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DATE

News (chronologically)

6/29/04

CENTRIX Financial extends with Rahal   Team owners Bobby Rahal and Dave Letterman announced today that Rahal Letterman Racing will have CENTRIX Financial as the primary sponsor for the team's No. 17 Honda-powered G-Force Indy car currently driven by Vitor Meira for the remainder of the 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series. Meira, who joined Rahal Letterman Racing at the Japan round of the 16-race IndyCar campaign, will remain at the wheel of the Team CENTRIX Honda G-Force as the season progresses. Meira finished a career best second place Saturday at the SunTrust Indy Challenge in Richmond, Va. Recent Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, who began the 2004 season as the substitute driver for Kenny Brack in the No. 15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Honda G-Force car, will drive the No. 15 car for the remainder of the season.  [Editor's Note: CENTRIX of course sponsors the Champ Car race in Denver as well.  In fact, Champ Car had them as a sponsor first.  However, don't be surprised if the IRL plucks CENTRIX right out from under Champ Car's nose because of their decision to televise races on SPIKE TV rather than CBS.  Putting races on CBS costs more money, but the money gained from new or existing sponsorship more than makes up for it.  Spike TV's miniscule ratings make sponsors run for cover.  We predicted that the IRL would approach each and every Champ Car sponsor with better TV numbers and continue to pluck the Champ Car dry of sponsors.]

6/29/04

Brack to continue rehab   Recent Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, who began the 2004 season as the substitute driver for Kenny Brack in the No. 15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Honda G-Force car, will drive the No. 15 car for the remainder of the season. Brack, the 1999 Indy 500 winner and 1998 IRL champion, returned to the driver's seat on June 5 for the first time since his near fatal crash last October at Texas Motor Speedway when he tested for three hours at Richmond International Speedway and recorded times under the 16-second barrier. However, despite his impressive clockings, Brack admitted that he needs more rehabilitation on his body to compete on a regular basis on the IndyCar Series. Thus, Rice and Meira will be the team's regular drivers until Brack is ready to return.  Brack will announce when he is ready to return to the IRL IndyCar series. "I finally made my way back to the drivers seat," said Brack, who suffered fractures of his vertebra, ribs, leg and ankles in the crash in last year's IRL season finale. "It's not as an easy a thing as one might think. Now the next step is that I have to feel that my body is "race-ready" for every situation."

6/29/04

Ecclestone to open Swiss office  The Formula One group in London is reported to be preparing to open an office in Lausanne, Switzerland, to accommodate Michael Payne, the current director of global broadcast and media for the International Olympics Committee who has been headhunted by F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone [Jun 24]. Payne will quit the IOC after the Athens Olympics to become second in command to Ecclestone at Formula One, directing much of its commercial activity. It is understood that Payne was not ready to return to the UK, thereby uprooting his family. He has worked for the IOC for 15 years, and prior to that for Swiss agency ISL.  Autosport Professional

6/29/04

Brian France on Canada and Mexico expansion  

Q. And talk a moment about the new deal with TSN in Canada. What does that mean to NASCAR, and does this mean that at some point, we may see NASCAR racing maybe in a road course configuration since there's no huge ovals up there or something of that sort?

BRIAN FRANCE: Well, we said a year ago or so that we needed to have a thoughtful international strategy beyond distributing our events on television, and that's what you're seeing now. You'll see more probably as we look at Mexico, to the south, sort of what we would call the low hanging fruit. Because already in Canada, our television ratings, obviously it's a smaller country, but our television ratings are the equivalent of what they are in the U.S.  So we have got a lot of fans there. And how we satisfy that fan base and grow the fan base from there is something that our international strategy, which this latest announcement is intended to do, and there's all kinds of talk about an oval being built in one place or another in Canada, a couple of the big sponsors that are Canadian companies have indicated all kinds of positive things.   So we are going to take it one step at a time and we are going to shore up our distribution on television. We are going to if we can take some events and I'm not talking about NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events, because as everyone knows, we domestically are stretched. But there are other things we can offer and we'll be looking at those.

Q. And also, on Mexico City, for a possible Busch race next year, is that just a matter of getting the logistics and getting that worked out, or do you still have to make the decision on that? And if you decide to go there, what is the commitment in growing that market and giving it time to show some benefits of being down there?

BRIAN FRANCE: We have not formalized any plans yet and although there is a lot of discussion asked to take some form of NASCAR to Mexico City, and we are talking about that, but we don't have it finalized. But whatever we do finalize will not be a one and out scenario. It will be designed to have a number of years to get us traction to build awareness in the market. While Mexico is in large measure the gateway to the Hispanic race fans, here in many parts, in many markets. So Mexico, for a lot of reasons has to be is an important country, for a lot of reasons has to be important to us, more so than countries that are further away.

6/29/04

The irony of it all   UPDATE Q. Can you figure out why beer and wine sponsors are acceptable and yet hard liquor isn't? Do the fans recognize the difference?   BRIAN FRANCE: Well, they may or may not. What's at issue here is a long standing rule going back into the ‘70s of a cooperation that the network television partners would have when it comes to hard liquor and spirits, and you know, a lot of our events, 80 percent of them, are on network television. That's a different challenge than other motorsports series have or other people might have.   So, we have to understand that we've got to be in step, and that's not to say that our television partners are for or against allowing spirits. That's one thing that we've got to understand as we go along. Another is the hard liquor and cars have another element that you have to consider. And timing of such a thing, we're all going through now, the incident at the Super Bowl and other incidents where there's a real crackdown of what's, you know, broadcast on national television, how it's treated, how it's presented.   There's a lot we have to consider before we just throw out a 30 year policy. And that's what we did consider. We looked at all of the circumstances that we thought Roush could provide. They did a nice job of laying out some things in the end. We think the timing is just not right now, and we're going to leave it at that and we'll review it down the road.   6/29/04 - Interesting that NASCAR says it doesn't allow any hard liquor ads, etc, at its event or to sponsor its cars. That huge Crown Royal banner on the grandstands today at Daytona International Speedway must have been put up by evil alcohol elves. The France family owns Daytona Speedway and NASCAR.  Seems if the hard liquor folks can line the France family pockets directly it is OK, but if it is for another team it's taboo.

6/29/04

Brian France ready to lower hammer on Tony Stewart   Q. I am curious as to your thoughts on the latest Tony Stewart incident, is this a big deal in your mind?

BRIAN FRANCE: It is a big deal. We're going to see how big it is here shortly. But his behavior at Sears Point is unacceptable. We will be dealing with that shortly.

Tony has to work within the same rule structure and behavioral expectations that we have for all of our drivers. And one way or the other, we will figure that out.

Q. Have you or will you talk to Tony Stewart about his latest incident, and with regards to that, you said there's something that would come out shortly. Is this going to be your decision or something you're signing off with that Mike Helton’s decided to do?

BRIAN FRANCE: Well, I'll sign off on anything that is substantial. Mike will, as he always does, make his recommendations and we'll do that as a group.

We have talked to Tony and I'm sure we'll talk again with Tony. That's where we are.

Q. Can you be a little more clear on the timetable, is it going to be today or tomorrow?

BRIAN FRANCE: It will be before the Pepsi 400, that's for sure.

Look, we'll do it as fast as we can. We are still reviewing a few details to make sure we understand exactly what occurred and then we'll be reacting as soon as we get that completed.

Q. Because a normal reaction to something like this would be a fine, probation, points deduction, things like that. Because this is something of a continuing pattern, I guess, is it at least being discussed of doing something even more harsh than that?

BRIAN FRANCE: Well, Tony is not on probation now. And he is like any other driver and we are going to look at the circumstances open mindedly.

But we are on record, and I'll say it today, that his behavior at Sears Point is not acceptable. And so just how severe the punishment need to be to make a point that we are not going to accept that, and punish somebody for what they did, that's something we are going to have to work through.

6/29/04

Cleveland pre-race items of interest  The home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will get the volume cranked all the way up this weekend as the 750hp turbocharged scream machines of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford take to the runways of Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport for the 23rd time. Continuing a North Coast tradition that began in 1982, this year’s U.S. Bank Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland will roll onto the 2.106-mile airport circuit July 1-3 in an event that signals the opening stretch of a demanding summer. Cleveland kicks off a summer run that will feature three races in both July and August, where for the teams and drivers of the series will find out if they have what it takes to capture the Vanderbilt Cup.   More......

6/29/04

Franchitti: Mark Taylor doesn't belong here, Panther fires Taylor   UPDATE After crashing out of every race this year, and on the heels of Dario Franchitti saying Mark Taylor is over his head, comes word that Panther Racing will replace Mark Taylor in the No. 2 car.  Panther Racing and IRL IndyCar® Series rookie Mark Taylor announced June 29 that they will seek other options for the remainder of the season, effective this weekend at Kansas Speedway.  Taylor, the 2003 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series™ champion, has competed in the No. 2 Panther Racing Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone entry for the first six races of the season with a best finish of 12th (Phoenix in March) and a best starting position of third (June 26 at Richmond).  Panther Racing did not announce a driver for the July 4 Argent Mortgage Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway.  "Mark Taylor has done everything we have asked him to do over the past 18 months he has been part of the Panther Racing family," team co-owner John Barnes said. "However, due to the many pressures of professional auto racing, it is in everyone's best interest that we look in different directions."  [Editor's Note: This underscores just how useless the IPS series is.  AJ Foyt IV was a big hero in IPS and now in the IndyCars he's lucky to go 50 miles without crashing, and when he doesn't crash he's so slow he can't get out of the way of the leaders fast enough.  Ditto for Mark Taylor - last year's IPS hero, this year's IRL zero.]  6/26/04 - Dario Franchitti was thoroughly upset after crashing out of Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge.  He blamed Mark Taylor for spinning him out again and said "this just proves he does not belong here."

6/29/04

Rutherford admits IRL plan failed   IRL employee Johnny Rutherford was interviewed on SPEED Channel's Wind Tunnel last evening.  Of course you never want to badmouth your employer so he had mostly good things to say about the IRL, i.e. call it job security.  He did however admit that the original plan of the IRL to be a low-cost, all oval series with an opportunity for American short track drivers failed so the IRL has had to morph into the old CART.  In essence the business plan of the IRL was and is a complete and utter failure and now they have essentially adopted the old CART business plan, but with a dictator, Tony George, running the show.  Meanwhile, contrary to the PR being put out that covers up all the problems, there is unrest with the troops...hence Roger's plea for a unification with Champ Car.

6/29/04

John Barnes - IRL on verge of collapse   This Kansas City Star article says, “I think the IRL series is on the verge of collapse from (the affordability) standpoint. We are at a critical pass.  Which road are we going to take in the near future? I think Tony is going to make some decisions here very quickly that will effect our sport in the future.” John Barnes Pennzoil Panther Racing team co-owner  [Editor's Note:  When the IRL goes road racing teams will have to buy a lot of new parts to make their cars road race ready.  Yes, Tony is about to make a decision to drive costs way up for IRL teams.  They should stick to just ovals.  Road courses will put the few remaining original IRL teams out of business even faster because they can't compete with the road racing experienced ex-CART teams.  They will get a thorough beating and made to look like fools.  Can you understand why guys like John Barnes are not happy?]

6/29/04

ALMS lands big ratings on CBS while Champ Car becomes invisible   [Editor's Note:  Last year we campaigned hard for Champ Car to put a minimum of 50% of its 2004 races on CBS or risk falling off the map and into total obscurity.  That is exactly what happened with their Spike TV broadcasts this year, which consistently garner a 0.2 or lower rating - a fraction of what an infomercial would get.  Meanwhile, ALMS was smart enough to put some of their races on CBS and now they are reaping the benefits.]    Sunday's CBS Sports telecast of the American Le Mans Series sports car race from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course scored well with viewers in the top three television markets in the United States according to overnight ratings numbers released Monday.  The two-hour live telecast earned a 1.9 Nielsen overnight rating in New York City, America's largest market, as well as ratings of 1.5 in Chicago and 1.3 in Los Angeles. The national average was 1.1/3 share, a 10 percent increase from the overnight rating earned by the CBS Sports telecast of an ALMS event from Road Atlanta on the same weekend last year.  Other major market overnight ratings included a 1.5 in Minneapolis/St. Paul, a 1.2 in Dallas/Fort Worth and 1.1 ratings in Atlanta, Detroit and San Francisco. "We are very pleased with the major market ratings performance of the American Le Mans Series on CBS Sports," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the ALMS. "At a time when virtually all televised sports are experiencing decreases in year-over-year ratings, this is a further indication of the interest and growing following for ALMS racing."

6/29/04
Drag Racing

A tribute to Darrell Russell  This Joe Amato website has a nice tribute to Darrell Russell.  Joe Amato and family along with the Amato Race Team wishes to extend its most sincere and deepest condolences and prayers to Julie Russell and the entire Russell family on the untimely death of our driver and friend, Darrell Russell.

Russell, 35, of Hockley, Texas, was competing in the second round of eliminations at Gateway International Raceway when his dragster went out of control and crashed just past the finish line. Darrell was removed by NHRA emergency services and flown to St. Louis Medical Center where he later died from head injuries.

Darrell was a rising star in the sport -- not only was he the 2001 Rookie of the Year and fan favorite since day one, he was also the event's top qualifier and coming off a recent victory in Columbus, Ohio. During his four year career he had six wins and 17 final rounds. Darrell's positive attitude and infectious smile touched everyone around him. He loved the race and was loved by all who met him. Drag Racing has definitely lost one of its finest competitors.

We have received an overwhelming amount of support from Darrell's fans, friends and sponsors. He will be genuinely missed by the Joe Amato Racing Team and drag racing community.

A trust fund has been established for the Russell family. Donations may be sent to Darrell Russell Memorial Fund, Partners Bank of Texas, P.O. Box 60369, Houston, TX 77205.

Fans may also send condolences and remembrances to inmemoriam@amatoracing.com – thank you for joining us in paying tribute to our beloved friend.
MEMORIAL SERVICE INFORMATION
VIEWING
Thursday, July 1, 5-9 p.m.
Klein Funeral Home
1400 West Main
Tomball, TX 77375
FUNERAL SERVICE
Friday, July 2 , 11 a.m.
First Baptist Church
400 West Oxford Street
Tomball, TX 77371

6/29/04

Pepsi 400 changes Grand Marshal   Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich has been named Grand Marshal of the 46th annual Pepsi 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race on Saturday night, July 3 at Daytona International Speedway. Due to a scheduling conflict, NBA All-Star guard Tracy McGrady, who was recently named Grand Marshal for the Pepsi 400, will be unable to attend. "I'm excited to be part of the Pepsi family and take over the duties from Tracy," Leftwich said. "I'm looking forward to being part of the festivities for the upcoming Pepsi 400 and giving the starting command. Leftwich, a 2003 first-round draft choice from Marshall University, threw for 2,819 yards and 16 touchdowns in his rookie season for the Jaguars. He was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month in December after leading the Jaguars to two home victories. During his college career, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound quarterback was a prolific passer for the Thundering Heard, compiling 11,903 yards and 89 touchdowns. As a three-year starter for one of college football's most explosive offenses, Leftwich set Mid-American Conference records for passing yards and total offense.

6/29/04

20th anniversary of Petty's 200th   During pre-race ceremonies for the Pepsi 400, the 20th anniversary of Richard Petty's 200th NASCAR victory will be celebrated with Petty taking the checkered flag in his famous #43 Pontiac. Petty, NASCAR's all-time wins leader, will also receive several special gifts and awards as Daytona International Speedway recreates a landmark moment in the history of NASCAR. Petty, driving his famous #43 STP Pontiac, captured his 200th and final NASCAR victory in the 1984 Pepsi Firecracker 400, all with the late President Ronald Reagan in attendance. Petty nipped Cale Yarborough at the start/finish line to take the white flag and the yellow flag to secure the milestone victory. DIS PR

6/29/04

Wyoming attorney cleared in Earnhardt case   The Wyoming Supreme Court has ruled that a lawyer hired to sue NASCAR for blaming a seat belt for Dale Earnhardt's death did not commit an ethics violation. The justices did not find evidence that Robert Horn had violated a Wyoming State Bar rule against representing different clients in the same or related cases if they have competing interests. The high court also affirmed that Simpson Performance Products (SPP) of Charlotte owes Horn about $20,000 in legal fees. SPP made the seat belt Earnhardt was wearing when he died in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500. NASCAR officials blamed Earnhardt's death in part on seat belt failure. SPP then hired Horn to look into suing NASCAR. The company did not file suit, but company founder Bill Simpson sued in 2002, after he left the company. Horn represented Simpson and the company. WRAL.com/AP

6/29/04

Bremer joins Polestar for Cleveland   One of the top rookies in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama is changing teams and will be in a new seat for this weekend’s Round 6 race at Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport.  Ronnie Bremer (#4 Healthcare Privileges.com/PaySystems), who raced for Brooks Associates Racing through the first five rounds of competition this season, will join the Polestar Racing Group for the Argent Mortgage Presents the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama (tape-delayed on SPEED Channel, Sunday, July 11 – 1 p.m. ET). Bremer will replace veteran Atlantic driver Rocky Moran Jr. in the seat at Polestar Racing Group, headquartered in Chardon, Ohio.  Bremer, who started out the season with two fourth-place efforts and a second-place finish at Milwaukee to claim the championship points lead as a rookie after Round 4, had struggled to find funding for his seat at Brooks Associates Racing and worked out a last-minute deal to compete at Portland two weeks ago. The 25-year-old Danish driver finished eighth and ninth in the doubleheader at Portland and currently sits sixth in the season standings with 101 points, just 25 behind leader Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports. Bremer is currently third in the BG Products Rookie of the Year race.  “We were certainly watching Ronnie since the beginning of this year and it was a situation where all of the timing worked out,” said Polestar team owner Jim Griffith, who worked closely with Brooks Associates Racing team owner John Brooks to make the switch happen for Bremer. “It got to a point where (Bremer) was looking for a seat and we had one so we wanted to give it a try.”  Bremer will be in the #4 car for morning practice on Thursday in Cleveland and throughout the weekend, but Griffith said no commitment has been made beyond the Cleveland race.  “We’ll see what happens from here,” Griffith added.

6/29/04

NASCAR fans trying to unload IRL tickets   A search on ebay of IRL and Kansas on ebay reveals a lot of NASCAR fans, who are forced to buy an IRL ticket to get a Nextel Cup ticket, looking to unload their IRL tickets for dirt cheap.  If you live in the Kansas City area, this is your chance to save big money.  The best deal is two tickets for a total of $15.50.  At $7.75 per ticket how can you go wrong?  It does establish what an IRL ticket is worth these days (i.e. almost nothing), because after only 3 bids, and with the race just days away, the highest bid is $15.00.  From what we hear, very few fans buy IRL tickets anywhere.  Most get in as part of a free giveaway or from races such as Kansas where their NASCAR friends give them their unused IRL tickets.  Their TV ratings of around 0.4 on ESPN pretty much show how many hardcore fans they have in the USA - about 400,000.  Champ Car fans should not snicker, Champ Car isn't any more popular in the USA.  All this is as a result of Tony George destroying the sport of Indy Car Racing by splitting it in two in 1996.

6/29/04

No Canadian races planned   NASCAR now has a business home north of the border. But don't expect a NEXTEL Cup race in Canada anytime soon.  NASCAR's recent announcement heralding the formation of NASCAR Canada, a collaboration with television partner TSN, is aimed at opening a door for - and to - Canadian business interests.  With an office in Toronto, Canadian companies intrigued by the NASCAR brand name will have a place to seek out marketing agreements.   At the same time, corporations already aligned with North America's most popular racing series can now make inroads into Canada.  But that doesn't mean racing in Canada.  ``It's unlikely the Nextel Cup will ever leave the United States anytime in the near term,'' said George Pyne, NASCAR'S chief operating officer, before offering a sliver of hope regarding NASCAR's minor leagues running races in Canada.  ``We wouldn't rule in or out the Busch series or the truck series.''   The major issue preventing a Canadian NASCAR race is lack of venue. There is no major oval track in Canada that could handle NASCAR's preferred form of racing.  ``NASCAR isn't in the business of building race tracks,'' said Pyne, suggesting that if Canada does eventually get a Nextel Cup race, it would likely be on a road course.  Canadian Press

6/29/04

Bernie's tobacco scheme fizzling  UPDATE It does indeed appear Bernie's goose is cooked.  The remaining countries who have not signed the worldwide tobacco treaty are Albania, Afghanistan, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Iraq, Laos, Lichtenstein, Macedonia, Malawi, Moldova, Nauru, Oman, St Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Sahara, Western Samoa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Hardly the stuff for a Formula 1 World Championship in the future...Grandprix.com  6/25/04 - Bernie Ecclestone has made a major push to move races out of Europe where laws prohibit tobacco ads on race cars.  However, it seems wherever he tries to go in the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) is right there to cut the legs out from under him.  Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the latest governments to sign up for the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This week the total of countries signed up to the treaty, which seeks to ban all tobacco advertising in the world, rose to 143 of the around 200 countries. The only major countries in the world not to have signed the treaty so far are Indonesia (population 196m), Russia (146m), Nigeria (115m), Ukraine (51m) and South Africa (42m).  Bernie isn't going to win this battle.  F1 is going to have to accept the fact that their days are numbered where they can count on big infusions of tobacco cash.  Hence why Max Mosley and Bernie want to push through significant cost reductions in F1.  They have given the team owners the chance to do it on their own (agree to a new set of rules) but we all know that egotistical team owners and their engineers are never going to agree.  Hence Max is going to force it down their throats and they are bound to squawk, cry and threaten to leave the series.  Parts from Grandprix.com

6/29/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

Mansell back in F1 racer
F1 rejects qualifying change
Jaguar's Klien is 'fit to race' - spokesman
F1 has 'two months' to slow down - Mosley
Coulthard can forget Williams drive - Head
Ralf Schumacher was 'very shaken' - wife 
Alonso promises 'stronger' pace
Jordan still 'has what it takes' - Eddie
Rubens critical of Indy organizers
Races will no longer 'be aborted' - F1 Commission
F1 cars should wear 'harder tires' - Head
BAR is Ferrari's 'main adversary' - Schu
Massa is 'more mature' - Peter Sauber
GPWC is 'not viable' - consultant
Renault gets V10 'evolution' - Rob White
'I thought we'd lose title' - Schumacher
Team blunders were 'idiotic' - Williams' Head
Magny-Cours' in 'middle of nowhere' - Webber

6/28/04
Drag Racing

CJ "Pappy" Hart passes away  C.J. Hart, track manager for many drag strips throughout Southern California, passed away on June 26, 2004. He was 93, and was the founder of the Santa Ana Drag strip, where John Wayne Airport is now located, in Orange County, California. Although Goleta was the first drag strip of record, it was C.J. Hart who created the very first professional drag strip and charged admission. Young people from all over the country heard about this unique form of racing and came out to California to watch how the races were organized. Within months of the first drag races at the old air base, timing associations had sprung up all over the nation, and organized drag racing on safe and sanctioned race courses had begun. Be sure to come early, for the church has limited space.
Place: Waverley Church, 1702 Fairhaven Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92705 714-633-1442
Funeral Service: Thursday, July 1, 2004, 11AM
Visitation Day: June 30, 2004, 4-8PM, same location as Service Internment will be at Lawn J - Lot 546 - Space E
Please do not send flowers, but Pappy requested that if you would like to make a contribution, that he would be honored if you remembered: Drag Racing Association of Women (DRAW), 4 Hance Drive, Charleston, IL 61920 217-345-6537 www.drawonline.org Thank you all again! The Hart Family

6/28/04

Infineon TV Rating  Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350 from Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., drew a 4.8 overnight rating and a 10 share from Nielsen Media Research. The figures are identical to the overnight numbers from 2003, when the race wound up with final figures of 4.8/11.

6/28/04
Star Mazda

Cosmo storms Star Mazda at Mid-Ohio  2002 Star Mazda Series Champion Guy Cosmo revisited his roots this weekend as a guest appearance entry in round two of the Star Mazda Series schedule at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Saturday, June 25th. Cosmo drove the 3-Dimensional Services / American Speed Factory Formula Mazda team's spare car with the purpose of shaking down a brand-new car delivered earlier in the week.

Cosmo qualified on pole position at a new track record of a 1:19.219. A technical infraction found in post-qualifying inspection disallowed the qualifying time, and Cosmo had to start the race from the back of the pack, in 41st position. Guy Cosmo showed the fans why they call him "Mr. Mid-Ohio." Guy sliced through the pack to pass thirty cars during the 28-lap green flag race to finish in 11th place.

“Talk about taking the wind out of your sails,” commented Guy. “It felt so great to just show up and qualify that car on pole. The team had just taken delivery of this car and was still building it when they arrived at the track on Wednesday. The car was absolutely horrendous when it first hit track, and the American Speed Factory boys made that car outstanding just in time for qualifying.

"I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that many cars start in front of me before. I can’t believe there wasn’t a single caution period to bunch the field up, but I did my best to make up for it. It was really a lot of fun to be back in Star Mazda and race with all my old buddies again, and that’s all thanks to Doug Peterson and 3-Dimensional Services for letting me race this weekend. The whole idea was to shake down Doug’s new spare car and we figured it would be great fun to join the race, and it certainly was. John Shapiro and the American Speed Factory boys did an outstanding job with the car and the whole team. Today was still a great day.”

Guy Cosmo earned the nickname "Mr. Mid-Ohio” in 2002 when he out-qualified the entire Star Mazda field by more than one second and obliterated the competition, extending his lead by one second each lap. Cosmo also serves as driving coach for American Speed Factory, working with series veterans Doug Peterson and Moses Smith.  Guy Cosmo PR

6/28/04

Fluella Ummel passes away  Fluella Ummel, longtime Recorder in CART's Race Control and the first female course observer at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway passed away last Wednesday, June 23, after a long battle with cancer. Funeral services were held in her hometown of Syracuse, Indiana on Monday. Her family wishes to thank everyone for their messages, cards, calls and prayers. Fluella took great joy in re-reading them time and again. Fluella chose these two charities for donations:

Care at Home / Hospice Program of
Goshen General Hospital
200 High Park Ave.
Goshen, In 46526

Center for Cancer Care
200 High Park Ave.
Goshen, In 46562

6/28/04

F1 bosses say no to qualifying changes  Formula One's governing body and team bosses have scrapped plans to change the qualifying procedures after next Sunday's French Grand Prix.  "The FIA (International Automobile Federation) did not want to go ahead with the qualifying that is being proposed," Formula One's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Reuters on Monday.  "It will stay the same as we've got now. No change at all -- just as boring as it was before," he said after a meeting of the FIA's Formula One commission in a hotel at London's Heathrow airport.

The 10 teams' bosses had previously agreed unanimously to change the controversial single lap format from the British Grand Prix on July 11 to one involving two free-for-all sessions with aggregate times deciding the starting grid. FIA president Max Mosley said Monday's decision came after some teams worried about how much television exposure they might get while sponsors also expressed concern.  "There was also a feeling that the proposal wasn't much different to what we were doing in 2002 and maybe it needed something a little bit more radical," he said.

Mosley said the plan now was to do some market research and "ask the public what they want -- probably through the television companies, but that's a matter for Bernie.  "I think he would prefer to change but I think he's quite easy about it." Reuters

6/28/04

FIA demands speed reductions  Formula One's governing body has told teams that they have two months to find a way to reduce speeds or changes will be imposed for safety's sake.  International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley told Reuters after a meeting at London's Heathrow airport on Monday he would start procedures this week to force teams' hands.  "I've told them that I'm going to ask the (FIA's) world (motorsport) council (on Wednesday) to give formal notice to the technical working group to come up with changes to slow the cars," he said after meeting team bosses.  "That's the immediate priority and maybe out of that will come some ideas to make (further) changes. They've then got two months to come up with something sensible."

Mosley has called for urgent action to curtail rising speeds, linking that with his plans to cut costs and bring new blood into the sport with a raft of changes from 2008 and possibly earlier.  Monday's meeting of the FIA's Formula One commission grouped all the team bosses as well as the governing body, promoters and sponsor representatives.  Mosley said last week that recent accidents involving Brazilian Felipe Massa and Germany's Ralf Schumacher showed engine power needed to be reduced with cars now becoming dangerously fast.


MOSLEY'S PLANS
Mosley announced sweeping changes in April that the FIA can impose from 2008 once an agreement between teams, commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA expires.

However, the governing body wants the 10 teams to accelerate the changes, which include reducing engine capacity from V10 three liter units to 2.4 V8s, so that some key ones can be introduced for 2006.  The FIA can push through measures before 2008 only if they are for reasons of safety.  The engine manufacturers were given an end of June deadline to come up with proposals. The talks have stalled, however, with Williams' partner BMW determined to retain the V10s but willing to make them last longer.

"I think probably it will come down to V8s," said Mosley, who also fired a warning shot at the German carmaker.  "In the end it's a question of whether they (BMW) want to be in Formula One or not," he said. "I think if the majority go one way, it may be like that."

Mosley said he most wanted to move to V8 engines but the main question was whether there should be complete freedom or restricted technology.  "If we have complete freedom, then because it is expensive they have got to be prepared to supply the little teams," he said of the engine makers. Reuters

6/28/04

Ralf to miss French GP  Ralf Schumacher will not race at Magny-Cours on Sunday after suffering a heavy crash at the United States GP. BBC Sport reports the BMW Williams driver has not fully recovered from the high-speed accident at Indianapolis. He crashed backwards into a wall on the fastest part of the track and spent a night in hospital. He will be replaced at the French GP by test driver Marc Gene and a decision on whether he races at the British GP will be made after the weekend.

6/28/04

No cut Spoilers until 2005  NASCAR officials have decided against cutting the rear spoiler a half-inch at midseason and another half-inch at the end of the year, series spokesperson Mike Zizzo said Saturday. Instead, NASCAR will cut the rear spoiler one inch after the season. Zizzo said that NASCAR decided not to cut the rear spoiler this season because series officials are pleased with the competition. Also, series officials don't want to burden teams with additional costs adjusting to the new rear spoiler, such as more wind tunnel testing. The rear spoiler was 6 1/4 inches at the end of the 2003 season. NASCAR cut it to 5 1/2 inches for this season. The spoiler will be 4 1/2 inches for next season if NASCAR follows through on this plan. Roanoke Times

6/28/04

Petty movie update  Disney's movie on the Petty family, once projected to be in theatres this year, has had its script rewritten. Bill Scott, executive vice president at Petty Enterprises, says the plan is for the movie to begin shooting late this year or early next year. Scott said that would lead to a release in early 2006. Scott says he's not sure if filming will take place in North Carolina. "North Carolina has not stepped up to the plate in terms of tax breaks for movie productions like some of the states, even Georgia and South Carolina have," Scott said. "I think that's going to be an issue. If they're going to save millions of dollars by shooting somewhere else, as much as we at Petty Enterprises and Richard and the family want them to do it in North Carolina, those are not calls that we make. Hopefully, the North Carolina film commission and the legislature will do something to really make it economically feasible to do in North Carolina." Roanoke Times

6/28/04

Roush wants longer road races  Ford team owner Jack Roush said he would prefer that the Nextel Cup Series’ two annual road races were longer. “I think it would be beneficial to hold these races for longer than 180 miles,” said Roush. “For many years I competed in endurance racing, and it would be a positive, I think, if we had an incentive to make these cars durable.” The actual length of Sunday’s race was 218.9 miles. During the 1960s and ‘70s, NASCAR held races on the road course in Riverside, Calif., that were 500 miles. Roush suggested a length of 350 miles for the races at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen. Gaston Gazette  [Editor's Note:  Psst, someone knock some sense into Jack's brain.  Road racing isn't easy like oval racing.  It is physically very demanding.  Jeff Gordon, Sunday's winner, and most of the drivers interviewed after the race, were physically spent.  Making the races longer will make for more driver mistakes and more wrecked equipment.  As it is the NASCAR road races are expensive crash fests.]

6/28/04

More Champ Car/IRL unification debate  A reader writes, At this juncture, what is the point of reunification talk? The way I see it is there are two possible reasons.  The first reason is that the IRL is losing its butt (duh!) and most probably the manufacturers are getting tired of paying extraordinary sums to buy "name" teams to compete and totally eclipsing re: backstabbing the IRL's original core teams. It is also quite possible that the grandson's family has had quite enough of him wasting their family's fortune to support his over-inflated ego.  The second point is that this is all a smoke screen to hide yet another attempt at killing of CART/Champ Car because they (IRL, et al) know they can't compete.

Let me return to the former point for a moment. Does anyone remember in 1993 or 1994 the grandson wanted a voting membership in CART? I seem to recall that CART said yes, providing he sanctions the Indy 500 with CART. That would have meant CART boost rules, which would have effectively made the Buick/Menard engines uncompetitive since they were allowed a much higher boost pressure. I believe it was forty-eight inches of boost verses 42 inches for the purpose built racing engines. As I recall the grandson declined but was still offered a non-voting seat on the board. This offer was also rejected. After all, John Menard has so much money he makes even Penske look like a "relative" pauper (although I wouldn't mind being a pauper in the Penske mold).

Although hindsight is always 20/20, I have always maintained that CART should have checked its own collective ego and given TG a voting seat. After all, they could have always neutralized his voice with their collective votes.

In my opinion, the only good thing about reunification is that I'd like to see drivers like Tony Kanaan, Gil de Ferran and Dario Franchitti again. They only ended up in the IRL because there were no seats available in CART and probably only stayed because of the amount of money being thrown at them. I don't ever recall these guys’ bad mouthing CART (where they made their "names") or its supporters. Unlike other drivers who shall go nameless. Right Mikey?

On the other hand, if the IRL folds we'll probably get them back anyway. Maybe Gil would even come out of retirement. Think about it. The IRL folds and the drivers still get paid the huge sums that Honda and Toyota hoped would kill the series (CART) in which they made THEIR "names" in North American racing. A nice piece of poetic justice that.  Tony Traugott, Santa Monica, CA   Dear Tony, Don't count on the IRL folding.  The IRL may have troubles, but Tony George has given no indication he is prepared to give up the fight.  Steve L.

6/28/04

Jimmy Johnson wins 2nd quarter DOY voting  Driving in championship form, Jimmie Johnson demolished the competition in voting for the SPEED Channel DRIVER OF THE YEAR, second quarter, 2004. Johnson, who jumped to the top of the NASCAR Nextel Cup points standings after last week's DHL 400 in Michigan, had two victories including a win from the pole at in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway and a win at the Pocono 500 in the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet. He had a virtually unblemished second quarter with only one finish out of the top-four. Despite his fine record, Johnson was surprised when he learned of his award. "I couldn't believe it when someone told, me," he said. "I'm completely honored to win this award." Perhaps it's a tradition for his team. The 28 year-old drives under the Hendricks Motorsports banner in a car owned by Jeff Gordon, a four-time DRIVER OF THE YEAR. "When you look at the people who have won it before it's pretty amazing company," he explained. "They're some of the best racers in the world." In the voting he took 12 first-place SPEED Channel DRIVER OF THE YEAR votes, and a vote on every ballot with none lower than third place. As a result, he scored 144 points. Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice finished in second with 91 points and three first-place votes. Rice also won the pole and led the most laps at the Brickyard in the Pioneer Argent/Mortgage Rahal-Letterman G Force/Honda. Martin Truex, Jr., a protégé of Dale Earnhardt Jr., was third with 52 points. Driving the Dale Earnhardt Inc. owned Ritz Crackers Chevrolet, Truex notched three wins and one runner-up finish and continues to lead the points in NASCAR's Busch series. A total of 18 drivers scored points in the second quarter voting, including fourth place Greg Anderson (with three first-place votes) from the PowerAde Pro Stock division, fifth place Sebastien Bourdais, points leader in the Champ Car series, and IRL's points leader Tony Kanaan was sixth. Noteworthy; Jeff Gordon won the fan vote, with Earnhardt Jr. second, and Johnson third. More than 40,000 fans clicked their votes on the www.speedtv.com website.

6/28/04

Mansell tests for Jordan  Nigel Mansell has today tested for Jordan at Silverstone, ahead of his participation for the team at the forthcoming Regents Street F1 parade.

6/28/04

Ironman Vasser set to make 188th straight start  PKV Racing pilot and 1996 Series Champion Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) is scheduled to make his 188th consecutive Champ Car start this Saturday afternoon when the Green Flag drops on the U.S. Bank Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland, Round 5 of the Champ Car World Series. Vasser, known for being one of the most durable drivers in the paddock over an impressive 13-year Champ Car career, is rapidly closing in on former Champ Car competitor Al Unser Jr., who is perched atop the Most Consecutive Starts list with 192. The Champ Car ironman will be searching for his first win this weekend at Burke Lakefront Airport– the one-of-a-kind 2.106-mile airport runway circuit where he holds the track qualifying mark.

In Cal Ripken Jr.-like fashion, Vasser is scheduled to pass Unser Jr. with consecutive start number 193 later this season in Round 10 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec Canada. Cleveland will mark his 188th straight start, with the current streak dating back to his 22nd career start at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (1993). Vasser’s first Champ Car start was recorded in Surfers Paradise, Australia in 1992.

The Las Vegas resident has a penchant for speed on the lakefront layout in Cleveland, having authored two poles (1996, ’98) and setting a track qualifying mark in 1998 that still stands at 56.417 seconds (134.385 mph). But in 11 career appearances, Vasser’s mantle still has a spot open for the Cleveland trophy, after recording two top fives and six top 10s, with a best finish of third coming in the 1995 event.

The California native is also scheduled to move into fifth position on the Champ Car Career Starts List [Modern Era, 1979- Present] with his 209th career start in Cleveland, and comes to the North Coast 11th in the championship hunt with 52 markers.

“Cleveland has always been a great track for the fans, and a favorite of the drivers,” said Vasser. “Fans can see the entire track from the grandstand, which is a great amenity for a temporary circuit. PKV Racing has been making some significant gains as far as performance goes, and I’m optimistic because the team is continually getting better. We're looking forward to improving on the results we've had so far this season in Cleveland.”

6/28/04

SPEED Channel XM partnership  XM Satellite Radio, America's leading satellite radio service, today announced that NASCAR Radio (XM Channel 144) is adding programming from the popular cable network SPEED Channel to its premier schedule of live NASCAR races, exclusive interviews, and call-in shows.

NASCAR Radio, one of the most-listened-to channels on XM, now carries 11 programs produced by SPEED Channel, one of the nation's fastest-growing sports cable networks. The SPEED programming on NASCAR Radio includes NASCAR This Morning, Totally NASCAR, Pit Bull, NASCAR Victory Lane, NBS 24/7, Inside Nextel Cup, Trackside, NASCAR Edition Speed News, NASCAR Fast Forward, and Men Behind the Wrenches.

As part of this new partnership, XM will be the presenting sponsor of the highly-rated SPEED program Pit Bull, which can be seen on SPEED and heard on XM every Saturday preceding a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at 6:30 p.m. ET.

The SPEED Channel programs join NASCAR Radio's stellar line-up, which includes exclusive XM shows such as Dialed In, the enormously popular call-in program hosted by Charlotte-based reporter Claire B. Lang. Dialed In receives tens of thousands of calls each month as fans heat up the phone lines to talk about the latest NASCAR happenings. NASCAR Radio also carries every live race broadcast from Motor Racing Network (MRN) and Performance Racing Network (PRN), every NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series qualifying session and race, every NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, and series and specials that you can only hear on XM.

"SPEED Channel and NASCAR Radio on XM is a terrific partnership for racing fans," said Tim Farley, Program Director for NASCAR Radio. "NASCAR Radio has become the national water cooler for fans to find out what's happening in the sport, hear the latest racing action, and voice their opinions on the air. Now listeners can enjoy some of their favorite SPEED programs on NASCAR Radio from coast to coast."

"Partnering with XM Satellite Radio is a great opportunity for SPEED Channel to extend its brand, putting our exclusive NASCAR TV properties in front of XM's two million subscribers," said Kevin Annison, SPEED Channel VP Business Operations & Finance. "SPEED's strategic initiatives look to team the network with industry leaders, and XM Satellite Radio certainly fits that criteria."

"This deal threads together two very important media partners," said Jeffrey Pollack, managing director of broadcasting and new media, NASCAR Digital Entertainment. "XM gets quality programming and SPEED Channel gets in front of a powerful audience. Together they will reinforce the access and exposure NASCAR Radio and NASCAR TV create for our fans and industry. This is a classic win-win." NASCAR Radio, available exclusively on XM, is the first and only 24-hour radio channel dedicated to a single sport. SPEED TV

6/28/04

Shock rule for Chicago, no green flag finish at Daytona  On Sunday's NASCAR This Morning from trackside at Sonoma, Calif. and the show's Charlotte studio, Winston Kelley reported a new rule change that will take effect in two weeks at Chicagoland Speedway, and Bill Ingle responded to the latest addition in a changing rule book.

On the NASCAR front, a couple of rules situations — one that's not going to change and one that is. The green-green-white-checkered that's been rumored for the Nextel Cup Series will not happen in Daytona, but NASCAR officials continue to evaluate that situation.

The rule that will change? There will be a rule to regulate the gas pressure in shock absorbers, starting at Chicago in a couple of weeks and that regulates the travel on the cars. This morning we heard that NASCAR will start regulating the gas pressure in our shock absorbers. Shouldn't NASCAR just give us spring rules, valance height rules, spoiler rules, gear rules and quit adding something every other week?

Everybody is trying to get the cars down on the ground to get them more aerodynamic. This is NASCAR's big thing this year. The theme has been aerodynamic reduction. Well, when they take something away, the teams are going to work hard to try to overcome that deficit, and we've done that by getting the attitude of the car down. It looks like a wedge, therefore, it's putting more downforce on the car. It makes the cars go faster going through the corners down on the ground.

If NASCAR doesn't want that, they need to come out with a spring rule or a gear rule, slow down these cars, get them where they'll race and you can pass. That's what racing needs right now is more passing. If they'll get the front of those cars up, it'll happen.   Fox Sports

6/28/04

Castroneves moved back to 3rd over confusion   On Lap 246 of the SunTrust Indy Challenge, Ed Carpenter and Greg Ray made contact on the backstretch, resulting in a yellow flag. As the drivers circled the oval at reduced speeds, officials signaled that action would go under green for a final one-lap shootout. It was a decision the spectator-starved IRL had to make, because nothing makes a race fan's blood boil like ending an event under caution. On the restart, Helio Castroneves made a quick dart outside and passed Vitor Meira for second place. Castroneves then bit at Dan Wheldon's tail only to come up just short of the race winner.

The ease with which Castroneves passed Meira was astounding. It was almost as if Meira had laid off the throttle. Turned out, that's exactly what he'd done. The yellow caution lights on Turn 1--which are manually operated by a switch in the flag stand--were not turned off at the time of the restart. Meira noticed that, and momentarily let up on the gas. "After they dropped the white and green flags, I saw the yellow lights keep blinking," Meira said. "Well, the last lap is not a lap that you think a lot. I was thinking too much."

Castroneves was unofficially declared the second-place finisher. But an hour after the race, IRL officials announced that since the caution lights had not gone off in time, the race had ended under caution. This decision pushed Castroneves to third. Also, series points leader Tony Kanaan's late pass of Brian Herta for fourth place was nullified. Essentially, the IRL froze the field on Lap 249 to decide the finishing order.  Fredericksburg.com

6/28/04

NASCAR rejects hard liquor sponsor  This AP article says, NASCAR has rejected Roush Racing's bid to sign a hard liquor company as primary sponsor for Jeff Burton's No. 99 Ford. Though beer and malt liquor sponsors are allowed by NASCAR, spirits advertising is not permitted at any of its events or as team sponsors Roush had negotiated a deal with British liquor giant Diageo, but it was contingent on NASCAR changing its policy that began in the days when many counties in the South were dry. ``Although we understand the sponsorship situation with the No. 99 entry, it is very unlikely at this time that we would change such a long-standing policy for this instance,'' NASCAR president Mike Helton told The Associated Press on Friday. However, he said the sanctioning organization will continue internal discussions about the hard liquor ban. Geoff Smith, president of Roush Racing, said he was disappointed but not surprised by the decision. ``We've been working together with them to assess all the historical and current reasons why that policy exists and see if there were any reasons why it should be revised,'' Smith said. ``My personal opinion is that 95 per cent of their objection was just that - history.''

A decision by TV networks years ago to also ban hard liquor ads reinforced NASCAR's policy even as fewer counties remained dry. But with the growth of cable, more TV channels are starting to air such ads. NASCAR's position, however, remains unchanged. Smith said he believes the general public does not make a distinction between beer and distilled spirits. He said the team's relationship will continue with Diageo, whose Smirnoff Ice malt beverage sponsors Roush driver Matt Kenseth. Diageo manufacturers a number of brands of hard liquor, including Johnnie Walker, J&B and Jose Cuervo. Jim Beam sponsors a car in the IRL and Crown Royal is the series sponsor for IROC, which includes NASCAR drivers.

6/28/04

Max Mosley to bring the hammer down today  Today when the FIA F1 Commission meets FIA President Max Mosley will invoke for the first time measures aimed at “reducing costs and increasing safety” across F1. The F1 Commission will meet today, and team officials will be “given 60 days to come up with plans of their own. Should they fail to reach agreement in that period, they will be offered three options by the FIA and a further 45 days in which to make up their minds or have change imposed without their consent”   The F1 Commission is the body that ultimately decides the rules of Grand Prix racing although its decisions must be verified by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

6/28/04
NHRA

Driver dies in NHRA race  NHRA drag racer Darrell Russell died Sunday night from injuries suffered in a violent crash during the Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill.   Russell, a 35-year-old native of Hockley, Texas, had just lost to Scott Kalitta in the second round of eliminations when his Top Fuel dragster crashed while running about 300 mph at the end of the quarter-mile strip at Gateway International Raceway.

Russell is the first participant to be killed in competition at an NHRA national event since Blaine Johnson died in a crash during a qualifying run at the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1996.  Sunday's event continued after about a 45-minute delay. NHRA officials informed the media of Russell's death about two hours after the crash. No announcement was made to crowd of about 25,000.

"The event continues," said Graham Light, NHRA vice president of racing operations. "I think Darrell would have wanted that. We're not going to announce it to the crowd at this point. I don't think there's anything to be gained by doing that."

Russell's car went out of control just past the finish line. It appeared to shred a tire after Russell activated his parachute to slow his 2,200-pound car.  The car went sideways as it lost control and wound up going back against the concrete wall to the left of the lane in which Russell had been racing. The NHRA safety crew was rolling toward it immediately and quickly extinguished a small fire that erupted around the remains of the car.

Dan Brickey, director of emergency medical services for the NHRA, said the driver's compartment was intact when the rescue team arrived. The workers cut away the roll cage, immobilized Russell's spine and then took off his helmet and the required head-and-neck restraint device before loading him onto a backboard and taking him to the ambulance.  Brickey said Russell was unconscious but breathing when he was taken by helicopter to St. Louis University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead about two hours later.  Indy Star

6/28/04

Stewart goes after Vickers  Tony Stewart again finds himself in the middle of controversy, this time involved in an alleged physical confrontation with rookie #25-Brian Vickers. Following Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, Stewart brought his #20 Chevrolet to a rest on pit road, exited his car and hurried quickly to Vicker's car. Witnesses said the two engaged in what appeared to be an amicable conversation at first, with Stewart leaning over the driver's-side window of Vicker's car. After a few moments, Stewart became quite animated, began reaching into the car and tried to pull Vickers out, witnesses said. Members of Vicker's team quickly grabbed Stewart and hustled him away from the car. Stewart and Vickers both made a trip to the NASCAR hauler after the race. Late Sunday, NASCAR President Mike Helton said the sanctioning body was still gathering information about the incident. Vickers, who remained at the track well after Sunday's race while Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon celebrated the win, said he had no idea why Stewart was upset. "He hit me earlier in the race and then he wrecked us in Turn 11 and that's why we spun there. Then after the race he came over to the car and then it just went from there. "I was still strapped in the car with my helmet off. He came after me in the car. He reached for me and knocked the breath out of me. It was not a fist and he didn't hit me in the face." Vickers said he laughed when Stewart yelled at him because he had no idea why Stewart was so angry. "He said that I laughed about the situation and when I laughed I pissed him off and that's why he did it. I'm not going to lie to him and say that I didn't smile about it," Vickers said. "Somebody is upset at me because they wrecked me and I thought it was funny."ThatsRacin.com 

More:  AND from a Raybestos ROTY report/PR: BRIAN VICKERS, #22 GMAC CHEVROLET:
NOTES: Vickers finished 22nd and took Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors for the fourth time this season.
WHAT WAS TONY STEWART SO UPSET ABOUT?
"To be honest with you, I have no idea why he is upset. He hit me earlier in the race and then he wrecked us in turn 11 and that's why we spun there. Then after the race he came over to the car and then it just went from there."
YOU WERE STILL SITTING IN THE CAR?
"I was still strapped in the car with my helmet off."
WAS HE YELLING AT YOU?
"At first it was a discussion about why he hit me and I thought it was kind of funny. I was trying to figure out why he was coming to me, mad at me, when he hit me. I was a little confused there and I thought it was kind of funny and that's when he came in the car after me."
WHAT DID NASCAR SAY ABOUT ALL THAT?
"You'll have to ask them for that. That's a question that you will have to ask NASCAR."
WHAT PREVENTED IT FROM GETTING OUT OF HAND?
"My team grabbed him off and pulled him off of me. He came after me in the car. He reached for me and knocked the breath out of me. Here's the deal: it was not a fist and he did not hit me in the face. He hit the armrest and he reached in the car and he grabbed me in the chest and when he did he hit me. It was kind of open-palm, grabbed my shirt. It was hard enough to knock the breath out of me and then he tried to pull me out of the car and that's when my guys grabbed me."
DID STEWART APOLOGIZE WHEN YOU GUYS MET WITH NASCAR AFTER THE RACE?
"He said that I laughed about the situation and when I laughed it pissed him off and that's why he did it. I said 'Yeah, I did laugh. I thought it was funny that you were mad at me because you wrecked me.' I thought it was funny. I'm not going to lie to him and say that I didn't smile about it. That's how I was raised. This is not a situation that I'm going to make a big deal out of. Somebody is upset at me because they wrecked me and I thought it was funny. He was always behind me. I never passed him, I was never behind him."
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A PROBLEM WITH TONY BEFORE TODAY?
"No, actually Tony and I get along. Well, we used to [laughs]. We used to get along fine, actually, I guess as well as can be."
ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC THAT THINGS WILL SORT THEMSELVES OUT?
"I'm sure NASCAR will do the right thing. I'm sure they will handle the situation. They'll take care of it. If this happened at a restaurant, it would be my problem to handle. This happened at their racetrack and they're running the deal. It's their problem to handle and I'm sure they'll do the right thing. Right now, I'm looking forward to next weekend. What happens down the road happens. Am I happy with the guy right now? No, not really but I'm not going to make a big deal out of it. That's NASCAR's job to penalize people for things like that, not mine. Whatever NASCAR decides is their decision and I'll support them in whatever they do." Camp and Assoc
After his visit to the NASCAR hauler Sunday, Stewart left without comment. But he and Vickers did speak afterward. see another story at NASCAR.com

6/28/04

Said to drive more NASCAR  Boris Said told Insider Racing News that he will drive a minimum of three more races in NASCAR Nextel Cup this season and possibly more will come out of the meeting this week. Currently it looks like Watkins Glen, Brickyard 400 at Indy and Fontana with the MB2/MBV Motorsports team and teammates Scott Riggs & Joe Nemechek. The sponsor will continue to be CENTRIX Financial, LLC, the Official Auto Finance Company of NASCAR . Said, stated that if not with him, he was sure CENTRIX would be around the sport for some time to come. Insider Racing News

6/28/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

Indianapolis was 'a sham' - Patrick Head
'Goodbye, Dad' - Jacques Villeneuve
F1 faces at Goodwood 'Festival of Speed'
Da Matta's still 'enjoying F1'
Button quick in new aero kit - tests
BAR 'may debut' new aero kit - spokesman
'B spec' Toyota still on track - Zonta
'I'll decide this week' - Ralf
Schu's 'even better than ever' - Sauber
Jaguar 'must score points' - Gillan
'We mustn't give up' - Williams' Michael
'F1 Commission' to ratify qualifying overhaul
Panis wants F1 to be 'more fun' for fans
Bernie 'is neglecting' F1 - GPWC insider
'The phone might ring' - Villeneuve
Ralf is 'recovering well' - Sam Michael 

6/28/04


Global appeal hits NASCAR  UPDATE A reader responds - Although I agree that NASCAR will eventually be a global series with large numbers of fans worldwide, I cannot believe that NASCAR can surpass F1 in terms of total fans and TV viewership, at least not with its current package, the world craves high tech - high speed series. To illustrate my point, as a fan of motorsports and road racing, I watched the race today, but was amazed that their support series (TRANS-AM) at Sonoma would have claimed the top 5 spots in qualifying. I admit NASCAR has a nice show, but for good racing at high speed, they weren't even the top act out there. Colin Holden, Atlanta, GA  Dear Colin, NASCAR is a far better show for the race fan than any race series out there and everything they touch these days turns golden.  One has to look no further than Canada, where NASCAR currently has zero races and zero drivers, yet its TV Ratings dwarf that of Champ Car already. Yes, F1 is much bigger now, but they had better start looking over their shoulder because the steamroller called NASCAR is coming.  Mark C. 6/27/04 - [Editor's Note:   In our War of the Worlds article, we predicted that NASCAR and the oval track cartel will make an assault on the world market.  Since Bernie Ecclestone did not buy Champ Car to work F1 and Champ Car together to strengthen the road racing cartel's position in the world market, we predict that in 10 years time, perhaps 20, NASCAR will rule the world.  It was very unusual for Bernie Ecclestone to be so shortsighted.  He will eventually regret his mistake.]  This St. Petersburg Times article says, Klaus Graf could be the point man, the poster child, for the kind of international growth NASCAR so craves. All he wants is to be just another full-time Nextel Cup driver, but he would always be more.

The 32-year-old becomes the first German to start a Nextel Cup race Sunday on the road course at Sonoma, Calif., for which he qualified 38th. Any success could lure more Europeans to the spotlight and rewards of North America's most successful circuit. Increased international appeal could fulfill the long-term dream of NASCAR CEO Brian France and seed interest in races all over the world.

"There will be a lot of attention and a lot of guys watching me," said Graf, a veteran road racer and the 1997 Porsche Carrera Cup rookie of the year. "I'm glad that things worked out. I think a lot of people expect me to be a good road racer, but my goal is to finally be a good oval racer, too, and maybe a full-time Cup driver as well. This will, hopefully, just be an introduction into NASCAR Nextel Cup, and hopefully this is a good starting point and we can move on from here."

That would make Graf's introduction to NASCAR much more broad than as a specialist in the two Nextel Cup road races. NASCAR International, which has helped secure broadcast contracts in 151 countries in 21 languages, has identified Brazil, Canada (where it just opened a Toronto office this week), England, Germany, Japan and Mexico as its key new markets, and having a driver from one of those countries would be a gift.

Graf earned approval for a NASCAR road-racing license within two weeks, and he plans to run the Aug. 15 road race at Watkins Glen. But BAM immediately started preparing him to race on ovals. Graf tested at Virginia International Speedway in January, convincing Jones to field an ARCA car for him in a Nashville race April 9. Graf led five laps and finished third. Jones said Graf will run the October ARCA race at Talladega and hopes to have him approved for as many as six oval races this season if Graf's sports car backers agree to sponsor the effort.

"We haven't asked (NASCAR) to race him on any ovals yet, but they know it's coming," Jones said. "I told them it was one of our goals, and they'll submit to us a list of tracks they will approve him to try on."

Though the highly technical cars of Formula One and road racing are much more sophisticated than stock cars, Graf said European peers respect NASCAR drivers.

"I think the way NASCAR is, and the level of competition we see here, everybody knows that this is a very high level," Graf said. "All the drivers in NASCAR could do very well in any other type of racing. I am very convinced about that. I've seen the "Trading Paint' film with Jeff Gordon and (Juan Pablo) Montoya, and without knowing Jeff Gordon, he did an awesome job driving the Formula One car. He did very competitive lap times and was very comfortable, and that shows you professionalism and education they have is very high. These guys are just as good as any other drivers in the world."

Though sports cars, F1 cars and stock cars are all markedly different, the skills needed to drive each is basically the same. Once the engine fires, it's driving, Graf said.  "At the end of the day, stock cars are still a race car," he said. "They still have four wheels, an engine and a steering wheel."  But this steering wheel could turn NASCAR toward its future.

6/27/04

Boris Said wins at Infineon    It appeared as if the third time, or in this case the third race, was a charm for Boris Said Sunday at Infineon Raceway. Said, competing in his third event of the weekend, won the Trans-Am 100, Round 3 of the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series championship.

Said, fresh off finishing sixth in the NASCAR Nextel Cup race earlier Sunday, led every lap of the Trans-Am race from the pole. Said had also competed in the NASCAR Southwest Tour race on Saturday. Tommy Kendall was second, ahead of Randy Ruhlman. Rookie GT-1 competitor Ross Murray was fourth in just his second Trans-Am start, while Joey Scarallo completed the top five, recording his second top-five finish in as many races.

“I’m just hungry,” said Said (No. 33 Applied Computer Solutions/GE Access Ford Mustang. “I like driving and I like winning races. It was just a blast this weekend running all three races. We ran really strong in the Cup race today, coming from 19th to eighth. I just barely made it to the Trans-Am car before the engine started. The car was unbelievable today.

“Joe Huffaker’s shops are right here (at Infineon Raceway),” added Said, whose 13th Trans-Am victory ties him with the legendary George Follmer for 10th on the all-time Trans-Am win list. “He built me an unbelievable motor. I’ve never had that kind of advantage in horsepower.”

Tommy Kendall finished second, earning his first Trans-Am podium since September of 1997. Kendall, driving the No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR, also gave Jaguar’s new production-based, overhead-cam, fuel-injected engine its first top-three finish.

“This is rewarding,” said Kendall. “We’ve had three races where we really worked hard. To get the first podium for this engine is special. It’s been a long time. I’d really like to thank the folks at Jaguar and (team owner) Paul Gentilozzi for giving me a shot. Jaguar makes us feel like the F-1 guys. They really support the whole effort, and I think it brings quite a bit of prestige to the Series.

“We’ve taken a few punches in the gut this year,” added Kendall. “But the team never gives up. We’re going to win some races this year.”

FP SP # Driver Make/Model LC Time Mph Lag Status
1 1 33 Boris Said Ford/Mustang 51 1:12:55.061 82.587 0.000 Active
2 2 11 Tommy Kendall Jaguar/XKR 51 1:12:55.948 82.571 0.887 Active
3 5 49 Randy Ruhlman Chevrolet/Corvette 51 1:13:05.687 82.387 10.626 Active
4 6 1 Ross Murray (R) GT-1 Dodge/Viper 51 1:13:14.396 82.224 19.335 Active
5 8 6 Joey Scarallo Chevrolet/Corvette 51 1:13:22.173 82.079 27.112 Active
6 14 99 Brandon Davis (R) Ford/Mustang 51 1:13:24.928 82.027 29.867 Active
7 11 10 Mike Davis Ford/Mustang 51 1:13:25.220 82.022 30.159 Active
8 7 8 Jorge Diaz, Jr. Jaguar/XKR 51 1:13:40.587 81.737 45.526 Active
9 10 75 Tim Cowen Ford/Mustang 50 1:13:36.225 80.213 1 Lap Active
10 9 86 John Baucom Ford/Mustang 49 1:10:55.624 81.576 30.788 Off Course
11 4 6 Greg Pickett Jaguar/XKR 49 1:13:04.894 79.171 2 Laps Active
12 12 24 Philip Simms (R) Chevrolet/Corvette 49 1:13:49.736 78.369 2 Laps Active
13 13 83 Max Lagod Chevrolet/Corvette 28 44:20.301 74.568 4 Laps Contact
14 15 78 Moneca Kolvyn (R) GT-1 Chevrolet/Monte Carlo 25 40:39.215 72.614 5 Laps Mechanical
15 3 5 Tomy Drissi Jaguar/XKR 19 24:30.060 91.569 27.788 Mechanical

Race Statistics
Time of race: 1:12:55.061
Margin of victory: .887 seconds.
Winner's average speed: 82.587mph.
Caution flags: 2 for 8 laps.
Lead changes: 0.
Lap leader: Said 1-51.
Points leaders
1, Kendall 66. 2, Paul Gentilozzi 65. 3, Pickett 63. 4, Diaz 61. 5. Baucom 59. 6, Said 58. 7, Scarallo 58. 8, Ruhlman 55. 9, M. Davis 52. 10, Drissi 51. 11, Lagod 51.

6/27/04
MotoGP

Rossi outsmarts Gibernau to win in Assen   Italian superstar Valentino Rossi scored his third straight victory and his fourth for the season in another tense “cat and mouse” game with Spaniard Sete Gibernau at the “Cathedral” of motorcycle racing in Assen.

The pair are now equal on world championship points at 126 apiece, but Rossi has assumed the lead by virtue of his fours wins this season compared to Gibernau’s two.

It was Rossi’s teammate, Carlos Checa, who got the hole shot at the start, but it was all backwards from there for the Spaniard as he was sucked back in to the field. Rossi and Gibernau forged an early lead and were joined briefly by Brazilian Alex Barros, who snatched second place from Rossi before crashing out shortly after.

Gibernau looked to have eked out a winning gap over Rossi, but the Italian pulled a brave overtaking maneuver on the final lap. The Honda’s front wheel clipped the rear of the Yamaha’s after Rossi made his move, damaging Gibernau’s front mud-guard, and giving Rossi enough of an advantage to keep the lead to the checkered flag.

“I stayed quite easily behind Sete at the start, but after the tires started sliding it was not so easy,” Rossi said. “There were points where I was a little bit faster and it made for a great, great battle.

“I think Sete will be a little bit angry but it was a great race between us.”

Italian Marco Melandri out rode compatriot Max Biaggi to finish third, almost 10 seconds behind. It was Melandri’s second podium in a row and came just days after a successful operation for “arm pump” in his right arm.

American Nicky Hayden rode a storming race from 16 th on the grid to fifth, with his countryman and Honda colleague, Colin Edwards, less than a second behind in sixth.

Troy Bayliss was headed for a top-10 finish until a gear box failure on his Ducati put him out of the race just two laps from the end.

“It’s a real shame we had a problem because there wasn’t long to go,” Bayliss said. “The engine went quite well, the feeling I had with it was good and I was going okay. But after all the rain in practice we were missing something in the set-up and we had a little chatter. Anyway, we learned a few things this weekend and we go to Rio aiming to get a result.”  The next round of the MotoGP world championship is at Rio in Brazil on July 4.

6/27/04

Rocketsports Racing Champ Car First Quarter Review: Nelson Philippe   While the long-haired seventeen year-old may look like your average teenage skater-type, Nelson Philippe has taken on an extraordinary challenge and has lived up to the demands of a full-time drive in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford. With four solid finishes in his rookie season in the Champ Car World Series, Nelson’s maturity, commitment and progress are evident.  More....

6/27/04

Penske talks reunification between IRL and Champ Car   This AP article says, Roger Penske would prefer one American open-wheel racing circuit and might try to broker a deal between Champ Car and the Indy Racing League.   "I don't think there's any magic deadline," IRL spokesman Fred Nation said. "We have a very open mind, and we always have, to parties with reasonable suggestions."

Champ Car president Dick Eidswick said Friday that Penske met this week with Champ Car principals Gerald Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi and Kevin Kalkhoven. Eidswick was not at the discussion and would not discuss details.   But if the two rival series are to reunite, it probably won't happen soon. Both are midway through their 2004 schedules, and Eidswick said he hopes to announce Champ Car's 2005 schedule next month.

Eidswick said Friday the series could continue losing money for up to three years.   When reports of a possible reunification emerged this week, Eidswick responded with an e-mail to Champ Car's employees that explained the league was still working within the framework of a long-term plan.   "Everyone wants the dream result, to get back to the way it was," Eidswick said. "But that's not in our plans. I think it's important that Champ Car offers the best motor racing product to our fans, at the track and on TV. Getting back together isn't a priority."

The biggest appeal to the IRL appears to be scheduling. When George bid $13.5 million to purchase CART in January, it was believed he wanted to add several North American road races to the schedule. Nation said that would be attractive to the IRL.   "There would be a benefit in working together," he explained. "An end to the perceived war in open-wheel racing would be good, but it's less important to us now than it was five years ago.   "That won't mean we won't listen and we, obviously, have a high regard for Roger."

6/27/04

SPEEDTV.com article: Unification article   This SPEEDTV.com article has more quotes from Roger Penske and others in the IRL paddock about the possible unification of Champ Car and the IRL.  The bottom line is that although everyone thinks the two series must get back together, no one has the foggiest idea how to accomplish it.  There are so many hurdles to clear that it will be next to impossible.  The only solution as far as we are concerned is our proposal to unify the two series under one umbrella with two divisions, common rules, and a stick-and-ball type playoff series of races, or as a minimum, a triple crown of joint races. All stick-and-ball sports have divisions and playoffs, and although separate, they work together under one umbrella organization for the overall good of the sport.

6/27/04

Hornaday wins Busch race   While young guns David Stremme and Shane Hmiel fiercely battled for their first NASCAR Busch Series victory, veteran Ron Hornaday Jr. used patience and experience to snag away the win in the “Alan Kulwicki 250 presented by Forest County Potawatomi Racing” Saturday night at the Milwaukee Mile. Stremme, 27, and Hmiel, 24, swapped the lead numerous times and dominated for most of the event while Hornaday, 47, quietly kept them within sight, saving his equipment to make a late charge. He cleanly swept past Hmiel for the lead with five laps to go. Once out front, Hornaday, drove away to a 1.272 seconds victory over Stremme, while Hmiel fell to a fourth place finish after a last lap tangle with Jason Keller, the defending race winner.

“Those kids (Stremme and Hmiel) were running their guts out and I thought I could catch them, but (my crew chief) Butch Hylton said to just save your stuff and sure enough the more I saved it the more I rolled up into the middle of the corner and gave them more pressure to start racing each other harder and that’s when they started to loosen each other up and start spinning their tires,” a visibly excited Hornaday explained after scoring his first series win since May of 2003. “In the end it gave us fresher tires.”

Hornaday’s night ended in a celebratory “Kulwicki Polish Victory Lap” in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 44,238 race fanatics at race end, but the start of the race was no indication to the potency of his Richard Childress-owned car. With a long green flag run at the race’s outset, the handling on his AC/Delco Chevrolet was not quite right, resulting in an early pit stop for adjustments which nearly put him a lap down.

A near-capacity crowd of 44,286 saw 14 lead changes among eight drivers in the “Alan Kulwicki 250 presented by Forest County Potawatomi Racing” event. The race was slowed four times by caution flags and was completed in two hours twenty seven minutes at an average speed of 102.038 mph.

Chasing Hornaday, Stremme and Keller across the finish line were Hmiel in 4th and Bobby Hamilton, Jr in 5th. Completing the top-10 were Mike Bliss, double-dipping Greg Biffle, David Green, Martin Truex, Jr and Clint Bowyer.

6/27/04

ESPN.com article: Unification needed, but don't count on it   In this ESPN.com article, Roger Penske says, "Following the New York Times article, Paul Gentilozzi called," Penske explained. "They saw the article and expressed interest in hearing what I had to say. I knew Paul and Gerry Forsythe, but I had never met (Kevin) Kalkhoven. So we had a conference call, decided to meet face-to-face and they came to Detroit. I wasn't sent by anyone. They called me, quite honestly."

Since then, so has everyone else. Suddenly Penske was seen as the savior of open-wheel racing, the only man with the common sense and the clout to bring the two warring factions together. Penske's cars have often seemed invincible on track, but 'The Captain' laughed at the notion that he has the power to accomplish this seemingly impossible task. Instead, he expressed surprise about the impact his NYT piece obviously made on the racing community.

"(The story) came out of the gun and it made a bigger bang than we intended," he said. "It evolved into what it is. I didn't realize that many people read the New York Times!"

Still, it's undeniably good news that the sport's most famous and successful team owner has gone public with his belief that Champ Car and the IRL must unite for open-wheel racing to start moving forward again after losing immeasurable ground to NASCAR over the last decade. Penske said he hopes to meet with IRL founder Tony George in the next week to determine if there is enough common ground to continue talks with both sides.

"I thought it was a good conversation, but I don't have anything to report," Penske said of his meeting with the Champ Car trio. "We basically talked philosophy and about the good things each group had to offer. We didn't discuss concessions. The spirit of the discussion was to come up with something where no one loses and everyone wins -- drivers, teams, fans.

"There are two strong groups," Penske added. "They (Kalkhoven et al) put the money down to sustain the open-wheel series. Tony has kept his course. I've worked with Tony for four years; I see a good product and I see progress. Most important is that we all agreed that everyone would be better off with one series and I intend to do everything I can do to support unification."

The article gives quotes from others in the IRL paddock and talks about the obstacles to unification.  It's a good read, but bottom line - unless Roger Penske gives Tony George the ultimatum as outlined on our rumors page, it's never going to happen.

6/27/04

More unification talk   We continue to be flooded with letters from readers who have an opinion about a possible Champ Car/IRL unification.  Here are some representative ones.  Dear Autoracing1.com, I am concerned about the merger talk between IRL & Champ Car. It is great to see Roger looking out for Roger. Did he have the sponsors, engine manufacturers and teams in mind when he tried to destroy Champ Car?   No, just looking out for Roger. Is he now looking out for his great friend and open wheel visionary T.G.? Why would he even suggest a 10 oval\ 10 road course schedule? Has he forgotten that oval attendance has been in decline since the mid nineties while ChampCar was at their pinnacle in both attendance and T.V. ratings? Has he forgotten that the ChampCar fans did not follow him (or any other former ChampCar team) to the IRL or their ovals nor have they gained any fans since the split driving circles? It is interesting that all this has started since TRD stated they would not look beyond 2006 with the IRL if there were not people in the stands.  I think Team Penske uses Toyotas. I am a diehard ChampCar & F1 fan, I live 15 minutes from the Pikes Peak track, yet I have purchased my tickets already (went last year as well) to The Denver Grand Prix. Anyway, glad to see Roger is looking out for what’s best in open wheel racing like he did when he helped try and destroy it. Unification would be great for Champ Car fans, sponsors, teams (although not all) and engine manufactures if Roger were not in power. Brian Kellione, Colorado Springs, CO.  Another writes, If Roger Penske really wants to merge the IRL with Champ Car and the manufacturers would really follow then why doesn't he just leave? He could do the opposite of what Tony "Brick Wall" George did at the bankruptcy hearings. Leave the IRL, go back to Champ Car, the manufacturers follow, money quickly starts to run out, other teams quickly follow, and without any real fan support in eight years of running this series the bottom falls out. It would then seem to me that Tony, unless he decides to cut off his nose to spite his face, would then approach Champ Car to run Indy so that he doesn't lose his second biggest race (Indy 500). OWRS remains in control so we don't lose our great owners and have some ridiculous board to mismanage Champ Car again, and even though some people are asking for a change in car, the Champ Car has been and will always be better, faster, safer, and sexier, than the IRL tank (the really are hideous looking and sounding), and the beautiful sound of the turbo v8 will remain until Paul, Kevin, and Gerry come up with the right formula for the next Champ Car. At the same time we don't have to worry about ten ovals-ten road courses and have a more proper number of around 5-7 of the best selling ovals that are safer, competitive, and not ninety miles from civilized life.  Brian Defreese  Still another writes, Roger Penske doesn't attempt anything that doesn't have the end result of benefiting Roger Penske. I feel that his "unification effort" is nothing more that a smoke screen perpetrated by Tony George, the destroyer of open wheel motorsports in the USA, to hamper Champ Car in their effort to secure sponsorship and finalize a schedule for 2005. I feel confident that the owners of OWRS will see through this and continue to advance the greatest open wheel series in the world. Please do not publish my name as there is a possibility of retribution.

6/27/04


NASCAR rules ovals, USA   We could not help but notice the near sell-out crowd for the NASCAR Busch Grand National race at The Milwaukee Mile Saturday night.  This was in stark contrast to the recent Champ Car race at The Milwaukee Mile where they were lucky if the place was 50% full, and the IRL race at Richmond where the grandstands were completely empty 2/3 of the way around the track and the 1/3 that had people in them was perhaps 50% populated.  For open-wheel racing stick a fork in the ovals, they're done.  NASCAR has won the war, pretty much everywhere in the USA, but especially on the ovals.  While the IRL can continue to beat its head against a wall trying to fight NASCAR's monopolization of the ovals, Champ Car must continue to bring the racing to the people in urban markets, but more importantly it must fill the voids on the world market that F1 can't fill.  Should they adopt an IRL engine formula however, they will fall flat on their face and soon go out of business.  The countries/cities that want a F1 race but can't get one, and more importantly the fans around the world who know and love F1, are not going to accept some low-revving American bucket of bolts open wheel formula.  Champ Car is going to have to look and smell like F1, but at a much lower cost through standardization, for it to be accepted as a suitable F1 substitute.  Hence you must understand why we have been calling for a screaming V10 engine, a lighter chassis, and F1 size wheels and tires on the next generation Champ Car.  When we read reports that say OWRS in principal agreed with Roger Penske that the IRL engine formula might work for both sides in a merger of IRL and Champ Car, it runs chills down our spine.  The day something like that gets approved, will be the day we will begin to make the funeral arrangements and order the flowers for the sport.  The IRL formula has already been rejected and ridiculed in the USA, on the world market it would be become the laughing stock of motorsports.  Mark C.

6/26/04

Ed Carpenter fumes over Greg Ray's driving   Ed Carpenter was on the lead lap and headed for a top 10 or better finish until Greg Ray decided to make it three-wide forcing Carpenter high and into the wall.  Afterward, a visibly upset Carpenter said "Greg Ray has been driving like that ever since he has been racing in this league," insinuating Ray was a reckless driver.  "It was a stupid move that Greg Ray tried to pull. He was five laps down and should have just parked his car instead of taking me out of the race. He was driving recklessly and gave me a 16th-place finish when I had a car good enough to finish in seventh."

6/26/04

Overheard at Mid-Ohio  Tidbits overheard today at Mid-Ohio - ALMS President Scott Atherton said that the ALMS would like to add one more race next year to bring the schedule up to 10 races. He said they would like to race somewhere in southern California but can't say at this time where the 10th race will be........The ALMS race in Washington D C is dead due to the noise.  The special interest groups yanked the rug out from the promoter so no more DC race.........Atherton said look for diesel powered cars to explode in the US. The cars are so much better than they used to be.......JJ Lehto said that a diesel powered prototype that raced at Le Mans this year leaked diesel oil which made the track very slippery so they still have work yet to do.  Diesel oil is heaver than gasoline and a diesel engine weighs a lot more so the engine manufactures would have to figure out how to take weight out of the engine but keep the reliability. JJ said he would not be surprised to see diesel powered cars racing in the US one of these days.......Atherton said that an owners meeting was held and a cost committee was formed to look at the cost racing in the ALMS to see where cost can be controlled without taking the technology out of racing.

6/26/04

Manning leads warm-up in Richmond  

Pos Driver Diff Time Speed Lap C/E/T Status
1 Darren Manning (10) 16.1471 167.213 57 G/T/F Pit
2 Adrian Fernandez (5) 0.0554 16.2025 166.641 60 G/H/F Pit
3 Scott Dixon (1) 0.1330 16.2801 165.847 47 G/T/F Pit
4 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 0.1854 16.3325 165.315 34 G/H/F Pit
5 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.1995 16.3466 165.172 38 D/H/F Pit
6 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.2041 16.3512 165.125 45 D/T/F Pit
7 Tomas Scheckter (4) 0.2145 16.3616 165.021 45 D/C/F Pit
8 Alex Barron (51) 0.2158 16.3629 165.007 55 D/C/F Pit
9 Vitor Meira (17) 0.2327 16.3798 164.837 49 G/H/F Pit
10 Sam Hornish Jr. (6) 0.2419 16.3890 164.745 42 D/T/F Pit
11 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.2429 16.3900 164.735 58 D/H/F Pit
12 Dan Wheldon (26) 0.2629 16.4100 164.534 64 D/H/F Pit
13 Greg Ray (13) 0.2632 16.4103 164.531 38 G/H/F Pit
14 Ed Carpenter (52) 0.3442 16.4913 163.723 36 D/C/F Pit
15 A.J. Foyt IV (14) 0.3462 16.4933 163.703 59 D/T/F Pit
16 Buddy Rice (15) 0.4015 16.5486 163.156 44 G/H/F Pit
17 Scott Sharp (8) 0.4271 16.5742 162.904 38 D/T/F Pit
18 Tora Takagi (12) 0.4419 16.5890 162.758 32 D/T/F Pit
19 Bryan Herta (7) 0.4673 16.6144 162.510 25 D/H/F Pit
20 Felipe Giaffone (24) 0.5050 16.6521 162.142 19 D/C/F Pit
21 Mark Taylor (2) 0.6016 16.7487 161.207 19 D/C/F Pit
22 Al Unser Jr. (20) 0.6433 16.7904 160.806 49 D/C/F Pit

6/26/04

Champion Audi leads Saturday morning practice  A close race at the front of the field is shaping up at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as American Le Mans Series racing teams prepare for tomorrow's American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio event. Teams will have another hour of practice at 1:15 p.m. and then qualifying will begin at 2:25 p.m. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will be broadcasting live for qualifying at www.americanlemans.com. The ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 set the fastest time Saturday morning as teams had their first official practice session on the 2.25-mile, 13-turn road racing circuit. However, the lap time of 1.12.830 posted by JJ Lehto and Marco Werner in the Audi was very closely followed by a time of 1:12.970 set by the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-AER/MG of James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger. The other Dyson entry of Andy Wallace and Chris Dyson was third overall and third in the LMP1 class at 1:13.319. The LMP2 class was also very close, with the Miracle Motorsports Lola B2K/40-Nissan of John Macaluso, Ian James and James Gue leading the way with a time of 1.21.587. The Intersport Racing Lola-Judd of Clint Field and Robin Liddell was second at 1:22.085 with the Team Bucknum Racing Pilbeam MP91 third at 1:22.857. Corvette Racing was first and second in the GTS class, with the #4 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta first at 1:19.797. Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell were second in their Corvette at 1:20.122, followed by the ACEMCO Saleen S7R of Terry Borcheller and Johnn Mowlem at 1:20.522. The GT class was led by the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Johannes van Overbeek and Darren Law at 1:23.258, with the Alex Job Racing Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard second at 1:23.588. The J3 Racing Porsche of Tim Sugden and Justin Jackson was third at 1:24.161. Sunday's race starts at 1 p.m. (Eastern) and will be televised in North America by CBS Sports from 2-4 p.m. The race will be live in Europe on MotorsTV and the ALMS Radio Web will have live coverage online.

6/26/04

Foes turn out in force to oppose racetrack   This Marysville, Washington state newspaper article talks about the opposition that is mounting to block a NASCAR track from being built in Washington State.

6/26/04
German DTM

Jean Alesi takes pole  Norisring DTM qualifying (Saturday)
Pos Driver Car Time
1 Jean Alesi, Mercedes C-Class, 48.609s
2 Gary Paffett, Mercedes C-Class, 48.720s
3 Christijan Albers, Mercedes C-Class, 48.820s
4 Timo Scheider, Opel Vectra GTS, 48.855s
5 Bernd Schneider, Mercedes C-Class, 49.036s
6 Tom Kristensen, Audi A4, 49.060s
7 Stefan Mucke, Mercedes CLK, 49.107s
8 Christian Abt, Audi A4, 49.511s
9 Mattias Ekstrom, Audi A4, 49.524s
10 Markus Winkelhock, Mercedes CLK, 49.731s

6/26/04

What is Eddie Cheever smoking?   In his latest column on ESPN.com, IRL team owner and fulltime IRL shill Eddie Cheever waxes on about how NASCAR fans love the IRL.  How soon he forgets about all the NASCAR race tracks that have rejected the IRL.  The fans spoke with their wallets and rejected the IRL.  Race tracks that no longer host the IRL include Dover, Charlotte, New Hampshire, Atlanta, Nazareth (after 2004) and Las Vegas.  And let's not forget Fontana where just 10,000 show up, if that.  And we wonder why all those NASCAR fans are not tuning in to watch the IRL races on TV if they love the IRL so much? A 0.4 rating for the IRL's 2nd biggest race of the year (Texas) speaks volumes. We don't know what Eddie is smoking, but it certainly has destroyed his ability to distinguish between fact and fiction.

6/26/04

Gaughan and PR rep escape injury   Nextel Cup rookie Brendan Gaughan and his public relations representative, Terry Jarrell, escaped injury Thursday night in a head-on collision in San Francisco. After the wreck, the other driver attempted to drive away, striking other cars, Gaughan said. "He got blocked in, the police got him, no one got hurt and the good guys prevailed," he said. Gaughan was on his way to a media appearance. "We figure we got the crash out of the way," he said. "We can let that be the crash of the weekend and let Avis take care of that." ThatsRacin.com

6/25/04

What if they raced and no one showed up?   The image to the right depicts the massive crowd that showed up to watch the IRL practice and qualifying at Richmond today.  Of course we are being sarcastic, but why bother to waste all that money to run around a race track when the customers have zero interest in watching.  They might as well make their events 1-day affairs with practice, qualifying and the race all in the same day.

6/25/04

Dodge Magnum RT Featured as Chicagoland Speedway Pace Car  When the field for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series starts their engines for the July 11, 2004 Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, they will be led to the green flag by the 2005 Dodge Magnum RT - the Official Pace Car of Chicagoland Speedway. The 2005 Dodge Magnum, which debuted this spring, returns with HEMI® power and rear-wheel-drive. Magnum is the first rear-wheel drive car for the Dodge brand in nearly 20 years. The legendary engine that powered Dodge's muscle cars of the 1960’s has been re-engineered and reborn as a modern, high-performance, fuel-efficient and durable powerplant known as the all-new 5.7-liter HEMI V-8. The Chicagoland Dodge Dealers Association is the official vehicle partner of Chicagoland Speedway and is using the July 11, 2004 Tropicana 400 to showcase the return of the Dodge muscle car.

“Dodge has been a tremendous partner of Chicagoland Speedway and we are excited to have the new 2005 Magnum RT as the Official Pace Car for our July Tropicana NASCAR weekend,” said Matthew Alexander, vice president and general manager of Chicagoland Speedway. “As one of the premiere sporting facilities and events in the Chicago market we are an extremely valuable resource for companies looking to market new products. The new 2005 Dodge Magnum RT leading the NASCAR field to the green flag to start our races is a powerful way to reach the consumers.” The Dodge Magnum RT Pace Car will have 20" wheels and Competition Graphics. It is powered by the HEMI engine, which has 340 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque and can go from zero to 60 mph in just 6.3 seconds.

The HEMI-powered 2005 Dodge Magnum RT features an industry-first cylinder deactivation system which saves fuel while retaining HEMI power. The Chrysler Group Multiple Displacement System (MDS) seamlessly turns off the fuel consumption in four cylinders of the 5.7-liter HEMI engine when V-8 power is not needed. This provides a combination of world-class performance and fuel economy. Chrysler Group has developed and is the first to offer MDS on a modern, large-volume vehicle in North America. “We’re thrilled to see the all-new Dodge Magnum featured as the Pace Car at this year’s race. The timing is perfect since Magnum is just entering Dodge showrooms. It’s sure to grab a lot of attention,” said Bill Gustaveson, president of the Chicagoland Dodge Dealers Advertising Association.

6/25/04

Weaver smashes record in Mid-Ohio test  James Weaver unofficially smashed the existing American Le Mans Series track record as he led Friday's test session for Sunday's American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Weaver, driving the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-AER/MG that he will share with Butch Leitzinger, turned the 2.25-mile circuit in a time of 1:13.448, faster than the official ALMS track record of 1:14.169 set by Frank Biela the last time the series raced at Mid-Ohio in 2002. Drivers will try to officially break the record in qualifying that will be held Saturday. Only .199 second behind and also faster than the record was the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 of JJ Lehto and Marco Werner at 1:13.647, followed by the second Dyson entry of Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace at 1:14.686.  The Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C5-R of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta was the fastest car in the GTS class during the test session with a lap of 1:20.017, also faster than the existing track record of 1:21.401 set in 2001 by Terry Borcheller. The other Corvette of Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell was second in GTS at 1:21.232, followed by Borcheller and Johnny Mowlem in the ACEMCO Saleen S7R at 1:21.245.  The two-hour testing session ended 10 minutes early due to a crash between turns nine and 10 involving the GTS class Krohn-Barbour Racing Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT of Tracy Krohn and the GT class Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Lonnie Pechnik. Though neither driver was injured, the session was brought to a halt due to the time required to pick up the cars and the debris from the crash. The Flying Lizard car was damaged beyond repair and the team will replace it for this race with a 2003 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, while the Lamborghini team was still trying to effect repairs.  More....

6/25/04

Glen race on Speed Channel   SPEED Channel will broadcast the Grand-Am Cup Series The Glen 250 this Sunday, June 27 at 2 p.m. ET. The show will feature teams in the two classes going head-to-head at Watkins Glen International in a 250-mile race on the historic 3.4-mile track

6/25/04

First Richmond practice sees speed jump   All three engine manufacturers bettered the Richmond International Raceway unofficial track record after 30 minutes of practice June 25 for the SunTrust Indy Challenge.  Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Argent Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone, led the way with a fast lap of 15.8820 seconds (170.004 mph) on the 0.75-mile high-banked oval. Tony Kanaan, who won the Bombardier 500k two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway, was second (15.8882; 169.937) and Sam Hornish Jr. had a fast lap of 15.9380 seconds (169.406 mph) in a Toyota-powered Dallara. Helio Castroneves (15.9740; 169.025) and the Chevrolet-powered Dallara of Alex Barron (15.9887; 168.869) also were lower than the record.  Gil de Ferran holds the track record (16.0043 seconds; 168.705 mph) in qualifying in 2002. Rain has interrupted the practice session for the second group. MBNA Pole Qualifying is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. (EDT).

6/25/04

Is Penske up to no good?   A concerned reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I smell a rat.  I having a hunch that Roger Penske is making this big commotion about unification so that he creates uncertainty and delays in any Champ Car deals currently in the works, such that the other party says, we will wait until this whole unification thing runs its course.  Isn't it funny that all this unification talk came up just when Champ Car is trying to complete all the necessary deals for its 2005 schedule.  The people associated with the IRL are despicable.  I would not trust anything they do.  The best thing OWRS can do is come out in a very public way that there will be no unification and that they are moving forward with business as usual.  Forget unification.  Tony George and his IRL cronies started this war, and Champ Car fans are not going to be satisfied until the plague (the IRL) that has destroyed open wheel racing dies its inevitable slow and painful death.  Jonathan Andrews, Buffalo, NY

6/25/04

In race for fans, NASCAR buries IRL   As a result of Tony George's creation of the IRL, and the resulting destruction of open wheel racing in the USA, NASCAR is way out in front.  This Hampton Roads.com article says, Three days after Buddy Rice won the Indianapolis 500, he appeared on “Live with Regis and Kelly,” part of a media blitz to spotlight Rice as American open-wheel racing’s latest wunderkind.  There to greet him was the show’s guest host: Jeff Gordon.   The irony provided a glimpse of today’s American motorsports hierarchy. Which is to say, wherever open-wheel racing goes, NASCAR arrives one step ahead.

In the 10 years since American open-wheel racing split into dueling factions — the Indy Racing League and CART (now the Champ Car World Series) — NASCAR has crushed open-wheel in TV ratings, attendance and national recognition. Even this year’s Indy 500, the IRL’s touchstone race, had lower ratings than the same day’s NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 — for the third consecutive time.

While NASCAR has expanded onto the national sports scene over the past decade with its down-home drivers and weekly hero-villain story lines, the IRL has struggled for attention. Some fans were confused by the split with CART. Others found it hard to relate to the IRL’s cast of foreign drivers.   Can the IRL come back?   “We will have our turn,” said Helio Castroneves, a Brazilian who won the Indy 500 in 2001 and 2002. “America does have space for two kinds of series.”

“People who are NASCAR fans are NASCAR fans for a reason,” said Ken Ungar, IRL senior vice president of business affairs. “It’ll be a long day for us to try to convert.”   The numbers show they’re just too far behind.

The IRL’s TV ratings are consistently lower than even those of NASCAR’s second-tier Busch Grand National series. The first NASCAR Craftsman Truck series race of 2004 had a rating almost twice that of the first IRL race. Though Ungar said IRL attendance increased 11 percent last year, NASCAR’s Nextel Cup races still draw more fans than the IRL at six of the eight tracks where both series race . (Both series sell out Kansas Speedway, which makes fans buy a season ticket for all events if they want a NASCAR ticket.)

So why are fewer people watching? IRL drivers say open-wheel racing’s decline began in 1994, when Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George split from CART and formed the IRL.   “It’s been killing it from the day it started,” driver Scott Dixon said of the split.

Dixon, last year’s IRL points champion, said the most important thing that needs to happen is for the two sides to merge and get “one solid series that everybody can concentrate on.”   One of the reasons for the identity crisis the IRL is suffering is that its drivers don’t resemble the average fan.   Fourteen of the IRL’s 29 drivers are foreign, while all 45 Nextel Cup regulars are American.   The IRL’s most popular driver is Sarah Fisher, an American who rides only part-time this year.

“When you’re selling tickets or trying to get ratings, your whole life depends on the guy who lives on the south side of St. Louis who’s sitting there drinking a beer on a Sunday afternoon,” said Humpy Wheeler, president of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which runs six major racetracks. “He’s run a backhoe all week.   He wants people he can associate with. Guys that’ll get in the mud. Guys with big heads and big hands and big feet.”   Guys, Wheeler said, like A.J. Foyt, an open-wheel star in the 1960s and ’70s. NASCAR has built its empire on those home-grown drivers.

Four years ago, NASCAR found through a survey that avid fans felt emotionally attached to their favorite drivers, said Roger VanDerSnick, NASCAR’s director of brand marketing.

Jim Liberatore saw this loyalty first-hand before the 2002 Daytona 500. Liberatore is the president of Speed Channel, a motorsports-only cable channel that stopped airing IRL and CART races this year. He remembers strolling through an airport and seeing a man in a Dale Jarrett T-shirt walk up to a stranger in a Dale Earnhardt Jr. T-shirt and congratulate the man on Earnhardt’s latest win.

“They feel like if they saw this guy in a bar, they could chit-chat with him, have a beer and maybe invite him over to their house to hang out,” Liberatore said. “Can you imagine someone saying, 'Hey, Helio Castroneves, he’s my man!’ ”

Said NASCAR fan Bill Stokley of Virginia Beach: IRL drivers “all seem like they’re kinda prima donnas.” Open-wheel racing has also seen its share of potential future stars opt for NASCAR over IRL or CART. Promising sprint-car drivers like Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne could have chosen open-wheel racing as their careers began to blossom but instead went to stock cars. Tony Stewart won an IRL points championship before jumping to NASCAR.   No wonder, then, that Americans rushed to watch their boys in NASCAR, honorable men who, as fans came to see it, also happened to drive race cars.

The IRL has struggled in NASCAR’s core area, failing with races in Atlanta and Charlotte. Richmond and Nashville remain its Southern stops . The Richmond race drew 40,000 fans to the 107,097-seat raceway in 2001, its first year; 35,000 its second year and 40,000 last year.

“We’d like to think we can get to 107,000 and sell out,” said Doug Fritz, president of RIR. “Not this year or next year, but maybe in the future.”

But, as 2003 Indy 500 champion Gil de Ferran said, “I don’t think there’s a magic wand you can wave and — boom! — half of the U.S. is watching Indy-car racing.”

“They’re way too careful,” said Cheever, who now owns Red Bull Cheever Racing. “They’re afraid of what their mommies are gonna say when they watch them on television.  There’s just a little bit too much, 'Yes, I had a very nice race’ when they should say, 'Yeah, I grabbed that guy around the neck and went after him!’ ”   Ratings are down for three of this year’s first four IRL races.

6/25/04

Waltrip announces "Racing Experience" attraction  "I can't run you into a wall at 180 miles an hour, but I can run you right up to it. I can make you think you're going to hit it." That's NASCAR racing legend Darrell Waltrip's description of the sensation he wants to deliver at Darrell Waltrip's Racing Experience, a $5 million attraction announced for the Belle Island Village development in Pigeon Forge. The three-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion and current FOX Sports analyst is behind the wheel of the multi-sensory attraction targeted to open next spring. It will be the neighbor to another major attraction opening at the same time, the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Motion Picture Museum.

The Darrell Waltrip Racing Experience will feature an interactive theatre, competition radio-controlled cars, pit crew area and an arcade--in addition to Waltrip's almost-crashing-into-a-wall racecar simulator. Numerous stock cars, including some of Waltrip's winning rides, will be displayed. Also in the plan are a restaurant, retail space and a broadcast booth where fans can call a race. "You think that's easy?" Waltrip quipped about the challenge of broadcasting a race. Waltrip, NASCAR's "Driver of the Decade" for the 1980s, said he wants his attraction to produce an "at-the-track experience." In addition to permanent interactive attractions and rotating displays, Waltrip said he will invite various drivers and other racing figures to make appearances.

6/25/04



Cancun F1 complex to include ovals  2nd UPDATE We have a bit more information for you on this project.  The governor said that for the moment he couldn't name names but assured everyone that no government money would be used, and that a group of Mexican and international investors will put all the money up. Again, the government participation will be only the land. What has us baffled at the moment is who or what series will use the ovals? We remember that the governor said a few months ago that Cancun was interested in F1 not IRL. He said they need an event capable of getting 80% or more of the attendees to come from outside the state (Quintana Roo doesn't have a lot of citizens, and many are poor), and he doubted IRL was capable of doing that. One has to question whether NASCAR could either.  They are shooting for the first race in 2006. 6/25/04 - Hermann Tilke (race track designer) has been contacted by the Quintana Roo government. They are planning to do a project that will cost $150 million. The land chosen for the project belongs to the state government and until recently it was a quarry. The $150 million will come from private funds. The government will only donate the land, but no money. The idea is to have a complex with the capacity to have 3 different types of tracks depending on the event, including 2 different type of ovals, but the F1 circuit will be the principal track. The complex will also have tennis courts, basketball courts, swimming pools, and a gym. There will also be a shopping center and a theater. This info comes from Joaquin Hendricks governor of Quintana Roo.  It will remain to be seen who races on the ovals, but NASCAR and the IRL immediately come to mind. Gerald Forsythe says he is working on a third Champ Car race in Mexico - one choice being Cancún.  For more on that, see Rumors page.  We suspect Forsythe will work to keep the IRL out of Mexico, or at least any of its major markets.  6/25/04 - Wednesday the project for a Cancún, Mexico race track was announced. They are planning on a track with 3 different configurations - a grand prix circuit, a short oval and a superspeedway.  We will have more details as we get them.  José de Jesús Arrambide reporting from Mexico

6/25/04

Champ Car hands out Portland penalties   The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford announced fines and penalties today resulting from actions by drivers both during and after last week’s Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland. Bruno Junqueira and Paul Tracy were each fined $10,000 for violation of Champ Car rule 2.8.8 which concerns criticism of officials and personal demeanor. Both drivers will also have 10 championship points held in abeyance for the remainder of the 2004 season pending no further related infractions. Tracy was also fined $5,000 for violation of Champ Car rule 2.8.4 concerning objectionable gestures. Alex Tagliani was penalized two (2) championship points effective immediately for the violation of Champ Car rule 2.8.5 concerning the failure to follow the instructions of race officials. The deduction drops Tagliani’s season total from 63 to 61 points and leaves him in eighth place in the standings.

6/25/04

Champ Car trio to visit Goodwood  The past, present and future of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will find themselves totally immersed in the long and fabled history of auto racing this weekend at the historic Goodwood Festival of Speed.  Former Champ Car and Formula 1 series champion, and 2003 Champ Car team owner, Emerson Fittipaldi, Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven and former Formula 1 driver and current Champ Car World Series rookie points leader Justin Wilson will attend the prestigious gathering of legendary race cars and drivers as they journey to England for the Goodwood Festival on June 26.

The trio of Champ Car figures will be attending the Festival and speaking with the press concerning the recent transformation of the series into its present form with the new ownership of Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi. Fittipaldi will relive tales of his days as a championship driver as well as some of his goals for the future surrounding the Champ Car series while Kalkhoven will discuss his visions for North America’s most-challenging open-wheel racing series.

Fittipaldi is a man that needs no introduction to Goodwood attendees. The Brazilian was the youngest F1 champion in history when he scored his first title in 1972 with Colin Chapman’s Lotus team, then finished as the series runner-up in ’73 before moving to McLaren where he won the 1975 championship. Retired from driving in 1982 only to resurface in North America where he joined the Champ Car World Series. Fittipaldi would go on to win 22 races and 17 poles in his Champ Car career, capping that with the 1989 series championship. Joined the series as a team owner last year, when he campaigned a car co-owned by Jamie Dingman.

Kevin Kalkhoven amassed a fortune in the venture capital world, primarily through his deft leadership of Uniphase Corporation, which later merged with JDS FITEL to become JDS Uniphase. The Australian-born executive has been named as one of the top 50 CEO’s in the nation and joined the Champ Car World Series in 2003 as the co-owner of PK Racing (later PKV Racing). He then joined with Forsythe and Gentilozzi to purchase the assets of Champ Car, saving the series from bankruptcy and preserving it as the top level of open-wheel racing in the United States.

Justin Wilson joins the Champ Car World Series for 2004 after a year of Formula 1 competition with Jaguar and Minardi. Wilson set records that still stand in winning the competitive FIA International FIA Championship in 2001 including most points scored and most podium finishes. One of the top young stars in the world of racing, Wilson has had success in his first four races with Champ Car, scoring top-six finishes in three of his four starts.

6/25/04

Zsolt ready to bolt  Zsolt Baumgartner has set his sights on a new team in 2005. The Hungarian is so determined to work his way up the F1 grid that he already has his manager Tamas Frank talking with other teams about the possibility of a drive in 2005. "We'd definitely like to keep him in F1 next season," said Frank, who is keen for Baumgartner to "test for another team" in the near future. The Hungarian's manager also claimed that discussions were already taking place but that "everything tends to be decided at the last minute. We of course hope he can progress to a higher-level team (next season)."

6/25/04

Busch Series fires worry officials  NASCAR officials are looking into why fire-extinguishing devices mounted near the fuel cells failed to deploy in a pair of fiery crashes during Saturday night's Busch Series race at Kentucky Speedway.  Cars driven by Blake Feese and Buckshot Jones erupted into flames after making hard contact with the outside wall in separate accidents and in both cases the flames were not extinguished until the track's safety workers arrived on the scene.  Both drivers escaped their cars without suffering any serious injuries, although Jones received treatment at the track for smoke inhalation.  Last August, NASCAR mandated that all cars and trucks in its three top series install a heat-activated fire-extinguishing device designed to contain fires in the fuel-cell area. The action was taken after Cup drivers Ken Schrader, Ryan Newman, Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte were involved in separate fiery crashes early last season.  NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said that the device should have deployed in both accidents Saturday night and that technicians at NASCAR's Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., would investigate.  "We brought some components back from those fuel cells," Zizzo said. "We've already seen that both fuel cells have maintained their integrity, so we're looking at some of the (other) components involved."  The incidents during the Busch race at Kentucky were the first apparent failures of the fire-extinguishing device in any of the three series since NASCAR mandated their use.  Las Vegas Sun

6/25/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

Gene likely as Magny-Cours sub - tests
Briatore and Toyota - rumor
'Freak' injury puts Klien in doubt
Was Stewards' tardiness 'deliberate'? - report
Silverstone 'support' for London's F1 parade
'BAR have impressed me' - Montoya
F1 'needs' cash-strapped minnows - Todt
FIA needs a 'new president' - Jacques Regis
BAR touched-down in China
Juan's black flag was 'strange' - Button
Why wasn't Schumacher penalized ... ? 

6/25/04

Canada Cup announced  North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship officials announced the “Canada Cup Championship Challenge” today, which will be a ‘Championship within a Championship’ for the series as it powers through three consecutive rounds of racing North of the border. The Canada Cup will be comprised of the two Molson Indy events in conjunction with Champ Car, first in Toronto on July 9-11, and then onto Vancouver on the weekend of July 23-25, and will hold the final round at the Three Rivers event on the weekend of July 30-August 1st.  The Formula Renault 2000 Championship has a prize fund worth $315,000 in total, and the Canada Cup will feature an additional prize fund of $35,000 for the three events, with the top five finishers in the Canada Cup points race taking home the cash. The points will be awarded as per the FR2000 Championship finishing positions, and the Canada Cup will be open to all Formula Renault 2000 cars, including those that have the 2004 ‘update’ kit.

6/24/04

Mosley prepared to force through F1 changes  FIA president Max Mosley is prepared to give Formula One teams two months to agree to their own set of cost-cutting proposals otherwise he is prepared to force through the necessary changes in time for 2005.  Mosley says he is prepared to invoke Article 7.5 of the Concorde Agreement which gives him the right to make any changes to the sport on the grounds of safety. The article was added to the sporting code following the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994.  "I expect dissent," he tells the Daily Telegraph. "Article 7.5 is a way of applying pressure. If the teams can't come up with the required changes, we will." 

"Formula One's technical working group has been saying for more than two years that engine power needs to be reduced. We have seen with (Felipe) Massa and Ralf Schumacher that speeds in F1 are dangerously fast. We have to act now."  BMW is the only one of the manufacturers to reject changes to the engine formula, from 3.0 liter V10 to 2.4 liter V8. Company officials admit if the changes are approved, they will have to re-examine their role within Formula One. Mercedes and Ferrari are also said to be reluctant to reduce the size of the powerplant.

Mosley says the new regulations will cut horsepower from 900-plus to around 700. In 1994, when engines went from 3.5 liter to the current 3.0 liter format, the horsepower output was approximately 650.

"No one benefits by all this money spent on engine development," Mosley said. "It is the domain of a tiny priesthood of experts. They spend billions on researching and testing ultra-expensive components that no one sees and of which the public are completely unaware.

"People have no idea that someone has managed at huge expense to reduce the weight of a piston by three grams, made a hollow connecting rod of some ultra-sophisticated alloy or devised an extremely ingenious moveable inlet system. What is more, they do not care."

6/24/04

ALMS to hit the streets of Manhattan American Le Mans Series race cars will hit the streets of New York City on Wednesday, June 30, as the inaugural American Le Mans Series "Festival of Speed" takes place at the World Financial Center-Winter Garden in lower Manhattan. ALMS racing teams and drivers will be in the New York area in advance of the July 2-5 New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in nearby Lakeville, Conn.

6/24/04

Sharing Justin Wilson   This Pitpass story on Justin Wilson talks about his career and the struggles he has had to endure to get where he is today.   He's on his way to becoming Champ Car rookie of the year.  Keep your eye on this lad, he looks to have a bright future ahead of him.

6/24/04
Industry News

SAFER Barrier goes up at Chicagoland  The SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) wall technology is currently being installed at Chicagoland Speedway by Jack K. Elrod Co., Inc. and will be completed in time for the July 9-11 NASCAR weekend. "The safety of our guests, as well as competitors at Chicagoland Speedway, is extremely important to us and we are proud to able be to enhance our safety measures with the SAFER wall technology," said Matthew Alexander, vice president and general manager of Chicagoland Speedway. "The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Indy Racing League and NASCAR have done a tremendous job developing the SAFER wall technology." The SAFER Barrier, which consists of rectangular tubing backed by foam blocks that is installed in front of the track's traditional cement walls, is designed to reduce forces incurred by a car in an accident and increase driver safety. It was developed at the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and was first installed in May 2002 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The SAFER Barrier was created in collaboration between the Indy Racing League and UN-L that began in 1998. NASCAR joined the effort in September 2000. The SAFER Barrier at Chicagoland Speedway will run continuously for 2,289 feet from the entrance to Turn 1 through the exit of Turn 2 and 2,289 feet from the entrance to Turn 3 through the exit of turn 4. Additional SAFER Barrier with a length of nearly 1,169 feet will run along the front stretch tri-oval wall.

6/24/04

New Champ Car team to debut at Road America   2nd UPDATE It looks like Condor Motorsports, driver Marc Hynes and Autoracing1.com may have been a victim of a scam artist using a name Josh Wallace.  He had us all believing that he had the financial backing for a Champ Car team. However, when we tried to reach him via telephone again tonight his number was no longer in service.  The red flags should have gone up when we could not find any information on the Payton Tapp Watkins guy.  You should know that we spoke to Wallace, Carlos Bobeda (owner of Condor Motorsports) and Marc Hynes about this deal yesterday, and this Wallace character made it sound pretty real.  In fact other journalists were contacted by the Watkins character as well yesterday.  Perhaps the telephone being out of service was just a coincidence, but at this point we have grave doubts that there is anything to this deal, even though Wallace offered to send Carlos money to get started and Carlos told him to wait because he was not ready. If so, it's too bad for Marc Hynes and for Carlos, who both had their hopes up that this deal was real. And if it was a scam, we apologize to our readers.  At no time did we intend to mislead you.  Hopefully we will be proven wrong and Wallace will come through with his deal.   6/23/04 - We finally tracked down the team owner for Condor Motorsports, Argentinean Carlos Bobeda, who said, "yes, it is true that we are moving up to Champ Car.  We have wanted to do it for awhile and when the opportunity presented itself, we jumped on it.  It was all very hush-hush, I am surprised you found out about it.  We have a few things to still iron out and then we will make the big announcement."  When asked about test dates he said, "that is one of the items still to be ironed out."     6/23/04 - Autoracing1.com has learned that a deal has been signed and Toyota Atlantic Team Condor Motorsports will be moving up to Champ Car with a 2-car team starting at Road America.  The drivers are African American Payton Tapp Watkins (raced largely in F3 in Australia and South America) and 26-year old British  driver Marc Hynes (1999 British F3 champion).  The deal was signed for two years with a 3rd option year.  The Bloomington, CA based team is backed by some big name celebrities and sponsors that will be revealed with the official announcement from the team.  2004 will be a learning year so the team will run Reynards, moving to Lolas starting in 2005.  Watkins recently signed a personal sponsorship deal with American Express and a commercial with Tiger Woods will begin airing soon.  Both drivers bring a lot to the Champ Car Series.  Watkins is the first African American to race in Champ Cars since Willy T Ribbs, and Marc Hynes is one of the biggest young talents in Europe.  Walker Racing and Dale Coyne were approached to run these drivers, but the sponsors wanted to keep them together and neither could accommodate both drivers this year.  Hence it was decided to build a new Champ Car team going forward and starting with Condor Motorsports, who already has the facilities, made a lot of sense.  AutoRacing1.com will feature an interview with both drivers in the coming days.  Since Watkins is a big unknown in the USA, it will be interesting to find out his background. The team plans on one or two tests before Road America. Mark C.

6/24/04

Nextel launches exclusive NASCAR wireless service  Nextel Communications Inc., the title sponsor of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series™, announced today the launch of Nextel FanScan In-Car Audio – an exclusive, first-of-its-kind wireless service that allows NASCAR fans to listen on any Nextel® phone to live radio communications between drivers and their teams during races. Now when fans are not at the track on race day and from anywhere on Nextel’s all-digital network, fans can access thrilling firsthand accounts from drivers, crew chiefs, owners, spotters and other team members. Fans can hear how cars are handling, pit stop strategies, track conditions and celebratory banter throughout the race to the checkered flag. Nextel FanScan In-Car Audio is powered by SportsCom and XSVoice.

Fans will still use traditional short-range “scanners” exclusively at the track, but when they can’t attend a race, FanScan provides them with a service that is similar in quality to a scanner but with a reach of thousands of miles instead of hundreds of feet. FanScan is the perfect complement to tuning into NASCAR TV and radio coverage, providing a more in-depth and interactive experience. No other sport allows fans to hear the inside strategy of teams like FanScan offers. For example, pitching or sideline coaches never share their discussions during games.

FanScan subscribers can choose to hear audio from nine featured driver teams for every race. These nine featured teams may vary from week to week. For example, for this weekend’s race in Sonoma, these driver teams will be featured:
#2 Rusty Wallace
#6 Mark Martin
#8 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
#12 Ryan Newman
#15 Michael Waltrip
#24 Jeff Gordon
#29 Kevin Harvick
#48 Jimmie Johnson
#88 Dale Jarrett

From the nine featured teams, FanScan subscribers can change which one to hear throughout the race. They can also choose the “All-Scan” option, which automatically scans conversations from the nine featured teams – plus an additional 15 other top-driver teams. Listeners will hear the car number of the team communication prior to listening to their actual correspondence.

Nextel customers can sign up for FanScan via their computer at www.nextel.com/fanscan or via their phone on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series™ section of Nextel Online®. They can subscribe for a promotional price of $4.99 for a race and $9.99 for all the races in a month.* The FanScan service is accessed solely as a phone call. Nextel Online service is not required to subscribe or access the FanScan service.

NASCAR fans can choose from a variety of motor-sport-themed products, wireless services and applications from Nextel including:

  • NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series i736 mobile phones, which feature the number, signature and unique design and colors of ten different drivers, including Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.;

  • NASCAR.COM Mobile, a wireless website with NASCAR.COM news and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series content;

  • NASCAR.COM Alerts, which automatically sends text messages with breaking NASCAR news;

  • NASCAR.COM To Go, a JAVA™ application which provides NASCAR news, driver information, qualifying and race results and a live leader board;

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6/24/04

Michigan TV ratings plunge  UPDATE  The final TV rating for the Michigan race last Sunday was a 4.5/13 Share, up from the overnight of 4.0, however, it was down 17% from last year's final rating of 5.4/16 Share.  We have seen a pretty consistent trend of downward ratings for NASCAR this year indicating the series appears to have reached its peak and will have to branch outside the USA to pick up many new customers.  6/22/04 - Fox's broadcast of Sunday's DHL 400 Nextel Cup race from Michigan International Speedway drew an overnight rating of 4.0 and a 10 share from Nielsen Media Research, Monday's Sports Business Daily reports. The rating represents a drop of 11.1 percent from the 2003 race, which drew a 4.5/11 overnight and a final 5.4/16. This year's race trailed both the third and fourth rounds of the U.S. Open golf championship on NBC in the ratings from the nation's largest television markets. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter  Fox's broadcast of last Sunday's Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway earned a 5.2 national rating and a 14 share from Nielsen Media Research, down 1.9 percent from last year's 5.3/14. Sports Business Daily figures show Fox averaging a 5.8/14 through 11 races, down 1.7 percent from the 11 comparable races in 2003. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter.  And the MBNA America 400 at Dover on FX earned a 3.4 cable rating, down 6% from the comparable race in '03. This year's race drew 3,681,000 HHs, off 3% from 3,807,000 HHs   Has NASCAR peaked?

6/24/04

IOC confirms rumors of Payne to F1  The IOC today announced that Dir of Global Broadcast & Media Rights Michael Payne will step down from his post on August 31, following the conclusion of the Athens Olympics. Payne will join F1 as a special advisor to F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone.

6/24/04
Industry News

GM to move Asian headquarters to Shanghai  General Motors Corp. said today it will move its Asia-Pacific head office to Shanghai to be closer to the world's fastest growing car market and build a $250 million testing ground in the city. The world's largest carmaker, which two weeks ago unveiled a plan to invest $3 billion in China, will shift its main office from Singapore, Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner told a press briefing in Shanghai. The facility for testing safety and road handling will be the company's largest, outside Michigan. "Establishing our regional headquarters in Shanghai recognizes how important China has become to our plans," Wagoner said. "Having a strong presence in this dynamic and growing market is not an option anymore; it's a necessity." GM, Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp. have announced plans in the past eight months to invest about $10 billion in China, the world's fastest-growing automotive market. GM's first- quarter profit in the Asia-Pacific region almost quadrupled to $275 million, contributing 21 percent of its total global income.  Bloomberg

6/24/04

New Penske shop    Penske Racing South said Tuesday it will remain in Mooresville, moving its three NASCAR teams to the vacant Matsushita Compressor Corp. of America building in the Mooresville Business Park. "I absolutely did not want to leave Mooresville," said Don Miller, president of Penske Racing. The team is currently located in Lakeside Park at Exit 36, and is one of the original racing tenants there. The decision to stay in Mooresville came in the face of pressure from nearby cities to relocate Penske's operations. Concord, which recently lured Chip Ganassi Racing from Mooresville, lobbied especially hard, Miller said. Penske has already placed a down payment on the Matsushita facility, and is awaiting final approval from banks and the Environmental Protection Agency to renovate and move in. In buying the 400,000-square-foot building, nearly as large as eight football fields, Penske is taking over a facility that has been vacant since 2001. "We're excited that it's not a vacant building (any longer)," said Melanie O'Connell Underwood, director of economic development for the Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce, and manager of the Mooresville Business Park. "(Penske Racing) is one of the first race shops in town, so they have career employees," Underwood said, commenting on the difficulty of relocation for employees. "That (Penske is) staying shows their belief in their employees, and Don Miller's belief that he wanted to be near the sport that he grew." Penske Racing South, which fields teams for drivers #2-Rusty Wallace, #12-Ryan Newman and rookie #77-Brendan Gaughan, has been in Mooresville since 1991. About 200 employees will work at the new facility. Penske Racing South plans to continue operations at the Auto Research Center wind tunnel facility at Lakeside Park, and at Penske-Jasper Engines in Concord. As for making changes to the Matsushita building, Miller said it would be the "finest facility in racing." He added that a 300-foot walk would be built above the shop area so fans can see the operations in action. Those operations will comprise about 227,000 square feet, he said. The rest will be leased, perhaps to another race-related business. Mooresville Tribune

6/24/04

Pit rule amended    NASCAR amended a pit-road rule. Pit road will open the second time the leader reaches the pit entrance while behind the pace car. The rule debuted at Pocono but didn't specify if the leader had to be behind the pace car. A NASCAR official signaled that pit road was open a lap early at Pocono, leading series officials to later apologize for the mistake.  Roanoke Times

6/24/04

Paul Menard gets Busch ride with DEI    Dale Earnhardt Inc. will field a second Busch series car for Paul Menard beginning July 24 in Loudon, N.H. Menard will drive a DEI Chevrolet for the last 15 races of the Busch season and will run the full schedule in 2005, DEI said Wednesday. The new team will be sponsored by Menards Super Home Centers, the company owned by John Menard, Paul's father and a longtime team owner in the Indy Racing League.

6/24/04

Injury halts Klien's testing  Jaguar Racing driver Christian Klien has had to cancel his F1 testing duties at Barcelona after seriously injuring his finger in a freak accident. The Austrian driver got his finger caught in a fan while trying to cool himself down in the pits and sliced the top of his finger which left a deep gash.  Autosport.com

6/24/04

Regis attacks Mosley  Jacques Regis, the President of the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile and an FIA Vice-President, has launched an stinging attack on the way in which Max Mosley runs the international automobile federation. In an interview with the French magazine Autohedbo, Regis says - "Mosley does not consult me and I have the impression that I am not alone in this respect," he says. "He lives in his glass bubble and makes decisions by himself and with his staff, they are certainly of a high level but they ignore all those on the ground. A federation is an association of clubs and this federation must defend the interests of those clubs. Today we are faced with a federation which imposes its decisions on the clubs and defends its own interests. That is the root of the problem. Its international policies are decided without the clubs. For me the FIA should represent the national clubs and its role must be to develop the sport in these countries and not simply concentrate its energies on the international circuses which features 20 F1 cars and 10 rally cars."

"I am not alone in thinking this, but perhaps I am the only one who is saying anything. One day the people will have a voice. It is too early to talk of an opposition, or of different factions. The FFSA is not satisified by the way in which world motor sport is run and it is not alone in that. Max Mosley needs to change his policies. If not we will change the president."

"He completely forgets the problems faced by the race organizers," Regis argues. "No-one talks about that. When one sees the way in which the F1 teams are run, certain factories and the staff, it makes me laugh when I hear about the worries about. Are they making any savings? Do they even want to do that? Private jets and gigantic yachts are not just the toys of the drivers but also of the team bosses and even the technical directors. The principal objective should not be cost-cutting but rather creating a better show for those who pay, because if tomorrow we have races without spectators there won't be any race organizers left."

6/24/04

Superbikes to support Champ Cars in Montreal   This year’s Champ Car event at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal will include a round of the Canadian national Superbike series. The Aug. 29 race will mark the first time Champ Car has been supported by a motorcycle race, and the first time in 17 years bikes have raced on that track. Race promoters say ticket sales are ahead of last year’s race, reported by organizers at 150,000 for the weekend.  Autoweek

6/24/04

Montreal honors Champ Car legends   The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will make its third visit to Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on August 29 for the Molson Indy Montreal, for a race that has quickly joined similar events in Toronto and Vancouver as being one of the most successful stops on the Champ Car schedule. This year as the cars and stars of the Champ Car World Series flash by packed grandstands at top speed, they will do so with the knowledge that the people in those grandstands are not only there to see the current generation do battle, they are there honoring past legends as well. The Molson Indy Montreal organizers announced that they would rename seven of the grandstands around the 2.709-mile road course to honor some of the great personalities of the series. The VIP grandstand has fittingly been named the Villeneuve Grandstand, honoring the 1995 series champion Jacques Villeneuve. Jacques is the son of the late Formula 1 hero Gilles Villeneuve, for whom the track is named. Two-time series champion Alex Zanardi, Michael and Mario Andretti, long-time racer, legendary actor and current team owner Paul Newman, 1989 series champ Emerson Fittipaldi and 1999 title winner Juan Montoya are also being recognized with grandstands named in their honor. In addition, Canadian racing hero Greg Moore, who lost his life in a crash at California Speedway in 1999, will also be honored with a special grandstand. Tickets for the Greg Moore Grandstand are priced at $99, in memorial to his car number, which is the only number to be officially retired by Champ Car. A portion of the sales from these tickets will be donated to the Greg Moore Foundation. The Molson Indy Montreal has also devised a plan to help cultivate the next generation of Champ Car fans, allowing general admission ticket holders to bring two children, 13 years or younger, to the event at no charge. Tickets are now available by calling (514) 397- INDY (4639) or via the web site www.molsonindy.com

6/24/04

No Crapwagons please!  A reader writes, You know, I'm all for unification and stuff. I think it is best for open-wheel racing. But I STRONGLY dislike the IRL's formula (no Crapwagons please). Going from a possible F1-like V10 engine to an IRL engine (gee, sounds like a couple of years ago) or a Champ Car V8 to the IRL engine is just plain insulting. I'm already biting my lips every time I see the current generation 750-hp Champ Car struggle down the straights. I only keep telling myself "just another year or two." Now, I have accepted the 750hp engine only because I know a much lighter chassis is in the mix (thank God!). I remember the days of 900hp Champ Cars in 1999 and 2000 when F1 arrived at Indy for the US GP only to find they did NOT have the highest hp engines. Now, through unification, we get an even slower car and engine?!!! I'm all about unification, but this sounds more like a joke than anything. I sure hope they don't give the Atlantics anymore hp if that is the case, they will be faster than the unification cars! Also, 10 ovals?! Why? Where is the support for that? Maybe Indy, Texas, and Nashville or Kentucky, but that is it. Derek Hughes, Florida  Dear Derek, Open wheel racing in the USA has been set back 40 years by the split initiated by Tony George.  NASCAR now has a 5 lap lead and there is just one lap left in the race.  Open Wheel Racing may never recovery to the status it enjoyed under CART pre-1996, at least not for many years.  There is no magic wand that anyone is going to wave that will overnight fix what Tony George has destroyed.  OWRS is on the right track with its future plans.  A new exciting formula (yes, Indy Car Racing needs a major refresh) that will excite people.  It doesn't have to cost a lot of money, it just needs to be high-tech using standardized pieces so competition doesn't run costs through the roof.  Champ Car also has some new venues coming onboard  that are exciting.  Most of them are overseas.  Since NASCAR has monopolized the USA market, the only new markets for open wheel racing right now are outside the USA borders.  Since F1 can't satisfy the world needs, that is an area that Champ Car should continue to focus on.  Then, when the world begins to take notice and the series starts to get more attention in the USA, they can pick and choose which USA markets to add.  In other words, what is unification really going to do for the sport?  If OWRS stays the course, the future is theirs.  The IRL will either stay in business in the USA and continue to be a mere shadow to NASCAR, or they will whither and die away.  If they want to unify, they need to keep two divisions with the existing Champ Car teams in the International Division and the existing IRL teams in the National Division with some sort of playoff system to determine an overall champion.  Both divisions would get lighter cars with paddle shifters and a new V10 engine in 2006.  The engines should be exciting V10 engines that scream, with a spec engine badged by multiple companies (equal HP, low cost for everyone).  Whichever companies want to play in this new "smart" way to go racing can, those who don't can piss away millions of dollars trying to pound each other into the ground in, say, F1.  The story of Jaguar getting out of F1 should send a message to all those manufacturers that think head-to-head R&D, with never ending runaway HP competition is good for racing. Our proposed scenario gives the sport the best chance to succeed.  With two divisions working together as one, they keep their toes in the USA market while capitalizing on the opportunities abroad.  Mark C.

6/24/04

Bill France spotted   Bill France Jr. is in the Bahamas this week and his boat is berthed at the Atlantis. He is on board with friends. His power generator says NASCAR - Turn LEFT and his boat name is High Banx. Mark C.

6/24/04

Lamborghini at Mid-Ohio A legend in world sports car racing is returning to the American Le Mans Series this weekend after a two-year absence, and he's bringing a legendary sports car marque with him. Dick Barbour, one of the sport's winningest drivers and team owners, is returning to competition as manager of Krohn-Barbour Racing, a new team that's going to give US race fans their first sight of the glamorous Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT.

Barbour established Krohn-Barbour Racing earlier this year with Texan businessman Tracy Krohn. The team will run two Lamborghinis in all eight remaining rounds of the nine-race ALMS, starting at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on June 25-27. One Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT will be driven by Australian David Brabham and Dutchman Peter Kox, the other by Krohn and Canadian Scott Maxwell.

The Lamborghini race cars are entered in the GTS (Grand Touring Sport) class for cars that are production-based but highly modified. Because these 200mph racers are readily identifiable with their road going counterparts, they're a favorite with the crowds. Competition in the GTS class comes from a broad mix of exotic machinery, including the Chevrolet Corvette, Ferrari 550 Maranello, Saleen S7R and Dodge Viper.

6/24/04
Industry News

Tobacco money out of racing soon The last few days have seen a rush of 14 countries signing up with the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, bringing the total of signatories to 138 out of around 200 countries in the world. Further signatories are expected this week before the treaty closes for signature on June 29. After that date countries can still become parties to the agreement but it becomes more complicated. It is also worth noting that 21 countries have now ratified the agreement which means that the WHO is halfway to getting the treaty enforced. The convention will become international law on the 90th day after the 40th county ratifies the treaty although each country committed to the convention will then have to introduce its own tobacco legislation.  The only major countries (in terms of population) not to have signed the deal are Nigeria, Indonesia and Russia and they may sign the agreement in the course of the next few days.  Grandprix.com

6/24/04

Frustrated over all the CART/IRL unification talk  After reading all of the recent snippets about the possible attempts at unification, and Roger and the others trying to remove the egg from their faces, I'm trying to understand why OWRS/Champ Car would even consider going through with it.

Okay so are you kidding me? A unified series with Ten Ovals and Ten Road Courses? Hey Mr. Penske here's a news flash- Nobody cares about open wheel cars racing on ovals anymore. Can't you guy's see that? The drivers certainly don't like it! I know you and many others have invested a lot of cash in your oval tracks but leave them for the NASCAR guys! The sport of open wheel racing in North America has evolved in the last ten years! It's called Road and Street Course racing. Just like they do everywhere else in the world.

So with that being said why would the guys at OWRS/ Champ Car want to even consider it? Obviously the IRL has manufacturer's support, but both Honda and Toyota seemed destined to go to NASCAR. I'm sure that the management at OWRS/ Champ Car are currently talking to manufacturers who want to be in Champ Car in 2006 and beyond. OK so the IRL has a TV package w/ABC and ESPN. A decent TV package is something that Champ Car can certainly obtain next season (a must). Due to the court debacle, thanks again to Mr. George, I think OWRS took what they could get just to get their product on television this season. OK so what about the cars? The IRL cars are dangerous and without a doubt some of the ugliest pieces of machinery on the planet, not to mention they sound horrible. I think the Abrams M1 tank is sexier! Champ Cars are a hell of a lot more exciting to watch. Let's just hope all the rumors are true about the future Champ car-an F1 type chassis with a V10 motor package. What about the venues? The only race on the IRL calendar that even has any significance is Indy. The other IRL races are pathetic and have no market value. I'm sorry but unifying open wheel racing isn't going to draw a huge crowd to tracks like Nashville or Kentucky Speedway! Nobody wants to see it! Especially when the current IRL crowd is made up of "Freebie Ticket" giveaways!

It certainly appears that the IRL and those involved are finally realizing they are losing the war and are in worse shape than they could've imagined. But hey- they only have themselves to blame. They remind me of a bunch of old codgers in their own little country club who are stuck in the past, with no real care or concept of what the future holds! And even after all the spin they created in the media including making a large deposit on the doorstep at Haymarket Publishing for their mags such as Autosport and Racer, not to mention their Indycar rag, all the IRL hype can't turn or sway the public's opinion.

So here's what I'd like to see happen. The only unification I would even consider would be sticking with the Champ Car game plan for 2005 and beyond (chassis, tires, & venues) and add the Indy 500 into the mix. Have it be one week instead of the whole month of May, and have it be the only current IRL oval on the circuit. If they don't like it, well- move on! Champ Car doesn't need them- just a better TV package and some factory support!!! Champ Car is Alive and Kicking- the IRL is only dying a slow death!

It baffles me with all the doom and gloom they were spreading in the media just a couple weeks ago, they now want to unify open wheel racing. What happened? What about your vision guys? What a bunch of Hypocrites! Hey Michael Andretti- do you still like the direction Tony is taking you now? The recent Champ Car races at Long Beach, Monterrey, Milwaukee, and Portland must have been a nice wake-up call to reality! I can't wait to see their reaction after Cleveland and the Canadian races.

I hope OWRS/Champ Car stays the course and doesn't buy into their schemes. How many times has there been talk of a reunification only to have Tony George and the IRL make the guys at CART look like a bunch of fools? Too many to count! Champ Car racing can survive and grow even stronger without the Indy 500 and the hypocrisy of the IRL.  I appreciate you letting me vent my frustration. Thanks again for your "No Spin" racing coverage. Keep up the great work.   T. Rose, Orange County, CA.

6/24/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

F1's 'American problem' is simple
Jaguar to cease 'Leaping' in F1
FIA backs Indy officials amid criticism
Johansson looks at privateer 'F1 effort'
Mosley speeds-up F1 revolution to '05
'I want to test with another team' - Baumgartner
Gene waits for Williams' phone call
'B spec' McLaren on-form at Jerez - tests
Ecclestone has new 'right hand man'
Panis 'shocked' by turnout to '150' party
F1 comes to London's West End
Bruni is in trouble, says Minardi's Stoddart
Someone else should be in Klien's seat - Jaguar
F1 needs an 'American based' team
France urges press to 'change mind' about Magny-Cours 

6/24/04

More details on Penske/OWRS meeting This SPEEDTV.com article says, - A face to face meeting Tuesday between Roger Penske and the three men keeping Champ Car alive produced some positive dialogue and possibilities but nothing approaching a definitive plan to unify open wheel racing, according to Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe.  "Yes, we did meet and we all agreed there is a great deal of value in a united series," said Kalkhoven, who along with Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi are the principals of Open Wheel Racing Series, formerly known as Championship Auto Racing Teams.  "But there are some substantial obstacles that make it impossible to get it done at the present time."  A report in Autoweek stated that Penske would make a proposal to Indy Racing League founder Tony George in the next 100 hours to put everybody back under one roof but Kalkhoven said that was erroneous. "We haven't got a plan," said the owner of PKV Racing, who joined CART in 2003. "We agreed there was value in a united series but it got no further than that."  During the two-hour meeting in Pontiac, Mich., an 8-man board of directors was discussed (four from each side) as well as a schedule (10 ovals and 10 road/street courses) that combined each series strongest venues and retaining the IRL's normally-aspirated engine formula.  "If it would happen, everybody would win -- sponsors, fans, teams -- and I would certainly like to see it happen and go to the next level," said Forsythe, who has fielded Champ Cars on and off since 1982 and now operates a three-car team.  "But, at the end of the day, if there isn't a meeting of the minds and you run into a brick wall, you've got to turn left."  Neither Kalkhoven or Forsythe would disclose the obstacles and Penske could not be reached for comment.   Asked about the sense of urgency on Penske's part to get things back together after an eight-year war that has decimated television ratings, discouraged sponsors and alienated fans, Kalkhoven replied:  "They (the IRL) are so enthusiastic to do something with us it's almost frightening."  Added Forsythe: "Roger seemed very sincere and I appreciate him stepping forward. But we'll do whatever we can to make it happen and I think he conveyed that to Tony."   As for the next schedule meeting?  "There is no timetable to meet again," responded Kalkhoven. "We all just said we'll be in touch."  [Editor's Note:  The IRL is in serious trouble, that much is clear based on the urgency of the IRL/Penske to get something done now all of a sudden, after years of trying to kill CART/Champ Car.  Perhaps the manufacturers have told them they are leaving if they can't get the series pulled together.  We feel they are better off running the two groups under one umbrella organization for now - two divisions with some sort of playoff system to get the fans interested in the rivalries.  If in the distant future it makes sense to merge into one division, that can happen, but divisions and playoffs work for all other sports, and it can work for racing in a very positive way as long as both sides are united under one ownership umbrella and not fighting to put each other out of business.  If no two divisions, 12 track owners will lose their race - they have contracts that would need to be broken.  There is one big obstacle right there.  What about the teams that can't race because the pits can't hold anymore cars?]

6/24/04

New McLaren stays fastest 

1. P. de la Rosa – McLaren - 1:17.098 - 112 laps (New MP4-19B)
2. M. Gene – Williams - 1:18.035 – 91 laps
3. A. Wurz – McLaren - 1:18.167 – 106 laps
4. T. Sato – BAR - 1:18.608 – 55 laps
5. R. Zonta – Toyota - 1:18.763 – 54 laps
6. A. Davidson – BAR – 1:18.832 – 34 laps
7. A. Pizzonia - Williams - 1:19.894 – 69 laps
8. Cristiano da Matta – Toyota – no time – 1 lap

6/24/04

FOX News running Champ Car ads Champ Car TV ads for the upcoming Cleveland GP have been running during FOX News broadcasts in the Midwest.  Radio ads have been numerous as well.  Looks like a push is on to build the event.  Radio Ads for the Toronto race are also airing in the Midwest.  The ESPN radio station in Columbus, 1460 The Fan has their traffic report at lunch sponsored by the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland. "The only Grand Prix in Ohio". This radio station can be herd in most of central Ohio.

6/24/04

#49 fails lap belt inspection Confiscated from Ken Schrader's #49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge at Michigan International Speedway was a Crotch Belt. The belt in violation, as it had surpassed the two year manufacturer's date, stamped on the belt. Evidently the rest of the belt met requirements. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series crew chief Scott Eggleston has been fined $500 for a driver restraint equipment infraction that occurred this past weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Eggleston - crew chief for the No. 49 Dodge driven by Ken Schrader - was in violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 20-17.2C (anti-submarine belt - expired manufacturer's date) in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rule Book. The infraction was discovered by NASCAR officials during last Friday's initial inspection process. NASCAR PR

6/24/04

F-15 smokes IRL car   2nd UPDATE  This pilotonline.com article says, Which is faster - an IndyCar or an F-15 fighter jet? That's just what the folks at Langley Air Force Base and Richmond International Raceway wanted to know. So they pitted Maj. Bret "Slam" Anderson, a veteran fighter pilot, against IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon and held a drag race at Langley on Tuesday afternoon. If you had placed your money on the IndyCar ... well, you would've lost. Anderson's F-15 smoked Wheldon's IndyCar (similar to what a Champ Car would do to an IRL car) in the 17-second race, crossing the finish line yards ahead of the car before taking flight. Here is a video to watch as well...smoke him he did.

6/24/04

CART/IRL peace at hand?   2nd UPDATE  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, I read the Autosport article. Interesting. However, I can't get over my jaded, "don't go down the same road" feeling with regards to the IRL's destabilization strategies of the past. If there is one thing to be said about the IRL it is that they have brilliant people working for them, strategizing for them, and creating unbelievable PR from the most minor events. They are able to do so much to CART/OWRS/ChampCar with one letter. In this vein ChampCar is non existent.

Roger Penske wrote a letter to a newspaper and the world is ready for unification. The proof will be in the pudding. I say get rid of Tony George completely. He should be nothing more than a track owner in the future of the IRL/ChampCar. Tony has done so much negative to the sport that any involvement on his part will be looked at negatively by the ChampCar fans (the bulk of the fan base of the 2 series.) His involvement will give the series a kangaroo court feel as people will undoubtedly recall the non decision between Paul and Helio in 2002..

Here is what I would like to see. The ChampCar with the majority of the power in the new group. After all, they have the bulk of the fan base support and the better venues. Even if it is 5 out of 9 board members. In no way should Tony be a part of that group. Parts of me agree that Brian Barnhart should run the new series. He has done so much on a daily/weekly basis to make the IRL seem legitimate, he clearly has that ability to get things done.

I must go back to the whole reunification "let's knight Roger for him taking this step". Roger Penske does not do anything for other people unless he is going to be richly rewarded. He sees the writing on the wall. I am not trying to say that ChampCar has won anything in this "war." However, Roger Penske realizes that he will have nowhere to play in the open wheel world unless he gets things repaired. He will lose more money and credibility than anyone else from the split. He has seen the devastation called the Indy 500. I will gladly bet you the Brickyard 400 will have 10 to 15% far more attendance than the hallowed Indy 500.

I say this to the ChampCar boys. Be careful. Make your plans. Move forward on your plans. Do not wait for Roger to call you. Keep up the good work. Keep control.  To Roger, Chip, Michael, Adrian, Bobby and Tony I say "SCREW YOU." You will not be a welcome part of any reunification plan.  To AJ Foyt  I laugh out loud. Tony has screwed you and the rest of the IRL visionaries. But you can't see it, or don't want to believe it.  Dan Thomson  PS.  I love the Autoracing1 site. I am on it many times a day. If you make it to Vancouver for this year's race I would love to buy you guys a drink. You call it as you see it. Keep it up. Dan   6/23/04 - Here is another article from Autoweek on further developments in the peace process that make it sound a bit more believable.  6/23/04 -  This Autoweek article puts a realistic spin on the current situation of a possible CART/IRL peace plan orchestrated by Roger Penske.  Having been burnt twice by Tony George in the past, and with some big plans by OWRS in the works, peace proposals are being taken with a grain of salt by OWRS.  How does the saying go?  Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!

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