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DATE

News (chronologically)

5/28/04

Tony George: Indy 500 will never be what it once was   In this AP article Tony George, the man whose vision for Indy Car racing has driven the sport to the brink of destruction says, "It's obvious that we're (the Indy 500) not what we were in the '70s," said Tony George, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and founder of the Indy Racing League. "Why aren't we? I don't think anyone has the answer to that. I don't." [Editor's Note: Duh, You want an answer Tony, we'll give you one - the day you started the IRL and split the sport of Indy Car racing in two, was the day you killed it.]    The article goes on to say - George doesn't seem concerned. If anything, he appears to have accepted that the Indy 500 will never be the event it once was. Those days are over. Get used to it. "Things change, times change," the speedway owner said. "We don't have any regrets."  [Editor's Note:  There you have it folks, Tony's answer to what he has done - "Things change, times change, we don't have any regrets."  How do you respond to such a "who cares" attitude?  U-N-B-E-L-I-E-V-A-B-L-E.  And this is the leadership Toyota and Honda are putting all their money behind?]

5/28/04

ESPN International brings Indy 500 huge distribution   [Editor's Note:  ESPN International does a first class job. Champ Car needs distribution like this.  They used to have it, but instead told them to take a hike.]  ESPN will distribute the 88th Indianapolis 500, the world's most prestigious auto race, to the largest worldwide television audience in the history of the event, said Mark S. Reilly, ESPN's vice president and general manager of international sales.

The green flag will fall on the 33-car starting field of the Indianapolis 500 at 11 a.m. (EST, local time) Sunday, May 30 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
ESPN, which is the exclusive worldwide television representative of the Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series and the Indianapolis 500, will televise the Indianapolis 500 live to 149 countries and territories outside of the United States via its affiliated networks in Africa, Asia, Australia, Latin America, New Zealand and the Middle East.

ESPN is also responsible for the global syndication of the Indianapolis 500 for broadcast in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In addition, ESPN has reached an agreement with Eurosport, the most widely available channel in Europe, reaching more than 95 million homes and 250 million viewers in 54 countries, to televise the Indianapolis 500 on same-day delay.

In the United States, the Indianapolis 500 will be telecast live to a nationwide audience on Disney-owned ABC. When combined with ESPN's international distribution efforts, the estimated worldwide total for the Indianapolis 500 will reach 205 countries and more than 420 million households worldwide - a new record for a third consecutive year.

"To have the largest international television audience in Indy 500 history is a testament to the appeal of this great race," said Joie Chitwood, Indianapolis Motor Speedway senior vice president of business affairs. "With a field of great American and international racers, the Indy 500 has once again demonstrated why it is called 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.'

5/28/04

Disgusted with anti-Champ Car media   A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1, Thanks for the great coverage of things that are racing. I was just reading my new Sports Illustrated and in the back was a story about Sam Hornish Jr. In the article there was a reference as to why he was in the IRL. The author stated this "But the battle between CART and IRL is finally over." It went on to say that "yet few observers expect OWRS to survive, and most believe the sport will soon be under one umbrella. "That's the first step in growing our series," says Penske." I know that this may be out of context but I think it stated the true intention of the IRL. I am a little bummed out that SI would put such a spin on it. I don't normally write letters to places but you and your staff seem to know what real racing could be and are not afraid to say it.  Thank you for letting me get some of this frustration about all the negative press about Champ Cars out of me, you helped to make my day.  Keep up the good work and have a fantastic weekend. From the prairies of South Dakota, Wyatt White Horse  Dear Wyatt, You must understand that the oval track cartel get to many of these writers and plant story ideas in their head and they run with them.  They are like sheep, not intelligent enough to figure out what is really going on with the split, i.e. the oval track cartel's intent to put Champ Car out of business and further monopolize American motorsports.   It doesn't matter much really.  The IRL has stepped on their own toes and it's just a matter of time before the house that George built comes tumbling down like a deck of cards.  They have pissed off the CART/Champ Car fans who will never support them, they have pissed off the Mexicans by taking Fernández away from their Champ Car races in Monterrey and Mexico City, they pissed off the Canadians when they shafted Paul Tracy out of his Indy win, and they pissed off the oval dirt trackers who supported them because they hated everything about CART and have watched the IRL morph into CART.  They are lost and wandering aimlessly trying to figure out what to do about the Energizer Bunny called Champ Car that keeps going, and going, and going.....That is why ticket sales are so far off at Indy, attendance at most races is largely giveaways and their TV ratings continue to plummet. The fan support just isn't there, regardless of what all their paid puppets lead you to believe with their rhetoric. Everyone from CART who is now in the IRL is there for one of two reasons - they were either CART rejects who could never win a race (and still can't now that the old CART teams have moved into the IRL) or they were paid big money, and we do mean big money, to jump ship.  You must understand that much of their negative rhetoric is simply washing the hand that feeds them in support of those who want to see Champ Car dead.  Mark C.

5/28/04

Paul Newman bashes the IRL    This Dallas Morning News article says, Paul Newman is one of the world's most respected actors, but this is no act. His deep hatred for IRL founder Tony George continues unabated after nine years, the last time Newman came to the Indy 500. He makes no attempt to hide his bitterness. Newman rails against the IRL at every opportunity. In an April appearance on CNN, he challenged the IRL attendance figures from its season opener in Miami. "Two very reliable reports said they had 28,000, but 20,000 were free tickets," Newman said. "And then I had another report that 18,000 people were there, but 4,000 were paying customers. The rest were freebies." Newman made a recent guest appearance on Speed Channel, again taking his shots at the IRL: "The IRL tried to kill CART in the courts, and the courts threw them out," he said. "Now they are trying to do it through buying owners and paying tremendous sums of money to get people to switch to the IRL. "CART had 2.6 million spectators last year – more than twice what the IRL had. And the [Champ Car] fans are angry. At Long Beach, there were 80,000 fans. At the first two IRL races this year, there was nobody."

5/28/04

Denver GP Schedule announced    Organizers of the 2004 Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver announced the race's schedule Thursday. The open-wheels race will be held Sunday, Aug. 15, earlier than its usual Labor Day weekend slot. The event's 1.65-mile street course runs around downtown Denver's Pepsi Center. This is the race's third year, and the second year it's been sponsored by Denver-based auto financial services firm Centrix Financial LLC.

Friday, Aug. 13
8:30 a.m.-9 a.m. -- BMW Practice
9:15 a.m.-9:45 a.m. -- Atlantic Practice
10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. -- Champ Car Practice
11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. -- Trans-Am Practice
1:15 p.m.-1:45 p.m. -- BMW Practice
2 p.m.-3 p.m. -- Champ Car Qualifying
3:15 p.m.-3:45 p.m. -- Atlantic Qualifying
4 p.m.-5 p.m. -- Champ Car Fan Appreciation Activity (All-driver autograph session in paddock area)
4 p.m.-4:30 p.m. -- Trans-Am Qualifying
4:45 p.m.-5:15 p.m. -- BMW Qualifying #1
5:30 p.m.-6:15 p.m. -- Colorado Vintage Race Practice
Saturday, Aug. 14
8:30 a.m.-9 a.m. -- BMW Qualifying #2
9:15 a.m.-9:45 a.m. -- Trans-Am Final Practice
10 a.m.-11:15 a.m. -- Champ Car Practice
11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. -- Atlantic Final Qualifying
1:45 p.m.-2:45 p.m. -- Champ Car Qualifying
3 p.m.-3:45 p.m. -- BMW Race #1
4:15 p.m.-5:30 p.m. -- Trans-Am Race
5:45 p.m.-6:15 p.m. -- Colorado Vintage Race Qualifying
6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. -- Rock-n-Roar Concert, Universal Lending Pavilion
Sunday, Aug. 15
8 a.m.-8:15 a.m. -- Atlantic Warm-up
8:30 a.m.-8:45 a.m. -- BMW Warm-up
9 a.m.-9:30 a.m. -- Champ Car Warm-up
10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. -- Atlantic Race
1 p.m.-3 p.m. - Third Annual Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver
3:30 p.m.-4:15 p.m. -- BMW Race #2
4:30 p.m.-5:15 p.m. -- Colorado Vintage Race

5/28/04

Indy 500 fading fast    This Mercury News article says, Has any major sports competition lost more luster than the Indianapolis 500? Once the most popular event in its sport, Indy might not even be the most-watched auto race Sunday. For the past two years, NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on Fox beat the Indy 500 on ABC, although the two races don't compete head-to-head. The ratings margin was 5.1 to 4.8 in 2002, and 4.7 to 4.6 last year, with one ratings point equaling 1.08 million homes. Twelve years ago, 14.1 million viewers watched the Indy 500. That number plunged to 6.7 million last year. The Daytona 500 permanently passed the Indy 500 as America's most-watched auto race in 1996. The ratings confirm not only rising interest in NASCAR, but also diminished interest in open-wheel racing. Even so, ABC on Thursday extended its IRL and Indy 500 contracts through 2009.

5/28/04

Formula BMW

Formula BMW USA's first race ever    The face of open-wheel racing in North America is set to change this holiday weekend as the first two rounds of the inaugural Formula BMW USA Championship take the green flag at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. "It is fitting that Formula BMW USA begins on Memorial Day Weekend," said Alex Schmuck, Formula BMW USA Manager. "Traditionally, it is a very important weekend for motorsports and the unofficial start of the summer. For Formula BMW USA to begin our summer season on the same weekend as the Indianapolis 500 and, this year, the European Grand Prix is wonderful and completely appropriate. As Formula BMW has done in Germany, Asia and the United Kingdom we begin our own, new tradition, this weekend." Sixteen young drivers will line up for the first standing start of the 14-race season on Saturday, May 29. The second race will be held on Monday, May 31.

5/28/04

Indy 500 popular with old men  The following presents select demographic Nielsen ratings for IRL’s Indianapolis 500 on ABC and NASCAR Nextel Cup’s Coca-Cola 600 on Fox, all charted over the past three years (THE DAILY).  Note how popular Indy is with men over 50 meaning the only Demographic that still really follows it are the people who became fans of it when it was in its former glory with Champ Cars.

INDY 500 vs. COCA-COLA 600: DEMOGRAPHIC RATINGS
 

————INDY 500————

————COCA-COLA 600————

DEMO

2003

2002

2001

2003

2002

2001

M 18-34

2.2

1.7

2.6

3.3

2.8

3.6

M 18-49

3.1

3.3

4.4

4.4

4.7

5.3

M 25-54

3.7

4.1

5.6

5.1

5.2

6.2

M 35-64

4.7

5.5

6.8

5.7

6.1

6.7

M 50+

6.0

6.4

7.0

5.7

5.1

5.6

W 18-49

1.3

1.4

2.2

2.2

2.2

3.2

W 25-54

1.7

1.8

2.5

2.5

2.6

3.3

5/28/04

Lowdown on Champ Car testing at RA    Seems to be some confusion out there about the testing at Road America next week. Here is the deal. It's Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday. Tuesday will be the busy day. Some teams will be there Monday & Tuesday and some teams will be there Tuesday & Wednesday. Every team except PKV Racing will be passing through Road America on their way to Milwaukee.  PKV Racing may show up on Wednesday.

5/28/04

Kalkhoven: Says IRL is failing, and killing everything it touches    This Portland Oregonian article says, Although nothing is in writing, the Champ Car World Series appears intent on returning to Portland in 2005. Kevin Kalkhoven, one of Champ Car's three owners, made a special trip to attend a Thursday news conference designed to reassure fans and potential sponsors that the June 20 race at Portland International Raceway does not signal the end of a 21-year tradition.

Driver Jimmy Vasser , who first competed in Portland 29 years ago in the quarter-midget Grand Nationals at Alpenrose, talked of "a lot of great memories in Portland, and hopefully a lot more to come." Portland mayor Vera Katz said, "We are not going to lose this race," and thanked Champ Car for having enough faith in the city to promote the 2004 race and risk losing millions of dollars. Various civic officials talked about the race's economic impact, the fact it is televised to 120 countries and its importance to the city's self-esteem. Portland is one of the only events on Champ Car's schedule still without a major sponsor. There has been a looming threat of the rival Indy Racing League planting its flag at Portland International Raceway and staging an IRL race next July or August. But Kalkhoven strongly indicated that the IRL does not present a threat.

"The IRL is a model that's already failing," he said. "Everything they've done, everywhere they've gone, it's like a horde of locusts descending on something, eating everything up and leaving a desert behind them. Look at what they've done to Indy," Kalkhoven said in reference to the Indianapolis 500. "They've destroyed it. Bump Day used to be 60 or 70 cars competing. Now they're struggling to get 33 cars."  Kalkhoven said Portland has a future on the Champ Car schedule with or without Budweiser, G.I. Joe's or Freightliner (all former title sponsors) attached to its name. "Is it an absolute necessity?" Kalkhoven said of having a major sponsor. "No."

5/28/04

Fernandez: Champ Car is dead    In this Toronto Sun article, Adrian Fernández says, "Every top team and driver except one will be here Sunday racing in the Indianapolis 500," Fernandez said.  The Mexican driver said that Tracy should see the writing on the wall that the Open Wheel Racing Series is no longer a viable racing model.  "As far as I'm concerned CART or Champ Car is dead," he said.  [Editor's Note: On Spike Champ Car only had 500,000 total viewers for the first two races. It will only take 9 or 10 races to equal the total for Pole and Bump day at Indy. In the end, there's far more value in running the Indy 500 than the entire schedule of CART races as long as OWRS keeps Champ Car on Spike and not CBS. We called for them to put their races on CBS for 2004, a building year. That did not happen, so statements from people like Fernández hold some water. Hence the predictions of Champ Car's demise continue. Oh so damaging.  It cost a lot to put races on CBS, but even more in the damage done by the negative PR and lost team sponsorship from such minuscule ratings.]

5/28/04

Earnhardt to be President for a day  Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2004 Daytona 500 champion, will serve as President of Daytona International Speedway for a day. Earnhardt Jr. will perform the duties of any sitting DIS President, which includes the Pepsi 400 purse announcement, selecting the paint scheme for the Pepsi 400 pace car, selling tickets and looking over the infield renovation plans for the World Center of Racing. [Editor's Note:  Talk about a hokey way to get PR.  Do the folks in NASCAR have that little regard for the intelligence of NASCAR fans?]

5/28/04

Bourdais to highlight Dangerous Curves show    With another successful race under the belt of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, this week’s episode of Spike TV’s Dangerous Curves recollects the events from last weekend’s Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico and introduces its viewers to the race winner and new championship points leader.

After an outstanding rookie season in 2003, Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) not only won Rookie-of-the-Year honors, but also captured five poles and three wins. Entering his sophomore season, he continues the momentum by finishing on the podium in Round One and winning from pole last weekend.

When he is not busy out on the racetrack, he takes time off to relax at his Tampa, Florida home. Dangerous Curves host Bronte Tagliani stopped by this week to sit down with Sebastien for an exclusive interview giving Champ Car fans the chance to get to know the young Frenchman on a more personal level.

Dangerous Curves, which gives its viewers behind-the-scenes looks at the Champ Car World Series, jumps in the seat of a Ford powered Pace Car for a high-speed thrill ride with one of the members of the all-female Fast Lap Pace Car driving team.

Round Three is just a week away at the renowned Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin and American rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#10 BG Products/Red Bull Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) headed up to the event site in advance for some fun. Displaying new attire, he will be giving Dangerous Curves a tour of the Wisconsin State Fair Park, which is located right behind the 1.032-mile oval that will be illuminated for the June 5th night race.

Part-time Champ Car Pit Reporter, Jon Beekhuis, chats with the drivers of the Champ Car World Series to discuss the upcoming event in Milwaukee. With the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 250 being the only oval race on the 2004 Champ Car World Series Schedule, and the only night race as well, Beekhuis gets the thoughts of the drivers as they prepare for next week’s event.

This will be the seventh broadcast of Spike TV’s Dangerous Curves which can be seen Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The show will be rebroadcast again on Spike TV at 12:00 a.m. The Champ Cars have this weekend off, but viewers can tune onto Spike TV next Sunday for the broadcast of the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 250, as well as seeing it live Saturday night on HDNet.  Champ Car

5/28/04

More on Indy Ticket giveaways  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com,  My wife and I had dinner last night with close friends and neighbors. "Doug" (his name has been changed to protect his innocence, although I don't know how anyone who sells cars can possible be innocent) sells for one of the larger Toyota stores here in the Chicago metropolitan area. Doug shared the following story over salads.

Wednesday night as we were heading home Doug's manager mentioned they had some Indy 500 tickets to give away "at their discretion." His manager wasn't sure how many they had total but he got the impression they shouldn't worry, just give 'em away.

Doug delivered two cars yesterday, one Camry and one Sienna mini-van, both to "younger" families. As he was concluding the Camry sale he asked the couple if they would be interested in four free tickets to this year's Indianapolis 500. The man, with a relatively disconnected look on his face quickly asked, "When is it?" When Doug advised it was this Sunday the man replied to his wife and Doug, "I thought they were in Charlotte this weekend!"

Much later in the day Doug was handing over the keys to a new Sienna mini-van to a less than thrilled Dad (he had made it very clear during the actual sales process the day before that he was not happy about joining the "Dads in vans" club) who had just shelled out like $36 large for this rolling play pen, if four freebies, good seats too, to the Indy 500 would help take the edge off? The guy looked back at Doug as he climbed up into the new family truckster and said, "No way will I watch those Crapwagons!" He went on, "I wasn't going to buy a Honda OR a Toyota! I wanted a Chrysler Town & Country but my wife insisted on the Sienna 'cause every other mini-van on the road is an Odyssey and she has gal pals who've had problems with their Chryslers." Off he drove.  Guess Toyota is at least getting their moneys worth out of the IRL! Name Withheld By Request, Chicago, IL

5/28/04

Pit Windows reinstated for Milwaukee    [Editor's Note:  In talking to the drivers, AutoRacing1 has learned that many of them are not using the push-to-pass button so they can save fuel.  The whole idea of pit windows was to stop fuel economy runs and get the drivers to push 100%  the entire race.  Without Pit Windows at every race, the push-to-pass button may go unused because it definitely burns more fuel to produce those 50 extra HP.  Of course one can argue that's all part of the race strategy.]   In a continuing effort to bring the best quality of racing to its millions of fans, the Champ Car World Series will bring back the mandatory pit windows that were used last year in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. The pit windows mean that teams must stop to take on fuel and four new Bridgestone Potenza racing tires at specified intervals during the race. The intervals were put in place to force competitors to run without regard to saving fuel, as before the event Champ Car race officials calculate how long the cars can run at full speed on a load of fuel, then set the windows accordingly. The pit windows, which are currently slated to be in effect for the Milwaukee race only, will be set for 59 laps for Saturday night’s 250-lap event at the Milwaukee Mile. “We have learned through our experience that the use of pit windows works exceedingly well for us on oval tracks,” said Champ Car Technical Director Lee Dykstra. “Milwaukee is a very important event for us and we want to ensure that the fans get the most competitive racing that we can provide.” The Time Warner Cable Road Runner 250 will take place at the Milwaukee Mile June 5 at 8 p.m. and can be seen live on HDNet. The race will also be shown on a tape-delayed basis on Spike TV, Sunday at 4 pm.

5/28/04

Doug Shierson passes away   UPDATE The man who fielded highly successful Champ Car teams for the likes of Al Unser Jr., Danny Sullivan, Raul Boesel and Arie Luyendyk lost a long battle with cancer Wednesday as long-time car owner Doug Shierson passed away near his North Carolina home. Shierson burst on to the Champ Car scene in 1982, moving up after winning three consecutive Formula Atlantic championships as a team owner. He scored his first series victory as an owner in 1984 when Sullivan won in Cleveland, carrying the Domino’s Pizza #30 car to Victory Lane in a sight that would become commonplace in the series for the remainder of the decade.

The team went on the next year to finish second in the championship with Al Unser Jr. at the wheel, losing the title fight by a single point. The team would finish in the top five in the Champ Car standings in each of the four years between 1984-87 and would continue on through the early 1990s, driving Luyendyk to a win in the 1990 Indianapolis 500. He stayed with Champ Car after retiring as a team owner, becoming one of the first series protest judges, which are used by the series to provide on-the-spot resolution of competition-related conflicts.

Shierson was diagnosed with cancer in 2001 and through treatment and sheer force of will, lived more than two years longer than the physicians had projected for him. In addition to his racing legacy, Shierson donated many of his resources to cancer research through hospitals and medical facilities in his previous home of Adrian, Michigan.

“I am very saddened to hear of this news,” said Forsythe Championship Racing Vice-President of Operations Neil Micklewright, who was the chief mechanic for many of the Shierson team Champ Car victories. “Doug was a wonderful man, had a wonderful sense of humor and was an absolute devotee of the sport. He didn’t make a lot of noise about what he did but he was responsible for bringing many of the future stars into the sport. This is a great loss to the racing community.”

Memorial services will be held on June 2nd, at 4:00 P.M. at the First United Methodist Church in Adrian, Michigan, (visitation on June 1st, 5-7:00 P.M. at the Braun Everiss Wagley Funeral Home also in Adrian), and at the Davidson College Presbyterian Church in Davidson, N.C. on June 8th at 2:00 P.M.

Memorial donations in Michigan may be made to Hospice of Lenawee, The First United Methodist Church in Adrian, the Hickman Oncology Center, Siena Heights University, Adrian College (Shierson Scholarship Fund) or the donor's choice. In North Carolina, Hospice of Charlotte has been very helpful during the last months. Champ Car  5/28/04 - Longtime CART owner (and one of the first CART Judges) Doug Shierson passed away yesterday. Doug had battled with cancer for the past few years. Doug of course is well known as the owner of the Domino's Champ Car. He had Al Unser Jr. and Arie Luyendyk as drivers. From what we have found out, arrangements have not been made yet but tentative plans are to have a memorial service sometime after the Milwaukee race weekend in Adrian, Michigan where his team was based.

5/28/04

Chance of rain for 500  There may be a small weather window to hold the Indianapolis 500 at 11 a.m. Sunday. Early indications show that Sunday will bring a high probability of showers and thunderstorms, RTV6 meteorologist Paul Poteet said. The rain is expected to begin late Saturday night and last into early Sunday morning, Poteet said. There's a 30 percent chance of rain Sunday morning, but the afternoon brings a 50 percent chance for additional showers and thunderstorms. Sunday's high temperature is expected to be around 80 degrees in Indianapolis. Before that batch of rain is expected, central Indiana should experience some dry weather. Friday's high temperature is expected to be around 72 degrees. Saturday should warm up into the upper 70s, Poteet said. If rain prevents officials from staging the Indy 500 Sunday, Monday may not be much better, as Memorial Day also offers a chance of rain, Poteet said.  TheIndyChannel.com

5/28/04

Raikkonen leads Free Practice 2 at Nürburgring   Kimi Raikkonen set the pace in Free Practice No. 2 for Sunday’s European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. Michelin runners were 1st thru 5th.

 P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
1. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'29"355 207.406 Km/h 18
2. 9 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'29"618 + 0'00"263 16
3. 4 R.SCHUMACHER Williams BMW M 1'29"677 + 0'00"322 28
4. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'29"700 + 0'00"345 17
5. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'29"919 + 0'00"564 23
6. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'29"943 + 0'00"588 24
7. 35 DAVIDSON BAR Honda M 1'30"028 + 0'00"673 32
8. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'30"163 + 0'00"808 22
9. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'30"227 + 0'00"872 9
10. 10 SATO BAR Honda M 1'30"283 + 0'00"928 17
11. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'30"337 + 0'00"982 20
12. 14 WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth M 1'30"466 + 0'01"111 29
13. 17 PANIS Toyota M 1'30"497 + 0'01"142 24
14. 16 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'30"531 + 0'01"176 25
15. 38 ZONTA Toyota M 1'30"949 + 0'01"594 33
16. 11 FISICHELLA Sauber Petronas B 1'30"974 + 0'01"619 26
17. 37 WIRDHEIM Jaguar Cosworth M 1'31"780 + 0'02"425 26
18. 39 GLOCK Jordan Ford B 1'32"080 + 0'02"725 29
19. 15 KLIEN Jaguar Cosworth M 1'32"217 + 0'02"862 15
20. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas B 1'32"310 + 0'02"955 12
21. 20 BRUNI Minardi Cosworth B 1'32"643 + 0'03"288 19
22. 21 BAUMGARTNER Minardi Cosworth B 1'32"986 + 0'03"631 18
23. 18 HEIDFELD Jordan Ford B 1'33"175 + 0'03"820 20
24. 19 PANTANO Jordan Ford B 1'33"393 + 0'04"038 17
25. 40 LEINDERS Minardi Cosworth B 1'34"538 + 0'05"183 19

5/28/04

Portland Champ Car race in jeopardy   This AP article talks about the Portland race.  Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owner of the Champ Car World Series, which replaced CART, said he hopes the Portland race will continue. It was first run in 1984. "We've been here for 21 years — we really want to be here for many more years to come," he said during a visit to Portland on Thursday. However, Kalkhoven said, the new Champ Car owners have not really explored a long-term agreement with the city, instead taking a wait-and-see stance some three months into taking over CART. "Give us a little time," he said.  AutoRacing1 Bottom Line:  Unless a big crowd turns out for the event this year, this race is history.  In fact, it may be history anyway.  OWRS has gone on record as saying there will be just 16 race in 2005.  With races at new venues a foregone conclusion for 2005, OWRS must make room on its schedule, hence races that are losing money will be axed.  How will the IRL do there?  Absolutely horrible.  Road racing fans won't support a dumbed down formula.  One need look no further than Grand-Am (dumbed down and a complete failure) vs. ALMS.  Or Champ Car (big crowds) vs. IRL (free ticket crowds).  Even Trans-Am, a "stock car" type formula, struggled as a standalone series.  They'll have to have a huge ticket giveaway to save face.  The IRL wants to go road racing, but clearly they don't understand their customers.]

5/28/04

May is only a month, 33 just a number  This Lima News article tells it like it is when it comes to the destruction of the Indy 500 by Tony George's vision - (excerpts)

  • Ten years ago, ticket requests had to be made the day after the race for the next year’s race. And even that was not a guarantee that one could get tickets.  It often took years to upgrade to a main grandstand section of the track. Scalpers routinely sold tickets at two to three times face value.   A search of the speedway’s Web site Friday revealed that there are still plenty of tickets available near the start/finish line for this year’s race.   At face value.

  • Champ Car racing still exists.   This fact cannot be overlooked.  If open wheel racing in the early 1990s was indeed in as dire straits as George would have you believe, then how on Earth has it been able to survive?   If the sport was as weak and vulnerable as George said it was, then how have two competing series been able to withstand almost a decade of political division?   If the IRL was so necessary to ensure the future of open wheel racing, why has it been able to continue to exist in spite of it?

  • The mere existence of the Champ Car World Series is evidence to the fierce loyalty and stability of the fanbase and the soundness of the series’ fundamental competitive principles. When teams like Penske and Ganassi and drivers like Andretti and Castroneves left CART for the IRL, CART fans didn’t follow them. They stayed loyal to the series.  But the original IRL fans, the ones who bought into the USA-first, grassroots rhetoric are the ones who lost interest in the sport.  Those fans now follow dirt-trackers Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman in NASCAR and watch guys like Cory Kruseman continue to watch from the outside.

  • The fundamental principles of the IRL continue to be updated almost weekly.  Which is why a handful of cars will run a few laps around the Brickyard this month, just trying not to beat up any equipment.  Why bother trying to push the car? Thirty-three is only a number.  Wake me up when the race is on.

5/28/04

Final Monterrey GP TV Rating (USA)   The final rating for the Spike TV telecast of the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, the second event of the 2004 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, was 0.3 with a 1 share reaching 292,000 households and 365,000 viewers. The telecast achieved a 0.5 rating and 2.0 share in the 18-24 Male category. The telecast also achieved a 0.3 rating and 1 share in the 18-34 Male and 18-49 Male categories. This was an improvement over the first Champ Car World Series telecast event of the season, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The May 23 episode of “Dangerous Curves”, the Champ Car pre-race/lifestyle show which aired earlier in the day received a 0.3 rating and 1 share reaching 227,000 households and 245,000 viewers. The telecast achieved a 0.3 rating and 2 share in the 18-24 Male category. The telecast also achieved a 0.3 rating and 2 share in the 18-34 Male category as well as a 0.3 rating and 1 share in the 18-49 Male category. The May 16 episode of “Dangerous Curves” received a 0.2 rating and 1 share reaching 165,000 households. The telecast achieved a 0.2 rating and 1 share in the 18-24 Male category. The telecast also achieved a 0.2 rating and 1 share in the 18-34 Male category as well as in the 18-49 Male category. A midnight re-air of the show achieved a 0.1 rating and 0 share reaching 104,000 households and 115,000 viewers.  [Editor's Note:  Clearly, OWRS will have to put at least 50% of its races on CBS in 2005 or the teams risk losing their sponsors as the IRL and NASCAR teams will steal them away with much larger TV ratings.  Put it another way, they will pluck the Champ Car sidepods clean of sponsor logos.]

5/28/04

Big ticket giveaway in Indy underway  2nd UPDATE A reader adds, This morning on my way to work a popular rock radio station here in Chicago (The Loop) was giving away 10 packs of tickets for the Indy 500. They must have been given an awful lot of tickets from TG to give 10 packs away for answering easy questions. The funny thing is the questions have nothing to do with racing, they asked the contestant who are three people in the rock band Kiss. With all the free tickets being given away this year do you think people are going to pay for them next year. As I was reading the Chicago Tribune this morning, the sports section has two separate articles on how the Indy 500 is no longer important. Hey Tony, you are a true visionary. AutoRacing1, keep up the great work you have the best website period. Tim Fregeau  Thanks, Yes indeed, there is a desperate plan in place to give away as many tickets as possible in the hope of filling the large gaping holes in the grandstands because 25% (rumored) of the tickets were unsold.  Large gaping holes would have been a first and would have signified the beginning of the end for the once great American race.  So visibly the grandstands should look pretty full once again, but how long before ticket giveaways just won't do it anymore.  Once you give away free tickets for an event, you kill it because in years to follow those who paid won't, and will wait instead for freebies. Mark C.  Another writes, I just wanted to update the Indy 500 ticket giveaway. I was driving to work this morning and a local radio station was giving away Indy 500 tickets. I live in DETROIT!!! It is nearly a 5 hour drive to the speedway. I think they're getting desperate.  Chris Hibner  5/27/04 - Tickets are being given away for free all the way in Milwaukee and the Speedway even took out a full-page ad in the National Speed Sport News in a last minute attempt to fill the grandstands anyway they can. It's sort of like making the Indy 500 starting lineup, if you can find your way to the Speedway, you're in.  5/27/04 - In an effort to save face and fill the grandstands, a big free ticket giveaway is underway in Indy.  Every single radio station in Indianapolis is giving away free tickets to the 500 and have been for two weeks. Not only are they giving them away but they are dealing them out every hour!  As we previously rumored, some 80,000, or about 25% remained unsold several weeks ago.

5/28/04

Pepsi official soft drink of Cleveland GP   Officials from the U.S. Bank Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland proudly announced today a renewed partnership and the beginning of a new and exciting promotional relationship for this summer’s annual Roar by the Shore festival.  Pepsi will be the Official Soft Drink of the 2004 Grand Prix of Cleveland, held July 1-3 at Burke Lakefront Airport, marking the first time since 1999 that the soft drink manufacturer has enjoyed an exclusive relationship with the event. A key component of the relationship with Pepsi was also unveiled today as Marc’s deep discount stores announced a special in-store promotional campaign that will feature the Grand Prix of Cleveland and Pepsi products.  “This is a very significant and exciting promotional relationship with both Pepsi and Marc’s,” said Rena Shanaman, General Manager of the Grand Prix of Cleveland. “We are very happy to welcome back Pepsi as the Official Soft Drink for this year’s event and we think this partnership really opened a door with Marc’s to create what we believe will be a unique in-store marketing initiative. This marks the first time in several years that the Grand Prix will enjoy such promotional support from a large local retailer.”

5/28/04

Fiat boss dies   Umberto Agnelli, the boss of Fiat, has died at the age of 69. Agnelli was suffering from cancer. Agnelli took over from his brother Gianni Agnelli who died at the start of last year. The news will come as a further blow to the company which is currently being rebuilt by chief executive Giuseppe Morchio.  Fiat is of course the parent company to Ferrari and has been in financial trouble in recent years.

5/28/04

Davidson leads Free Practice 1 at Nurburgring   BAR Honda test driver Anthony Davidson turned the fastest lap in this mornings first Free Practice session for the F1 cars at the Nürburgring in Germany.  Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello were right behind.

P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
1. 35 DAVIDSON BAR Honda M 1'29"447 207.193 Km/h 19
2. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'29"631 + 0'00"184 14
3. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'29"865 + 0'00"418 12
4. 14 WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth M 1'31"448 + 0'02"001 6
5. 38 ZONTA Toyota M 1'31"587 + 0'02"140 23
6. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'31"643 + 0'02"196 4
7. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas B 1'31"673 + 0'02"226 9
8. 4 R.SCHUMACHER Williams BMW M 1'31"680 + 0'02"233 14
9. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'31"768 + 0'02"321 16
10. 9 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'31"770 + 0'02"323 11
11. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'31"782 + 0'02"335 10
12. 17 PANIS Toyota M 1'31"910 + 0'02"463 10
13. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'32"301 + 0'02"854 5
14. 10 SATO BAR Honda M 1'32"500 + 0'03"053 10
15. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'32"696 + 0'03"249 15
16. 16 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'32"915 + 0'03"468 15
17. 39 GLOCK Jordan Ford B 1'33"925 + 0'04"478 15
18. 18 HEIDFELD Jordan Ford B 1'33"971 + 0'04"524 10
19. 15 KLIEN Jaguar Cosworth M 1'34"402 + 0'04"955 11
20. 19 PANTANO Jordan Ford B 1'34"488 + 0'05"041 15
21. 37 WIRDHEIM Jaguar Cosworth M 1'35"043 + 0'05"596 9
22. 21 BAUMGARTNER Minardi Cosworth B 1'35"186 + 0'05"739 13
23. 20 BRUNI Minardi Cosworth B 1'35"455 + 0'06"008 17
24. 40 LEINDERS Minardi Cosworth B 1'37"609 + 0'08"162 15

5/28/04
Industry News

ESPN Racing Schools announced   ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, and Jim Russell Racing Drivers School, the pioneer and premier name in racing and driving instruction, announced today they have created the ESPN Russell Racing Schools. The ESPN Russell Racing Schools will introduce a wider cross section of North American sports fans to the exciting world of auto racing, combining ESPN’s vast media resources and Jim Russell’s expertise in professional driving instruction.

This is the latest agreement for ESPN Enterprises, the ESPN division charged with creating, launching and incubating new business opportunities – working independently or with outside partners. The launch of the new racing brand is timed to take advantage of the growing interest in motorsports. More than 20 million fans attend auto racing events annually and millions more watch racing on television.

“ESPN Enterprises is building a network of leading sports instruction schools, which started with the ESPN Golf Schools and now includes a racing school,” said Rick Alessandri, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Enterprises. “Our companies have a shared belief in the growth potential of the schools and feel this agreement will benefit both organizations, as well as casual and avid auto racing fans.”  Each week, 94 million people interact with ESPN media – watching, listening, reading and logging on.

The ESPN Russell Racing Schools offer more than 10 different programs to race fans and driving enthusiasts from its base location at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and with courses held at famous racetracks around the country.

5/28/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

Michael to have effect in 'three races' - Ralf
Schu 'did not agree' with Monaco stewards
Ralf might not leave BMW-Williams
Trulli has lost his voice
'No driver swaps' in 2004 - Toyota chief
Nurburgring to stage fiery drivers' briefing
Williams rule-out rookie replacement
Button - '2004 world champion' ... ?
Cold Nurburgring should suit Ferrari - Rubens
Cyprus Grand Prix?
Trulli to leave Renault ... ?
Ralf's wife to race Mini
Schu backs young brother over Alonso crash
Rivals 'happy' to see Hakkinen return
Sato 'saw the stewards' after Monaco
Has F1's 'silly season' ever been sillier ... ?
'Back to normal' at the Nurburgring
Racer stamps on 'Montoya to BAR' claims
Yoong to race Aussie touring car
Cricket star visits McLaren
Trulli was 'weak mentally' - Renault boss
B-spec car to debut in July - Toyota
'My critics are envious' - Ron Dennis
Changes won't have 'short term' effect - Montoya
Is Montoya TOO confident ... ? 

5/27/04

Nurburgring Thursday press Conference 

Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
Ralf Schumacher (Williams)
Fernando Alonso (Renault)
Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams)  Transcript

5/27/04

RCR Team Wins Clevite Engine Builder Showdown  Lanny Barnes and Todd Hamm of Richard Childress Racing (RCR) defeated Mike Maiwald and Shane Parsnow of Hendrick Motorsports Tuesday night in the final round of the 2004 Clevite Engine Builder Showdown. The four-round competition, which began in January at Hendrick Motorsports in Charlotte, N.C., and concluded with the final round at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C., requires each team build an engine from the block up and specifies that it run for one minute. The RCR team turned in a time of 19:52 minutes while the Hendrick team finished in 20.33 minutes. Each team was penalized one minute for a rules infraction (the RCR team cross-threaded an oil pan nut), canceling what would have been a record time for Barnes.


“I don’t have the vocabulary to explain how good this feels,” said Barnes. “It’s awesome to have done what we did in under 20 minutes, and even with the one-minute penalty, we’re very proud. As an engine builder, I knew there was no question that we had everything under the pan tight, but with chrome parts and some of the other accessories on the engine, it’s always a question. We’re just fortunate that the Hendrick guys had an off-setting penalty that gave us the opportunity to win.”

RCR has won two of the last three final rounds of the Clevite Engine Builder Showdown. Danny Lawrence, RCR’s assistant engine shop manager, won the event in 2002 and was runner-up last year. Barnes defeated Lawrence in the semifinals this year. Lawrence owns the record time for the build, 20:26 minutes, which he established during the 2002 competition. This was Barnes’ fourth appearance in the competition and first time in the final.

“Our focus was strictly on our engine,” said Hamm. “We didn’t know that anybody was working next to us or that anybody was in the audience. It was just us. When the Clevite official told us we had an oil pan nut cross-threaded, I thought ‘Oh man, don’t tell us that.’ But the Hendrick guys had a penalty, too, so it all worked out.”

5/27/04

Nextel All-Star race TV rating   The final TV rating for the Nextel All-Star races at Lowe's Motor Speedway last Saturday night on FX was a 2.9/2.8.Share representing 2.987 million households tuned in.  This is down significantly from 2003, which had a 3.9 final TV Rating.

5/27/04

Indy 500 Bump Day TV rating plummets   UPDATE The final Bump Day TV Rating stayed the same as the overnight, a 1.1/3 Share, down 45% from last year's final of 2.0.  1.186 million households were tuned in.  5/26/04 - The overnight TV rating on ABC for the 2-hour Bump Day broadcast this past Sunday was a 1.1/3 share.  While the final is sure to drop even lower, it's already down from last year's Bump Day final rating of 2.0, also on ABC.  This represents a 45% drop in one year, which as we said, will get even worse when the final number comes out later this week.  The IRL is in serious trouble.  Their premier event, the Indy 500, and the only reason most teams are in the league in the first place, is quickly crumbling at its foundation, and when the foundation goes, the rest of the house will collapse like a deck of cards.  Tell us once again why Tony had to create the IRL?

5/27/04

Get Danica Patrick out of Atlantics now   A reader writes, In an article today in the Oregonian, Bobby Rahal said Danica Patrick is ready for the Indy 500 next year. Why does Champ Car allow this? Get her out now if that's the case. She would be a great marketing tool and racer for the future of Champ Car, but that's not what's going to happen, so OWRS should spend nothing on promoting her and in fact should stop mentioning her in any of their press releases going forward, as if she did not even exist. Let her go learn her trade bouncing off walls in the IPS.  Why should Champ Car train her and then see her bolt to the opposition?  Something has to be done about this kind of abuse. Maybe Champ Car should start some kind of driver incentive program for loyalty to the series. All these road racers want to be there. I can't imagine that they love risking there life on those ovals every week. It makes me sick. Especially when it's from people like Rahal. I expect it from Michael and Ganassi but not Rahal. Next year Marco will be in Atlantic's and two years later the Injury Racing League. What a bunch of crap that is.  Give Marco his walking papers and let him go race in the IPS now.  Sam Mancuso, South Florida

5/27/04

Indy race day schedule  

5 a.m. Military bomb signifies opening of track
8 a.m. Spectacle of Bands
9:20 a.m. Festival Princess Parade Laps
9:40 a.m. "On the Banks of the Wabash" - Purdue University Band
Marion County Sheriff Motorcycle Drill Team
Cars placed in position
9:50 a.m. Celebrity/VIP Parade Laps
10:15 a.m. "I Hope You Dance" - Lee Ann Womack, Victory Podium
Military Recognition lap in Chevrolet vehicles
10:20 a.m. Driver Introductions
10:31 a.m. "God Bless America" - Florence Henderson, Victory Podium
10:40 a.m. "Star Spangled Banner" - Jessica Simpson, Victory Podium
10:42 a.m. "Drivers To Your Cars" announcement
10:44 a.m. Invocation
10:45 a.m. Memorial Day Recognition
10:47 a.m. Taps - Purdue University Band
10:49 a.m. "Back Home Again in Indiana" - Jim Nabors, Victory Podium
Balloon Spectacle
10:51 a.m. "Gentleman, Start Your Engines" - Mari Hulman George, Victory Podium
10:53 a.m. 2004 Chevy Corvette leads pace lap - driven by Morgan Freeman
11 a.m. Start of the 88th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race

5/27/04

Rahal-Letterman team wins Pit Stop Competition   If pole sitter Buddy Rice receives the same quick service in the 88th Indianapolis 500 that he had in the Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge on May 27, he'll be in the hunt at the end.  Rahal-Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent crew members, with Rice as the driver, defeated Marlboro Team Penske, with Helio Castroneves in the seat, in the championship of the competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"These guys have never given up," said Rice, a first-year driver for Rahal-Letterman Racing. "They've done an excellent job the whole time. So this has been a big deal for them and everything. This has been huge. These guys have had an excellent time. This is their deal and their time to shine, and that's what's supposed to happen.  We're starting on the pole and have been working hard all month. This is just icing on the cake for them. Now we have to go and focus on Sunday and hope we can win the big one."

Miller Lite Carb Day was also the final opportunities for IRL IndyCar® Series drivers to make pre-race adjustments for the 88th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

The two-hour session May 27, in which all 33 starters for the 88th Indianapolis Motor Speedway combined for 624 incident-free laps, was the final opportunity for teams to shake down their entries and scrub the tires before the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on May 30.

"We did all of our leak checks and ran a few laps in traffic; the car feels great," said Rice. "I think the Argent/Pioneer Honda will be able to run at the front all day with this setup.

"I know it's a long day and the conditions will change. The big thing this year will be pit stops. With the smaller full tank, there will be more pit stops (about 10) and the crews will be very important."  IRL

5/27/04

Subway to back Unser   Subway announced today that it will provide the primary sponsorship on the No. 20 machine of two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr. for the 88th running of the acclaimed race on Sunday, May 30, 2004.  Subway has been an active supporter of motorsports for a number of years with a very successful program in NASCAR Nextel Cup which includes two race entitlements and major sponsorship on the No. 16 car of Greg Biffle.  Given the status of the Indianapolis 500 as the greatest spectacle in motorsports as well as the largest one day sporting event in the world, this was an ideal time for Subway to take its sponsorship efforts to the next level.  "With its worldwide audience, the Indy 500 is one of the premier sporting events in the world and the Indy Racing League has developed into a world-class racing series," said Chris Carroll, Marketing Director, Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust. "We saw this as the perfect opportunity to expand our program into another realm of the business, and align ourselves with proven winners in Al Jr. and Patrick Racing.

5/27/04

Junqueira's Champ Car crew arrives at Indy   Bruno's regular Champ Car pit crew arrived in town yesterday afternoon to participate in Carb Day today. They will drive back home tonight in order to report for work in Lincolnshire, Ill. at 7 AM tomorrow to prepare racecars for Junqueira and his teammate Sebastien Bourdais for an upcoming test at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. on Tuesday, June 1. They will return to Indianapolis on Saturday. Once the race concludes on Sunday night they will report to Road America on Memorial Day for the test on Tuesday. After the first weekend of qualifying, Bruno's race car was transported to Lincolnshire so that the crew could practice pit stops on Monday, May 17, which fell on their day off prior to the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey GP May 21-23, which the team finished 1-2 with Bourdais and Junqueira, respectively. Five of the six over-the-wall team representatives are on his Champ Car pit crew. Indy-based employee Mark Shambarger is filling in for outside front tire changer Brian Rizzo who broke his foot prior to the race in Mexico.

5/27/04

Greg Ray gets one-race sponsor   Access Motorsports announced today that Rent- A-Center, Eufora MasterCard and University Loft Co. have signed a one race agreement for the 2004 Indianapolis 500 with the # 13 Access Motorsports Honda / G Force / Firestone/Renovac Entry driven by Greg Ray. The new paint scheme of the car will be unveiled on Thursday, May 27th (Carburetion Day), as Ray takes to the track for final practice prior to the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500. Despite his lack of practice for this year’s Indy 500, Ray’s performance has been impressive. The 1999 IRL champion and 2000 Indy 500 pole sitter qualified 27th at a speed of 216.6 MPH after having completed only six hot laps in the entire month of May leading up to qualifying. Ray has started from the front row four times and has led 166 laps in previous Indy 500s. Ray was the fastest qualifier on Sunday. “We know our awesome Honda Power, along with our G-force chassis and Firestone tires will be ready to race on Sunday”, said Ray. “We are very excited about Rent-A-Center, Eufora MasterCard and University Loft’s participation with our team for this year’s running of the Indy 500”.

5/27/04

IRL to make a big push to market their series   This Indy Star article says, While the Indy Racing League appears puny next to the marketing muscle of NASCAR, the hugely popular stock car circuit, IRL officials say their promotional engine is primed to bring Indy car racing back into the lead pack of American sports. The IRL has bulked up, officials say, by nearly doubling its marketing staff in the last 18 months and launching a trove of promotions and licensing deals. It has also begun to break free from its long feud with the former Championship Auto Racing Teams, an arch-competitor whose assets were sold out of bankruptcy court this year. "There is a critical mass that needs to be reached to sort of break out to the next level," said Ken Ungar, the IRL's senior vice president of business affairs. "We feel that we're poised at that level." But if the IRL ever wants to catch NASCAR, it has miles to go.  More.......

5/27/04

That's not bullish, that's bullsh**   UPDATE Another reader responds, Please let Brian Golden know that he needs to let off the weed and dream mushrooms out in LA-LA land. Simple geography lesson: last I checked Long Beach still qualifies as LA area, doesn't it? I was glad to see that there is at least one IRL and Tony George apologist (outside of the media) left out there. Keep up the good work - and don't let up on the Heat!   Werner Fritz, Trevor, Wisconsin  Another writes, Regarding the letter from Brian Golden. Too bad Brian isn't aware of all the facts... He says Los Angeles is a "market Champ Car abandoned last November"?? Can you say LONG BEACH?!?!? He says "See if you find any empty seats Sunday at Indianapolis"?? Well, since IMS is still advertising tickets, I would think there might be empty seats. "In one day, it (Indy attendance) will match Champ Car's attendance for two of its biggest WEEKENDS of the year". This is possibly true - - but how many of the IRL's other big weekend attendances would equal Indy? I am thinking that the attendance at Indy is equal to about 6 or 7 of the next best attended IRL races. In fact, I am also thinking that even with Indy, Champ Car outdraws the IRL at the track - - even with all the ticket giveaways that Marlboro, Honda and Toyota do and the people who are forced to buy IRL tickets to see a NASCAR race. No doubt about it, Champ Car has its problems, but for him to assume all is well with the IRL is ridiculous. However one feels about the current situation in open wheel racing, I think we can all agree that 100% throttle oval racing sucks - and that is a fact! Thanks, Mark from Chicago   5/27/04 -  reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, It took some digging, but after several of the predictable daily attacks on Tony George, I came across this item on your website: "TBA dates on Champ Car calendar likely won't be held." It turns out the September Grand Prix of TBA is DOA. And then you tell us there's a pretty good chance the finale in Las Vegas won't be held. You spend all this time talking about how bullish Gerry Forsythe is about Champ Car. You conveniently neglect that his defending champion driver is STILL without sponsorship. That's not bullish, that's bullsh**. With the pathetic TV number Spike TV put up for Monterrey, you have nerve criticizing anyone's TV ratings. And as far as NASCAR's numbers go, notice which city put up the largest increase in viewership: Los Angeles, a market Champ Car abandoned last November. See if you find any empty seats Sunday at Indianapolis, AR1. In one day, it will match Champ Car's attendance for two of its biggest WEEKENDS of the year. Make no mistake, Tony George has done serious damage to a sport we all love. But AR1 does a fair job of trashing the sport every day, too. Show me some integrity. Please print this letter. Sincerely, Brian Golden, Lancaster, California  Dear Brian, Our attacks are not personal against Tony George.  It is just to point out the facts, which most journalist are afraid to do, i.e. his decision to start the IRL was a major tactical error in judgment and he must be held accountable.   By splitting the sport in two he is destroying it.  Some would argue he already has destroyed it.  Certainly Champ Car is not without its faults and they still have a way to go before they prove to everyone they are not conflicted like previous CART leaders were, and they make all decisions based on what's good for the series as a whole and not their own self interests.  The key for the new owners will be to separate what's good for them and focus on what's good for everyone. Certainly Spike TV is not doing the series one iota of good so far, but this was a survival year, a throwaway year. We suspect next year you will see more money spent on proper network TV coverage. As for the TBA races, certainly if neither happen OWRS will have received another black eye, but better to not do them, than to not do them right and fail. Mark C.

5/27/04

Painful legacy: Oval track drivers hobble thru life  This AP article says, Alex Zanardi is an extreme example - he lost both legs in a 2001 crash in Germany - but he's hardly the only racer hobbling through life with aches and pains that will never go away. Just look around Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There's Rick Mears, barely able to lift his feet off the ground as he shuffles painfully through Gasoline Alley. There's Davey Hamilton, teetering on crutches after undergoing surgery for the 21st time in the past three years. There's Pancho Carter, who staggers around like "a peg-leg pirate" - his words - because of a right ankle that doesn't work anymore. There's Kenny Brack, still limping some seven months after a crash that nearly killed him. There's Sam Schmidt, paralyzed from the neck down as he moves through the paddock in a wheelchair. "Obviously, you don't want something like this to happen," Brack said Wednesday, hopping on a bike to avoid a tedious, painful walk from the garage to his camper. "It did, unfortunately. But you've got to move on." These guys paid a high price for the sport they love, sacrificing their bodies in the pursuit of speed. They can't make it through the day without hurting - a brusque reminder that things will never be the same. "No pain, no gain," Hamilton said, managing to chuckle at his plight. "I'm not going to lie. I have my days. But I'm determined not to show it. I figure the less I complain, the better off I'm going to be. You just deal with it." Hamilton was seriously injured in a 2001 crash at Texas Motor Speedway, where the front end of his car sheered off at 200 miles per hour. His lower legs were left exposed, enduring horrific injuries as they dragged along the pavement. His feet were so mangled that the first doctors to see Hamilton figured amputation was the only option. After being flown back to Indianapolis, surgeons took drastic steps to put things back together. Muscles were removed from his lower back to rebuild his feet. Bones were removed from his hip to repair his knees. Skin grafts were needed to cover the damage. "They took a lot of my good parts," Hamilton said, "to fix the bad ones."  [Editor's Note: And to think, Michael Andretti may want to subject his very talented son Marco to this risk.  We wonder what brother Jeff thinks about that after his career was ended head-on into an oval track concrete wall?]

5/27/04

Indy only has 257,000 seats  The Indy Star did an exhaustive 6-month count of the seats at the Indy Speedway and lo and behold, the number is far lower than everyone thought.  And with hardly anyone in the infield anymore, we suspect the race day crowd is well under 300,000.  How many years will it be before Champ Car's Mexico City race beats the Indy 500 attendance and becomes the biggest race in the world?   This Indy Star article says, A six-month inspection of each grandstand resulted in a count of 257,325 permanent seats, which includes the five types of suites scattered around the Speedway. It is believed to be the only formal count of the seats in the facility's modern era. Estimates had been left to journalists, many of whom have admitted to being influenced by the vastness of the Speedway and the enthusiasm surrounding the 500. Some have guessed as many as 500,000 fans on race day.

5/27/04

ABC & ESPN extend IRL TV deal two more years  ABC Sports and ESPN have agreed to televise the Indianapolis 500 and the rest of the Indy Racing League schedule through 2009, a source close to the negotiations told The Associated Press. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an announcement would be made during a news conference Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The current contract extends through the 2007 season. ABC will broadcast the 500-mile race on Sunday, the 40th consecutive year it has shown the event. All 16 IRL events in 2004 will be televised live on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. The networks, which are owned by The Walt Disney Co., have broadcast IRL races since the series began competition in 1996.   ESPN.com  In addition, ESPN International networks retain worldwide rights to televise race coverage to 149 countries and territories. ESPN International will continue as global syndication representative. Current syndication agreements are in place with broadcasters in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, with pan-regional highlights available on Eurosport, the most widely-distributed sports network in Europe. ESPN and ESPN2 will receive several programming opportunities as part of the agreement, including exclusive coverage of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series and Indy Racing League Banquet, an annual ESPN Original Entertainment special, a Season Preview show and three one-hour Indy Racing League-related specials a year.

5/27/04

Interview with Andretti Green Racing  88th INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRESS CONFERENCE
Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta, Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon
TOM SAVAGE: We have our four drivers here today from Andretti Green Racing, three of which are in the top five positions for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500. Middle of the front row, Dan Wheldon at a 221.524; outside of the front row, Dario Franchitti at a 221.471; middle of the second row, Tony Kanaan 221.200; starting 23rd is Bryan Herta at a 219.871. Guys, let's get your thoughts as Sunday approaches. Dan, let's start with you, middle of the front row, you held the pole there for a little bit. Let's talk about your thoughts heading into Sunday.  More.....

5/27/04

Forsythe & Kalkhoven excited about Champ Car's future  This CART.com article says (excerpts) The first matter Forsythe and Kalkhoven wanted to talk about was next year’s schedule. Forsythe said that Champ Car’s original plan was to complete negotiations for 2005 race dates by the start of the summer but he acknowledges it will take another month or so to reach that goal.  “We’re negotiating on four different fronts and I don’t believe we’ll have those things in place by the end of June,” Forsythe said. “That was the date that management gave as the goal for an announcement of the 2005 schedule but I don’t believe that’s possible. I think it will be more like the first of August. We’re telling everyone we’re negotiating with that we need to have the contracts executed by the end of June but I don’t think that’s feasible. We’re dealing with foreign entities and it takes a long time to work through all the details.”

“We’re taking the lead on pursuing venues in South America, Africa and Europe,” Forsythe commented. “Our company has taken the lead in going to all these potential opportunities and looking at the facilities. In some cases we’ve been asked to design a potential facility. Ron Dixon is doing a lot of traveling right now and making the arrangements and logistical studies. We’re looking at opportunities for 2005 and 2006. I’m very pleased with the interest that we’ve received from a lot of different venues and I think once we make the announcement of the 2005 schedule it’s going to be quite well received.”

Kalkhoven said the plan is to announce the 2005 schedule in September. “It’s our intention to have a schedule out by September,” Kalkhoven said..........We’re feeling very confident about 2005.”

Kalkhoven said the 2005 schedule probably will comprise sixteen races. “Clearly nineteen was too many. Somewhere around sixteen is a reasonable number. They’ve got to be real races and real events. We can no longer in the motor racing world have races that are just races. We’ve got to make them events. We’ve got to make them big events with big crowds and vigorous promotion.”

[Editor's Note: We reported Forsythe's statements in last Friday's Hot News] “There was an article in ‘The Record’, a Mexican sports publication, that IRL was coming to Mexico City,” Forsythe commented. “This story was created by the spin doctors in Indianapolis who are trying to create uncertainty. In the Indianapolis press last week they listed where they thought the IRL was going to run road races in the future and they listed Mid-Ohio, Elkhart Lake, Long Beach, one Canadian race, and Mexico City. That was probably a trigger for ‘The Record’ publishing their story.

“They did note in their story that I was part-owner of the Mexico City race and said it might be difficult to achieve that. I can assure you that it won’t be difficult. It will be impossible. Mexico City is one of the best permanent road course facilities in the world and I’m proud of being part of developing it. It has long-term contracts with Champ Car and they will continue to run Champ Car races in Mexico City. If the IRL is interested in Mexico I don’t know where they’re going to run. I wish them luck.”

Forsythe explained his view of how this rumor was manufactured. “Tony George had Adrian Fernandez call my partners in Mexico City and try to set up a meeting. I said if you want to meet with them and see if you can learn anything it’s not going to cost you. But I told them the one thing you’ve got to worry about is they’re going to get in the press and confuse the situation in Mexico and, sure enough, a few days later there was the article.”

Paul Tracy went public in the Mexican press assuring Mexican fans that Mexico City will always remain a Champ Car race and few days later Corporacion Interamericana del Entretenimiento (CIE), promoters of the Mexico City race, issued a press statement formally denying any involvement with the IRL.

“We were prepared a put out a CIE announcement,” Forsythe said. “But Tracy spoke to the press and said it was a ridiculous to even consider so we held off for a few days on the CIE announcement.

“But enough’s enough,” Forsythe added, his blood pressure clearly rising. “I am sick and tired of the negative press they continue to put out about our series and to try to confuse the Mexican market by the statement that they will race in Mexico City is absolutely ridiculous. You would think the IRL would be worrying about its own business rather than trying to confuse ours. But I guess they feel that with as few people as they had at Indianapolis for the practice days and qualifying that they need to try to spin things away from the problems they have. If I was those guys I’d be so embarrassed. I remember when you had 200,000 for the first day of qualifying.

“Contrary to the other open-wheel series we do have a very good fan base. It’s very well recognized that we have a strong fan turn-out at almost every one of our races. The other series has a serious problem in that regard. In fact, there’s no comparison between us. None at all.

“I think without the financial assistance of two major automobile manufacturers the other series would be in deep trouble. I don’t know if they recognize it or not. It appears as if they’re going down the road with blinders on. I think they better be focused on their own business rather than worrying about us.”

Kalkhoven wanted to discuss Champ Car’s technical package of chassis and engines for 2005. “At this moment in time it will be exactly the same,” Kalkhoven said. “The issue here is stability. The teams need to know the equipment they’ve got is something they can use next year and the promoters need to know what package will be coming next year. This is a package that works and works well.

“We’re looking at a number of different alternatives for ‘06 but I’m not going to say anything to create any speculation until we’ve got it nailed down. But again, stability is a key item and we’d like to reduce the costs if possible.”

Kalkhoven is convinced Champ Car is on the right track. “We have a series whose economic basis is a lot stronger than it was last year,” he observed. “We’ve got a series whose driver base is as strong as you could imagine. We’ve got some hot young rookies and the interest in the series for 2005 from drivers and teams is very strong. I think people were waiting to know that we were going to be here. Now they know and the interest is building.”

5/27/04

2-seat Champ Car rides might expand to public  This Autoweek article says, You might have seen accounts of riding in a two-seat, 750-hp, open-wheel race car. Allow us to reiterate: One hundred, seventy-five mph at the end of the frontstraight in Long Beach reinforces your appreciation of the sport and your respect for the people who drive these things for a living. A ride in a Champ Car behind Jimmy Vasser is a thrill like none you’ve experienced. This ride has no chains, track rails, gravity power or traction control. One man orchestrates the thrills with his fingers, feet and butt. While our two-seat Champ Car ride was occupational privilege, soon you or some other race fan/car person may also get the chance to try it, complete with the soiled-trouser panic button (AW, April 19). Champ Car officials are considering expanding the two-seat program to public rides. “The two-seater is not that far off a real car,” says Sebastien Bourdais, another of Champ Car’s chauffeurs. “The balance is good and it handles pretty nicely. I really like it when the guy behind me starts freaking out.”

5/27/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

Villeneuve to test on Thursday - source
Verstappen calls off Jordan test
Stewart re-elected President
Montoya 'looking forward' to McLaren switch
Hakkinen to test BMW-Williams - report
'Give our diamond back' - Steinmetz
Ferrari 'investigating' Rubens' problem
'Take your coat to Nurburgring' - Schu
McLaren has 'no performance steps'
Nurburgring is 'home track' for Toyota
Toyota 'won't score more points' - driver
'B spec' McLaren debut 'delayed' - source
Schu 'just as passionate' as Senna - Brawn
Mosley's 'political ploy' - Ron Dennis
Massa defends 'inconsistent' driving
How fast is Trulli's Renault ... ?
Jordan hope for Eifel rain
Jaguar 'wade through data' - spokesman
Renault line-up 'as good as any other' - Bell
Patrick Head to attend 'some races' 

5/27/04

Indy ticket availability  A reader writes, Just for kicks I went to the Brickyard's website today. I went to the section where you can buy Indy 500 tickets online. I typed in a search for 10 tickets (in a block) in various sections and found plenty.  I then tried a search for 20 tickets and again found plenty. I then tried a search for a block of 30 tickets and again found plenty. In fact, I was able to find 30 tickets all together as high as row 15. It is shocking to see how many seats are still available. I was going to search eBay too but I already know what the answer would be so why bother? Your previous rumor about all the unsold tickets must be pretty close to accurate. It's sad what TG has done to Indy. Really sad. Signed, Indy Car Fan

5/26/04

Champ Cars to test at Road America  Champ Cars will be on track at Road America for road course testing on Monday, May 31. The testing is free and open to the public. Gates will open at 8:00 a.m., and spectators may watch from the Turn 14 grandstands. Champ Car testing will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. To date Dale Coyne Racing, Forsythe Championship Racing, Mi-Jack Conquest Racing and Walker Racing have confirmed participation. Driving for Dale Coyne are #19, Tarso Marques and #11, Oriol Servia. Forsythe drivers are #7, Patrick Carpentier; #3, Rodolfo Lavin; and #1, Paul Tracy, the 2003 series champion. Mi-Jack Conquest racing is fielding #14 Alex Sperafico and #34, Justin Wilson. Mario Haberfeld, #5, is driving for Walker Racing. Road America will host Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series, Motorock Trans-Am Tour, Toyota Atlantics and Formula BMW Aug. 5-8. A Super Ticket for the four-day weekend is $115 if ordered by July 26. Children 12 and under are free, as are parking, access to the paddock and shuttle rides around the facility. Tickets may be ordered online, www.roadamerica.com or by calling 1.800.365.RACE (7223).

5/26/04

Mazzacane to test a Coyne Lola  Reports out of Buenos Aires say that Argentinean Gastón Mazzacane will test a Dale Coyne Lola at Putnam Park tomorrow (Thursday) with an eye toward becoming comfortable with a Champ Car and landing a possible ride later in the year with some team.  This of course fits in with rumors Champ Car might race in Argentina in 2005.

5/26/04

Burke Lakefront gets some needed repaving  Recent pavement work was done at Burke Lakefront Airport on the taxiway nearest the highway. That should be good news for the drivers since Turn 8, and the long straight that followed, were among the bumpiest parts of the circuit.

5/26/04
Industry News

NASCAR vs. Open Wheel, which is better  This Dallas Fort-Worth Star Telegram article does a decent high-level comparison of comparing open wheel racing to stock car racing and why one is better than the other.

5/26/04

No Jordan ride for Jos in 2004 - can't fit in car  A few weeks ago, rumors suggested Jos Verstappen was scheduled to test the Jordan EJ14 at Silverstone on the first day of June. Most people believed that it would be only a formality before either regular drivers Nick Heidfeld or Giorgio Pantano would be replaced by the "Trust money" driver. However, "When you can't sit properly in the car you are not able to perform 100%," explained Verstappen on his official web site. "We had to think long and hard about this decision, together with our sponsors. It is a shame, both for Jordan and myself. I have to thank the Jordan mechanics for their efforts; they worked very hard to try to give me a good sitting position in the Jordan F1 car."

5/26/04

Indy Pit Stop Competition  Twelve of the fastest pit crews in motorsports will challenge May 27 for bragging rights, the first-place trophy and $30,000 winner's check during the 28th annual Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Since 1977, the Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge has paired the finest pit crews and drivers - including 11 Indianapolis 500 winners - in exciting head-to-head competition to determine the fastest pit crew at Indy for the year. The 2004 Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge begins at 1:30 p.m. (EST, Indy time). It will be televised on a tape-delayed basis as part of a Miller Lite Carb Day recap from 3:30-6 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN2.

5/26/04

Jeff Gordon comments on Wind Tunnel  Below are select quotes from Tuesday's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SPEED Channel. Four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon was Despain's guest, talking about everything from earning respect to a possible future in Formula One.

Gordon on new wave of Young Guns earning on-track respect: "The sport has grown. It's a big business. They're making stars out of these guys immediately. When I came into it, it took you a couple of years before you were supposed to win races. Now, if you don't win a race in your first year, you're not considered a good rookie. And if you do, you are an instant star. ... We are starting to see just a small -- just a little amount -- of the NBA, NFL rookie kind of thing, but not to that level. I think you earn your respect by your actions on the race track with the competitors. It doesn't matter what you say or what you do off the race track, it's how you act on the race track and when you go out there and act like you own the race track, you're not going to earn much respect."

Gordon on Tony Stewart: "To me, Tony is one of the best drivers out there and I respect him tremendously. That was my comeback to him, 'Tony, I have too much respect for you. I think you are too good of a driver to make mistakes like that -- what's going on?' ... I think he is too good to make those kinds of mistakes. But I can point fingers at myself -- I've made some mistakes myself. Whether it's pressure or whether it's distractions, it's just a mistake. We all make them. Some of his lately have just been more visible."

Gordon on rumors of future in F1: "I love Formula One racing. I think it is amazing. And I probably didn't know how much it would get my wheels rolling on it if I hadn't drove the car I did last year (Juan Pablo Montoya's F1 car for the SPEED Channel show Tradin' Paint). I felt what it's like to drive that car and it's an amazing experience. But I also recognize the commitment and the dedication it would take to move over there. I also recognize that I am very committed to where I am at. ... It's not about a contract. It's about people being in place and they are there because you are there and sponsors that are in place that you've made a commitment to. It's more about that type of commitment.

"I don't know if I am in my prime to go into F1, but I am certainly in a position today to have a good ride. That's something that I never expected. That was pretty interesting going over there (Barcelona, Spain for an F1 race) and people were pulling me off to the side. It was an awesome experience and I had a lot of fun, but I am very happy with where I am."

Despain then said "So, you are not going to do it?" Gordon replied with a chuckle: "I don't think I'm going to do it."

Gordon on the growth of NASCAR: "I think we do need tracks in other areas of the country where there are fans that are not getting an chance to go. And also areas that could bring more sponsorship, more marketing and more of an impact on our sport to take it not only more nationwide, but worldwide. I think that we were saturated a little too much in the Southeast. I think it is unfortunate that a great race track like Rockingham was the one to pay the price, because it's one of my favorite tracks. But you've got to also look at the attendance out there - 75,000 seats and they were having trouble selling them out. Whose fault is that? - hard to say. ... I think we should go to Canada and I think we should go to Mexico. I don't know if we need to be in Japan or Germany or wherever. There is some support but not really a big fan base in those areas. But Canada and Mexico, I think we could see some big impact there."

Gordon on winning eight championships: "It's not really a goal. I think it is next to impossible. I'm one to set my goals high, but right now, my sites are set on number five. Until I get to seven, then eight is not anything that is achievable. I love and look forward to the challenge, but I I've already accomplished way more than I thought I would with four ... but I think we have more in us."

5/26/04

Tony George should admit the IRL was a mistake  This Cincinnati Enquirer article from 1999 is probably more true today than it was back in 1999 because things have only gotten worse since then.  It says, Remember the New Coke? Just like the Old Coke, except for the taste. Maybe the dumbest idea in the history of marketing. That is, at least, until the Indy Racing League. The humbling lesson the soda pop people learned back in 1985 has evidently been lost on Tony George. It can be capsulized as follows: Don't mess too much with a winning formula, or you may risk losing your fizz. The Indianapolis 500 has lost its edge, progressively dulled by George's warped view of the racing world. The President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, looking to leverage his famous track, has succeeded mainly in marginalizing the erstwhile Greatest Spectacle In Racing. George's motoring megalomania conjures Napoleon's march on Moscow and Kevin Costner's making of Waterworld. It is an exercise in suicidal self-indulgence..........Ultimately, the measure of Tony George's success will be determined by how well and how soon he compromises with CART. It's hard to keep selling mystique when your customers keep thinking, “mistake.”

5/26/04

McLaren to test new car  Autosport Magazine reports in its latest edition that McLaren's new car, the MP4-19B, will be tested at Silverstone next week as the team targets a late-season turnaround in its fortunes.   The new car has a repackaged monocoque which has passed the mandatory crash tests.  McLaren technical director Adrian Newey, who is hoping to get the new car out in time for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on July 24, said much would depend on getting through this weekend’s European Grand Prix without the need for major repairs to the current car.   “We expect [to test] somewhere between two and four weeks from now – it depends on the race bits,” said Newey last weekend.   In terms of lap times the simulation says the benefits should be significant, but I would rather not go further than that at the moment.”   The MP4-19B is based on the MP4-19,which has meant the weight distribution could not be altered as much as the technical department had hoped. Newey added: “It’s an updated car so virtually all the mechanical parts are the same, but the bodywork is heavily updated, which means that we have to redo the crash test. That’s signed off so we are building the car at the moment.”   McLaren is still planning an all new car for the start of 2005.

5/26/04

Brazilian drivers were kidnapped  This Indy Star article talks about the Brazilian IRL (former Champ Car) drivers who have been kidnapped in their home country.  Certainly does not sound like a safe place to be, especially Sao Paulo.

5/26/04

Ten years since Gordon's first win  It was exactly 10 years ago this Memorial Day weekend that a young gun named Jeff Gordon won his first race in NASCAR's premier series in a rainbow-colored No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Lumina. Since then, the paint scheme and the make of car have changed, but little else has. Gordon went on to win the inaugural Brickyard 400 that year – the weekend of his 23rd birthday – and went on a winning streak like no other over the past decade. Four championships and 66 wins later, Gordon returns to Lowe's Motor Speedway – site of that first, emotional win – looking for another victory and to maintain his winning percentage of nearly 20 percent starting with that first win at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "I never would have guessed 10 years ago that I'd be where I am now," said Gordon. "Sometimes it still amazes me that I made it to this level at all. A lot has changed over the years both personally and professionally – I certainly never thought I'd be a partial team owner at Hendrick Motorsports – but the one thing that has stayed the same is the heart of this team that has kept this DuPont team strong for so long." Now considered a veteran driver, Gordon is one of only 16 drivers who started in that 43-car field 10 years ago that still competes full-time in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series today.

5/26/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

Jaguar offers reward for lost diamond
Pizzonia and Williams
'I'll drive a McLaren' - Montoya
Silverstone safe until 2006 ... ?
Dixon won't race in Formula One 
Michael is Williams' new technical director
Why would Jarno 'tremble' ... ?
Alonso accuses FIA of favoritism
London GP would be 'fantastic'
Indy's 'pitlane walkabout' is back
Overtaking possible at Nurburgring
Ferrari use 'light weight' F1 fuel
Ferrari praise Trulli win
'Military planning' for back-to-back races
Schu feels 'no pressure' at home track
Williams and BMW 'moving closer together'
Soft tires for Nurburgring
Trulli to watch Champions' League final
Williams' second wind tunnel 'on stream

5/26/04


All Ganassi employees to get TAG Heuer watch  Chip Ganassi Racing is using their new partnership with TAG Heuer to recognize their employees. As part of their partnership, every employee with at least one year of service to the company will receive a free TAG Heuer luxury watch. It was recently announced that TAG Heuer is the Official Timekeeper, Official Watch, and Chronograph and Official Partner for Chip Ganassi Racing for their entries in the Indy Racing League, NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, and the Grand-Am Series.

“I’m excited that we are able to provide this gift to our dedicated employees who make our racing operation extremely competitive across open-wheel, stock car and road racing,” Chip Ganassi said. “We are very focused on our people and our partnerships as our most important assets, and we saw this as an opportunity to combine the two to recognize our people for their dedication to winning races and adding value to our sponsor’s investments.”

“Our new partnership with TAG Heuer fits very well with the strength and class of brands we already partner with,” Ganassi added. “In addition, TAG Heuer’s contributions to the art of watch making and science of timekeeping have raised the bar for the sport of motor racing, and to have our team associated with that high level of quality and precision is a winning combination.”

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

5/26/04

Another NASCAR fan idiot alert  In the continuation of an ugly trend (3 races now) from earlier this year, Matt Kenseth said that fans were throwing debris at his car after he won Saturday's race. "I had a full beer can hit the car," Kenseth said. "I don't like stuff hitting the car, but there's nothing you can do about five or six individuals, I guess." Flying debris was a problem after races at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and California Speedway earlier this year. Like many racetracks, LMS has signs warning fans that they will be ejected for throwing things on the track. USA Today  [Editor's Note: It looks like NASCAR is going to have to ban all alcohol from the grandstands of their races because the drunken Bubbas in the stands can't handle it.]

5/26/04

Hendrick moving HQ to Concord  Hendrick Cos. plans to move its corporate headquarters to Concord from Charlotte in a $15 million project that will consolidate most of the company's operations in Cabarrus County. Hendrick, the corporate umbrella for motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick's NASCAR operations and related businesses, has bought 30 acres off Speedway Boulevard, near Lowe's Motor Speedway, for the development. Plans call for construction of two buildings by year end; their size wasn't available at press time.   Charlotte Business Journal

5/26/04

Nextel Cup TV ratings down 1.7% through 9 races  Fox is averaging a 5.9/15 Nielsen rating through nine NASCAR Nextel Cup races, down 1.7% from a 6.0/15 for the nine comparable races in '03. Fox will air five more races before NBC takes over Nextel Cup coverage with the Tropicana 400 on July 11 (Sports Business Daily).

NEXTEL CUP RACE

DATE

'04 RATING/SHARE

'03 RATING/SHARE

HR %+/-

Subway 400

2/22

6.6/16

6.7/16

-1.5%

UAW/DaimlerChrysler 400

3/7

5.8/14

6.9/15

-15.9%

Golden Corral 500

3/14

5.7/14

6.4/16

-10.9%

Carolina Dodge Dealers 400

3/21

5.6/14

5.9/15

-5.1%

Food City 500

3/28

6.0/15

5.5/13

9.1%

Samsung/RadioShack 500

4/4

6.0/15

6.3/14

-4.8%

Advance Auto Parts 500

4/18

5.4/14

5.3/14

1.9%

Aaron's 499

4/25

6.3/15

6.2/15

1.6%

Auto Club 500

5/2

6.1/14

5.3/13

15.1%

"NASCAR ON FOX" AVERAGE

 

5.9/15

6.0/15

-1.7%

5/26/04

IRL killing the Indy 500    To analyze just how much Tony George has ruined the Indy 500, let's examine its TV rating trend over the last decade.  In 8 short years Tony George has managed to shrink the Indy 500 down to less than 50% of where CART left off with his concept of what Indy Car racing should be, i.e. the IRL.  In fact every NASCAR race (see above) gets a higher TV rating than the IRL's crown jewel, the Indy 500.  And this is progress?  Tell us once again why Tony had to create the IRL?

YEAR

NETWORK

RATING/SHARE

Series

IRL Damage Analysis

1992

ABC

10.9/33

CART

 

1993

ABC

9.3/30

CART

 

1994

ABC

9.1/31

CART

 

1995

ABC

9.4/28

CART

% of Last CART Year

1996

ABC

7.1/23

IRL

75.5%

1997

ABC

5.0/18

IRL

53.1%

1998

ABC

6.0/19

IRL

63.8%

1999

ABC

5.5/18

IRL

58.5%

2000

ABC

5.5/15

IRL

58.5%

2001

ABC

5.8/17

IRL

61.7%

2002

ABC

4.8/15

IRL

51.1%

2003

ABC

4.6/14

IRL

48.9%

5/26/04

Indy 500 pole day TV rating   UPDATE The final Indy 500 pole day TV rating has dropped from an overnight of 1.3/4 Share to a final of 0.9/2 Share.  Just when we thought the IRL was making progress, reality stepped in.  5/20/04 - The overnight 2-hour ABC broadcast last Saturday for the Indy 500 pole was a 1.3/4 Share Rating.  Last year pole day got a 0.8 rating so this year's result was a positive bump up.  Speaking of bump, Bump Day at Indy in 2003 garnered a 2.0 TV rating.  Let's see if they can beat that this year.

5/25/04

Sadler: Fords down on RPM  Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, goes into this weekend's Coca-Cola 600 in 10th place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. Sadler, who has been in the top 10 every week, spoke about the challenges he and his fellow competitors face in the season's longest race of the year.

YOU RAN AT RICHMOND WITH THE NEW CYLINDER HEAD PACKAGE. WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS? "I think it's definitely more along the lines rpm-wise with where we need to be to compete with the Chevrolets and Dodges. They've got us beat pretty bad right now in that area. We know we're at a disadvantage, but Doug and Robert and all the guys in the motor shop have worked day and night to try to get that cylinder head ready. I was able to run it at Richmond and was very happy with it. The longevity showed to be great and I've also tested it at Kentucky for a bunch of miles and this is something we need to work with in the future. I think we're gonna have to have it to be competitive and to win the championship this year, we're gonna have to have those heads - especially when we get to places like Michigan and Pocono and Indy and places like that. I think we're gonna have to have it to compete with these guys. I would have loved to have had it at California, but I'm really impressed with the work they've done on it so far. We're just gonna have to test it a few times because you have to change your setup with it a little bit, but, hopefully, it'll be good."

SO YOU SENSE YOU'RE DOWN ON HORSEPOWER? "I think the Fords are at a disadvantage right now on horsepower, I think. It showed that when they went in and did the dyno stuff, but until we get our new heads that are more in tune to what Dodge and Chevrolet are doing, we're gonna be down a little bit. Not that we're down from a lack of work. I think we've got great horsepower for the engine that we have, but I think to be competitive we have to have the new style heads like the other guys have got. The rpm range now has gone up so much to where our motors are made to turn 9200-9300 while the Chevrolet and Dodges are turning 9800-10,000, so we have to try and get more on that pace to be able to run with those guys."

5/25/04

Jaguar offers car for lost diamond   JAGUAR Formula One is offering a $65,000 X-series car as reward for anyone who finds and returns a $360,000 diamond that was fitted to the nose cone of a race car that crashed in Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix. A spokesman said the team was planning to scour the streets of Monaco for the button-sized gem that vanished when rookie driver Christian Klien ploughed into the barrier on his first lap. Klien, 20, crashed negotiating a hairpin bend at 113km per hour, spreading debris over about 200 meters. "We're searching a very large area for a very small diamond," Jaguar spokesman Nav Sidhu said. "We're not expecting someone to turn up and say, 'Hey, we've found your diamond'." The team had a diamond fitted on the nose of both their race cars as part of a sponsorship tie-up with Steinmetz Diamond Group.

5/25/04

NASCAR unveils 2004 logo   NASCAR and Nextel today unveiled the official logo for the ‘04 “Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup”

5/25/04
Formula BMW USA

Formula BMW hopefuls await Lime Rock   Red Bull Junior Team member Matt Jaskol has been turning heads as he turns laps this spring as he prepares to do battle in the 2004 Formula BMW USA Championship. The young Las Vegas native is the only Red Bull Driver Search winner who will be chasing his Formula 1 dreams stateside, as his fellow winners, Dominique Claessens, Colin Fleming and Scott Speed, have already begun racing this season in Europe in the Formula Renault Eurocup. The Red Bull Junior Team has made significant strides this season, with Scott Speed scoring the program’s first win, while Fleming and Claessens have shown quick progress in their first season abroad. Hearing of his fellow team members’ exploits has only made Jaskol all the more anxious to get back to doing what he loves best, wheel to wheel racing. The waiting is almost over, as the series debut race weekend will be staged at Lime Rock Park on Memorial Day weekend. In the meantime, Jaskol has been serving notice of his intention to make the BMW championship his, working his way through the testing program set up by his team, Florida-based Autotecnica, and impressing them with his speed and feedback. In the two-day official FBMW test at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, Jaskol was quickest in every session that he ran in, and set a best lap time more than one second faster than anyone else.

17-year-old James Hinchcliffe (Jadome Enterprises / Franzak) heads to the 2.258 mile Lime Rock Park race course to compete in the opening round of the 2004 Formula BMW (FBMW) USA Championship Series. Hinchcliffe, who is coming off a strong test at Mid-Ohio, will look to continue his pace and contend for the premiere win in North American competition. Hinchcliffe, a previous race winner in the SCCA FF1600 division and the Bridgestone / FormulaCar Magazine F2000 Series, is a proven front runner and will be looking to get the season started off right in his hunt for the championship. “I love these cars and had a great test two weeks ago” explained Hinchcliffe in a recent phone interview. “I am excited to get the season started and am pumped for next weekend.” The Oakville, Ontario resident enters his rookie season with the knowledgeable AIM Autosport squad and will look to expand on their vast variety of championship titles. James will hit the track Friday morning for his first practice session of the weekend’s competition. Hinchcliffe will look to put his Mobil 1 BMW race car on the provision pole in qualifying for race #1 on Friday afternoon. With the implementation of the double race weekends, James will qualify again Saturday morning for Sunday’s race #2. Wheel-to-wheel racing competition begins Saturday at 1:25pm. Fans can go online to www.bmw-motorsport.com to get an up-to-date schedule and view results for each and every on-track session.

5/25/04

Bourdais in Cleveland   Newman/Haas Racing pilot Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will be in Cleveland today as a part of an advance promotion visit for the July 1-3 U.S. Bank Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland event following his win from pole in Round 2 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford in Monterrey, Mexico. The Champ Car World Series current points leader will be conducting interviews with various media outlets. He will also be making an appearance at tonight’s baseball game at Jacobs Field to throw the first pitch for the Cleveland Indians/Seattle Mariners game. Bourdais is the defending race winner from the 2003 event in Cleveland. Last year’s event was run at night, the first time The Champ Cars ran under lights on the temporary 2.106-mile road course at Burke Lakefront Airport. The 2004 U.S. Bank Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland will take place during the Fourth of July weekend, with the race to be held on Saturday, July 3, with a 5:00 p.m. local start time.

5/25/04

PKV Racing road course testing blitz   Fresh off a solid showing in Monterrey, Mexico last week, PKV Racing continues to pick up steam as the 2004 Champ Car World Series train winds up for a string of nine stops in 15 weeks starting with the June 5th Time Warner Cable Road Runner 250 under the lights at the venerable Milwaukee Mile. But before 1998 Milwaukee champion Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and 2004 Champ Car Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings, Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) take the Green Flag on the 1.032-mile oval, the PKV duo will travel to both Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Road America for a furious five-day span of testing. After moving into second place in the Rookie-of-the Year standings with a career-best placing of ninth in his native Mexico last weekend, Gonzalez will join teammate and 1997 Laguna Seca winner Vasser just off the picturesque California coastline in Monterey for the first leg of testing this Friday, May 28th. Following the one-day affair, the PKV squad will pit in Wisconsin Tuesday, June 1st for another one-off test day at one of Champ Car’s most fabled circuits, the 4.048-mile ribbon of pavement at Elkhart Lake.

5/25/04

Newman: Tony George spending on himself   From a Ryan Newman press release today - IS IT DISAPPOINTING TO SEE WHAT HAPPENED AT INDY THIS MONTH? “I’m not that in tune to it as Roger Penske is obviously. I don’t know everything that went on. I know the car count wasn’t very huge and the driver count on top of that wasn’t very huge. The sport changes for a reason. They’ll figure out what’s going on and how to make things better. I know they went through a lot of rule changes with the engines and cars to make things safer. I think that was a big part of it. I’m sure there were plenty of racecars around from the last couple of years that would have been easily able to make it in the show. I think they’re struggling for some teams in the series. I think there’s quite a few unsponsored cars or at least some cars that were unsponsored until they made the show. That’s one part of it. The other part of it is there’s a lot of money that gets spent internally at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’m talking about Tony George spending it on himself.”

5/25/04

Petty & Elliott test at Daytona   NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers Kyle Petty and Bill Elliott kicked off a two-day test session on Tuesday at historic Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the 46th annual Pepsi 400 on Saturday night, July 3. Petty, who won his first career stock car race at the World Center of Racing in the 1979 ARCA 200, tested the No. 45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge while Elliott, a two-time Daytona 500 champion and two-time Pepsi 400 winner, shook down a Dodge for Evernham Motorsports. Elliott, who is running a limited NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule this season, is uncertain if he'll compete in this years Pepsi 400. Petty is looking forward to his 23rd start in the 160-lap, 400-mile race. He has been visiting the hallowed grounds of Daytona International Speedway before his first birthday. He has memories of spending the Independence Day holiday at Daytona Beach as both a kid and as a competitor.   My favorite memories are being about 11 or 12 and getting to come down here and go to a beach, Petty said. This was the only place I saw a beach. This is the only race track that's close to a beach. Just remember that. We would come and stay over (at a hotel) on the beach. The Pearsons would stay there and the Allisons with Davey and Clifford. Donnie (Allisons) kids and the Jarretts. Everybody kind of stayed at the same hotel so all the kids hung out together." Another Pepsi 400 memory that sticks out in Petty's mind is his father Richard's 200th NASCAR victory on July 4, 1984 with President Ronald Reagan in attendance. Richard Petty edged rival Cale Yarborough by a few feet to take the white and yellow flag and secure the victory.

5/25/04

Bernie secures Silverstone for at least two years  This Autosport article says, The British Racing Drivers' Club which owns Silverstone has announced a deal which secures the British Grand Prix for another two years. The agreement comes in the wake of the recent move by Interpublic to relinquish its long-term contract with Ecclestone to promote the race. The statement runs: "Following recent meetings between Bernie Ecclestone, representing Formula One Administration, Sir Jackie Stewart, representing the BRDC, and the British Government, a way forward has been reached that will allow the British Grand Prix to be retained in the United Kingdom for 2005 and 2006.  More.....

5/25/04

It's official, Williams replaces Head  BMW-Williams have shaken up their team structure, elevating Sam Michael into the role of technical director, replacing Patrick Head. Head will oversee responsibilities as director of engineering, a new post created for the longtime team shareholder. "Naturally, I am extremely pleased to have been given such a positive vote of confidence with the appointment to the position of Technical Director," said Michael, who joined Williams in 2001 from Jordan. "I share Patrick's view that this division of responsibilities will free Patrick to take on an important strategic role, and the timing allows me to take charge of the progression of the FW27 from the outset. "When Adrian Newey joined us in 1990, I moved from Chief Designer to Technical Director, and now I think the time and opportunity is right to make a further change," said Head.

5/25/04

Mario and the two big TV networks   Mario Dominguez was interviewed by every Mexican media member on Sunday after the race, but he gave TV Azteca most of his time, which makes sense as TV Azteca has the largest coverage of Champ Cars in Mexico.  It's common practice with all drivers during an interview to wear their team cap with all his sponsors on it.  However, Televisa ( TV Azteca's main competitor) is one of the minor sponsors for Mario Dominguez and there is a small Televisa logo on the side of the team cap.  During all the interviews Mario was turning right to answer journalist Marco Tolama, and every time he turned the logo was visible.  During the interview, Mario asked the director of sports of TV Azteca (who was in Mexico City) if he wanted something (meaning if he could send him a memento), and the director started laughing and said, for starters you can stop turning right so we can stop seeing the only ugly part of your cap.  After a few seconds Mario added, well here's the deal, I'll send you this cap which I was wearing on the podium as a gift to you but you have to put it in your hall of fame (they do have one in TV Azteca offices). Yesterday the director received Mario's cap and yes, he put it in the hall of fame, although there is a certain logo facing the wall.. José Arrambide

5/25/04

Everything back to normal in Mexico   Friday through Sunday Fundidora Park was roaring with one of the best forms of racing in the world, but yesterday morning the park was again opened for the normal public.  Once again the park was full with people running, skating, jogging, walking or attending either of the 2 museums.  Today the Cineteca (2 movie theaters for Independent and foreign films) will open to the public again. José Arrambide

5/25/04

Michael Andretti to waste his son's talent   Clearly Marco Andretti is a very talented driver.  As he has come up through the Champ Car ladder series he has won handily at every level.  Of course the Champ Car ladder is road racing based, and if Marco were to continue on that path we could have eventually seen him in Champ Cars and perhaps F1 where America needs a big name driver to fight for the World title, something his grandfather Mario won back in 1978, one of only two Americans to ever do so.  However, in this LA Times article, Michael says,  "He'll be here in a couple of years, in the Infiniti [development series] race at least," said the proud father. "It is fantastic how fast he has developed. He is winning races everywhere he goes and he is way beyond where I was at his age. It's not just his love of speed, it's the way he creates opportunities on the track and then exploits them. He is calculating, fun to watch because you never know when he will make some creative pass," Michael Andretti says.   Clearly then, Michael Andretti plans to take his talented son to the 100% throttle racing league where he will lose the edge on his skills developed in the Champ Car road racing ladder system and forever be overlooked by any of the top F1 teams as simply an oval tracker.  Too bad for Marco, and too bad for America. Hopefully he won't become another sad statistic in the injury laden league.  Mark C.

5/25/04

Mosley hoping for new teams in 2005  In this press conference held prior to the Monaco GP, Max Mosley said,  "I would really hope we could see a new team in 2005," said the Englishman. "There is no reason why we shouldn't if we could get agreement. But they need to know very quickly. We can't wait much longer, 2006, certainly.   The trouble is the existing teams, and one can understand it, want to defend their situation," he continued, "and they don't want somebody taking some of the money that could otherwise go to them.  They have to recognize that it is unhealthy, if you just keep a little cartel of people getting steadily older and you don't let anybody new in, it is not a particularly healthy situation, particularly in sport, and at a certain point it probably isn't even legal, let alone moral, so I think we can persuade them to open up, I hope we can."

One of the major obstacles preventing new teams coming into F1 in recent years, is the £27m bond that prospective entrants must lodge. This was introduced several years ago when teams were entering and leaving the sport at will, often on a race-by-race basis.  Mosley said that the bond could easily be dropped, thereby eliminating one obstacle for F1 newcomers.  The bond at the moment is merely a sporting regulation," he said, "and that could be abolished, at the moment, for 2005.  It was simply a device to stop endless people putting in frivolous entries," he explained. "That could be changed tomorrow, it is not part of the Concorde Agreement, it is just a sporting regulation. So it won't be a problem."

5/25/04

Indy 500 running out of gas   This MSNBC article says, Open-wheel racing in trouble ever since IRL split with CART. The 500 hasn’t been racing's biggest show for quite a while. Daytona long ago took over that distinction. And for all the forced optimism coming from the custodians of open-wheel racing, this is a sport in big trouble. Nothing says it more than the unseemly scrambling that went on over the weekend to find enough cars to fill the 33-car field. Normally, qualifying means you have to go faster than someone. In the good old days, faster qualifiers on the last weekend could bump cars out of the field.............This year and last, no one had a speed to beat. Race officials said they’d take any “respectable” time. They declined to be more specific, as their definition of respectable was getting around the track four times with the engine running at the end. You should have been there. If you could have slapped a couple of decals on a Hyundai, you might have made the field. So seven drivers, who had spent the week scrambling for such essentials as sponsors, dutifully put in their laps this weekend and were slotted into the field. Some of the speeds were the slowest since 1997. And the guardians of a dying sport considered this acceptable. The guardians of the 500 and open-wheel racing will say different. They’ll say their sport is fine, even after eight years of turmoil that set in when Tony George, the most recent owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, formed his own racing circuit, the IRL, in a split with the established outfit, CART — Championship Auto Racing Teams.

The split came in 1996. The previous year, Jacques Villeneuve won. In ‘96 Buddy Lazier won, a name worth remembering if only because it will win you some bar bets........There was an audience for CART races back then. There were even network television contracts and you could see a race almost every weekend on TV. But it was tenuous even in the good days. NASCAR was on the rise, and the open-wheel race cars attracted a somewhat more sophisticated — which means limited — crowd than the fender- and bumper-bashing NASCAR machines.........So when Tony George declared his own racing series featuring cars that weren’t as powerful as the CART cars, and the tug-of-war over drivers inevitably followed, fans didn’t know who they were watching — or why. Worse, the IRL series was run solely on ovals, which removed the excitement of road racing, which is what open-wheel cars do best......The overall level of support is thin, and sponsors are increasingly hard to come by. And without a roster of good-old-boy American heroes like A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, and Rick Mears, fans are also hard to come by.......Like horse racing, open-wheel racing has become something to pay attention to only when the big races come around. The proof was at the brickyard this weekend. Once, dozens of teams would fight ferociously for spots in the grid. Now, anyone who showed up was welcome.........That’s hardly the sign of the greatest spectacle in racing.

5/25/04
Formula Renault

Scott Speed wins again, other Americans show well  Scott Speed won round four of the German Formula Renault Championship at TT Circuit Assen in The Netherlands this weekend, with his Red Bull Junior Teammates snipping at his heels every step of the way as the American talent contingent has continued to improve every lap they run in their quest for Formula 1 glory. The win is the second for Speed after just four races in the German championship, (four total wins including Eurocup competition) as the young American was also triumphant in the second round with a brave drive in wet/dry conditions earlier this month in Oschersleben.

Colin Fleming, Dominique Claessens, and Speed all qualified in the top six for the first race of the weekend, moving the benchmark upward once again, as the threesome improved on last weeks’ qualifying effort which saw all three in the top ten for the first time in the Red Bull Junior Team’s history.

At the start of race one, Fleming passed Speed for second place before Speed retook the spot after a safety car restart. Fleming asserted himself once again to retake the spot and set off to hunt down the leader, but was unable to find a safe place to pass and wisely settled for second, with Speed behind in third, and Claessens taking fifth.

Fleming, who had a disappointing weekend last weekend in Eurocup competition when he saw two potential podium finishes vanish in tire smoke and car problems, was happy to notch another podium as he continues to pursue the view from the top step of the podium.

"I had the fastest car of all, but I just couldn’t pass the leader,” Fleming said. “It just would have been too dangerous. And, after all, the second position is not too bad!"

The second race of the weekend set the stage for Speed's win as he took second at the start with Fleming giving chase. Speed shadowed polesitter Pascal Kochem until Kochem made a mistake under braking and Speed pounced to take the lead. The young American had a clear track ahead and cruised to a win with Fleming joining him on the podium in third.

"Kochem made a mistake and I took advantage of it immediately,” said Speed. “After that it was relatively easy to take off and clearly win the race. It is a great feeling, especially after yesterday’s 3rd place!"

The 2004 Red Bull Driver Search program aims to discover and support the "diamond in the rough," lacking the knowledge and contacts needed to embark on a career in racing, as well as talented young drivers already in racing. The long-term goal is to have a steady group of three to six American drivers racing in Europe, groomed to break into Formula 1 and compete for the World Championship.

5/25/04

Car access to Silverstone to be better  The access to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix will be improved this year.  The A43 divided highway will become part of the circuits one-way system on the Friday of the event, in addition to Saturday and Sunday.  "We welcome the announcement," said Chief Constable Peter Maddison of the Northamptonshire Police. "We recognize that the British Grand Prix is very important to the local motorsport industry, to local tourism and to the country. Spectator numbers will be greater on all three days of this year's event and we will ensure that everyone attending the racing will get to Silverstone as quickly and as safely as possible. Friday is likely to be very busy with race traffic and we feel the road closures, and the diversionary routes in place for non race-goers, will minimize disruption for all road users during the weekend."

5/25/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

'India 'reviews' F1 project
Williams' Head to step aside
Trulli to stay at Renault
Jaguar pull shiny PR stunt ... ?
Honda thought it could fix Sato engine
Button 'blatantly' held up - BAR boss
Jacques WILL test a Williams
Renault now 'easier to drive' - Trulli
DC prolongs criticism of 'naïve' BAR
Monaco to Germany: a 700-mile dash
Alonso 'won't talk to' Schumacher
Back-to-back races are 'no problem'
Ralf thinks German win is unlikely
Panis waits for revised Toyota car
Button 'has matured' as a driver
Is Fernando still furious ... ?
Todt stands by Ferrari's Schumacher
Schu likes back-to-back turnaround
Monaco a 'great day' for Formula One
Rain on Nurburgring parade ... ?
'I could have crashed out' - Button
God's birthday present to Rubens

5/24/04

Bring back Pit Windows   A reader writes, The Champ Car officials have done a great job listening to the drivers. They changed qualifying immediately when they realized they made a mistake. It is great to see how fast a privately owned company can make things happen. Now it is time to do some more.

Last season Champ Car racing was known for being an incredibly difficult series to win. The main reason, their motto was "Real Racing, Real Sport." No traction control, no power steering, no ABS brakes.....was the way. Also, the format of the race was designed to rid itself of "luck" racing and rewarded true speed. The fastest teams, cars, and drivers would win week in and week out.......just like real racing should be. If you can't hack it, go somewhere else and race. It was beautiful and pure, exactly what true Champ Car fans, who have stayed through the thick and thin, love.

Nowadays, things are different......or more the same again. For two races in a row, we have again seen that Champ Car racing is no longer about "Real Racing, Real Sport." It is about waiting behind traffic to save fuel and to pass in the pits. More importantly, it is about luck......not speed. Why even have the push-to pass-button when it uses more fuel and the race has to do with luck anyway?!

I am thrilled that Dominguez finished 3rd after "gambling" and getting lucky in Mexico. How does someone spin out, go to the back of the field, only pass 4-5 cars and end up 3rd? Also, believe it or not, there was a point at the end of the race where Rodolfo Lavin could have won the race if a yellow came out in an 8 laps stretch. Could you imagine that? Something is definitely wrong with this picture unless you like to play the lottery. Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to even follow the race anymore, even for the extremely dedicated fans. How in the world can we expect to pull in other fans when we can't even follow it or explain it? How can the drivers and teams even be motivated when you can be the fastest car all race and lose the race because of an inopportune yellow flag?

I noticed they don't advertise the "Real Racing, Real Sport" motto anymore.....it probably is correct. I guess now we are watching "IRL rules" road racing.....if they don't change it back to the mandatory pit stops ASAP. Champ Car officials, you have listened to the drivers in qualifying, now listen to the drivers and FANS about the race format. You guys should know by now that we are purists. If we weren't, we'd be watching manufactured racing of the IRL/NASCAR/GrandAm. Bring back the mandatory pit windows and let them race. Derek Hughes, Jacksonville, FL

5/24/04

Indy 500 gets blasted   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, The Indy 500 really got blasted in a very good Robin Miller interview on Wind Tunnel tonight.  The fact is that the best drivers still are not in it.  Marty Roth is in it while guys like Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Michel Jourdain, Sebastien Bourdais, and Justin Wilson are not.  Also a couple of callers phoned in disgusted.  Everyone seems to be fed up with the Indy 500.  Doug Ferguson, Florida  Dear Doug, Everyone saw right through the IRL's lame attempt to get some PR coverage by parading Tony Stewart out on camera to hype up Fill Day (Oops, Bump Day).  They got a black eye and found out fans are more intelligent than the sheep they were hoping they were.  Mark C.

5/24/04

Champ Car fans not happy with TV coverage   [Editor's note: We received many letters on this topic.  Here is one of many with a similar message.]  I have to say how disappointed I was in the coverage of Sunday's Monterrey Grand Prix on Spike TV. The announcing crew was just average at best, but the worst part was that they kept interrupting green-flag racing to go to commercials or those insipid "up-close-and-personal" vignettes. Now, I like looking at Bronte Tagliani as much as the next guy, but could we please restrict this stuff to "Dangerous Curves" or at least to the yellow flag? It seemed that numerous times they stayed with the "action" during a yellow and went to the promotional stuff during the actual racing. On top of that, having just picked up HDTV at my new house a couple of weeks ago, I was under the impression I would be able to get the race LIVE on HDNET, but they ran an (ugh) Cyndi Lauper concert instead. My only consolation is that with my Dish Network satellite service I got the race live at 1:30 PM PDT instead of delayed to the West Coast feed. What gives? Dave Bara, Seattle  Dear Dave, HD Net broadcasts are only for the domestic races. As for it not being delayed until 4:00 PM on the Pacific Coast, how can you do that with satellite? Everyone is seeing the same satellite feed simultaneously.  Having it on at 4:00 PM in all time zones can only be done with cable TV, and even that is tricky.  As for your other comments, most agree with your assessment.  Mark C.

5/24/04

Drivers want more HP from Push-To-Pass   We polled several drivers in Monterrey this past weekend and all said the push-to-pass button could use more HP.  The extra 50 HP just isn't enough to make a pass on a track like Monterrey where there is no long straight.  Many Champ Car tracks lack a long straight like at Long Beach, hence serious consideration by Cosworth and Champ Car must be given to see if the current 1,200 mile engine can handle even more turbo boost for 60 seconds per race.  Mark C.

5/24/04

Water Cooler talk   It seems yesterday's result of the Monterrey Grand Prix was the biggest water cooler talk (well, at least the men’s biggest water cooler talk) in Mexico on Monday morning.  People were talking about Mario’s luck, how they believed his race was over.  Then how close he came to first place, how Allmendinger´s car caught fire, but curiously the hottest  topic was the incident with the safety crew.  People were divided between blaming the driver and the safety crew. The best part is that the people who got to attend the race could discuss the topics with the rest of the office thanks to TV Azteca and their live broadcasts of every race.   I really do hope US fans get the chance to have this kind of coverage (besides NASCAR I mean). Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico

5/24/04

USGP Schedule 

(All times Eastern Standard, -5 hours GMT)
(Subject to change)
THURSDAY, June 17
8 a.m.-noon: Public pit walkabout
FRIDAY, June 18
9-10 a.m.: Formula BMW USA practice
11 a.m.-noon: Formula One practice
2-3 p.m.: Formula One practice
3:30-4 p.m.: Porsche Michelin Supercup practice
4:30-4:55 p.m.: Formula BMW USA practice
SATURDAY, June 19
8-8:45 a.m.: Formula One practice
9:15-10 a.m.: Formula One practice
10:25-11:10 a.m.: Porsche Michelin Supercup qualifying
Noon-12:50 p.m.: Formula One pre-qualifying
1-2 p.m.: Formula One qualifying
2:30-3 p.m.: Formula BMW USA race #1
3:30-4:10 p.m.: Porsche Michelin Supercup race #1 (16 laps)
SUNDAY, June 20
9:40-10:20 a.m.: Porsche Michelin Supercup race #2 (16 laps)
10:45-11:15 a.m.: Formula One grid presentation
11:46 a.m.: National Anthem
Noon: United States Grand Prix (73 laps)
2:15-2:45 p.m.: Formula BMW USA race #2

5/24/04

El Norte changes tune   Today, Monday, El Norte had a special section dedicated only to the Monterrey Grand Prix.  One of their stories said that although Friday and Saturday the fan response was very cold, Sunday everything was different, grandstands full of people cheering and having a party, showing the world that Monterrey is already ready for the 2005 Monterrey Grand Prix.  I don’t know what to think about it, first they try to convince everyone the fans are not interested in the race anymore, and then after the stands are full they claim the city is ready for the 2005 event. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico

5/24/04

Kalkhoven: Champ Car ahead of schedule   In this ESPN.com article, Kevin Kalkhoven says,  "The first thing is that we have a series whose economic base is a lot stronger than it was last year," Kalkhoven remarked as he surveyed the crowded paddock area at the Tecate Telmex Grand Prix in Monterrey, Mexico from the PKV Racing hospitality area. "We've got a series whose driver base is as strong as you can imagine, from young rookies to Formula 1 guys, and the interest in the series for 2005 is very, very strong. I think people were waiting to know that we were going to be here.

"Both from a financial and monetary viewpoint and from a planning and execution viewpoint for 2005, we are actually ahead of everywhere we thought we would be," he continued. "I think that is more than anything else a huge credit to the fans. By turning up at Long Beach and by turning up here, which is a race day sellout, they have shown the promoters this is the sport they want to follow. Everything is at this moment okay. We're not complacent, and at this stage the bad guys could still be hatching things. But we're surprisingly comfortable."

"It's our intention to have a 2005 schedule out by September which will continue to expand internationally and hopefully add some interesting new things in the United States," Kalkhoven said. "In that respect, we are well ahead of where we normally would be. It's pretty solid but we have a few more things to nail down.

"We can no longer in the motor racing world just have races," Kalkhoven added. "Unless we've got promoters and cities and government organizations prepared to back these events and turn them into what we have here in Monterrey, just having a race for the sake of having a race doesn't interest me and it doesn't do anything for anybody."

"We're going to keep the same package [car/engine] for 2005 because the teams need to know that the equipment they have will still be good," Kalkhoven remarked. "We're exploring some options for '06, but I don't want to stir up any speculation by talking about something that isn't finalized. The main thing right now is that we're out there racing in '04 and we're going to produce a 2005 schedule three months earlier than the organization managed for the last couple of years."

5/24/04

Andretti to run in 600   DEI continues to search for a full-time sponsor for the #1 car but plans on running John Andretti this week with a Snap-on paint scheme for the Coca-Cola 600. FoxSports/Sporting News

5/24/04

Obstacles to Indy Racing popularity   This Chicago Sun-Times article talks about some of the obstacles to making Indy Car racing popular again, but misses out on the biggest obstacle of all, removal of the man responsible for the split in the sport and its ultimate downfall.  That man is Tony George who took a sport with high TV ratings, flush with sponsors, big race attendance and reduced it too B league status with his vision of what Indy Car racing should be.

5/24/04

Buildup to Indy nothing but a letdown   This Chicago Sun-Times article says the way things stand now, the traditional prelude to the Indianapolis 500 has become a big yawn.  It goes on to discuss some of the reasons for the fall off in popularity, but misses the key point - Tony George's vision of what Indy Car racing should be simply isn't what the customer wants, hence they are not buying.

5/24/04

Bump Day achieves B movie status   This SPEED TV article says It use to be the most sadistic, euphoric and dramatic day in May but now it's simply the saddest.  Instead of drivers hanging their butt out in a last-ditch effort to make the Indianapolis 500, Bump Day has become a flat-out farce and Sunday it turned into a pathetic side show.  For the second straight year nobody was bumped because, again, there were barely enough teams to field the traditional 33 cars.  The good news is that thanks to some last-minute money transfusions longtime IRL regulars like Buddy Lazier and Greg Ray were able to secure spots in the field along with deserving drivers like P.J. Jones, Jeff Simmons and Richie Hearn.  The bad news is that for the second year it only took four laps, at any speed, to get in.  When Ray became the 33rd qualifier Sunday afternoon at 1:45 p.m. there was nobody else left in Gasoline Alley to "compete" for a position.........Then it turned into something that Humpy Wheeler or Barnum & Bailey would have been proud of but it definitely belonged in a tent -- not at 16th & Georgetown.   More......

5/24/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

'Something wrong' with Rubens
Stewards 'should have flagged' Sato
Slower cars 'ignored me' - Trulli
Da Matta's 'pathetic'
Sato DID jump the start
Ferrari 'will bounce back'
Juan vs. Michael - what went on ... ?
Button wants faster starts
Trulli wants new Renault deal
Trulli 'slept' to celebrate
Michelin to go 'more aggressive'
Schu congratulates GDPA colleague
'Diamond heist' at Monaco GP?
Ferrari sign new Bridgestone deal
Alonso wants Ralf 'banned'
'Ralf's fault' - Coulthard
Williams 'wants Webber' - Head
Schu 'brakes so hard' - Montoya
Montoya's 'stupid' - Schumacher
Monaco was 'shot in the arm' for F1 

5/24/04

Another big attendance day for Champ Car   Sunday’s race day crowd of 94,514 bettered last year’s race day crowd at Fundidora Park. The three-day total for this year’s race was 183,311, giving Champ Car a total attendance of over 350,000 fans after two events.   Not bad for a series the naysayers said was dead.  The IRL must look at envy at the kind of attendance numbers the Champ Car series pulls in.

5/24/04

Mandarino & Andretti split Road America weekend   [Editor's Note:  We have been following Marco Andretti's career from the outset.  He never fails to impress us, winning at every level.  This year he has taken the next step up the Champ Car ladder and he's winning again in his first year, winning in equally prepared "spec" cars.  He and Mandarino may be future American stars in the making]  Lorenzo Mandarino in the dry on Saturday and Marco Andretti in the wet on Sunday scored wins in the Skip Barber National double-header at Road America, the first time in Victory Circle for each of them in the championship. Andretti collected 36 points over the weekend --20 for the Sunday win plus 16 for second place on Saturday -- a haul of points big enough to boost him over erstwhile leader Benny Moon as the series heads to rounds seven and eight in two weeks' time at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit.  More...

  Much More...click on 2004 archives button below
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