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DATE

News (chronologically)

7/19/04

Wallace fastest on Monday at Brickyard   Kenny Wallace was fastest in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing July 19 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with an unofficial lap of 50.2502 seconds, 179.104 mph in the No. 00 Aaron’s Chevrolet, a car owned by fellow NEXTEL Cup competitor Michael Waltrip.  Wallace’s speed was nearly 2.5 mph faster than the 12 other drivers taking part in testing, and he attributed it to a solid program in place at Michael Waltrip Racing.  “This is Michael Waltrip’s new Cup team in collaboration with DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.), so we have good equipment,” Wallace said. “Our concern is to make the race for Aaron’s, the sponsor. We’ve got a real competitive car, and we just keep tuning on it. Right now, we’re where we want to be.”  More...

7/19/04

Why CBS for Champ Car? A comparison of last year's Champ Car races on CBS versus the first five races of 2004 on Spike TV shows that each race on CBS drew about 1.0 million more viewers than Spike TV.   The average number of viewers per race on CBS were about 4.3 times higher than Spike TV.  It would seem to us that Champ Car should have as many races as possible on CBS in 2005.  In fact if that deal isn't done yet, someone is asleep at the wheel. It should be noted that Spike's ratings are comparable to the Champ Car races that were broadcast on SPEED Channel in 2003.  The analysis that must be done must take into consideration many factors.  For example, although it costs more money to time buy on CBS, each 30 second commercial slot is worth much more in revenue.  So although CBS costs more, revenue is higher and value to team sponsors is higher.  With races on CBS, teams should be able to sell sponsorship easier, making them more self-sufficient.  As we understand it, 2-hour time buys on CBS run around $350K (plus productions costs) per race vs. $125K per race for Spike.  However, a 30-second commercial on CBS brings in $15K to $30K in revenue versus just $4.5K for Spike TV (unconfirmed).  We take you back to this press release put out by CART last year that said ten 2004 races would be on CBS. When CART went bankrupt that never happened....and the results are as we see below.  The decision to forego CBS was a grave one. (Note: 1 household = approx 1.3 viewers.  Also, Dangerous Curves is averaging 228,000 viewers per airing and was watched by 3.43 million viewers so far in 2004, which is added exposure for Champ Car, but not much for the sponsors because most of the programming is non-racing action.  The highest Dangerous Curves rating was 489,000 viewers, surpassing the highest race broadcast rating by a fairly wide margin.)

2004
Event Channel Rating Viewers

Long Beach, CA

SPIKE

0.2

266,000 viewers

Monterrey, Mexico

SPIKE

0.3

380,000 viewers

Milwaukee, WI (Tape-delayed)

SPIKE

0.2

262,000 viewers

Portland, OR

SPIKE

0.2

198,000 viewers

Cleveland, OH (Tape-delayed)

SPIKE

0.3

385,000 viewers

Average Number Viewers per Race

298,000 Viewers

2003
Event Channel Rating Viewers

Brands Hatch (1-week delay) to Sat

CBS

0.8

1.0 million viewers

EuroSpeedway (Taped Same Day)

CBS

1.0

1.3 million viewers

Laguna Seca

CBS

0.6

0.8 million viewers

Portland

CBS

0.9

1.1 million viewers

Cleveland (Tape Delayed)

CBS

1.2

1.5 million viewers

Toronto

CBS

1.24

1.6 million viewers

Miami

CBS

1.3

1.8 million Viewers

Average Number Viewers per Race 1,300,000 Viewers

7/19/04

Earnhardt released from hospital   Dale Earnhardt, Jr., was released today from the University of California-Davis Medical Center after suffering moderate burns Sunday morning when the car he was driving was involved in an accident and caught fire while practicing for the American Le Mans Series Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway. Earnhardt suffered what track medical officials described as “moderate-sized burns of moderate intensity” in the facial area and lower extremities. For precautionary reasons, he was transported by air to the University of California-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif. He is scheduled to return home today and is expected to make a full recovery. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will be in Loudon, NH this weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway. Currently, Dale Jr. is second in the Series point standings and is scheduled to be at NHIS for this weekend’s events.

7/19/04

Skip Barber and Stars of Tomorrow extend agreement  The Snap-On Stars of Karting and Skip Barber Racing have agreed to expand their existing relationship as part of an ongoing effort that will continue to build their respective racing series, significantly reward top competitors, and provide leadership and growth for the sport of karting as a whole. The new agreements are through 2006, with options for further extensions Of particular note in the new agreement is a guarantee that for each year's Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Run-off (first conducted in 1997), at least half the field of nominated karters will be Stars of Karting drivers. At the annual Run-off, more than $100,000 in cash racing-scholarships are awarded to karters to compete in various Formula Dodge racing series, including the professional Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER.

For the January 2005 Karting Run-off, 16 karters will be nominated candidates, which means at least eight will be coming from the Stars of Karting series. Four awards are up for grabs: A full-paid season in the 2005 Skip Barber National; a half-paid season in the National; a full-paid season in any of the four Skip Barber Regional Series (West/East/South/Midwest); and a half-paid season in one of the Regionals.

In addition to the karting scholarship awards, Stars of Karting and Skip Barber Racing have agreed to continue the award of a fully paid season in the professional Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER to one top Stars karter, chosen by a distinguished motorsports panel at the conclusion of each year's Stars of Karting season. The first Stars of Karting driver to receive this award (in November 2003) was Robbie Pecorari, who is currently seventh in the 2004 Skip Barber National, with four top-5 finishes in eight races, including a second-place at Sebring

Stars of Karting and Skip Barber Racing have also agreed to a cooperative marketing and promotional relationship that will provide exclusive benefits. With this, the Skip Barber Racing School becomes the Official Racing School of the Snap-On Stars of Karting, and includes Skip Barber trackside signage, event promotions, officials’ uniforms and vehicles, and ID on competitor uniforms, karts, etc

''This is a special day for everyone at the Snap-On Stars of Karting,'' said Bryan Herta, Stars principle and current IRL driver for Andretti-Green Racing. ''In our quest to further not only our series but the entire sport of karting, it is important to align ourselves with key, integral partners. We have done that with our title sponsor Snap-On, and now with Skip Barber Racing. They are recognized worldwide as the industry leader in driver development and the promotion of aspiring pro drivers. ''We want our competitors to be exposed to Skip Barber's years of expertise,'' Herta added. ''In fact, after my own karting career, I joined the Skip Barber ladder system (School, then Western Race Series, then Barber Pro Series) for the first four years of my auto racing career. Since Stars of Karting's infancy, Skip Barber Racing has supported us, and now we look forward to a long and even more fruitful relationship over the many years to come.'' Stu Upson, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Skip Barber Racing, said, ''This expansion and formalization between us is going to be a great asset to North American motorsport. Yes, Skip Barber Racing and Snap-On Stars of Karting will each benefit directly -- we both have a great opportunity to draw more competitors -- yet more importantly to the bigger picture of grassroots and beginning professional open-wheel competitors, this adds a particularly appealing rationalization to climbing the ladder from karts to racing's top ranks.'' The specific details, outlines and rewards of the new agreements and the Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Run-off will be announced shortly.

7/19/04

F1 gaining viewers on SPEED  Formula One races on SPEED Channel are scoring an average Nielsen rating of 0.52, up 33 percent from last year's 0.39. The largest area of growth comes in the coveted 18-34 demographic, where Nielsen ratings are up 183 percent from a .06 to a .17. Below is a comparison of F1 numbers over the last two seasons:
TC Dur. Mins Households M18-34 M18-49 M25-54 M35-64
2003 (12/30/02-7/13/03) 10 1542 0.39 / 221 0.06 / 11 0.39 / 139 0.46 / 155 0.54 / 166
2004 (12/29/03-7/11/03) 11 1698 0.52 / 320 0.17 / 33 0.46 / 173 0.56 / 197 0.66 / 217
% Increase 33% / 45% 183% / 200% 18% / 24% 22% / 27% 22% / 31%

7/19/04

New Hampshire CEO talks about NHIS options   According to this New Hampshire newspaper article, New Hampshire International Speedway founder and CEO Bob Bahre has this to say about options for his track:

More seating at NHIS? “Right now we’re happy with what we got. We sell out . . . We sell out here easy.”
Lights? “When I came here in 1989 some of the neighbors were going to sue and all this stuff. I made an agreement that we wouldn’t race after 7:30 or 8 o’clock at night. What the deal is, I’m not supposed to schedule a race that doesn’t get over by then. But just say it rained for three hours and you’re held up, you could still go beyond the time for that reason.”
No smoking, no alcohol family seating section at NHIS? “Not really. It would be very hard . . . you can’t do that today with 100,000 people. All you’d do is end up in a mess. . . . it’s out in the open air.”
NHIS financially? “The only people involved here are (son and speedway president) Gary and myself. There’s no stock holders. Nobody’s got any part of it. Him and I own it together, there’s nobody else. And as I say, we’ve got no debt on it so we’re in good shape.”
Any chance NHIS will lose one of the two Cup races? “No, we’re not going to lose any dates. Doesn’t even enter my mind. Bill France (NASCAR vice chairman), I’ve known him since 1964. Doesn’t even get talked about. . . . The year before they were talking about changing dates or taking dates. He says, ‘Don’t pay any attention to that you’re not going to lose anything.’ So, I didn’t have any concern about it. I never asked him and I just don’t even . . . They aren’t going to take any dates from me, I know.”
Ticket prices? “Every three years we go up. A lot of the tracks go up every single year. I don’t believe in that. We’re not going to gouge people.”
This year’s speedway changes? Addition to the infield hospital and a paved area for the Busch Grand National drivers’ motor homes.

7/19/04

Quote of the week   New Hampshire International Speedway founder and CEO Bob Bahre: “I don’t even know what the reason was (for the split). Tony at Indy had all the cars he needed. He was getting 60, 70 cars [in the CART days]. This year they just made the field. They had 33 cars. They’re business people, they know what they’re doing.”   [Editor's Note:  They think they know what they are doing.  Whether they realize it or not, the split has destroyed Indy Car Racing.]

7/19/04

New Hampshire might consider Indy Cars again   According to this New Hampshire newspaper article, New Hampshire International Speedway founder and CEO Bob Bahre pondered the bumpy Indy car road that no longer leads to Loudon.   Bahre will not rule out the return of Indy car racing to his mile oval. He’s just not ready to commit.   The Northeast’s love affair with the powerful open-wheeled, open-cockpit hybrids driven by courageous men (and today women) extends back to the ’20s when the stars of the Indianapolis 500 battled on high-banked board tracks and dirt ovals from Providence, R.I., to New Hampshire’s Rockingham Park.   Indy car racing was the first major event held at NHIS, arriving in 1992. But in 1996 the sport suffered a split as the oval-based Indy Racing League broke away from CART and the two ran head-to-head. Bahre was the first track owner outside of Indy to sign on with the upstart IRL. In 1999, faced with sagging attendance, Bahre also became the first major track owner to drop the IRL.   Bahre said this week that his relationship remains solid with IRL founder and Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George. If that relationship was not good, Bahre would not even consider a return of the Indy cars.

“I haven’t thought about it,” said Bahre. “I see Tony George once in a great while, but we never talked about it. We talk about everything else. I like Tony and I know him well. . . . We were the first track to go with him. We could get one. I didn’t ask him, but I’m quite sure he’d give us a date.”   Whether by design or coincidence the NHIS schedule is wide open in August, the month it hosted five of its seven Indy car races.   “Indy car racing to me is great. . . . When we had CART here we did very well,” said Bahre. “I say, ‘No,’ but it could happen someday because now you could make some money with it since they got straightened out.”

So why not bring the Indy cars back immediately?   “Right now, in my opinion, Indy car racing is not back yet where it was, but it’ll get there because CART is practically out of business. They aren’t completely. To be honest with you, I kind of wish they’d never split up anyway,” Bahre said. “I don’t even know what the reason was. Tony at Indy had all the cars he needed. He was getting 60, 70 cars. This year they just made the field. They had 33 cars. They’re business people, they know what they’re doing.”   And so is the ever-watchful Bahre.

7/19/04

Engine update for Renault  Renault will take a revised version of its RS24B engine to the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim this weekend. Engine technical director Rob White has outlined the changes:

"In Hockenheim, we plan to race a further evolution of the RS24B," said White. "This concludes a cycle of development based on knowledge and experience accrued since the introduction of the RS24B at Imola earlier in the season. Specifically for the German Grand Prix, there are new pieces in the bottom end, and engine operating conditions are customised for the Hockenheim circuit. Further small steps will follow, based on a revised cylinder head from Hungary onwards.

"The failure of the engine in Fernando's car at the end of practice on Saturday came without warning," he added. "There was a problem concerning the timing gears that drive the camshafts that had not previously emerged in dyno and track testing.

"Rapid analysis at Viry [its engine base] allowed a countermeasure to be implemented and dyno tested on the engines for Hockenheim. The engine build group responded fantastically to the inevitable disruption and we are optimistic we have fixed the problem, despite the accelerated approval process."  Renault F1

7/19/04

New rules could mix things up  Formula One's new rules could shake up the grid order next season, Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne says.  The sport's governing body the FIA is to introduce a series of measures aimed at slowing the cars and reducing costs. And Gascoyne told BBC Radio Five Live: "There may well be a mix-up because it brings everyone back to the same level. "Some teams are doing a better job than others. A big aerodynamic change is a challenge and if you get it right you may well get an advantage." Among the changes proposed for 2005 are restrictions on aerodynamics, making engines last for two Grands Prix, and a limit to two sets of tires per race weekend - and one for qualifying and the race. Gascoyne believes the tire restrictions - which are designed to slow speeds in the corners by forcing teams to use harder rubber - could also spice up the racing.  BBC Sport

7/19/04

Collapse of Champ Car/IRL talks a big plus for F1 in USA  The author of this article on Grandprix.com thinks that the collapse of talks between Champ Car and the IRL over unification will mean that Indy Car racing in the USA, which already has one foot in the grave, is ready to have the dirt in the hole backfilled, and this will help Formula 1 gain in popularity.

7/19/04
MotoGP

Biaggi wins in Germany   Italian Max Biaggi, perennial bridesmaid, first to Mick Doohan and then to Valentino Rossi, has blown the MotoGP title chase wide open with a brilliant victory from pole position in the German GP. Biaggi is now second in the championship, just one point adrift of Rossi at the half-way point of the season. It was the second victory in a row for Sito Pons’ Honda outfit after Makoto Tamada’s win in Rio two weeks ago.   More....

7/19/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Mosley does u-turn on FIA retirement
'Jungle Boy' to race Williams
FIA unveils '05 car changes

Early return 'could kill Ralf' - F1 doctor
Bernie thwarted Silverstone revamp - Brundle
Revised Williams is 'not faster' - Montoya

Ferrari can seal title in Germany - Schu
BAR must not lose momentum - Willis
'B' Toyota brings 'expectation' - da Matta

Second is 'first of the losers' - Ron Dennis
At least Sato has 'balls' - BAR's Jock Clear 

7/19/04

NASCAR gets it wrong again   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, If you go to the NASCAR.com links below you see just how lame the Oval Track cartel is. Look for the headline where Dale Jr. got burnt in a Grand-Am practice crash. It's amazing he got burnt driving in Grand-Am (another France family series) the same weekend he was driving in ALMS at Infineon (Check other headline of his participation with Corvette Racing in Trans-Am?!?). It's not just the IRL doing everything it can to snub the road racing cartel, NASCAR is doing the same.
http://www.nascar.com/2004/news/headlines/cup/07/18/dearnhardtjr_burned/index.html
http://www.nascar.com/2004/news/headlines/official/07/17/dearnhardtjr_sonoma/index.html

Regards, Chris Nelson

7/18/04

Miller hands our failing grades   In this SPEED TV article Robin Miller hands out grades for the IRL at mid-season.  He gives a A-grade to Honda for making Toyota and Chevy look like wankers, and to Andretti Green and Rahal Letterman for dominating the season. He lays it on heavy for the failing graded - ABC: Between Paul Page's shameless cheerleading and pandering, Jack The Root's inane observations and lack of anything approaching entertainment, it remains Always Bad Coverage.  TARGET/GANASSI: Incredibly, defending IRL champ Scott Dixon is nowhere in 2004, leading only three laps in the season opener, and is usually out-performed by teammate Darren Manning. If the rookie isn't hitting somebody, he's been pretty fast. But Chip Ganassi's experienced team lacks more than horsepower at the moment. The only good news? Very few interviews with the Chipster from his pit box.  TRD: Toyota Racing Development cleaned house in 2003 but is being swept under the door like so much dirt this year by archrival Honda. Word is there's a fix on its way but it better come with a turbocharger. TRD swears NASCAR isn't taking away its focus, maybe just its development budget.  IRL: Failed to secure a full-time ride for Sarah Fisher, robbed the Leaders Circle Club to pay for the final few spots at the Indy 500 and allowed Honda to gain an unfair advantage, which may cost the League a few teams before it's all said and done.

7/18/04

Earnhardt to be held overnight   UPDATE From the stunning in-car camera video of the accident it appeared Earnhardt Jr. was momentarily knocked unconscious from the crash. Then the flames completely engulfed his body (and the car, which burnt to the ground) and that appeared to wake him up.  Imagine how badly his face would have been burned had he still been wearing an open face helmet.   7/18/04 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will be held overnight for observation after suffering minor second degree burns on the inner sides of both legs and on his chin in a racing accident Sunday morning at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. A hospital spokesman said that Earnhardt was "resting comfortably" at University of California-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif., and would be examined again Monday morning. Earnhardt was injured Sunday morning when the car he was driving was involved in an accident and caught fire while practicing for the American Le Mans Series Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma. Earnhardt was driving a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R in a 30-minute practice session when the accident occurred. The car spun and impacted a barrier in the Turn 8 section of the road racing track and then caught fire. Earnhardt quickly exited the car on his own and was then assisted by safety crews. Earnhardt, who regularly competes in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, was scheduled to co-drive in today's American Le Mans Series sports car race with veteran road racing driver Boris Said. The team withdrew the car from the race. "I'm bummed out and disappointed I couldn't run the race," said Earnhardt through a team spokesman. "I hope Corvette gets the victory."

7/18/04
Formula Ford

American wins twice in UK   Charlie Kimball won both races, rounds 11 and 12 of the UK Formula Ford Championship, at Oulton Park in spectacular fashion from fifth and sixth on the grid. These results move the young American driver from third place in the Championship into a secure second place. Kimball is the first American to win a UK Formula Ford race since Pat Long won in 2001. Over the course of the weekend, Kimball dealt with all kinds of weather conditions. In qualifying, he took to the track in very steady drizzle which quickly turned into full fledged rain. The horrendous conditions, coupled with two red flags, limited Kimball's track time to just two fast laps. These two laps were good enough to place him fifth and sixth on the grid - not optimum starting positions, but still within striking distance. Kimball commented on the results, "I didn't make a call on the rain set-up soon enough. We were too late putting on the new rains and making the car drivable in these of conditions. After we made the change, I only had time for two fast laps, and unfortunately they weren't good enough for anything better than the third row."  Kimball now heads to California for his first visit home since January. He will take a short break, train and relax before returning for rounds 13 and 14 of the Championship held August 14-15 at the famous Silverstone Grand Prix circuit.

7/18/04
Vintage Racing

Bobby Rahal wins Vintage race   Road America wrapped up three days of vintage racing in perfect conditions with sold-out touring, a sold-out concours d'elegance on Friday and Saturday evening and more than 460 vintage race cars on track competing in nine classes. CART Champion Bobby Rahal won the Group 5 race for FIA, World Manufacturers Championship Cars and Formula 70 in a 1970 Lola T-290, ahead of fourth-place finisher Brian Redman, who served as grand marshal. The Historic Grand Prix group fielded 24 Formula One cars in the feature race Sunday.

7/18/04

Why unify?   Maybe I am being a little naive or gullible, but I really don't see why Champ Car would want to concern themselves with merging with the IRL. I know that the split is hurting both series. Champ Car has proven that they can continue a strong series without major backers such as Honda and Toyota. Would the same be said about the IRL if they pulled their support? Champ Car has been able to bring new teams (RuSport, PKV, American Spirit in '03 and others) into their series. When is the last time a new team has shown their support of the IRL by joining their series? (Not counting the CART teams who left for the IRL). Talking about those teams who have left, could the IRL survive if the reverse were to happen? If Roger Penske truly believes that there should be one open-wheel series - How long would the IRL last without him and the aid that Toyota has brought to the series? Champ Car has their problems. If they continue the path they have laid out (doing away with money losing races - developing money making races) I can see them having a very strong global series in time for the new engines and chassis for '06. Tim Clingenpeel

7/18/04

F1 cars light up streets of Shanghai  SAUBER PETRONAS driver Felipe Massa and test driver Neel Jani raised adrenaline at the PETRONAS Shanghai International Race Festival 2004 today, as they further revved up the excitement for Chinese fans prior to the inaugural Formula One Chinese Grand Prix on 26 September 2004 in Shanghai. The 23 year-old Brazilian and the 20 year-old Swiss reached speeds of 270 kph in the SAUBER PETRONAS C22 on a specially created 2.8 kilometer road course in the district of Pudong. The SAUBER PETRONAS Formula One demonstration was part of an action-packed weekend in the heart of Shanghai which also included special presentations and appearances by fellow PETRONAS motorsport teams, Foggy PETRONAS Racing (World Superbike Championship) and PETRONAS EON Racing (Malaysian Rally Championship). The runs added thrills and spills to the main highlight of the festival, the German Touring Car race (DTM).

 

"I´m very proud to show to the enthusiastic citizens of Shanghai and China what Formula One is all about," said Massa after his demonstration runs. "Honestly, I really enjoyed the opportunity to give the people a feeling of the passion, speed and sound that are such key elements of our sport. Formula One has a massive following and this year China will become a member of the family as it hosts the 16th round of the 18-race FIA Formula One World Championship."

 

Neel Jani added: "I really enjoyed my chance to visit the Shanghai International Circuit and I´m very impressed by this huge and ultra-modern facility. The race will certainly be a big challenge. Those attending the event in September will experience the thrilling atmosphere of the FIA Formula One World Championship at close quarters."

 

PETRONAS also used the festival to announce the launch of its range of premium grade automotive and motorcycle engine oils in China on 14 July 2004, officially entering the country's lubricants market. PETRONAS´ Vice-President of Oil Business, Datuk Anuar Ahmad said: "We are following up this launch with title sponsorship of the Shanghai International Race Festival 2004. This sponsorship gives us an excellent communications tool for building awareness of our brand and it opens up some good business opportunities for the PETRONAS group. To be able to demonstrate Formula One on the streets of Shanghai to the local population is an excellent way to prepare them for their first ever Formula One Grand Prix in September."

7/18/04

Earnhardt crashes and burns   Race driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., suffered moderate burns Sunday morning when the car he was driving was involved in an accident and caught fire while practicing for the American Le Mans Series Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway.  Earnhardt suffered what track medical officials described as "moderate-sized burns of moderate intensity" in the facial area and lower extremities. For precautionary reasons, he was transported by air to the University of California-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif. Earnhardt was driving a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R in a 30-minute practice session when the accident occurred. The car spun and impacted a barrier back-end first in the Turn 8 section of the road racing track and then caught fire because the impact broke the filler neck off the fuel cell.  Earnhardt quickly exited the car on his own and was then assisted by safety crews. Earnhardt, who regularly competes in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, was scheduled to co-drive in today's American Le Mans Series sports car race with veteran road racing driver Boris Said. The team has withdrawn the car from the race.

7/18/04
DTM

Paffett flag-to-flag in Shanghai  Gary Paffett was the beaming winner of the DTM’s exhibition race in China. The Briton pulled off a magnificent start-finish triumph in his AMG-Mercedes C-Class on the 2.84 kilometer-long street circuit in Shanghai for an advantage of 0.887 seconds over his team mate Bernd Schneider. Mattias Ekström came third in an Audi A4 DTM with a masterful display of his driving skill. Gary Paffett dominated action at the front of the pack from the onset of the race. Although Schneider was able to make up lost ground, he never really seriously challenged his young team mate. The three Audi drivers Tom Kristensen, Emanuele Pirro and Martin Tomczyk -- the best-placed Audi drivers in qualifying -- were eliminated in the melee at the start after bumping into rivals. Mattias Ekström battled his way forward over the 22 laps past Jean Alesi and Rinaldo Capello into third place.

A manhole cover came unstuck in the start phase of the first of the originally planned two races of 30 minutes each. Bernd Mayländer in an AMG-Mercedes CLK was unable to steer clear of a collision and rammed into the obstacle. As a result, the race was interrupted and the manhole covers were welded firm for safety reasons. The first race was therefore cancelled due to time constraints.  The race was run in a grueling heat of almost 40 degrees Celsius. [Editor's Note: That will teach them to hold a race in China in July]

7/18/04

Townsend Bell finishes 5th, but almost crashed    Townsend Bell finished a very busy race in the top 5 under the lights in Music Town USA , to give the Panther Chevy racing team one of its best finishes of the year…Tony Kanaan in an Andretti Green team Honda won the race as the usual IRL wild finish once more dominated the last few laps. Kanaan was followed over the line by former IRL champion Sam Hornish and Team Penske’s other driver Helio Castroneves driving Toyota powered cars.. Darren Manning in another Toyota (Chip Ganassi's Target team) was 4th after 200 incident filled laps was run. Bell’s most dramatic moment occurred on a yellow flag slowdown lap as he almost collided with a safety truck that was stopped in the middle of the truck cleaning debris from an incident. Bell said, “That was the closest I have come to a major accident in a long time. That was a factor by 10 more dangerous than anything else that occurred in the race for me. I was up in the marbles and couldn’t steer the car – that could have been nasty”. Tomas Scheckter, driving a Panther Chevy, was also caught out by the marbles that formed on the high side of the track, and hit the wall on lap 108 ending his day. Asked about the race he was complimentary about the team and the professional way they do things….”We had very good pit stops, we were able to improve the car as the race developed . The understeer problem which occurred was managed properly by the crew so all in all we had a good day....I am also getting back into it now and it feels good”.   [Editor's Note: Nashville is a silly track to be racing on. It attracts a small attendance and the concrete surface is so slippery yet tears up tires, which results in marbles making it a one-groove track.]

7/18/04

ISC faces major obstacles in Staten Island   This NY Times article (read both pages) outlines all the obstacles ISC faces in building a race track in Staten Island.  The site is an environmentally sensitive area and also a toxic waste site, having been an oil tank storage farm.  The land also sits below sea level and is prone to flooding.  They are trying to get approvals to use dredge material to raise the land 3 to 6 feet. Reports previously that the track would be a 2.5 mile superspeedway were incorrect.  We questioned where that reporter got his information.  This NY Times article confirms what we thought -  it will only be a 3/4-mile oval much like Richmond and seat 80,000.  State and city officials have been studiously neutral, although at least one official, who requested anonymity, said he expected the project to die of its own weight.

7/18/04

Dodge Charger submitted to NASCAR   A reborn version of Chrysler’s legendary Dodge Charger muscle car could be screaming around the high-walled turns of the Daytona 500 in February — at least one month before a street-ready Charger sedan lands in dealer showrooms. DaimlerChrysler AG’s Dodge division has submitted a new car design to NASCAR for the 2005 Nextel Cup racing season, and is expected to name it Charger. The racing debut could also create buzz for the mass-market Charger sedan that will be launched in the spring of 2005 and is another key vehicle for the Chrysler Group, which is struggling to return to profitability. That’s part of the reason why Dodge has taken its time in developing a new race car for NASCAR. Mike Zizzo, a NASCAR spokesman, said the racing association and Dodge have been in talks about a new design since the spring of 2003. He said NASCAR will give Dodge final approval on the design by Sept. 1, assuming it passes a variety of safety and performance tests. That would make it ready to race in February’s Daytona 500, the official kickoff of NASCAR’s racing season. “The (review) process is in the final stages, and it’s moving along quite well,” Zizzo said. Dodge has raced the Intrepid sedan in NASCAR’s flagship circuit since 2001, but according to NASCAR rules, could not run the car in 2005 because the car is no longer in production. The Intrepid was replaced in May by the new Dodge Magnum station wagon. The full-size Charger, which will be sold as a four-door sedan, is a closer match to the Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Monte Carlo — the only three other vehicles competing in NASCAR’s top-tier Nextel Cup next year. Though the Ford Taurus is expected to be phased out in the next four years, Kevin Kennedy, a Ford racing spokesman said “as long as Taurus is around, it will be our car.” Pat Suhy, GM’s engineering group manager, said the Monte Carlo would not change for the 2005 racing season. The 2005 Dodge Charger will be built at Chrysler’s Brampton, Ontario, assembly plant. The rear-wheel-drive sedan will share the same underpinnings as the new Chrysler 300 sedan and Dodge Magnum wagon. Detroit News

7/18/04
DTM

Frentzen extends Opel contract   Heinz-Harald Frentzen, former runner-up in the Formula 1 World Championship, will also be racing for Opel in the DTM in 2005. At the occasion of the DTM invitation race in the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai, Opel's motorsport director Volker Strycek announced the extension of the contract with the driver from Mönchengladbach, Germany.   "The current contract included an option for an extra season with Opel in the DTM. Heinz-Harald Frentzen has taken up that option in time. We are happy that our co-operation with him will continue next year", Strycek said.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen is also delighted about his extended involvement in the series. "I have really found a new home with Opel in the DTM. Indeed, my debut in the DTM hasn't been easy, but anyone who knows me and has been following my career will also know that I don't give up that easily when things are not running that well."

"I knew from the very beginning that my debut in the DTM wouldn't be an easy affair. Most of my colleagues who have switched into the DTM had their learning phase as well. In the DTM, you don't just get in and win races right away. It has taken time for other drivers and so it does for me.  Another thing is that I have been pushed off the track several times during the first few races. But all in all, driving in the DTM is a real pleasure for me, and so is the contact with the fans." Opel

7/18/04

IRL to stage first road course test   This Indy Star article says, The IRL is working toward holding its first road course test Labor Day weekend at either Sebring or Homestead in Florida, said Brian Barnhart, the senior vice president of operations. The test will be closed to the public, and it won't be a complete preview of the 2005 season. There figures to be at least two road course events on next year's schedule, but they won't be held at those two tracks, Barnhart said. Formal announcements are expected later this month, but the tracks likely will be Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

7/18/04

Penske disappointed no merger   This Indy Star article says, Roger Penske said Saturday that he is "disappointed" that IRL and Champ Car officials couldn't continue with a unification plan during last weekend's meeting in Toronto. Penske had tried to be the moderator in the tricky negotiations. But he said there were too many obstacles to overcome. Now that the two Indianapolis-based sanctioning bodies have committed to continuing on their respective paths, Penske said his advice to IRL president Tony George is to move on, release the 2005 schedule and keep building momentum for the future. "As I look down the road, we're on the right side (by being members of the IRL)," Penske said.

7/18/04

Please send The shill Page packing    UPDATE This Tennessean article also estimated attendance as 25,000.   7/17/04 - I think Paul The Shill Page is combing his hair a little too far forward, it's giving him a warped "view" of the I-crapwagon Racing League... They had a camera in the "crowd" and he said (very excitably I may add) "it's standing room only here in Nashville". Come on Paul, I know that ABC is signing your check, but really, tell the (however small) viewing public that the tickets were free, on top of the fact that the track only holds 15k tops!!! D. Christiansen, Walnut Creek, CA  Dear David, One of the TV announces said late in the broadcast that the grandstand held 50,000, which is utter nonsense.  We guess they feel IRL fans will believe any lie they throw at then.  The track opened with 50,000 seats, half of which were permanent, but dismantled many of them after the season-opening NASCAR Busch Series race failed to sell out.  The track currently has about 32,000 seats. The track has 32,000 seats, but the first 10 rows of 69 were covered with tarp and not available.  We estimate attendance at perhaps 25,000, including free ticket giveaways.

7/18/04

Grim reality hits IRL drivers   Some of the IRL drivers who were interviewed for this SPEED TV article do not sound too pleased that a Champ Car/IRL merger is not going to happen.  They are quickly coming to the realization that Champ Car isn't going away and, except for Indy, Champ Car has all the best venues. Due to floundering TV ratings and attendance, IRL teams are also deathly afraid that Toyota and Honda are eventually going to drop their support of the IRL and just lease engines and do the minimal advertising required per their IRL contract. Most IRL teams are dependent on Honda and Toyota money for their existence.  Even Roger Penske sees the writing on the wall, hence why he started the recent unification talks. 

7/17/04

What's all the fuss about Earnhardt?  UPDATE A reader responds, To your reader asked what the fuss is all about regarding Dale Jr. at ALMS I have a few words. Who cares if he IS the slowest driver out there, he is drawing attention to sportscar racing that it might not otherwise get. And to top it off he is NOT doing so in the GrandAm series (you know, that divide and conquer series the France family dreamed up to... Oh don't get me started we all know that story.) My point is Dale could have spent the weekend kicking back like most of his NASCAR brethren, but instead he choose to do something that obviously he AND his dad loved. (Did you read the article in Racer back after Dale Sr. died about his dream of driving in the 24hours of LeMans?) So what if he is slow? As long as he is not a danger to anyone else he's filling another car and have you seen the field size lately in ALMS? I was at Mid-Ohio in June and was shocked at how few cars there were. I say thanks Dale. Thanks, for bringing some press and new fans to MY favorite form of racing. I say, thanks for keeping the memory of your dad's aspirations alive. I say thanks for lending "support" to the ALMS when I'm damn sure the France Family would have rather seen you in a GrandAm car (yuchhhh!). And I say thanks for adding another much needed car to the field. I could care less if he's the slowest Vette in the field. Gary Shell   7/17/04 -  A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1, What is all the fuss over Dale Earnhardt Jr. driving a Corvette in ALMS this weekend?  There are six Corvette drivers and he's the slowest.  Send the wanker back to NASCAR.  David Phipps, Portland. OR.  Dear David,  Like it or not, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a superstar in the USA. It doesn't matter that he's not a "great" driver, NASCAR has made him a superstar through their marketing genius. It does speak volumes about the state of USA motorsports.  With the oval track cartel in firm control of USA motorsports, the USA may never again produce another world driving champion.  As we have maintained for almost a decade now, oval track racing is all about the car, the driver is a very small part of the equation.  Put the oval trackers on a road course and they are usually out to lunch.  The talent level required to be a fast road course driver far exceeds the talent required to be fast on an oval.  America's only hope to produce talented enough drivers to win the F1 World Championship is Champ Car.  Mark C.

7/17/04
Star Mazda

McDowell wins third straight    Michael McDowell has launched himself back into the championship hunt in the Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear, as he captured his third consecutive victory today at Infineon Raceway as part of the American Le Mans Series supporting races.

McDowell, who finished third at Infineon in his Star Mazda Series debut in 2002, and repeated the feat again in 2003, was pleased to finally make his way to the top of the podium at this event. "Even though I'm from Arizona this is a sort of a home track for me," McDowell said afterwards. "I've always managed to run well here only to fall inches short of the victory so it's nice to bring the win home for everybody at Star Race Cars that who put in long hours to give me a great car."

Joining McDowell on the podium in a repeat performance of the Mid-Ohio event were Scot Jenkins in the Environmental Fibers/Team Bucknum Mazda and series points leader Daniel DiLeo in the Select Auto/Star Race Cars Mazda. Jenkins, who started second, and DiLeo who started seventh found themselves locked in a fierce battle in the closing minutes of the 25-lap event, with Jenkins holding off DiLeo by less than half a second.

7/17/04

Medeiros wins IPS snooze fest    There were no lead changes as Thiago Medeiros made a snooze fest out of the IPS race in Nashville.   Results with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed, reason out (if any):
1. (1) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 77, running
2. (2) Paul Dana, Dallara-Infiniti, 77, running
3. (5) Jesse Mason, Dallara-Infiniti, 77, running
4. (11) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, 77, running
5. (8) Al Unser, Dallara-Infiniti, 77, running
6. (10) P.J. Chesson, Dallara-Infiniti, 74, running
7. (7) Ross Fonferko, Dallara-Infiniti, 66, accident
8. (9) Brad Pollard, Dallara-Infiniti, 61, oil pump
9. (4) Rolando Quintanilla, Dallara-Infiniti, 52, accident
10. (3) Leonardo Maia, Dallara-Infiniti, 40, electrical
11. (6) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 31, handling
Race Statistics
Winner's average speed: 125.168 mph
Time of race: 47:58.9998
Margin of victory: 0.4645 of a second.
Cautions: 6 for 27 laps.
Lead changes: 0
Lap leaders: Medeiros 1-77.
Point standings: Medeiros 250, Dana 154, Mason 145, Luyendyk Jr. 142, Quintanilla 126, Pollard 122, Giebler 106, Maia 103, Roe 98, Beardsley 68.

7/17/04

Ganassi: I could care less about a merger   Chip Ganassi, whose driver Scott Dixon is the defending IRL champ, and who is a hard-core oval track carteler, said he could care less about bringing Champ Car and the IRL together. ''It's not even on my radar,'' he said. ''I'm tired of hearing about it.''

7/17/04

Plenty of tickets available for tonight's race   Tickets are available for tonight's race at the gate. ''Anyone who shows up and wants to get in will get in,'' said Nashville Superspeedway vice president and General Manager Cliff Hawks.  The tracks seats just 32,000 - very high but not very long grandstand.  Hopefully they will fill it up.  They usually do.

7/17/04

Lehto fastest in morning practice   JJ Lehto, driving a quickly-repaired car, set the fastest time Saturday morning as American Le Mans Series teams had their first official practice for Sunday's Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway. Lehto, driver of the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8, turned a lap of 1:22.540 on the 2.53-mile circuit to lead both the LMP1 class and the field overall. The car, which Lehto will co-drive with Marco Werner, suffered a broken wing support early in the session due to contact on the course with another car. However, the team was able to quickly repair the damage, allowing Lehto to move to the front of the session. The Dyson Racing Lola EX257-AER/MG of James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger was second-fastest in the session with a time of 1:22.916, followed by the other Dyson entry of Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace at 1:24.097. Fourth-fastest overall and leading the GTS class was the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta at 1:29.355, while fifth-fastest overall and topping the LMP2 class was the Intersport Racing Lola B2K/40-Judd of Jon Field, Clint Field and Robin Liddell at 1:29.759. Fastest in the GT class was the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister at 1:34.574. The Chevrolet Corvette C5-R that NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is sharing with Boris Said was third-fastest in the GTS class with a lap of 1:30.463. Earnhardt is making his ALMS debut in the race with the factory Corvette squad. ALMS teams will have another hour of practice at 1:05 p.m. (PDT), followed by official qualifying for the event.

7/17/04
Industry News

How a Fuel Cell works   The auto industry appears to have come to the realization that fuel cells are a viable alternative to fossil fuel combustion engines as the world looks to reduce its dependence on Middle East oil.  The most successful hybrid cars are ones that use electric motors powered by fuel cells to supplement a small internal combustion engine.  Fuel cells were first invented by NASA for space travel.  The fuel cell (pictured right courtesy of DaimlerChrysler) is divided into two parts by a thin plastic foil – the Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM). The foil is coated on both sides with a catalyst layer and a gas-permeable electrode. Through thin gas channels hydrogen and oxygen flow from one side to the other. The catalysator decomposes the hydrogen into an electron and a proton. The positively charged protons permeate through the PEM foil whereas the negative electrons do not. This generates voltage. If one connects the electrodes, direct-current is conducted. As a result of this electrochemical reaction, pure water (H2O) is formed.

7/17/04
DTM

Haug: Shanghai the most important race in DTM history   Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, said in Shanghai today after his cars took both front-row spots in qualifying"  “A very special qualifying on a new track. Congratulations to Gary and Jean. They performed excellently and they are very close together, separated by 0.024sec. The margin to the Audi of Tom Kristensen is also very small with four thousandths of a second behind which shows how competitive the DTM is. The task today was not to hit the wall which Christijan Albers unfortunately did in the first practice so he had a handicap by losing valuable track time which would have helped him with a better set-up. A compliment to the organizers of this event. They have created an interesting and challenging circuit. All Mercedes-Benz teams are thrilled to have been invited to this prestigious event in the centre of the city of Shanghai. The Petronas Shanghai DTM Festival is probably the most important race in DTM history – a unique event that certainly all of the 20 participants would love to win.”

7/17/04
DTM

Mercedes on front row in Shanghai   Gary Paffett (C-Class AMG-Mercedes) and Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes) will start Sunday’s DTM invitational race at Shanghai, China from the first row on the grid. In Saturday’s single-lap qualifying, Paffett took his first DTM pole position with a 1:14.529. Jean Alesi was second fastest with 24 thousandths of a second behind pole while Tom Kristensen’s Audi A4 DTM followed in third place with another four thousandths behind Alesi.
Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) qualified sixth fastest with a 1:15.211 whilst Christijan Albers (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes) made a mistake under braking at the last corner, lost valuable lap time and ended up tenth with a 1:16.595.

Prior to the single-lap qualifying, all drivers participated in the qualifying to determine the ten fastest who later fought for Super Pole with one fast lap for each. The single-lap qualifying starts with the tenth fastest driver of qualifying, the quickest is the last on the track. Gary Paffett was fastest in qualifying with a 1:14.137 ahead of Bernd Schneider who set a time of 1:14.433. Jean Alesi ended up fourth fastest with 1:14.692. In the morning’s first Free Practice Christijan Albers spun and hit the wall. In qualifying he finished sixth with a 1:14.731. Jarek Janis (Sonax Dark Dog AMG-Mercedes) was the fastest driver with a 2003 AMG-Mercedes CLK with a time of 1:15.465 and finished twelfth.

The DTM is the first international motor sport series to hold a race at Shanghai, China. The city is said to be the shop window for China's economic power, and for the Western industries, it's the gateway to Asia's increasing market. On 3 May, DaimlerChrysler AG signed a contract with China to start the production of Mercedes-Benz E- and C-Class cars in 2005.

7/17/04

Tropicana 400 TV Rating   UPDATE Final Nielsen Media Research numbers show NBC's broadcast of last Sunday's Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway drew a 5.5 rating and 13 share, up 1.9 percent from last year's 5.4/14, today's Sports Business Daily reports. The rating is the highest the Chicago race has drawn since its NBC premiere in 2001. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter  7/15/04 - NBC's coverage of NASCAR Nextel Cup Tropicana 400 was up 6% from a 4.9/11 overnight rating last year. Saturday's Busch Series Chicagoland 300 posted a 17% against a 1.8/5 in '03.

7/17/04

Is Champ Car represented?   All the big European (non-F1) series’ bosses are using the DTM race in Shanghai this weekend to meet with key Chinese officials. If Champ Car has something going on there they are sure doing it quietly.  It is now well documented that China, which we have claimed for years now, is a must for Champ Car.  The fact that ALL the car manufacturers are clambering to increase passenger car production in China (said to eventually overtake the USA as the world's biggest economic power house) can't be overlooked.

7/17/04

Champ Car/IRL unification a dead issue   UPDATE According to this Indy Star article, there was a 2nd secret meeting between Roger Penske, Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi in Toronto last weekend where the Champ Car series was racing.  In Toronto, Penske met with Champ Car owners Gerald Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi along with Curt Brighton, an executive vice president and general counsel of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is part of the IRL's ownership group.  IRL founder and chief executive officer Tony George did not attend the meeting. He was in Joliet, Ill., at a NASCAR race........The meeting was the second for Penske and the Champ Car owners since Penske's first-person story in the May 30 edition of the New York Times.  George, who didn't attend that meeting either, said he didn't think unification was possible until Gentilozzi called Penske.  "(But) I was never quite sure what to make of it," George said Friday from Nashville Superspeedway, where the IRL races tonight.......Whereas the Pontiac meeting centered on philosophical differences between the two organizations, the Toronto meeting addressed specifics. Apparently, they couldn't be resolved.  Penske could not be reached for comment Friday, but after reading the joint release, he told a team spokesman: "I have nothing further to add."   7/16/04 -  Following on the initiative of Roger Penske to explore a unification of open wheel racing, ownership representatives of Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League have met with Mr. Penske to consider the issues. While ownership representatives from both series agree that one open wheel series is the optimal situation, it is the belief of all involved that the time is not right for further discussion of unification. Both parties appreciate the efforts of Mr. Penske, and both parties believe that each has a better understanding of where common ground exists. No more meetings are planned and both series are moving forward with their future plans. IRL & Champ Car  [Editor's Note:  As Mark Cipolloni wrote in his recent article, unification is impossible.  The only hope is some sort of open-wheel IROC series as proposed.  From that might spawn an eventual unification, but if it doesn't, at least it will thaw the hostile feelings between both sides.]

7/17/04

Kahne's lawyer disputes Ford's contentions in lawsuit   Kasey Kahne's lawyer fired back Thursday at Ford Motor Co., saying the NASCAR driver's former sponsor breached the personal services agreement it made with Kahne, which gave the top-ranked rookie in the Nextel Cup circuit every right to drive for someone else.  Ford filed a lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court last Friday that said Kahne broke a contract with the company and Robert Yates Racing by agreeing to drive Dodges for Ray Evernham Motorsports.  In documents filed in federal court Thursday, Kahne's lawyers argued that the personal services agreement was not an enforceable contract and that Ford didn't offer Kahne a chance to race in the Nextel series, which released Kahne of his obligations to the company.  "What's happened here is Kasey has had an extraordinary rookie season at Nextel,"' said Kahne's lawyer, Paul LiCalsi, who spoke to reporters in a conference call. "Ford is embarrassed. When Ford could not agree with Kasey because they were either unable to or didn't have the vision to agree to put him in a Nextel car, he had no obligation to them."  Detroit Free Press

7/17/04

Earnhardt movie update   Barry Pepper's days seem to be numbered. He's been in 61 and 25th Hour. Next, he stars in 3— ESPN's biopic of NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt. The movie — titled after the number on Earnhardt's car — is set for broadcast in December. A photo of Pepper in character was released exclusively to The Associated Press. But what was it like transforming into the craggy, mustached face of the iconic driver? "I play him from 17 to 49, and there's all kinds of prosthetics all over my face," Pepper said. "It was a real challenge — especially in that heat, that North Carolina heat. You're always having things melting off of you. But it was just the coolest experience." Some of Earnhardt's family have expressed reservations about the movie, but Pepper said he had a positive meeting with Earnhardt's son, racer Dale Earnhardt Jr. "We had an opportunity to hang out and have a few beers. That was really important for me to make a connection with him and express to him how much effort and care went into the making of 3, to bring dignity and respect to his father's life and legend." See image at USA Today

7/17/04

Mosley explains his change of heart  Max Mosley may have reversed his decision to step down as FIA President but that doesn't mean he's going to stand for re-election next year. The only reason he's staying on is because he feels he has to give the FIA time to find a suitable replacement. Mosley has been head of the FIA for the past 13 years, however, at the start of July he shocked the motorsport world when he announced that he'd decided to resign his presidency. And that he intended to quit in October this year, a full twelve months before his mandate runs out. Three weeks later, though, Mosley has made a U-turn and now says he won't be quitting, although whether he'll stand for re-election next year remains to be seen. "We will worry about that later," he said.

The Brit also explained that his change of heart regarding his decision had come about mainly through other people urging him to stay. "Everybody said you have got to stay," the 64-year-old said. "It's got to the stage where it would have been wrong for the FIA. What they say is that you can't do something like that with so little notice. They need more time."

Time, though, wasn't something Mosley was willing to give the FIA when he first announced his decision to quit as he was adamant that it was what he was going to do and that he wasn't going to change his mind. "I am not an F1 team principal so I don't change my mind every few minutes," he said at the time. Asked by Reuters on Friday about that particular comment Mosley responded: "I suppose it is my old Formula One instincts coming out."  Planet-F1

7/17/04

Williams ride last chance for Pizzonia?  The announcement that Antonio Pizzonia will get the Ralf Schumacher Williams drive in place of Marc Gene gives the Brazilian the chance to prove once and for all whether he has what it takes for F1. Jaguar dropped him because they felt he did not race well. In testing he has proved to be fast, but in race conditions he has wilted.  This chance at Williams is likely to be make or break for his F1 career. If he does well it could open doors for next year, if not his career may be over. Nothing like a little F1 pressure.

7/16/04

Earnhardt & Said press conference   The following is a transcript of a press conference held on Friday, July 16, with Corvette drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Boris Said, as well as Doug Fehan, program manager for Corvette Racing.  The conference was held in conjunction with the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma American Le Mans Series weekend at Infineon Raceway. The main event will be held on Sunday, July 18, at 11 a.m. (PDT).  Transcript

7/16/04

IPS Nashville qualifying results   Qualifying Friday for the Cleanevent 100 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series event on the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed:
1. (11) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 182.386 mph
2. (91) Paul Dana, Dallara-Infiniti, 181.179 mph
3. (33) Leonardo Maia, Dallara-Infiniti, 178.801 mph
4. (10) Rolando Quintanilla, Dallara-Infiniti, 177.625 mph
5. (3) Jesse Mason, Dallara-Infiniti, 176.652 mph
6. (5) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 176.451 mph
7. (22) Ross Fonferko, Dallara-Infiniti, 175.998 mph
8. (2) Al Unser, Dallara-Infiniti, 175.662 mph
9. (64) Brad Pollard, Dallara-Infiniti, 174.982 mph
10. (76) P.J. Chesson, Dallara-Infiniti, 174.617
11. (24) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, no speed

7/16/04

Earnhardt arrives at Infineon Raceway   Pictured with NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. this morning at Infineon Raceway are Boris Said, Ron Fellows and Max Papis.


Please credit ALMS/Rick Dole.

7/16/04

Vickers statement on Papa Joe Hendrick    "I cannot personally thank Papa Joe enough for the lasting opportunity he helped create for everyone at Hendrick Motorsports, including myself. He was someone who truly cared, always stopping to speak with anyone and everyone, and was always excited to be in the shop around his guys on the No. 25 team. I'll remember Pop as a true leader and an inspiration to everyone he touched. He was a genuinely nice person that cared for each of us and he will be missed." [EDITOR'S NOTE: Joseph R. "Papa Joe" Hendrick Jr. passed away Wednesday evening at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. He was 84. For years, Hendrick owned the No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports team and most recently shared that role with his grandson, Ricky Hendrick.]

7/16/04

Mosley to stay on  The FIA Senate have met and unanimously called on Max Mosley to continue in his post at the FIA until the end of his mandate in October 2005. Mosley has agreed to the Senates request and has expressed his gratitude with the confidence that has been shown in him.

7/16/04

Buddy Rice to visit White House   Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice and team members from Rahal Letterman Racing, along with Indy Racing League President Tony George, will visit the White House on Monday, July 19, to meet with United States President George W. Bush. Along with the team, the Borg Warner Trophy and the winning car from this year's 500-Mile Race will be on display on the South Lawn of the White House. Rice, winner of the 88th Indianapolis 500, continues his post-win media tour, which has kept him busy since the checkered flag fell on May 30. Rice also was the winner of the last IRL IndyCar Series event at Kansas Speedway on July 4. "It will be a great honor to be at the White House and meet President Bush," Rice said. "I think it is a huge statement for IndyCar (Series) racing that we'll have our Indy 500-winning car and the Borg Warner Trophy at the White House. I'm honored that I was American and won the biggest auto race in the world. I'm very excited for this opportunity."  Rice is the first winner to visit the White House following his 500 victory since Rick Mears visited the current President's father, George H.W. Bush, in 1991. Team co-owner Rahal has been to the White House in the past, but never as an owner of a winning car. "I was fortunate to go to the White House previously, but this event is such a monumental moment for our Rahal Letterman Racing team," Rahal said. "I couldn't be happier for Buddy and the entire Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda squad. They enjoyed one of the best months ever at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and to take that car and the team to the White House and meet the President is a great honor."

7/16/04

Champ Car/IRL unification a dead issue   Following on the initiative of Roger Penske to explore a unification of open wheel racing, ownership representatives of Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League have met with Mr. Penske to consider the issues. While ownership representatives from both series agree that one open wheel series is the optimal situation, it is the belief of all involved that the time is not right for further discussion of unification. Both parties appreciate the efforts of Mr. Penske, and both parties believe that each has a better understanding of where common ground exists. No more meetings are planned and both series are moving forward with their future plans. IRL & Champ Car  [Editor's Note:  As Mark Cipolloni wrote in his recent article, unification is impossible.  The only hope is some sort of open-wheel IROC series as proposed.  From that might spawn an eventual unification, but if it doesn't, at least it will thaw the hostile feelings between both sides.]

7/16/04

DaimlerChrysler launches HEMI.com Web site    Since it was first introduced into the world of motorsports more than 50 years ago, the HEMI® engine has stood for unparalleled automotive power and performance. In response to the overwhelming interest and popularity of the HEMI engine, DaimlerChrysler has launched the official HEMI.com Web site dedicated to HEMI owners and enthusiasts worldwide (www.HEMI.com).

HEMI.com is an interactive Web site that presents a historical timeline of the evolution of the HEMI engine, beginning with HEMI’s inception back in the early 1950s. The development of the legendary 426 HEMI, which revolutionized NASCAR and NHRA racing (and was ultimately banned by NASCAR), is featured, along with the new generation 5.7L HEMI. In addition, Web surfers will find vintage photographs and biographical information featuring the people who were behind the most famous automotive powerplant in the world.

"HEMI.com was created because of the HEMI loyalists around the globe," said Ron McDaniel, Director of Advanced Service and Technical Information - Chrysler Group. "Interest in collectible muscle cars of the ‘60s and ‘70s is at an all-time high. We wanted to have a place where HEMI enthusiasts could get the official story of the HEMI, and a new generation of HEMI enthusiasts can find everything they want to know about the HEMI and have fun doing it."

The racing destination within the site includes photos and biographical information featuring the drivers from the world of racing who made the HEMI synonymous with winning. The list includes racing legends Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Don Garlits, Dick Landy and Sox & Martin and reads like the roster from racing's hall of fame.

For the history buff, the site contains vintage ads from the 1950s and ‘60s, when Detroit muscle was king. For the more technically minded, HEMI.com contains specifications for the historic HEMI engines and provides graphic details of how these engines managed to produce such incredible power. Visitors to the site can also visit our multimedia section where they can download their favorite HEMI ads and wallpaper images.

"DaimlerChrysler is fortunate to have such passionate and loyal followers who know and love our HEMI engines," said McDaniel. "We expect the Web site to be a popular gathering place among HEMI enthusiasts, old and new." - DaimlerChrysler

7/16/04

Dale Jr. wins ESPY award    Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 8 Budweiser team and winner of the 2004 Daytona 500, scored a victory of a different sort Wednesday night, winning the ESPY Award for “Best Drive.”   The announcement came at the annual ESPY Awards banquet Wednesday at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. Fan voting determined the winners of 38 different categories. ESPN, the sports cable network that created the ESPYs in 1993 to recognize sports excellence, will televise the show Sunday, July 18 at 9 p.m. ET. Dale Jr. was unable to attend because of scheduling conflicts.  Other nominees in the “Best Driver” category included six-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher, 2003 NHRA Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon, Indy Racing League champion Scott Dixon and 2003 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champ Matt Kenseth. This marks the second straight year a NASCAR driver has won the ESPY for “Best Driver”. Tony Stewart earned the honor in 2003. NASCAR drivers have won the award seven times in 12 years, led by Jeff Gordon with three (1996, 1998, 1999). -- Budweiser Racing

7/16/04

FIA releases proposed changes to slow cars  The FIA has provided the details of a package of measures to reduce the performance of Formula One cars. These measures are likely to be imposed if satisfactory proposals have not been agreed by at least 8 teams and presented to the FIA before the sixth of September 2004.
1. Aerodynamics (2005)
Diffuser height limited, front wing raised, rear wing element moved forward and changes to the bodywork immediately in front of the rear wheels. Together, these changes are estimated to reduce downforce on a current car by at least 25%, but reduce drag by less than 4%.   Explanation: lower downforce will reduce speeds, particularly in fast corners, and slightly increase braking distances, while the small reduction in drag will have a minimal effect on straight-line speeds.
2. Tires (2005)
A driver may choose from two types of tire, as in 2004. He will then have two sets of his chosen tire, one for Friday and Saturday practice, the other for qualifying and the race. A damaged tire can be replaced during the race (taken from the first set), but the car cannot be refueled at the same time as the damaged tire is changed.   Explanation: a tire which must last 350 km rather than 80 km will have less grip, reducing cornering speeds, increasing braking distances and possibly producing less tire debris or “marbles”.
3. Engine (2005)   One engine to last for two race weekends.   Explanation: both peak and average power will be less than for an engine with a shorter life.
4. Engine (2006)   2.4 liter V8 (90º) with maximum bore diameter, fixed cylinder spacing, minimum crankshaft centre line height, minimum weight and minimum height of centre of gravity. Direct fuel injection, variable geometry inlet systems, variable geometry exhaust systems, variable valve timing and variable valve lift systems all prohibited. Only one spark plug, one coil and one injector per cylinder. Exotic materials banned.   Explanation: a 20% reduction in capacity will produce a corresponding drop in power. Constraints on design and the use of materials will significantly slow the rate of power increase and reduce the scope for using engine design to improve chassis characteristics. Keeping existing cylinder sizes retains many current engine components while keeping engine revs close to current levels.
5. Other engines   During 2006 and 2007, teams which cannot obtain a 2.4 liter engine will be able to use a 3 liter V10 with power restricted by means of a rev limit fixed by the FIA.  Explanation: this will ensure that all teams (including new entrants) have access to a competitive engine, even if supplies of the new 2.4 are initially restricted.

7/16/04

Ralf's wife quits after just one race  The 27-year-old Cora Schumacher, wife of F1 driver Ralf, has called it quits on her motor racing career after just one race in the Mini Challenge series.  "I just can't do it right now. Even though I had a lot of fun at my racing premiere six weeks ago, I just can't do it," Cora told The Sun.  "The only important thing is that Ralf gets better. Everything else takes second priority."

7/16/04

Jordan blames tough schedule on poor results  Jordan have only scored points in two races this season, Monaco and Montreal.  "Six races in eight weeks has to be the toughest schedule any of us involved in Formula One has ever encountered and for a team the size of Jordan that has taken its toll in terms of performance," Eddie told Formula1.com.

"With all the resources stretched just trying to keep the show on the road from Monaco through to the British GP unfortunately we haven't been able to develop the EJ14 as we needed to. In both France and Britain we dropped off the pace which was very disappointing."

"We are testing at Silverstone with some new chassis components which look promising and we should have a new aero package ready for Spa. With the six-week testing ban effective during this time we will at least be able to catch up in the factory and start planning for 2005," the Irishman said.

7/16/04

India F1 project dead  Andhra Pradesh on Thursday announced abandoning a bid to set up the world's 19th Formula One racetrack on the outskirts of Hyderabad.  Replying to a question, Revenue Minister Dharmana Prasada Rao told the state assembly, "No further steps will be taken to pursue this project since it is not a priority for us."  He said the Congress-led government, which assumed office in mid-May, decided against allotting land for Formula One racetrack at Gopanpally of Rangareddy district.  "Neither government land would be allotted nor private land acquired for the project," he added.

7/16/04

Tour de Road America    The Tour de Road America benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation is extremely pleased to announce the addition of Herdez Competition driver’s Ryan Hunter-Reay and Mario Dominguez.

The Tour de Road America brings together these popular drivers from the Champ Car World Series and large contingent of local cycling enthusiasts riding together to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) supporting cancer survivorship. In the weeks following Lance’s bid for an amazing 6th Tour de France victory, Champ Car drivers will join a group of cyclists who have made substantial donations to the LAF and together will ride 5 laps around one of America’s premier road course facilities, Road America.

"Lance Armstrong is an inspiration,” says Hunter-Reay. “I am reading his book right now and as an athlete and human being I have an immense amount of respect for him and his foundation. I am honored to participate in the Tour de Road America and I look forward to the opportunity to ride with the Champ Car fans at Road America in effort to support the foundation. Lance is not only an inspiration because of the victories he has achieved, but because his achievements have come through adversity, his own physical health, the
biggest adversity for an athlete.”

"Lance is a hero of mine and a fine example for young people with dreams around the world,” says Dominguez. “I am really excited about the event at Road America and honored to support the foundation."

The event will be a terrific opportunity for a community of cyclists to meet Ryan and Mario and bicycle around 4.048 miles of the hilly, sweeping turns of the beautiful Road America race course while raising money for the LAF. .  More....

7/16/04

Why no help for Reynard?    A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com,  I'm still curious why as of yet, they have not given Derrick Walker some time to develop his Reynards. Rules stability aside it is still bad for Champ Car to have this one inferior car with no real chance to level the field a little on any given race day. This chassis freeze came in just after Derrick bought the assets of Reynard North America effectively screwing Derrick and wasting his money. They should have considered this and given some type of moratorium to the rule early in the game so that Derrick would have the chance to sell a competitive car. This could have brought more drivers/teams into the series with a low cost alternative to the Lola. Now that this wasn't the case who would want to buy his car if they know they have no chance of better than p8 unless enough people get taken out of the race (Mario Haberfeld's Toronto result for instance)?  And why even have a constructors cup when it is absolutely impossible for Derrick's Reynard to compete in it?  The IRL Chevy thing and this are not the same! Chevy had the chance to step up before Toyota and Honda came. They chose not to. Derrick decided to buy the intelligent assets of Reynard and then before he could fully appreciate his car, Chassis Freeze! This to me is still a major black eye on this series and by allowing him some chance to develop this car then there could be benefits in competition as well as in the roster! Maybe if Derrick was making a little more money on his Reynards Michael Valiante would have been in this year's roster from the beginning. With the talk of a new chassis not coming into play until 2006, we have to not only watch this painful embarrassment the rest of this season but next season too! Let's be serious! Let Derrick bring a competitive Reynard to the races soon and I'm sure it will benefit Champ Car, if not this year then definitely next year!   It would help make Champ Car seem a little more legitimate and less of a spec series!  Brian Jones  Dear Brian, There were a lot of meetings held regarding giving the Reynards some much needed mods.  As we understand it, when they put the Reynard in the wind tunnel against the Lola, the Reynard actually generated more downforce than the Lola.  However, the Lola generates more downforce when the chassis is raised for most tracks because of the bumps. Apparently the upgrades required for the Reynard were not inexpensive and there just were not enough customers willing to share in all the costs involved.  Mark C.

7/16/04

Lamborghini aims to challenge Earnhardt Corvette   NASCAR stars usually battle bumper-to-bumper and fender-to-fender in deep-throated American sport sedans – but when NASCAR Nextel Cup frontrunner and 2004 Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. hits the track this weekend, his competition will have an exotically foreign sound.   Earnhardt, Jr will make a rare appearance in round four of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, California on Friday through Sunday at the wheel of a Chevrolet Corvette in the popular GTS (Grand Touring Sport) class for cars that are production-based but highly modified – and that’s where the Krohn-Barbour Racing team will race for the first time with two Lamborghini Murciélago R-GTs, just three weeks after giving the glamorous Italian marque its US sports car racing debut with a single car.

On its US debut, the Lamborghini of Brabham and Kox challenged for third place in the GTS-class all the way to the finish line, missing the glory of a podium position by less than seven-tenths of a second after two hours and 45 minutes of racing. The Lamborghini again challenged for third place at Lime Rock, Connecticut, two weeks ago, when the track surface was made greasy by rain, but the car subsequently lost an hour in the pits after Kox was blamelessly side-swiped by a rival Saleen S7R.

Driver turned team manager Dick Barbour said: “We’re very excited about having our new team up to full strength. For the first time, fans will be able to see not just one Lamborghini racing, but two. The car’s gone that little bit faster every time it’s hit the track, and I’m sure we’ll make more progress this weekend. At the same time, we do have to be realistic – this weekend will be the 50th ALMS race that the Corvettes have taken part in, and it’s only the Lamborghini’s third. We still have plenty of work to do to get the car fully up to speed.”

7/16/04

ALMS testing starts today   Testing starts today at Infineon Raceway for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma. ALMS cars will have two hours of testing time starting at 12:50 p.m. (PDT) on the 2.53-mile road racing circuit located an hour north of San Francisco. NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will be making his ALMS debut in the race, driving a third Chevrolet Corvette C5-R entered by the GM factory Corvette Racing team. Earnhardt will co-drive with road racing veteran Boris Said. The Dyson Racing team will be going for its second win in a row at Infineon Raceway. Last year, James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger pulled off a stunning upset by defeating the favored Audis and became the first to win in the ALMS with a car from the second Prototype class. Official practice and qualifying will be held Saturday, along with a Fan Forum and an autograph session featuring all ALMS drivers. Sunday's race starts at 11 a.m. (PDT) and will be a timed event of two hours and 45 minutes. CBS Sports will have live TV coverage in North America from 3-5 p.m. (Eastern) while MotorsTV will have full live coverage in Europe. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage of both qualifying and the race online at www.americanlemans.com. Marco Werner, driver of the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 and the 2003 ALMS Prototype champion, will chat live with fans on AmericanLeMans.com at 8 p.m. (Eastern) on Friday.

7/16/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

No luck for Nick as Pizzonia gets green-light
McLaren step is 'biggest' in F1 - Coulthard
Webber's staying put - Jaguar's Pitchforth
No change for Hockenheim qualifying
Button hopes BAR bubble doesn't burst
F1 should adopt 'two day' format - Renault's Symonds
F1 'won't rest' in summer break - Williams
Mayor 'does not expect' London GP
'B' car was expensive - McLaren's Dennis 

7/16/04

Toronto's best kept secret   While in Toronto last weekend we took the time to visit the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame located inside Turn 5 of the Champ Car track. Hardly anyone mentions this Hall and that's too bad because they have a nice display of historic cars driven by famous Canadian drivers. Next time you go to Toronto, stop by and check it out. Remember when the Player's cars were more of a powder blue?  Recognize any of these cars?

Photos by Mark Cipolloni

7/16/04

Reaction to Green-White-Checker announcement   A “green-white-checkered” finish format will be used for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series beginning with next weekend’s races at New Hampshire International Speedway, NASCAR officials announced today. “The green-white-checkered format is an attempt to achieve everyone’s goals – a green-flag finish,” NASCAR President Mike Helton said. “This change hopefully will provide competitive finishes in the relatively rare occasions it is warranted. This format has been successful in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and considering the tight competition week in and week out in the other two national series, we feel the time is right to use the same procedure in all three national series.”

BRANDON WHITT, Driver, #38 Cure Autism Now/Werner Ladder Truck:
NOTE: TRUCK SERIES ALREADY IMPLEMENTS UNLIMITED GREEN/WHITE/CHECKERED FINISHES: “It’s worked pretty well with the Truck Series and I believe, at least most of the time, it will work well for the Cup and Busch guys too. There will be times when it doesn’t seem to be all that great and there will be times when they try it but finish under caution anyway. But by and large, this gives the fans something extra.  For the fans, it’s a better deal. For pure racing, it’s a better deal. In the long run, yeah, a guaranteed green-flag finish is the best way to go. But, again, a lot of that depends on where you are at the time. If you are leading, it stinks. If not, it’s a great idea.”
KEN SCHRADER, Driver, #49 Schwan’s Home Service Dodge:  “I’ve felt all along we needed to stay with where we are. It’s worked well for us, and it’s been a good way to run the races. Cup is different than everything else. We run distances, long distances, and so many times fuel mileage comes into play. This isn’t like adding extra innings in baseball or an overtime period in basketball. It’s like stopping everything, and starting from scratch – except, this time, we’re just running two laps.  Two laps of green flag racing at a Talladega with a late caution? That’s gonna get awfully interesting. We’ve gone down that road before and the results aren’t too pretty.  But, hey, give it a shot and see how things work out. Most of the time, it won’t make any difference at all because most races end under green anyway.”
JEFF GREEN, Driver, #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge:  “I don’t really have a problem with it. You have a couple of green flag laps at the end of the race and one shot to get it done. If you don’t, then you finish under caution. That’s probably a pretty good compromise.  It’s like I’ve said, the first time I am really close on fuel and we go an extra couple of laps, I’m probably not going to like it very much. If I am leading the race, I am probably not going to like it very much. But if I have plenty of fuel and I’m second place on back, yeah, I’m really in favor of it.  I understand the fans wanting a green flag finish, and they should have that. We just have to be careful not to go over the line accomplishing that, and I think this particular plan is right where it should be.” 
JAY ROBINSON, Owner, #49 Advil Ford (Derrike Cope); #39 Yahoo! Ford (Tina Gordon:  “From a fan’s perspective, it’s probably a good middle-of-the-road deal. Still no guarantee of a green-flag finish but a better chance than you had before. But you don’t have to worry about being out there some 10 or 20 or 30 laps longer than you would have been, especially if fuel is a situation, because you only get one chance to finish under green.  At some tracks, it’s probably no big deal. At others, well, as the guy who has to pay the bills to fix these cars, it’s a little dicey.”

7/16/04

New crew chief for Ward    Haas CNC Racing announced today the appointment of Bill Ingle as crew chief of the NetZero Racing Team. Tony Furr, who had been serving as crew chief since April 2003, will now serve as Shop Foreman. Ingle, who had been overseeing the preparation of both the #0 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series NetZero Chevrolet driven by Ward Burton and the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolets driven by Jason Leffler in the Busch Series, will take over duties as crew chief effective immediately. “Essentially, we just swapped their positions,” stated Joe Custer, General Manager of Haas CNC Racing. “We originally asked Tony to join our team last year as shop foreman and about halfway through the season we had the need to fill the crew chief role. Obviously this team is not performing as well as we would like and we are very lucky to have the kind of depth we have here at Haas CNC Racing. Both Tony and Bill are more than capable of handling both of these roles and we’re hoping that having Tony back at the shop overseeing the preparation of both the Busch and Cup cars, and Bill at the track leading our NEXTEL Cup Series team might help us achieve the results we think we’re capable of.   I’m looking at this as my latest challenge,” said Ingle. “I was 28 years old the first time I took on my first job as crew chief and it was a challenge then too. Now, the best things I have going for me are my experience and the resources of Haas CNC Racing. I’m not sure there is anything seriously wrong with this team, and sometimes all you really need is a little bit of change.” NetZero Racing

7/16/04
Industry News

Thieves steal from kids camp  UPDATE Randolph County [NC] sheriff's deputies have charged three teenagers in the theft of the bronze statue from the Petty racing family's new Victory Junction Gang Camp for sick children. Andrew Marco Callicutt, 19, and Edward York Branch, 18, both of Randleman; and Charles Thurman Bailey Jr., 17, of Trinity, have all been charged with felony larceny. Deputies said they obtained arrest warrants Tuesday and served them on Callicutt and Bailey, who were each placed under $2,500 bonds. Officers said Wednesday afternoon that Branch was away with a relative and would be served later. All three confessed to stealing the statue, said Lt. Chris Maness. Investigators don't know why the teenagers stole it. Maness speculated that the theft was a "spur-of-the-moment thing." The sculpture depicts two children playing leap frog. It was stolen between June 28 and June 29. That was less than two weeks after the Petty racing family opened the camp for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. The statue has since been returned to the camp. The staff plans to place it back in its original location and secure it to prevent another theft. Detectives said they got a tip July 2 that the teenagers were bragging about stealing the statue, which is 6 feet high and 4 feet wide. Fearing the law was closing in on them, they abandoned the statue in a church parking lot on Providence Church Road on the night of June 30, authorities said. Kyle Petty and his wife, Pattie, bought the $1,500 sculpture from Metropolitan Galleries in High Point. It was imported from Thailand. News & Record  6/30/04 - Missing: two children, 6 feet tall, with metallic complexions and a combined weight of several hundred pounds. Police have few clues, but one thing is certain. The kids didn’t run away. Thieves boosted a bronze statue from the Victory Junction Gang Camp late Monday or early Tuesday, less than two weeks after the Petty racing family opened their camp for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Administrators reported the theft to Randolph County sheriff’s deputies about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. “Just the brazenness of it,” said executive director Brian Collier. “We’re in a neighborhood, and they pulled right up, took the statue and made off. You can’t get any lower, to me, than stealing from a children’s camp, especially children who suffer from life-threatening illnesses.” The statue, which was beside a gatehouse at the camp’s front entrance, depicts two children playing leap frog. It is about 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Deputies are investigating the theft and have no suspects or leads. Camp officials were trying Tuesday to contact the art gallery that donated the statue to determine its value. Collier said a rough estimate is between $7,000 and $10,000. “I just hope that someone either took it and returns it, or they know who took it and they turn it in,” he said. Anyone with information is being asked to call Detective Brian Arrington at 336-318-6699 or Randolph County Crimestoppers at (800) 672-2530 News and Record

7/15/04

Feedback on Champ Car/IRL unification article    A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com,  With regard to Mark Cipolloni's new Champ Car/IRL unification article, I could not agree more.  The basis of my argument would be that the NFL and NFL fans had about the same attitude toward the AFL as Champ Cars to IRL. But they got together for the first “super bowl”.   After several years the leagues merged. My point is/was it all started with one silly little post-season race. Everyone watched. Both leagues probably made a bundle – even though “everyone” knew that the AFL didn’t stand a chance. Back then the hostilities were HIGH!!!  Rules were different. There was fighting for players and venues. There were arguments about attendance. Just one little game. Just two races (or your four). You’ve solved the problem of the cars. You’ve found a time slot and some good venues. Even TG has something to gain!  Jeff Skinner, Northridge, CA.

7/15/04

Interim crew chief for Labonte   Brandon Thomas, a member of the Joe Gibbs Racing engineering department, will serve as interim crew chief for Bobby Labonte’s No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Series, team officials announced July 15. Thomas takes over for Michael McSwain, who was released from his duties as crew chief July 14 after serving as crew chief for the 2003 season and 18 races in the 2004 season. Team officials have not set a timetable for when a permanent crew chief will be hired. “Brandon is a veteran employee of Joe Gibbs Racing and has worked closely with Bobby and the Interstate Batteries crew,” J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, said. “We’re confident in his ability to lead us through this time of transition.” Thomas, 30, from Kingsport, Tenn., spent the 2003 season as the engineer for Labonte and served as crew chief for Mike Bliss’ JGR-prepared No. 80 Slim Jim/Act II Chevrolet July 11 in the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Bliss was the top-qualifying JGR car at Chicago, starting seventh and finishing 31st after an accident on Lap 205. Thomas began his JGR career in December 2001 in the shock department, before leaving in June 2002 to serve as John Andretti’s crew chief at Petty Enterprises for the remainder of the 2002 season. After his stint at Petty, Thomas returned to JGR for the 2003 season as Labonte’s engineer. During the 2004 season he has served as the head of Superspeeedway research and development for JGR.  Prior to coming to JGR in 2001, Thomas served as engineer for Rusty Wallace at Penske Racing South from Aug. 1999-Nov. 2001. During that time, Wallace scored six wins and finished seventh in points in 2000 and 2001. From 1998-July 1999, Thomas was the assistant race engineer for Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers and driver Alex Barron in CART. Thomas earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech University in 1997. “I’m excited for the opportunity to help the team out as interim crew chief,” Thomas said. “I enjoy working with Bobby and the Interstate Batteries crew. I just want to help the team get through this transition period and put ourselves in a good position as we get closer to the final 10 races.”

7/15/04

Chevy teams test at Michigan   Six IRL IndyCar® Series teams visited Michigan International Speedway on July 13 in preparation for the Aug. 1 Michigan Indy 400.  Red Bull Cheever Racing drivers Alex Barron, the 2003 winner at Michigan, and rookie Ed Carpenter, Panther Racing drivers Tomas Scheckter and Townsend Bell, Patrick Racing driver Jaques Lazier and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver Felipe Giaffone participated in the one-day manufacturer's test.  "Chevy is working very hard," Carpenter said. "Anytime Chevrolet comes to Michigan (International Speedway) it's a really big event for them with Detroit just down the road."  Scheckter, who won the inaugural IndyCar Series event at Michigan, said a strong performance at MIS is what Chevrolet needs.  "Obviously, everybody needs to do their part, and I know Chevrolet is working very hard," Scheckter said. "I know it's very important here to have a strong engine. The next couple of races I think we really need to put our foot down and make sure we come up with a win."  Lazier, who is on a race-to-race deal with Jackson, Mich., native Pat Patrick's team, tested the No. 20 Patrick Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone entry for the first time.   "I'm extremely honored to be driving for Pat," Lazier said. "I was fortunate to run with A.J. (Foyt) last year. Now this year, I'm fortunate to run with Pat. Just within a couple of months, I was able to strengthen my resume, and I'm very excited about the opportunity. I'm very comfortable with the team, and I think it's an incredible team."

7/15/04

Papa Joe Hendrick dies   Joseph R. Hendrick Jr., father of Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick and company president John Hendrick, passed away Wednesday evening at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. He was 84.  Fondly referred to as "Papa Joe," Hendrick began his auto-racing career in the early 1960s with longtime friend Frank Edwards, winning races throughout the state of Virginia at tracks like South Boston, Martinsville and Richmond.  Over the years, Papa Joe Hendrick became a fixture at Hendrick Motorsports, most recently co-owning the No. 25 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series team and the No. 5 NASCAR Busch Series team with grandson Ricky Hendrick, while spearheading the organization's show-car operation.  A decorated veteran, Papa Joe proudly served his country in World War II as a flight engineer and gunner in the Air Force.  In June, Gov. Mike Easley presented Papa Joe and his wife, Mary, with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine -- the state of North Carolina's highest honor bestowed on a citizen for dedication and extended length of service to his or her organization.  Visitation will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday and will be immediately followed by a 1 p.m. memorial service at the Central Church of God, 5301 Sardis Rd., Charlotte, NC 28270.  For friends and family in Virginia, a Sunday graveside service will be held at Union Chapel Methodist Church in Palmer Springs at 2 p.m.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Nazareth Children's Home, P.O. Box 1438, Rockwell, NC 28138, or the Papa Joe Hendrick Fund, care of the Hendrick Marrow Program, 4400 Papa Joe Hendrick Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28262.

7/15/04

Lazier turns laps for Patrick Racing   Former IRL IndyCar regular Jaques Lazier turned laps for Patrick Racing during a test for Chevrolet teams at the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway on Tuesday. Lazier has a race-to-race deal to drive Pat Patrick's No. 20 Dallara/Chevy.  Fort Worth Star Telegram

7/15/04

Gossage reiterates ultimatum  Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said he expects the Indy Racing League to release its 2005 IndyCar Series schedule before the end of the month.  And Gossage reiterated the only way TMS' second IRL date will appear on the lineup is if it remains as the season-ender. Gossage said he has no intention of changing the season-ender-or-nothing proposal he pitched last month.  "We haven't offered that as a consideration," Gossage said. "They haven't asked, we haven't offered. To have that last race is special."  Gossage has asked the IRL to consider moving its finale into late September to create a greater window between the open-wheel race and the inaugural NASCAR Nextel Cup fall race at TMS on Nov. 6, 2005.  Fort Worth Star Telegram

7/15/04

Siemens Corp signs to sponsor New Hampshire races  Siemens Corporation will title sponsor New Hampshire Int’l Speedway’s four July 23-25 NASCAR races. The July 25 Nextel Cup race will be called the Siemens 300.

7/15/04

More info on new Champ Car game The new Champ Car racing simulation and video game that we previously reported was in the works is being done by a company called SE Games.  Their website is http://www.s-egames.com/main.html where you can find more information about them.  It should be noted that the key principals are from Papyrus, who were the best in the business at racing simulation games.

7/15/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

Israeli, 41, tests Jordan F1
'We don't need a German' - BMW's Theissen
'I'll quit if F1 is too fast' - Coulthard
Test ban will favor Ferrari - BAR's Willis
Coulthard's 'in the running' - Toyota
F1 'deceived the public' - Mike Gascoyne
Marc Gene is 'stable' - Sam Michael
Is overtaking everything ... ?
Webber won't race a Williams
Bernie 'strengthening political contacts'
BMW wants test drivers to stay
'05 reform waits for Friday  

7/15/04

Featherlite extends with Champ Car Champ Car and Iowa-based Featherlite, Inc. announced on July 10, 2004 in Toronto the extension of their relationship through 2006, continuing a long standing partnership that originally began in 1995. Featherlite will continue as the "Official Trailer of Champ Car," providing the series with custom-built trailers designed to transport equipment to each North American event on the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford schedule.  "We are extremely pleased to continue our partnership with Featherlite for the next two seasons of the Champ Car World Series," said Champ Car president Dick Eidswick. "The custom-built Featherlite trailers used by Champ Car, our support series, our teams and our many suppliers serve a vital role in the overall success of our sport. They allow us to take our product on the road. Working together, we have developed an effective program that meets Featherlite's objectives and allows them to generate and retain business in our paddock, while also providing a platform to showcase their custom trailer capabilities at the track. Featherlite has been a very loyal partner and supporter of Champ Car over the years. We are proud to extend this relationship and we look forward to doing business with Featherlite for years to come."

7/14/04
Industry News

Kyalami sold   Former South African GP venue Kyalami has been sold for $7.1 million to a consortium of businessmen and racing men who have vowed to preserve the circuit.  The new owners are a consortium of businessmen including both businessmen and property developers. It is expected that the circuit will continue to be managed by the new owners but that other parts of the facility will be redeveloped. One of the partners is the Imperial Group, a listed company which is involved in tourism, transportation, the motor trade, leasing, finance and property. The group also includes motorcycle champions Mike Fogg and Jim Redman, and Dave McGregor, a man who has played an important role in motor racing in South Africa for many years. The track was previously owned by the Automobile Association of South Africa, which acquired the venue 11 years ago after financial problems surrounding the South Africa Grand Prix resulted in the collapse of the company which owned the circuit. "The preservation of Kyalami as a world-renowned motorsport icon is of paramount importance to us.," says Mike Fogg. "At the same time we intend developing the property as a unique home for all facets of motoring, from the sport through to the retailing of motor vehicles. The track will remain central to the motoring theme." Grandprix.com  [Editor's Note:  If Champ Car is serious about racing in South Africa, they should race at a proper road course like Kyalami rather than another crash fest street circuit in Durban.]

7/14/04

SAFER Barrier for Dover   Construction is underway at Dover International Speedway in preparation for the new SAFER barriers. The inside backstretch wall of the track is being rebuilt to accommodate the new energy absorbing walls. Because Dover International Speedway encircles Dover Downs Raceway, which features harness racing from November through April, a great deal of work is required to prepare the wall to accommodate the SAFER barrier. 1,132 feet of the 8" thick concrete block wall has been removed, and a 12" rebar-reinforced, poured concrete wall is currently being installed. Kent Construction is installing the new wall, with an anticipated completion date of Sept. 3.

The SAFER barrier will then be attached to this new wall. The SAFER (Steel And Foam Energy Reduction system) barrier walls consist of rectangular steel tubing backed by foam blocks. The technology helps reduce the force of the initial impact, and will extend approximately 30" from the concrete backstretch wall. Dover International Speedway is waiting on additional recommendations from expert advisor Dr. Dean Sicking, of the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska, to proceed with the installation of SAFER barriers on other locations at the track. Each SAFER barrier system is tailor-made to address each track's design challenges. Dr. Sicking and his team are still in the process of finalizing a safe format that will work for other locations at Dover International Speedway.

Dover Motorsports, Inc. will have SAFER barriers installed at all of its facilities for their 2005 events. This includes the Nashville Superspeedway, Gateway International Raceway and Memphis Motorsports Park. "Anything we can do to decrease the risk of injury at the Dover Motorsports family of tracks is a positive," said Denis McGlynn, CEO and president. "Auto racing is such an unpredictable sport. We are pleased to be able to improve our facilities, and protect our competitors, with the addition of the SAFER barriers." - Dover Speedway

7/14/04

ALMS to try new qualifying format   The American Le Mans Series will introduce a new form of "single-car" qualifying for this weekend's Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.  The new qualifying format, which is in a one-race trial at Sonoma, is designed to increase the drama of competition for the New Century Mortgage FastQual Award by giving drivers more of an opportunity to post their best lap times on a track clear of traffic.   However, unlike single-car qualifying formats used in many other racing series, the format for the American Le Mans Series will have multiple cars on the track at the same time, dispatched individually at specific intervals timed to maximize the opportunity for each car to have clear track. The spacing of the cars will also create better opportunities for individual car/driver television coverage as well as coverage by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web.

7/14/04

Wednesday Silverstone test times 

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes M 1m18.105s 57
2 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m18.895s 52
3 Giorgio Pantano Jordan-Ford B 1m22.075s 59
4 Nick Heidfeld Jordan-Ford B 1m27.649s 26
5 Chanoch Nissany Jordan-Ford B 1m36.606s 25

7/14/04

Wednesday Jerez test times 

Pos Driver Team Time Gap To 1st
1. Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1:17.571
2. Jenson Button BAR-Honda 1:17.963 0.392 0.392
3. Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda 1:18.088 0.125 0.517
4. Franck Montagny Renault 1:18.104 0.016 0.533
5. Antonio Pizzonia Williams-BMW 1:18.252 0.148 0.681
6. Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1:18.392 0.140 0.821
7. Ricardo Zonta Toyota 1:18.768 0.376 1.197
8. Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes 1:18.780 0.012 1.209
9. Christian Klien Jaguar 1:19.106 0.326 1.535
10. Marc Gene Williams-BMW 1:19.151 0.045 1.580
11. Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1:19.221 0.070 1.650
12. Bjorn Wirdheim Jaguar 1:19.973 0.752 2.402
13. Heikki Kovalainen Renault 1:20.427 0.454 2.856

7/14/04

Legal firm sponsorship paying off   Jenkins, Jenkins & Jenkins might sound somewhat redundant but the name has moved to the forefront among NASCAR fans.  At least, that’s what it looks like if you ask the switchboard operator at the Maryland law firm.  The company’s phones have been ringing off the hook since the first of the year, when Jenkins, Jenkins & Jenkins announced it would become a sponsor for teams in NASCAR racing. What began as an idea to serve as an associate sponsor for a single NASCAR Nextel Cup team has grown into what most racing observers feel is the most widespread sponsorship for an associate sponsor in NASCAR racing.

“The fans have certainly responded,” said Frank Jenkins, whose father started the law firm. “We get calls every day from fans who have seen our sponsorship on a car or truck, and who need legal representation.  If it is somebody in the state of Maryland, we can represent them ourselves. If outside the state, we have a large group of legal firms with whom we have referral agreements, and we can find them a quality law firm who will represent them well,” Jenkins said.

Indeed, Jenkins, Jenkins & Jenkins has become a near-household name among NASCAR fans. The law firm is the first to sponsor stock car racing teams on a season-long basis, and is involved in all three of NASCAR’s top three divisions – Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck.  “We wanted to be involved primarily because we saw it as a great way of marketing our firm and of helping NASCAR fans,” Jenkins said. “The fact that no legal firm had ever tried it just added to the incentive. Being on the cutting edge of something as big as this is pretty exciting, and the results have justified our investment.”

Teams carrying the Jenkins, Jenkins & Jenkins colors include the #0 NetZero car of driver Ward Burton, who is carrying the firm’s logo throughout out NASCAR Nextel Cup season, as is the #02 Score Motorsports entry of driver Hermie Sadler. In the NASCAR Busch Series, Jenkins & Jenkins is an associate sponsor on the #87 Cellular One entry of driver Joe Nemechek; the #00 Haas/CNC entry of driver Jason Leffler; the #02 Score Motorsports Busch car of Sadler; and the #77 Moy Racing-owned Busch entry. Teams in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series include the Hamilton-owned #4 and #18 entries; the #38 Cure Autism Now/Werner Ladders Ford of driver Brandon Whitt; and the #21 Innovative Motorsports Toyota of driver Hank Parker, Jr.

7/14/04

Evernham responds to NASCAR penalties   Responding to the penalties imposed by NASCAR today, Ray Evernham, president and CEO of Evernham Motorsports, issued the following statement: “NASCAR has made its decision; now it’s time to move on,” Evernham said. “I understand why Tommy (Baldwin, crew chief for the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) and the team reacted the way they did in the heat of competition. NASCAR has rules. I agree with rules. Evernham Motorsports also has rules. NASCAR has made its decision and imposed its penalties. Now, I will impose the appropriate penalties for Evernham Motorsports. This is behind us now. As a team, our focus is on the upcoming events and the future.” Evernham Motorsports

7/14/04

Jeff Gordon to appear on Poker program   Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, will go "all in" for charity this Thursday night in Bravo TV's "Celebrity Poker Showdown." Gordon will play for the Jeff Gordon Foundation, which was established in 1999 to help support the physical, social and intellectual needs of children and their families throughout the United States.  Jeff Gordon P.R.

7/14/04

Spa circuit to get new layouts  According to this week's Autosport Magazine, The classic Spa-Francorchamps circuit could have three new layouts if ambitious plans come to fruition. Plans have been unveiled to split the track up for testing and corporate use. This will allow the circuit, which is now a permanent venue, to have two layouts in use simultaneously. A new section of track will be built to facilitate this. It will turn off the run from Eau Rouge to Les Combes and clip the existing layout at Pouhon before cutting across to Blanchimont.

7/14/04

Nelson Piquet Sr. & Jr. as teammates  According to this week's Autosport Magazine, The Piquet Sports squad is aiming to graduate to the GP2 Formula 1 support series in 2005 – and 51-year-old Nelson Piquet could be one of the drivers.  Nelson Angelo Piquet, the 18-year-old son of the three-time F1 world champion, has indicated that he is hoping to move up next year with the same team that is running him in the British Formula 3 Championship. He  stated that his father was also interested in taking the second seat  in what would have to be a two-car operation.

Piquet Jr said: “I’m interested in this GP2 series, and it would be a great step to move up from F3.  If we decide to go GP2 then we’d do it with our own team.  And do you know who wants to be my teammate?   My dad!  Because in GP2 all the teams must enter two cars and he wants to come back to racing.”   Piquet Jr, who jointly leads the British F3 points, explained that his father had been looking at a return to racing for some time. “He wants to do single-seaters,” he said. “I wouldn’t be too unhappy about it.”   Piquet Sports team manager Felipe Vargas pointed out that Piquet Sr had always expressed a desire to drive in the same team as his son. He added, however, that his business commitments in Brazil might make scheduling difficult.

7/14/04

Search on for new Labonte crew chief   Joe Gibbs Racing released Michael McSwain from his duties as crew chief of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Series, team officials announced July 14. McSwain joined Joe Gibbs Racing in December 2002 and served as Bobby Labonte’s crew chief for the 2003 season and the first 18 races of the 2004 season. “Over the past two years, Michael McSwain has worked extremely hard for Joe Gibbs Racing,” J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, said. “This was a difficult decision, but it was time to go in a different direction. We appreciate all that he has done for the team and wish him the best of luck in the future.” McSwain, 37, scored victories with Labonte in 2003 at Atlanta (spring) and the season-finale at Homestead-Miami, en route to an eighth-place finish in the point standings. “Joe Gibbs Racing and I had a successful relationship,” McSwain said. “I wish them the best the remainder of the year and in the future.” An interim crew chief will be named in the near future. Jimmy Makar, senior vice president of racing, will assist the team and the interim crew chief while team officials search for McSwain’s replacement. Makar served as crew chief on the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet from 1992-2002, winning the 1993 Daytona 500 with Dale Jarrett and the 2000 NEXTEL Cup Championship with Labonte. “We hope to make the decision on a permanent crew chief in the near future, but we are going to take our time to find the best person for the job,” Gibbs said.

7/14/04

NASCAR officials out of control   Whether Tony Stewart is guilty or not in this latest storm - his bump-and-run Sunday that put Kasey Kahne into the wall and triggered a pit-road brawl - it is evident that NASCAR and its president, Mike Helton, are losing control of Nextel Cup competitors and their respect as well, for their seeming inability to defuse Stewart.  When a well-respected, three-time champion crew chief such as Ray Evernham, now one of the stock-car tour's top car owners, vows to take matters into his own hands with Stewart because NASCAR can't seem to figure out what to do, something is going awry in the sport.  NASCAR's credibility on a number of issues has been questioned this year, and Sunday's episode is certain to add fuel to that problem.  More at Winston-Salem Journal

7/14/04

Spike Lee slams NASCAR   The ornery movie director and Knicks fanatic nurses a paranoid fantasy about the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing circuit. "I just imagine hearing some country-and-Western song over a loudspeaker at NASCAR: 'Hang them n-- up high! Hang them n-- up high!' I'm not going to no NASCAR," Lee vows in the August issue of Playboy.

7/14/04

Champ Car to get Mall presence  Limelight Media Group, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: LMMG - News) of Memphis, TN announced Monday that it has entered into an exclusive agreement with Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford as the theme partner of the first themed soft zones for malls being developed by the company. The Champ Car Themed Soft Zone will be an extension of the company's vision to expand its captive audience network into high traffic retail locations as well as provide Champ Car with the ability to reach a new audience for its sport. The Zone will have the ability to display race events, Champ Car video, sponsor brand messages and other entertainment content in high definition. Each zone will also be interactive to provide promotional information to patrons visiting the locations. Limelight intends to schedule monthly events surrounding the Zones to further attract attention. Limelight also intends to install Themed Soft Zones in 11 malls in 2004. Limelight also stated that an application for business model patent is in progress.  As previously reported, the Champ Car Themed Soft Zones will feature attractive seating and surroundings that reflect the Champ Car Theme. The focal point of each area is a full multimedia island display with plasma screens airing content and ads. The island display will also include interactive kiosks that allow patrons to interact with the theme sponsor or advertisers.  "We are very pleased that to have Champ Car World Series as a theme partner for our first mall soft zone deployment. Their growing sport is both exciting and entertaining. I believe that the zones will capture a lot of attention in the mall setting," states David V. Lott, President, Limelight Media Group, Inc.

7/14/04

Milwaukee: All IRL tickets now 1/2 price  Faced with a fiasco, The Milwaukee Mile is now selling ALL IRL tickets for 1/2 price online.  Champ Car had a similar deal, but they only sold the cheaper seats for 1/2 price.  Regardless, open wheel oval track racing in the USA is in a sorry state, unable to gain any market share against the monopoly called NASCAR.

7/14/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

Ralf would have raced in France
Teams race six-week ban deadline
Adrian Newey planning sabbatical
'I can't afford to buy a seat' - Davidson
F1's media 'get it wrong' - Ross Brawn
'That's for John Boy' - Mark Webber
F1 hacks are 'not professional' - Coulthard
Panis urges patience on 'B spec' progress
'Test ban won't hurt F1' - Coulthard
Senna was 'smarter' than Schu - Williams
I hope something was wrong with my McLaren' - Coulthard
McLaren won't impede Hakkinen return - Dennis
'It's not Toyota' - Mark Webber   

7/14/04

4th place like a win for Haberfeld  Brazilian driver Mario Haberfeld (Walker Racing) has finished in 4th place at Grand Prix of Toronto (Canada) on July 11, 2004. Haberfeld’s result equals his career-best, when he managed a 4th place in St. Petersburg (Florida) in 2003. “I’m ecstatic! The result was better than what we had hoped for, but it shows that we can be competitive in the series”, he said. “Our goal for the year is to place consistently in the top-10, considering the equipment we have. That being said, anything in the top-6 feels like a win for us.” 

Haberfeld and his team opted for a conservative strategy for the race. The Brazilian looked to run an error-free race, without taking too many chances. “Toronto is famous for accidents, so our main concern was to run until the end avoiding getting caught in the various incidents”, he said. “It was a no-thrills strategy which obviously paid-off for me and some of the other drivers”.

Derrick Walker said, “We maximized our resources with great pit work and Mario drove a very smart race. Since the car development freeze, Champ Car has still not addressed the parity between the car makes. Consequently, results like these reinforce our team’s ability in spite of the rules penalizing the Reynard chassis”.

In addition to the championship points awarded for his final placing, Haberfeld was also awarded an extra point for being the driver who gained the most positions in the race (10), relative to their starting position. “This was a tremendous day for me and Walker Racing. Perhaps this will be the turning point of the season for us, and we will continue to progress throughout the rest of the year”, he concluded.

7/14/04

Toronto Sun calls for switch to IRL  This Toronto Sun article by Dean McNulty, who has been accused of being a Champ Car hater for years, calls for Molson to replace Champ Car with the IRL starting next year.   He writes, The contract with Champ Car is up for renewal both in Toronto and at the Vancouver Indy. Molson is expected to sign a five-year sponsorship extension soon for the Toronto and Vancouver events without specifying a particular circuit.........When Singleton sits down to draw next year's 20th anniversary celebration, where does he go to bring back to Toronto people who were so much a part of the event's history? He goes to Tony George. As distasteful as that may seem to the hordes of fanatical Champ Car fans, deep in their hearts they must know it, too.  [Editor's Note:  Mr. McNulty is going to be very disappointed when he reads the announcement that Champ Car has soon signed a long-term extension to race in Toronto and Vancouver....and possibly Calgary.  Rumor has it that Molson and Champ Car will ask that he be replaced from covering future events after enduring years of negative articles and pandering to the IRL.  This Toronto Star article sheds light on the real story, that the IRL will soon be shut out of Toronto for a very long time.]

7/13/04

Mods needed to make IRL cars road race ready   What will be needed to run road courses with today’s IRL cars?  It is generally agreed the left-side suspensions will have to be changed, improved brakes will be needed, refueling mods are called for and either major gearbox mods or new gearboxes will be required. A. J. Foyt says it will cost between $50K to $75K per car to do the job. Not cheap. National Speed Sport News [Editor's Note: Take those figures and double them.  They left out sets of gears, new sets of springs, they will need a whole new gearbox because modifying the existing one will result in numerous gearbox failures, different wings, better clutches, and new radiators to combat overheating that will result, new exhaust headers, etc.]

7/13/04

Baldwin awaits NASCAR penalty   UPDATE NASCAR NEXTEL Cup crew chief Tommy Baldwin was fined $10,000 for an incident that occurred this past weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. Baldwin, the crew chief for the #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge of Kasey Kahne, was fined $5,000 for violating Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rule Book (Actions detrimental to stock car racing). That penalty was assessed for being involved in an altercation in another Competitor’s pit area. Baldwin also was fined $5,000 for violating Section 9-4-A of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rule Book (The crew chief assumes responsibility for the actions of his/her driver, car owner and team members), and placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2004. The incident occurred during Sunday’s Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland. NASCAR PR  7/13/04 - NASCAR crew chief Tommy Baldwin expects to find out Tuesday what penalty, if any, he will receive for being the instigator of a pit fracas during Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway. "They'll let us know (Tuesday). Usually that's fine day," Baldwin said during a break in Brickyard 400 testing today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Baldwin was spurred into action when his driver, Kasey Kahne, was knocked into the wall on a restart by eventual Tropicana 400 winner Tony Stewart. Followed by several Evernham Motorsports crewmen, Baldwin charged from his pit into the pit area of Stewart's Joe Gibbs Racing team and a shoving match ensued. Baldwin expects at least a fine but said he doesn't deserve to be penalized at all. "I hope (NASCAR) doesn't do anything because I didn't do anything wrong," he said. "It looked a lot worse than it was." Team owner Ray Evernham was livid and said Stewart should be suspended. But NASCAR ruled it a racing incident and said no action would be taken against Stewart.  Indy Star

7/13/04

Silverstone Day 1: Kimi on top 

1. K. Raikkonen – McLaren - 1:17.649 – 95 laps
2. D. Coulthard – McLaren - 1:18.026 – 70 laps
3. N. Heidfeld – Jordan - 1:21.397 – 47 laps

7/13/04

Vickers leads week two at Brickyard  NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rookie Brian Vickers was fastest among 22 drivers participating in the two-day NASCAR test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 12-13, turning an unofficial lap of 49.5721 seconds, 181.554 mph July 13 in the No. 25 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet.  Teams are at Indianapolis preparing for the 11th Brickyard 400, scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. (EST, local time) start on Sunday, Aug. 8.  More.....

7/13/04

Kentucky Speedway lands sponsor renewal  Kentucky Speedway has extended sponsorship deals with the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers and Ford Racing through ’07. Ford Racing will continue to title sponsor the track’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event. GCFD will remain presenting sponsor of the race, as well as official car and truck of Kentucky Speedway  Kentucky Speedway

7/13/04

Molson considering selling Champ Car races  UPDATE We did a little checking and from what we can gather, Molson won't be selling their Champ Car races.  Selling was a topic weeks ago, but it is no longer a consideration.  7/13/04 - This Toronto Globe and Mail article says, Molson Inc. is considering selling some of the assets of its sports and entertainment division as part of its enhanced focus on the core brewing business. "We are considering the possibility of selling Molson Sports and Entertainment," Jo-Ann McArthur, president of the division, said in an interview yesterday.  "We're just looking at it potentially. It's not at the top of the list," she hastened to add.

She said any potential sale would exclude Molson's 19.9-per-cent stake in the legendary Montreal Canadians hockey team as well as concert producer House of Blues, which is a partnership with HOB Concerts Canada Ltd.  The key assets of Molson Sports and Entertainment include the three Molson Indy automobile racing venues in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver; broadcasting, television and DVD production; the NHL Hockey Archive; events management; and venue sponsorships.

"We're taking a look at what could be involved [in a possible sale]," Ms. McArthur said.  We're evaluating how we would take Molson Sports and Entertainment to a broader market for sale."

Molson president and chief executive officer Dan O'Neill has been struggling lately with a $1.2-billion investment in the Brazilian beer business that has proven more difficult than anticipated, and he is also trying to reverse sagging sales at home of its flagship Molson Canadian brand.

Those efforts are taking place against the backdrop of a feud among Molson family members over control of the company, as the speculation mounts that it may end up being sold to a U.S. or overseas brewing behemoth.

7/13/04

Audi Champion team adds sponsor   Champion Racing is pleased to announce ANSUL, a fire suppression business of Tyco Fire & Security, as a new sponsor for the Audi R8 Le Mans Prototype competing in the world renowned sports cars series, the American Le Mans Series. The ADT Champion Racing team had a perfect start to the series with wins at both Mid-Ohio’s Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio on June 27th, and at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut just this past weekend.

7/13/04

IRL Kansas TV Rating   UPDATE  The final TV Rating for the IRL race on ABC in Kansas dropped from an overnight of 1.4/4 share, to a 1.2, the same final rating as in 2003.  Once again, the IRL shows no signs of growth, this despite Honda and Toyota pumping millions into the series to prop it up.    7/8/04 - The overnight ABC broadcast of Sunday's IRL race from Kansas garnered a 1.4/4 share TV rating.  This is the same overnight rating as 2003.  Last year's final dropped to a 1.2/3 Share, so it will be interesting to see what this year's final comes in at.  The finals for last weekend will be out next week due to the July 4th holiday.

7/13/04

Pepsi 400 Ratings down   UPDATE The final TV Rating for the Pepsi 400 on FOX was a 5.2, down a massive 13% from the 6.0 final rating in 2003.  7/8/04 - Fox's broadcast of Saturday night's Pepsi 400 from Daytona International Speedway drew an overnight rating of 5.0 and a 10 share from Nielsen Media Research, the Sports Business Daily reports. The figures represent a 2 percent decline from the 5.1/10 overnight figures in 2003.  Last year's final was a 6.0 rating/13 share so it will be interesting to see if this year's final makes a big jump.

7/13/04

NASCAR to announce NY City race soon   UPDATE According to this Grandprix.com article, The plan is to build a 2.5-mile race track, which would be similar in size to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and could therefore have an infield road course. Formula 1 is keen to hold a race in New York but all attempts so far have run into trouble.  This is the first time AutoRacing1 has heard that the track would be a 2.5 mile Superspeedway.  All prior talk was for a 1.0 or 1.5 mile facility, which would make an infield road course too Mickey Mouse.  7/13/04 - According to this ESPN.com/AP article, Start spreading the news, NASCAR could be in New York soon. NASCAR chairman Brian France said Sunday he hopes to have an announcement "in the next month or so'' for a track in the New York City area. NASCAR has looked at several sites in the area, with Staten Island discussed more than any other. "There's a lot of momentum in that market,'' France said. "What I know is they're a lot closer than they were just six months ago. And I think you'll see some positive announcements come, it would be my hope, in the next month or so.''

7/13/04

Davidson set to leave BAR, blow to team  Jenson Button is bracing himself for a blow to his BAR team, with the prospect of Anthony Davidson leaving at the end of the season.
Davidson has caught the attention of plenty of people in the Formula One paddock with his testing performances this season and is widely expected to be racing next year.  Button confessed Davidson's impending departure will be a blow to BAR, who have benefited from the Englishman's hard work in Friday practice this year.   Button said: "He's done a good job, he really has. It's his first year as a third driver, driving on Fridays - and he has done a good job. On long runs he is very consistent and he comes up with some useful information from that.  "He's very important for the team. I'm sure he'll be looking around next year for a race drive, but it will be a loss for us if he goes. He's very quick."  Daily Mail

7/13/04

Time to pull the plug on NASCAR   Peter DeLorenzo is an ex-PR exec with one of Detroit's Big 3.  He has a website, which is properly named, Autoextremist.  In his latest article he makes a case for why it is time for Ford, Dodge and Chevy to pull the plug on their NASCAR programs because all they are accomplishing is lining the pockets of the owners of NASCAR - the France family.  What does NASCAR actually have to do with helping Detroit in its quest to hold market share - or even increase it? DaimlerChrysler, Ford and General Motors spend $75 million each on their NASCAR programs. That includes direct payouts to teams, drivers, promotions and advertising support. What, exactly, does Detroit get for its money?   In a few words? Not a damn thing.

First of all, NASCAR has created a cult of personality based on its drivers (and their car numbers) and their teams. The drivers are the first priority for NASCAR's marketing machine, and they've been extremely successful creating this cult of personality - based on the number of TV commercials, print ads and promotions that we see with NASCAR drivers involved.

Second, NASCAR has created a marketing environment for its participating sponsors second only to the NFL in both its effectiveness and in the pampering way they treat their sponsor representatives at the events (which helps mask the fact that the sponsors are putting more into furthering NASCAR's interests than they are getting a return for their investments).

Third, NASCAR has created a marketing vehicle only loosely based on the actual racing. Instead, it's all about "the show" - and NASCAR does everything in its power to enhance that show - with sponsors, the car companies and especially the fans taking a backseat to NASCAR's "vision" for what constitutes entertainment.

What does that last point mean, exactly?   It means that NASCAR has taken gradual steps over the last decade to equalize the competition, figuring that if "the show" has as close to a boffo ending every week that they can possibly orchestrate, then the TV numbers will stay up, and the whole machine can get fueled for even more sponsor participation - i.e., even more money.   But in their zeal to orchestrate "the show" - NASCAR has proceeded to make Detroit's participation irrelevant. The cars, masquerading as the Dodge Intrepid, Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Monte Carlo, are now defined by "headlights" and grille openings created by different decals, and if you squint real hard they look like the cars' street counterparts (sort of), but in fact, the car bodies are identical, with heavy restrictions due to aerodynamic controls and the quest to "equalize" the competition. Not to mention the fact that the cars populate rental car fleets across America and are completely useless in Detroit's fight in staving off their import competitors.

What is Detroit getting, exactly, from their involvement in NASCAR?   I'll reiterate an earlier point, only this time with an assist from the late, great R&B singer Edwin Starr - absolutely nothing.   The NASCAR marketing machine is in place to do one thing: Promote, enhance and expand the NASCAR brand. Period.   They use their drivers to create a "cult of personality" in order to orchestrate and perpetuate that mission.

 

Detroit is wasting a cumulative $225 million on NASCAR. And wasting is the operative and dead-accurate word to use here. Here they are locked in the fight of their lives, literally for their very survival - and they're pissing away a quarter of a billion dollars every year to advertise their rental car fleets and help fuel NASCAR's marketing machine.

What Detroit is doing in NASCAR has nothing to do with racing - instead, it has everything to do with perpetuating the NASCAR brand and enhancing "the show." And for those very crucial reasons, Detroit is being classically underserved in its interests.  More....

7/13/04

Silverstone attracts 195,000  The British Grand Prix attracted 85,000 people more than it did in 2003, attracting a total of 195,000 spectators over two days and with very few complaints about traffic jams the race seems to have been a big success, evidence perhaps that changing the pricing structures is the way forward for race promoters. Magny-Cours also brought down prices this year and attracted a much bigger crowd than in previous years. It is very clear from these numbers that further reductions in ticket prices would push up the numbers more and if the tracks have the capacity could produce a bigger profit. The biggest problem for promoters remains the fact that the race fees demanded by the Formula One group are very high and that a lot of commercial opportunities are taken away in the contracts that they have to sign. Most of this money goes out of the sport.  There is no doubt that Silverstone is developing quickly with work going on to revamp the industrial areas and various other projects being undertaken. The British sports minister Richard Caborn says he is confident that the British Grand Prix will continue at the track for another two years and is still talking of developing the facility as "an industrial centre of excellence for motorsport".  Grandprix.com

7/13/04

More on Ford sues Kahne   NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne is being sued by Ford Motor Co. in Wayne County Circuit Court for allegedly breaking a contract with Robert Yates Racing to pursue a more lucrative deal to drive Dodge race cars. Kahne, 24, is the top rookie on the Nextel Cup circuit. He is 14th in the points standings after 18 races and has five top-five finishes. Ford has not yet said how much it would seek in damages, but according to a summons filed in court Friday, the breach of contract is more than $25,000. According to the lawsuit, Ford and Yates signed a contract with Kahne that required him to drive Ford cars for the team and appear in promotional activities. But last October, according to documents filed in court by the plaintiff, Kahne dropped Ford and started driving Dodges for a team owned by Ray Evernham. Kahne took over the #9 Dodge for Evernham Motorsports after Bill Elliott decided to run a limited schedule this season. Kahne's lawyer, Harvey Heller, said Monday that as a policy the firm did not comment on cases involving its clients but said an answer to the charge will be filed in court later this week. Detroit Free Press

7/13/04

Stewart/Kahne - the final word    “Everybody is ready to fight, and it’s the same guy week in and week out,” said Ray Everham (right) owner of the #9 Kasey Kahne Dodge. “ Tony Stewart  loses his temper again and takes us out for the second time this year, something has to be done.”

After a re-start following a yellow flag for debris, Tony Stewart ran into the back of Kasey Kahne which caused Kahne to spin out and hit the wall. As a result of the accident, Kahne’s car was damaged so badly that it had to be towed into the garage. The event infuriated pit crew member Tommy Baldwin of Kahne’s crew so much that he ran down the pit lane and began a shouting match with the crew of Tony Stewart's team. The argument escalated to the point that a shoving match broke out which required NASCAR Officials to jump in and tackle members to prevent an outright brawl. “ That’s just Tony Stewart doing what he’s been doing all year, driving like a moron, you know,” said Baldwin after the fight (Fight photo below right by Rick Schenk).

 

“I was there, I was right behind him. I don’t know whatever happened but for some reason his car just slowed down,” said Stewart. “ It could have taken us out just as easily. I’m surprised it didn’t tear up my car more than it did,” said Stewart. “ I didn’t need to take him out because I clearly had a car that was capable of running away at will. When Stewart was asked if NASCAR should impose a penalty to Baldwin for his actions in the pit, Stewart replied. “ Why not, last week I went down to someone else’s pit and didn’t even touch him, and I got a big fine, so why not.” Following the post race press conference Stewart added, “ If you have a question ask it now, because I’m going home and I’m not turning on my phone for two weeks.”

“I was getting ready to shift into fourth,” said Kahne. “As I pulled it into fourth my car turned right and went into the wall. Obviously, the #20 car just put us into the wall. I don’t know why he would do that.” Kahne was in twelfth place going into Chicagoland and had an opportunity to move into the top ten after ninth place driver, Ryan Newman ( #12 Alltel Dodge ) was involved in an accident earlier in the race. Following the race, Kahne dropped to fourteenth and Newman dropped to tenth. Stewart keeps his first place position. Kahne’s team will await NASCAR'S decision on possible point penalties which may drop him farther down the list.

NASCAR Spokesperson, Kurt Branham stated, “After reviewing the incident, NASCAR has determined that the incident on the track was a normal racing incident ( no intentional wrong doing ) and no fines will be imposed on Stewart.” When asked about penalties regarding the pit row fight, he replied, “ We will address that later this week.” Ron Reinhold

7/13/04

Ralf wants to return early  After his serious accident at Indianapolis, Ralf Schumacher still isn’t in a condition to return to the cockpit, but he is keen on coming back soon.

When Ralf returned from the US Grand Prix and his doctors found that he had suffered a vertebrae injury, they told him that he would need approximately eight to twelve weeks to recover. But, being a committed racing driver with a highly professional attitude, the German would love to return to the wheel as soon as possible.

Ralf contacts the BMW WilliamsF1 Team on a regular basis and has confirmed several times that he is working hard to achieve a condition enabling him to perform an early comeback. Although his brother Michael – who missed six races after his Silverstone shunt back in 1999 – has advised Ralf to take it easy, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team driver hopes to be able to come back earlier than his doctors have predicted.

“Had my condition been good enough, I would have returned to the cockpit for Magny-Cours,” explained Ralf, thus denying all rumors that his motivation might have suffered because of the accident. “I’m desperate to come back as soon as possible to successfully contest the remainder of the season for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team.”

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen is also convinced that Ralf is highly motivated to contest further races this year. “I have talked to Ralf and he was rather optimistic to be able to come back earlier than the doctors have advised,” said Theissen. “Ralf believes to be able to be back in time for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but I’m not so sure if his doctors will allow him to do so.”

Be that as it may, one thing is clear: the winner of the 2001 German Grand Prix won’t have recovered in time to contest this year’s race, taking place on 25th July at the Hockenheimring.  Williams BMW

7/13/04

More improvements for Williams  Since the French Grand Prix, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team has been using a new aero package. Now, further development steps are scheduled to follow writes Williams BMW technical chief Sam Michaels.

The BMW WilliamsF1 Team is working flat out to successfully enhance the WilliamsF1 BMW FW26. The goal: to be able to contest the last races of the 2004 season as successfully as the team has been in the past.

The first step on the way back to success has been the new aero package introduced at Magny-Cours, but according to WilliamsF1's Technical Director, Sam Michael, further improvements will follow soon, “We’ve got quite an aggressive development program over the next three or four races to bring parts to that package,” said Michael.

“We made quite a big change to the side pod and the floor and it was really just a change of direction in comparison to what we had before. The initial step brought more downforce, but it wasn’t a step that we ever believed would put us up to Ferrari straightaway.”

Prior to the German Grand Prix, a home race for BMW, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team will complete another intensive three-day test at Jerez de la Frontera. This test will run from Wednesday to Friday and the team will use it to further improve the performance of the WilliamsF1 BMW FW26.  Williams BMW

7/13/04

Latest F1 News in brief 

David's not getting a raw deal - Dennis
Frank Williams to 'call it quits'
'Crash didn't scare me' - Jarno Trulli
Bernie Ecclestone is 'childish' - Todt
Murray defends Silverstone
Ferrari 'learnt a lesson' - Schumacher
'I might not win German GP' - Schu
Britain will save Grand Prix - minister
Ecclestone supports Jordan buy-out
Brawn knows what's wrong with F1 rivals
Jordan sues former sponsor
Button's unlikely to win a GP - Richards
London GP is 'hypocritical'  

7/13/04

DEI re-signs Waltrip   NBC reported during its prerace show that Michael Waltrip and sponsor NAPA had re-signed with Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s #15 Chevrolet for next year. Speculation on Waltrip's future was fueled in early June when Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Waltrip would like to finish his career at DEI but might not get the opportunity. Richmond Times Dispatch

7/13/04

Calgary vs. Edmonton  A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, Regarding the rumored new  Canadian races on your rumors page, I'm hoping against hope that Calgary in Alberta, Canada gets a Champ Car race sooner rather than later. Either Calgary or Edmonton would be ideal for me, since I live in downtown Calgary, but being born in Edmonton, I frequent much of my summer there (about 30 days a year). Either city would be a good candidate for a race. I fly to Vancouver every year, and if both Alberta and Vancouver hosted races, I would attend them both.

The positives for Calgary are the massive amount of corporate dollars available. That and the fact that Calgary's Airport is the provincial hub. Calgary also gets behind it's events big time. The Stampede and Winter Olympics are prime examples. Negatives about Calgary?  Where would the race be held?  Downtown streets in Calgary are notoriously narrow. (Very similar to Denver.)

Positives about Edmonton?  First off, racing history. Bobby Rahal had his first professional race at the old Edmonton International Speedway. And Edmonton has been host in the past to the NHRA, as well as Can-Am. However, there is an obvious place for Edmonton's track. Edmonton has a large municipal airport literally right downtown. It has been host to CASCAR events in the past, and would be absolutely ideal for a Champ Car race. I've been to that CASCAR race, and imagined how perfect Champ Car would be there. Another "Cleveland" would be awesome. I remember my first big event as a kid was watching Teo Fabi and Paul Newman racing those 1000hp Can-Am beasts at the old speedway. It was really cool. Also, Edmonton summer nights are notoriously long, warm and sunny. During the summer solstice, the sun does not set until midnight. Negatives for Edmonton? It isn't the provincial airport hub, connections are more difficult, and it is not as corporate of a city as Calgary, Edmonton is much more blue collar, (although that may actually be a positive, sports-wise).

Either city would be an excellent host for the race. And if people wonder if there are Champ Car fans in Edmonton and Calgary, well, last year, on my flight back to Edmonton after the Vancouver race, the plane was PACKED with race fans. Lots of #3 shirts and hats were being worn, and the chatter on the plane was about Tracy's big win. And a friend who was flying back home to Calgary, said the flight back home was equally packed with race fans.

As for Winnipeg?  I think it would also be a good destination, however, it is rather far from any other large metropolitan areas, and may not be able to draw as well. Also, the economy in Winnipeg is not as strong as Calgary's is right now. With that said, I have talked to people in Vancouver who flew from Winnipeg to catch the race, so obviously, there are Champ Car fans all over the province. Edmonton and Calgary are only two and a half hours apart by car and have each other to draw upon, so in Alberta, you would have a population base of over 2 million to draw upon.   Either way, Edmonton, Calgary or even Winnipeg, I'd be first in line to get my tickets.  Looking forward to Vancouver, (and hopefully another western Canadian race, very very soon!)  Jason Hoehn

7/13/04

Chicago's lack of NASCAR coverage   Chicagoland Speedway is viewed as a gateway to the nation's No. 3 television market for NASCAR, its teams and sponsors. But the only view of the Windy City's famous skyline from the 1.5-mile track is when its grandstands are empty, and the vacant seats form an orange and blue pattern of skyscrapers. The Joliet track is located about 45 miles southwest from the Loop, about an hour-long drive. The distance might explain why the Nextel Cup Series, which normally enjoys blanket coverage while crisscrossing the country each week, has struggled for exposure in the metropolitan area. NASCAR couldn't bump the Cubs, White Sox or Olympic trials off the cover of yesterday's sports section in the Chicago Tribune, the city's biggest daily newspaper. The Tribune had two stories on Saturday's events buried on Page 13. Local television wasn't much better. The two inflatable oranges that got loose during Busch qualifying Friday dominated the weekend's telecasts, overshadowing Jeff Gordon's fourth straight pole position. Richmond Times Dispatch

7/13/04

Chicago overnight ratings up   NBC’s broadcast of Sunday's Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway drew a 5.2 overnight rating and 11 share from Nielsen Media Research. The overnight rating was up 6.1 percent from the 4.9 last year and represented the highest figure for the race since NBC began carrying it. The Sports Business Daily also reports that NBC's broadcast of Saturday's Tropicana Twister 300 Busch Series race drew a 2.1/5 overnight, up 17 percent from the 1.8/5 in 2003. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter

7/13/04

LA newspaper trivia  The Los Angeles Daily News now list F1 practice, qualification and racing under “Auto Racing” in the Sports TV listings. Interestingly, they have posted the ET times, so folks will tune in three hours late. And for the last two races they have had a separate heading: “CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES” which listed the correct time for the SPIKE broadcast.  Jeff Skinner, Northridge, CA

7/13/04

Champ Car vs. F1  A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1, I watched the British GP and the Toronto race and I was struck by the following. Many times this season Champ Car starts have ended up with a full yellow incident straight away. Honestly, any orchestra where the conductor has to stop the music after the first few bars and restart the show would soon go out of business. The show needs to flow.   In F1, the safety car at Silverstone was noticeable because it is so rare. The TV production in F1 is a lot better, the cars are in closer focus, the sponsors logos are more visible too. The graphics are better. The Champ Car ticker goes too fast to read without distracting the eyes of the viewer from the show, in F1 the graphics for the positions of cars are static and can easily be read without taking your eyes off the action.   One area where CART was a clear leader in the late 90s was letting viewers listen in on the car-team radio. I'll never forget Michael Andretti colliding with PT on a short oval and shouting "That guy's an as**ole" for all to hear. F1 leads in driver discipline, see how Schumacher, unlike PT, seems to avoid incidents and bides his time, without trying to get past every car at every corner. Schumi sat behind Button at Silverstone and chose when to go for the lead. A true champion knows when to choose his battles.   This comparison is not quite fair on Champ Car, as the similarity of the cars means that like is fighting like, in F1 it is hare vs. rabbit, but Toronto was ruined for too many by drivers trying too hard to pass and crashing into others. Schumi only seems to crash into other drivers when, like Hill and Villeneuve they are passing him for the World Championship. Can OWRS learn from this and improve the show? Ed McFarlane, Goadby, England  Dear Ed, You make a lot of good points.  There are a lot of accidents in turn 1 for Champ Car because they use rolling starts instead of standing starts.  Not only is the entry speed into the corner higher, but there is an accordion effect because the guys in the back have a much longer run into the first corner than they would if it were a standing start because rolling starts are so strung out, hence there is a much greater speed differential and everything happens at a greater speed.  Also, the Champ Cars are big, wide and heavy compared to a F1 car for a tight unforgiving circuit like Toronto.  We have called for Champ Car to reduce the weight and size of Champ Cars (to F1 size) for years now.  As for the TV production, F1 uses many more cameras and hence the cars look faster and the shots are up closer.  Their audio is also much better, you can hear the scream of the V10, whereas the sound of the turbo Champ Car engine sounds muffled and unexciting on TV.  Mark C.

7/13/04

Nashville tidbits   The IRL is in Nashville this coming Saturday night.

IndyCar Series drivers face concrete challenge: The IRL IndyCar Series makes its fourth visit to the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway, the only concrete facility on the schedule. The concrete surface puts a premium on handling as track conditions change throughout the race, which begins at twilight and ends under the lights. Last season, 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran claimed the victory in the season's final night race.
Season reaches midpoint: The Firestone Indy 200 marks the midpoint of the 2004 IndyCar Series schedule. The only driver to earn the IndyCar Series title after leading at mid-season was Sam Hornish Jr. in 2001. Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan hopes to turn his strong first half into a title, but his Andretti Green Racing teammate Dan Wheldon and Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice each have won two races and are his closest competition for the title.
Local links: IndyCar Series driver Dario Franchitti is a native of Scotland, but the driver of the No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone calls Nashville home. In addition, Nashville-based Firestone provides all of the tires for every Indy Racing League team. The company recently opened a distribution center near Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tenn,, which typically handles 90,000 tires per day and services customers in the company's mid-South region, shipping tires to every state east of the Mississippi River. Firestone also serves as title sponsor of the Firestone Indy 200.
Racing and music join forces again: The Firestone Indy 200 pre-race Capitol Records Summer Concert Series will feature country music star Trace Adkins, whose hits include "I Left Something Turned On At Home," "Chrome," "I'm Tryin'" and "Hot Mama." Past concerts at Nashville events have featured Wynonna and Brad Paisley.
Medeiros takes aim at IRL record: Menards Infiniti Pro Series points leader Thiago Medeiros can set an IRL record if he wins at Nashville. A victory in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Cleanevent 100 would be Medeiros' fourth consecutive win, breaking the mark he currently shares with IndyCar Series driver Kenny Brack and Menards Infiniti Pro Series driver Mark Taylor.
Concrete suits Barron: Red Bull Cheever Racing driver Alex Barron has finished in the top five in each of his two visits to Nashville Superspeedway. Barron won his debut at the track in 2002 and finished fifth at the track last season.

7/13/04

Tracy symbolizes bush-league Champ Car Series  UPDATE A reader writes, Don’t worry what the Toronto Star prints, it is just a tabloid rag that is only good for lining bird cages. All of the respected newspapers in Canada ( ie National Post, the Globe and Mail) gave a factual write-up of the event, including the excellent attendance figures which certainly matter more than the opinion of some Star hack. Ross Baillie, Vancouver   7/12/04 - This Toronto Star article cuts the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford to shreds.  As we have seen in almost all Champ Car markets, there is always one reporter from the local newspaper who writes a scathing article in an effort to discredit the Champ Car Series in an effort to get the IRL to replace Champ Car in that city.  The reporter even suggests the Champ Car race be replaced with an IRL event.

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