club-level tickets begin at $180. General admission, unreserved seating tickets start at $20. Parking passes are available. Call 303-830-TIXS, 719-520-9090 or visit www.ticketmaster.com to purchase tickets or to receive more information.  PRN/Newswire

5/12/04

Kanaan tops 222 at Indy  Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon race hard. On May 12, the Andretti Green Racing teammates practiced hard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kanaan set the standard in practice for the 88th Indianapolis 500 with a fast lap of 222.668 mph (40.4189 seconds) just before 1 p.m. (EDT) in the No.11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone on a humid and breezy day. Wheldon, who started from the pole in the past two IRL IndyCar® Series races, was second quick with a lap of 221.953 mph (40.5491 seconds) near the end of "Happy Hour" at the historic 2.5-mile oval. They combined for 84 laps. Nine of the 29 car-driver combinations topped 220 mph in the session, and Kanaan was the fourth speed king in as many practice days. There were no incidents as drivers totaled 1,567 laps. Rookie Marty Roth, looking for speed in his No. 25 Roth Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, recorded the most laps with 128 - the high for the month. Kanaan's fast lap, however, was compliments of a tow from Bruno Junqueira, but overall he's content with his package. "I wish I could have done that by myself, but it's not the reality," said Kanaan, who has one victory and a two other top-10 finishes in the three IndyCar Series races. "I'm just happy because I'm starting to like the way the Team 7-Eleven car feels. But today is not the important day. I can love my car today and hate it tomorrow. That is what this place can do to you. We'll get back to it (May 13), be patient and just think about what changes we want to make as we get closer to (Pole Qualifying Day) Saturday."  Both Foyts were behind closed doors all day and Greg Ray still has not made an appearance.  Top 10 drivers"
Pos Driver Diff Time Speed Lap C/E/T Status
1 Tony Kanaan (11) 40.4189 222.668 20 D/H/F Pit
2 Dan Wheldon (26) 0.1302 40.5491 221.953 53 D/H/F Pit
3 Roger Yasukawa (16) 0.2594 40.6783 221.248 47 G/H/F Pit
4 Adrian Fernandez (5) 0.2692 40.6881 221.195 39 G/H/F Pit
5 Scott Dixon (1) 0.3159 40.7348 220.941 57 G/T/F Pit
6 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 0.3780 40.7969 220.605 5 G/H/F Pit
7 Buddy Rice (15) 0.3918 40.8107 220.530 39 G/H/F Pit
8 Tomas Scheckter (4T) 0.4096 40.8285 220.434 20 D/C/F Pit
9 Sam Hornish Jr. (6) 0.4479 40.8668 220.228 20 D/T/F Pit
10 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.5042 40.9231 219.925 19 D/T/F Pit

5/12/04

Wet Ferrari testing at Fiorano   Second day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro at the Fiorano circuit. Michael Schumacher was once again at the wheel of an F2004, continuing with work on tire development for the forthcoming Monaco GP. Today Michael completed a total of 57 laps, seven of them on the short version of the track. The best time on the day was 56”466. Schumacher continues testing at Fiorano tomorrow.

5/12/04

Paul Newman on Wind Tunnel   Hollywood legend Paul Newman will be SPEED Channel's guest Thursday night on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain (10 p.m. ET). Newman currently owns Champ Cars driven by Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira. In addition to running the full Champ Car schedule in 2004, Newman/Haas will be racing the Indianapolis 500 this year for the first time since 1995. The interview will be recorded in the afternoon, so Newman will not be available to take Wind Tunnel viewer calls, but fans can submit e-mail questions to windtunnel@speedtv.com.

5/12/04

Paul Ricard Day 2: Button fast before rain hits   Jenson Button set the fastest time on the second day of testing this week at Paul Ricard in southern France before rain fell. The BAR Honda driver clocked a best time of 1m32.954s in the morning before the rain fell. BMW WilliamsF1 test driver Antonio Pizzonia was second fastest.
1. J. Button – BAR - 1:33.954 – 72 laps
2. A. Pizzonia – Williams - 1:34.130 – 87 laps
3. A. Wurz – McLaren - 1:34.511 – 69 laps
4. O. Panis – Toyota - 1:35.132 – 34 laps
5. F. Montagny - Renault - 1:35.583 – 36 laps
6. P. de la Rosa – McLaren - 1:35.657 – 90 laps
7. M. Gene – Williams - 1:35.850 – 85 laps
8. R. Zonta – Toyota - 1:37.033 – 51 laps
9. N. Heidfeld – Jordan - 1:37.383 – 48 laps

5/12/04

PPI to add 2nd Cup Car for Lowe's  PPI Motorsports plans to field a second car for the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Oct. 16. PPI Motorsports, who also fields the #32 Tide Chevrolet for driver Ricky Craven, was testing the #96 this past week at Lowe’s Motor Speedway with Johnny Benson behind the wheel. An official with PPI Motorsports told Autoracing1.com that Johnny Benson would drive the car for the team and that so far the team will only attempt to do the fall race at Lowe’s, but could add more races later. The team is also working on securing sponsorship for the team.   Pete McCole reporting from Charlotte

5/12/04

Some inside info on Brazil and Argentina  Remember when, earlier this year, the Brazilian GP was said to be in jeopardy due to a judge's ruling that the race was a waste of public money?  São Paulo's city hall ordered a study of the 2003 race's economic impact to the city, in order to determine whether it was beneficial or not.  The results on the 56-page final report are quite interesting (the study was conducted by the Institute of Economic Researches, an independent, private entity):

  • Race day attendance was of 60 thousand paying customers. Of those, 36 thousand came from outside the city of 16 million, 7 thousand of those from foreign countries;

  • The Mayor's Office contributed with about a third of the money demanded to promote the race. Total amount of public money invested reached US$ 8 million;

  • The 36 thousand visitors generated an income of US$ 13 million in hotel expenses alone;

  • Total revenues for the city's various business thanks to the F1 GP was estimated at US$ 25.6 million, meaning that, for every dollar invested by the City, there was a return of $3.2 million in revenue;

  • The report does not consider the amount of "free" advertising the city receives during the race's broadcast, which had an estimate worldwide audience of 270 million viewers;

  • The hundreds of temporary jobs and other business opportunities created by the event are also not considered;

All in all, some eye-opening information for cities still in doubt about promoting a major F1 or Champ Car race...It's a shame that, thanks to its short-sighted mayor, a tourism-dependant city like Rio lost the great worldwide exposure Champ Car provided when it raced there. 

Regarding the rumored Champ Car race in Buenos Aires - the Buenos Aires' raceway is in relatively good shape, compared to the other Argentinean tracks...Both the TC and TC 2000 (oddly, Argentina's stock cars have also suffered a "split" and have two rival series, one racing old Ford Falcons and Chevy Novas and the other new Honda Civics, Toyota Corollas, Ford Focus, Chevy Astras and Peugeot 307s) still race at the Oscar Gálvez...Total of four races per year.

The track's old F1 layout is a little Mickey Mouse for Champ Cars, though....it resembles Hungaroring, almost karting-like...But the TCs race in an alternative longer layout that I think would make for some great Champ Car racing.

Argentina's economy is recovering, and if someone could land Mazzacane or other name driver (former F1 driver Esteban Tuero and American exiles Norberto Fontana and Martín Basso all currently race in the TC 2000) the race would be a certain hit....Argentineans love racing even more than Brazilians (who are sort of F1-minded only) and really miss not having a big race or driver to cheer for anymore.  Cássio S. Côrtes reporting from Brazil

5/12/04

Slight changes planned for Monterrey track  Turns 3 and 4, also called the first chicane will be slightly different for this year's Monterrey race.  Octavio Flores told AutoRacing1 that in the past drivers used to cut that part of the track, this year they are changing the curves so the cars can't cut back those corners. Also he assured everything will be ready this weekend, the only major work left is the suites.  Jose Arrambide

5/12/04

Villeneuve visits Williams, but wait..   UPDATE Reports emerged on Tuesday about Villeneuve being spotted in the Williams garage, talking with the team as they prepared for this week's French test.  "F1 is really great!" Pollock told JV-World.   "I was extremely surprised to receive calls from a few top British journalists informing me that Jacques was seen at the Paul Ricard circuit. They asked me for confirmation and I told them that if Jacques was there, he had not informed me so, knowing Jacques very well, I would say that they had been misinformed by their informants. One journalist even accused me of covering up as his informant was a close friend and knew Jacques very well!"  "Jacques was, in actual fact, training in Monaco with his personal trainer and was even more surprised than me to hear that he was apparently in Paul Ricard. We did have a good laugh together and had a good discussion about the good old F1 rumor mill!"  5/11/04 - Jacques Villeneuve paid a visit to the Williams team last night as they prepared for a test at Paul Ricard. Williams are running with test drivers Marc Gene and Antonio Pizzonia in the cockpit today and Wednesday with Juan Pablo Montoya joining in on Thursday and Friday. Villeneuve was there yesterday evening and British newspaper The Mirror reports a team source as saying that he has already held talks with Frank Williams and is expected to have a seat fitting later this year before testing the FW26. Paul Ricard owner Ecclestone is keen to see Villeneuve back in F1. "It's great that Villeneuve is having talks with Williams," Ecclestone is reported in British newspaper The Sun as saying. "I've been trying to get him to do that for a long time."  "Jacques is not at Paul Ricard at our invitation," a spokesperson told pitpass this morning. "And to deny circulating rumors, he is not being seat fitted at the track for us this week, or indeed testing for us in France.  In respect of our driver selections for 2005 and beyond, the team's immediate priority is to improve the performance of the FW26 as this will be the biggest single incentive to securing a competitive driver line up for next season and beyond.  As regards specific candidates, we are actively considering a wide range of potential candidates as would be reasonably expected," the spokesperson continued, "and to this end, we have had discussions with many drivers whose names have been the subject of recent press speculation.  However, given that many initial discussions are intended to establish mutual interest and the contractual status of possible candidates, a discussion does not mean necessarily that a driver is under active consideration for any number of reasons.  It is anticipated that the team may be in a position to confirm driver appointments by August."

5/12/04

Gateway would like Cup race, not likely  Though track officials say the St. Louis-area Gateway International Raceway in Illinois has a shot a hosting a Nextel Cup race, insiders consider that shot a long one. Over the years, the 1.25-mile oval, infield road course and quarter-mile drag strip has lured CART, the Indy Racing League, the Craftsman Truck series, the Busch series and NHRA drag racing. Matt Strelo, vice president and general manager of Gateway in Madison, Ill., points to the track's assets. The numbers show St. Louis fans watch the races on television and about 50,000 showed up for last Saturday's Busch race, which seems to indicate Gateway would be able to sell its existing 70,000 or so seats for a Nextel Cup race. "We've got a pretty decent story to tell here," he said of the track. "We think '06 is the time to tell it." But the track has its detractors. Hampered by limited parking, outdated infrastructure and the construction of newer facilities, Gateway has lost the top open-wheel series and has been left with the trucks, NHRA and Busch series as its top acts.

Kenny Wallace, a veteran NASCAR driver, said he would like nothing better than to see the track host a Nextel Cup race. But the St. Louis native said the track -- limited in expansion possibilities by the Mississippi River to the west -- would need a drastic makeover to draw serious attention. "My opinion is that first, the track is too big," said Wallace, whose brothers Rusty and Mike also race in NASCAR. "They should cut it in half. Make it like Richmond [International Raceway in Virginia]. You need more room and use all of that [the area north of the track] as parking. You can't expect to shuttle people in for a Nextel Cup race. They landlocked themselves in." But Strelo said the track could solve the parking problem by using shuttle service to the parking lots used for Busch Stadium and the Edward Jones Dome, just across the river in downtown St. Louis.  AP Article

5/12/04

Arden team doubtful for 2005   Autosport Magazine reports hopes that reigning FIA Formula 3000 International Championship team Arden International will be given the green light to press ahead with plans to graduate to grand prix racing as soon as next year are fading because team bosses are reluctant to changes the rules to open the way for customer teams.

F1’s 10 teams must unanimously agree to remove the $48 million (£27m) deposit and free up the supply of customer cars and engines to encourage Arden, or any other team that is interested, to enter F1 in the short term.

Despite agreeing in principle to the concept at the recent Monaco Summit, several F1 bosses have come out and expressed reservations about the situation.   McLaren team boss Ron Dennis said: “You need to think about the consequences five or 10 years down the road. Where will we have evolved? What concerns me is that we would very quickly have a full grid, and teams that follow that path will change dramatically. They will have no real internal manufacturing resource. They will be engineering led as opposed to the designer. The character of the team will change. They will have minimal design, research or aerodynamic capabilities. We need to consider long term, not short term. I’m not violently opposed, but people need to think about the consequences.”

Some of the sport’s smaller teams will also refuse to free up restrictions on entry unless prize money is paid to every competing outfit, rather than definite divisions in F1.  “Those teams are never going to win a world championship using somebody else’s car, but they stand more chance of winning it if they stay."  Minardi boss Paul Stoddart said: “Jordan, Minardi and Sauber will not vote for this unless all teams receive prize money.”   [Editor's Note: Rumors have surfaced that Arden could instead move up to the "new" Champ Car series which is slated to become a true International World Championship Series with new overseas venues, new cars and new engines.  Cost to Arden: 10% that of F1]

5/12/04

Comment on Champ Car in South America  A reader writes regarding the rumored Champ Car races in South America (Argentina and Brazil). Dear AutoRacing1, Just a comment to Ron Dickson and David Clare on your rumor about the two South American races. I know the oval track in Rio was successful for CART in the past there, but if they want the Brazilian fans to differentiate between IRL (Oval Racing) and Champ Cars (Road Racing) they need to pick a site for either a street race or a road race. If they race on an oval the Brazilian fans will think they are watching an Indy race. If they race on a street or road course, they will be compared with Formula 1, which would be better for Champ Cars future fan base which will grow noticeably. Brazilians love Formula 1 not only because of our National hero (Ayrton Senna) who made us fall in love with F1, but because we know real racing is done on street and road courses.  Rod De Almeida, Brazil

5/12/04
Industry News

USA signs anti-tobacco treaty  In the biggest blow yet for the tobacco industry, the United States Health Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has signed the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, giving the global anti-tobacco treaty a major boost. The signature commits the United States to stamp out tobacco sponsorship as quickly as it possibly can although the current anti-smoking deal has already done much to drive the tobacco industry out of automobile racing.  In a further blow to the tobacco industry Pakistan has decided that it will also be signing the treaty shortly. Pakistan is one of the largest countries in the world (in terms of population) not to have signed up to the deal.  Tobacco companies and racing teams may continue to argue that they will go on with sponsorships but it is fast becoming clear that such a move is probably going to be detrimental to the image of the sport. The FIA advised all teams to aim to get tobacco out of the sport by 2006 but the federation cannot insist that there is no tobacco money.  Non-tobacco teams are already complaining that the sport's links with tobacco work against them when they try to do new deals because some companies do not want to be seen to have anything to do with an activity which allows tobacco promotion.  The WHO treaty has now been signed by 109 countries. Grandprix.com

5/12/04
Industry News

Toyota profits up 55% It looks like Toyota will have a lot of money to spend on motorsports.  The Japanese giant reported a net profit for the year ended March 31st of $10 billion. The profit is a 55% increase over the previous year and was achieved thanks to increased sales around the world and cost reductions. Toyota's aim is to get 15% of the global car market within the next 10 years.  In the individual markets Toyota's growth is biggest in Europe where operating profits were up 772%; in other markets (Asia, the Middle East and Oceania) where they rose 112%; in America where the growth was 39.6% and in Japan where it was a more modest 17.4%.

5/12/04

Latest F1 news in brief
Jacques 'was at Paul Ricard' - report
Bernie backs Villeneuve return
Fisichella 'very happy' with Spain
Schu is Ferrari's 'clear number one'
Williams to name drivers 'in August'
Button is 'back in action' - France
Webber 'should quit' Jaguar
Davidson 'in agony' - France
McLaren quick at Paul Ricard - report
Ferrari to get 'Shanghai advantage'
Clean-sweep would 'catch imagination' - Bernie
'Ferrari will fail' - Jean Todt
Mosley reforms 'not without vices'
Byrne 'to leave Ferrari' in 2007
Schu streak 'to end' at Monaco?
Schu scolded 'for lack of respect'
DHL and F1
Schumacher tests at Mugello  

  Much More...click on 2004 archives button below
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