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DATE

News (chronologically)

6/23/04

Gurney supports 2nd USGP  This SPEED TV article says, Legendary American racer Dan Gurney is in agreement with recent comments suggesting that a second Formula 1 race in the United States would give the sport an overall boost in the world’s largest media market. Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George stated over the weekend that a second USGP would do nothing but benefit his race, a notion that several F1 team chiefs backed up. “F1 shows up on the American radar screen once a year for three days and then it’s gone,” Gurney commented. “You can say all you want about once a year events, and I would even include the Indy 500, but they don’t carry a whole year of fan interest. We’re not producing F1 drivers for the same reason we’re not producing F1 fans,” Gurney noted. “The big difference is television. In the old days, you had Americans following the fortunes of Americans. Today, for whatever reason, that’s not the case. And in terms of the American market, that’s a huge gap. If there was an American team, with an American car, engine and driver, then you would see a horse of a different color.”

6/23/04

Argent Mortgage signs on as Denver race title sponsor  The Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver today announced that Argent Mortgage has signed on as the title sponsor of the Toyota Atlantic race, taking place during the Grand Prix of Denver weekend August 13-15. Argent also sponsors Danica Patrick, who is participating in the Grand Prix.  Argent

6/23/04

Still more on the Portland saga   This Portland Oregonian article has some more key quotes on the battle over Portland.  Francesconi -- who already has a multi-year extension offer from Champ Car -- said he wants to resolve the process by July.  "It could happen quickly," Francesconi said. "It's more important it happens right."   Fred Nation, the spokesman for IRL president Tony George, said Monday, "it's possible" the IRL would be ready to talk about a Portland contract in two weeks.   That's close to our time frame," he said."We've been in touch with representatives of Portland, we're putting our 2005 schedule together and we expect to have it finalized in July. Portland is one of the (road course) venues we are considering. . . . But beyond that, there's nothing that can be said."

Larry Blackmar, PJP's vice president of sales, said Monday his group "wants a proposed date as quickly as possible from the IRL. But we set our time frame back in March. We're on schedule to make a decision at the end of this month and we're looking at the middle of July to have everything finalized. . . . We're not rushing it. Hopefully, the city will be patient enough to (wait) for an IRL proposal so they can choose which is the best way to go."   Blackmar, who was at Portland International Raceway for qualifying Saturday, said he has talked to Ken Unger, the IRL's senior vice president of business affairs.   "We're hoping we hear from him this week that he has one or two proposed dates we can look at," Blackmar said. "But he's got a lot of balls in the air."

Portland's 21st Champ Car race was minutes old Sunday afternoon at PIR when Gentilozzi was asked what he thought of the idea of Portland weighing offers from both series.  "Yeah, well, we don't feel like we're under a burden to perform," Gentilozzi said. "We've been here 21 years. The other guys haven't been anywhere (on a road course).   "They don't have an offer from the other guys. Is (Francesconi) so confident that he'll get one? I'm not. Remember this: We're here, and we're committed."

Tim Ramsberger, Champ Car's vice president for race promotions, said, "I won't give you a number (as to Champ Car's financial loss) but I will tell you we exceeded expectations. We exceeded our goals."   Of Champ Car's relationship with Portland, Ramsberger said: "We are anxious to do a deal. We are ready to get this thing done."

Nation said the IRL will test its road course car in September. It will have a significantly different configuration than the present all-oval IRL car. Gentilozzi noted during the Portland race that IRL cars were 18 mph slower than Champ cars on the Milwaukee one-mile oval.   "And I'll still make a bet that our fastest Toyota Atlantic car (a feeder series) would be in the middle of their IRL grid. You can't cheat the fans. They understand window of performance."

Bobby Rahal, who won at Portland in 1987, jumped to the IRL this season. He said Gentilozzi's reasoning is a little over the top.   "I think the IRL cars are much more compatible with that idea (road courses) than they were a year ago," Rahal said. "In the end, if they're all out there at the same time, I don't know if anybody will know the difference. . . . I don't see why an IRL race in Portland wouldn't be successful.   When Champ cars first came to Portland in 1984, they weren't exactly the best road racing cars around but they still put on a good show."

Track improvements could be a major issue in the negotiations with Champ Car and the IRL. AutoWeek magazine writer J.P. Vettraino noted in his online report that PIR "is a nice track in a beautiful setting. On the other hand, it has been one of the worst facilities on the CART/Champ Car circuit for the better part of 10 years. It desperately needs improvement, starting with things as basic as real bathrooms."   The AutoRacing1.com Web site was less kind. Its report from Sunday's race included the following: "Attendance was down again this year. . . . Portland fans have voted with their wallets. Stick a fork in it, this race is done. Champ Car has bigger and better markets to go to around the world than to be fooling around in Portland at this rundown track. The wooden bleachers are what you might find at a Little League baseball game."

6/23/04

Champ Car and IRL in battle to snag St. Pete   The battle for venues between Champ Car and the IRL might be waged next in Florida. The IRL has named St. Petersburg as one of its target road-racing markets, and Champ Car is wasting no time trying to beat George’s boys to the punch. Tim Ramsberger, Champ Car’s vice president of race promotions, was headed to St. Petersburg immediately after the race in Portland, and some insiders claim there could be a new deal to race there within a few weeks.

Champ Car (as CART) held the first open-wheel race in St. Pete in 2003, and the event was generally viewed as a success. The series hoped to return this year and move the date from February to May, but that was before Tom Begley intervened.

Begley has owned rights to a street race in St. Petersburg since 1991 and was general manager of the inaugural CART race there. But in December 2003 Begley sued CART and Dover Motorsports, co-promoter of the event, claiming he is owed $750,000 for the 2003 race. Champ Car’s new owners bailed this year when Begley refused to settle the suit or turn over the rights to the race.

Whichever series makes friends with Begley might have the inside line on St. Petersburg. Either way, Champ Car or the IRL will likely have to go through Begley, or figure out a way to go around him.  Autoweek

6/23/04

London gears up for F1 event in streets  It was confirmed that Regent Street in the heart of London’s West End will be hosting a glitzy F1 parade on Tuesday the 6th of July.  The event will take place between 6pm and 8pm in the evening and it will be attended by most of the teams in Formula One. Those confirmed to take part in the special event are: BAR, Williams, Ferrari, Jaguar, Jordan, Minardi, McLaren and Toyota.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for London to see the Gladiators of Sport – Formula 1 cars in action. This event is a major achievement for Regent Street and an attraction that will draw attention worldwide," said event producer Harvey Goldsmith CBE.

"Bernie Ecclestone has also been a strong supporter right from the beginning. Set just before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone it will add to the case that we are capable of producing world beating events such as the Olympic Games,” said Goldsmith.

Annie Walker, Director of Regent Street Association added, "This is such a wonderful opportunity for not only to give a huge boost to retailing but also for the general public to see at first hand Formula 1 in action." 
Planet F1

6/23/04
Industry News

Ralph Firman Sr. retires  The man who gave Ayrton Senna his big chance, and father of former F1 driver Ralph Firman Jr.,  Ralph Firman Sr. announced his retirement from Van Diemen International Racing Services, the company he founded with Tasmanian Ross Ambrose in 1973.  Ambrose soon left but Firman and wife Angie built the business up to become one of the world’s largest volume producers of racing cars.  Firman, 60, sold the Snetterton based company to American Don Panoz’s Elan Motorsports Technologies group in 1999, but stayed on as managing director.  “Obviously it’s been difficult for everybody in the racing industry,” Firman said. “I feel now is the right time to say enough is enough, but Van Diemen remains busy with contracts for Formula X, SCCA and Formula Star Mazda cars.  Clearly, Formula Ford has taken a downward trend, in the face of Formula Renault and BMW, which we saw coming two or three years ago. That’s why we fought to land the one-make contracts [although the carbon Star Mazda cars are made at EMT’s Atlanta headquarters].

“I’m very sad that Ford, who had the real McCoy [with Formula Ford from 1967], has let it go so badly. Certainly, the only way forward now would be to develop a really cost effective single-seater for the grass roots of the sport.”   Firman hinted that he could be tempted back by new projects. “I’ve still got plenty of life in me, and a bit of experience in the industry, so who knows what will come along?” he said. “But for now I need a good rest, and time to enjoy my daughter Natasha’s new racing interest, as well as my son Ralph’s career.”   Autosport Magazine contributed to this news item

6/23/04

Worries over 20-race schedule  This week's Autosport Magazine reports that Bernie Ecclestone is being urged to create a more forgiving schedule next year amid concerns about the pressures placed on team personnel.   With the calendar set to expand to 20 events within the next few years, there are fears that more back-to-back races and the timing of breaks are destroying family life for many team members.   Jaguar managing director David Pitchforth said: “These races have shot morale in the paddock. We have to be more careful with the timing of the season. The other thing that has upset a lot of people, especially the Brits, is that historically they have finished the season and then gone on holiday with their wife and kids during their school half-term. Now the last race clashes with half-term, so the amount of grief guys are getting from home is not good for the sport. If there is the same number of races in the future, then we need to be more careful with the timing.”   Team boss Eddie Jordan suggested back-to-back races may be a necessary evil as a means of guaranteeing a long summer break. “The three-week gap is still the most vital thing that we must preserve,” he said, “because that does give a meaningful home life to people who have young families.”

6/23/04

Webber 2005 deal must wait  This week's Autosport Magazine reports that the decision regarding Mark Webber’s future in Formula 1 may not be made until the Hungarian Grand Prix in August.  It had been suggested that moves to finalize Webber’s future would begin around the time of the British Grand Prix in July, but the Australian revealed last weekend that it may be another month after that before anything is confirmed. “The performance clause [where by it is thought that Jaguar can only keep Webber if it is among the top six teams in the constructors’ championship] kicks in around Budapest time,” he said.

6/23/04

F1 cars and concrete don't mix  The lightweight, ultra-strong design of modern Formula 1 cars was probably the key factor in preventing Ralf Schumacher walking away from the kind of accident that is commonplace to those racing on ovals in the IRL IndyCar Series. That is the view of former grand prix driver and Champ Car race winner Mark Blundell, who claims the accident that marred last weekend’s United States Grand Prix was made all the worse because F1 cars are not designed for impacts with concrete walls. “F1 cars and concrete do not mix,” Blundell told Autosport. “Outside of street circuits there is no other place in F1 where a car could come into contact with concrete at that speed. A Champ Car is probably 35 per cent heavier than an F1 car, and in that respect a lot stronger, so considering the size of the impact it stood up pretty well.” Blundell also believes that because Schumacher went into the wall backwards it made the accident much worse. “When you go in backwards you can do a lot of damage because, if you are not ready for it and are leaning forwards, then a lot of energy goes through the back of the head,” he said. “In those situations you have got to push your head against the headrest. I learned in the biggest possible way because that is how I fractured my neck. At St Louis I had a gearbox failure which turned me around and put me in the wall backwards. “I was leaning forward and as it put me back it opened a vertebra at the front from the neck being accelerated backwards.”  Autosport Magazine

6/23/04

2005 USGP date set  The 2005 US Grand Prix at Indy will take place on June 19th, the same weekend as this year's event.  Although attendance was down another 20% this year, organizers think they can make it work, i.e. 3 weeks after the Indy 500.

6/23/04

Interview with Klaus Graf  “I am 32 years-old and I am a German native. I live in the middle of the Black Forrest in a town called Dornhan-a really pretty area. My background is basically single-seaters. I was on the road to Formula One, but as we all know, it’s very difficult so I changed my path and went to sports car racing. I lived in America from 1999 to 2001 and raced in the American Le Mans Series. I did that very successfully and also raced in the Le Man 24-hour race and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Since 1999, and even before, I always kept an eye on NASCAR. We all know it is very hard to break into, especially Nextel Cup. We finally managed, with BAM Racing, made it work out and here we are.”  Transcript

6/23/04

French GP to take financial bloodbath  The French Grand Prix looks like losing their shirt this year, partially caused by the problems over the event in the course of the winter. The promotion of the race was taken over this year by the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile, the French national sporting authority.

"In the current situation the federation is verys satisfied," said FFSA President Jacques Regis. "And we can see that there is potential for development in the future. Considering we have done everything in five and a half months we can only be satisfied."

Regis said that there would be only 57,000 spectators and with 10 days to go before the event the sales could rise another 10%. The organizers have a lot of race purses to pay, hence only 57,000 spectators means a financial bloodbath.  The event will feature not only Formula 1 but also Formula 3000, two races of the Formula 3 Eurocup, the Porsche Supercup and a race for Bugatti Grand Prix cars. There will also be all manner of off track activities including a display organized by the Ministry of Defense to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Allied landings which took in Province in August 1944. These will include a parachute drop from an original Dakota DC3.

Regis said that the big challenge now is to make the 2005 event a success because the fees for holding the race will increase by 10% and so ticket sales will need to increase next year to balance the budget. Regis said that the FFSA is trying to bring down hotel prices in the region but said that it was not easy and acknowledged that some of the hotels were operating what he called "rackets".  Portions of this item provided by Grandprix.com

6/23/04

Herta to appear in DC  Andretti Green Racing driver Bryan Herta will attend XM Satellite Radio's Employee/Media Day in Washington, D.C. on June 23. Herta, who drives the No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone entry, will tour the XM Satellite Radio studios and sign autographs with team owner Michael Andretti at an employee ice cream social. Herta's race car and transporter will be on display. The IRL Fan Experience's Indy Racing Challenge simulator and Pit Stop Challenge will also be on hand at the event.

6/23/04

IPS test at Nashville  Menards Infiniti Pro Series points leader Thiago Medeiros turned the quickest lap June 22 in a private test at the 1.33- mile Nashville Superspeedway.   Medeiros was clocked on a stopwatch at 26.1 seconds, four-tenths of a second faster than Mark Taylor's track record, which was set in 2003.

Five other drivers practiced at the track, which will host the Clean Event 100 on July 17. Paul Dana, Leonardo Maia, Brad Pollard, Al Unser and Tom Wood also took part in the session.

Unser, the son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., has never raced in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. This was his third test with a Menards Infiniti Pro Series team this month. Wood completed his second test since suffering injuries at Kentucky Speedway last August.

6/23/04

Wheldon Draws In Race With Fighter Jet  Let's call the race a draw.  The setting: A match race June 22 at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.  The participants: IRL IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon in the Jim Beam Drink Smart two-seater vs. veteran fighter pilot Maj. Bret "Slam" Anderson's F-15 Eagle. Anderson has logged more than 1,900 hours in the F-15 and flew 65 combat missions over Iraq. Wheldon, driver of the No. 26 Klein Tools Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, is second in the IndyCar Series standings to Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan.

Background: An F-15 can reach speeds up to 205 mph before taking off. Wheldon's two-seater, in which he gives rides on tracks where the IndyCar Series races, is capable of reaching 100 mph in less than three seconds. The result: Wheldon, on a taxiway 750 feet apart from the active runway of the F-15 Eagle, was ahead at the one-quarter-mile mark. Maj. Anderson caught up and then pulled back on the stick.  Foul. Even with its front and rear wings, the two-seater can't fly. 

Even so, Wheldon said the experience was "awesome."  "The Jim Beam Drink Smart two-seater was in fine form today," said Wheldon, who will compete June 26 in the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway.   "It was really good fun and to come down to a photo finish is amazing. I was a little concerned racing against 'Slam.' It is OK to race against guys like Tony Kanaan, Bryan Herta or Dario Franchitti, but a guy named 'Slam' had me a little worried. I'll tell you this though; he can definitely pilot a plane. I'm proud I was able to come to Langley Air Force Base. Being with the people who keep America safe is incredible. It feels really good to give just a little back."

6/23/04

More Portland feedback  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, Referencing your report regarding Portland decision - Champ Car or IRL for Portland. The "committee" appointed by Commissioner Francesconi to help the commissioner make the decision is headed by Bob Ames, old friend of Penske, Norm Danials, developed working relationship with Penske, Rahal et al, when GI Joes sponsored race. Don't know about Rose Festival person. The manager of the track will go with whatever Bob, Norm, and his boss the commissioner determine. They all know and have a relationship with Peter Jacobson or members of his production company, PJP, who is the IRL local promoter. Rumors around are that PJP "claims" to have a primary sponsor hooked up.

The Commissioner is looking for political juice in an election year and wants to deliver to Portland a "bounty" paid by either series for the privilege of sanctioning the 2005 race. Francesconi spent a million bucks in a primary election and could not close the deal with a competitor that spent next to nothing , forcing a runoff in the fall. The Commissioner is all about image and needs to demonstrate "leadership" and the race date competition seems to be caught up in this mess. I am not sure OWRS is going to play this game. Nor the IRL for that matter.

The race on Sunday was a shadow of the great years '94 - 2001. The local promoter, Global Events Group, did not appear to provide any "sauce" to the event this year (or for the past many years.). Commercial activity was poor, no live music, no secondary attractions to bring any new users to the event. I spoke with many friends and business associates who have attended many races. The common characterization was that the promoter did little to build, and, appeared to be "milking" the event one last time. These are Champ Car fans not IRL people making these observations. This is not the only year that I have heard the same comments. Many core fans have been critical of Global in the past. Portland Champ Car fans who go to B.C. and Long Beach understand what good promotion companies are capable of producing. In perspective and fairness, the Oregon economy has not been good, many business are struggling and many local headquarters are gone due to consolidation. The available corporate pool is down and we have many people out of work or who are making less and have less to spend. Portland is a small market and many groups, the Rose Festival Association and other events are farming the same, few, local businesses for support to sponsor events at the same time as the Champ Car Race. There is just not enough to go around. If Champ Car, or anyone, is to succeed in this market finding a national or international firm to take the primary sponsorship is critical for success. Preferably a firm that is a retailer of consumer products or services that can bring vendor resources and creative thinking to this event. This market can not produce this event locally and survive without the racing series providing a large share of the cost as Champ Car has done the last two years. I do not see either OWRS or IRL being the primary sponsor for too many years.

A big disappointment in the current state of affairs regarding Champ Car in Portland is the local print media. Rather then report facts, and that is the success of the event for 20 years and that a couple of people were willing to spend their own money to run the race this year, OWRS. The media choose to listen to Bob Ames, Norm Danials and the other negative people and reported their utterances as news rather then personal opinion. And never bothered to question their personal agendas. The print media was so negative during the critical time from announcement there would be a race right up to race week it is no wonder corporate sponsorship could not be found and that attendance slipped again this year. It is almost that the print media was hoping the event would fail so they could legitimize the opinions of a few "experts". The purpose of journalism is to report facts not create stories. Their behavior was unprofessional and hurt this event.

If Champ Car goes away, the losers will be; the wonderful race fans that have supported CART, Champ Car , IMSA and the Can Am series. That core group was at the races Sunday, they will not come back for the IRL. The surrounding businesses who support the races and the people who have worked their tails off to scratch out a living from this event or who have so generously volunteered their time.

I am fortunate to have experienced the Can Am races, IMSA in the mid 80's ( the best racing ever on this planet) and am thankful for the joy CART & Champ Car have brought to our family. It took me some time to get over the loss of IMSA and Can Am. I am sorry to say I may be witnessing the end of another auto racing series in my home town. I truly hope Champ Car does not go away.

The bright side is that I feel OWRS is doing a great job. They came to Portland and put on a pretty good show. Viewed into he context of the last two years, making the grid in Portland was a near miracle and I wish nothing but the best for Champ Car. B.C. is an easy drive, Long Beach in April is paradise compared to Portland. Viva Las Vegas!  One man's view from the bleachers, Greg Nelson, Portland, Oregon 

6/23/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

Race 'should have been stopped' - Button
Formula One on track in Spain
Coulthard as 'McLaren test pilot'? - Haug
'I'm not thinking' about Magny-Cours - Ralf
Rubens was Indy's 'moral victor' - Brawn
Minardi 'has a big problem' - Stoddart
Can BMW-Williams recover ... ?
Is a 'West Coast US GP' a good idea ... ?
Jaguar race to secure F1 team's future
'I won't jack it in' - Montoya
Updated Renault is 'not a B-spec' - Bob Bell
Ralf is not suffering 'psychologically'
F1 boss argues to keep one-lap qualifying 

6/23/04

Portland feedback  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, As a 12 year veteran of the west end, I have seen many of the highs and lows of this race. One observation which I would like to make on the crowds, however, is the late date of the promotion. For many of us with motor homes, this was a major factor as to whether or not to attend. Despite the fact I had yet to receive the race renewal information, I contacted Global, of my own volition, and purchased my tickets about April 20-21, a mere 60 days prior to the event. Fortunately I have a motor home of my own, otherwise the chances of me being able to rent an RV in such a short time frame and attending the race would have been slim. The poor campsite rental numbers seemed to reflect these types of problems.

Also, my normal group of friends, arriving anywhere from the Los Angeles to Vancouver areas, was down over 50% due primarily to being unable to make plans far enough in advance. A track neighbor had the same dilemma – down to a solo attendee this year from 5 annually – all due to the uncertainty and short time frame for planning.

But, in spite pre-race planning dilemmas and problems, I found the overall race-weekend experience from the west end complex to be magnificent. Not only did the local population at the turn-6 point belie the motor home count (thank God for wandering GA attendees?), the crowd throughout the entire west end, was well informed and one hell of a lot of fun. Overall, another excellent weekend in Portland.

Next year, when the annual Father’s Day Champ Car Race at PIR returns, I will be there with my RV (barring the IRL/Tony George filching this location). Hopefully, the final agreements will have been completed at least 6+ months before race day, so my friends and now missing west end neighbors can once again make this race the outstanding success it has been in years past.

Now my fingers are crossed for 2005, for as Kevin Kalkhoven told a friend and me in Friday’s paddock, everyone is on board for a return to Portland, and it is “in the hands of the politicians.” Richard Ramage

6/22/04

Washington DC Mexico cultural visit cancelled  Due to a scheduling conflict, IRL IndyCar® Series owner/driver Adrián Fernández and Indy Racing League Senior Vice President of Business Affairs Ken Ungar will be unable to visit the Cultural Institute of Mexico in Washington, D.C. on June 24.  The event will be rescheduled for a later date.

6/22/04

ALMS gears up for Mid-Ohio  After a three-month schedule break, the American Le Mans Series will return to action this weekend with the running of American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio. The professional sports car racing series will hold a two-hour, 45-minute timed event on Sunday, June 27, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. News and notes pertaining to the ALMS and the event follow.  More....

6/22/04

Where is Ron Fellows?  When the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races on road courses, it has become the norm for Canadian sports car racing standout Ron Fellows to be among the "hired guns" in the field of drivers for the race. Fellows, though, won't be driving in this weekend's event at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., due to a change in the NASCAR schedule that created a conflict. Instead, Fellows will be working his "real job" and driving for the factory Chevrolet Corvette team in the American Le Mans Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. For the past several years, the NASCAR weekend at Infineon has fallen on a weekend in June that was open for Fellows as it was between the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the resumption of the ALMS schedule at the end of June. However, NASCAR moved Infineon's date one week later in the schedule this season. Fellows has won five times in NASCAR road course races, including three times in the NASCAR Busch Series and twice in the Craftsman Truck Series. His best finish in the Cup Series has been second to Jeff Gordon in 1999 at Watkins Glen. He drove for the Dale Earnhardt, Inc., team in the two NASCAR road course events in 2003 and is scheduled to join the team again for the event in August at Watkins Glen. Fellows looked into private jets and other means of going back and forth from California to Ohio this weekend but there was not enough time for him to compete in both events.

6/22/04

FIA explains timing glitch at Indy  This Grandprix.com article says that the FIA has explained how the timing screens at Indianapolis recorded that Michael Schumacher crossed the line ahead of Rubens Barrichello at the end of the first Safety Car period, at the end of the fifth lap of the United States Grand Prix. Within half a second the monitors switched back to show that Barrichello had been ahead when the two cars crossed the line. The official timing data after the race showed that Schumacher was 0.013 sec behind Barrichello when they crossed the line and was thus still behind. If he had been ahead he would have been subject to a drive-through penalty which might have changed the outcome of the race.

The FIA says that "the timing page did briefly display Michael as being ahead of Rubens but then automatically corrected itself to the accurate timing for the lap. The timekeepers contacted Race Control to confirm that the system had adjusted to the correct timing".

The gap of 0.013s translates into something in the region of a meter at the speeds that the cars were then traveling. A lot of people had the impression that Schumacher was ahead before the two cars crossed the line but TV cameras do distort what one sees unless the camera is directly above or directly across from the cars. There is added confusion at Indianapolis because there is a line of bricks across the track just a few meters in front of the start-finish line and the view of the track is slightly obscured by an overhead gantry. The mystery has thus been explained.

There is however some controversy going on about various aspects of the race management in Indianapolis, notably the speed at which the emergency teams got to Ralf Schumacher and why it took so long to disqualify Juan Pablo Montoya. Having looked at the situation we have concluded that the timings involved were acceptable in the circumstances: Schumacher's car was a long way around the lap for the medical car and the first doctors did not venture near the car because of the danger of other cars arriving on the scene at high speed. The first help arrived at the car in around 90 seconds and the medical car arrived after three minutes. [Editor's Note: To those who follow the Champ Car Series, the timing involving the Ralf Schumacher incident was not acceptable. As a comparison, if Sunday's race were a Champ Car event, a.) the race would have immediately gone to yellow which would have slowed the cars, thus allowing safety vehicles to get on the track immediately, and b.) Ralf's medical needs would have been attended to faster because Champ Car has 4 safety vehicles spread around the track during the race, each staffed by a physician, paramedic, fireman, and rescue worker. The apparently lone F1 safety vehicle was at the opposite end of the track when Ralf's accident occurred; that's why it took so long to get to Schumacher's car. In a Champ Car racing incident, a safety crew can arrive at an accident scene much more quickly than a safety vehicle can in an F1 event because of Champ Car's emphasis on safety. Champ Car's skilled safety crews have more resources than F1, and they have more people who can attend to an injured driver and pick up accident debris. Each Champ Car safety vehicle is a specially designed pick-up truck, equipped with all sorts of safety equipment (e.g., jaws of life, fire extinguishers, etc.) The F1 safety vehicle, in contrast, is a Mercedes passenger vehicle. In our eyes, the Champ Car safety teams are second to none. Thankfully, Ralf's injuries weren't life-threatening.]

The question of Montoya is understandable given the fact that the penalty was extreme and that both race control and the FIA Stewards had to look in detail at the incident and time the action because it was very close (being just a matter of a second or two) between Montoya getting to the spare car in time and the Colombian being too late to switch cars.

What was perhaps more worrying was the fact that the track at Turn 1 was probably not cleaned sufficiently after the first corner accident and so two cars (Fernando Alonso and Ralf Schumacher) had accidents resulting from punctures caused by debris, presumably small shards of carbon fiber, which they had picked up there.

6/22/04

Changes planned for Portland Raceway  UPDATE Perhaps we were a bit hard on Portland International Raceway calling it a dump.  Digging through our archives from December of 2000, we found this report of a 10-year plan to upgrade what is now a dump.  That was four years ago and we don't see any progress except the Light Rail Transit Line was completed this past spring. Just six years left on the plan, but the track is in a park so changes require a lot of hoops be jumped.  Champ Car must insist this plan be carried out and progress shown soon.   Amazing to see that new grandstands are not listed for the main straight.  The ones there are so poor we're surprised anyone sits in them.  And what about the safety fencing along the main straight.  Substandard is an understatement.  Mark C.  12/14/00 - A 10-year master plan for Portland International Raceway includes improvements that will radically change the complex. Some of the changes include:
• A vehicle bridge over the racetrack at Turn 8 in the northwest corner of the site. The bridge will allow direct access to the infield, eliminating traffic jams for teams, a second exit for emergency vehicles, and use of infield facilities while the road course is being used. 
• A pedestrian bridge over the track at Turn 5 for spectators. 
• Permanent garages in the infield paddock. PIR is one of the few major racetracks without garages for competitors. 
• Commercial buildings in the south paddock. The buildings would be available for the track's racing school, a racing "pro shop," kitchen for a concessionaire and other race-oriented businesses. 
• Maintenance buildings to replace open sheds used to store equipment. 
• Remodeled tower. 
• New office complex, museum and PIR interpretive center. The complex would be built in the northeast section of the site, so it could be accessed without going inside the racing facility. The museum and interpretive center would highlight the history of the City of Vanport (which became PIR after it was destroyed by a flood) and of motorsports in the Portland area. 
• Interstate MAX park and ride lots and rail line. They will serve MAX commuters and visitors to the PIR office and interpretive center.  (Source: Oregonian)

6/22/04

More on Champ Car vs. IRL in Portland  This Portland Sports Tribune article says,  Many assumed Champ Car would not return to Portland (PIR) next year without a promoter, a title sponsor or a sanctioning fee of $1 million. But series President Dick Eidswick says Champ Car will make signing a contract with the city “the highest priority” and get the deal done “certainly within 30 days.”  And, he says, Champ Car would agree to promote the event itself again; this year, it’s estimated that Champ Car spent more than $3 million to put on the event.
“We wouldn’t change what we’re doing here,” Eidswick says. “We would put on the race just like we did this year.  Portland is important. We want to do Portland. We have to put a stake in the ground (here). And we’re going to do it quickly.”  But footing the bill again?  “We’ll sign a deal, and then get a title sponsor,” Eidswick adds.  Series owners Paul Gentilozzi, Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe support the approach, Eidswick says, adding, “We call on them for everything, financial and otherwise.”

In other words, Champ Car wants to beat the IRL to the finish line and keep its valuable road course, although Eidswick denies the urgency “has anything to do with the IRL.” He says it has more to do with quickly letting potential sponsors know the series will be back. Gentilozzi also told one reporter that Seattle could be an option for racing in the Northwest — the same threat that former CART executive Christopher Pook used last year.  But it is obvious that Champ Car wants to secure Portland, because Peter Jacobsen Productions has been in talks with the IRL since March, with Vice President of Sales Larry Blackmar planning to draw up a proposal by the end of the month.  “We’re waiting on the IRL for details, mainly a race date,” says Blackmar, who planned to meet with city Commissioner Jim Francesconi today. “There’s always the possibility we could get a phone call (from the IRL) saying, ‘You didn’t make it.’ ”  The IRL reportedly has selected Watkins Glen, Sears Point and Portland as three leading venues for its entrance into road-course racing next year, with Road America and Mid-Ohio possible.

Francesconi, who met with Champ Car officials last weekend, will make the final decision on which series to embrace, although the possibility of both racing here exists. Francesconi, who is running for mayor, will lean heavily on the Portland race committee he appointed for advice. It includes PIR manager Mark Wigginton, race co-founders Bob Ames and Norm Daniels, and Rose Festival racing Chairman Jim Franzen. The committee does not include Mike Nealy, whose Global Events Group has promoted the Portland race for years and assisted Champ Car this year. But Nealy would be heard as part of Champ Car’s pitch, Francesconi says.
“I believe in loyalty,” says Francesconi, referring to Champ Car returning to PIR and paying for the race itself. “I recognize that. I appreciate that.  But I also believe a little competition is good. Champ Car has done its part, but now we have to talk about the future.”  He says the series that can give Portland a long-term commitment, help PIR make money on the event and appears to be the healthiest with the most potential for future success will be given strong consideration.  "Clearest handwriting on the wall in a business sense,” says Ames, who favors the IRL because of its business plan and solid financial backing.  "To think five months ago there was talk about us not having a race,” Wigginton says. “Now we might have two.”

The Sunday crowd appeared to be about half of what Champ Car, formerly known as CART, used to draw at PIR. The number of sponsor chalets has dipped from about 30 in the good years to fewer than 10 last year and this year. The number of recreational vehicles parked at PIR has visibly decreased.  Eidswick says Nealy informed him that about 32,000 to 35,000 attended Sunday’s race.  “Ticket sales were above budget — 25 percent above,” Eidswick says.  Members of the media, however, gave their educated guess at the crowd size and judged it to be about 20,000.  One source who has copies of gross ticket revenue receipts from 18 years of races says the crowds had been good through 2002 — but exaggerated every year. When promoters announced 70,000 for race day and 110,000 for the three-day event, the numbers actually were much lower.  Wigginton says concession sales, a key indicator of attendance, have not been determined for last weekend, but he estimates they were about the same as last year. After the 2003 race, it was determined that concession sales had decreased 48 percent in four years.  [Editor's Note:  As we wrote below, any new deal should have guarantees from the city to upgrade the dump called Portland International Raceway.  Without that Champ Car should lift up its boots, click the dirt from its heels, and walk on down the road and let the IRL try to draw fans to the dump.]

6/22/04

Forsythe denies Tracy a Nextel Cup chance  The oval track cartel has tried to strip the entire CART/Champ Car paddock dry of its driving talent, sponsors, and teams.  So far it has been hugely successful.  Paul Tracy is one of the big names they never got.  Champ Car desperately needs more big names and can't afford to lose the ones it has.  Richard Childress tried to get Paul Tracy to drive one of his Cup cars at the upcoming Sears Point road race. According to this SPEEDTV article, team owner Forsythe denied the request and rightfully so.  Just like Michael Andretti was made to look like a fool in F1, there isn't a chance in hell that Tracy would get a fair shake in Nextel Cup.  One way or another he would either be made to look like a fool with an ill performing car, or be spun out by one of the Nextel Cup regulars time and time again.  We have seen this happen to every Champ Car driver that has had a go at NASCAR in recent years. If you are not part of "the club," you are a target.  The other scenario is that he would be offered big money to jump ship in 2005, and Champ Car would lose one of its few remaining stars.

6/22/04

Penske reaches out to OWRS  This SPEEDTV article says, Roger Penske, who has vowed to try and unite open wheel racing, recently made a conference call to OWRS principals Paul Gentilozzi, Forsythe and Kalkhoven. "It was convivial but I wouldn't read too much into it," said Kalkhoven, whose resources rescued Champ Car along with Forsythe's. "Certainly there was an undercurrent and he mentioned we should all sit down some time. But we're concentrating on running our series right now."  [Editor's Note:  OWRS must move forward and not let unification talks delay their planning of 2005. As with unification talks in the past, Champ Car got left holding an empty bag.  Kevin Kalkhoven is 100% correct, they need to run Champ Car as if there will be no unification, because quite frankly, we don't see it ever happening unless Tony George is completely removed from the picture and goes back to running his family business, the Indy Speedway and nothing more.]

6/22/04

New McLaren sets pace in Jerez  The test of the new MP4-19B in France got off to a great start on Tuesday for the team with Alex Wurz setting the pace at Jerez.  For the first time the team was able to run two of their B-spec cars with Pedro de la Rosa behind the wheel of the second one.
Test Times:
1 Wurz McLaren 1:18.822 48 laps
2 de la Rosa McLaren 1:18.843 38 laps
3 Zonta Toyota 1:20.197 77 laps

6/22/04

Ralf admits he's not fit to drive  "I feel as if I've done two rounds with Muhammad Ali. But I don't want there to be any misunderstanding. I'm not in shock, I don't have psychological problems. I just have concussion," said Ralf Schumacher.   Asked on his personal website whether he would race at the French GP, Ralf replied: "At the moment I don't think so. The important thing now is that I rest. In principle I should be behind the wheel as soon as possible.   "But the example of my accident during testing in September showed that you can't take anything for granted. My priority is to get fit again."

6/22/04

Tracy calls for ouster of Chief Steward  This SPEEDTV article says, Defending Champ Car champion Paul Tracy called for the ouster of Chief Steward Chris Kneifel and Starter J.D. Wilbur, whose race starts have come under fire several times over the last two years.   “Change the chief steward and the flagman –that’s the solution,” Tracy said. “The flagman was showing blue flags very rarely and when he did show them, it was with no authority. I spent 12 laps stuck behind Tagliani. We keep talking over and over in the drivers meetings about guys obeying the blue flags, but if they don't even show them, it’s not on the driver. It’s really down to the officiating.”............“There have been a lot of judgments that have been made for sometimes no reason, whether it’s full course yellows or penalties in qualifying or whatever,” Tracy said. “And when something is critical in the race, it seems to be either no call, or there’s sometimes a lot of full course yellows for no reason. It’s just very inconsistent. I’m not the first person to say that, and I’m sure I’m not going to be the last. This is not the first time it’s been brought up over the last 13 years that I’ve been in this series that the officiating is inconsistent.”  [Editor's Note:  Did anyone notice that during the crash of Dominguez that the starter kept waving the green flag? When you watched the replay you couldn't miss it--the flagman blatantly had out the green even as Lavín smashed into Mario. We don't know if they had a guest starter, which could explain it.]

6/22/04

Passion for Champ Car drives Gentilozzi  This Columbian.com article talks about Paul Gentilozzi's firm belief in the Champ Car Series and why he feels ultimately it will succeed.  One interesting comment he made - Before that, Gentilozzi was preparing to place his loyalty behind the Indy Racing League, Champ Car's bitter rival. It was 2002 when Gentilozzi was organizing an IRL race team. He had ordered a car and was searching for a driver. Then actor Paul Newman, co-owner of Champ Car race team Newman/Haas, called Gentilozzi, inviting him to tag along at a Champ Car event in Montreal. Gentilozzi accepted. Soon thereafter, his IRL idea was DOA. What changed? Gentilozzi noticed that outside of the fact that both series employ open-wheel race cars, there were many fundamental differences between IRL and Champ Car. What primarily struck Gentilozzi, a three-time TransAm series driving champion, was the passion of those associated with Champ Car. "At the Champ Car event, all of the drivers, team owners and fans talked about how much they enjoyed Champ Car," Gentilozzi said. "I had been to a couple of IRL races, and all of the people there, the crew members, drivers talked fondly and affectionately about Champ Car, and how much they didn't like what they were doing. That made me feel uncomfortable." [Editor's Note: Who would like what they are doing in the IRL when the danger is so high every week that a driver could get seriously injured and every impact with the wall creates huge costs for the team and many hours of work for the mechanics.  They are there because Toyota, Honda and Chevy are there paying them to keep food on the table.  If they had a way to earn that level of money in Champ Car, they would never have left.  That's a cloud over their head that the manufacturers have to live with every day.  Every broken bone, every destroyed car, every medical bill, every extra hour to fix the mangled race cars, is as a result of where the manufacturer money is.]

6/22/04

ALMS driver Dyson struggles in first Atlantic race  It looks like Chris Dyson, an established endurance racer in the ALMS, got a lesson in outright speed in his first Toyota Atlantic race (qualified last, finished next-to-last).  If you have done enough endurance racing you would know how the teams and drivers go about racing. In a 12-24 hour race it's much more about conserving fuel, tires, car, and driver. A sprint race is more like a 1 hour qualifying session. You just go as hard as you can every lap for the entire race. Dyson will get better, but he just has to get used to the level that they run at in the Atlantics. We just like to point out again that Atlantics is real freakin' tough. Having a successful driver from another series take a stab at it gives some frame of reference.

6/22/04

IPS cars dead last too  Recently we pointed out that the fastest IRL driver, Sam Hornish, at the recent IRL test at Milwaukee would have been dead last on the recent Champ Car grid at Milwaukee.  Doing an analysis of the IPS cars vs. the Toyota Atlantic cars, the fastest IPS runner was at 141 MPH, which would have put him dead last on the grid for the recent Toyota Atlantic race at Milwaukee.  The pole speed for the Atlantic cars was 150.565 MPH by Jon Fogarty.  Champ Car and its ladder system are known to produce road racing trained drivers, and as expected, they blow away the oval track specialists in their own backyard.

6/22/04

Evernham to field 3rd Visteon car for Elliott in Brickyard 400  UPDATE  Visteon, the American automotive systems and components supplier in Dearborn, MI, will later today announce a primary sponsorship of the Evernham Motorsports NASCAR Nextel Cup team in the upcoming Brickyard 400. The company will launch its 'NASCAR Performance Windshields'  during the August 6-8 race meeting at Indianapolis. Autosport The car will be #91 and Bill Elliott will drive it. 6/21/04 - Evernham Motorsports will field a third entry, piloted by Bill Elliott, in the 2004 Brickyard 400. Details of the Brickyard entry, including the announcement of primary sponsorship of the No. 91 Dodge will be made Tuesday.

6/22/04

Future looks brighter for Portland race  [Editor's Note:  Champ Car and the IRL are falling all over themselves as to who wants to race in Portland and the city is going to take the highest bidder so-to-speak, but no one is talking about what upgrades will be made to the dump called Portland International Raceway.  How can you expect fans to want to buy tickets to a race where fan amenities are so poor?  And you wonder why attendance is off so much in recent years.  It's time the city look in the mirror.]  This Portland Oregonian article says, The crisis of whether open-wheel racing will be in Portland next year has passed. But it's to be seen who will put it on.   Champ Car has come to Portland International Raceway for the past 21 years, and series officials said Sunday at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland that they want to come back in 2005 and beyond.

But the city also is getting interest from the Indy Racing League, which broke away from Championship Auto Racing Teams in 1996.   City Commissioner Jim Francesconi said he will resolve the issue soon, and he met this weekend with Champ Car president Dick Eidswick and Tim Ramsberger, the vice president for race promotions. The groups plan to meet again soon with the hope of reaching an agreement by July, when the 2005 race calendar will be constructed.

"I've been very impressed with Champ Car and their commitment to Portland not just the last 21 years, but also this past year," Francesconi said Sunday. "We were looking at the possibility of having no race here (in 2004) and they came with no sponsorship and they put their own money into this to make it successful.   They did well given the amount of time to promote the race, so I'm looking forward to talking with them about what we can do to make this even better."  

Francesconi said he also wants to find out what the IRL could do for Portland.   "I believe in loyalty and I respect that," the commissioner said, "but I also have a duty to the citizens of Portland to make it even more of an economic event that produces jobs here. We will have conversations with the IRL about what they think as well.   But with the IRL I'm less clear about what they're willing to do, but I'm also interested in what the long-term commitment to Portland is. That's going to be very, very important."
More.......

6/22/04

F1 and Champ Car need to clean up their act  A reader writes, After watching the two best open wheel racing series race on Sunday, I've found that both are very unprofessional in some areas and could learn from each other. First, F1 is in a serious need to take a look at the world class Champ Car safety team. Leaving Ralf Schumacher in a car for that long is unconscionable. Second, Montoya is allowed to drive 2/3rds of the race before being told he couldn't start the race in the first place? Finally, the great Michael Schumacher passes his teammate before the start/finish line, takes the lead and the win because of that move and doesn't get penalized at all. My questions is this: I wonder how the stewards would have reacted if Montoya passed M. Schumacher in the same fashion as Schumacher passed Barrichello for the lead. And I wonder if M. Schumacher would have been allowed to finish the race if he did the same as Montoya on the starting grid.........As for Champ Car, the whole unprofessional part squarely lies on the either incompetent or unaware race stewards in regard to making a lapped car give way to cars that are fighting for the lead. Give me a break.....Tagliani would have been black flagged numerous times for the same behavior in F1. That was completely Mickey Mouse material. You get three chances to acknowledge the blue flag (on successive corners, NOT LAPS!). If not, black flag and GET OUT OF THE WAY! If we are going to race with these new rules, the stewards need to get the backmarkers out of the way. Doug Ferguson, Florida

6/22/04
Formula Woman

Ralph Firman's sister shows speed  Two wins, two pole positions and two fastest laps on your racing debut is an accomplishment to be very proud off and follows a long line of family achievement. The outstanding racer is non-other that Natasha Firman, sister of former Jordan Grand Prix racer Ralph, who pulverized her rivals with her speed in the opening two races at Oulton Park at the weekend. "It's been absolutely unbelievable" said Norfolk born Natasha. "In the first race the car felt good and after several quick laps I had opened up a gap. In race two there was more pressure and I had to concentrate to pull away". The series is Formula Woman, a unique female motor racing series developed to promote newcomers to this traditionally male dominated sport. Along with her 15 rivals, who all race in equal Mazda MX8 sports cars, Natasha has already won a long battle to be on the grid having beaten off ten thousand hopefuls in a year long contest.  More...

6/22/04

Gentilozzi is a racer at heart  Paul Gentilozzi is the same jokester as always. He has always been one of the few drivers who are quick with a joke in press conferences and who speaks his mind with unwavering candor. The last time Gentilozzi was racing at Portland International Raceway — in the Trans-Am Series in 2001 — he said another driver, “rode (my tail) out of the Festival Curves,” after finishing second in the race. “Yeah, that Tommy Archer guy, I think he was cheating, I’m not sure,” Gentilozzi now says of the driver who beat him in 2001. While Gentilozzi’s demeanor is the same, what has changed about the 54-year-old Michigan resident since the last time he raced at P.I.R. is his station in the world of motor sports. Before, Gentilozzi was a successful driver and owner of the top Trans-Am Series team, Rocketsports Racing. He ranks second on the series’ all-time wins list with 24 and is a three-time series champion. Today, Gentilozzi has an ownership stake in both the Trans-Am Series and Champ Car World Series and owns top-line multicar teams in both.  Full Story at Statesman Journal

6/22/04

Earnhardt ready to tackle road course  Recently, Dale Jr. was asked how he felt about going to a road course track this week: "Write this down - I'm excited about going to a road course. Hard to believe, right? We've come a long way on the road courses. We just missed a top-10 here last year, then had a great run at Watkins Glen (finishing third and leading 11 laps). I used to dread certain tracks on the schedule, but the team is getting better all the time and I feel a lot more comfortable at most of the places I used to hate. My confidence level is higher after last year's performance and then running in the 24 Hours of Daytona. We've tested a lot to make sure we're ready to go."

Last year Dale Jr. and the Budweiser team twice achieved career-best finishes on road courses, finishing 11th at Sonoma and then third at Watkins Glen in August. Dale Jr. has never led at Infineon Raceway and is searching for his first top-10 at the California road course.

Although this is the first NEXTEL Cup Series race on a road course this year, it’s not the first road course event for Dale Jr. In February he teamed up with Andy Wallace and Tony Stewart to drive a Crawford Prototype to a fifth-place finish in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. The trio led the race for more than 17 hours before a parts failure knocked them out of the lead in the final 20 minutes. Last month Dale Jr. was behind the wheel of an American Le Mans Series version of the Corvette C5-R, testing for the upcoming Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma in which he will compete with teammate Boris Said on July 16-18. The Budweiser team has prepared for this weekend’s race with test sessions at Virginia International Raceway.

6/22/04

Heikki Kovalainen pulls out a 24-point advantage   Heikki Kovalainen has pulled out a 24-point advantage in the World Series by Nissan after taking victory in the second race of the day at Valencia.  The Finn started his Pons Racing car from pole position and from then on was only briefly headed during the mandatory pitstops on his way to an 8.451-second success over first-race winner Jean-Christophe Ravier.  “This has been a fantastic weekend so we can’t be disappointed with losing the first race,” said Kovalainen. “I had a good feeling with the car and the win was pretty straightforward.”

Tiago Monteiro (Carlin Motorsport) held second place early in the race from Epsilon Euskadi driver Ravier. But there were problems with changing Monteiro’s left-front wheel during his pitstop and he lost several places. The Portuguese then damaged his front wing in a collision with Enrique Bernoldi and was forced to settle for seventh place, meaning he loses second place in the points to Bernoldi, who finished fourth.

The final place on the podium was therefore taken by Tristan Gommendy, who paid tribute to his Saulnier Racing crew for an amazing four-second pitstop. Adrian Valles was looking set for fourth until he retired with electrical problems, allowing Bernoldi to take the place from Olivier Pla and Felix Porteiro.  Photos
World Series First Race
1 4 Jean Christophe RAVIER FRA 25:43.192 0.000 0 18 0 0
2 22 Heikki KOVALAINEN FIN 25:55.870 12.678 12.678 18 0 0
3 20 Felix PORTEIRO SPA 26:15.968 32.776 20.098 18 0 0
4 6 Olivier PLA FRA 26:18.365 35.173 2.397 18 0 0
5 3 Ander VILARIÑO SPA 26:19.356 36.164 0.991 18 0 0
6 7 Enrique BERNOLDI BRA 26:19.882 36.690 0.526 18 0 0
7 10 Tristan GOMMENDY FRA 26:20.171 36.979 0.289 18 0 0
8 16 Didier ANDRE FRA 26:26.844 43.652 6.673 18 0 0
9 21 Roldan RODRIGUEZ SPA 26:27.310 44.118 0.466 18 0 0
10 8 Pablo DONOSO CHI 26:41.506 58.314 14.196 18 0 0
11 11 Narain KARTHIKEYAN IND 24:47.338 -55.854 -1:54.168 17 1 1
12 2 Juan Cruz ALVAREZ ARG 24:48.224 -54.968 0.886 17 1 0
13 5 Tiago MONTEIRO POR 25:13.761 -29.431 25.537 17 1 0
14 23 Adrian VALLES SPA 25:25.877 -17.315 12.116 17 1 0
World Series Second Race
1 22 Heikki KOVALAINEN FIN 37:53.722 0.000 0 26 0 0
2 4 Jean Christophe RAVIER FRA 38:02.173 8.451 8.451 26 0 0
3 10 Tristan GOMMENDY FRA 38:13.242 19.520 11.069 26 0 0
4 7 Enrique BERNOLDI BRA 38:24.359 30.637 11.117 26 0 0
5 6 Olivier PLA FRA 38:26.279 32.557 1.920 26 0 0
6 20 Felix PORTEIRO SPA 38:29.744 36.022 3.465 26 0 0
7 5 Tiago MONTEIRO POR 38:31.935 38.213 2.191 26 0 0
8 3 Ander VILARIÑO SPA 38:35.666 41.944 3.731 26 0 0
9 16 Didier ANDRE FRA 38:46.884 53.162 11.218 26 0 0
10 12 Tomas KOSTKA CZE 38:48.545 54.823 1.661 26 0 0
11 21 Roldan RODRIGUEZ SPA 38:50.293 56.571 1.748 26 0 0
12 8 Pablo DONOSO CHI 39:09.901 1:16.179 19.608 26 0 0

6/22/04

F1 TV ratings dwarf NASCAR  While NASCAR is king in the USA, on the worldwide market, it's still just a small blip to the most popular form of motorsports in the world, F1.  While NASCAR is happy to get 10 million TV viewing households for its Michigan DHL 400 from a USA population of 280 million, the F1 race pulled in 12 million TV viewing households in Germany alone and their population is only 85 million people. On a cumulative worldwide basis NASCAR is about 1% as popular as F1. Of course most Americans, with their blinders on, have no clue.

6/22/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

'Bernie has 'a word' about New York street race
Medical teams took 'too long' - Theissen
'Bruised' Ralf checks out of hospital
Williams and the Royal Bank of Scotland
Ferrari chums 'will crash' - Brawn
Sato's a 'little expensive' - Richards
Ralf to sit out 'two grands prix' - doctor
BAR made strategy 'error' - Dave Richards
Ralf should drive 'right away' - Lauda
'What if I'd crashed?' - furious Montoya 

6/22/04

F1's soapbox derby safety team  A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1, Incredible. The “premier” racing series in the world has a sub-soapbox derby safety team. Not only is the “team” slow but it seems to be lean as well. And most of the team was signaling the traffic with only a couple of guys picking up debris. F1 was lucky to escape this weekend without a major injury – injury to drivers, and injury to SCCA corner workers running out on the track – a big no-no elsewhere in American racing!  Jeff Skinner, Northridge, CA

6/22/04

Observations from Portland  2nd UPDATE A reader writes, Portland – a beautiful location, a location for little league to go with the stands. AR1 is right. What is all the fuss about Portland. Hey, I’ve had my enjoyable weekend at PIR, so its time for the Champ Cars to move on and up. The folks along the Columbia River obviously have other things they prefer doing. Let the IRL claim a “victory”, while CCWS adds a world-class PAYING venue. P.S. You forgot to mention PIR fan safety issues – Mario’s crash on the straight could have been a lot worse – for the fans! Jeff Skinner, Northridge, CA  6/21/04 - This Portland Oregonian article says 32,000 were in attendance in Portland.  No way, though that may have been the combined weekend figure.   6/20/04 - Attendance was poor again this year in what appeared to be under 25,000.  The Portland fans have voted with their wallets.  Stick a fork in it, this race is done.  Champ Car has bigger and better markets to go to around the world than to be fooling around in Portland at this rundown track.  The wooden bleachers are what you might find at a Little League baseball game and they have no real toilets.  Compared to other venues, the place is a dump in need of a major facelift.  Portland is not totally to blame.  With broadcasts on Spike TV drawing just over 200,000 viewers per race, and with no big sponsors or manufacturers to promote the drivers, the Champ Car World Series has become largely invisible and off the radar screen of most.......The audio of Spike TV is so poor you can hardly hear the sound of the cars.  And the image and audio quality on Race Director is even worse, regardless of whether you have broadband.  When compared to the broadcast quality of the F1 race at Indy it was amateurish at best.  While the F1 camera angles create a sense of speed and the sound of the cars are loud and clear, the Champ Cars look slow and the sound of the cars hardly audible at all.  The heavy, lumbering Champ Cars are in dire need of a new lighter, screaming V10 formula with F1 size wheels and tires.    Compared to the blazing F1 cars at Indy, watching the slow Champ Cars drive around on rails is akin to watching paint dry.  If they had more cameras at lower angles they might capture the sense of speed better.  However, as it is, and with little or no passing, trying to race cars built for oval racing (i.e. Sherman Tanks) on road courses lacks excitement and is great for those suffering from insomnia.......The Portland Champ Car program had a picture of Bruno Junqueira in his IRL car.  We guess Champ Car was doing some advertising for their opposition for the upcoming IRL race at Portland in 2005.  The devils in the details as they say....

6/21/04

Attendance at USGP  A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1, I saw your comments regarding dwindling USGP attendance and I just had to chime in.  We sat smack dab in the middle of Section 21 of the Paddock, about 20 rows up, about 75 yards beyond the Start/Finish. There were only about 10 other people in our section (about 25 seats times about 20 rows), so we could sit wherever we wanted. I've never seen it so vacant. The large section inside the main straight from the beginning to the end of pit out was particularly bad - my guess is that there were only a few hundred people there. After the first 20 laps, we moved to some seats opposite the Ferrari pits and stayed there for the rest of the race. This area was about 80% filled. Similarly, we could sit almost anywhere we wanted.

The grandstand area at Turn 1 through the infield was the most attended area from what I could tell. You're right about the attendance dwindling significantly each year. I've been there for the 2000, 2001, 2002, and this year's races and it's been noticeably less and less each year. The attendance at the first race in 2000 was like the Indy 500 of past years. I think several factors are contributing to dwindling attendance: Father's Day (MIS didn't suffer, but the smaller attendance could be due to a different type of crowd than that of NASCAR); another anticipated boring Michael Schumacher win; dislike of Tony George; and the lack of an American driver in F1.

There were lots of people selling tickets on the street. We paid face value, but could have paid less if we had waited to just before the race. However, we wanted to get in when we got there (at 9:00), so we admittedly probably paid more than if we had waited until the last minute. Every other souvenir stand was closed.  Paul Joseph, Illinois

6/21/04

USGP postscript  Fans at the United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 20 cheered wildly not only for Ferrari teammates Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, who finished first and second, respectively, but also for Takuma Sato, who celebrated on the podium for the first time in his Formula One career.  More.....

Podium memories

The second half begins

Montoya's disqualification

Schumacher looks forward to wins, not backward at records

Fisichella fastest

Supercomputer for Sauber

6/21/04

CBS and MotorsTV to air ALMS from Mid-Ohio  CBS Sports airs its first of three telecasts this year of the American Le Mans Series sports car racing series this Sunday with two hours of action from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.  Three of the four class-winning teams from the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans will be in competition in the timed event on the 2.25-mile, 13-turn permanent road racing facility located between Cleveland and Columbus. The American Le Mans Series is a series of professional North American sports car races based on the French endurance racing classic and many of the same drivers and cars that raced at Le Mans will also compete at Mid-Ohio.  Ralph Sheheen will anchor CBS' Mid-Ohio coverage, joined in the booth by former sports car racer Bill Adam for analysis. Calvin Fish and Brian will cover the action from the pits and Tracy Wolfson will be a feature reporter.   Andy Goldberg of CBS Sports will be Coordinating Producer for the telecast, which will be produced by Wheeler TV of Charlotte, N.C. Jim Roller will be Producer and the telecast will be directed by Billy McCoy.  The telecast begins at 2 p.m. (EDT).

In addition to live coverage in North America on CBS, the race will also be televised live in Europe by MotorsTV beginning at 18:00 (UK time). MotorsTV, one of Europe's fastest-growing television channels, is distributed throughout Europe by both satellite and digital cable, in both English and French, and is dedicated to the world of Motorsports. MotorsTV will feature live coverage of all nine rounds of the American Le Mans Series in 2004, marking the first time in series history that the full season of racing will be televised live in Europe. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have a live radio broadcast that can be heard online at www.americanlemans.com.

6/21/04

Some interesting reading from Portland  Here are a couple of articles from Portland we thought you might be interested in reading.
Sharp curves add challenge, danger, thrill

Fans leave little doubt about which series they favor

6/21/04

Champ Car must not lose its identity  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I understand that your vision of the next-generation Champ Car is a car that is as lightweight, high-tech and sophisticated as an F1 car. I very much like the sounds of that, as such a Formula could present itself as just as great and high-level a challenge to drivers as Formula 1, and thus the likes of Bourdais and Hunter-Reay might cease to see Champ Car as a stepping stone.

However, for me, the thought of Champ Cars having screaming V10's like F1 cars is very saddening, if not sickening. To me, a Champ Car without a turbocharged engine simply isn't a Champ Car, and a cutting edge, ultra-sophisticated V10 formula car is...a Formula One car.

It appears from your writings as though the difference between these Formulae would merely be that the Champ Car would be a little less high-tech, a little less cutting edge. Essentially an outdated version of a Formula 1 car (I believe you described the engine as being "'97-spec"). A dumbed-down version of F1 that the fans in certain markets could substitute for the real thing.

Furthermore, having a series whose cars would appear to International fans like F1 cars, and to American fans like the naturally aspirated, open-wheel cars they see at Indianapolis would cause only further confusion among the casual fan and general public as to what was what, and would potentially restrict the series from expanding outside its current niche fan base.

I can't tell you how many times I've talked to friends (who represent potential fans to both niche-based Champ Car and niche-based IRL) who have only a casual interest in motor racing, who think that F1 cars are the cars at the Indy 500 because they (to the untrained eye) look so similar! In fact, although I've had only marginal success at teaching my friends to tell the difference between an F1 car and an Indy car, I've had great success teaching my friends how to tell the difference between a Champ Car and either F1 or IRL, simply by the fact that the Champ Car has no air scoop, and thus is easily distinguishable!

Champ Car, in its current state, needs to consider the casual fan watching at home who might potentially become a Champ Car fan.

And what it comes down to is that the untrained TV-watcher does not see the difference as being high-tech or low-tech, he/she doesn't know anything about how light or heavy the car is, doesn't have a trained ear to tell the difference between engines, and doesn't need to know about any of those things in order to become interested in the race. Rather he/she tells the cars apart by simple, obvious visual clues, like "raised up in the back" or "flat in the back".

A Champ Car is a turbocharged car, no matter how high or low octane that engine is, no matter how light or heavy the car is, no matter what degree of electronics are onboard, and no matter what size the wheels are.

The key to Champ Car's identity is the turbo; to lose this would be a major mistake.

Champ Car can become as high-tech, or nearly, as F1, and still be turbocharged. This would create both an ultra-sophisticated and unique formula, rather than an alternative version of Formula 1. Trevor Booth, Wheaton, IL  Dear Trevor, Even Tommy Kendall agrees with us that Champ Car needs a major overhaul because people are not buying the product.  With that said, a normally aspirated car does not have to have a high airbox. They only add 5 or 10 HP and can be easily ruled to be illegal. The early F1 cars never had a high airbox (see Mario Andretti's Lotus 79 in 1978 at right). Their main purpose is really to carry sponsor logos, sponsors who pay the bills. The average viewer on TV can't see the turbo. Hence it is irrelevant and only adds unnecessary extra weight.  Champ Car can simply rule airboxes as illegal if they so choose.

Another reader wrote to us on the same topic saying that many passenger cars now come with turbos so Champ Cars should keep them so fans can identify with them.  To that we say "that is exactly why you don't want a turbo."  A "stock" car series like NASCAR is meant to feature cars that are akin to one's passenger car, hence the word "stock" car.  The allure of an open wheel car is that it is 180-degree opposite a stock car.  Dating back to the very first Indy 500 in 1911 and the very first F1 race in 1950, open wheel race cars have always been purpose built race cars made to go as fast as humans dared.  "Stock" block engines in Indy Cars years ago had near-zero fan interest.  It's the wrong fit for what an "open wheel" car is meant to be.  F1 got it right with its V10's and V12's. Their screaming sound is unmistakable, they make an impression that lasts a lifetime. Sam Schmidt said at Indy Sunday, "This is just phenomenal. To see the technology, rpms and just the sheer stopping power. All the elements of Formula One are just unbelievable. It's just a great thing to see."  Bottom line - you don't see anyone raving about a dumbed-down IRL car.  Dumbed Down and open wheel cars simply don't mix. Mark C.

6/21/04

Hospital releases Ralf  Ralf Schumacher was released from a hospital today, a day after he crashed during the U.S. Grand Prix. "Ralf is well, but has a bruised back and strained back muscles," said Liam Clogger, media manager for the BMW Williams team. Clogger said Schumacher would not take part in scheduled tests in Jerez, Spain, beginning Wednesday. Schumacher planned to return home to Austria.  AP

6/21/04

Does NASCAR need road courses?  
KYLE PETTY, Driver, #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge: “I don’t think the question is do we need road courses as much as why we don’t run more road courses than we do. I think Cup racing needs more road courses. This series is one of the, if not the, most well-rounded series in the world. If you look at it, Formula One is all road courses, CART has become almost all road courses, IRL is almost all ovals - big ovals. We race on half-mile, mile, mile-and-a-half, two-mile, two-and-a-half mile ovals, and add in a couple road courses. It’s the most diverse group of race tracks that there is. If you look at it in those terms, you would have to say that a Cup driver is the more well-rounded driver compared to any other drivers in the world. I think if you throw in more road courses it only makes it better.”
KEN SCHRADER, Driver, #49 Schwan’s Home Service Dodge: "In the grand scheme of things, I guess you don’t ‘need’ anything. You don’t have to race short tracks and you don’t have to race superspeedways and you don’t have to race road courses. We could all hop in go-karts and head down to the place by the video arcade and go at it. “The problem is nobody is going to care but us. There won’t be any crowds. There won’t be any television. There won’t be any media. Nothing. Just 43 guys in go karts. We’ll care but nobody else will. I go where they say to go and I race where they say we are racing. It doesn’t matter if it is a half mile or a two-and-a-half mile or a road course or whatever. We promote ourselves as the national championship. It’s the same cars every week but different tracks. That’s what makes the difference. If you are going to be the NASCAR champion, you have to be good everywhere. You don’t have to win everywhere, but you have to be good everywhere. You have to be able to do well on road courses as well as short tracks, and on big superspeedways as well as on intermediate speedways. I like the road course and like running on them. A race is a race. Sears Point and Watkins Glen are a challenge but so is everywhere else we go. Racing is racing.”

6/21/04

Ralf might miss France & England  Ralf Schumacher may be forced to miss the French GP, and possibly the British GP, after his horror crash during Sunday's United States GP. The Williams driver crashed heavily in the fastest section of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track, spinning backwards into the barriers at Turn 13 while travelling at around 320kph. The force of the impact concussed Ralf and caused heavy bruising to his back. Ralf is expected to remain in hospital for the next few days because of fears of a 'secondary reaction' to the crash. It is not certain yet whether he will be fit to race in the next event, the French GP, in two weeks' time or even the race the following weekend at Silverstone. "There is clearly a question mark (about his participation)," acknowledged BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. "I cannot tell now what it will be but it has to be his own decision - tomorrow (Monday) he has to decide what to do." "I cannot really judge on the impact of such an accident. I think if the racing driver is ready to race, it is obvious that he will race. If not, we have to see what to do."  Planet-F1

6/21/04

Champ Car does listen  UPDATE This was a Cleveland specific program and one winner was selected at the Portland race viewing party yesterday (co-sponsored with Labatt at Quaker Steak and Lube – a local restaurant and bar.) The 2-seater is going to be in town on Thursday and in addition to the media guests, the winner will receive his ride.   6/21/04 - Recently we suggested to Champ Car that they should come up with a contest to allow a fan to win a Champ Car 2-seater ride.  It looks like they are listening.  This Cleveland GP website talks about the promotion that we assume will go on at every race venue.

6/21/04

Open wheel war escalates in Portland  This Autoweek article says, For 21 years tricky little Portland International Raceway has served up just about everything Champ Car road racing has to offer: crash fests, utter dominance by a dialed-in driver, stunning displays of a rainmeister’s craft and some of the closest finishes in history.........Portland is the next engagement point for Champ Car and its archrival Indy Racing League. With the IRL committed to road racing in 2005, and not averse to snagging traditional Champ Car circuits, Portland has moved to the top of the IRL’s list of potential venues. The IRL has the city’s ear, but Champ Car isn’t giving up.  “We exceeded a lot of expectations with this race [this year], and we want a multi-year deal,” said Tim Ramsberger, Champ Car’s VP of race promotions. “We think it’s going to happen.”

City-owned PIR clearly has a choice for 2005. The problem for Champ Car might be that the IRL got a head start. IRL officials have visited the city, met with city representatives and hired Peter Jacobsen Productions as their marketing partner/potential race promoter. Former professional golfer and PGA tour member Peter Jacobsen runs PJP, and Jacobsen is well placed in the Portland landscape.

After 20 years of multi-year contracts, this year’s race in Portland was a one-time deal. When Champ Car’s new owners acquired the series early this year, both parties wrangled and waffled, the track apparently leery of the new regime, and Champ Car leery of getting stuck in a money drain. In the process, longtime race sponsor G.I. Joe’s (a regional sporting goods chain) lost interest. When Champ Car decided it needed the venue, it agreed to promote the race itself at the risk of maybe $2 million or $3 million in red ink.

For its reluctance to promote races, the new regime did at least as well as its predecessors. Champ Car hired Global Events, the longtime Portland promoter, to manage things, and the company stepped up local promotion.   This year’s crowd clearly exceeded last year’s, which was one of the smallest in anyone’s memory. The expansive grandstands were roughly half full. The corner hills had people and the RV space was packed.

“You’ve got to keep this in perspective,” insisted Global Events president Mike Nealy. “Three months ago we did not know if we were having a race. You heard all the stuff about not having a full grid or a television package. Given all that, we’re feeling good about where we’re at.”

Maybe, but Portland has been marginal for the last several years. Some are wondering why the IRL, with no history and no sweat equity, would put the track at the top of its list. For starters, because it can. Portland would give the IRL a foothold in the Northwest and a bigger presence on the West Coast. It’s a nice track in a beautiful setting. On the other hand, it has been one of the worst facilities on the CART/Champ Car circuit for the better part of 10 years. It desperately needs improvement, starting with things as basic as real bathrooms. Yet the IRL contends it’s not charging in.  Ken Unger, the IRL’s senior vice president of business affairs said the IRL has spent a significant amount of time, energy and resources looking at the Portland market to determine the feasibility of a race there.

Ultimately, the city of Portland will decide who races next at PIR according to who offers the best deal or the best long-term prospects, and that’s as it should be. IRL supporters say that with Indy on its card, that series is the best chance for finding a new race sponsor. Perhaps the city will try to leverage its newly found popularity into the improvements PIR badly needs. Perhaps, if it takes too long to make a choice, it will alienate both suitors.

Champ Car says it wants to stay in Portland, but won’t break the bank to do so. Until this year’s race, and the realization that Portland might not be a money pit, did it decide to dig in.

“Champ Car has done everything it promised,” said promoter Nealy. Added series VP Ramsberger: “I’m not sure we have to convince the city that there is brand loyalty here. I think they realize that.”   Maybe that observation is based on the T-shirts in the crowd, those that had FTG in block letters above Tony George’s face, covered with an international “prohibited” symbol and finished with the words “No IRL in Portland.”

On the other hand, loyalty could be Champ Car’s ace in the hole. The series did bring people in, despite the uncertainties. The IRL’s appeal on road courses is undetermined and untested; its record at some of its ovals, particularly those where it has followed CART, might not be reason for confidence.   One way or another, Portland will decide, as Road America and Laguna Seca and others will decide over the next year or two. The Darwinian process might be the only force that will finally resolve the open-wheel split.

6/21/04
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Kendall says Champ Car (and IRL) needs fixing  This Portland Oregonian article says, Champ Car TV announcer Tommy Kendall isn't surprised that TV ratings are almost nonexistent for Champ Car and Indy Racing League events in this country.   "When people say there's nothing wrong with the product, that all it needs is better marketing and promotion, that's a pretty good clue they don't know they have a product nobody wants," Kendall said before Saturday's Trans-Am race.  "There is a problem with the product. People are afraid to admit that. I think the product, as it is presented now, is awful -- although it has the makings of being a tremendous product. The fans will scream at me, but admitting it's awful actually frees you to figuring it out."  [Editor's Note:  We have been harping on this for quite some time now.  The Champ Car product needs a major refresh and fast.  2005 would not be soon enough.  The heavy, lumbering cars on road and street circuits simply are not exciting anymore.  And Kendall is right, the IRL cars are not exciting either, in fact they are even less exciting.  We will be addressing this further in a new rumor we just received regarding the Euro 3000 series in Europe.  Bottom line - Champ Cars were most popular when they were being talked about in the same breath as F1.  Tony George tried to dumb-down Indy Car racing with his IRL concept and has just about destroyed the sport, it lost its appeal because open wheel cars are not "stock cars" and any effort in the past with things like stock-block engines and other dumbing down concepts have fallen flat on their face.]

6/21/04

Stewart walks out of drivers meeting  Nextel Cup driver #20-Tony Stewart walked out of Sunday's pre-race drivers meeting at Michigan International Speedway before its conclusion and was sent to the rear of the field to start Sunday's DHL 400. Several drivers were asking questions of NASCAR President Mike Helton and events director David Hoots regarding restarts, when Stewart appeared to get frustrated. He said in part, "Can't we just go race?" and walked out of the meeting. The meeting continued. Stewart had qualified 27th. MRN Radio race coverage/ThatsRacin.com

6/21/04

Ganassi announces Busch team  Chip Ganassi announced Sunday morning that Discount Tire Co. and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) have joined forces. Discount Tire Co. will become the "Official Sponsor of Talent Development" for CGRFS. Discount Tire will be an associate sponsor on all three CGRFS NEXTEL Cup Series cars and the primary sponsor of a NASCAR Busch Series Dodge for eight races in 2004. The Busch Series car will be driven by Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears and ASA driver Reed Sorensen. Dodge Notes/Clear!Blue PR

6/21/04

Sponsors do care  Brendan Gaughan barely had been in the Jasper Engines and Transmissions office in Atlanta for a minute, hardly had pulled back his hand from the firm shake with a sponsor that could give him his first full-time ride in Nextel Cup. The inevitable question came quickly. "Tell me about Homestead," asked Bud Denker, Kodak's vice president of brand and market development. Gaughan gulped, then did what he does second best. He started talking. Talking too much had gotten him into this mess about 72 hours earlier at Homestead. Gaughan had entered the final race of the NASCAR truck series schedule leading in points for his father's Orleans Racing team. He was running in the top 10 with 31 laps left when Marty Houston, making his first truck start in three years, caused an accident that wrecked Gaughan. His title hopes dashed, Gaughan blasted fellow Dodge team owner Jimmy Smith for entering an unusually high five trucks, at least one of which Gaughan felt was being handled by an unqualified driver. "Jimmy Smith can kiss my a--," Gaughan said.  St Petersburg Times

6/21/04

Cingular back with Gordon  Car owner Richard Childress said sponsor Cingular Wireless has an option to remain sponsor of Robby Gordon's ride next year. "It's a performance option," Childress said. "Right now we're within that." Roanoke Times

6/21/04
Industry News

PRI show quits Indy   The promoter of America's annual PRI Trade Show, the world's biggest motorsport industry fair, has confirmed its long-rumored move from Indianapolis in 2005 to the newly expanded Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. The second-largest convention in Indianapolis attracts 40,000 visitors, who spend US$26m annually in the city, but the size of the convention center there is restricting its growth.  "Space was the ultimate factor because we've been getting more and more requests from our existing exhibitors and new companies that want to get in the show," confirmed PRI's Pete Evanow. "Would most of those exhibitors want to stay in Indy? Yes, I think that's a foregone conclusion. But everyone wants to grow, too."  Autosport

6/21/04

Coulthard criticizes FIA on Ralf crash  In an Autosport statement, David Coulthard said, "Someone told me that Ralf was sitting there for two laps with no-one with him, which I don't understand," said Coulthard. "Why would that have been the case? According to Sid [Watkins, the FIA's medical delegate], Ralf took 78g and was knocked out for a while. I'm disappointed if he was sitting there for a few minutes because that's life or death stuff. That needs to be looked at. After the crash I was on the radio to the team and my exact words were ‘tell Charlie [Whiting, the FIA steward] to stop the race because there's too much debris and someone is going to get a puncture.' They said 'well, Charlie can hear the radios', so I said, ‘right, Charlie, my opinion is that you should stop the race.' Obviously they chose not to and it took several laps to clear it up. In hindsight, they did such a good job clearing up the carbon. What I was worried about was doing the restart and going down the start/finish straight with bits of carbon flying everywhere. That stuff is nasty when it gets into a tire.

6/21/04

Minardi places its bets  Online casino GoldenPalace.com has extended its sponsorship deal with Formula One team Minardi. The deal will now extend through the remainder of the Formula One season. It follows on from a successful introduction at the Canadian Grand Prix. It is the first time a virtual casino has used Formula One to promote its services. Said GoldenPalace.com CEO, Richard Rowe: "Formula 1 has an enormous worldwide following and this is a major coup. We know, from previous experience with other sports sponsorships, that our involvement with Minardi for the rest of the 2004 season will increase our visibility in a huge way and we are extremely proud and excited to be joining the team."  

6/21/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

'Did a black car win?'
Big brother visits Ralf in hospital
Ralf to stay in hospital overnight
Sato is Japan's first in 14 years
Why didn't BAR pit under Safety Car?
BMW to 'talk to FIA' about black flag
Webber held breath 'for 30 seconds'
Bridgestone had 'rear tire blistering'
Why did they retire at Indy ... ?
Ralf might miss French Grand Prix
Microsoft line-up $40m Toyota deal
Concrete wall is ok at Indy - Schumacher
Rubens blasts new Safety Car rule
Schumacher's a 'little worried'
Podium 'victory' for Sato - Schumacher
Rubens has another nibble at Schu  

6/21/04

Schumacher should be stripped of win  Did Michael Schumacher make an illegal pass for the lead?  The race went green at the start of Lap 6 yet it is clear from the TV photo to right he was credited for leading Lap 5 and hence passed the leader (Barrichello) before he reached the S/F line to start lap 6.  The F1 rulebook says: "When the safety car is ready to leave the circuit it extinguishes its orange lights, indicating to the drivers that it will peel off into the pits at the end of the current lap. The drivers then continue in formation until they cross the start-finish line where green lights will indicate that they are free to race again."  Schumacher should have received at least a stop and go penalty, and hence should be stripped of the race win.

6/20/04

Papis and Pruett win at The Glen  No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Max Papis overcame a sticking throttle that dropped Papis two laps behind the leaders in the first hour and benefited from outstanding service from their crew to score their second consecutive Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series victory today in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International. With Pruett behind the wheel, the No. 01 Daytona Prototype claimed the lead from No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley driver Max Angelelli when the pole sitter made a Lap 133 pit stop. Pruett retained the lead following his final pit stop of the 164-lap race on Lap 139 to win by 27.016 seconds over Angelelli. “We had a great finish, just purely through hard work,” Pruett said. “We were two laps down and we were just hoping for a top-five. I still can’t believe we finished up here. (The weekend) was a train wreck. I thought we had things behind us by the time the green flag fell. Unfortunately, there was one more bad thing that happened to us because we broke a half-shaft, we had a stuck throttle, we just weren’t happy with it. Literally, I thought this was going to be a terrible weekend right up until the end.”

In another dominating performance, No. 21 Performance Technology Group BMW M3 co-drivers Bill Auberlen and Boris Said led the GT category through virtually all six hours and finished two laps ahead of the No. 30 Risi Competizione Ferrari 360GT shared by Anthony Lazzaro, Ralf Kelleners and Philip Bennett to earn the class victory. The No. 44 Orbit Racing Porsche GT3 RS of Joe and Jay Policastro and Mike Fitzgerald was third.

While the championship-leading No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup shared by co-drivers Randy Pobst and Michael Levitas was removed from contention for the Super Grand Sport (SGS) class win in a crash during the first hour, their teammates in the No. 38 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup - Marc Bunting and Andy Lally – earned their first class victory in Rolex Series competition despite getting caught up in a dustup of their own just past the one-hour mark.

6/20/04

Observations from USGP at Indy  Attendance appeared to be significantly down from 2003 despite the added infield grandstands.  Attendance estimates were 95,000, down from 120,000 in 2003.  The main straight was essentially empty on both sides of the track except the first turn area.  The first year estimate was 220,000 and from there it has been 220,000>180,000>150,000>120,000>95,000.  An ominous trend meaning Tony George is taking a financial beating.......The SAFER Barrier in the final turn (Turn 1 oval) must be extended to include the area where Ralf Schumacher made contact......Vendors and vendor sales were way off from prior years despite the beautiful weather.......The podium at most F1 tracks is full of people down below making for a festive scene.  At Indy there was hardly anyone and the grandstands across the track were near empty making the post-race ceremonies rather morbid.......Michael Schumacher is simply head and shoulders better than any driver before.  He is the complete driver now, never making mistakes and perhaps faster than he has ever been........

6/20/04

Alternate Bridgestones made a difference in Portland  Sebastien Bourdais employed his alternate Bridgestone Potenza tires early in the race, building a lead of more than eight seconds en route to his second victory of the 2004 season. Bourdais, running late in the race on the primary Bridgestone specification, was stalked all the way to the finish line by Newman/Haas Racing teammate Bruno Junqueira, who was running his final stint on a set of alternates. Junqueira, running out of time, cut the lead to just over one second before Bourdais took the checkered flag.

“The Bridgestone tires were great here. The regular tires were just fine, but the alternate tires were much better,” said Bourdais. “Not only were they quicker, but they were durable as well. I was faster between three-tenths and five-tenths (of a second) from the middle to the end of the stint, so it was perfect.”

“Bridgestone did a great job here,” added Junqueira. “I was quite impressed with the alternate tires. I wish I’d had a chance to run those in qualifying, and I’d have been on the pole no problem. They were really awesome, and I think Bridgestone did a good job on that – I was lapping very fast at the end of the race.”

This was the second time this season that Bridgestone brought an alternate tire for use in a Champ Car World Series event. The alternate tire features a softer compound than the primary tire specification, providing more grip and, in turn, faster performance. According to Champ Car regulations each team was issued two sets of alternate tires in addition to the six sets of primary spec tires received. Each car is required to utilize at least one set of alternates in the race.

6/20/04

Fogarty makes it a clean sweep in Portland  Usually it’s only baseball teams that have the opportunity to sweep doubleheaders. In Portland this weekend, however, that honor went to 2002 Toyota Atlantic series champion Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports), who completed the twin killing by leading every lap Sunday en route to his fifth career Atlantic victory.Overall, Fogarty has won three consecutive events – including a short oval win in Milwaukee two weeks ago.  More....

6/20/04
Formula BMW

Jaskol wins race #2 at Indy  Matt Jaskol (Team Autotecnica) took his second Formula BMW USA victory of the season today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in championship style. The 19-year old from Las Vegas, Nevada completed 14 laps in the 30-minute race, finishing 1.213 seconds ahead of Championship points leader Andreas Wirth (HBR Motorsport). Rookie points leader James Hinchcliffe (AIM Autosport) ran a solid race from his fifth starting position to finish third. Wirth extended his points lead to 15 over Hinchcliffe. Jonathan Summerton (HBR Motorsport) stands third with Jaskol only one point behind in fourth. Billy Johnson (Team PTG Motorsport) rounds out the top-five.

Results Sunday of the Formula BMW United States Grand Prix on the 2.605-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with finishing position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown and laps completed.
1. Matt Jaskol, Las Vegas, 14
2. Andreas Wirth, Germany, 14
3. James Hinchcliffe, Canada, 14
4. Jonathan Summerton, Kissimmee, Fla., 14
5. Billy Johnson, San Clemente, Calif., 14
6. Brian Frisselle, Kihei, Hawaii, 14
7. Federico Montoya, Colombia, 14
8. Kyle Herder, Canada, 14
9. Dominik Jackson, Great Britain, 14
10. Graham Rahal, New Albany, Ohio, 14
11. Lawson Aschenbach, Gaithersburg, Md., 14
12. Tom Milner, Leesburg, Va., 14
13. Tom Sutherland, Campbell, Calif., 14
14. Trevor Daley, Canada, 14
15. Alexis Fenton, New York, 14
16. Derek Burseth, Hoffman Estates, Ill, 14
17. Morgan Spurgas, Charlton, N.Y., 14
Race Statistics
Winner's average speed: 95.432 mph
Time of race: 22:55.644
Margin of victory: 1.213 seconds
Lead changes: 1 among 2 drivers
Lap leaders: Summerton 1-8, Jaskol 9-14
Championship points after 6 of 14 races: 1. Andreas Wirth (90), 2. James Hinchcliffe (75), 3. Jonathan Summerton (68), 4. Matt Jaskol (67), 5. Billy Johnson (46), 6. Brian Frisselle (25), 7. Joey Hand (Team PTG Motorsport, 22), 8. Dominik Jackson (20), 9. Tom Milner (19), 10. Kyle Herder (16), 11. Federico Montoya (10), 12. Lawson Aschenbach (9), 13. Gerardo Bonilla (Jensen Motorsport, 8), 14. Trevor Daley (4) 15. Graham Rahal (4), 16. Tom Sutherland (PTG Motorsport, 1), 17. Alan Sciuto (Team PTG Motorsport, 1), 18. Daniel Herrington (Jensen Motorsport, 1).
Rookies: 1. James Hinchcliffe (110), 2. Jonathan Summerton (88), 3. Tom Milner (71), 4. Tom Sutherland (38), 5. Graham Rahal (38), 6. Federico Montoya (32), 7. Trevor Daley (26), 8. Alexis Fenton (23), 9. Alan Sciuto (16), 10. Derek Burseth (16), 11. Daniel Herrington (8).

6/20/04

Ralf Schumacher in big crash, taken to hospital  UPDATE A Williams source said: "Ralf is at the medical center, he is conscious but bruised. He will be transferred to a downtown hospital in Indianapolis for a full examination as a precautionary measure." Team principal Frank Williams said: "He's in hospital and is in a lot of pain. Everything works, but his stomach's a bit upset. He's pretty bruised but he's basically sound. I think he'll probably be there [in hospital] for several days. I don't think the tire deflated before the accident from the data on the car, but this [the cause] isn't clear yet." Technical director Sam Michael added: "It was not a mistake; certainly not a driving error. We'll have a look at the rear suspension and wing."  6/20/04 - Williams BMW driver Ralf Schumacher was involved in a big crash exiting the last turn (first turn for oval) at the Indy Motor Speedway.  He lost control of his Williams in the middle of the sweeping right hander and hit the outside concrete wall hard rear-end first and just missing the SAFER Barrier.  Schumacher was knocked unconscious and it took a very long time for the medical crew to get to him.  Eventually Schumacher woke up and was carefully placed on a backboard and taken away in the ambulance.  He was reported to be awake and talking to medical doctors.  He has some back pain but no reported broken bones. It is believed Schumacher suffered a rear suspension failure.  The first few laps of the race were quite dramatic as several cars were eliminated in the first corner, Alonso blew a tire on the long main straight and crashed in Turn 1 and then Schumacher crashed on the very next lap in the last turn. Mark C.

6/20/04

Hunter-Reay tops Portland warm-up  Herdez driver Ryan Hunter-Reay turned in the fastest lap in Sunday morning's 30-minute warm-up session for the Grand Prix of Portland Champ Car race.  Paul Tracy was 2nd and Bruno Junqueira 3rd.  Typically drivers are only scrubbing tires, bedding in new brake pads and checking for leaks so not a lot can be made from the times.

Pos Driver # Engine/Chassis/Tire Lap Time Mph km/h Leader Previous
1 R. Hunter-Reay 4 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:00.544 117.078 188.418
2 P. Tracy 1 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:00.918 116.360 187.263 0.374
3 B. Junqueira 6 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.049 116.110 186.860 0.505 0.131
4 J. Vasser 12 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.102 116.009 186.698 0.558 0.053
5 S. Bourdais 2 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.228 115.771 186.315 0.684 0.126
6 M. Dominguez 55 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.231 115.765 186.305 0.687 0.003
7 A. Tagliani 8 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.334 115.570 185.991 0.790 0.103
8 P. Carpentier 7 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.356 115.529 185.925 0.812 0.022
9 M. Jourdain Jr. 9 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.477 115.302 185.560 0.933 0.121
10 R. Lavin 3 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.790 114.718 184.620 1.246 0.313
11 J. Wilson 34 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.835 114.634 184.485 1.291 0.045
12 O. Servia 11 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.849 114.608 184.443 1.305 0.014
13 M. Haberfeld 5 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone 1:02.032 114.270 183.899 1.488 0.183
14 G. Mazzacane 19 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.205 113.952 183.388 1.661 0.173
15 R. Gonzalez 21 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.362 113.665 182.926 1.818 0.157
16 A. Sperafico 14 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridge 1:02.662 113.121 182.050 2.118 0.300
17 N. Philippe 17 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:03.244 112.080 180.375 2.700 0.582
18 A. Allmendinger 10 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:04.979 109.088 175.560 4.435 1.735

6/20/04

SunTrust signs multi-year pact with NASCAR  SunTrust Banks, Inc. announced today a multi-year agreement with the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) to become the "Official Bank of NASCAR." SunTrust's relationship with NASCAR, one of the largest and most popular sports in the country, reinforces the company's commitment to serve the financial needs of the motorsports industry. Under terms of the agreement, SunTrust will be involved in NASCAR at many levels, including supporting the sport's diversity initiatives, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, grassroots racing, and various charitable and community programs. "SunTrust is extremely proud to join the family of great sponsors of one of America's premier sports. As the 'Official Bank of NASCAR', we now have the unique opportunity to offer our products and services directly to the most loyal fans in all of sports," said Craig Kelly, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for SunTrust Banks. "We understand that NASCAR is a lifestyle for its fans, and we want to be a small but important part of the everyday lives of these great fans." In order to best serve the NASCAR community of drivers, owners and teams, SunTrust will build upon its Motorsports Banking Group announced earlier this year. The expanded unit will support both the financial needs of NASCAR's drivers and teams as well as assist with the sport's community-related programs that directly benefit the families of NASCAR's drivers and teams. Sanctioned organizations that will receive immediate support from SunTrust Motorsports Banking include Women's Auxiliary of Motorsports (WAM), which helps to provide support for the families of NASCAR racers; Motor Racing Outreach (MRO), a non-denominational group that provides religious services for NASCAR and other racing series; and Victory Junction Gang Camp, a retreat for children living with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. SunTrust will also take its sponsorship to the track and broaden the number of NASCAR fans it reaches across the country by becoming an associate sponsor of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team to be named, as well as a contingency award sponsor of NASCAR's Dodge Weekly Racing Series, NASCAR's grassroots racing series. This local program will also include sponsorship of several grassroots racing facilities. "SunTrust has been instrumental in the growth of our sport from day one when they helped my grandfather, Bill France, Sr., secure the funds to build Daytona International Speedway," said Brian France, Chairman and CEO of NASCAR. "Like NASCAR, SunTrust understands the path to customer loyalty is providing the right products with exceptional service. The company's commitment to our sport is far reaching and helps support our teams, drivers, tracks and community organizations in very meaningful ways."

6/20/04

Dangerous Curves goes to Portland  This week’s episode of the Champ Car lifestyle show Dangerous Curves, which airs Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on Spike TV, will originate from Portland International Raceway and serve as a Sunday warm-up for the June 20 Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland. The show, hosted by Bronte Tagliani, will follow the adventures of many of the Champ Car fathers this weekend as they join their 200 mph sons at the 1.969-mile PIR road course. This week’s episode will take viewers trackside as some of the driver’s fathers got a once-in-a-lifetime chance to have their sons drive them around the course in the new Champ Car two-seater. Bronte will take viewers on a mini-tour of Portland and will also join some of the Champ Car drivers as they go on their weekly track walk. The track walk is a vital part of the driver’s pre-race preparation and Dangerous Curves will show viewers what the drivers look for while they inspect the track. The show will also feature a piece on driver’s fitness routines along with the Champ Car Tech Feature of the Week hosted by Jon Beekhuis. The show airs at 1:30 p.m., while the 94-lap Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford event will be shown live at 4 p.m. Eastern Time/3 p.m. Central on Spike TV and HDNet.

6/20/04

NASCAR season has sitcom feel   This Times-Dispatch article says, Question: What do the Three Stooges, the Keystone Cops, Jim Carrey in "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," Cedric the Entertainer in those Bud Light commercials, Florida election officials and NASCAR have in common?  Answer: a ton.

Enjoying the new NASCAR yet? The one that's so thoroughly modern and high-tech, it can't keep from tripping over its own microchips? The one Bill France Jr. turned over to son Brian while saying, "Just don't run the sucker into a ditch, har-de-har-har?" The one that all of a sudden has more snafus than the entire cast of "Scrubs?"

No question, the France Family Players are on a roll. A couple of weeks ago at Dover, they spent so much mid-race time trying to sort out who was in first (through 43rd), you would've thought it was an Abbott & Costello routine. Last Sunday at Pocono, they about made Jimmie Johnson win the race twice. No telling what they've got planned for today's show at Michigan. Security personnel are advised to make spectators check their projectiles at the door just in case.

Of course, the folks in Daytona Beach never met a merchandising campaign they didn't like, which means this run of nonsense - and it goes deeper than merely the past two Cup races - could work in their favor. Any day now, NASCAR is expected to announce several new marketing tie-ins . . .

  • Official game show: "The Weakest Link."

  • Official brain food: Zero candy bars.

  • Official Jackson Browne composition: "Running on Empty."

  • Official canine: Goofy.

  • Official dwarf: Dopey.

6/20/04

USGP seats to be about 60% full  According to this Indy Star article, at capacity, IMS could seat 207,401 USGP fans.  With about 120,000 expected for today's race, about 60% of them will be occupied.  Still, 120,000 is a reasonably healthy crowd even though Tony George is taking a blood bath financially at that attendance level.  No wonder Bernie Ecclestone had such kind words for him on Friday.  As long as Tony is willing to keep on lining Bernie's pockets with Hulman-George trust fund money, Bernie will keep telling him how wonderful he is and will keep renewing the contract.

6/20/04

Ford sues Kahne  UPDATE  The latest on Ford's legal action against Kasey Kahne: Kahne was served with papers when he landed here Thursday, informing him of the suit over breach of contract. Ford apparently only wants to recoup some of its investment in Kahne, 24, not to park him or put him back in a Ford. Part of Kahne's decision to leave Ford for Dodge and car owner Ray Evernham followed Robert Yates' decision not to expand to a third Cup team for Kahne, who was driving a Busch car for Yates. The turning point, one source said, could have come last September when Yates put Jason Jarrett in a third Cup car at Talladega instead of Kahne. Winston Salem Journal  6/19/04 - Word from Ford sources that Ford Motor Company is reportedly taking legal action against Dodge sensation #9-Kasey Kahne over its contract with Kahne. Kahne, the sport's hottest rookie, deferred to his agents, Rod Moskowitz and Cary Agajanian. Moskowitz: "We have no comment at this time. Kasey said earlier this year that he has fulfilled all his obligations to Ford, and our position remains the same." Ford gave Kahne a major break by putting together a Busch package with Robert Yates. That Ford contract contained a clause that allowed Ford, if Kahne were offered a Cup deal by a rival car maker, to keep Kahne if Ford could match that deal with a ride of similar capability. When Dodge's Ray Evernham offered Kahne the ride Bill Elliott was winning in last fall, Ford appeared unable to match it. Or at least that's the way the situation was explained at Daytona earlier this year. It's unclear what Ford's actions might mean, what situation Dodge and Evernham might now be in, and what might happen next. Winston Salem Journal

6/20/04

He is Michel's cousin   Check out the 11th place finisher in yesterday's Renault Formula 2000 race at The Glen.  It's Patricio Jourdain, who is the cousin of Champ Car driver, and Mexican star, Michel Jourdain Jr..
Pos Start Pos No. Name Laps Diff Best Tm Reasons Out Hometown Country Sponsor Team
1 / 4 /50/Juan Martin Ponte/14/1:53.707/Concordia, ARG/ IPS/Grapeking/EuroInter SRL
2 / 7 /7 Ricardo Imery 14 3.009 1:56.268 Caracas VZL Cavenas EuroInternational Inc
3 / 5 / 1/ Antoine Bessette/ 14/ 3.149/1:53.744/ St. Bruno, Quebec CAN/ Elan Intl/Gou
4 / 9 / 3 /Michael Yager (R) /14/4.227/1:57.301/Effingham,IL/USA/ Mid-America/Gelles Racing
5 /10 /15 /Robert Siska / 14 / 8.893 /2:03.057 / San Francisco, CA /USA /RJS Motorsports
6 / 6 / 5 /Philippe Gelinas (R) / 14/12.053/1:55.860/Grand-Mere, Quebec CAN / TBA Gelles
7 / 1 /20 Marcos Gomes /14/13.134/1:53.935/ San Paulo BZL/ ITUPETRO/ GTI Team
8 / 12/ 42 Adam Dodds (R) /13 --1 Lap-- /2:05.364/ Washington, DC / USA / TBA /Gelle
9 / 3 / 4 Renato Jader David /10 / --4 Laps-- /1:53.488 / San Paulo /BZL /Priests for Life Gelles
10/ 2/ 34 Mark Wilkins /8 /--6 Laps-- 1:53.804 / Contact / Toronto, Ont CAN / Trizec Canada 
11 / 11 / 30/ Patricio Jourdain (R) /8 37.553/ 2:00.460/ Contact / Mexico City MEX GTI Team
12 / 8/ 6 Stephan Roy (R) / 5 --9 Laps--/ 1:55.786 / Contact/ Trois Riveres, Quebec CAN 

6/20/04

USGP vs Indy 500  A reader writes, I'm a Champ Car fan, I watch F1, and I watch NASCAR.  I tape IRL races because I like Helio.  I laughed to myself when I watched F1 qualifying Sat. because there were so many more people there watching qualifying than the crowd at Indy 500 qualifying.  Hardly anyone there for Indy 500 qualifying, so what does that tell you about the so-called BIGGEST RACE IN THE WORLD? I don't think so, that title does not belong to the Indy 500 anymore thanks to our friend Tony George. How embarrassing and what fools they are all in the IRL going roundy-round in circles like a dog chasing its tail. Shame on all of you in the IRL led by Tony George and his ship of fools. Cindy Adamson Dear Cindy:  Dumbed down open wheel formulas have never succeeded and the IRL is just the latest attempt to fall on its face. Stock car saloon racing is accepted as dumbed down 1950's technology, but open wheel cars are not meant to mimic passenger cars, their allure is their sole purpose is to go around a race track faster than anything else - they are purpose built with human ingenuity that test the reflexes and skill of the driver. Mark C.

6/20/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

''I'm better now than ever before' - Rubens
Sauber 'vexed' by gap to rivals
Panis rues last tenth
A 'Trulli' dodgy steering-wheel
'They can race' - Ferrari's Brawn
Williams blame balance
Button stole Sato's settings
Webber 'braked too late'
Jordan's 'top three' quali triumph
What is it about Rubens and Indy ... ?
Honda tunes Sato engine to last distance
Webber pulls out of Goodwood
Toyota has 'killed' da Matta's career
George denies 'anger' at summer F1 date
'B spec' McLaren 'worth three tenths' - Coulthard
Williams' 'blatant' Montreal indiscretion  

6/20/04

Danica Patrick wins pole for race #2 in Portland  Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) won her first career Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama pole position yesterday morning in qualifying for the second of two races this weekend at Portland International Raceway. Patrick took advantage of cooler track temperatures Saturday morning and saved her best for last, posting the top time of the weekend at 1:07.155 (105.553 mph) on her final lap of the 45-minute morning qualifying session. "I think the biggest thing about the session was it was cooler (than Friday)," said Patrick. "We were set up for later in the run and it worked out."

By winning the pole, Patrick becomes the first woman to start an open-wheel race on the point since Sarah Fisher accomplished the feat at Kentucky in 2002. "I'm just so happy for my team, most of all," added the second-year Rahal-Letterman Racing driver. "They were here (working on the car) until 9 p.m. last night and I got to go out and have a nice dinner. They worked their butts off." Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports) qualified second for Sunday's second race. Fogarty, who won the first race Saturday, carded a time of 1:07.191 (105.496 mph) in Saturday morning's qualifying.

Defending Portland Atlantic champion Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works) was third in qualifying by posting a time of 1:07.230 (105.435 mph). The effort was a marked improvement for the young Scot as he qualified seventh yesterday for the first event of the weekend. Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing) was fourth in qualifying with a top lap of 1:07.371 (105.214 mph) and rookie Jonathan Bomarito (#8 Dixien/Omnisource) rounded out the top five at 1:07.387 (105.189 mph). [Editor's Note: Clearly, Danica Patrick is the most talented woman driver we have seen to date. It will be interesting to see whether she ends up wasting that talent by moving to the IRL, or whether she ends up in Champ Car where her talent can be put to good use.  Team Rahal still has their Lola Champ Car and rumors suggest Rahal might run her in a race or two later in the year.  Of course the IRL is anxious to get their hands on her.]

6/20/04

Qualifying from Valencia   At the begin of qualifying 1 Didier Andre hit the track with an oil leak.  He did two laps, soaking the track with oil, then crashing after losing it on his own oil. After cleaning the track, 8 Min. of qualifying were left.
Top-4 Race 1: 1. Heikki Kovalainen 2. Jean Christophe Ravier 3. Narain Karthikeyan 4. Felix Porteiro
Top-4 Race 2: 1. Heikki Kovalainen 2. Tiago Monteiro 3. Jean Christophe Ravier 4. Narain Karthikeyan

6/19/04

Gentilozzi wins in Portland   It was a study in déjà vu all over again as Paul Gentilozzi won Saturday's Albertsons Trans-Am 100 at Portland International Raceway. Gentilozzi, who started 14th in the No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR due to a technical infraction in qualifying, drove from last to first to record his second-straight Motorock Trans-Am Series victory this year. It was also Gentilozzi's 26th career victory, tying him with Tommy Kendall for second on the all-time win list, just two victories behind the legendary Mark Donohue. More....

6/19/04

Gentilozzi leads final practice   Paul Gentilozzi set the fastest time in final practice for today's Albertsons Trans-Am 100. The three-time Motorock Trans-Am Series champion, driving the No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR, turned in a 1:13.664-minute lap at 96.228 miles per hour around the 1.969-mile permanent road course. Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette), polesitter Tomy Drissi (No. 5 AVP, Alien Versus Predator, Only in Theaters Jaguar XKR), Greg Pickett (No. 6 Cytomax Jaguar XKR) and Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR) completed the top five.

6/19/04

Trans-Am Series launches new online home  The Motorock Trans-Am Series launched its all-new permanent home on the Internet today at www.trans-amseries.com. The new site kicked off during the Albertsons Trans-Am 100 weekend at Portland International Raceway.

The newly re-designed web site offers many new features, including a searchable news archive organized by date, photo galleries, driver bios, race information and more. Recent and archived results have been re-packaged to make them easier to use. There is also a new version of “The Paddock,” which allows competitors to download competitor-specific information. A media site is also included, which will assist the press in covering the Trans-Am Series. Both the paddock and media areas are password protected.

The new site also includes much of what has made www.trans-amseries.com great in the past, including breaking news, updated session and race results, and point standings, all packaged in a more attractive and user-friendly way.

The site was created by New York-based Global Media Services. GMS, through a partnership with VFX, also coordinated and developed new web sites for the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford (www.champcarworldseries.com) and the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama (www.toyotaatlantic.com). The Trans-Am Series site utilizes a similar architecture and graphic look of those sites.

“We have spent many months developing what we think is the best and most useful web site in Trans-Am history,” said Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett. “We re-designed the website with our fans, competitors, sponsors and the media in mind, with the hopes of continuing to offer them a positive and productive online experience. It also better aligns the Trans-Am Series with the Champ Car World Series and with Toyota Atlantic.  “The site has exceeded our expectations on many levels,” added Clagett, “and we think visitors to the new website will agree.”

6/19/04

Notes from Portland  The weather has been hot all weekend in Portland.  Sunday calls for a few isolated thunderstorms developing during the afternoon. Warm. High 88F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%..........Paul Tracy was up 0.18 sec. and on target to steal the pole from Sebastien Bourdais when he crashed in Turn 8........Bruno Junqueira, Alex Sperafico and Gaston Mazzacane were all penalized for violations of rule 6.17.4i, which deals with drivers found to be interfering with a competitor’s qualifying lap.......Sebastien Bourdais has qualified in the front row for each of the season’s first four races, including winning two pole positions. This equals an all-time Champ Car modern era (1979-Present) for most consecutive front-row starts to begin a season. Paul Tracy (2003) also began last year with four consecutive front-row starts but ended his streak in Round 5 in Brands Hatch by qualifying 16th........Bourdais earned a championship point for winning the pole for Sunday’s race, moving him into a tie for third with Ryan Hunter-Reay with 66 points. Bourdais was the points leader after the year’s second race.

6/19/04

Jon Fogarty beats Danica Patrick in Portland  Round 4 was the first of two Atlantic races scheduled to be run at Portland this weekend. It marks the first time since 2000 the Toyota Atlantic Championship has run two races in a single weekend.  The 2002 Toyota Atlantic series champion led wire-to-wire for the second time in two weeks Saturday, winning Round 4 of the championship – the Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Championship of Portland Presented by Yokohama (SPEED Channel, Saturday, June 26 – 2 p.m. ET). Round 5 will take the green flag on Sunday, completing the first doubleheader for the Atlantic series since 2000. Fogarty started on the pole and kept his nose clean in the all-important festival curves (Turns 1-3), maintaining his lead and he was never seriously threatened during the race, pushing his lead at one point to nearly 7.5 seconds before taking the checkered flag for the fourth time in his career. Following another flag-to-flag finish on the Milwaukee Mile oval two weeks ago, Fogarty has won consecutive events for the first time in his Atlantic career and he jumps up to second in the championship hunt with 93 points on the year. He will look to make it three-in-row and continue to his rise up the championship ladder tomorrow as he starts in second position.   Rahal Letterman Racing’s Toyota Atlantic driver Danica Patrick finished second at Portland Saturday. In collecting her second podium finish of the 2004 season she claimed the points lead in the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Subsequently she became the first female to hold the championship lead in a major North American open-wheel series. Patrick equaled her best Atlantic result in the #24 Argent Mortgage Toyota/Swift. She has now posted six straight top-five results, which includes three podium finishes. She is the only driver in the Toyota Atlantic Championship to finish in the top-five in every race this season.

“The car was really good and the only person I didn’t have covered today was [race winner] Jon [Fogarty],” said Patrick. “To be honest second is nice and taking over the points lead is important, but I am here to win and second just isn’t good enough. As a team we have raised our level of performance and now we need to take that final step. I believe you have to teach yourself to win at each level. I am ready to win.”  The 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship will resume Sunday afternoon with Round 5 on the same Portland track.

6/19/04
Porsche Supercup

Henzler wins Porsche Supercup race, Long 2nd  Porsche Michelin Supercup points leader Wolf Henzler won the first of two scheduled series races this weekend at the United States Grand Prix, and 22-year-old American Patrick Long finished second June 19 in his first event at the 2.605-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Henzler's victory from the pole in the No. 5 Infineon - Team Farnbacher PZM entry marked his fourth win out of five races this season, and the third at Indianapolis during his Porsche Supercup career. Henzler, from Germany, also won from the pole in Supercup competition at the USGP in 2002 and 2003.  Henzler's Team Farnbacher teammate, Dirk Werner of Germany, finished third.  More.....

6/19/04

Ponte leads Eurointernational 1-2 at The Glen   Juan Martin Ponte took his second win of the season with a victory at the Glen in round three of the North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship on Saturday, with teammate Ricardo Imery coming home in second place. Antoine Bessette marked his debut race with AIM Autosport with a fine third place to make his first podium appearance of the season. The Eurointernational 1-2 result was particularly special for team owner Antonio Ferrari, who was celebrating his teams 200th race weekend.

“This is so fantastic to get the win for Antonio in his 200th race!” exclaimed the Argentinean race winner. “After being so competitive at Tremblant, but not getting the result we deserved, this just feels great! I had to be careful at the end, as I had some damage to my rear wing, but the Renault is so strong, it wasn’t an issue.”

Imery was likewise pleased with his first podium of the season after scoring two fourth place finishes in the opening rounds of the season.

“I have been working with the championship in mind all the time, and just shooting for consistent top-five finishes every time, and doing so has put me in a very competitive position, so I am proud of the progress, and of this team, too- a 1-2 finish is just a perfect way to mark the 200th race for Eurointernational!”

Pole sitter Marcos Gomes took the lead at the start, with Mark Wilkins taking up the battle from second position as Ponte began to set a series of fast laps from third position. Gomes kept his gap to the pack, but a full course yellow erased his lead after series newcomer Stephan Roy spun off in a section of the track that had not fully dried.

On the restart, Gomes led the field to the green flag, but the field was not well aligned, and several cars made contact, taking out three racers-Renato Jader David, Mark Wilkins, and Patricio Jourdain, Jr. Wilkins and Jader were extremely frustrated with the turn of events, and Jourdain, who had started the race on rain tires and ran competitively before capitalizing on the caution to make the switch to dries, was done for the day.

The field circulated for two laps as the cars of Wilkins and Jourdain Jr. were removed from the track, setting the stage for a one-lap dash to the finish. Gomes once again led the field back to the green, with Ponte chasing him as Imery, Bessette, and Gelinas all fought for position, with Gelinas spinning off into turn one when he left his braking too late, leaving Bessette and Imery to take the remaining podium positions.

Gomes was found to have been in violation of the rules regarding restarts, and so was given a 15 second penalty post race.

“I accept the ruling of the officials—there are slightly different regulations here than in the Brazilian Formula Renault championship, so I learned the hard way what the rules are here,” said a disappointed Gomes. “But it is of course good to know that we had the car to beat today, and so I am looking forward to the race in Toronto.”

The series will meet again for round four of the championship as part of the Champ Car Molson Indy Toronto event on the weekend of July 9-11.
Pos Start Pos No. Name Laps Diff Best Tm Reasons Out Hometown Country Sponsor Team
1 / 4 /50/Juan Martin Ponte/14/1:53.707/Concordia, ARG/ IPS/Grapeking/EuroInter SRL
2 / 7 /7 Ricardo Imery 14 3.009 1:56.268 Caracas VZL Cavenas EuroInternational Inc
3 / 5 / 1/ Antoine Bessette/ 14/ 3.149/1:53.744/ St. Bruno, Quebec CAN/ Elan Intl/Gou
4 / 9 / 3 /Michael Yager (R) /14/4.227/1:57.301/Effingham,IL/USA/ Mid-America/Gelles Racing
5 /10 /15 /Robert Siska / 14 / 8.893 /2:03.057 / San Francisco, CA /USA /RJS Motorsports
6 / 6 / 5 /Philippe Gelinas (R) / 14/12.053/1:55.860/Grand-Mere, Quebec CAN / TBA Gelles
7 / 1 /20 Marcos Gomes /14/13.134/1:53.935/ San Paulo BZL/ ITUPETRO/ GTI Team
8 / 12/ 42 Adam Dodds (R) /13 --1 Lap-- /2:05.364/ Washington, DC / USA / TBA /Gelle
9 / 3 / 4 Renato Jader David /10 / --4 Laps-- /1:53.488 / San Paulo /BZL /Priests for Life Gelles
10/ 2/ 34 Mark Wilkins /8 /--6 Laps-- 1:53.804 / Contact / Toronto, Ont CAN / Trizec Canada 
11 / 11 / 30/ Patricio Jourdain (R) /8 37.553/ 2:00.460/ Contact / Mexico City MEX GTI Team
12 / 8/ 6 Stephan Roy (R) / 5 --9 Laps--/ 1:55.786 / Contact/ Trois Riveres, Quebec CAN 

6/19/04

GP of Denver to host Meet-The-Driver event  Today, The CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver announced that driver Danica Patrick is visiting Denver for a meet-the-driver event happening from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm on Monday, June 21 at the Fox and Hound Tavern near Park Meadows. Patrick will come to Denver after racing in the Grand Prix of Portland to help promote Denver's Grand Prix weekend. Danica Patrick will race in the Toyota Atlantics series during the Grand Prix of Denver weekend of August 13 through August 15.

6/19/04

Michigan race a sellout  Michigan International Speedway President Brett Shelton announced today that all 136,373 reserved seats for Sunday’s DHL 400 have been sold. The only tickets remaining are for infield General Admission. With the sellout, MIS extends its streak of sold out NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races to 27 consecutive races dating back to June 1991. “We think MIS fans are the best in racing and today’s announcement of a DHL 400 sellout just reinforces that,” Shelton said. “Racing Father’s Day weekend at MIS has been a long-standing tradition and we’re excited about the momentum this creates for our remaining two race weekends.” General Admission (infield) tickets for the DHL 400 go on sale Sunday morning at the tunnel entrance and at 6 a.m. at Speedway ticket offices.

6/19/04
Formula BMW

USGP race #1 results  Using the same strategy that won him the pole position, Jonathan Summerton (HBR Motorsport) passed Federico Montoya (Atlantic Racing Team) on the last lap of the race and held on to become the winner of Round 5. The 16-year-old completed 14 laps of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway USGP circuit in the 30-minute contest, finishing 4.090 seconds ahead of Championship points leader and HBR Motorsport teammate Andreas Wirth. Dominik Jackson (Atlantic Racing Team) was third. Summerton led the first four laps of the race until a charging Montoya took the lead away from him. The front row starters then ran nose-to-tail, hardly more than a car length apart, for the next 10 laps. On the final lap, heading down Indy's long front straight, Summerton backed off just enough to give himself a run on Montoya and completed the pass under braking for turn 1. Montoya closed, but spun and ultimately finished seventh. Summerton was credited with the fastest lap of the race (1:37.201) on lap 8. In addition to putting on another exciting race, Round 5 of the Formula BMW USA Championship rewrote the Indianapolis Motor Speedway record books. 15-year old Tom Sutherland (Team PTG Motorsport) is now the youngest driver to have ever competed at the Speedway and Summerton the youngest driver to ever win at the Speedway.

"A last lap pass was not really the plan," said Summerton. "Actually I made a small mistake in the middle of the race and had to focus on catching Montoya back up. Of course, I knew how far back I had to be to get a good run, but I didn't think I would go by him on the straight as quickly as I did." Wirth added, "I want to win the Championship this year. If I can finish all the races in the top-three I think the Championship is very much a possibility. The car was okay today, but I think we can make some changes tonight that will make it faster." Great Britain's Jackson said, "I'd like to have finished higher up. I had a disappointing qualifying and we continued to struggle on the straights in the race. I kept at it and drove through to the end of the podium." BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen adds, "It was a terrific Formula BMW race with a great audience. We had excitement until the very last lap. Everyone in Indianapolis is very welcoming to the new series. That Summerton, a Rookie, won shows the high quality of our Education and Coaching Program. The second race tomorrow will be more exciting than today because our drivers are learning more and more with each race."
1. (1) Jonathan Summerton, Kissimmee, Fla., 14
2. (4) Andreas Wirth, Germany, 14
3. (7) Dominik Jackson, Great Britain, 14
4. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Canada, 14
5. (6) Billy Johnson, San Clemente, Calif.,14
6. (9) Tom Milner, Leesburg, Va., 14
7. (2) Federico Montoya, Colombia, 14
8. (11) Lawson Aschenbach, Gaithersburg, Md., 14
9. (12) Graham Rahal, New Albany, Ohio, 14
10. (8) Brian Frisselle, Kihei, Hawaii, 14
11. (14) Tom Sutherland, Campbell, Calif., 14
12. (13) Kyle Herder, Canada, 14
13. (15) Alexis Fenton, New York, 14
14. (16) Morgan Spurgas, Charlton, N.Y., 14
15. (3) Matt Jaskol, Las Vegas, 13
Not classified
(10) Trevor Daley, Canada, 6
(17) Derek Burseth, Hoffman Estates, Ill, 3
Race Statistics
Winner's average speed: 95.033 mph.
Time of race: 23 minutes, 01.419 seconds.
Margin of victory: 4.090 seconds.
Lead changes: 2 among 2 drivers.
Lap leaders: Summerton 1-3, Montoya 4-13, Summerton 14.

6/19/04

Latest F1 News in brief - II 

'I'm not selling to Arabs' - Jordan
More quali change to come ... ?
Montoya dislikes Indy's F1 layout
Courtney gets F1 dream back on track
Red car will win '05 title - Montoya
Jaguar won't hold Webber back
Indianapolis to get new F1 deal
Webber crashed his Jaguar 

6/19/04

Vasser fastest in Portland Saturday AM practice  PK Racing teammates Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Gonzalez were 1-2 in this mornings Champ Car practice session in Portland.

Pos Driver # Engine/Chassis/Tire Lap Time Mph km/h Leader Previous
1 J. Vasser 12 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 59.840 118.456 190.636
2 R. Gonzalez 21 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:00.144 117.857 189.672 0.304
3 P. Tracy 1 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:00.369 117.418 188.965 0.529 0.225
4 S. Bourdais 2 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:00.374 117.408 188.949 0.534 0.005
5 R. Hunter-Reay 4 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:00.425 117.309 188.790 0.585 0.051
6 J. Wilson 34 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:00.485 117.193 188.603 0.645 0.060
7 O. Servia 11 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:00.588 116.993 188.282 0.748 0.103
8 R. Lavin 3 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:00.640 116.893 188.121 0.800 0.052
9 M. Haberfeld 5 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone 1:00.642 116.889 188.114 0.802 0.002
10 M. Dominguez 55 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:00.686 116.805 187.979 0.846 0.044
11 M. Jourdain Jr. 9 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:00.702 116.774 187.929 0.862 0.016
12 B. Junqueira 6 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.246 115.737 186.260 1.406 0.544
13 G. Mazzacane 19 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.266 115.699 186.199 1.426 0.020
14 A. Tagliani 8 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.285 115.663 186.141 1.445 0.019
15 A. Allmendinger 10 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.470 115.315 185.581 1.630 0.185
16 N. Philippe 17 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.612 115.049 185.153 1.772 0.142
17 P. Carpentier 7 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.629 115.017 185.101 1.789 0.017
18 A. Sperafico 14 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridge. 1:01.960 114.403 184.113 2.120 0.331

6/19/04

F1 to extend contract with Indy for USGP   The U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will receive a contract extension this weekend, Formula One's top official said Friday.  Bernie Ecclestone, who controls F-1, said he intends to exercise an option for two additional years.  Speedway president Tony George said that's acceptable.

"It's certainly our intention to keep this going," said George, whose original five-year contract with F-1 to host the USGP expires after Sunday's race.  Both men are interested in a commitment that carries the event beyond 2006. Ecclestone wants the event here permanently. Both sides need it, he said.

"I just said to Tony, 'We're happy if you're happy. If you don't want me to pick the option up, I won't. If you want to extend the contract beyond the two years, I will.'  "We're going to make it work; I'm committed. He's happy with it, and we should continue with it. I left (the duration of the contract) to him. We have that sort of relationship."

Ecclestone, 74, and George, 44, have an unusually strong bond given their differences in age and culture. The Englishman and Hoosier have worked mostly on a handshake agreement, but each has expressed his trust in the other.

George reinforced the relationship in 2000 by reconfiguring the Speedway to accommodate grand prix racing. George not only built the 2.6-mile infield road course but a new pagoda and pit road garages for F-1.  "I have big respect for Tony," Ecclestone said.  "What he did here for us I don't forget. It was quite a big thing to do, a massive thing.  "I don't forget people like him, and I don't forget the bad people, either."

Ecclestone said he and George are happy with the decision to move the race from the September date it occupied for four years to June. The decision was based on a pairing of the other North American race, the Canadian Grand Prix held last weekend, and the opportunity to move the USGP out of the football and school season.

A crowd of 120,000 is expected Sunday. It will remain well below the event record of 200,000 set the inaugural year (2000), but Ecclestone said he has been told the crowd will be larger than last year.  "That's good," he said. "It takes a long time to build an event and now we've got another event, if you like. The first one was in September and now it's in June. We're back to square one again, really."

George said ticket sales hadn't reached last year's total as of Friday, but he is optimistic they will.  "I won't know what (impact) moving the race had until after the weekend's over," George said. Indy Star 

6/19/04

Button jumps to top of time sheets   BAR Honda driver Jensen Button recorded a best time of 1:10.056s in the 4th practice session to beat Rubens Barrichello's fast time of 1:10.365s set yesterday afternoon. Michael Schumacher jumped up to 2nd quick just little bit slower than Button.

Session 3

 P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
1. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'10"911 212.819 Km/h 9
2. 9 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'11"071 + 0'00"160 9
3. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'11"207 + 0'00"296 8
4. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'11"509 + 0'00"598 12
5. 4 R.SCHUMACHER Williams BMW M 1'11"671 + 0'00"760 14
6. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'11"723 + 0'00"812 11
7. 10 SATO BAR Honda M 1'11"989 + 0'01"078 14
8. 16 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'12"001 + 0'01"090 12
9. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'12"015 + 0'01"104 7
10. 14 WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth M 1'12"128 + 0'01"217 6
11. 15 KLIEN Jaguar Cosworth M 1'12"147 + 0'01"236 6
12. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'12"240 + 0'01"329 8
13. 11 FISICHELLA Sauber Petronas B 1'12"405 + 0'01"494 10
14. 17 PANIS Toyota M 1'12"451 + 0'01"540 14
15. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'12"584 + 0'01"673 11
16. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas B 1'12"911 + 0'02"000 13
17. 20 BRUNI Minardi Cosworth B 1'12"957 + 0'02"046 12
18. 21 BAUMGARTNER Minardi Cosworth B 1'13"396 + 0'02"485 12
19. 18 HEIDFELD Jordan Ford B 1'13"454 + 0'02"543 11
20. 19 PANTANO Jordan Ford B 1'13"761 + 0'02"850 12

Session 4

 P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
1. 9 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'10"056 215.416 Km/h 17
2. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'10"199 + 0'00"143 16
3. 10 SATO BAR Honda M 1'10"251 + 0'00"195 23
4. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'10"351 + 0'00"295 16
5. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'10"708 + 0'00"652 13
6. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'10"749 + 0'00"693 13
7. 16 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'10"802 + 0'00"746 19
8. 4 R.SCHUMACHER Williams BMW M 1'10"820 + 0'00"764 9
9. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'10"848 + 0'00"792 13
10. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'11"222 + 0'01"166 14
11. 17 PANIS Toyota M 1'11"242 + 0'01"186 20
12. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'11"395 + 0'01"339 13
13. 15 KLIEN Jaguar Cosworth M 1'11"992 + 0'01"936 20
14. 18 HEIDFELD Jordan Ford B 1'12"524 + 0'02"468 16
15. 14 WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth M 1'12"590 + 0'02"534 14
16. 19 PANTANO Jordan Ford B 1'12"603 + 0'02"547 9
17. 11 FISICHELLA Sauber Petronas B 1'12"686 + 0'02"630 10
18. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas B 1'12"861 + 0'02"805 9
19. 21 BAUMGARTNER Minardi Cosworth B 1'13"869 + 0'03"813 13
20. 20 BRUNI Minardi Cosworth B 1'13"915 + 0'03"859 14 

6/19/04

Gomes wins pole at The Glen   Marcos Gomes scored his second consecutive pole position in North American Formula Renault 2000 competition today with a storming 1:51.454-second lap of the Glen for Saturday’s race. The session was extremely competitive, with five different drivers holding on to the top spot during the session before Gomes set his best time in the closing moments.

Mt Tremblant-round winner and championship points leader Mark Wilkins will start alongside Gomes for the standing start, with Renato Jader David and Phoenix round winner Juan Martin Ponte taking third and fourth on the grid, respectively. Antoine Bessette and series newcomer Phillippe Gelinas will make an all French-Canadian row three, with Ricardo Imery and former Atlantics standout Stephan Roy comprising row four. Gelles Racing’s Michael Yager continued his streak of top-ten qualifying runs with a ninth position on the grid, and will start next to Bob Siska.

The field was thrown a curve when a brief rain shower drenched the 3.4-mile course just before the field was set to take to the track, forcing everyone to change to Michelin rain tires. The rain quickly gave way to a clearing sky and a breeze that both helped to dry the track by the middle stages of the session.

The changing conditions didn’t phase Gomes, though, as he waited patiently before setting off to take the top spot on the speed chart.  “My car was really good, and the track was pretty much dry by the end, so it didn’t bother me,” Gomes said. “The car is excellent-my engineer Christian has done a fantastic job, and I am really confident about the race as I think I have a really good car, better than at Tremblant, so hopefully the result can be better, too!”

The race is scheduled to get underway at 11:45 am on Saturday. Full results and story to be posted at www.formularenaultna.com.
Pos Name Best Time Hometown Country Sponsor Team
1/ Marcos Gomes/ 1:51.454 / San Paulo BZL / ITUPETRO /GTI Team ROSHFRANS
2/ Mark Wilkins/ 1:51.857 /Toronto, Ont CAN / Trizec Canada /Aim Autosport
3/ Renato Jader David/ 1:52.467/ San Paulo BZL/ Priests for Life /Gelles Racing
4/ Juan Martin Ponte/ 1:52.503 / Concordia ARG / IPS/Grapeking /EuroInternational SRL
5/ Antoine Bessette/ 1:53.217 / St. Bruon, Quebec/ CAN Elan Intl/Gouin LeBlanc / Aim Auto
6/ Philippe Gelinas (R)/ 1:53.383 /Grand-Mere, Quebec / CAN / Gelles Racing
7/Ricardo Imery/ 1:53.566/ Caracas VZL Cavenas / EuroInternational Inc
8/Stephan Roy (R)/ 1:54.453 /Trois Riveres, Quebec CAN / Play Station 2/ Gelles Racing
9/ Michael Yager (R/) 1:55.201 / Effingham, IL USA / Mid-America Gelles Racing
10/ Robert Siska/ 1:56.773 /San Francisco, CA USA / RJS Motorsports / RJS Motorsports
11/ Patricio Jourdain/ (R) 1:56.825 /Mexico City MEX / GTI Team ROSHFRANS
12/Adam Dodds (R)/ 2:07.430 / Washington, DC USA / TBA Gelles Racing

6/19/04

Is Marco Andretti destined to be America's next World Champion?   So far Michael Andretti's son Marco (pictured right with grandfather Mario Andretti, America's greatest ever driver, surveying the action Friday at the USGP) has been handily beating all challengers in every rung of the Champ Car ladder system.  In equally prepared cars he always moves right to the front.  The kid appears to be a huge talent.  The question remains whether the Andretti family will keep him in road racing in an attempt to eventually move up to the F1 World Championship and perhaps become America's next World Champion, or will they move him to the IRL series where this apparently very promising talent will go wasted in 100% throttle oval cars.  As we see with "Mini Al" who has been a back marker in every rung of the Champ Car ladder system, his family is now moving him to the IRL (see rumors page) where hopefully he can succeed. F1 teams are not going to hire IRL drivers, plain and simple.  The Andretti family has some tough choices to make in the coming years with Marco - either go for the cash-grab sure to be offered up by the deep pocketed oval track cartel, or forego the money and continue developing Marco into a world-class driving talent by keeping him in the Champ Car ladder system.  Some will argue that the IRL is going road racing, but a few road races a year in cars so heavy, clumsy, and slow will not develop the necessary reflexes and skills needed for F1.  This will be an interesting story to follow as will that of other promising young Americans like Ryan Hunter-Reay, Patrick Long, AJ Allmendinger, etc..  Mark C.

6/19/04

Caught in the middle  This Portland Oregonian article says, Paul Tracy watched the events of the Indianapolis 500 weekend on television three weeks ago. He saw the disappointing crowds for qualifying and Bump Day. He saw that the race-day crowd, which once numbered 400,000, was about half its previous size. As the Indy Racing League's signature event played out on the screen, Tracy, the rival Champ Car World Series' most visible driver, wasn't impressed.

"They can do all the talking they want," Tracy said, "but when people don't show up for their biggest event of the year (the Indy 500), what does that say? If people don't show up for that event, what makes them think they'll show up at a road course?"

The Portland International Raceway road course is the site of a turf battle between Champ Car and IRL, open-wheel racing's bitter rivals. Once fearful of losing its open-wheel race in 2004, PIR finds itself being scrutinized by two sanctioning bodies. And although it might make better business sense to go with the IRL, others argue that ending a 21-year relationship with Champ Car would be a mistake.   More....(an interesting read on the battle between IRL and Champ Car over Portland)

6/19/04

Team to skip Infineon race  Morgan-McClure driver, Jimmy Spencer, says the team will not run a car at the road course at Infineon Raceway next week [June 27th]. The unsponsored team has ran in all the races so far in the 2004 Nextel Cup season, but is 36th in owners points. Spencer said that lack of sponsorship led to the decision. Team owner Larry McClure said a deal to put Johnny Miller [who ran the car last year at Infineon] in the car couldn't be worked out. McClure said he is still talking to potential sponsors, but says the team needs a few decent runs to help seal the deal. NASCAR Scene Magazine - need sub to read online

6/19/04

Truck official suspended  Dion Hinskey, the official who mistakenly triggered a caution during the May 21 Craftsman Truck Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, NC, was suspended by NASCAR for three races, ThatsRacin.com has learned. As of Friday, NASCAR, however, had not suspended Nextel Cup Series official Dean Duckett, who served as the flagman at the entrance of pit road in last weekend's controversial race at Pocono, sources confirmed. During the Pocono race, Puckett mistakenly waved a green flag allowing lead lap cars to pit when they were not supposed to. Then-race leader Jimmie Johnson and three others did not pit, instead following the correct procedure outlined in the drivers' meeting the morning of the race. Johnson rebounded and ended up winning the race. In the Truck race, Hinskey, the backup flagman, mistakenly activated the caution lights on the track with four of 134 laps remaining when a truck spun, but no caution was called by race control. Then-race leader Carl Edwards slowed thinking there was a caution as did second place Dennis Setzer. Setzer, realizing no caution was called, passed Edwards and held on for the victory. At the time, NASCAR denied the caution lights were activated. Later, once in-car camera footage was found showing the light illuminated, NASCAR admitted it had made a mistake. Hinskey's first missed race was the June 4 race at Dover, Del., where Cup flagman Jimmy Howell replaced him in the flag stand. When asked about any punishments officials have received in either incident, NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said NASCAR would not comment on internal personnel matters. ThatsRacin.com

6/19/04

Pit road flag changes  The control tower will now radio down to the pit road flagman what flag to display and when pit road is closed or open. XM Satellite NASCAR Radio Report

6/19/04

IRL drivers struggle on road courses  Their skills numbed by years of only driving in circles at 100% throttle, IRL drivers lose their edge, i.e. their ability to be really fast in the true test of a driver's skill - road racing.  Latest example is Mark Taylor.  A rookie in the IRL where he runs competitively within 1/2 second per lap of the front-runners, but put him on a road course and immediately he's out to lunch.  Taylor is racing in the Porsche Cup this weekend at the USGP in identical Porsche 911's.  Meanwhile, American youngster Patrick Long, a true road racer in a team car to Taylor, is on the pace in 2nd place.

1. #5 Wolf Henzler 1:37.103, 97.575 mph
2. #2 Patrick Long 1:37.769, 97.196
3. #6 Dirk Werner 1:37.822, 97.183
4. #17 Tim Bergmeister 1:37.953, 97.117
5. #39 Christian Menzel 1:37.992, 97.025

  .

   .

17.#1 Mark Taylor 1:40.727, 93.095. (-3.6 seconds per lap off of pole)

 

Long (pictured right), from Westlake, Calif., becomes the first driver to race at Le Mans – and win, no less – and at Indy two weeks apart.  Taylor, from London, becomes the first driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and then race on the Indy road course three weeks later.  Long and Taylor are teammates on the Porsche AG team of Weissach, Germany. There is irony in them racing out of the same garage Saturday and Sunday.  Four years ago, Long and Taylor raced against each other in the British Formula Ford series. Long, only 22, went to Europe to pursue opportunities to advance his career. Shortly after their head-to-head duels, Taylor came to America for the same reason.  Today, Taylor, 26 (pictured left), is a rookie in the Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series driving the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone out of the Panther Racing garage. In his first Indy 500 on May 30, he was involved in an accident on Lap 63 and finished 30th.  Long is competing in his second year for Porsche, and last weekend he shared the winning GT drive at Le Mans with Jorg Bergmeister of Germany and Sascha Maassen of Belgium.  “It’s wild,” Long said about racing at two of the world’s most famous racing facilities in a two-week period.  “I wasn’t planning on winning Le Mans, so to speak. It’s nice to be here right on the back of that. And it’s only been two days. I left there on Wednesday, so I’ve only been here since Thursday. And to carry over into this race, it’s pretty special to have these two weeks put together.”

6/19/04

Champ Car TV partner stabs series in back  As can be seen from this Spike TV page, Champ Car's so-called TV partner (with friends like that who needs enemies?) is promoting rival racing IRL's Honda IRL racing efforts.  They also are starting to have a lot of NASCAR programming and website pages as well.  No matter what TV channel Champ Car moves to, their contract is written so poorly that the oval track cartel can immediately move in and infiltrate it. They will add more and more content on Spike TV until the Champ Car World Series is completely marginalized. 

6/19/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

Alonso spins into trouble
Toyota's looking good
Coulthard's McLaren 'stopped'
Massa - Takuma 'did a Sato'
Bjorn's Jag goes nowhere fast
'Rubens is strong,' says spinning Schu
F1's FIA welcomes Pantano back ...
Minardi 'quicker than the Jordans'
'I'm like a soccer player' - Rubens
Sato, 'you're completely mad' - Felipe Massa
Button targets Rubens' second
Barrichello's was Indy lap record
Schumacher 'seemed so eager' - Sabine Kehm
F1 'has not agreed' on '06 reform
Only Webber gets Jag's engine upgrade
How Glock got his F1 super license ...
Honda 'ready to sign' new BAR deal
GPWC 'still exists' - Ron Dennis
Jordan bats for F1's 'summer break'
Ferrari sign 'new commercial deal'?
Scottish bank eyes F1 sponsorship
Support for second United States GP
Want to hear Schumacher's thoughts ... ? 

6/19/04
Industry News

TV Ratings last weekend for LA area  Here are the TV ratings for the various racing events that were broadcast last weekend in the LA area.

BGN 0.5 1 Share (SAT)
F1 QUAL 0.4 1 Share (SAT) Speed
IRL Texas - Too low to measure (SAT Night) ESPN

NEXTEL Cup 2.3 6 Share (SUN) Fox
Le Mans 0.2 1 Share (SUN) Speed
CANADA F1 GP 0.2 0 Share (SUN) Speed

  Much More...click on 2004 archives button below
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