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DATE

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5/23/04
World Series by Nissan

Split result in France 

Race 1
1. Narain Karthikeyan RC 17 laps 25min 43.521secs
2. Heikki Kovalainen Pons +2.916secs
3. Enrique Bernoldi GD +19.297secs
4. Jean-Christophe Ravier Euskadi +20.455secs
5. Tristan Gommendy Saulnier +20.724secs
6. Juan Cruz Alvarez Gabord +26.469secs
7. Adrian Valles Pons +26.826secs
8. Tiago Monteiro Carlin +27.352secs
9. Ander Vilarino Euskadi +29.414secs
10. Olivier Pla Carlin +30.242secs
11. Bruce Jouanny KTR +32.164secs
12. Didier Andre KTR +34.186secs
13. Pablo Donoso GD +42.384secs
14. Roldan Rodriguez Porfesa +47.136secs
15. Tomas Kostka RC +50.528secs
Rtd Felix Porteiro Porfesa 11 laps completed
Fastest lap:
Heikki Kovalainen Pons 1min 29.872secs lap 12
Race 2
1. Heikki Kovalainen Pons 25 laps 38min 21.246secs
2. Tristan Gommendy Saulnier +7.262secs
3. Ander Vilarino Euskadi +15.432secs
4. Narain Karthikeyan RC +16.853secs
5. Tiago Monteiro Carlin +19.963secs
6. Bruce Jouanny KTR +32.243secs
7. Juan Cruz Alvarez Gabord +33.000secs
8. Jean-Christophe Ravier Euskadi +35.792secs
9. Adrian Valles Pons +40.225secs
10. Olivier Pla Carlin +45.722secs
11. Pablo Donoso GD +47.205secs
12. Didier Andre KTR +47.793secs
13. Roldan Rodriguez Porfesa +81.595secs
14. Tomas Kostka RC +1 lap
Rtd Enrique Bernoldi GD 19 laps completed
Rtd9. Felix Porteiro Porfesa 1 lap completed
Fastest lap:
Heikki Kovalainen Pons 1min 30.404secs lap 19

5/23/04

Latest F1 News from Monaco - II 

Trulli a thriller
Schu and Montoya clash
Toyota slams FIA 'inconsistency'
'Ralf made me crash' - Alonso
Ralf 'only had fourth'
Panis' problems
Jaguar 'lose' flawless diamond
Kimi told to 'call it a day'
Sato 'jumped the start'
Fisichella's 'ok'
Jordan congratulates Trulli
'Everything stopped' - Webber
DC slams BAR
Furious Schu
Button blames da Matta
Schu 'accepts' Stewards' decision  

5/23/04

Paul Tracy popular in Mexico   The Mexican drivers are not the only heroes for Mexican fans.  Take my little sister Ana for example.  She is 13 and loves racing, but her racing hero is not Michel, or Mario, or Rodolfo or Gonzalez, no, she is one of the biggest Paul Tracy fans anywhere. Yesterday I bumped into Paul Tracy and asked him to sign an autograph for my little sister so he wrote "To Ana, from Paul Tracy."   I left the autograph at my parents house late at night, so this morning when my little sister woke up she found the autograph and called my cell phone.  She was ecstatic, she couldn't believe Paul Tracy wrote an autograph especially for her. And if you see the grandstands today you'll find out there are a lot of Mexican fans supporting non-Mexican drivers...........Perhaps there is a more personal reason El Norte is attacking The Monterrey Grand Prix.  It turns out their biggest competitor in Monterrey "Multimedios Estrellas de Oro" are sponsoring the different concerts during the weekend.   Jose Arrambide

5/23/04

Corona launches the Corona Cup   Remember we had told you Corona was doing a great PR job against Tecate on Tecate's home turf?  Well today they unleashed their biggest PR weapon.  Corona, along with Paul Tracy and Rodolfo Lavín, announced "The Corona Cup."  The idea is to give a Cup and a check for $100,000  to the driver that garners the most points in the Monterrey and Mexico City events. Press release: As proud sponsor of the Corona Forsythe Racing team and driver Rodolfo Lavin, Cerveceria Modelo S.A. de C.V. (“Corona”) is pleased to announce extending its participation in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. In recognition of the immense popularity of Champ Car racing in Mexico, and in recognition of the great personal commitment of OWRS owners Gerald Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi to Champ Car, North America’s premier open wheel racing series, and in support of this highest level of racing competition in Mexico, Corona is pleased and honored to announce a new and prestigious award for the Champ Car World Series specifically relating to the two hugely successful Champ Car Grand Prix races in Monterrey and Mexico City. As the fans, teams and drivers count down to the start of the Champ Car World Series Grand Prix of Monterrey Mexico 2004, Corona announces ‘The Corona Cup’. ‘The Corona Cup’ is a cash prize of  One Hundred Thousand US Dollar ($100,000) which will be awarded to the Champ Car World Series driver who wins the most points on aggregate from the two Mexican Champ Car World Series races of 2004 in Monterrey and Mexico City. Additionally, Corona will present the winning driver with a significant personal trophy to mark the achievement. The winning driver, regardless of nationality or team affiliation, will be presented ‘The Corona Cup’ trophy at Mexico City, and the $100,000 cash prize will be awarded to the winning driver of ‘The Corona Cup’ at the end of season Champ Car Awards Banquet. As a proud Mexican company delivering a premium product to its customers throughout North America and around the world, Corona is pleased and honored to make this Mexican award available to drivers of all nations and teams in the Champ Car World Series.  Jose Arrambide

5/23/04

Jourdain in concert with La Ley   Yesterday we attended La Ley´s concert.  Just before the concert started a girl came out on stage and said do we have a surprise for you.  As soon as Michel Jourdain came out to the stage thousands of fans who had stayed for the concert got onto their feet and started to cheer their hero.  Michel had this to say - "I want everyone to know that the main reason I stayed in Champ Cars after the whole Rahal affair was because of you, was because of the Mexican fans not only fans of Michel, but of racing in general.  This race is the reason I stayed.   I want you to know that this is going to be a difficult year, this is a new team, but never doubt I am not giving 120% effort every race.  Thanks and enjoy the show." The show was fantastic, but Michel was the high note of the event.  Jose Arrambide

5/23/04

Gigante keeps pressing the PR machine   The Gigante execs are getting their money's worth here in Monterrey.  Yesterday at the Gigante hospitality I found some friends that still work for Gigante´s competitor Soriana (I used to work for Soriana), and my first thought was what are you all doing here?  Gigante invited us to the event, "we're good friends now."  It turns out Gigante and Soriana, along with Comercial Mexicana, are joining forces to try to combat Wall-Mart, and as a showing of good will, Gigante invited their competitors, but now partners, to the race. Jose Arrambide

5/23/04

Call it Fill Day, not Bump Day at Indy   This LA Times article by the respected Shav Glick says that they are losing the numbers game at Indy.  For years, the final day of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 was known as Bump Day. It was the day when a driver not in the race could attempt to put together four laps faster than the 33rd slowest qualifier, and if he did, it knocked the slower car out of the race. Instead of bumping, one of the most dramatic events of the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there will be a scramble to fill the traditional 33-car starting field for next Sunday's 88th annual 500. Only 26 cars are currently qualified and there is a question of whether there are seven more ready.  The problem, as usual, is money. The Indy Racing League, sanctioning body for the 500, mandated an engine change for this race, from 3.5 liters to 3 liters. This meant that there are no older engines available, so anyone desiring to qualify must lease a new one from Honda, Toyota or Chevrolet for between $150,000 and $200,000. It used to be that by just getting in the race, a team could pay its bills and make a few bucks. Last year the 33rd qualifier earned only $140,000, so that doesn't work today.  [Editor's Note:  This is the 2nd year in a row that there has not been enough cars or commercial value at Indy to bump any cars from the field.  We have to wonder if this is what Tony George had planned when he started the IRL 9 years ago?]

5/23/04

Indy Board to meet after race on shorter schedule   This Indy Star article talks about the consideration that will be given to shortening the Indy 500 schedule by one week in 2005.  At stake is tradition, and what impact, if any, that will have on the event.

5/23/04

No bumping in Indy   For the 2nd year in a row, there will be no bumping on Bump Day at Indy.  There are seven spots open and only six drivers that can be identified this morning as possibly making qualifying attempts.  Perhaps someone will buy a ride at the last minute.  What's the minimum speed needed to qualify?  "A respectable speed," said Brian Barnhart.  If they follow Champ Car rules, 110% of the pole will be needed, which equates to around 200 MPH. 

  • Marty Roth, who has been practicing since opening day in his No. 25 Marty Roth Racing Toyota/Dallara.

  • Richie Hearn, who practiced Saturday in the No. 33 Panoz G Force that Sam Schmidt leased from Roger Penske.

  • Buddy Lazier, fastest of the non-qualifiers Saturday in the No. 91 Dallara entered by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Hemelgarn Racing.

  • P.J. Jones, who practiced Saturday in Greg Beck's No. 98 Dallara.

  • Robby McGehee, who announced a deal Friday with PDM Racing, but didn't get on the track until the final 10 minutes of Saturday's practice session.

  • Jeff Simmons, who announced the Nunn deal shortly after finishing second in Saturday's Menards Infiniti Pro Series race, then shook down Nunn's No. 12T Dallara late in the day. 

5/23/04

Mexican fans can't find Champ Car merchandise   UPDATE Debuting in Milwaukee on June 4th you will find official Yoke TV Corporation and Oriol Servia merchandise that Identity Apparel is supplying for the Yoke TV Corporation as its official merchandiser, apparel and premium company.  "Champ Car fans should email what they are looking for and they will make sure it is available in Milwaukee and the rest of the year trackside," said Wayne Nelson, VP of Identity Marketing Group, Inc. at idmarketinggroup@aol.com   5/22/04 - A lot of fans are unhappy because they can't find any Champ Car merchandise, or at least many of the drivers merchandise that they want to buy. They own a lot of Mexican driver merchandise and want Justin Wilson, Paul Tracy, Oriol Servia and other driver merchandise but can't find it here in Monterrey. Jose Arrambide

5/23/04

Vegas would be bad in Spring   The Vegas Champ Car race needs to be run in the fall or it will fail. NASCAR races March 13th in Vegas, the NHRA races the first weekend in April. The locals spend their wad on the Cup race, they don't have enough $$ leftover after they get robbed by the NASCAR weekend to go to a Champ Car race. The NHRA event in April never does as well as the track's October NHRA date because of the Cup weekend. I love Champ Car and hope it comes to town in November where it won't have any real competition.  Name withheld by request because he works for a Champ Car team

5/23/04

Latest F1 News from Monaco 

Schu on London streets
F1 drivers crash minibus
Montoya wants to cancel McLaren contract
Ferrari 'went hard'
BMW 'pass blame' for Ralf failure
Will history repeat? - Trulli
BMW 'engine was weak' - Schumacher
Ralf won't start from pitlane
'Difficult' for brother - Schumacher
First corner to decide Monaco GP
Michelin have 'tire advantage'
Will Trulli stay at Renault?
'Fortune may shine' on Schu - Coulthard
F1 drivers to meet 'at every race'
Renault 'to conspire' against Schu?
Schu pins hopes on 'strategy' master
F1 to get 'title sponsor'?
'Chinese' Formula One team in 2005?
Liuzzi and Jaguar
Hollywood met F1 at Monaco
F1 muses 'six-races-in-eight-weeks'

5/22/04

If Larry Foyt gets bumped   "I am not too concerned about tomorrow. Did I say that with enough reservation? Hopefully, we will be OK. It may be close, but that's what Bump Day is all about. I think my dad worked out a deal with Chip Ganassi so that I have a back- up car to hop into. If something did happen, I would have a really good shot at getting back in."

5/22/04

Drivers get final practice before bump day   There are seven vacancies in the 33-car field for the 88th Indianapolis 500. The final opportunity to make four-lap qualification runs is from 1-7 p.m. (EDT) on May 23.

In addition to four drivers introduced by teams late last week, Mo Nunn Racing announced May 22 that Jeff Simmons will be in the group attempting to make the field for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
Simmons is one of the Indy Racing League's founding principles in microcosm - to provide opportunities for new sponsors, teams and drivers to enter the sport at the highest level.

Simmons, who finished second in the Futaba Freedom 100 on May 22 for A.J. Foyt Racing, will climb in the Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone in an attempt to qualify for his first 500-Mile Race. He turned 21 laps late in the afternoon practice to get some seat time.

"This is just great," said Simmons, who will join Tora Takagi (qualified 26th) with Mo Nunn Racing. "I'm getting the opportunity of a lifetime and I'm thankful to Mo Nunn, (team manager) Peter Parrott and everyone at the IRL that has helped put this together for me."

Others scheduled to make qualifying runs will be Richie Hearn (No. 33 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone), Robby McGehee (No. 18 PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone), Buddy Lazier (No. 91 Lifefitness DRR/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone) and PJ Jones (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone), and Marty Roth (No. 25 Roth Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone).

IndyCar Series regular Greg Ray, owner-driver of the No. 13 Access Motorsports Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone, also is expected on the track.  Twenty-six driver-car combinations totaled 1,414 laps in two practice sessions on May 22 without incident. Two-time 500-Mile Race winner Al Unser Jr. (128) recorded the most laps.

Adrian Fernandez, in the No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone, was fastest for the second day in a row at 218.495 mph.  Matsuura, a rookie who will start the 500-Mile Race from the outside of Row 3, was second quick (218.300). Sam Hornish Jr. had a busy day in the Marlboro Team Penske No. 6T Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, recording 103 laps with a fast lap of 218.096 mph. Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan (218.066) and Dan Wheldon (217.916) rounded out the top five on the speed chart..

FASTEST DRIVERS OF INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1 5 Adrian Fernandez G/H/F 218.495 mph
2 55T Kosuke Matsuura. D/T/F 218.300 mph
3 6T Sam Hornish Jr. D/H/F 218.096 mph
4 11T Tony Kanaan D/H/F 218.066 mph
5 26T Dan Wheldon G/H/F 217.916 mph
***
FASTEST NON-QUALIFIED INDIANAPOLIS 500 DRIVERS
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1 91 Buddy Lazier D/C/F 214.414 mph
2 25 Marty Roth D/T/F 213.097 mph
3 33 Richie Hearn G/T/F 212.617 mph
4 12T Jeff Simmons D/T/F 209.820 mph
5 98 PJ Jones D/C/F 208.342 mph
6 18 Robby McGehee D/C/F 175.934 mph

5/22/04

Richmond TV ratings drop   Last Saturday's Chevy American Revolution 400 Nextel Cup race at Richmond International Raceway drew a 3.8 Nielsen cable rating for FX, according to today's Sports Business Daily. The figure is down 7.3 percent from the 4.1 it drew on the same station in 2003.

5/22/04
F3000

Liuzzi wins again in Monaco  

Position Driver Team Time Laps
1 Vitantonio Liuzzi Arden International 1h08m07.431s 45
2 Enrico Toccacelo BCN F3000 1h08m10.281s 45
3 Jose Maria Lopez CMS Performance 1h08m18.347s 45
4 Raffaele Giammaria Aez I.E. Engineering 1h08m36.283s 45
5 Patrick Friesacher Super Nova Racing 1h08m36.704s 45
6 Robert Doornbos Arden International 1h08m53.284s 45
7 Jeffrey van Hooydonk Coloni F3000 1h08m53.635s 45
8 Jan Heylen Team Astromega 1h09m11.600s 45
9 Alan van der Merwe Super Nova Racing 1h09m12.470s 45
10 Yannick Schroeder Durango Formula - 44
11 Tony Schmidt Ma-Con Engineering - 44
12 Nico Verdonck Team Astromega - 44
13 Ferdinando Monfardini Aez I.E. Engineering - 44
14 Tomas Enge Ma-Con Engineering - 44
15 Rodrigo Ribeiro Durango Formula - 30
16 Mathias Lauda CMS Performance - 18
17 Can Artam Coloni F3000 - 1
18 Esteban Guerrieri BCN F3000 - 1

5/22/04

Danica Patrick puts in best ever qualifying in Monterrey   Team Rahal’s Argent Mortgage Company Toyota Atlantic driver Danica Patrick claimed third on the starting grid for Sunday’s Atlantic race in Monterrey, Mexico. Patrick posted her fast lap of 88.755 mph on her final lap during Saturday’s qualifying session. The third on the grid starting position is the best of Patrick’s 14 race Atlantic career and the best grid position for Team Rahal’s second year Atlantic program. “What makes me the most happy about today is we have the Argent car in a position to race for the win tomorrow,” said Patrick. “Anytime you are in the front two rows you are in a position to win. Lots of things can happen during a race and you just have to be ready to take advantage of the opportunities. This was a tough competitive qualifying session. The times kept dropping. One lap I was first then the next lap I was fourth. It was a real challenge to you as a driver. You have to reach outside your comfort level and keep pushing and pushing. The last few minutes were pretty exciting. I think the fastest three laps all came on the last lap for each driver. As a driver you had to dig a little deeper, or you were going to fall backward. Last year in my first race here I started fifth and finished third. This year I am starting third so my expectation is to win. The biggest difference for me this year is a little more confidence and a little more experience. I think I race better than I qualify so hopefully I can take advantage of that tomorrow.”

5/22/04

Record low temps a welcome relief   So much for weather forecasts.  When the Champ Car race in Monterrey was announced to be held in the month of May everybody predicted the hottest Monterrey Grand Prix, but quite the opposite has happened. These past 2 days have proven to be very different from average May temperatures. Thanks to a sky full of clouds (but no rain) and a cool breeze, this has been the coolest Monterrey Grand Prix for the fans with temperatures in the high 70's.  Tomorrow it's going to be cloudy, but no rain. Jose Arrambide

5/22/04

Gigante capitalizing on event they don't sponsor   No one is doing a better PR job than Gigante here in Monterrey. They invited all of their suppliers (they really want to do business during the race), and almost every executive from any company that does business with them.  They have guests in suites, guests in grandstands, and by far they have the best hospitality area.  In fact it's not a tent, they put their area inside the convention center so people can wine and dine in a temperature controlled place with huge screen TV. They also have Gigante Girls inviting every reporter, photographer and media member to their hospitality with the line "Michel Jourdain would be pleased to have you in his hospitality area that Gigante has put together for his friends". Jose Arrambide

5/22/04

Simmons lands Indy 500 ride with Mo Nunn   Jeff Simmons, who finished second in the Futaba Freedom 100 today for A.J. Foyt Racing, will attempt to qualify May 23 for his first Indianapolis 500 in the No. 21 Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone in the IRL's hope to fill the 33-car field. Simmons said he expected to get some seat time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway late in the afternoon practice session May 22. "This is just great," said Simmons, who will join Tora Takagi with Mo Nunn Racing. "I'm getting the opportunity of a lifetime and I'm thankful to Mo Nunn, (team manager) Peter Parrott and everyone at the IRL that has helped put this together for me. I just had a great run in the Pro Series and, to be honest, that helped give me the chance." Simmons started third in the Futaba Freedom 100 and led the race briefly before being passed on Lap 13 by eventual race winner Thiago Medeiros. Simmons finished fourth in the inaugural Freedom 100 last year.

5/22/04

Lots of entertainment for Monterrey fans   Normally fans who hang out in the pits and paddock area at races don't go to the other places of the track.  Today I decided to look for myself what was going on throughout the track.  Just before going to take my tour a fellow media member told me "how strange, last year the stands were full hours before qualifications."   I soon found out where all the people were - at the park having a huge party.  You couldn't walk at all.  People were in long lines for the Xtreme games (there were a lot of them) and the concert from local group "El Gran Silencio" was totally full.  There was a special stage with 12 (yes 12) Tecate girls dancing all day long.  I have news for El Norte and everybody else.  This place is packed with people, and tomorrow there will be even more people.  With Mexican Mario Dominguez on the front row for tomorrow's race, I expect a sellout.   After the qualifying of the Champ Cars and after the Neon series race, the majority of fans in the stands were asking how to get to the games areas, and especially to the concert area. The party continues. Jose Arrambide

5/22/04
World Series by Nissan

Karthikeyan and Kovalainen share top spots at Magny Cours  

Race 1
1. Narain Karthikeyan RC 1min 29.621secs
2. Heikki Kovalainen Pons 1min 29.842secs
3. Enrique Bernoldi GD 1min 29.847secs
4. Tristan Gommendy Saulnier 1min 30.070secs
5. Jean-Christophe Ravier Euskadi 1min 30.249secs
6. Olivier Pla Carlin 1min 30.496secs
7. Adrian Valles Pons 1min 30.576secs
8. Tiago Monteiro Carlin 1min 30.686secs
9. Ander Vilarino Euskadi 1min 30.719secs
10. Felix Porteiro Porfesa 1min 30.786secs
11. Juan Cruz Alvarez Gabord 1min 30.824secs
12. Bruce Jouanny KTR 1min 30.931secs
13. Didier Andre KTR 1min 31.049secs
14. Pablo Donoso GD 1min 31.669secs
15. Roldan Rodriguez Porfesa 1min 32.116secs
16. Tomas Kostka RC 1min 32.532secs
Race 2
1. Heikki Kovalainen Pons 1min 29.178secs
2. Narain Karthikeyan RC 1min 29.318secs
3. Tristan Gommendy Saulnier 1min 29.890secs
4. Tiago Monteiro Carlin 1min 29.940secs
5. Ander Vilarino Euskadi 1min 30.070secs
6. Bruce Jouanny KTR 1min 30.137secs
7. Olivier Pla Carlin 1min 30.222secs
8. Felix Porteiro Porfesa 1min 30.300secs
9. Didier Andre KTR 1min 30.663secs
10. Juan Cruz Alvarez Gabord 1min 30.693secs
11. Pablo Donoso GD 1min 31.245secs
12. Tomas Kostka RC 1min 31.842secs
Enrique Bernoldi GD time disallowed
Jean-Christophe Ravier Euskadi time disallowed
Roldan Rodriguez Porfesa time disallowed
Adrian Valles Pons time disallowed

5/22/04

Dalziel takes pole in Monterrey  Ryan Dalziel made a clean sweep of both today’s Toyota Atlantic practice and qualifying sessions ahead of tomorrow’s Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix at Fundidora Park, Monterrey. The series leader continued to stamp his authority on proceedings as he set the fastest time in this afternoon’s second qualifying session, touring the 2.1-mile circuit in 1m24.753s, claiming pole position for the 32-lap race and another championship point.

Dalziel’s qualifying time, in addition to securing a second straight pole start for the 22-year-old Scot, rounded off an impressive couple of days for the #28 ProWorks Sierra Sierra Enterprises pilot. Fastest in both of Friday’s timed sessions, Ryan had already guaranteed himself a front-row start before his rich vein of form carried over into this morning’s practice session where he posted a lap sixth tenths of a second faster than Jon Fogarty in second.

Dalziel subsequently set a new lap record with his final qualifying time, beating Luis Diaz’s previous record by two tenths while extending his lead of the series to nine (36-27) courtesy of scoring both bonus points.

“So far so good,” commented Ryan after qualifying. “I can’t ask for a better starting position and given our performance over the course of the weekend I have to believe things are looking good for tomorrow. The car’s good and I think if we can get through the first corner without incident then we should be in a strong position.”

1. (28) Ryan Dalziel, Hasselgren/Swift, 1:24.753, 89.370.
2. (19) Bryan Sellers, Hasselgren/Swift, 1:25.215, 88.886.
3. (24) Danica Patrick, Hasselgren/Swift, 1:25.341, 88.755.
4. (96) Jon Fogarty, Hasselgren/Swift, 1:25.402, 88.691.
5. (27) Andrew Ranger (R), Hasselgren/Swift, 1:25.741, 88.340.
6. (69) Alex Figge, Hasselgren/Swift, 1:25.750, 88.331.
7. (8) Jonathan Bomarito (R), Hasselgren/Swift, 1:25.901, 88.176.
8. (15) Josh Hunt (R), Hasselgren/Swift, 1:25.945, 88.131.
9. (4) Rocky Moran Jr., Hasselgren/Swift, 1:26.049, 88.024.
10. (10) Ronnie Bremer (R), Hasselgren/Swift, 1:26.159, 87.912.
11. (25) Chris Festa (R), Hasselgren/Swift, 1:26.967, 87.095.
12. (9) Alex Garcia, Hasselgren/Swift, 1:27.369, 86.694.
13. (3) Philip Fayer, Hasselgren/Swift, 1:28.123, 85.953.

5/22/04

Bourdais fastest again is Sat. AM practice   Friday qualifying leader Sebastien Bourdais was less than two-tenths of a second off of his own Fundidora Park track record in leading Saturday morning practice for Sunday's Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey. Bruno Junqueira, Justin Wilson, Mario Dominguez and Patrick Carpentier rounded out the top five. Final qualifying will begin at 1:45 p.m. Central Time
Pos Driver # Engine/Chassis/Tire Lap Time Mph km/h Leader Previous
1 S. Bourdais 2 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:14.969 101.034 162.598
2 B. Junqueira 6 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:15.005 100.985 162.519 0.036
3 J. Wilson 34 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:15.790 99.939 160.836 0.821 0.785
4 M. Dominguez 55 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:15.867 99.838 160.673 0.898 0.077
5 P. Carpentier 7 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:15.925 99.762 160.551 0.956 0.058
6 O. Servia 11 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:16.014 99.645 160.363 1.045 0.089
7 M. Haberfeld 5 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone 1:16.032 99.621 160.324 1.063 0.018
8 R. Lavin 3 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:16.052 99.595 160.282 1.083 0.020
9 P. Tracy 1 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:16.114 99.514 160.152 1.145 0.062
10 M. Jourdain Jr. 9 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:16.379 99.169 159.597 1.410 0.265
11 A. Tagliani 8 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:16.487 99.029 159.371 1.518 0.108
12 R. Hunter-Reay 4 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:16.822 98.597 158.676 1.853 0.335
13 R. Gonzalez 21 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:17.008 98.359 158.293 2.039 0.186
14 N. Philippe 17 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:17.125 98.209 158.052 2.156 0.117
15 A. Allmendinger 10 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:17.193 98.123 157.913 2.224 0.068
16 J. Vasser 12 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:17.405 97.854 157.480 2.436 0.212
17 A. Sperafico 14 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone 1:18.688 96.259 154.913 3.719 1.283

5/22/04

Champ Car switched back to old qualifying format   After getting a black eye over the new qualifying format yesterday, Champ Car has announced that they made a mistake and are reverting back to the old road course qualifying format effective today. The qualifying rules pursuant to Event Bulletin 04-3B have been revised as follows for the qualifying session for Sunday’s Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey. Sebastien Bourdais will retain the point earned in Friday qualifying, however all starting positions for the race will be based on the times earned in today’s qualifying session. All other provisions of the 2004 Rule Book remain in full force and effect. The new qualifying format is explained below.

The duration of the qualifying session shall be sixty (60) minutes. The session will be divided into three segments. The first segment shall be an open practice of fifteen (15) minutes. The second segment shall be no cars running on track for ten (10) minutes. The final segment shall be qualifying for a duration of thirty-five (35) minutes, of which green flag conditions must be in effect for at least twenty (20) minutes. The third segment duration shall be extended beyond thirty-five (35) minutes until the twenty (20) minute green time requirement is met.

“We came into Monterrey with a special qualifying procedure tailored to provide on-track excitement for the fans,” said Executive Vice-President of Operations John Lopes. “After review, and consultation with the teams, we felt our Friday qualifying did not achieve the intended result. Therefore, for today’s final qualifying, we will revert back to the original qualifying procedure which the fans all understand, with a minor modification of the time allotments for practice and qualifying.”  Mark C.

5/22/04

Organizers predict a sellout in Monterrey   2nd UPDATE Seems the guys from El Norte were not very pleased with our description of their politics and the way we questioned their seriousness (at least it is good to know they read Autoracing1.com).  However, they proved once more they keep spreading the doom and gloom.  Today they are still talking about fans not supporting the race because of the attendance on Friday (a work day).  Perhaps their reporters haven't attended Friday the last 3 years.  Our response is, let's wait till race day.  Jose Arrambide    5/21/04 - Just like Don Quixote, El Norte is fighting windmills. You will recall we had reported El Norte was trying to spread gloom on the Monterrey Grand Prix for political reasons, well now it’s just childish.  Yesterday one of their reporters asked Mario Dominguez what he felt about fans not supporting this year's event. Mario´s response was “You are the first one to say this, it is my understanding that 100% of the tickets will be sold, fans are great here, they have supported us”, so El Norte decided to spin Mario´s answer and they titled their article, “Mario wasn’t aware of the bad response of fans towards the race,” so much for serious journalism (Has the oval track cartel got to El Norte?  We have seen this same pattern at many Champ Car venues and the oval track cartel controls a lot of newspapers with behind the scenes ownership). Jose A.  5/20/04 - Last night, Jorge Lozano, the Monterrey Grand Prix Director told reporters that they had sold a little over 90% of the tickets for this weekend's race, so they are very confident the race will be a sellout. Yesterday two local channels (channel 7 and 12) were reporting that 4 or 5 grandstands were sold out between Tuesday and Wednesday, and they were also predicting a sellout race......In other news, it has been very evident that the newspaper El Norte is trying to play the doom and gloom part for political reasons. Today was a prime example - after Jorge Lozano made the announcement of the expected sell out, El Norte decided to run on their website and print edition a story that said, “Drivers are getting into the race, but not the fans, since there are still tickets available”. The problem it seems is that for the first three events the organizers of the Monterrey Grand Prix only catered to El Norte reporters,  but this year they decided to do their job and work with every available media resource. El Norte who was famous for not yielding to the party in power before democracy came to Mexico, is also famous for punishing sport teams, politicians and businessmen that don't talk exclusively to El Norte or its sister papers. José Arrambide reporting from Mexico

5/22/04

Latest F1 News from Monaco 

Trulli 'wonderful'
Fisichella's fuel
Kimi aims to beat Schu
Webber on fire - again
Some 'tough deadlines' - Webber
Alonso promoted to third
Schu win in doubt

Toyota go 'conservative'

Button can win it

Minardi rookies crash

Pleased or depressed? - Ralf

What happened to Pantano?

Brawn's excuses
  

5/21/04

Dalziel fast in Sat AM practice  Ryan Dalziel continued his assault on the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama speed charts at the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix by setting the fastest time in second-round practice for Sunday’s race Saturday morning at Fundidora Park. Dalziel, driving the No. 28 Pro-Works car, recorded a one-minute, 25.788-second lap (88.292 miles per hour) late in the session at the 2.104-mile permanent road course. The fast lap was Dalziel’s third in a row this weekend, as he topped both first-round practice and the first qualifying session yesterday.

“We tried something a little bit different this morning,” said Dalziel. “We tried not to lose ourselves too much to the track conditions and just worked on the car for qualifying. We came out on top. We have a little bit of work to do for the car for qualifying, but we’re happy with the session.”

Jon Fogarty (No. 96 Pacific Coast Motorsports) was second fastest, turning in a 1:26.464-minute lap at 87.602 mph.

“I’m happy,” said Fogarty. “We were able to get out there after that final red flag and put a lap in. That gave us a feel for the changes we had made. The car felt good. Certainly, we have a long way to go, but I’m happy with the session. It began misting a little bit halfway through the session, which kind of threw us off. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance at the pole.”

Bryan Sellers (No. 19 Lynx Racing) was third quickest (1:26.529 87.536 mph).

“We made some big changes last night and I think we’ve made a step in the right direction,” said Sellers. “Hopefully, we can improve on this for qualifying. The guys are working really hard. When I was sitting on pit lane I could see the mist, but it really didn’t make much of a difference on the track.”

Danica Patrick (No. 24 Argent Mortgage Company) and BG Products Rookie of the Year contender Andrew Ranger (No. 27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) rounded out the top five. 

Pos Driver Car# Team Lap Time Mph Kph Leader Previous
1 Ryan Dalziel 28 Sierra Sierra Enterprises 1:25.788 88.292 142.088 0.000
2 Jon Fogarty 96 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:26.464 87.602 140.978 0.676
3 Bryan Sellers 19 Lynx Racing 1:26.529 87.536 140.872 0.741
4 Danica Patrick 24 Team Rahal 1:26.582 87.482 140.785 0.794 0.053
5 Andrew Ranger 27 Sierra Sierra Enterprises 1:26.728 87.335 140.548 0.940 0.146
6 Jonathan Bomarito 8 Transnet Racing 1:27.231 86.832 139.739 1.318 0.432
7 Josh Hunt 15 Lynx Racing 1:27.257 86.806 139.697 1.469 0.026
8 Alex Figge 69 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:27.354 86.709 139.541 1.566 0.123
9 Rocky Moran Jr. 4 Polestar Racing Group LLC 1:27.482 86.582 139.336 1.569 0.012
10 Ronnie Bremer 10 Brooks Associates Racing 1:27.662 86.405 139.052 1.749 0.180
11 Chris Festa 25 Team Rahal 1:27.785 86.284 138.857 1.997 0.123
12 Alex Garcia 9 Transnet Racing 1:28.020 86.053 138.485 2.107 0.235
13 Philip Fayer 3 Polestar Racing Group LLC 1:29.400 84.725 136.348 3.612 1.380

5/22/04

Ralf Schumacher tops pre-qualifying session   A Schumacher was expected to set the pace in Monaco but not one named Ralf. The German has endured a tough start to the season but on Saturday afternoon he rediscovered his form to plant his Williams on provisional pole. As for his brother, Michael’s chances of lining-up at the top of the starting grid took a severe blow as he could only manage the 14th fastest time in his Ferrari. McLaren were the other team that impressed the large crowd with Kimi Raikkonen finishing second and his team-mate David Coulthard in third.  Next up - Final Qualifying.  See our Live Timing And Scoring page for all the results.

5/22/04

Sinopec to use F1 to expand   Sinopec, the sponsor of the Chinese Grand Prix, says that it wants to use the sport to increase the recognition of the company brand and to open up new markets, specifically in the Asia-Pacific region. There was a large delegation from Sinopec in Monaco led by Wang Jiming, President of Sinopec. "Formula 1 is a good vehicle to further build international awareness in Sinopec," said Wang. "For the time being we are looking at the Asia-Pacfic region."  Grandprix.com

5/22/04

Schuey stays on top but feels pressure   Michael Schumacher ended up quickest in all four free practice sessions for the Monaco Grand Prix. But with just 0.2s covering the top five after the final 45 minute session, he is no longer a shoe-in for the pole.  Schumacher's best lap of 1m14.014s late on was the fastest ever around Monaco and was just 0.002s quicker than Trulli had managed.  Takuma Sato  missed out by just 0.006s.  See our Live Timing And Scoring page for all the results.

5/22/04

IRL will race in Portland if Champ Car leaves   This Portland Oregonian article says, The Indy Racing League is serious about running a race at Portland International Raceway in 2005 in late July or early August. The rival Champ Car World Series has publicly stated its desire to maintain a 21-year-old tradition and be back here in June 2005. Could the two organizations get involved in a tug-of-war for the Portland market? IRL president Tony George, director of operations Brian Barnhart and senior vice president of business operations Ken Ungar were in Portland on Monday to meet with track manager Mark Wigginton and Larry Blackmar, the vice president of sales for Peter Jacobsen Productions. "We have a real interest in racing in Portland and if we do, PJP would promote the race," Ungar said Thursday. The IRL visit came just a few days after the rival Champ Car World Series was in town to drum up sponsorship support for its June 20 race. Portland has a one-year deal with Champ Car and effectively becomes a "free agent" after June 20, unless the city and Champ Car sign an extension. Champ Car -- formerly Championship Auto Racing Teams -- has run at PIR since 1984. The IRL is an oval-only series but will add selected road/street course events in 2005. Portland city commissioner and mayoral candidate Jim Francesconi has said the city would listen to what both sides have to offer. Both series have said they want to firm up their 2005 schedules as soon as possible, Champ Car by the end of the summer and the IRL by late June.
"We hope to have a yes or a no by the first week in June," Blackmar said. "But we . . . need to know if the city will stay with Champ Car or if Champ Car is out." Ungar didn't rule out PIR hosting both series. Blackmar doubts it's possible. "I don't think the market can handle two races," he said. "That would be self-defeating."

5/22/04

Latest F1 News in brief  

F1 to stage London Grand Prix?
Kimi sports new helmet design
Engine makers meet in Monaco
F1 could change qualifying 'tomorrow' - Mosley
Should F1 ban refueling? 
'Commercial deal' will be done - Mosley
Arden's 2005 F1 hopes bolstered
F1 pilots met on Thursday
Silverstone 'deal is done' - Max Mosley
Control tire 'plans are on track' - Mosley
Pole would be Schu's sixtieth
China 'must have a Schumacher' - sponsor
Renault to show 'live telemetry'
Todt spent time with 'sick children'
Trulli prepared for Monaco  
Button heads for Monaco pole
Ferrari 'undecided' on Monaco tire choice
'No magic' to Ferrari success - Schu
Aussie GP has new 'CEO'
Button to stay at BAR in 2005
Monaco is 'not as bumpy' - drivers
F1 figures 'boom in Spain' - report
'No Concorde' beyond 2008 - Max Mosley
F1 'can overturn' $48m new team bond
Ferrari 'might quit F1' - Mosley
Tobacco advertising 'will go on' beyond '06 

5/22/04

BAR makes U-Turn on Sato   This Planet-F1 article says, BAR have said that they don't expect Takuma Sato to match Jenson Button this season.  At the end of last season, Dave Richards decided to replace former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve with the Japanese youngster, derided as a 'crashaholic' by many cynics after his traumatic first season in F1 with Jordan.  Sato has been comprehensively eclipsed by Button so far this season, making several high-profile and costly mistakes. But according to Richards, it would be unfair to expect Sato to match Jenson's pace.

Asked on the team's website whether 'Sato was under any pressure to start matching Jenson's performances', Richards replied: "That would be totally unreasonable and unrealistic of us. Takuma is only in his second F1 season and he needs all the support we can offer him. We've told him very clearly not to measure himself against someone such as Jenson."

It's a curious statement from Richards, who only a month ago was admitting that he was giving his wayward charge driving lessons based on his golf swing.  Not only is it at odds with the admission from Jock Clear, Sato's engineer, that the driver had been given until the U.S. GP "before he is fully up to Jenson's speed," but it also begs the question why BAR employed Sato if they believed that he wasn't capable of matching the pace of a driver who, at the start of the season, had never finished on the podium, let alone won a race.

The answer, in all probability, can be found in BAR's partnership with their Japanese engine manufacturers, Honda.  "Clearly, the relationship with Honda is extremely strong and, personally, I'd like to see it continue for some time," Richards said. "However, extending contracts of this complexity are never going to be straightforward and while all the meetings we've had to date have been very positive and everyone involved clearly has the intention of going forward, we are not yet in a position to confirm any specific details at this stage."

5/22/04

More comments from Coulthard on Villeneuve   ''He's a character for the sport,'' said the Scot. ''He always expressed his views without giving consideration to the consequences or thinking about how it might then endear him to the team and sponsors. ''But in the car he was also entertaining.'' Coulthard recalls an occasion when he argued with Jacques about whether a particular corner could be taken at full-throttle. ''He was the guy who went and tried to take it flat,'' DC smiled. ''He'll come and show you the data and say 'look, I was flat-out' even if the car is in bits because it didn't quite make it. That's an interesting quality. I hope he finds a spot.''

5/21/04

Honda engine wins award   Indy Racing League engine manufacturer Honda received the 38th BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award for its HI4R-A Honda Indy V-8 engine used in the IRL IndyCar® Series, officials announced May 21 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Robert Clarke, vice president and general manager for Honda Performance Development, accepted the award on behalf of Honda engineers Yasuhide Sakamoto and Steve Eriksen, and Ilmor engineers Steve Miller and Steve O’Connor. Honda’s IRL engines are created in a partnership with Ilmor.

Honda, along with Indy Racing League engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Toyota, faced the challenge of switching from a 3.5-liter engine to a 3-liter engine after the first three races of this season due to new regulations mandated by the IRL to reduce speeds and enhance safety.

5/21/04

Busy day at Indy   The IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series Futaba Freedom 100 qualifying highlighted a busy day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as IRL IndyCar® Series teams preparing for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 put in a full day of practice.

Adrian Fernandez continued Honda's strong run at the Speedway, posting the fastest lap of the day, 218.257 mph, in his No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone.

1996 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Lazier made his on-track debut, driving the No. 24T Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone for his new team, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Lazier's fastest lap, 215.513, was fastest among non-qualified entries.

The day was marred by a single incident, which damaged the qualified entry of Andretti Green Racing's Bryan Herta. Herta was not injured in the crash, which occurred as his No. 7T XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone suffered a wishbone failure in the right-rear as his car entered Turn 3. The car suffered damage to the left side.

5/21/04

Forsythe: IRL will never race at my Mexico tracks   A newspaper in Mexico printed a story that the IRL will race in Mexico City.  Today Gerald Forsythe put to rest that rumor by saying, "The IRL will never race in Monterrey or Mexico City.  I have a contract for a very very long time and I simply won't allow it to happen."  Mexico is a very large country.  Perhaps they can find or build a track somewhere else."  As far as the rumor about a NASCAR truck race in Mexico City, "Yes, that is possible," said Forsythe, "but we shall see if they are willing to pay my price."  Mark C.

5/21/04

YokeTV delays launch   YOKE TV.COM announced a change in their launch date to June 5th 2004. YOKE TV.COM is the primary sponsor of CHAMP CAR'S Dale Coyne Racing's number 11 Lola driven by Oriol Servia. May 21st Launch Moved To Allow New Partners To Participate In Yoke TV Launch Yoke TV has some very exciting news that will be detailed on our Web Site over the next 2 weeks. Beginning June 5th, we will unveil the largest "Reality TV" project ever undertaken. This will include a Global Star Search, a Movie and the launch of a fresh Global TV network. Yoke™ will be more than simply the best internet broadcaster; instead it will also be available as its own network on various traditional television networks around the world. We originally planned to go live on May 1st, then moved the date to May 21, 2004, however we never anticipated the opportunity to gain global traditional television distribution so quickly. Therefore, we are making an announcement on June 5th, 2004 to allow some of our new partners the opportunity to fully participate in our launch plans. Your opportunity as a viewer and possible star is now greater than ever and we appreciate all the support and excitement you have shown towards our new network. Watch for our announcement June 5th, then hold on because we are going places no one has been before!

5/21/04

Dalziel wins provisional pole   Toyota Atlantic Championship points leader Ryan Dalziel guaranteed himself a front-row start for Sunday’s Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix at Fundidora Park, Monterrey thanks to another consistent day by the 22-year-old Scottish racer.

With a month between the opening two rounds, Ryan was eager to get back behind the wheel today and resume his title bid following his Long Beach triumph. The Orlando-based charger, gunning for a seventh consecutive podium finish this weekend, was quickly up to speed in this morning’s 30-minute free practice session, leading the field with a hot lap of 1m27.693s, fourth tenths of a second faster than his nearest rival.

Mirroring his Friday performance from last month’s outing in California Ryan then piloted the #28 ProWorks Sierra Sierra Enterprises entry to the top of the timesheets in first qualifying with a lap time of 1m25.571s round the 2.1-mile Mexican circuit, collecting a bonus point along the way while guaranteeing a front-row start for the 32-lap race on Sunday.

Dalziel will secure a second successive pole position if no one improves upon his lap time in tomorrow afternoon’s second and final qualifying session with another bonus point available to the Scot should he continue to frustrate the opposition and set the pace. Reflecting on a productive day at the office Ryan commented:  “It’s been a perfect day! Our car was fast straight off the back of the transporter and we simply fine-tuned one or two small elements over the course of the day. I was surprised by the condition of the track in our first session. Usually it’s quite green but the level of grip was pretty good right from the start. Qualifying was really a progression of our work from the first session and I banged in my quick laps right at the end. I’ll be hoping for more of the same tomorrow!”

Sunday’s race, Round 2 of the 12-race Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, starts at 1:30pm Eastern Time. Further details and live timing can be found on: www.toyotaatlantic.com  Mark C.

5/21/04

Champ Car and SpikeTV start marketing push   Champ Car and SpikeTV are finally doing some promotion for the Monterrey Grand Prix in the U.S.   A large postcard was mailed from Champ Car and Spike TV promoting the Monterrey Grand Prix and the series. The back side of the card reads:
Watch the Monterrey Grand Prix on Spike TV May 23, 4 P.M. ET/PT. Tune in as Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira, Sebastien Bourdais, Michel Jourdain, Jr. and the rest of the world's top drivers compete in the Champ Car World Series, the most challenging test in motorsports.

- Spike TV also brings you Dangerous Curves, a pre-race show showcasing drivers, car racing and Champ Cars. Sundays at 1:30 pm ET/PT.

- Hit www.champcarworldseries.com for a free trial of Race Director. Enjoy live qualifying, practice and race coverage, complete with choose-your-own camera angles and car-to-pit feeds.

- Join us as the Series tears through Milwaukee on June 5, Portland on June 20 and Cleveland on July 3.

The back side of the card also displays Champ Car and Spike TV logos. The front side of the card features a nice layout with photos of Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais and Michel Jourdain, Jr. and features the phrase, "CATCH THEM IF YOU CAN on Spike TV".  Mark C.

5/21/04

Brazilian wins pole for Freedom 100    Brazilian Thiago Medeiros, the Infiniti Pro Series points leader, won the pole for Saturday's 40-lap Freedom 100 race with a two-lap average of 189.274 mph, a qualifying record. Starting next to Medeiros on the outside of the front row will be Paul Dana, who averaged 189.240 mph.

5/21/04

Herta unhurt in 2nd Indy crash    Andretti Green Racing driver Bryan Herta had a 2nd crash today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when something broke on the right rear of his No. 7 car and sent him spinning into the wall in turn three.  Herta, who crashed in the first turn on pole day for the 88th Indy 500 when the car got away from him, had just been passed by teammate Dario Franchitti. Replays showed the right rear axle area of Herta's car depress and the right rear tire elevate. The car went straight up out of the groove, spinning and then slamming rear first into the SAFER barrier, destroying the entire right side of the car.  Herta climbed out of the car without help. If the car can't be repaired for the May 30th race, he will have to start at the rear of the field.

5/21/04

Champ Car gets black eye   All the drivers are complaining about the new Champ Car qualifying rule and it was no more evident than in the post-qualifying press conference where Bruno Junqueira hammered Champ Car in front of the throng of international media assembled.  "They don't listen to us drivers," said Junqueira.  "We told them we did not like it but they never listen to us.  They just tell us to try it.  It is confusing to everyone.  If we don't understand it, how do they expect the fans to understand it."  His teammate Sebastien Bourdais added, "If they would just sit down with us I'm sure we can come up with a solution together that everyone will be happy with."  Champ Car is not alone in getting hammered about qualifying procedures.  F1 is going through a similar internal debate.  Needless to say it's too late to change it for this race, but we hear Champ Car will make a change soon.  Mark C.

5/21/04

Rick Benjamin and Jon Beekhuis   Rick Benjamin and Jon Beekhuis are working the pits and paddock this weekend and will be the pit reporters for the Champ Car broadcast.  Regular reporters Derek Daly and Calvin Fish had prior commitments.  We also chatted with Jeremy Shaw who used to do the international feed for Champ Car.  He is still wondering what he might be doing for them this year.  Mark C.

5/21/04

Cleveland GP roars back to life   Although it has had many names and sponsors over the years, it is still a cool car race. At an airport. Near a lake. The Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland va-rooms into Burke Lakefront Airport Thursday-Saturday, July 1-3. The event, which includes several practice and qualifying sessions and preliminary races, culminates with the big 97-lap dance at 5 p.m. on July 3. Other races include the Toyota Atlantic Series, Motorock Trans-Am Tour and Formula BMW USA Championship. There is a wide range of ticket prices, from $5 for standing room on day one to $350 for a three-day ticket with a parking pass and other privileges. For tickets and more information, call 1-888-817-7223, or go to www.grandprixofcleveland.com

5/21/04

No option tire in Monterrey    UPDATE We spoke to Al Speyer from Bridgestone today.  He tells us that the asphalt they use in Monterrey, be it the race track or the city streets, is very slick with little grip.  "Last year we brought the softest street circuit tire we have but the drivers did not like it because the rears overpowered the fronts.  This year we brought the softest natural terrain road course tire because that is what our simulations say should work best," said Speyer.   5/21/04 - Bridgestone has not brought an option tire here to Monterrey, but they did bring their softest road course compound.  The next race that we might see the option tire is in Portland a Bridgestone rep told AutoRacing1.com.

5/21/04
World Series by Nissan

Nissan and Renault merge series    Renault Sport Technologies and RPM, organizer of the World Series by Nissan, have decided to merge their respective European championships starting in 2005, to make way for two disciplines: the Eurocup Formula Renault 2000 and the World Series by Renault (New Formula Renault V6).   This decision comes as a result of the abundance of race series currently competing in the high-performance single-seater market and the financial difficulties sometimes encountered by the teams.

Nissan, current sponsor and engine supplier of the World Series stated on this change that Nissan is proud of having supported this successful series for the past years. Nissan’s future efforts in motorsport will focus on production models such as Rally Raid.   As far as the single-seater’s future is concerned, the World Series Light (250bhp) will be phased out to make way for the Formula Renault 2000 (196bhp), of which nearly 500 units have already been sold throughout the world. The World Series (450bhp) and Formula Renault V6 (370bhp) will be replaced by a new and redesigned race car producing 420bhp, and based on the current Dallara chassis.

As far as the engine is concerned, the new FRV6 will use a new version of that of the WSN, with similar characteristics. However, the end of the Eurocup Formula Renault V6 in 2005 does not spell the end of the road for the car. Far from it. Development will continue, particularly ahead of the North American Formula Renault V6 championship, which itself is scheduled to begin in 2005. The format of the new 2005 European championship will be unveiled before this summer, in order to offer the teams the best possible conditions in which to prepare for the forthcoming season.

5/21/04
Industry News

TMS shopping $35 million naming rights    SMI's Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) "hopes to sell the naming rights of the track for more than $35[M] for a decade-long deal," according to Katie Fairbank of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS, who notes the amount and length of such a deal would equal what SMI's sister track in Charlotte received from Lowe's and would be 40% more than the MLB Rangers got from Ameriquest for naming rights to their ballpark. TMS President Eddie Gossage: "I sure couldn't see us doing it for less." Fairbank notes only three U.S. tracks have sold naming rights to date — Lowe's Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway and Mazda Raceway — but TMS expects to benefit from a second NASCAR Nextel Cup race beginning in '05. Gossage said, "Until the second race was settled, we really didn't want to pursue a naming rights deal. ... It's time for us to move forward and we'll be back in touch with companies that represent venues." TMS is also trying to sell naming rights for its second Cup race, and Gossage added, "It's a pretty penny. There are only a handful of companies that can afford it. We know who they are and they know who we are." Industry experts have said that Nextel Cup race title sponsorships "usually range from six-to-seven figures." Gossage said TMS has "already sold naming rights for the [second] NASCAR Busch Series race," adding, "It hasn't been all papered up, but it's gone" Dallas Morning News

5/21/04

Identity Marketing announces Champ Car deal    Identity Marketing Group, Inc. a full service marketing company based in the Chicago Suburb of Forest Park, Illinois USA announced today its new subsidiary company, "IDENTITY APPAREL" , its new Motorsport Marketing Division and the launch of its Website. (www.idmarketinggroup.com)

First on the list of IDENTITY announcements today is the launch of the new apparel division, IDENTITY APPAREL. "Apparel has always been a strong area of Identity and as we grow the marketing end of the business we felt it was necessary for us to separate the marketing side of things and the merchandise side of things, stated Wayne Nelson, Vice President of Identity Marketing Group. " IDENTITY APPAREL is a full service decorated promotional apparel and premium company specializing in the full service premium programs that corporations use because of all of our services and appreciate our turn key no hassle programs that show results that compliment their existing marketing programs," stated Nelson.

Next on Identity Marketing Group's announcements today was the new Motorsports Division that the company has created. "Identity is made up of a group of individuals that have come from Marketing, Merchandising, Apparel, and the Motorsport side of things, so when you get all these guys together and most of their client base is motorsports or associated in motorsports we again decided that this is something that needs to have its own division within the company," stated Wayne Nelson. With Motorsports being the fastest growing spectator sport in the world it goes well with our marketing objectives with our clients and offers us the opportunity of more business within the community of motorsports," said Nelson. Identity has the executives in place with the experience to offer the greatest services in Motorsports whether you are a team, a sponsor, or a company looking to break into this great sport.

Lastly but not least is the new IDENTITY MARKETING GROUP website that you are all invited to visit to get a close look into IDENTITY and the services offered. The address of the site is: www.idmarketinggroup.com.

"Identity is looking forward to working with the new CHAMPCAR organization and its teams and sponsors as well as the other racing series in the world. We hope that we can be of service to you and look forward to the opportunity of servicing you," stated, Wayne Nelson Vice President, Identity Marketing Group, Inc.

5/21/04

Renault adds another Champ Car event to schedule    North American Formula Renault announced today that the 2004 schedule will see the series bring its exciting standing starts and competitive racing to Toronto as a support race for the Molson Indy Toronto event on the weekend of July 9-11 with the Champ Car World Series.  "This is a fantastic addition to our schedule," said North American Formula Renault General Manager Brett Ross. "Our teams and competitors expressed an interest in being a part of the Toronto weekend, so we are very pleased to be able to do so. We have tremendous support from Canadian race fans, as well as significant Canadian involvement in the series, with two teams and four drivers participating, so we are looking forward to putting on a great show."

The race weekend will mark the first of three consecutive Canadian events for North American Formula Renault, as the series will travel to Vancouver as part of the Molson Indy Vancouver weekend, and then head west for the Trois Rivieres event the following weekend of July 31-August 1st .  Toronto's 1.755-mile temporary street circuit poses a significant challenge for the racers, with a variety of high-and low-speed corners forcing the teams to find the best compromise in their set ups, with the drivers speeding through the course lined with concrete walls, which offer no compromise at all.
North American 2004 Formula Renault 2000 Schedule:
DATE TRACK EVENT
May 21-23 Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant Grand-Am
June 18-20 Watkins Glen International Grand-Am
July 9-11 Molson Indy Toronto Champ Car
July 23-5 Molson Indy Vancouver Champ Car
July 30-31 Trois Rivieres Trans-Am
August 6-8 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Grand-Am
September 10-12 Homestead Miami Speedway Grand-Am
September 24-26 Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant Fall Classic
October 1-3 Virginia International Raceway Grand-Am
October 8-10 Barber Motorsports Park Grand-Am
October 23-4 Pikes Peak International Raceway
October 29-31 California Speedway Grand-Am

5/21/04

Tracy leads opening practice in Monterrey    Defending Monterrey race winner Paul Tracy picked up where he left off in Friday's opening practice for the Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey, pacing the 18-car field with a best lap of 1:17.443 (97.806 mph). 2003 Monterrey polesitter Sebastien Bourdais was second with Justin Wilson posting the third-best time. The new Champ Car qualifying format will get its first test Friday afternoon with cars rolling at 2:00 p.m. Monterrey

Schedule ET
May 21 Practice 1 11:00 am
May 21 Qualifying 1 3:00 pm
May 22 Practice 2 11:00 am
May 22 Qualifying 2 2:45 pm
May 23 Warm-Up 12:00 pm
May 23 Race 4:00 pm

5/21/04

Hearn lands Penske/Schmidt seat    Richie Hearn has been named to drive the Penske team’s No. 66 Toyota-powered Panoz G Force, which will be run by Sam Schmidt Motorsports, which has leased the car from Penske . It will be the second straight year that Hearn has raced a backup Penske entry. Hearn, formerly a regular on the IRL circuit, now focuses his efforts on running a team in the Star Mazda series. The last-minute arrangement comes after Schmidt almost concluded a deal with Buddy Lazier, before the ’96 Indy winner decided to run a second car for the Dreyer & Reinbold team instead with the backing of his former IRL car owner, Ron Hemelgarn. Hearn will attempt to qualify the G Force on bump day this Sunday. "We've got a two-day head start on where we were last year," Schmidt told The Indianapolis Star.  Speed TV

5/21/04

Tagliani aims to snap winless streak   This Slam Sports article says that Alex Tagliani can be forgiven for becoming just a little frustrated at trying to post his first victory in the Champ Car World Series. Going in today's first round of qualifying for the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, Tagliani will have gone 78 races without a win. But if there is an event that favours the Montreal native it's at the 2.104-mile road course in Monterrey, Mexico. Only defending champion Paul Tracy and Mexico's Michel Jourdain equal Tagliani's pair of top-five finishes there. Tagliani was fifth in 2002 in a race he led for 13 laps, while in 2003 he was third behind Tracy. "Last year in Monterrey we had a fast car and great results," he said.
Tagliani had been thrust into the rookie Rocketsports Racing team after he lost his ride with Player's/Forsythe Racing, who had signed Tracy to the team that eventually won the 2003 championship. The Montreal native, however, quickly jelled with the Paul Gentilozzi-owned Rocketsports outfit with the good showing at Monterrey. "It was the first time the team showed its true strength with our first podium," Tagliani said. "It was a great boost to the team and we've never looked back. Rocketsports has come a long way, and I'm confident our success here will continue this year."

One difference that Tagliani and the rest of the Champ Car field will have to deal with today is a dramatic and complicated change in the qualifying format. The new format splits today's qualifiers randomly into two groups, with each group running for 15 minutes. The top five in both sessions then battle for the day's best time and a championship point. All cars go out at once for a 30-minute session tomorrow, with the top-10 drivers running a further seven laps in an effort to win the pole. The remainder of the Sunday race grid lines up according to today's qualifying times.

"The new qualifying procedure will make it a real test of endurance for some drivers, depending on which group they're in," Tagliani said. "With three qualifying periods in a session and a shuffle in the groups, it will demand concentration and some clever strategy. It will make for an interesting two days before the main event."

Tracy will be attempting to repeat his 2003 performance where he won the first three races of the season. He already has posted his first 2004 victory at the season opener in Long Beach.

5/21/04

Mosley wants old qualifying  According to this BBC Sport article, FIA president Max Mosley says he would like to see the one-lap qualifying currently used in F1 scrapped in favour of the pre-2003 system.
"My preference is for everyone to go out for an hour and whoever is fastest is on pole position," he said ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

"I think it's widely accepted that the present system, at least for those at the circuit, is not interesting. "Even the TV people, I think, are not entirely happy with it." The old qualifying system was replaced in 2003 when one-lap sessions were introduced on both Friday and Saturday.

The move came after Ferrari had dominated the 2002 campaign but, while it has the desired effect of shaking up the grid, Michael Schumacher eventually won the title again last year. This year qualifying was altered again with the Friday hour ditched and two back-to-back hours held on Saturday. But it has been a turn off and alternatives are now being considered.

Mosley added: "Clearly if we had unanimity we could change it tomorrow. It is a question of getting that unanimity. "There are a number of interesting things put forward, the one thing that we say is it must be simple, it must be something that can be readily explained. "So we are waiting to see if the teams come up with something unanimous, I am hopeful that they will."

5/21/04

Silverstone set to retain GP for next two years  According to this pitpass article, Speaking at a press conference in Monaco today (Friday), FIA President Max Mosley said that he was confident that the British Grand Prix would remain at Silverstone for the next two years.

Although he was unwilling to go into specifics, he said he believed the event was safe for the next two years: "I believe the deal has either been done, or is very close to being done to ensure that the Grand Prix remains for 2005 and 2006," he said.  "The UK government has played a major role in that," he added, "along with the Sports Minister."

If the government has played a part in the deal it remains to be seen what exactly its involvement is, since it is highly unlikely, in light of the many other problems the country is facing, that the future of the Grand Prix is high on its list of priorities.  Then again, the fact is that with the rights having been handed back to Bernie Ecclestone, together with an exceedingly generous compensation package, the F1 supremo could well afford to give the race to Silverstone for a couple of years, free of rights costs, in order that the money saved is invested in the improvements he is demanding.

As for the prospects of a London Grand Prix, Mosley was quick to respond: "The chances of having a grand prix in London are nil," he said, "but I won't stop them putting in a bid."

5/21/04

Ferrari could quit F1   According to this Eurosport article, Even glamour team Ferrari could quit Formula One if costs are allowed to run wild, FIA president Max Mosley warned on Friday. The head of the sport's governing body told a Monaco Grand Prix news conference that while he did not believe the dominant team would take such a drastic step, it was not impossible. He said it would be a "great tragedy" if they did. "Ferrari have said that under certain circumstances they would stop and I'm sure they are telling the truth when they say that," he said.

"Certainly from Ferrari's point of view there could be an argument for stopping if things are not as they wish," added the Briton, who is pushing for major changes to cut costs and make racing more exciting. "The two basic elements of the Formula One world championship really are the team Ferrari and the race Monaco," said Mosley. "These are two things that everyone knows about worldwide, it would be a great tragedy if Ferrari were to stop. "I don't think they will stop.

"If Formula One is properly managed and properly run and they can run fairly and nobody disadvantages them in some particular way then I don't think there's any danger of them stopping. "But clearly if the costs are allowed to get completely ridiculous I think a lot of manufacturers will stop because it simply won't be possible for them to keep up."

Schumacher Domination

Ferrari are the only team to have competed in every championship since the first in 1950 and have won more races and titles than any other.

The Italian team have won the constructors' title for the last five years and the drivers' crown with Michael Schumacher four years in a row.

Schumacher has won the first five races of the season, equalling Formula One's record start to a championship, but Mosley countered a suggestion that the German was having a negative impact on the sport. More...

5/21/04

Will Hemelgarn ever make it?   Ron Hemelgarn confirms he has taken delivery of his Champ Car equipment but now says he won't be ready before Portland.  We shall see.

5/21/04

Monterrey boom fueled by Champ Car race    We seem to notice, over the past three years we've been coming here, that Monterrey is undergoing a commercial boom of significant proportions... much like what happened at Long Beach. We were talking to the concierge at our hotel about it, and he agreed that it was the advent of the Champ Car race here that really got things moving. There are a lot of other factors, of course, but the race seems to have been the catalyst.  Mark C.

5/21/04
World Series by Nissan

News from Magny Cours    Team Belmondo gave up after two races. No sponsor. Boris Derichebourg was only racing in Jarama, and now the very promising Ryo Fukuda is without a ride, too. Same thing with Vergani Team, Rodrigo Sperafico was not able to find the sponsor money. Other changes: At RC Thomas Kostka from Czech Republic took the second seat as teammate of Narain Karthikeyan. Former second RC driver Olivier Pla is driving at Carlin now, as Tiago Monteiro's teammate. The ride for Michael Keohane at Zolder was a one-race-deal. This afternoon at 3 PM there will be a press release regarding the future of World Series. Could be a surprise, there will be a future, and possibly a bright one (they found a way around the Nissan-Renault problem we reported about earlier). By the way: Narain Karthikeyan has had a heavy impact yesterday, but walked away.

5/21/04

BAR launches new merchandise line    The Lucky Strike B·A·R Honda Formula One team will bring its own touch of glamour to this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix when it unveils its striking new merchandise range in F1's style capital, Monte Carlo. The Monaco Grand Prix is the jewel in Formula One's crown and is largely responsible for the sport's glamorous reputation. A firm favorite on the calendar for B·A·R drivers Jenson Button and Takuma Sato, this race is renowned for its stars, cars and stunning panorama, so what better race for the team to make its own fashion statement. Created by world-renowned designers, Fitch of London, the distinctive black and white designs in this contemporary and stylish collection are inspired by genuine B·A·R race team clothing. Drawing parallels with the B·A·R Honda 006 race car, the range reflects the same focus on quality, high-tech design and attention to detail. The range is also available to view on-line from 13 June. Take a pitstop at www.BARf1.com for more news, photography and to place orders. A pre-launch offer of a free team cap, worth £19.95, is available for the first 50 orders placed to the value of £50 or more via the website from that date. All enquiries regarding the new range and distribution opportunities should be directed towards cmoulin@BARf1.com.

5/21/04

Maserati opens new showroom in Moscow    Ferrari President Luca Montezemolo was present today to open a new Maserati showroom in Moscow.  The Group’s partnership with its exclusive Russian importer and distributor will now guarantee Russian Ferrari and Maserati clients the same standard of excellence in terms of service and technical assistance for which both marques are renowned the world over. The Moscow staff, and those which will join their ranks at other planned dealerships in the future, have all attended special intensive training programs run by the Group, and will have their skills updated on an ongoing basis with further courses at Ferrari in Maranello and Maserati in Modena.

It is estimated that over 100 Ferrari and Maserati cars in total will be sold in Russia in 2004. Demand has been particularly strong for the new Maserati Quattroporte as well as for the Spyder and Coupé. Ferrari’s most popular model thus far with Russian enthusiasts has been the 575M Maranello, followed by the new 612 Scaglietti.

The models on sale in Russia will include Ferrari’s two eight-cylinders, the 360 Modena and the 360 Spider, and its 12-cylinders, the 575M Maranello and the 612 Scaglietti. These will be flanked by the Maserati Quattroporte, Spyder, Coupé and GranSport. The first deliveries will be made to Russian Owners at the end of May.

Speaking at the ceremony, President Montezemolo declared:   “I am particularly proud to have come to Moscow to join our partner Mercury in celebrating Ferrari and Maserati’s arrival in Russia today. I would also like to thank the people of the city for the warm welcome they extended to our team and the Ferrari and Maserati cars just a few weeks ago when they arrived here during the Russian and Northern European Tour. That warm welcome contributed in no small part to the wholehearted success of the expedition. Our entry onto this very promising new market offers the Ferrari Maserati Group the opportunity to share the technological innovation, exclusivity and utterly Italian personality of our cars with our Russian fans for the first time. Innovation and reliability that are, of course, directly derived from Ferrari’s long experience and research in Formula 1, from the kind of enthusiastic teamwork that has helped us win five consecutive World titles and to make a hugely successful start to the 2004 season. Experience and research which, in the case of Maserati, will be further boosted by the legendary Trident’s return to the track in the FIA-GT Championships, courtesy of the MC12”

5/21/04

New Chief for Aussie race    Tim Bamford has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation. Bamford, 42, joined the AGPC in 1996 as its Engineering Manager, in 1998 he became Event Manager and in 2003 was named General Manager - Operations. He had previously worked in Europe, the United States and Asia. Mark Maskiell has become deputy chief executive. Steven Wright left the corporation recently to pursue private business interests.

5/21/04

Earnhardt Jr. tests Corvette    Dale Earnhardt, Jr., was introduced to the American Le Mans Series version of the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R race car in a test session on Wednesday and the NASCAR superstar was more than impressed.  Taking advantage of a rare off weekend on the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, Earnhardt will join Corvette Racing and compete in the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma for the American Le Mans Series July 16-18 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Veteran road racer Boris Said will co-drive with Earnhardt as the Corvette team fields a special third entry for the event.  More....

5/21/04

Mexican sponsors do indeed get it    And the list of sponsors advertising their product and the Monterrey race keeps growing. Today NEXTEL began their TV ads with Roberto Gonzalez. The ad shows Roberto driving his car while an off camera voice says "The only thing faster than NEXTEL Communication's is Roberto Gonzalez, come to the Fundidora Park and support Monterrey`s own Roberto Gonzalez" Jose Arrambide

5/21/04

Latest F1 News in brief  

Jacques is 'good for F1' - Coulthard
Stars converge in Monaco pitlane
Ralf's 'still concussed' - Patrick Head
'Senna, our eternal champion' - tribute
F1 cars in Regent Street?
Ralf's 'future is imminent'
F1 headed down 'dangerous' path - Newey
Toyota 'has more horses' in Monaco
Not the 'second quickest car' - Renault
Ralf tried to 'veto' DC's future
Kimi's 'motivational problems'
Davidson is a 'fine driver' - Patrick Head
B-spec McLaren ready in 'two weeks' - Newey
Villeneuve 'had discussion' with Williams
Davidson 'has no offers' to race
What's wrong with Mercedes-Benz?
Montagny 'deserves to race' - Symonds
Montoya would 'get out' of Monaco
McLaren 'should go better' in Monaco
Sato 'doesn't have to match' Button - Richards
Schumacher admits to 'silly mistakes'
Dixon 'distracted' by F1 rumors
Michelin 'closer than we look' - Button
Ralf defends 'looking at options'
Rain 'should stay away' on Sunday
Button praises Monaco chicane revision
Pantano 'tore knee cartilage'
Rubens' life 'would be easier' without Schu  

5/20/04

In Mexico racing becoming a sport for the wealthy    This AP article says, There is no shortage of excitement planned for this weekend's Champ Car Telmex Grand Prix. A priest will bless the race track and wave the starter flag. World-record holding sprinter Ana Guevara, Mexico's most popular female athlete, has signed up to sing the national anthem and fans who get tired of roaming the pits can take in a beauty pageant or hit concerts featuring some of Latin America's hottest bands. In Mexico, auto racing is fast becoming a sport of the wealthy. The most expensive tickets to the race are $180 US, and were the first to sell out. However, race organizers had to cut the price of general admission seats in half to $22 and still couldn't sell them all. More than 200,000 fans attended three days of qualifying and racing last year. "It's not just a race. It's a whole event," said Ignacio Gomez, who bought $100 tickets for himself and his three sons. "The people coming have many more options than only auto-sports. It's exciting."

5/20/04

Japanese rookie tops charts    Rookie Kosuke Matsuura turned the top lap, 220.784 mph, during a busy day of practice for the 88th Indianapolis 500 on May 20. Twenty-five driver-car combinations totaled 2,026 laps - a high for the month - in 5 hours, 42 minutes of short- and long-stint running. With the IRL IndyCar® Series using 30-gallon fuel cells and 3.0-liter engines for the first time in the 500-Mile Race, many runs were to collect data on fuel consumption. A.J. Foyt IV had the lone incident of the day when his No. 14T Conseco A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone made light contact with the inside retaining wall in the short chute between Turns 3 and 4 at 2:24 p.m. (EDT). The impact dislodged the rear wing. He was checked at the infield medical center and returned to practice in the same car later in the day. Another driver-car combination was added to the field as PDM Racing announced it would field its No. 18 Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone entry for 1999 Indy 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year Robby McGehee. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series made its first appearance this month at the Speedway, as 17 cars participated in the initial practice for the Futaba Freedom 100, scheduled May 22 at the historic 2.5-mile oval. Seven drivers, led by Marty Roth's lap of 190.340 mph, were faster than Ed Carpenter's pole speed of 188.348 mph in the inaugural Freedom 100 in 2003.

5/20/04

McGehee to drive for Gordon   Robby McGehee, 1999 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, has been named to drive the PDM Racing #18 in the 2004 Indianapolis 500. The Chevrolet powered Dallara chassis will attempt to qualify on Sunday with primary support from Natoli Engineering.

5/20/04

Foyt IV loses control again   A.J. Foyt IV’s No. 14T Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone made contact with the inside retaining wall in the short chute between Turns 3 and 4 at 2:24 p.m. (EDT). The impact dislodged the rear wing. He was checked at the infield medical center and cleared to drive. “Coming out of Turn 3 the car stepped out on me a little bit,” he said. “I’m not sure why because that lap I was just starting to get on it. Luckily, we didn’t have any big damage to the Conseco car (broken two rear wing upright posts and the left side end fence). We got back out and ran an OK time. We still have some work to do but we’re in the ballpark.”

5/20/04

Long Beach photos    Champ Car and Trans-Am fans might be interested in checking out SalsaShark.net website, for an abundance of great photos from the Long Beach weekend.

5/20/04

Richmond race TV rating  Last Saturday night's Richmond TV broadcast of the Pontiac Performance Nextel Cup race on FX garnered a 3.16/2.9 Share.

5/20/04

Herdez chefs will be busy    The Tecate Telmex Grand Prix is one of the busiest for Herdez Competition chef and former Monterrey resident Hector Benavides. Hector is preparing for at least 500 guests this weekend and he anticipates 1400 meals will be served. Everything served at the Herdez Competition hospitality is homemade by Benavides and his crew. It’s a tall order to prepare for this many people; an example of Benavides’s recent grocery shopping trip included 80 dozen eggs, 100 lbs. of bacon, 200 lbs of fajita steak, 35 whole chickens for mole, 700 chicken breasts, 200 lbs of Oaxaca cheese, 120 lbs. of Dona Maria refried beans, 10 gallons of each of Herdez’s three salsas, 85 cases of Herdez juice, 150 cases of beer and to go along with the 35 gallons of tequila…100lbs. of limes.

5/20/04
Industry News

Safer Barrier ahead of schedule at TMS    Installation of the new Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barriers is almost complete at Texas Motor Speedway and ahead of schedule. Workers began Monday, May 10 on the project which originally was estimated to be a two to three week job. The final section of the approximately 6,300 linear feet of SAFER barrier was installed Sunday, just seven days after the project started. Final adjustments to the wall will wrap up this weekend. Speedway crews will then take over with painting and decaling of turn numbers and speedway logos. "The crew did an outstanding job on the installation," said speedway president Eddie Gossage. "It's the same crew Speedway Motorsports used at Charlotte so they had the process down pat when they rolled into Texas. At Charlotte, they completed around 1,000 feet one day, which is quite a bit. They did as much as 1,500 feet in one day here at Texas so they're obviously getting better at this as they go. We've had good weather and they were able to work on many days that weren't originally available, so that helped speed things up as well. "The barriers are a tremendous addition to the facility and we're pleased that they are complete. I've had conversations with several drivers and they are all enthusiastic about us having them. We have taken a number of measures to improve safety for the drivers and our fans over the last few months. Prior to the SAFER barriers we installed additional cabling to the existing fence on the outer crash wall. We also installed a fence on top of the inner crash wall. Safety of the drivers and fans is our top priority."  Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the next SMI facility scheduled to receive the SAFER barriers. Installation is slated for this summer.

5/20/04

Hunter-Reay looking forward to Mexico    Ryan on Monterrey: "I am really looking forward to my first race in Mexico as a driver for a Mexican team. Our sponsors and fans have given me a warm welcome and in return I hope to give them great results next weekend in Monterrey. We are coming off two great tests and the entire team is energized and extremely motivated, we have a lot of positive momentum going and it gives me a lot of confidence. I really enjoy the track at Fundidora Park, you have to drive really hard and be very aggressive, attacking the curbs. That is something I enjoy, it is a lot like Surfers in that respect and that is where I earned my first victory. Taking a cab in from the airport today I saw billboards everywhere for the race and then I saw a Roshfrans billboard with me on it! It was a very exciting feeling, our partners are fantastic it will be a great weekend for them, I am honored to represent our sponsors in their country and I look forward to great results here in Monterrey.”

5/20/04

Watkins Glen renovations, make pitch for IRL race   This AP article talks about the renovations being done at Watkins Glen and the pitch they are making to host an IRL race there.  Tony George toured the track on May 7th according to the article.  The Indy Racing League also does not run road courses, but that will change in the 2005 season and Watkins Glen already has made a bid to host a race. "As soon as they said they would look at road racing, I couldn't dial the phone fast enough. We want to be considered," Rust said. That enticed IRL president Tony George to tour the Glen on May 7. Rust said that George was noncommittal, but a grassroots effort by several area chambers of commerce already is under way to help persuade the IRL to come to Watkins Glen. The goal is to send 500 to 1,000 letters to George and his staff. "It's nice because the track hasn't been spearheading it," Giese said. "I think that's had an impact on the IRL. With our history, it just makes sense." Watkins Glen, once home to the U.S. Grand Prix, has not hosted an open-wheel race since a CART event in 1981.

5/20/04

Six ideas to stave off extinction of the Indy 500   This Indianapolis Nuvo.net article hammers Tony George (We're not the only ones who hold him to blame for what has happened to the sport of Indy Car racing - i.e. it's destruction).  Here are some key excerpts: 

When I was a kid, the Indianapolis 500 was one of the most important sporting events in the country along with the World Series, Kentucky Derby and the Super Bowl. Millions of auto racing fans looked forward to the annual running of the 500.  It was nice while it lasted, I guess, but I think those days are gone forever now, as much a part of the past as 99-cent gas and the federal budget surplus. As much as it pains the city to realize it, the Indy 500 just doesn’t matter as much anymore.

You can argue over who’s to blame for this situation and point fingers at the George family all you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that our once-proud race is just not that big a deal anymore. It’s not even the most important auto race happening that weekend, let alone the entire year.  Obviously something needs to be done.

First of all, show the freakin’ race on live TV in Indianapolis already. How are we supposed to care about a race we can’t even watch live? The people who are going to go to the race are going to go to the race anyway. And ABC’s ratings for the 500 have been in a freefall for quite a while now. It will help them, the people of the city and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway itself if we have the choice of seeing the thing live. At least it would be a start.

Modernize some of the pre-race ceremonies. I realize the race has a deep tradition, but do we really need to trot out Jim Nabors as the poster boy for the state of Indiana? It’s embarrassing to have to explain to friends from out of state that we really don’t think he’s a great singer. Would it be asking too much to get a performer who’s actually worked a paying gig in the last 35 years to do the song? Maybe one from this century?

It’s not like there’s a shortage of washed-up former TV sitcom stars and Gomer Pyle is the only one we can get. I’m sure, for example, that Bob Saget might be available the last weekend in May, or possibly Drew Carey. Hell, maybe even Cliff Claven from Cheers would do the race. Jon Lovitz. Somebody.

Name the superstars of the Indy Racing League. Time’s up. The correct answer is that there are exactly none. The list of drivers reads like an odd combination of the United Nations phone directory and a list of escapees from a Birmingham prison work-release program.

Send the George family into retirement. How many times have you seen it happen? A once-thriving business is driven into the ground when the idiot son takes over? That’s what we’re looking at, kids, and it’s no longer entertaining to watch, even in an Oh-my-God-I-can’t-believe-he’s-doing-that kind of way.

No offense to the four or five diehard Indy Racing League fans still left out there, but something is broken and it needs to get fixed fast. At this rate, they may as well stop running the race for all the good it’s doing us.  Our beloved institution needs help. The time to do it is now.  [Editor's Note:  Someone needs to write an article that outlines the business case for the IRL, i.e. if Tony is the CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp., what is he doing as a CEO from a business perspective? How much is he spending on the IRL to keep it going (explore revenue and expenses), and what would the business be like if he just did the Indianapolis Motor Speedway events (BY400, Indy 500, and USGP)? We bet the family heirs must be asking themselves that every day]

5/20/04

Deer Hunters not happy  The one constituency apparently overlooked by NASCAR when it awarded Texas Motor Speedway its new fall Nextel Cup race date is the state's deer hunters. TMS president Eddie Gossage said that shortly after NASCAR announced that TMS would host its inaugural fall Cup Series race on Nov. 6, 2005, the complaints started rolling in. "We've gotten about a dozen e-mails from fans who can't believe we had a date put on the opening [weekend] of deer season," Gossage said. "They're extremely passionate about the opening of deer season. But as we've proven over the last eight years, we don't have much to say about dates. You don't have a choice when you deal with NASCAR because it's like fitting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. It's not like we said, 'We want to be on the schedule at the start of deer season.' It was, 'Do you want this date? Yes, we do.' And we're glad to have Nov. 6." Fort Worth Star Telegram

5/20/04

Champ Car increases international TV outlets    The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford is comprised of drivers, team members and officials from around the world, and now many of the home countries of those that make up the series are getting the opportunity to follow their exploits thanks to an increased international television package.

New agreements have been reached to provide many levels of Champ Car coverage ranging from live network broadcasts to inclusion in weekly racing magazine shows. Champ Car racing can be seen live in a number of European nations this season including network coverage in Germany through Rhein-Mainz TV, in nine countries including France, Belgium and Poland on AB Moteurs and on Motors TV in the United Kingdom. Highlights of Champ Car races are broadcast in Finland on YLE.

In addition, European coverage is bolstered by Champ Car presence on the Netherlands-based Race World program. The magazine-style racing show reaches 69 million households throughout Europe, South America, Japan and the USA on FOX Sports World Espanol. Trans World Sport also features Champ Car racing on its worldwide hour-long sports anthology program which reaches 124 countries.

South American Champ Car fans have many opportunities for live racing coverage as well. RedeTV carries Champ Car events live on network in Brazil while the nation of South Korea, which will host its first-ever Champ Car race this October, gets both network and cable coverage of the series through an agreement with MBC.

An agreement with 7TV provides live coverage of Champ Car racing to more than half of the vast nation of Russia while FOX Middle East not only covers all of the Middle East with English-speaking Champ Car coverage, but also to many countries in Africa including Egypt, Morocco and Algeria.

“Increasing our presence around the world is vital to our success and these agreements along with partnerships announced at the beginning of the year in Mexico, Canada and Australia, are very important to us,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “The ability to show the excitement of Champ Car racing to fans around the world helps us introduce new potential fans to the sport as well as new sponsors, while delivering increased value to all of our current sponsorship partners.”

5/20/04

Fisichella 'still moaning'  Sauber is still moaning about Bridgestone's Formula One tyres. Despite reports that the Japanese manufacturer has a 'super soft' option in Monaco for Ferrari, Giancarlo Fisichella complained of 'quite bad graining. ''It was on the rears,'' the Italian (14th) explained on Thursday. At other races, Fisichella moaned that his tyres were no good on a first flier. ''Ironically,'' he added, ''these tyres are good on the first lap.'' Teammate Felipe Massa (17th) told a similar story. 'But you expect a bit of graining on a green track,'' said the Brazilian.

Barrichello 'has a cold'   Birthday-boy Rubens Barrichello has a cold. The Brazilian, who'll turn 32 when the Monaco GP gets underway on Sunday, was third quickest but over five tenths slower than the other Ferrari on Thursday. ''I'm not so comfortable in the car,'' explained Rubens. ''It's hot and I found it difficult to breathe.'' Barrichello also had a 'big problem' with chassis set-up in the morning. He confirmed: ''But we made a very good improvement [in the afternoon].''

Da Matta finds 'bumpy ride'   As predicted, Cristiano da Matta found a bumpy ride at Monaco. The little Brazilian (13th) said his Toyota is 'bouncing a little bit too much over the bumps' but the TF104 is also suffering from an overall lack of grip. French team-mate Olivier Panis was a few more tenths slower still. 'Friday tester' Ricardo Zonta (8th), however, went considerably quicker than both race pilots but reported similar problems - a loose-handling rear end. ''We could improve it a bit in the afternoon,'' said Mike Gascoyne.

Schumacher demoted ten grid places   'Boom' - Ralf Schumacher's Monaco weekend had effectively ended. The German suffered an engine failure in the first few laps of free practice. Williams mechanics changed the unit and therefore will induce the FIA's mandatory penalty of a ten-grid demotion at Sunday's Formula One race start. ''It's undermined all my plans,'' said the disappointed racer, 28. ''I've also lost a lot of valuable time for setting up the car.'' BMW director Dr Mario Theissen said Ralf's P84 unit was 'defective. ''Telemetry showed it,'' he reported, ''and so did oil samples. ''We need to strip it down to understand what the exact reason was.'' A spokesman explained that the detonated BMW unit will now be taken 'immediately to the factory in Munich' and an analysis should be known by Friday lunchtime.

Not quick enough' - Montoya   Is defending-winner Juan Pablo Montoya really the tenth fastest Monaco driver? Short answer, in 2004 ... 'yes.' The Colombian said his BMW-Williams is 'still not quick enough.' He added on Thursday: ''Set-up is not ideal yet, either.'' Montoya, 28, also tried 'different aero parts' in official practice.

Pantano on form despite injury   Rome's Giorgio Pantano hopped into a Jordan and got his first taste of Monte-Carlo in a Formula One challenger despite a 'minor injury' to his right knee. He hurt it whilst playing a charity soccer game two days ago. ''There's more to gain here,'' said the team's quickest ace (16th). ''I'm sure I can improve my own performance, too, by Saturday.'' Experienced team-mate Nick Heidfeld (19th) spent his Thursday in the Principality grappling with a brake issue and a 'not too bad' EJ14 car balance. Friday tester Timo Glock was getting into a rhythm when he stomped on the brakes a little too late coming into the first corner and went down the escape road. ''I tried to spin the car back but stalled it,'' said the German. James Robinson reckons it's good to be 'splitting Saubers and Jaguars.'

Baumgartner shunts   Zsolt Baumgartner has driven at Monaco before, in a Formula 3000 car. But he wasn't quite prepared for the challenge in his Minardi F1 monster. ''The speed is just so much higher,'' said the Hungarian, who crashed. A tiny mistake led to barrier contact with the right-rear wheel. The rookie reported: ''There wasn't too much damage.'' Team principal and owner Paul Stoddart referred to the fact that rookie Gianmaria Bruni's best time was just under a second slower than the Jordan. ''It's about as good as we can expect at the moment,'' said the Aussie.

Davidson 'moved' in Monaco   Perhaps more than anywhere else so far on the Formula One calendar, 'Friday tester' Anthony Davidson would love to keep driving at the Monaco street track.  Having gone second to Michael Schumacher, the BAR ace now hangs up his helmet.  ''It's quite a daunting circuit for the first few laps,'' he said on Thursday.  ''I have to say it really moved me as a driver.''  The young Englishman did a full race distance in official practice.

McLaren suffer 'steering problems   McLaren suffered problems with its power-steering system on Thursday.  Team boss Ron Dennis said the MP4-19's steering travel had been modified to get it through the tight Monaco corners but the changes caused some 'seal failures.  ''New components will be manufactured by Saturday,'' he promised.  Driver Kimi Raikkonen (5th) said the problem interrupted his second session.  ''But the car seems to suit the tight circuit design here,'' the Finn added.  David Coulthard (11th), who couldn't run in the grippier part of the afternoon session, agreed that McLaren's pace looks 'reasonable' in the Principality.  ''It's brilliant to be able to attack the corners,'' he said.

Webber 'grabs an extinguisher'   Mark Webber's Monaco GP got off to a fiery start on Thursday.  The Aussie spent his morning putting out a fire on his Jaguar mount.  ''I saw the flames in the mirror,'' said Mark, who skipped the second session.  ''When I stopped, I frantically waved to a marshal to come over but he didn't seem in any hurry. In the end I grabbed an extinguisher and did it myself.''  A spokesman said Webber had to can his practice after only eight laps because a fire, 'caused by an oil leak, happened when an engine pressure hose came loose.'  It caused 'extensive damage' to the rear of the car.  Webber, 27, did not know if Jaguar would have to replace the Cosworth V10 and therefore move him a damaging ten places down the grid for Sunday's big race.  ''Right now the engine appears to be ok,'' he reported from pitlane.  ''But until we run it again we won't really know.''

Jag rookies 'put it in the wall'   A few Formula One fans probably secretly hoped that Jaguar's rookie drivers Christian Klien and (tester) Bjorn Wirdheim would put the R5 in the wall.  On Thursday practice, the Austrian (20th) and Swedish drivers obliged.  Their R5 mounts carry about $2 million in Steinmetz diamonds this weekend.  In session two, race ace Klien - who's never raced here - smashed into barriers after an 'electrical box failure shut down the engine and then the hydraulics.  Looking at the car,'' he said, ''I'm lucky there's not more damage.''  And Bjorn, with experience of the street layout from his time in F3000, touched the arm-co barriers and damaged the front and rear suspension on the right side.  'In the morning, I stopped with a sensor problem,'' he reported.  ''Then I ran wide at corner ten - I would have liked to keep it on the track.''  Head of car performance Mark Gillan said Wirdheim's shunt was 'driver error.'

5/20/04

Gordon OK with Stewart  Jeff Gordon says he’s cool with Tony Stewart after Stewart apologized for their run-in at Richmond. “Tony’s not a guy who walks up in my truck very often after a race so I’m gonna take his word for it. It doesn’t do any good to go out there and have paybacks and that kind of stuff on your mind so I want to block it out and race him as hard and as clean as I always would and hope to get that same respect back.” Gordon met with the media after being picked to win this weekend’s Nextel All-Star Challenge by Lowes Motor Speedway President Humpy Wheeler. With a smile on his face Gordon said he accepted Stewart’s apology and appreciated Tony coming into the hauler and that it meant something. Gordon then laughed and said he told Stewart “you’ll have to accept mine for what I said to the media out there before I came up here. He (Stewart) said no problem. PRN's Garage Pass radio show

5/20/04

Indy 500 schedule needs to be trimmed   This ESPN article suggests that the Month of May at Indy needs to be shortened to a week.  When CART suggested that years ago they were lambasted.  Now, after struggling to fill the field two years in a row, perhaps the IRL will finally understand that teams, especially small underfunded  teams, can't afford to be parked at Indy for an entire month out of the year.

5/20/04

Schumacher stays on top in free practice 2   Michael Schumacher appears to be simply unbeatable.  In the 2nd free practice at Monaco he was once again comfortably fastest and looks set to completely dominate the weekend in typical Schumacher style.  Schumacher, in his all-conquering F2004, set the pace in both of today’s two one-hour practice sessions, dominating proceedings and recording a best lap of 1:14.741, half a second faster than last year’s pole position time.   Rubens Barrichello got his Ferrari up to speed to record the third fastest time, six-tenths of a second back.  Anthony Davidson split the dominant Ferraris in his BAR Honda to take the second fastest time.

Ricardo Zonta continued to beat his teammates Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis. The Brazilian test driver set the eighth fastest time with da Matta and Panis 13th and 15th respectively.

Juan Pablo Montoya was just tenth fastest in the lead BMW Williams while Ralf Schumacher was back in action with a fresh BMW V10 following his engine problems earlier today. The under-pressure German will lose ten positions on the grid for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix as a result and was just 12th fastest today.   As is traditional, Friday is a day off in Monaco, with practice and qualification resuming on Saturday.See our F1 Timing Page for live timing as well as results.

5/20/04

New book covers Hendrick Racing  UMI Publications today announced the launch of the new book "Twenty Years of Hendrick Motorsports," which documents the history of Rick Hendrick's racing organization and its two decades of NASCAR competition. "This book was done with our fans in mind and I hope they enjoy it," Hendrick said. "There have been so many wonderful people behind the scenes that contributed to our success over the years and I'm glad we can recognize them in this way." Penned by award-winning journalist Ben White, "Twenty Years" tells the story of the people behind the success of Hendrick Motorsports, winners of nine NASCAR championships and 163 NASCAR-sanctioned events. Containing more than 200 full-color photographs, the coffee-table-style book features dozens of shots that have never been published, including rare photography of Jeff Gordon's first-ever Winston Cup Series test session and pictures from the Hendrick family's private collection. The 176-page piece is dedicated to the memory of Dan Lohwasser, who led Hendrick's marketing and public relations efforts until his passing in 2002. It was Lohwasser who first spearheaded the project more than three years ago. Since 1984, Hendrick-owned cars have been driven by the likes of Geoffrey Bodine, Ricky Craven, Rick Hendrick, Ricky Hendrick, Jerry Nadeau, Joe Nemechek, Benny Parsons, Tim Richmond, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, Jack Sprague and Darrell Waltrip. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2004, Hendrick Motorsports currently fields five teams in two different NASCAR divisions with drivers Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch.

5/20/04

Schumacher beats BAR duo in free practice 1   Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari was easily fastest (by 0.77 sec.) in the first free practice at Monaco this morning.  Behind Schuey were the BAR Honda duo of Sato and Button.  See our F1 Timing Page for live timing as well as results.  Ricardo Zonta was a surprise 4th fastest in a Toyota and has been the fastest Toyota driver in a number of sessions.  No one is talking about him getting a full-time ride with the team in 2005, but they better start.

5/20/04

Monterrey to be blazing hot   Who was responsible for scheduling the Monterrey, Mexico race on May 23rd?  The forecast is for it to be 102 degrees Friday, 104 on Saturday and 105 degrees on Sunday.  After passing out from the blazing heat this year will the fans ever come back again?  Luckily the race won't be next Wednesday when the temperature is forecast to be 111 degrees F.  Source

5/20/04

Latest F1 News in brief  

Glock to race at Monaco
Jaguar work on 2005 'R6' model
Residents glean 'Monaco advantage'?
Bruni shows off Aussie 'grid girl'
Bahrain visits French test track
More pain for Pantano
'Take Rubens on,' Bernie urges Schu
Jaguar cars sparkle in Monaco
Ralf slams Patrick Head
'Let the rumors continue' - Coulthard
'I won't help Klien' - Mark Webber
No Toyota updates until Hockenheim - Panis
Bridgestone unveil 'super soft' Monaco tire
Rubens 'does not fear' Schumacher
'No plans' to move to Monaco - Panis
Rubens plans Birthday bash
Thumbs-up to new Monaco facilities
Villeneuve is 'still quick' - Panis
Records 'don't bother' Schu
Changes to Monaco layout
Schumacher doubts Villeneuve return
McLaren 'plugging away'
Schu's Ferrari innovation
Tires 'to win Monaco GP' - Ross Brawn
BAR 'can be selective' - Richards
Montoya and Bulgaria
Silverstone's A43 to be closed
Button hopes for Schu mistake
Will Webber wear green in 2005?
Richards backtracks on Honda claim
F1 drivers meet in Monaco
BAR is 'odds on' for Monaco win? 

5/20/04

Viacom had better engage now or forget about it   A reader writes, As has been noted repeatedly on your website, Spike TV/Viacom's "promotion" of the Champ Car World Series has been virtually non-existent!  While the OWRS/Champ Car can refer to the "great things" they have planned for 2005, they need to remember what CART was providing as a "baseline" for network TV coverage in 2003................and well before! (That is what the loyal CART/Champ Car "fan base" has come to expect with respect to TV coverage!)

Looking at things as they stand right now, Champ Car's TV packages for 2004 are giving every indication of becoming a weak, dismal "disaster".....................If some changes don't take place in the VERY near future, there unfortunately may be NO viable Champ Car race series for TV to cover at all next year.

When will the people running auto racing finally realize that there is a very direct relationship between media exposure of their race series & attracting serious, corporate sponsorship backing? Since it's far too late into 2004 to expect any decent TV network coverage, as an alternative Champ Car should take a serious look (right now) at other forms of cost-effective "media exposure". Some are FAR less expensive than TV while offering excellent advertising & promotion possibilities in pinpointed markets!

P.S. I really have to commend the Mexicans on the EXCELLENT race promotional efforts being made for the event this weekend in Monterrey, Mexico. It is truly almost unbelievable how pathetic the national pre-race publicity still is for most races held in this country! That situation has seemed to worsen over the past decades. Even back in the late 1960's, at least some mention was made in the Chicago Tribune of the yearly Can-Am race held around Labor Day weekend at Road America (near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin).  How many Americans today even know that there is a Champ Car race scheduled for this Sunday in Monterrey, Mexico? Budde King Sun City West AZ

5/19/04

The four Amigos arrive in Monterrey   The two last Mexican drivers arrived today in Monterrey.  Michel Jourdain and Mario Dominguez arrived at 9:30 am. The four got together at Fundidora Park for a press conference, and to walk the track with the race Grand Marshal this year, the priest Juan Jose Martinez (called padre Juanjo by friends) around the whole track. Father Juanjo sprinkled holy water and asked God for a safe race. At the end he almost bathed the four drivers with the holy water, "you can never be too careful," he said smiling.....Meanwhile Corona keeps their big PR effort going in Monterrey. Today I received an email as did all the rest of the media members that are currently in Monterrey that will cover the Monterrey Grand Prix. It was an invitation to the press conference and breakfast that will be organized by Corona Thursday at 10:00 AM at Dave and Busters (The press conference will be the opening event of the restaurant chain in Monterrey). Rodolfo Lavin and Paul Tracy will be at the press conference. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico

5/19/04

Dan Wheldon lost engine?   We noticed a plume of smoke out the back of Dan Wheldon's Dallara Honda today while practicing at Indy and then he shut it down.  We assume he blew an engine, though nothing was mentioned.

5/19/04

Buddy Lazier to drive for Dreyer & Reinbold    Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will field a second entry in the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 for 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier, team officials announced May 19.

Lazier, the 2000 IRL IndyCar® Series champion, will drive the No. 23 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, joining 2001 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Felipe Giaffone in the team co-owned by Dennis Reinbold and Robbie Buhl.

"I've always enjoyed my relationship with Robbie (Buhl) and Dennis (Reinbold), and I'm pleased to be working with Owen Snyder and all of the crew members for Dreyer and Reinbold," Lazier said. "This is a very, very late arrangement, but I feel strongly that the information DRR has compiled through the first three months of the 2004 racing season will enable me to do my job most efficiently.

"I have zero interest in running this race in a non-competitive way. I'm here to run to the front and make the most of what I'm given. I really thank Dennis and Robbie for the opportunity to run with Dreyer & Reinbold."

Lazier has competed in 83 IRL races since 1996, recording eight wins, 25 top-five finishes and 50 top-10 finishes, including his 1996 victory at Indianapolis. A native of Vail, Colorado, Lazier won the 2000 IRL championship, finished second in the 2001 championship race and has an outstanding record at Indianapolis with two second places, a fourth place and a seventh place. Lazier has not started an IndyCar Series event this season.

"We're extremely fortunate to add Buddy to our team," said Dennis Reinbold, DRR team co-owner. "He knows how to win this race, and with Felipe, we believe that we will be a factor on Race Day."

Details of the car's sponsorship package will be released soon. The team anticipates Lazier taking the track for practice before Bump Day on May 23. The deal currently is structured as an Indy-only effort.

"Our focus is obviously on May 30 and doing everything that we can to win that race," Buhl said. "It's great to have Buddy onboard and working with our team to maximize our data and information. Having that second car with Buddy's experience definitely helps with the learning curve in terms of assessing conditions and setups for the cars."

5/19/04

Dixon fastest as rain again strikes    Practice for the 88th Indianapolis 500 ended 30 minutes early today because of rain at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Defending IndyCar® Series champion Scott Dixon was fastest at 220.576 mph in the No. 1T Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.

"The Hondas are strong still," Dixon said. "That was something we thought was going to happen. We didn't really have too much on-track stuff today. We tried to do some back-to-back stuff this morning on the close to qualifying setup to see if we had sort of stepped on ourselves there. Generally, we didn't find much. I think a lot of other people did a lot of running."

Most the 26 qualified drivers in the field turned laps on a busy day on the 2.5-mile oval as priorities turned from qualifying to race set-ups. Dixon turned his fast lap just before noon, as many teams took advantage of favorable conditions early in the day.

The Panoz G Force chassis ruled the day as Honda-powered rookie Kosuke Matsuura turned in the second fastest lap at 219.417 mph, followed by Roger Yasukawa and Adrian Fernandez.

Rookie Mark Taylor was unhurt in a practice crash earlier today. His No. 2T Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone suffered light damage after hitting the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2.
FASTEST DRIVERS OF THE DAY Full Results
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1 1T Scott Dixon G/T/F 220.576 mph
2 55T Kosuke Matsuura G/H/F 219.417 mph
3 16T Roger Yasukawa G/H/F 219.173 mph
4 5T Adrian Fernandez G/H/F 219.171 mph
5 3T Helio Castroneves D/T/F 218.706 mph
FASTEST NON-QUALIFIED DRIVER
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1 25 Marty Roth D/T/F 212.292 mph

5/19/04

Wednesday press conferences from Monaco    

Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello is joined by Toyota driver Olivier Panis and Renault driver Jarno Trulli to answer questions about the Monaco Grand Prix and their respective careers’.  Transcript

The following is a transcript of Wednesday's press conference from Monaco in which David Coulthard and Mark Webber talk of the past, present and future.  Transcript

5/19/04

Corona starts TV ads   UPDATE Competition is good.  Telmex decided to top Corona’s PR effort on the streets leading to Fundidora Park.  They have put up as many, or even more, posters than Corona. Telmex is advertising their Infinitum internet service using Michel Jourdain as the spokesperson.  Every poster has Michel’s face on it.  5/16/04 - 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

5/19/04

Champ Car TV partner supports the IRL    Spike TV, Champ Cars TV partner, will be running a special on the Indy 500 Monday May 31, 2004 - 10 things every guy should experience.  Notice also that there is no mention of Champ Car down the left hand side under the features column, yet MacGyver is.  Some TV partner!  Not only is Spike TV not promoting Champ Car, they are rubbing their noses in it by running a special about their #1 competitor, the IRL.  One thing you won't see on ABC and ESPN is any specials on Champ Car.  Together with NASCAR programming Spike now has, it appears the oval cartel has made inroads on Champ Car's TV deal again.  By copying everything about Champ Car (sponsors, teams, events, drivers, road courses, and TV)  their goal appears to be to marginalize it until it just fades away without a fight.  Looks like Tony has not put his hammer away yet and Champ Car is just laying low, very low, almost invisible in fact.

5/19/04

IRL to run TV ads promoting magazine  UPDATE  A reader writes, I was at a Borders book store last week and they still have the same 3 copies of the first issue the season preview of Indy Car series Magazine - they haven't sold a copy.  I know a guy who runs a magazine store and he carried the first couple of issues but sent them back because no one around here was interested in it, and he won't order anymore.  He carries National Speed Sport News, Winston Cup Scene, Autosport, Autoweek plus host of other car and truck and motorcycle magazines which sell well but the Indy Mag was a complete bust. Mike Neubaurer, Ohio   5/19/04 -   2001 & 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will be taping a commercial at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to promote the newly launched IndyCar® Series Magazine with fellow IndyCar Series drivers Dan Wheldon and Tomas Scheckter. The ad, slated to run during the Indy 500 on May 30th and at various times throughout the remainder of the 2004 season, will suggest that the only way to get closer to the IndyCar Series than the magazine would be to actually be in the racecar.

5/19/04

Penske to speak    Roger Penske will deliver the keynote address at the annual Mayor’s Breakfast and Queen Coronation on Saturday, May 22nd at the Plaza Pavilion at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The yearly event will feature mayors and community leaders from the state of Indiana and will take place at 10:00 a.m.   After the breakfast, defending Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran will crown the 2004 500 Festival Queen from the field of 33 princesses.

5/19/04

Former Penske drivers to be inducted into hall    On Friday, May 21st three of Penske Racing’s past drivers will be inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame at the 2004 induction ceremony taking place at the Indianapolis Marriott in conjunction with the annual “500” Oldtimers’ Club Banquet.  In addition to past Penske drivers Emerson Fittipaldi, Tom Sneva and the late Mark Donohue - other inductees will include Team owners John Zink and the late Lindsey Hopkins.  Fittipaldi won the Indianapolis 500 for Marlboro Team Penske in 1993 and won the pole for the Team in 1990; Sneva won the 1977 and 1978 pole for Penske Racing and won the race in 1983 driving for Bignotti-Cotter Racing; and Mark Donohue earned Penske Racing’s first trip to Victory Circle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1972.  Emerson, Sneva and Donohue join Rick Mears and Roger Penske as members of Penske Racing to have been inducted in the Hall of Fame. Current Marlboro Team Penske Advisor, Rick Mears was inducted in 1998 and Penske was inducted in 2002.  In addition, Roger Penske, Team President - Tim Cindric, Sam Hornish Jr. and Rick Mears will all be on-hand at the banquet for the evening of festivities.

5/19/04

Talladega names new PR Director  Kristi R. King has joined Talladega Superspeedway as the Director of Public Relations, track president Grant Lynch announced today. King comes to Talladega after serving as Director of Public Relations for North Carolina Speedway. "Kristi spent some time with us this spring and really fit in well with our team here at Talladega," Lynch said. "We are excited she has decided to take this opportunity. I think she will quickly become an asset not only to our facility but to our community as well." A 10-year veteran of the sport, King's duties at Talladega will include all aspects of public relations including advertising and promotions as well as media relations. She will begin her duties in early June. "I am excited about this new opportunity at Talladega Superspeedway and remaining a part of the International Speedway Corporation family," said King. "Talladega is known for its competition and tradition and has the greatest fans in world. I am honored to be joining their team and look forward to the EA SPORTS 500 Weekend." King, an Ellerbe, NC native, graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1994 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications.

5/19/04

ISC names new Darlington President  International Speedway Corporation announced several key strategic moves including naming Andrew Gurtis, who most recently served as President of Darlington Raceway, Senior Director, Operational Planning and Integration for ISC and former North Carolina Speedway President Chris Browning President of Darlington Raceway. ISC President Lesa Kennedy made the announcements today. "The key to a company's growth and success is to utilize the depth of talent already within its organization," said Kennedy. "We feel these moves will strengthen an already outstanding team as we continue to build the best team in motorsports." Prior to his 3-year stint at Darlington, Gurtis served as Vice President of Administration at Daytona International Speedway for 4 years. In his new position, Gurtis will act as lead assistant to Chief Operating Officer John Saunders on matters related to ongoing business unit operations and field integration. Browning has been Executive Vice President and General Manager for North Carolina Speedway since 2002. As EVP and GM, he was responsible for all marketing, sales, public relations, operations and governmental relations. As President, he will continue those duties at Darlington.

5/19/04

New Ford heads to debut in All-Star race  2nd UPDATE The new Ford cylinder head is slated to be in five Ford Tauruses this weekend for the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. Engine builder Doug Yates said that #38-Elliott Sadler ran the new configuration at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night, a race in which he finished 12th and remained in 10th-place in the point standings. While the new engine now appears ready for action, Yates said a full fleet won't be available until July at either Chicago, Loudon or Pocono. He explained how the system would work in the meantime during a phone interview on Tuesday morning. Doug Yates, Head Engine Builder - Roush-Yates Engines: "We raced it last week in the 38 car and the plan for this weekend is to have it in five cars based on our first five guys in points. So the 17, 97, 38, 88 and the 6 [cars] will have it this weekend and then from there we'll evaluate it and start getting it ready to go full-time in the second half of the year." Team Ford Racing   5/18/04 - Jayski reports that one Ford team ran the new heads at Richmond this past weekend  5/17/04 - Ford Racing's new engine will make its debut this week in the Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "The old model is worn out," engine builder/team owner Robert Yates says. "Hopefully, we'll have equal power against the competition in (the Challenge). We can only get 90 percent with the cars, we need the extra 10 percent that the engine can deliver. This is a move to take Ford, Ford engineering and Ford design back where they need to be." Ford was expecting four engines would be available for competition, but which drivers would receive the new power plants had not been determined. FoxSports/Sporting News

5/19/04

Jeff Gordon returns to rainbow  As he prepares to re-live the past during this Saturday night's NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, Jeff Gordon hopes the "Rainbow" leads to more riches. Gordon, who will go "retro" this weekend and drive the familiar rainbow-colored No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet he made famous during the 1990's, amassed 52 victories, 33 poles, three championships, tied or broke numerous records and eclipsed $34 million in race earnings before switching to the current fire-and-flames paint scheme. Overall, he has four championships and 66 career victories to his credit. What more could he ask for? "Nothing," Gordon replied. "I've been fortunate throughout my career and have achieved so much more than I ever thought I would. But that doesn't mean there isn't a drive to achieve more. This DuPont team still has the desire to win races and, ultimately, win championships." A win on Saturday night might be the precursor to a fifth championship. Gordon, who is tied with the late Dale Earnhardt for the most victories (3) in the All-Star event, has won the championship each year he has won this "non-points" event. "That's just coincidence, but it does take a championship-type effort to win this event," Gordon said. "This is our all-star event, so it's the best-of-the-best in a Saturday night shootout." This month marks the 10-year anniversary of Gordon's first NASCAR Cup victory, an emotional win from the pole position in the 600-mile race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. In addition to commemorating the anniversary, the rainbow paint scheme will also help DuPont introduce their line of "Hot Hues" custom finishes. "It's hard to believe it's been 10 years," Gordon said. "I guess that proves I'm not a ‘young gun' anymore. We had great success while running this paint scheme, and I'm excited about bringing it back for this event. Hopefully, we can give it one more trip to Victory Lane."


Photos by Pete McCole/AutoRacing1

5/19/04

Update from Monterrey   Roshfrans, who is a minor sponsor of Michel Jourdain and Mario Dominguez, has decided to capitalize on that.  They have put brand new billboards in different parts of Monterrey. There are 2 versions, one for each driver.  The billboard has the Champ Car and 2 pictures of the driver, one serious, one happy.  Today there is more activity in town.  At 9:30 am Michel Jourdain and Mario Dominguez arrived in Monterrey.  At 11:00 am there is a press conference with both drivers.  At 12:00 PM will be the kickoff of the Racing Party at the Bohemio Bar.  The Racing Party will be an activity sponsor by Monterrey´s History Museum.  The museum has a big square which will be used to show classic cars, and classic racing cars, and a few Champ Car replicas.  Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico

5/19/04

VW and Red Bull to fund A1-Ring renovations     This week's Autosport Magazine reports The renovation of the A1-Ring, the former home of the Austrian Grand Prix, is set to be boosted by a major investment from the VAG Group. Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz, who is overseeing the work at the track, said: “An agreement has been made between VW/Audi and Red Bull. The partners will benefit from the synergy and be involved in the financing.”   Do they have hopes of F1 returning to the circuit?

5/19/04

MOU secrets leaked   This week's Autosport Magazine reports F1’s smaller teams would have been guaranteed cheaper customer engines and use of a mammoth cash pool to help them through difficult times if the sport’s manufacturers had successfully agreed on a way forward.   That is the scenario which should have come into place if the controversial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed between the manufacturers threatening the breakaway GPWC and F1’s shareholders, including Bernie Ecclestone, had been executed. It collapsed when terms were not agreed with Ecclestone.   According to the secret document, which was seen exclusively by Autosport last week, teams would not only have received more money from the start of 2004, but the manufacturers would also have put in place a structure to help guarantee the survival of F1’s poorer teams.   These clauses included:

  • a guaranteed 50 per cent of the sport’s income pre-tax (EBITDA) with a view to adding trackside advertising and Paddock Club revenue as soon as possible;

  • the creation of a $165 million (£93m) cash fund “for the benefit of the teams [for example, an engine pool]”;

  • a three-year commitment from the GPWC to “procure competitive engines to independent teams at market prices”.

Ecclestone has made a verbal promise to honor the first of these commitments, but there is nothing in place yet to make up for the other objectives.   The MOU had been the cause of great controversy for the sport’s non-GPWC teams when they discovered that it also included clauses offering payouts to Ferrari – $100 million (£56m), McLaren – $20 million (£11m) and Williams – $20 million.  But rather than these being evidence of favoritism to manufacturer teams, sources claim these payments were included only after Ecclestone demanded them.

5/19/04

GPWC eyes radical changes as well   This week's Autosport Magazine reports that FIA president Max Mosley’s plans to shake up Formula 1 could be put in the shade by the manufacturer-led GPWC breakaway group, which may choose even more radical concepts for its series.   In the wake of the renewal of the plans by BMW, Ford, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Renault to create an alternative championship to F1 from 2008, sources have revealed that the company is now taking a ‘blue-sky’ approach to create the new series.  It has set about examining the current F1 championship to work out what would make the basis of a more stable and exciting championship.

One GPWC insider said: “We are looking at many different ideas and questioning everything. This will include aspects like why should teams be limited to a certain number of cars to matters like the technical regulations.”   The GPWC is also focusing on improving access for fans, including more affordable race-day tickets, as well as making the sport more economically viable for teams.   There have also been suggestions that the new series could be called ‘GP1’ as a notable step up from the new Renault backed F3000 replacement ‘GP2’.

5/19/04

Champ Car does a disappearing act   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, What happened to all the promotion of the Champ Car series on Spike TV and other Viacom outlets? It's the worst promotion of any of the networks that have carried the series. Maybe Tony George owns a lot of Viacom stock. John Swope  Dear John, Clearly Champ Car has done a disappearing act since its first race in Long Beach - zero promotion of the series anywhere and absolutely no positive movement from Viacom.  Clearly they don't care.  To make matters worse, many fans have written us complaining that they can't sign up for the Race Director feature on Champ Car's website. Either something is broken, or they have a secret desire to chase fans away and fail.  The good news is that the Mexicans are promoting the heck out of the series and the drivers down there, and it will pay off with a big attendance.  However, in the USA Champ Car is largely invisible so far.  We have heard that this year is a just-get-by year for OWRS and that they are saving their money for a big push in 2005 where a lot of big things are planned, especially new venues.  We shall see, but they really need to get their act together regarding TV.  Mark C.

5/19/04

Ferrari preview of Monaco    What is the ideal preparation ahead of the twin challenge - in seven days - of Monaco and Nurburgring? A full program in the week after Barcelona and a little relaxation in the past few days. The two races will be run over two consecutive Sundays, a schedule that will occupy the drivers and the team more than normal as there is not the usual 14 day break. 'This doesn’t really create any problems for me', reflected the six-time world champion with a smile, 'after all, at least there is no testing!'

In fact, last week’s testing went ahead as planned with three Ferrari drivers getting behind the wheel on three different tracks. 'Last year we didn't seem to have that spark about us and this time at Monaco we want to do better!' continued Michael. 'I see no reason why we shouldn’t perform well in the Principality. However, I realize that, above all, BAR-Honda are in good shape. Monaco is little like Imola and I seem to recall that they did really well there. Renault will also be a threat at Monaco.'

One small question: the start? The starting position has always been very important on a narrow city circuit and Jarno Trulli's fine start from fourth to first [in the last race] should cause some concern. The response is, once again, a wry smile: 'Jarno himself explained why he made the start he did: he said that he instinctively put his foot down and hoped that the lights would come on at precisely that moment. Luckily for him they did. For sure, it is easier being first into turn 1 but I am not sure that this should be our tactic…the risk of making a false start is too high. Anyway, we don't have any problems with starting. We have analyzed all the starts of the first five races and come to the conclusion that they are as good as the other team's, even though they don't seem to be, so I am not really worried too much about Monaco. More than anything, the pole position is more important that it is elsewhere but thanks to a sound strategy, you can win even if you start further back.'

Let's speak of victory, is it always the aim? 'Naturally!', Michael fires back. 'We always want to win and this is particularly true at Monaco. I like this race as it is such a technically demanding one. It's the fact that it stimulates drivers that makes it such a challenge. It is a prestigious challenge and this is where the stimulation comes from. I am always motivated for Monaco and this time won’t be any different.' The Monaco week kicks off tomorrow with a benefit football match in which Michael will appear in a drivers’ XI against an all-star team headed by Prince Albert of Monaco.

‘The Monaco GP is always different. The anticipation is always a little greater than for the other races’. Michael has no doubt about it, the event on the city circuit has an attraction all of its own: ‘It’s true, Monte Carlo is far from ordinary; it’s a classic and a difficult one at that, even if it may not seem like it. If you fly down such narrow city streets at these speeds you really have to concentrate. It is a circuit that does not pardon errors. You need to be precise and have a good feel for the car. The difficulties of the track are unusual in F1, as are the road signs for everyday traffic. All these things make it a hard task for the driver.’

Obviously, when the going gets tough…’Without a doubt these factors make the race all the more gripping and winning more satisfying’, responds Michael with a smile. It’s impossible not to ask the six-time world champion his opinion on the modifications to the circuit. His reply is one of a driver and…a team mate: ‘naturally I am happy about the pit lane being widened, making it safer for us drivers. I am also pleased that it will give the mechanics more room to work in’. A true classic then, one that fully tests man and machine. ‘Monaco is a fascinating affair and is the highlight of the season. With our car we should enjoy the day…and I am really pleased about that.'

5/19/04

Interview with Sam Schmidt and Roger Bailey    Sam Schmidt and Roger Bailey talk about the Infiniti Pro Series and the upcoming Freedom 100 at Indy this weekend.

Transcript

5/19/04

ALMS teams test at Portland   Terry Borcheller won the GTS class championship of the American Le Mans Series in 2001, the last year that the series raced at Portland International Raceway. After spending Tuesday testing at the 1.944-mile road course in preparation for the return of the ALMS to Portland in July, Borcheller was asked if the track had changed since the 2001 race. "There's a train station there now," the Florida native said with a smile. "But the track is still the same." Borcheller and co-driver Johnny Mowlem tested tires for Pirelli in the ACEMCO Motorsports Saleen S7R, a GTS class entry in the ALMS, while GT-class team Risi Competizione tested a Ferrari 360 Modena with drivers Anthony Lazzaro and Ralf Kelleners. The two teams were the first from the sports car racing series to test at Portland since it was announced last October that the historic track in America's Pacific Northwest would return to the ALMS schedule in 2004.

The Grand Prix of Portland will be run July 23-25, with a two hour, 45-minute timed race for the ALMS held on Sunday, July 25. "I'm so glad we had the opportunity to test here now, instead of waiting closer to the race," he said. "It's important for us to gather good information on a tire for Pirelli and also to help the race team. It was a very good test and let us know a lot of things we need to work up to for the race. "Portland is one of the best places to test because you always struggle for grip here," he said. "You can gather data here that helps in a lot of areas." The ACEMCO team raced in the GT class of the ALMS last year with a Ferrari, but team owner Jeff Giangrande joined with American muscle car manufacturer Saleen to move to the GTS class for 2004. Despite various teething problems during the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the team finished third in class, though Borcheller cautioned that the mighty factory Chevrolet Corvettes will still be tough to beat when the ALMS resumes its schedule in late June at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. "We'll definitely need some more time, but we're improving," he said. "We' ve changed some major areas in the car and we're working all the time to get better."

The ALMS competed at Portland in its inaugural season of 1999, as well as in 2000 and 2001, but did not visit in either 2002 or 2003. The Portland event is Round Five of a nine-race schedule for the series in 2004 and follows an event the previous weekend at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. The racing weekend at Portland International Raceway will also include many fan activities, such as a driver autograph session and Fan Forum on Saturday. In addition, many activities are planned for the Portland area during the week leading up to the event, providing Portland-area residents the opportunity to see cars up-close and meet drivers. Event ticket information is available online at www.americanlemans.com or by calling (503) 232-3000.

5/19/04

Latest F1 News in brief  

Firman 'suffers another blow'
Pantano confirmed as Monaco starter
Jaguar told to remove 'rear wing fences'
Schu likes Monaco 'safety' revisions
No F1 tender for Pirelli
Trulli's 'best chance' to win Monaco
Sauber getting 'better and better' - Fisi
Monaco to stage 'boring' race - da Matta
Bridgestone is 'major' Sauber weakness - Rampf
Arden to find '$25 million' for F1 team
Monaco advantage 'might not be enough' - Brawn
Renault 'far from happy' with R24
Jaguar needs 'two or three' tunnels
Jaguar to announce new sponsor
Heidfeld wants 'experienced' teammate 

5/18/04

Mexican sponsors get it, USA sponsors clueless   UPDATE A reader writes, I live in Deep South Texas on the border with Mexico. A local Mexican radio station in Matamoros, Mex is promoting the Champ Car race in Monterrey with ads for the race. Also, today Tecate had a radio promo at the Grease Monkey in Matamoros for listeners to win tickets. My wife and I attend the race every year but this is the first time I’ve heard a serious push for the race which is only about a three and a half hour drive from here. This entire area including both the Texas and Northern Mexico population (near Texas border) adds up to over a million Mexican people. It’s about time they’ve given attention to attract fans in this area. It seems those in charge of promotion are doing something right. A die-hard Champ Car fan. Reggie Corona, Brownsville, Texas   5/18/04 - There is a reason why Champ Car is so popular in Mexico, much more so than in the USA.  It's because the USA sponsors in the Champ Car series are totally clueless when it comes to understanding how to feature the drivers they sponsor in their print and TV ads to promote their products.  Mexico City drew over 200,000 people on race day because their drivers have been made into national heroes, much like NASCAR has done with its drivers in the USA.  Here's one simple example how it's done in Mexico: Telmex is advertising its new broadband cable internet connection service called Infinitum in Mexican newspapers.  The ad has Michel Jourdain's car and Jourdain's face. The ad says that this new system is faster than all of the competitors and even the normal Telmex connection service, almost as fast as Michel Jourdain.  Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico

5/18/04

Pirelli tells F1 - no thanks  Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli has decided not to tender for the F1 tire supply contract should the series adopt a 'control tire' policy. Pirelli president Marco Tronchetti made a statement to this effect at a shareholder meeting, Motorsport Aktuell reports today.

5/18/04

Champ Car tidbits  

Tracy Takes Off – Looking to become the first driver since Gil de Ferran (2000-01) to repeat as Champ Car World Series champion, 2003 series titlist Paul Tracy started the 2004 campaign off in fine fashion by winning in Long Beach and taking the points lead. Tracy is the defending champion in Monterrey and is one of two drivers (Cristiano da Matta) to earn multiple podium finishes at Fundidora Park.

Hometown Heroes – Michel Jourdain Jr., Mario Dominguez, Rodolfo Lavin and Roberto Gonzalez will have the full attention of the capacity crowd over the weekend as the quartet will look to become the first Mexican driver to win a Champ Car race on his home soil. Jourdain finished second in last year’s Monterrey race while Dominguez earned a podium finish in Mexico City in 2003.

New Qualifying Format – In an effort to maximize the action and drama for the Mexican race fans, Champ Car Operations will introduce a new qualifying format for the Monterrey event. The new format splits Friday qualifiers randomly into two groups, with each group running for 15 minutes. The top five in both sessions then battle for the day’s best time and a championship point. All cars go out at once for a 30-minute session on Saturday, with the top 10 times (or top nine plus Friday’s leader) running seven laps in an effort to win the pole.

One Million Mexicans – The first three years of Champ Car racing in Monterrey, Mexico has seen the series draw 769,771 fans through the turnstiles at Fundidora Park. At that rate, the event will draw its one millionth fan at some point during the May 21-23 event weekend.

Junqueira Joining Elite – Bruno Junqueira is the first driver since Alex Zanardi to win Champ Car races in each of his first three years in the series. A victory in Monterrey would make him the first driver since three-time champion Bobby Rahal (1982-85) to win races in each of his first four years in Champ Car.

Bourdais Returns – Sebastien Bourdais runs in his sophomore season in the Champ Cars and will return to the site of one of his five poles from 2003, as he paced qualifying and set a new track record at Fundidora Park a year ago. Bourdais led 16 laps before falling back in the field due to a radio problem. He then passed 10 cars in climbing back through the field before retiring early due to contact.

Milestone Marker – Many of the drivers in the Champ Car lineup are quickly staking their claim among the series elite as personal milestones loom in their immediate futures. Paul Tracy would move into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time list by winning the pole this weekend. He currently shares fourth place with Danny Sullivan with 19 poles. Jimmy Vasser would move into the all-time top 10 in wins with his next victory, which would be his 11th. Michel Jourdain needs three more starts to tie Arie Luyendyk for 15th on that list while Patrick Carpentier needs two more to tie Gil de Ferran and Tom Sneva for 18th.

Rookie Racers – Justin Wilson of Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing made the best rookie debut in Long Beach, finishing a strong sixth after starting 11th. One of the most anticipated rookie driver classes in recent memory will do battle in Monterrey with A.J. Allmendinger of RuSPORT, Nelson Philippe of Rocketsports Racing, Alex Sperafico of Mi-Jack/Conquest and Roberto Gonzalez of PKV Racing chasing Wilson for the Rookie-of-the-Year title.

Nations Cup Chase – The fight for the 2004 Nation’s Cup should be one of the tightest in its 10-year history. The defending Cup-holding Canadians have the early advantage thanks to Paul Tracy’s Long Beach win, with the four-time Cup champion Brazilians close behind. Seven nations are represented in the season-long competition, which has been won only by Brazil, Canada and the United States.

5/18/04

New Communications Manager for Atlantic Series   The Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama is happy to announce that Merrill Cain has been named the new Communications Manager for the Toyota Atlantic series. Merrill has been with Champ Car since 1999, serving most recently as the Director of Public Relations for the Champ Car World Series, and he begins his new role effective immediately, although he will not be with the series this weekend in Monterrey, Mexico. Justin Anderson, Communications Director of the Trans-Am Series, is handling Toyota Atlantic duties this weekend.

5/18/04
Industry News

SAFER installation underway at MIS  Michigan International Speedway officials announced today that the installation of the SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) wall system is currently under way at the two-mile oval. The project began on Monday, May 17, and is scheduled to be completed in time for the June 18-20 DHL 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race weekend at MIS. The SAFER walls will run continuously for 2,738 feet from the entrance to turn one through the exit of turn two and 2,822 feet from the entrance to turn three through the exit of turn four. Additional SAFER walls with a length of 2,424 feet will run along the inside backstretch wall, as well as a 300 ft section along the wall on the inside of turn four near the entrance of pit road.   “Safety is such an important part of our sport, and we are proud to be installing the SAFER wall system at MIS,” said MIS President Brett Shelton. “I also applaud NASCAR for encouraging its tracks to install the system and thank ISC for supporting the installation.”  MIS

5/18/04

Tony Eury Jr. to go over the wall  Tony Eury Jr., car chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team, will again serve as front-tire changer in place of the injured Phil Drye this weekend in the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Walt Smith, pit crew coordinator at Dale Earnhardt Inc., said it is unclear whether Drye will be back for the Coca-Cola 600 on May 30. Eury, who relinquished his full-time over-the-wall duties prior to last season, stepped in Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway and helped the Budweiser team to its third win of the year. Joked Eury, “(Changing tires) is like wearing an old pair of shoes. If you can do it, you can do it; if you can’t, you can’t. But I made sure Dale Jr. knew how to use that brake pedal when he came into the pits.” The Bud crew will be one of 25 teams taking part in Saturday night’s all-star event (approx. 9 p.m. ET start on FX), which awards no points but features a purse of $3,195,000. The pit crews play an essential role in determining the starting grid for this race, as Bud Pole Qualifying (Friday / 6 p.m. ET on Speed Channel) includes a three-lap sprint and a mandatory four-tire pit stop. The Budweiser team is the reigning McDonald’s Drive-Thru Pit Champions and currently leads the 2004 standings with 382 points.

5/18/04

Evernham to host Fan Appreciation Day  Evernham Motorsports will hold its third annual Evernham Motorsports Fan Appreciation Day featuring Jeremy Mayfield, Kasey Kahne, Ray Evernham and Bill Elliott to thank fans for their support of the team and provide them an opportunity to meet the stars of Evernham Motorsports in person. Evernham Motorsports Fan Appreciation Day will be held Friday, May 28, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the Evernham Motorsports facilities in Statesville, N.C. Throughout the event, fans will have the opportunity to tour the race facility and meet members of the Dew Crew. The day will conclude with an autograph signing with Elliott and a second with Mayfield, Kahne and Evernham. Charlotte's WFMX-FM will be doing a live broadcast from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from the event. In addition, a silent auction will be held featuring several items including race memorabilia. Funds from the auction will be distributed to Racing for a Reason, a foundation established by Ray Evernham that benefits several worthy causes. For more information and directions, visit www.evernhammotorsports.com

5/18/04
IROC

IROC testing at Richmond  IROC testing continues on Tuesday, May 18th at Richmond International Raceway in preparation for the first RIR and short track race in IROC Series history. IROC test drivers Jay Sauter, Jim Sauter, Dave Marcis and winner of the second IROC race of the 2004 season, Danny "The Dude" Lasoski will do the testing. The grandstands are open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on both days. Admission is FREE. Richmond International Raceway

5/18/04

Magic Johnson and NASCAR  NASCAR and basketball have been competing for the sports audience this spring, but this week, they will be working together as officials plan to give an overall update Thursday on NASCAR diversity programs. The update will include a new intiative involving NBA great Earvin "Magic Johnson" and the official unveiling of the Drive for Diversity program. The unveiling will take place at NASCAR's research and development center in Concord NC. FoxSports

5/18/04

Charlotte to fight to keep All-Star race  In a bid to keep the NASCAR all-star race in Charlotte for years to come, Queen City business and political leaders offered a display of appreciation during a luncheon Monday. Wachovia Corp. Chief Executive Ken Thompson hosted the meeting, held at the bank's headquarters. Attendees included speedway executives Bruton Smith and Humpy Wheeler, retailer John Belk, NASCAR President Mike Helton, Mayor Pat McCrory and stock-car team owner Ray Evernham. On Friday, NASCAR announced that the all-star race would be held at Lowe's Motor Speedway in 2005. No decisions have been made regarding future years, again fueling concerns the all-star event might move to another city. Charlotte Business Journal

5/18/04

Waltrip responds to Tony Stewart flap  Darrell Waltrip responded yesterday to a series of personal sideswipes by Tony Stewart by saying, ''I don't like it when it turns ugly. 'At first I thought he was just messing around with me, doing a little pre-race sparring, which is OK,'' Waltrip, a Fox Sports announcer, said from his home in Franklin. ''But then he just kept on and on, and I began to realize he wasn't joking around. 'I find it odd that he singled me out as his biggest critic. It's unfortunate.'' Stewart directed sharp remarks toward Waltrip before and after Saturday's race in Richmond. Stewart was upset by Waltrip's comments the week before that perhaps NASCAR should suspend him for one race for rough driving. Several drivers have complained about Stewart's over-aggressiveness in recent weeks. After the race Stewart, who had made slight contact with Jeff Gordon, said in a live, nationally televised interview: ''Darrell and those guys are up there in the booth now, lobbying to get me suspended for life.'' He continued to make pointed comments toward Waltrip. In reference to contact that was made among several drivers Stewart said, ''If Darrell had his way, we'd have only about 18 cars racing next week.'' Yesterday Waltrip was asked if he was peeved, hurt or amused by Stewart's personal attacks. ''I don't really have a reaction,'' said Waltrip, a three-time champion whose 84 wins tie for third all-time. ''He drives his car and we talk about it. That's our jobs.'' Waltrip said he has always liked Stewart and has repeatedly praised his driving talent. ''I don't have anything against Tony,'' Waltrip said. ''What I said was not meant to be personal. Part of my job is to comment about situations on the track, and you can't ignore Tony's situation. This is reality TV. We don't make it up.'' Waltrip said he has had no contact with Stewart since last Saturday night's outburst. ''I kept thinking maybe he'll call me up and tell me he was only kidding around,'' he said. ''But so far I haven't heard from him.''(see full article at the Tennessean)

5/18/04

New Ford heads to debut in All-Star race  UPDATE  Jayski reports that one Ford team ran the new heads at Richmond this past weekend  5/17/04 - Ford Racing's new engine will make its debut this week in the Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "The old model is worn out," engine builder/team owner Robert Yates says. "Hopefully, we'll have equal power against the competition in (the Challenge). We can only get 90 percent with the cars, we need the extra 10 percent that the engine can deliver. This is a move to take Ford, Ford engineering and Ford design back where they need to be." Ford was expecting four engines would be available for competition, but which drivers would receive the new power plants had not been determined. FoxSports/Sporting News

5/18/04

Sammy to acquire Sega    This Forbes.com article says Japan's biggest maker of slot machines, Sammy Corp (Roger Yasukawa's sponsor), will acquire video game developer Sega Corp in a stock deal worth $1.4 billion, the two companies said on Tuesday. The acquisition, which values Sega at a 21 percent premium based on Reuters calculations, will allow Sammy to use Sega's strong brand and library of hit games, such as the popular Sonic series, to boost its presence in the arcade game market. Sammy had already once failed to take over Sega last year.  The combined companies' annual sales will exceed 440 billion yen ($3.84 billion), overtaking rival Konami Corp.

5/18/04

About Indy attendance    What's the admission for practice and qualifying at Indy? Only $10 on pole day and $5 for the practice days. They have a sign on the gates showing those prices as you drive down Georgetown Road , the street behind the main straight. Even at those low prices, Saturday saw an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 in attendance, which is way down from the CART days by a factor of 10 to 20.  Sunday, the 2nd day of qualifications, was like a ghost town at the Speedway. They did have a band playing in the paved area behind the Pagoda Tower. We'd say they had about a 10th of the people we saw there four to five years ago (the CART days).  And this is progress?  The IRL's vision of what Indy Car Racing should be?   This despite the $100+ million per year being pumped into the series by Honda and Toyota.  The more they pump in, the worse it gets.  Talk about throwing good money after bad.

5/18/04

Drivers want more say in F1   Jarno Trulli says that the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) is intent on becoming more involved in F1's decision making. "There was a lot of discussion in Spain about future rules changes. I've received a letter from the GPDA, and I will look into it and respond as soon as possible," Trulli told Autosport. "This is something that we need to get involved in a bit more, not because we want to decide what happens, but because we think we can contribute to improving F1 and the rules. Maybe as drivers we can give some advice, and this will be helpful for the FIA. So this is what we are trying to do for the future. In fact we are having a meeting in Monaco, with all the GPDA directors and members, and we want to discuss some issues, and one of them will be the FIA/GPDA relationship. For example, we were not happy with the third driver rule this year, but we came in a bit too late in discussing this issue, because the FIA didn't let us know."

5/18/04

Kyle Busch to enter Kansas Cup event   Kyle Busch will attempt to qualify for the Oct. 10 Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway, adding a sixth points-paying race to his 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule in the No. 84 CARQUEST Chevrolet. In another change to Busch's calendar, Hendrick Motorsports has elected to not field the No. 84 entry in the May 22 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Instead, the 19-year-old Busch will remain in Nazareth, Pa., to concentrate on the May 23 NASCAR Busch Series event at Nazareth Speedway. The Las Vegas native is currently first in the Busch Series championship standings after 11 of 34 races. Busch started 18th and finished 41st at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in his first-ever NEXTEL Cup start on March 7. He will next enter a Cup-level event at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 30.
REMAINING 2004 SCHEDULE - NO. 84 CARQUEST CHEVROLET:
May 30, Lowe's Motor Speedway
July 25, New Hampshire International Speedway
Aug. 15, Michigan International Speedway
Sept. 5, California Speedway
Oct. 10, Kansas Speedway

5/18/04

Indy pole sitter could soon be out of a ride    Kenny Brack will soon test for Rahal Letterman Racing to see if he is ready to return to racing after his death defying crash at Texas last year. If Brack makes a return, Indy 500 pole sitter Buddy Rice can soon find himself in the unemployment line again because Rahal Letterman Racing is only committed to running two cars after the Indy 500.

5/18/04

Latest F1 News in brief  

'Unusual schedule' in Monaco
Da Matta expects 'bumpy' Monaco ride
Fisichella 'loves Monaco'
Pantano to miss Monaco?
Bridgestone improve 'one lap' performance
Renault to run 'Ferrari like' wing
Bernie 'does a deal' with Ferrari
Mansell has 'no plans' to watch Monaco
Samsung and Formula One
Alonso tells Renault to 'up its game' 
Schu checks mirrors for Button
Trulli cautious in Monaco
Button would 'rather win' at Monaco
Massa's a 'nice guy' - Fisichella
India wants Karthikeyan on F1 grid
Jaguar help launch 'Ocean's 12'
Rain 'certain to fall' on Monaco glitz
Webber likes 'Monaco punishment'
DTM beats F1 to China
Massa crashed 'head on' at Monaco
'Slow starts' don't worry Schu
Button 'learning' from Schu - Ross Brawn
Do F1 drivers enjoy Monaco?
Schu vs. Prince Albert  

5/18/04

Early Monterrey tidbits   A little bit after 4 PM CST the first 24 Champ Car transporters arrived to Fundidora Park. More arrived late Monday night, for a total of 32 trucks. They are all parked next to the Monterrey Arena, which is adjacent to the Fundidora Park.......Organizers of the Dodge Truck and Neon series have announced that 20 Dodge Trucks and 35 Neon cars will battle in Monterrey this weekend. They have also announced a change for the Neon series. The cars will be required to pit to change the driver during the race.

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