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DATE

News (chronologically)

7/25/04

Another stirring drive from Ranger  Completing a tough weekend in his home country, speedy rookie Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) wound up seventh overall. The talented teen from Roxton Pond, Quebec was slightly injured when his car crashed early in Friday qualifying. He bounced back to qualify fifth on Saturday and he led the morning warm-up today, but he also became entangled in the Turn 1 crash and was forced to the pits early on as his team frantically changed the left-front suspension. After falling behind by a lap, Ranger valiantly charged through the field and posted some blistering laps late to bring home his sixth top-10 effort of the year. "I think (Alex) Figge punched me in the back and I bumped Bremer. It broke the left (front) suspension. I went straight to the pits and my mechanic changed the suspension, but I was one lap down. This was bad, because I think this car was very fast. I think I could have gotten a podium. I pushed hard the whole race; I had a great car. It is bad; these things are not my fault."

7/25/04

Champ Car has inside track for Molson cash   This Canadian Press article talks about Champ Car's efforts to renew in Canada.  A few key points come out of the article.  First Champ Car was going to release their 2005 schedule in July, then it was August, now this article says September.  Will they even have their 2004 schedule finalized by then?  Companies set their 2005 budgets in July and August.  Teams can't solicit sponsors in time because the 2005 schedule won't be out until September now, long after companies set next year's marketing budgets.  Champ Car has made this mistake for years.  They just don't get it.  The IRL will release their 2005 schedule in a week or two and their teams will remain flush with sponsor money next year while the Champ Car paddock remains largely void of major sponsorship.  Back to the article - The Champ Car series has the inside track for renewed sponsorship by Molson, an executive of the brewery said Sunday.  Bob Singleton, vice-president of sports and entertainment, made the comment in an interview prior to Sunday's Vancouver Molson Indy.  Toronto and Montreal, the other Canadian sites for Molson Indy races, have been mentioned as potential sites for the rival Indy Racing League series.  ``We've been around with Champ Car for 19 years,'' Singleton said. ``The IRL situation is such is that one day it's one (race), one day it's two (races in Canada). I haven't had any conversations with them about that.  `I don't know what their thoughts are on Canada so we're just going to focus on Champ Car this time.''  Molson sponsorship contracts with the Vancouver and Toronto Indy races are up for renewal. There are three years to run on the Montreal event, including this year's Aug. 29 race.  Another key for Molson is the Canadian content of the Champ Car series where Paul Tracy of Toronto is the defending champion and Quebec drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani raise its profile in the country.  ``The Canadian content ... Paul being from the Toronto area and Patrick and Alex being from Montreal ... Canadian content's important,'' Singleton said.  ``It gives the race fan something to cheer and it certainly helps out our events, no question about that.''[Editor's Note:  Champ Car has no drivers from western Canada, including British Columbia, which is the province Vancouver is in.  They could have a young talented driver from Vancouver, Michael Valiante, but he doesn't bring money and only funded drivers get rides in the "new" Champ Car because teams can't get their own sponsorship due to dismal TV ratings and race schedules being released way too late.  Champ Car needs to be on CBS and they need to release race schedules by August 1st of each year.]  Champ Car has said it wants to release its 2005 schedule in September but Singleton said there is no pressure on Molson's to renew its sponsorship with Toronto and Vancouver by the Montreal date.  ``I don't know if you want to use the Montreal race date as the benchmark,'' he said. ``We're knowledgeable that Champ Car would like to release their schedule in September and we'll take a look at it prior to that.''

7/25/04

Milwaukee attendance  Bolstered by a major ticket purchase from the IRL itself, today's attendance for the IRL race at The Milwaukee Mile was announced as 37,821 (it was noticeably better than the recent Champ Car race). The inaugural IRL/USAC weekend ticket total for the weekend was announced as 63,373, which is pretty laughable because, while the Champ Car race actually has swarms of people in attendance on Friday and Saturday, hardly anyone was there at the USAC/IRL weekend at The Milwaukee Mile those two days.

7/25/04

Vancouver attendance   2nd UPDATE Sunday's attendance in Vancouver was 63,406 a drop of 2,671 from 2003. The three-day total was 158,420, compared with 162,271 the year before but it was the 11th consecutive year that total attendance has exceeded 155,000. .  7/24/04 - The Molson Indy Vancouver announced Saturday attendance was 50,801 with a two-day total of 95,014.  51,171 people attended last year's Saturday qualifying for the Molson Indy Vancouver, so this year's attendance is off just 370, which isn't bad given the bankruptcy.   7/23/04 - The announced attendance for Friday in Vancouver was 44,213.  Last year's Friday attendance was 45,023, or about 800 people more.  Friday of course is a work day, but once again the loyal Champ Car fans turned out in droves to watch the days events.  Contrast that to the IRL at Milwaukee where today you could shoot a cannon into the grandstands and not hit anyone.

7/25/04

Ganassi crew has work cut out for them  After three accidents this weekend in Milwaukee, two for Scott Dixon and one for Darren Manning, the Target Chip Ganassi team has some major work ahead of them as they head to Nazareth for a Toyota engine test set for Tuesday, July 27th, prior to next weekend’s Michigan Indy 400, the tenth race of the 16-race IndyCar season.  This week will see some long nights by the Ganassi boys. 

7/25/04

Andretti to stand by for Earnhardt   John Andretti, part-time driver for DEI's #1 Chevy, will be the stand-by driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr. next week at Pocono if needed.  Martin Truex Jr., subbing for Dale Jr. at NHIS, will be unavailable as he will be at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado for the Busch race....and besides, he crashed the car at New Hampshire and lost valuable points for Earnhardt.

7/25/04

Dalziel takes 3rd win in Vancouver  Scottish racer Ryan Dalziel scored a much-needed victory in Sunday's Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama race at Concord Pacific Place, site of this weekend's Molson Indy Vancouver.

Starting from the pole position, Dalziel got off to a good start, despite an accident back in the field on the opening lap. No drivers were injured in the crash that eliminated two cars from contention.

Toyota Atlantic Championship series leader Jon Fogarty, started second and he put some pressure on Dalziel early in the race. As the 38-lap event drew on, however, the Scot's car seemed to improve as he established a new Atlantic course record for the fastest lap of the race on his next-to-last turn around the 1.781-mile street course at 1:08.974
(92.957 mph).

After the early pressure, Dalziel never was threatened and he led every lap en route to his third series win of the season and the fifth of his Atlantic career.
Fogarty wound up second, five seconds behind the leader, and rookie Ronnie Bremer of Denmark finished third for the second consecutive race.

Female racer Danica Patrick of Rahal-Letterman Racing enjoyed an impressive performance as she rallied after becoming involved in the first-lap crash to finish fourth. Another American, Alex Figge, came in fifth place.

The win was important for Dalziel, who entered the weekend trailing Fogarty in the series championship standings by 19 points. The 22-year-old Sierra Sierra Enterprises driver closed the gap to 13 points with the result, as Fogarty saw his lead shrink with just four races remaining on the Atlantic schedule.

The series will next be in action on August 8 at the Grand Prix of Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin - Round 9 of 12 in the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Results  Toyota Atlantic Series

7/25/04

Champ Car TV ratings up 33% for Toronto race   The July 9-11 Molson Indy Toronto event, Round Six of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, drew over 160,000 fans to Toronto’s Exhibition Place to see Sebastien Bourdais score his third consecutive Champ Car World Series victory. But the fans that came to the race were not the only Canadian Champ Car aficionados that followed the drama-filled event, as television ratings for the English-language broadcast of the Molson Indy Toronto in Canada increased 33 percent from 2003. Global Television broadcast the Toronto race live to its Canadian audience, as it will for this weekend’s Molson Indy Vancouver, and the Canadian Nielsen television ratings service reported that 411,000 households tuned in – a number that equates to 577,000 viewers. The ratings increase carried over into that night’s encore presentation of the race as well, with the numbers for the late-night replay doubling from 2003. “We are extremely happy with the increased viewership of the Molson Indy Toronto,” said Vice-President of Molson Sports Entertainment Bob Singleton. “I want to thank Global for their promotional effort as well as for providing another quality broadcast.” Sunday’s Molson Indy Vancouver will begin at 4 p.m. Eastern Time and can be seen in the United States on Spike TV as well as HDNet. Canadian fans can follow the race on Global and all fans can immerse themselves in the event by using the Race Director feature on the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcarworldseries.comChamp Car  [Editor's Note: This means more people watched the race in Canada than the USA and Canada has only a fraction of the population of the USA.  This of course means hardly anyone watches Spike TV in the USA.]

7/25/04

Dana wins IPS crash fest at Milwaukee  After race leader Thiago Medeiros dropped out with mechanical failure on lap 76 Paul Dana was handed a win in today's IPS race at Milwaukee.  Only three cars finished the crash fest, with P.J. Chesson and Al Unser following Dana at the yellow and checkered finish.  The nine car starting field lost 1/3 of the field on the first lap, when the cars of Arie Luyendyk Jr., Indy 500 veteran Billy Roe, and Leonardo Maia tangled in turn one, eliminating all three. Then Jesse Mason and Brad Pollard crashed exiting turn four on the  97th lap. No injuries were reported, but the small nine car field might be smaller for the next race if the teams can't afford to fix all the broken equipment. 
1. (3) Paul Dana, Dallara-Infiniti, 100, running
2. (9) P.J. Chesson, Dallara-Infiniti, 100, running
3. (7) Al Unser, Dallara-Infiniti, 100, running
4. (2) Jesse Mason, Dallara-Infiniti, 97, accident
5. (4) Brad Pollard, Dallara-Infiniti, 96, accident
6. (1) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 76, wheel bearing
7. (8) Leonardo Maia, Dallara-Infiniti, 26, handling
8. (5) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, 0, accident
9. (6) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 0, accident
Race Statistics
Winner's average speed: 120.840 mph
Time of race: 50:23.8247
Margin of victory: Under caution.
Cautions: 2 for 13 laps.
Lead changes: 1
Lap leaders: Medeiros 1-76, Dana 77-100.
Point standings: Medeiros 280, Dana 204, Mason 177, Luyendyk Jr. 164, Pollard 152, Maia 129, Quintanilla 126, Roe 122, Giebler 106, Unser 100.

7/25/04

ALMS gets 2nd highest rating on CBS   The CBS Sports telecast of the American Le Mans Series Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma on July 18 scored the second-highest final national network television rating in series history and doubled the rating earned by last year's network telecast of the race. The two-hour telecast earned a 1.2 Nielsen final national rating with a three share and was viewed by approximately 1.4 million people, continuing a recent upward trend of viewership for network telecasts of the professional sports car racing series. The race was the second network telecast of the American Le Mans Series this season, with the June 27 event from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course earning a 1.0 final national rating on CBS Sports.

"It is very gratifying to see the recent rising viewership numbers for our network TV races," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "Almost all televised sports are experiencing decreases in year-over-year ratings, but this upward trend continues to indicate increasing interest in the American Le Mans Series among American television viewers." The highest network TV rating in series history was a 1.4 on NBC Sports, earned April 1, 2000, from a race at Charlotte, N.C. An event from Portland, Ore., in 1999 on NBC also earned a 1.2.  [Editor's Note:  Champ Car would get equal or higher ratings if they were on CBS too, but instead they are on Spike with ratings of 0.2]

7/25/04

New Yorkers want no part of NASCAR   This Staten Island Live article says,  As a leading opponent of the proposed 80,000-seat NASCAR race track, a project that has generated favorable comment on the editorial pages of the Staten Island Advance, and is being given at least a cursory willingness to move forward by most other borough elected officials, I want to make absolutely clear the reasons I feel it should be rejected.   This should be done now, before we engage in a lengthy public relations exercise, running concurrent with the required series of public permitting and approval events. This process would only serve to divert our attention from more important public issues facing our borough.

I wish to make clear my position has nothing to do with my "personal political agenda" and everything to do with what I, as a senior elected official, believe is best for our Island. That is a view that seems to be shared by the overwhelming number of Staten Islanders who have contacted me by phone, e-mail, letter and in person:   The issue is why NASCAR does not belong on Staten Island. The project fails on the facts!

Regardless of the "myriad transportation options NASCAR plans on implementing," regardless of the pre-sold ticket packages with pre-arranged transportation alternatives for getting to the stadium" (whatever that means) -- pre-sold, prepackaged, or not -- the track operators will still have to move, in a relatively short time frame, a number of people equal to almost one fifth of the population of our borough into and out of the racetrack on race day/weekends.

............

In the final analysis, I, as an elected official, respect the common sense of the people of this borough, and they are telling me in increasing numbers, that they want no part of an 80,000 seat race track on our West Shore.  More (a must read).....  The writer is the New York State assemblyman for Staten Island's 63rd District.

7/25/04

Honda aims to win World Championship in next 3 years   This ESPN.com article says, Honda has some pretty clear-cut and very high goals for its next three Formula One seasons. Those goals include winning the World Championship. On Friday, before practice began for the German Grand Prix, Honda and BAR announced a long-term extension of their partnership contract. They have signed a three-year deal through the end of 2007, and the idea is for their joint venture to go on for many years after that. "This three-year contract that starts from 2005 states as an objective to win a World Championship at any year during the contract period," said Shoichi Tanaka, the president of Honda R&D. "Honda clearly remains committed to the BAR team, and I can assure you is committed to winning the Formula One World Championship."

7/25/04

Milwaukee damage estimates   The Champ Car total damage for the Milwaukee weekend was $207,000. The IRL Milwaukee damage before warm-up or the race is $1,095,000.......and counting.

7/25/04

Button explains helmet problem   Jenson Button explained the helmet problem which caused him to drive most of the final twenty laps of the German GP with one hand on the wheel, the other attending to his helmet. The strap under the helmet was a bit loose and the helmet would lift up on the straights and pull on my throat and made it difficult for me to breathe so I had to hold it to be able to get some air," Button explained.  "The car's been great all weekend," he added. "It's difficult because I'm so happy to finish second and it's the best drive of my career. But it's slightly disappointing because if I'd started third not thirteenth we could have put more pressure on Michael which I would have enjoyed very much and we might have had a different result.  I initially had a good start and got stuck behind Takuma and lost a bit of time but after the stops we made some progress," Button explained. "Fernando and I had a great little tussle, he's not the easiest driver to pass but he was fair and we had fun."

7/25/04

Champ Car still can't get it right   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Champ Car, nee CART, may be run by new owners now, but they still can't get anything done.  August is almost upon us and we still don't have a complete 2004 schedule.  Everyone is reporting that Seoul is cancelled, yet no official word from Champ Car. That race plus the final TBA in November leaves 2 of their 16 races still up in the air. They are trying to put a 2005 schedule out in August?  They can't even finish their 2004 schedule and half the season is over. Couple that with a domestic and international TV package that ensures the series is essentially invisible to 99.99% of the world population and you have a recipe for disaster in 2005.  If they want to play in the world racing market, they had better get their act together quickly.  The series is essentially a bunch of rich gentlemen running a club racing series made up of 50% or more of rich ride-buyers. And you criticize the IRL for being a "show."  Get real. Jack Ruby, New Orleans, LA  Dear Jack, We agree the new owners still have a lot of hurdles to clear if they are to gain credibility as a true world-class racing operation.  TV ratings will only go up when they hire more big-name talented drivers because fans only tune in to see great athletes.  Love him or hate him, Jacques Villeneuve would have brought a lot of attention to Champ Car.  Getting Cristiano da Matta back will help some, but as we saw with Nigel Mansell, landing drivers like David Coulthard, who are still big names in F1, is desperately needed.  That all takes money, but right now the paddock, devoid of consumer sponsors and engine manufacturers, is cash-poor thereby making paying big salaries next to impossible.  Right now they appear to be in survival mode and although they have big plans overseas, the fact they can't even make Seoul happen when they had plenty of time doesn't bode well for their ability to conduct business successfully outside of North America, Australia being the lone exception.  We suspect they are talking to a lot of countries with the hope a couple of them pan out, so right now all the rumors must be taken with a grain of salt.  They don't have nearly a large enough staff to oversee more races overseas.  If they want to race in Europe and Asia they need to establish business offices on those continents to look after their affairs.  Trying to run races from a great distance will simply lead to failure as we have seen in the past.  Mark C.

7/25/04

Walker Racing will get Lolas in 2005   Champ Car team owner Derrick Walker said on Saturday's Vancouver qualifying TV broadcast in Canada that they will have Lolas next year.

7/25/04

Honda and Toyota don't want F1 limitations   Honda's Otmar Szafnauer has doubts about two-race engines for 2005: "We don't think it will have a big impact on performance and therefore won't enhance safety. And as for cost – which I don't think the FIA's efforts today are aimed at; they are just aimed at the safety aspect – we don't think we will save any money by having an engine that will last two races. Sure, we might have 18 less engines in a year, but I think the cost-saving there may be taken up by additional development costs.   Things like having minimum weight for engines, centers of gravity defined, bores, strokes and cylinder spacings defined – these are all things that we don't want," added Szafnauer.

7/25/04

Trulli to partner Ralf at Toyota   Jarno Trulli announced this morning at Hockenheim that he will leave the Renault team and the paddock buzz is that he will team with Ralf Schumacher in next year's Toyota F1 team.  As AutoRacing1.com predicted in April, Toyota F1 would replace both drivers next year and they have.  Look for Fisichella to replace Trulli at Renault (Wednesday announcement) and Webber to land at Williams.

7/25/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Schu has shrugged off 'flu
Ralf to test Williams in 'two weeks'
Coulthard and Sauber
'Pizza Boy' doesn't deliver - Sam Michael
FIA ask BAR to remove illegal device
Eddie Irvine - 'don't return, Mika'
Williams are 'shutting me out' - Montoya
Ferrari has 'scrapped' F2005 - Brawn
Button's at breaking point
'I'm not like Lance' - Schumacher
'Trulli should join Toyota' - Ralf Schumacher
Wilux and Minardi back on track
'I'll give Schu the finger' - Alonso
'I can win German GP' - David Coulthard
Ralf won't sue American doctors 

7/25/04

The future of Vancouver for Champ Car   This Globe and Mail article has a lot of key quotes about the future of Vancouver for the Champ Cars - The clock may be ticking on the future of Molson Indy Vancouver, but the city's mayor hasn't given the time of day to the thought of losing the race to another city.  With the contract for the Vancouver Indy set to expire after this weekend's race, it's expected that any renewal won't run longer than two years because preparations for the 2010 Olympics will encroach on the race's False Creek street course shortly after the checkered flag flies in 2006. As a result, Champ Car has begun talking to other Canadian cities.

Mayor Larry Campbell said he isn't worried.  "It's not something that's on the top of my plate at the present time," Campbell said yesterday. "I'm comfortable that we have a commitment for at least the next few years after this one and I think the indications are there are going to be no changes.  Eventually, the Olympic Games preparations will affect the Indy, but not for at least the next two years that I'm aware of. I hope we will find another location in Vancouver but don't think there's any rush -- I mean we're okay for the next few years."

"I have no idea [about the contract negotiations] I don't get involved in the nuts and bolts of it. The city is only involved peripherally and its mainly between Concord Pacific and Champ Car," he said.  It's very important for Vancouver to keep the race. There's obviously a lot of interest here because the stands are always packed and people come from all over North America to see it, but especially from the [Vancouver region]."

Molson and Champ Car have nearly completed negotiations to extend the contracts for the races in Toronto and Vancouver, sources say, and an announcement is expected during the race weekend here or shortly after the event.

A second venue in Western Canada may also be in the works as a replacement for the poorly attended Portland race, which is in danger of being dropped from next year's Champ Car schedule following disappointing crowd numbers last month.  Portland officials are thought to be discussing the possibility of jumping to the Indy Racing League, which plans to add two road or street courses to its 2005 schedule.

Molson Indy general manager Bob Singleton, who has had preliminary discussions with Calgary officials about staging a race in the near future, said he did not know whether the merger talks between Molson and Coors would have any effect on its racing involvement.  "I have no idea what's happening between Molson and Coors and I don't know if [the merger] is happening or not. I'm just doing my job and no one has talked to me about the merger," he said.  "We are always looking at opportunities, whether it's Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, or Thunder Bay."

Nevertheless, it's expected the renewed contract for Vancouver's Indy will not run for more than the next two years because construction of the athletes village for the 2010 Winter Olympics is set to begin soon after the champagne sprays on the podium in 2006.  Singleton confirmed he has been scouting other locations in the Vancouver area for a possible move, but wouldn't elaborate.

7/24/04

Bump-and-run doesn't sit well with reader  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, I am appalled that NASCAR allows bump-and-run passing.  Are their drivers that horrible that they can't make a pass without pushing the guy in front out of the way?  Let's be brutally honest, any monkey can drive into the back of the car in front, get him loose, and then scoot by for the pass.  That's right a monkey, yet whenever it happens the NASCAR Bubbas get up and cheer wildly.  What does that say about the skill of American drivers in NASCAR?  Ed Schwartz, Omaha, Nebraska

7/24/04

IRL cars easy flat   Once again the IRL cars are 100% throttle, even on the flat 1-mile Milwaukee oval.  Tomas Scheckter said after qualifying,  "That was one of the best qualifying runs I've ever had. I was flat out the whole way around. The car was so good, I was able to go flat even before the green flag." 

7/24/04

Dalziel takes pole away from Fogarty   ‘Better late than never' may well become Ryan Dalziel's new motto as the Scottish race ace grabbed pole position in the dying seconds of qualifying ahead of tomorrow morning's street race in Vancouver, Round 8 of the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship. Setting a new series qualifying record on the 1.781-mile temporary Canadian track, Dalziel's last lap effort of 1m09.036s was rewarded with his fourth pole position of the season and an extra championship point.

Fastest in this morning's 30-minute practice session, the Orlando-based Scot was optimistic for a repeat performance in final qualifying this afternoon. With lap times set to tumble pole position was up for grabs with the top spot protagonists coming in the form of Jon Fogarty and Ryan, first and second respectively in the 2004 title fight.

Dalziel was quickly up to speed in the Sierra Sierra Enterprises #28 ProWorks entry and he duly resumed his place at the top of the time sheets early in the session, quickly bettering yesterday's provisional pole time of 1m09.884s. The young Scot wasn't about to have it all his own way though as Fogarty once again demoted Dalziel to second immediately following a brief red flag period leaving just three minutes remaining once the track returned to green.

Pos Driver Car# Team Lap Time Mph Leader Previous
1 Ryan Dalziel 28 Sierra Sierra Enterprises 1:09.036 92.873 0.000
2 Jon Fogarty 96 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:09.183 92.676 0.147
3 Bryan Sellers 19 Lynx Racing 1:09.250 92.586 0.214 0.067
4 Ronnie Bremer 4 Polestar Racing Group LLC 1:09.394 92.394 0.358 0.144
5 Andrew Ranger 27 Sierra Sierra Enterprises 1:09.409 92.374 0.373 0.015
6 Danica Patrick 24 Rahal Letterman Racing 1:09.490 92.267 0.454 0.081
7 Alex Figge 69 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:10.139 91.413 1.103 0.649
8 Chris Festa 25 Rahal Letterman Racing 1:10.538 90.896 1.502 0.399
9 Josh Hunt 15 Lynx Racing 1:10.617 90.794 1.581 0.079
10 Philip Fayer 3 Polestar Racing Group LLC 1:11.242 89.997 2.206 0.625
11 David Sterckx 7 Jensen Motorsport 1:13.571 87.148 4.535 2.329
12 Cameron Binder 65 Binder Racing 1:14.501 86.061 5.465 0.930
13 Chris Souliotis 2 Jensen Motorsport 1:14.702 85.829 5.666 0.201

7/24/04
F3000

Liuzzi wins yet again   Vitantonio Liuzzi scored a record sixth FIA Formula 3000 International race of the season at Hockenheim in his Arden International Lola-Zytek on Saturday. The Italian was beaten off the line by fellow countryman (and front row starter) Enrico Toccacelo (BCN) but had better in and out laps during his pitstop and emerged with a lead of 6 seconds. That was all Liuzzi needed.  He has now won 6 of 7 races and looks to break the record held by Juan Montoya and Nick Heidfeld of 7 wins in one season.  Three races remain.

7/24/04

Dixon tears up two cars, visits hospital   In practice this morning at Milwaukee Don Panoz's cash register went ka-ching two more times (Panoz owns the G-Force company).  Ganassi Racing will have to pull out their checkbook for some expensive repairs after Scott Dixon wrecked two cars.  The first incident occurred coming out of turn two during the third lap of the morning practice session. He was assessed and released by IRL medical staff. Dixon returned to the track for the afternoon qualifying session in the No.1T Toyota/ Panoz G Force (backup car).  The second incident occurred between turn three and four on the second timed lap of Dixon’s qualifying run. He was taken to medical with some soreness to his right knee and left ankle. Dixon was held for observation, then on the recommendation of IRL staff doctor, Dr. Bock, was sent to Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Milwaukee for a precautionary exam. Dixon will be reassessed prior to Sunday morning warm up session before getting clearance to participate in Sunday’s Menard’s A.J. Foyt 225. The Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew is preparing another backup car for Scott Dixon to start the race from the back of the grid according to IndyCar rules and regulations.

“It’s very unfortunate to have that happen twice in one day. In this morning’s practice I’m not sure if it was something on the track or I just got a bit loose on cold tires. The Target team worked very hard and quickly to get the back up car ready for qualifying. I was on my second timed lap when it just wiggled a little and I tried to catch it. My knee and ankle are a bit sore from being bumped around. The doctors will take a look at it but I’m sure I’ll be good to go for tomorrow’s race. It’ll be tough to start from the back but the team gave us a really good car that was fairly quick on Friday. I’m sure we’ll be able to do something with it.”

7/24/04

Western Union renews with Allmendinger for Vancouver  After delivering the highest rookie finish for the Molson Indy Toronto, Western Union has renewed their sponsorship for this weekend’s Molson Indy Vancouver with RuSPORT and American rookie A.J. Allmendinger. “We are very pleased to have Western Union on board for the second consecutive race,” said team owner Carl Russo. “RuSPORT is committed to developing a NAFTA-based marketing platform and Western Union is the world leader in cross-border monetary transactions. RuSPORT’s attributes of speed and precision provide them with a targeted branding vehicle in Canada and across the NAFTA region”.   The 11th-place finish by Allmendinger in the yellow No. 10 Western Union car at the last stop on the 16-event Champ Car calendar ties A.J. in the battle for the coveted Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year title. In just six events, the Colorado-based driver has garnered four top-ten qualifying efforts and three top-ten finishes. Allmendinger hopes to continue the momentum forward for Western Union this weekend in Vancouver. In Allmendinger’s last visit to the streets of the city he brought home a victory in the Barber Dodge Pro Series on his way to capturing the series title as a rookie. Western Union. The Fastest Way to Send Money.

7/24/04

Bourdais tops Saturday AM times   Sebastien Bourdais just nipped Paul Tracy to take fast time in this morning's Champ Car practice in Vancouver.  Mario Dominguez and Alex Tagliani were 3rd and 4th.  Michel Jourdain rounded out the top 5.

Pos Driver # Engine/Chassis/Tire Lap Time Mph km/h Leader Previous
1 S. Bourdais 2 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.457 104.327 167.898
2 P. Tracy 1 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.470 104.305 167.862 0.013
3 M. Dominguez 55 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.628 104.037 167.431 0.171 0.158
4 A. Tagliani 8 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:01.832 103.694 166.879 0.375 0.204
5 M. Jourdain Jr. 9 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.015 103.388 166.386 0.558 0.183
6 P. Carpentier 7 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.018 103.383 166.378 0.561 0.003
7 B. Junqueira 6 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.157 103.152 166.007 0.700 0.139
8 R. Lavin 3 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.163 103.142 165.991 0.706 0.006
9 R. Hunter-Reay 4 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.205 103.072 165.878 0.748 0.042
10 M. Gidley 17 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.315 102.890 165.585 0.858 0.110
11 A. Allmendinger 10 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.383 102.778 165.405 0.926 0.068
12 M. Haberfeld 5 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone 1:02.567 102.476 164.919 1.110 0.184
13 J. Wilson 34 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.605 102.414 164.819 1.148 0.038
14 J. Vasser 12 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.766 102.151 164.396 1.309 0.161
15 O. Servia 11 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.772 102.141 164.380 1.315 0.006
16 R. Gonzalez 21 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:03.179 101.483 163.321 1.722 0.407
17 G. Mazzacane 19 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:04.359 99.622 160.326 2.902 1.180
18 A. Sperafico 14 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone 1:05.374 98.076 157.838 3.917 1.015

7/24/04

Stick a fork in IPS, only 9 qualify   We are not sure how long the IRL will keep the IPS series propped up.  Stick a fork in it, it's dead.  Unlike Champ Car's fabulous road racing ladder system, the IPS is really a waste of time as it teaches a driver very little.  The fields are dwindling as well.  Only 9 cars qualified for this weekend's Milwaukee race because teams can't afford to replace and fix the cars every time they splatter against a concrete wall.   Thiago Medeiros continued his domination in today's qualifying by a whopping 0.4 seconds.

1. (11) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 147.283 mph
2. (3) Jesse Mason, Dallara-Infiniti, 144.878 mph
3. (91) Paul Dana, Dallara-Infiniti, 144.094 mph
4. (64) Brad Pollard, Dallara-Infiniti, 142.799 mph
5. (24) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, 142.690 mph
6. (5) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 142.322 mph
7. (2) Al Unser, Dallara-Infiniti, 141.438 mph
8. (33) Leonardo Maia, Dallara-Infiniti, 141.164 mph
9. (76) P.J. Chesson, Dallara-Infiniti, 139.172 mph

7/24/04

Champ Car will never return to Portland   Portland International Raceway is on “a short list” of three or four road-racing venues that could be added to the Indy Racing League schedule, promoter Larry Blackmar says. The proposed race date is July 31, 2005. “They’ve just asked us to consider that date. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s right where we wanted to be,” says Blackmar, of Peter Jacobsen Productions. City Commissioner Jim Francesconi is expected to endorse the IRL race by Wednesday, with the IRL releasing its schedule by next weekend. Blackmar’s proposal calls for many PIR improvements that are part of the city’s 10-year plan for the facility. Two of the improvements: a bridge to the infield and a large neon sign facing Interstate 5. “We’d like to see (the city) accelerate the plan and get those things done … because we don’t want to do (the race) short term,” Blackmar says. Track rental fees would be associated with improvements, he adds, although the track meets IRL safety standards.
Meanwhile, the Champ Car World Series appears to be done in Portland after a 21-year run at PIR. There may be some talks, but don’t expect Champ Car to race in Portland next year, even if the IRL opts not to come here. “Oh, so we should come back and spend our money if the other guy doesn’t come?” says Paul Gentilozzi, a Champ Car co-owner who feels spurned by Portland. “We’re not doing that. It would be difficult for us to get revved up and geared up to do it.”    Says Kevin Jeans-Gail, Francesconi’s chief of staff - “we’ve concluded that (Champ Car) has made a business decision” not to make a proposal to race at PIR. Gentilozzi says Champ Car has explored other racing options in the Northwest, and he doesn’t deny interest in Seattle. He also says Champ Car will sign an extension to race in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Portland Tribune  [Editor's Note:  Champ Car has no desire to stay at the dump they call Portland International Raceway. It's been a dump for years, the city never making any improvements for Champ Car.  Now the city is going to make those improvements for the IRL?  Champ Car already has a race in the Northwest (Vancouver), and we suspect that if that race ever moves to Calgary, Champ Car will find a way to race in Seattle.  Seattle is too close to Vancouver, but once Vancouver goes way, Seattle (home of Microsoft, Boeing, etc.) would be a much better location for Champ Car than Portland.  Those wheels are already in motion.]

7/24/04

2005 Phoenix date set   Although it hasn't been confirmed, the IRL stop at Phoenix International Raceway next year will be March 20th.  There aren't any immediate plans to add seating to PIR. At present, there are about 78,000 permanent seats, and Monument Hill overlooking Turns 3-4, also can accommodate several thousand fans.  Track President Bryan Sperber has talked about returning the Copper World Classic to its former format (sprint cars, midgets, stock cars and supermodifieds).  For years, the event was held the first weekend in February and it became a Super Bowl-type event for several drivers around the country. But the format was changed prior to Sperber's arrival a few years ago and was coupled in part with the IRL event.  "We think about changing it back every year," Sperber said. "But I still think there's some value of making the USAC (U.S. Auto Club) teams part of the IRL weekend."  Sperber also has discussed a combined oval/road-course event on the same weekend, but doesn't believe it's feasible.  "The track doesn't lend itself for something like that," he said.  Arizona Republic

7/24/04

Why Rocketsports didn't run Valiante   Experience has given veteran pinch-hitter Memo Gidley another Champ Car payday. The lack of it has left a frustrated local hero-in-waiting, Michael Valiante, still looking for his first ride in the series. Gidley, who was born in La Paz, Mexico, of a Canadian father from Duncan, B.C., and an American mother, got the call this week to drive one of the two Rocketsports Racing cars in tomorrow's Molson Indy. 

Memo Gidley was elated to be back in a Champ Car race for the first time in more than two years.  "This has been a dream come true," he said, adding that because of his own frustrations in gaining a full-time ride he has empathy for Valiante's bitter disappointment.  The 25-year-old Valiante, who was hoping to move up to Champ Cars this year after finishing second and third respectively in the Toyota Atlantic series the past two seasons, said he felt he is suited for both Rocketsports and the series because of his Vancouver-area roots.  "As a hometown local driver I think I would have been a great fit for the series," he said. "It's frustrating."

While he has only driven a Champ Car in test sessions last spring at Sebring, Fla., where he drew rave reviews, Valiante said he felt with the benefit of the practice session yesterday and his knowledge of the track he could handle the circuit.  Rocketsports crew chief Robin Hill said the team decided to stick with Gidley simply because of his greater experience in Champ Cars.

"I've worked with Memo before and he's a talented driver," said Hill. "On a street circuit like this it's hard to bring in a driver without testing.  Sure, I'd like to see Michael in a car, but I just don't think we had enough time to prepare him to bring him here. We ran Memo in Toronto and he's a veteran racer.  We're looking for results right off the bat and Memo's a known quantity, so we decided to put him back in the car. If we could have put Michael in a car and given him a couple of days of testing it would be perfect to bring him here."  Toronto Star

7/24/04

Sponsors spend it up for Milwaukee IRL race   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I  stopped by Milwaukee Friday lunch hour to see how much money they were blowing to put on a face here in Milwaukee and wow...Honda, Toyota, and Marlboro are like drunken broads married to rich men. They have no care for the money they spend for most expensive stuff. Now add in US bank. The US Bank is now offering 2 free tickets to anyone who opens a checking account at the race track.  It is in the merchandise sale area and it doesn't cost a dime to get in. Just go sign up, get 2 free tickets ( no clue where seats are) and then close the account after race is over.   By the way, those IRL cars sounds like a stock car with a bad cold. Terrible. And they are very slow. I could practically read the sidepod. I saw about 250 people in the stands and maybe another 100 on the grounds (pits, infield etc).  By the way, the infield track has been repaved to a road course track now. If you use the oval part of the track plus the infield track, I assume it's about 2 miles. Could Champ Car use it?   It looks cool - Similar concept to the Daytona track including infield track. John Fletcher  Dear John, We would not look for Champ Car to be running on an infield road course at Milwaukee anytime soon. In fact, if some of the rumored new Champ Car venues pan out, we suspect Milwaukee won't be on their schedule much longer.  25,000 on race day doesn't cut it when the series can get 45,000 on a Friday (a work day) in a place like Vancouver.  You report you saw about 350 spectators in attendance Friday in Milwaukee, which means the IRL sponsors got near-zero value on the day.  As we have stated repeatedly, all IRL races should become 2-day affairs, because droning around the track on Fridays in front of near-empty grandstands is just silly.  Mark C.

7/24/04
Industry News

US government warns race organizers to be prepared  America's Security Secretary Tom Ridge has warned organizers of all US sports, including motor racing, that terrorist network al Qaeda might be targeting a major event in the near future, possibly in a repeat attack of the scale of the September 11, 2001 strikes in New York and Washington which killed over 3,000 people. In a seminar for professional and amateur sports organizations held in Washington, Ridge warned of the continued threat to major events such as the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and Daytona 500 showpiece motorsport events. "You are here because you know that mass public gatherings – such as the large sports events you will be hosting in the coming year – are potential targets," Ridge told the seminar. "And you know that the way to protect your venues from attack is to be prepared. As commissioners and security directors for large, high profile events, you play a very significant role in keeping our citizens safe. "The threat we face is real. But we can mitigate it by working together and planning proactively. We would like to involve the sports fans in our collective effort to keep our events secure." Autosport

7/24/04

German GP: Michelin runners to the front Jenson Button put in a stunning lap time of 1:13.676s in the closing minutes of the final practice session today at the 4.574km Hockenheim circuit. The BAR Honda driver, who will be demoted ten places on the grid due to an overnight engine change, was a full three tenths of a second faster than his nearest rival – Juan Pablo Montoya.   Michelin runners dominated the 45-minute practice session which took place in relatively cool and overcast conditions. Button and Montoya were the only drivers to lap in under 74-seconds.  Early in the session, Michael Schumacher appeared to be rattled at the speed of some of the front runners and spun at the Sachskurve hairpin in front of his German crowd.  The German hero kept it out of the gravel and performed a 180-degree spin to get headed in the right direction back to the pits.

P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
1. 9 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'13"676 223.497 Km/h 15
2. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'13"976 + 0'00"300 11
3. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'14"064 + 0'00"388 11
4. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'14"100 + 0'00"424 14
5. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'14"320 + 0'00"644 12
6. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'14"393 + 0'00"717 12
7. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'14"459 + 0'00"783 14
8. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'14"468 + 0'00"792 15
9. 04 PIZZONIA Williams BMW M 1'14"766 + 0'01"090 10
10. 16 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'14"790 + 0'01"114 19
11. 17 PANIS Toyota M 1'14"953 + 0'01"277 16
12. 14 WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth M 1'15"000 + 0'01"324 25
13. 15 KLIEN Jaguar Cosworth M 1'15"481 + 0'01"805 20
14. 11 FISICHELLA Sauber Petronas B 1'15"572 + 0'01"896 10
15. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas B 1'15"588 + 0'01"912 10
16. 18 HEIDFELD Jordan Ford B 1'16"832 + 0'03"156 16
17. 20 BRUNI Minardi Cosworth B 1'18"227 + 0'04"551 13
18. 21 BAUMGARTNER Minardi Cosworth B 1'18"691 + 0'05"015 15

7/24/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Honda can 'break away' - Shoichi Tanaka
'I want to race in '05' - Pizzonia
Heidfeld 'disappointed' by Williams block
Minardi to lose title sponsor
Undone Button hails 'strong' BAR
'Bizarre' spin baffles Coulthard
Alonso dislikes F1's future formula
'I might do F1 in two years' - Rossi
'I'm on Renault's short-list' - Fisichella
Montoya gets backmarker 'insight'
Trulli right for Toyota drive - Gascoyne
Kimi and Fernando 'aren't ready for Ferrari' - Schu
Some F1 fans have 'no respect' - Symonds
F1's engine makers met at Hockenheim
Honda deal to accompany 'changes' - Szafnauer
Ferrari has 'B version' car
F1 to scrap FIA's 'two weekend' engine plan
Williams should've stuck with Gene - Montoya
Schu has a 'brutal heart' - Eddie Jordan
Hockenheim removes bollard 

7/24/04

Vancouver Fan Forum information UPDATE   

Event: Champ Car Inner Circle FAN Forum
Location: Science World Stage at Science World and Technology Showcase
Time: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Who: Patrick Carpentier Champ Car Driver, Alex Sperafico Champ Car Driver, Bryan Sellers Toyota Atlantic Driver, More will be added……..

7/23/04

Lehto and Werner fastest in Portland   JJ Lehto and Marco Werner, the hottest drivers this season in the American Le Mans Series, didn't let a scorchingly hot day bother them Friday as they led the first day of testing for Sunday's Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway. The race will mark the first ALMS event at Portland since 2001.  With a heat wave in the Pacific Northwest sending temperatures above 100 degrees Friday, Lehto turned the 1.944-mile, 12-turn track in a time of 1:05.977, averaging 106.073 mph in the Audi R8 Prototype he will share with Werner in Sunday's race.  More.....

7/23/04

Portland promoter seeks green light for IRL race   This Portland Oregonian article says, Representatives of Peter Jacobsen Productions met for 11/2 hours Thursday with Portland race committee members to review PJP's proposal to stage an Indy Racing League event at Portland International Raceway in 2005.   Larry Blackmar, PJP's vice president of sales, said he expects a go-ahead from city Commissioner Jim Francesconi by Wednesday.   Francesconi, who oversees city-owned PIR as Portland's parks commissioner, did not attend the meeting. He is expected to receive a recommendation from the race committee.   "It went fine," Blackmar said. "No surprises. They asked the things you would expect them to ask, and we responded."   The IRL has not announced its 2005 schedule and has not committed to road course venues, but the open-wheel series expects to have some decisions made by the end of the month.   Francesconi said this week he wanted to speak directly with IRL founder Tony George and IRL vice president of business affairs Ken Ungar before he gave the nod to a possible IRL event.

7/23/04

Fogarty takes provisional pole in Vancouver    [Editor's Note: When is a Champ Car owner going to take a look at Fogarty?  This American has one Toyota Atlantic Championship to his name and appears headed for a 2nd against some excellent competition.  In the past several years, the only driver as fast or faster has been Michael Valiante, but he too has been passed over by the Champ Car team owners.]  In all four of his victories this season in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, series points leader Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) knew he would have a good weekend from the moment his car hit the race track.  The former series champion appears to have that old familiar feeling after two sessions on the 1.781-mile temporary street circuit at Vancouver's Concord Pacific Place. Fogarty led the morning practice session on Friday and flirted with the Toyota Atlantic track record before grabbing the provisional pole position in the first qualifying this afternoon. The California native boosted his season point total by earning a championship point for leading qualifying and he also locked up a front-row starting spot for Sunday's 38-lap event - Round 8 of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama (tape-delayed on SPEED Channel, Saturday, August 7 - 12 p.m. ET).

Fogarty recorded his top time of the day on his 14th lap in qualifying with a mark of 1:09.884 (91.746 mph). The effort is just off the Vancouver Atlantic track record of 1:09.759, established by former series champion Hoover Orsi the last time the series raced at the venue in 2001. Fogarty now has compiled 185 points on the season and he leads Ryan Dalziel (#28 ProWorks) of Sierra Sierra Enterprises, who sits second in the championship, by 20 points after today's result.

Dalziel also had a good day on Friday, bouncing back from one of his poorest results of the season two weeks ago in Toronto. The 22-year-old Scottish racer had the second-fastest time in both the morning practice and in qualifying, finishing with a top lap of 1:10.273 (91.238 mph).

With Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) posting the third-fastest lap of the day, the top three drivers in the championship finished in the same order in Friday's qualifying. Patrick, who now trails Fogarty by 23 points in the standings, carded a top time of 1:10.477 (90.974 mph).

It was a tough afternoon for Canadian favorite Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye). The Quebec rookie sensation, who leads the BG Products Rookie of the Year standings and is fourth in the championship, crashed early in the qualifying session and was not able to post a time as his car was damaged beyond repair. Ranger suffered a minor neck injury in the accident that occurred in Turn 12 but he should be able to compete for the remainder of the weekend. The incident was particularly frustrating for the 17-year-old because he owned the third-fastest time in morning practice and is coming off his best result of the season - a second-place finish in Toronto.

7/23/04

Gidley rides with Air Force backing   American Memo Gidley picked up sponsorship from the Air Force Reserve for this weekend's Champ Car race in Vancouver. Photo to right, courtesy of Champ Car, is Gidley rocketing around the Vancouver street circuit in the Rocketsports entry.

7/23/04

IRL to outdraw Champ Car at Milwaukee   UPDATE  Autoracing1.com is now being told by people in the know (their quote to us "this is fact") that ticket sales for the IRL race in Milwaukee have been dismal and the IRL has bought a very large block of tickets to make it look good.  Supposedly they will flood Milwaukee with free ticket giveaways between now and Sunday in the hope of having a good crowd and saving face. 7/23/04 - The IRL will race in Milwaukee for the first time Sunday, and Milwaukee Mile GM Mark Perrone is projecting 35,000 people will attend – or about 80% of capacity. The June 5 Champ Car event drew a reported 25,000, and should Sunday’s crowd surpass that mark, it will “be the first time the IRL has outdrawn its rival” at a given track. Perrone credited the IRL with “providing support for a series of ‘Speedfest’ activities, starting with a concert Wednesday night.” Another concert tonight will feature a parade of former Indy 500 winners and 120 classic cars.  Indy Star  [Editor's Note:  Champ Car didn't have Toyota, Honda and Marlboro to give free tickets away.  We are not sure how many were given away for Milwaukee.  The IRL wants to cement their hold on the ovals, so they worked hard to ensure a big attendance.  Perfect weather is forecast.]

7/23/04

Castroneves leads Friday practice at Milwaukee   On a flat track like The Milwaukee Mile, Helio Castroneves says it’s important to start high and race low. He’ll attempt to accomplish the first on July 24 in qualifying for the Menards AJ Foyt Indy 225.  Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, topped the speed chart in two practice sessions July 23 at 166.150 mph (21.9922 second). Another session precedes MBNA Pole qualifying.  With 9-degree banking in its sweeping turns, the track rewards the proper chassis setup. Teams will maximize downforce for the race and Castroneves will seek to follow the low racing groove – the shortest distance around the oval.   “I’m extremely happy,” said Castroneves, who was second quick to teammate Sam Hornish Jr. in the IRL IndyCar® Series one-day Open Test at The Milwaukee Mile in mid-June. “It’s a place that I not only won my first pole position, I also got my first podium here. It’s a tough track, especially with how flat it is. Since our cars are very sensitive to the wind, it was very difficult compared to the test we had, when there was hardly any wind. Today (the wind) was making a lot of drivers upset. Fortunately, we were able to find a good setup, but we’re still working to find speed.”  Combined Results | Story

7/23/04

Panther Racing fires spotter   Panther Racing has released spotter/driver coach Pancho Carter, who had been a member of the team since the 2000 season. Carter, a former Indianapolis 500 driver, was the spotter/driver coach for Pennzoil Panther driver Tomas Scheckter. Panther Racing Team Manager Buddy Lindblom will take over spotting duties for the Menards AJ Foyt Indy 225.

7/23/04

Foyt and Matsuura find the wall early at Milwaukee   Much to no one's surprise, AJ Foyt IV crashed again, this time in Turn 4 at Milwaukee in Friday's practice.  Japanese driver Kosuke Matsuura just crashed in Turn 4 as well.  No reports of injuries.  The IRL cars are turning laps 2 seconds off the pole time for the Champ Cars.  2 seconds per lap means the Champ Car will lap the IRL car 22 times in a 225 mile race. That is a significant speed differential.

7/23/04

Gentilozzi: There is a better future sooner than I expected    This Denver Post article says, Roger Penske reportedly played Brando's role last weekend in Indianapolis, where leaders of the Indy Racing League and Champ Car World Series met on Penske's behalf to discuss a unified North American open-wheel series.  Afterward, the rival circuits released the same statement that basically said the parties agreed to disagree.

"We talked about what would a schedule look like, what the rules look like - pretty basic, but important, stuff," said Champ Car co-owner Paul Gentilozzi, who was in Denver on Tuesday to meet with Grand Prix of Denver promoters preparing for the third Mile High street race Aug. 13-15 around the Pepsi Center. "We got through some hurdles, but there were some that, at this point, we just couldn't overcome."

Gentilozzi doesn't foresee another meeting until after the season, but that's what Champ Car prefers, he said.  "The fact that we survived surprised them," Gentilozzi said of his organization's ability to remain a viable circuit after winning a bid for the race assets of bankrupt CART, which formerly owned Champ Car. "We kept on going, and they do enough underground work to know that there is a whole bunch of successful things that is going to happen. There is good news coming."  Gentilozzi declined to be specific, but said, "There is a better future sooner than I figured."

IRL vice president Fred Nation, whose circuit competes at Pikes Peak International Raceway on Aug. 21-22, said last week's meeting ended with two familiar obstacles - international races and leadership - preventing an agreement.

The IRL makes a token stop in Japan to appease its Japanese manufacturers. But unlike Champ Car, which will compete in Canada (three times), Mexico (twice), South Korea and Australia this year, Nation said IRL's sponsors want to remain in the United States.

"We're talking about Toyota, Honda, Firestone, General Motors and the rest of the United States marketing arms," Nation said. "The money that helps fund their efforts to fund the Indy Racing League doesn't come (outside) the United States."

"Champ Car is following the model of an owner-owned model that went bankrupt earlier this year," Nation said, referring to CART. "These three gentlemen think they can reinvent that model, but we want ownership control that doesn't have the conflict of car owners making the decisions."  Later, he said, "We are comfortable with our structure and see no reason to change, no reason to share ownership with others."

Gentilozzi seemed to take a swipe at George when asked if Champ Car could work under the IRL founder.  "I don't take the Fifth very often, but that's a sensitive issue," Gentilozzi said. "Somewhere there is a guy who is really (capable) of doing this. You don't make bold leadership decisions by birthright, but by good business." [Tony George inherited the Indy Speedway.]

"We're basing our future without a reliance on anybody else," Gentilozzi said. "We're not relying on Toyota and Honda to subsidize our teams. What has happened is (Honda and Toyota) has CART-ified the IRL. All the stuff that was bad about us three years ago is now bad about them.  "So in our minds, if there is a little crack in that dam: If they lose any of that support, they could fall apart like CART. When you sell your soul to the devil, he eventually wants it."

7/23/04

F1 engine manufacturers meeting tonight     Representatives of the various engine manufacturers involved in Formula One are due to meet this evening to discuss the engine proposals put forward by the FIA covering the future of the sport.

"I would like to come back to the targets we should achieve," Mercedes' Norbert Haug insisted, "First of all, the discussion started in May and we said to cut the costs by 50 per cent. I cannot see that being achieved by what is proposed, and I am sure we will find a better solution.

"We have a meeting tonight, and I am sure we will have a very constructive meeting, but I cannot see the cost cutting at all. I cannot see the target to do more for the sport being achieved. I think it is very important the safety issue, the lap times, and I think it was pointed out, quite correctly, that the increase this year up to three seconds is due to the aerodynamic package and the tires. It is very clear that the average of all the engines does not have more horsepower than last year, and still we do up to 3.5secs quicker lap times, so I think that says it all.

"We need to cut costs and I am sure we need to do that in a much better way. We did some [cost] calculations of what is on the table right now, and we can find an increase of 25 per cent at least if you need to design a V8, if you need to do a new engine from 2006 onwards that is capable of doing 1600km, and I think we should be very, very careful.

"So far, we have not achieved the goals of saving money - none of us saved money with the one-engine rule - and we must not go from the most expensive way to produce 900hp to the most expensive way to produce 700 hp. That is the danger. I am sure the FIA's goals are the right ones but, as I said earlier, we need to define the right path, we need to take the correct decisions."  Press Conference

7/23/04
F3000

Liuzzi continues domination in Germany (Hockenheim) qualifying  

1. Vitantonio Liuzzi Arden 1min 31.092secs
2. Enrico Toccacelo BCN 1min 31.402secs
3. Patrick Friesacher Coloni 1min 31.406secs
4. Tomas Enge Ma-Con 1min 31.477secs
5. Yannick Schroeder Durango 1min 31.652secs
6. Esteban Guerrieri BCN 1min 31.657secs
7. Robert Doornbos Arden 1min 31.717secs
8. Tony Schmidt Ma-Con 1min 31.832secs
9. Raffaele Giammaria AEZ 1min 31.873secs
10. Ernesto Viso Durango 1min 31.970secs
11. Alan van der Merwe Super Nova 1min 31.997secs
12. Mathias Lauda CMS 1min 32.070secs
13. Jose-Maria Lopez CMS 1min 32.125secs
14. Ferdinando Monfardini AEZ 1min 32.689secs
15. Jeffrey van Hooydonk Super Nova 1min 33.190secs
16. Nico Verdonck Astromega 1min 33.258secs
17. Can Artam Coloni 1min 33.884secs
18. Olivier Tielemans Astromega 1min 34.317secs

7/23/04

NASCAR 2005 video game  EA Sports announced today that its NASCAR video game will be renamed “NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup,” reflecting the Nextel Cup’s new points format. Driver Kevin Harvick will appear on the cover.

7/23/04

Fogarty continues domination    Taking the first step toward adding to his 19-point lead in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama this weekend, Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) topped the morning practice charts at Concord Pacific Place.

The 2002 series champion hustled his Atlantic machine around the 12-turn, 1.781-mile street circuit in Vancouver in 1:11.115 (90.158 mph) on his 18th and final lap to pace the 30-minute morning session.  Winner of four of the last five events on the series calendar, including last round in Toronto, Fogarty will set his sights on the provisional pole position up for grabs this afternoon in the first of two qualifying sessions this weekend.

Scotland's Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works) of Sierra Sierra Enterprises, Fogarty's closest competitor in the series championship standings, led a good portion of the practice session and wound up with the second-fastest time of 1:11.762 (89.345 mph), also established on his 18th and final lap around the circuit.

Quebec's Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye), fresh off a second-place finish last race in Toronto, owned the third-quickest time in the morning. The rookie was clocked at 1:11.981 (89.074 mph) on his 20th lap. Ranger and fellow rookie Chris Festa (#25 SpacePak/CareCentric) of Rahal-Letterman Racing both turned the most laps (21) in the session.

The first round of Toyota Atlantic qualifying is set for 1:15 p.m. PT this afternoon. Saturday's final round of qualifying will take place at 3 p.m. PT, while Sunday's Round 8 of the championship - The Molson Indy Vancouver Atlantic race - set for 38 laps, will take the green flag at 10:30 a.m. PT.

7/23/04

Junqueira tops AM practice in Vancouver   

Pos Driver # Engine/Chassis/Tire Lap Time Mph km/h Leader Previous
1 B. Junqueira 6 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.552 102.500 164.957
2 P. Tracy 1 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.840 102.031 164.203 0.288
3 P. Carpentier 7 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:02.891 101.948 164.069 0.339 0.051
4 S. Bourdais 2 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:03.070 101.658 163.602 0.518 0.179
5 J. Vasser 12 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:03.090 101.626 163.551 0.538 0.020
6 A. Tagliani 8 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:03.118 101.581 163.478 0.566 0.028
7 O. Servia 11 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:03.153 101.525 163.388 0.601 0.035
8 M. Gidley 17 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:03.232 101.398 163.184 0.680 0.079
9 M. Dominguez 55 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:03.253 101.364 163.129 0.701 0.021
10 R. Hunter-Reay 4 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:03.736 100.596 161.893 1.184 0.483
11 J. Wilson 34 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:03.945 100.267 161.364 1.393 0.209
12 R. Gonzalez 21 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:04.239 99.809 160.627 1.687 0.294
13 M. Haberfeld 5 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone 1:04.351 99.635 160.347 1.799 0.112
14 A. Allmendinger 10 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:04.719 99.068 159.434 2.167 0.368
15 M. Jourdain Jr. 9 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:05.051 98.563 158.621 2.499 0.332
16 G. Mazzacane 19 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:05.099 98.490 158.504 2.547 0.048
17 A. Sperafico 14 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone 1:05.554 97.806 157.403 3.002 0.455

7/23/04

CytoSport to sponsor Denver Trans-Am race  CytoSport will sponsor the Motorock Trans-Am Series race at the Centrix Grand Prix of Denver. The event, scheduled for Aug. 13-14, will be called the Cytomax Sport Drink 100. The agreement is part of CytoSport’s launch of its new ready-to-drink Cytomax Sport Drink in the Denver metropolitan area. Former Denver Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski will make several appearances during the weekend, and will also be part of driver and CytoSport owner Greg Pickett’s pit crew at Denver. Romanowski, who counts Cytomax as his preferred sport drink, helped guide the Broncos to two Super Bowl titles in 1998 and 1999. Pickett, who won the 1978 Trans-Am Drivers’ Championship, finished an impressive second in the season opener this year, just behind winner Paul Gentilozzi. “We’re very excited to sponsor the Trans-Am race in Denver,” said Pickett. “The Denver market is extremely important to CytoSport. The added visibility and excitement that is part of the Trans-Am Series will certainly benefit the launch of our new ready-to-drink Cytomax Sport Drink. “This is an added bonus to my competing at Denver,” added Pickett, driver of the No. 6 Cytomax Jaguar XKR. “We are seeking positive results both on and off the track there. “We’re also excited to welcome Bill Romanowski,” continued Pickett. “Bill is a longtime friend to CytoSport, and is part of a long and illustrious list of elite athletes who choose Cytomax as part of their training regimen.” “We are privileged to welcome Cytomax as our Denver title sponsor,” said Series Executive Director John Clagett. “Greg is a longtime competitor and supporter of the Trans-Am Series. We are excited about his ongoing success with CytoSport and are pleased to be a part of that success at Denver.” The Cytomax Sport Drink 100, part of the Centrix Grand Prix of Denver weekend, is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 14. The race, Round 8 of the 2004 Championship, will be held on a 1.647-mile temporary street course constructed around the Pepsi Center. Cytomax Sport Drink is the world's most scientifically advanced complex carbohydrate, electrolyte performance energy drink. It ensures proper hydration, steady energy and reduced fatigue during exercise.

7/23/04

Craven out after 2004  Joint statement released Thursday by PPI Motorsports team owner -  Cal Wells and driver, Ricky Craven: "PPI Motorsports and Ricky Craven remain committed to each other and to getting the #32 team into the top-25 in points this season. Together, PPI Motorsports and Craven have evaluated the team's performance-related challenges and agree that it is in their mutual best interest to part at the end of 2004 and explore opportunities for 2005 and beyond. Both Cal and Ricky want to see the best for each other and remain focused on the second half of this season."

7/23/04

Truex to practice and qualify for Earnhardt   It was announced in a press conference at New Hampshire International Speedway that Dale Earnhardt Jr. would sit out practice and qualifying on Friday, July 23rd. Chance 2 Busch Series driver, Martin Truex Jr. will practice and qualify the #8 Budweiser Chevy. Dale Jr. may practice the car some on Saturday and plans are for Dale Jr. to start the car Sunday in the Siemen's 300 at NHIS and have Truex Jr. get in the car at the first opportunity/first caution. The reason to remove Dale Jr. is to protect his burns from infection, which being in a hot car and sweating could cause. Dale Jr. has a bandage wrapped around his neck and a 2nd, larger bandage on the left side of his neck. Earnhardt Jr. said he has been totally cleared to practice, qualify and race the #8 Budweiser Chevy. Dale Jr. said he has no plans to spot for Truex Jr. Attending the press conference were Dale Earnhardt Jr., crew chief Tony Eury Sr., DEI's Richie Gilmore and sub driver Martin Truex Jr., who left the press conference after the initial announcement and before the Q&A.

7/23/04

German GP: Schuey over Raikkonen in 2nd free practice   

 P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
1. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'15"001 219.549 Km/h 27
2. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'15"045 + 0'00"044 18
3. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'15"167 + 0'00"166 25
4. 9 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'15"379 + 0'00"378 23
5. 04 PIZZONIA Williams BMW M 1'15"470 + 0'00"469 25
6. 35 DAVIDSON BAR Honda M 1'15"576 + 0'00"575 33
7. 10 SATO BAR Honda M 1'15"657 + 0'00"656 21
8. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'15"677 + 0'00"676 30
9. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'15"738 + 0'00"737 19
10. 38 ZONTA Toyota M 1'16"200 + 0'01"199 38
11. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'16"265 + 0'01"264 18
12. 37 WIRDHEIM Jaguar Cosworth M 1'16"342 + 0'01"341 28
13. 14 WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth M 1'16"514 + 0'01"513 27
14. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'16"660 + 0'01"659 32
15. 15 KLIEN Jaguar Cosworth M 1'16"854 + 0'01"853 31
16. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas B 1'16"865 + 0'01"864 30
17. 11 FISICHELLA Sauber Petronas B 1'17"026 + 0'02"025 26
18. 16 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'17"300 + 0'02"299 25
19. 17 PANIS Toyota M 1'17"419 + 0'02"418 23
20. 39 GLOCK Jordan Ford B 1'17"724 + 0'02"723 25
21. 19 PANTANO Jordan Ford B 1'17"869 + 0'02"868 24
22. 21 BAUMGARTNER Minardi Cosworth B 1'18"098 + 0'03"097 21
23. 40 LEINDERS Minardi Cosworth B 1'18"224 + 0'03"223 17
24. 18 HEIDFELD Jordan Ford B 1'18"243 + 0'03"242 23
25. 20 BRUNI Minardi Cosworth B 1'18"309 + 0'03"308 25 

7/23/04
Industry News

Ford to build third factory in China    This AP article says, Ford Motor Co. plans to build a third factory in China, part of an expansion of its partnership with Changan Automobile Group that will also involve Japan's Mazda Motor Corp.  An agreement signed Thursday with officials in the eastern city of Nanjing would allow the joint venture Changan Ford to acquire land there for the project, said Kenneth Hsu, Ford's spokesman in China.  Ford and Changan Automobile Group plan to expand investment in their 50-50 joint venture by up to $1.5 billion over the next few years. The new auto plant is part of that expansion.  The project will involve cooperation among Ford, Changan and Mazda, Ford said in a statement that gave no details on the arrangement. Japanese news reports have said that Mazda might take a 12.5-percent stake in Changan Ford. Ford has a 33.4-percent stake in Mazda.  Ford and Mazda assemble vehicles together in some other countries, and the new Nanjing plant "is a logical extension of that partnership," said Mark Schulz, an executive vice president at Ford.  Volkswagen AG plans to invest up to 5.3 billion euros ($6.5 billion) in China by 2008, and General Motors Corp. has announced a $3-billion, 3-year investment plan. Ford now builds Mondeo and Fiesta sedans at Ford Changan's plant in Chongqing, a sprawling municipality in western China. It also builds Ford Transit light trucks in Jiangxi province with Jiangling Motors Co.   The Mazda6, Mazda 323 and Premacy are made in China in a venture with China FAW Group Corp., one of China's largest car makers.  [Editor's Note:  Honda and Toyota are also investing heavily in China.  The future of the automobile industry will be centered in Asia, with China, Japan and South Korea becoming the "new Detroit" of the world.  Is Champ Car racing there yet, or are they still trying to decide what they want to be, a domestic series that dabbles overseas, or a true international alternative to F1?]

7/23/04

German GP not a sellout    This Reuters article says, Hundreds of tickets remained available for Sunday's German Grand Prix, primarily because of high prices and Michael Schumacher's domination this year, though organizers remained optimistic on Friday they could match last year's attendance figures.   "Sales have been picking up in the last few weeks and we are relatively satisfied," said track spokesman Hartmut Tesseraux. "The enthusiasm remains the same. Hockenheim is a very special occasion."   It was unlikely, however, that the 120,000 seats in the huge Motordrome would be filled for Sunday's race and organizers would be pleased if they could match last year's figure of 103,000 spectators.   The other German event on the calendar, the European Grand Prix at Nürburgring, experienced similar difficulties in May, when only 106,000 fans witnessed Schumacher's triumph while the venue could have held 150,000.   With no tickets available for less than 125 euros and a good seat costing 370 euros, fans think twice before going to a race that Schumacher is widely expected to win.

7/23/04

Newman remains loyal Champ car owner    This TSN.ca article talks about Paul Newman's strong support of the Champ Car World Series despite rumors his current partner Carl Haas may be going to the IRL with a 2-car team.  There has been strong speculation that Haas is preparing to field a two car entry in the IRL as early as next year. He recently fielded a car for Bruno Junqueira in May's Indianapolis 500, further fueling the rumors. While Haas' future in Champ Car remains clouded, Newman says he will be back, even if he has to field a team on his own. "I don't know whether I'll have partners," he said, downplaying reports fellow actor Tom Cruise might join the Champ Car ownership ranks. "It's just too early to talk about it and I hate speculation."  [Editor's Note: the fact Newman admits "I don't know if I will have partners" is a real indication that the team could split up.  Rumors suggest Newman will team with Tom Cruise and Mario Andretti and buy out the entire existing Newman/Haas operation.  Then Carl Haas will be free, much like Pat Patrick did, to start a new team and shop in the IRL using Honda's money.  We shall see what happens because sources in the team told us the existing team could stay intact.]

7/23/04

German GP: Davidson over Schu in first free practice   

P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
1. 35 DAVIDSON BAR Honda M 1'15"756 217.361 Km/h 32
2. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'15"864 + 0'00"108 11
3. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'16"318 + 0'00"562 8
4. 38 ZONTA Toyota M 1'16"340 + 0'00"584 36
5. 11 FISICHELLA Sauber Petronas B 1'16"451 + 0'00"695 11
6. 17 PANIS Toyota M 1'16"484 + 0'00"728 20
7. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'16"493 + 0'00"737 16
8. 9 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'16"544 + 0'00"788 12
9. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'16"795 + 0'01"039 14
10. 04 PIZZONIA Williams BMW M 1'16"845 + 0'01"089 14
11. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'16"916 + 0'01"160 8
12. 16 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'17"111 + 0'01"355 21
13. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'17"142 + 0'01"386 11
14. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas B 1'17"361 + 0'01"605 18
15. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'17"487 + 0'01"731 14
16. 10 SATO BAR Honda M 1'17"526 + 0'01"770 14
17. 37 WIRDHEIM Jaguar Cosworth M 1'17"714 + 0'01"958 20
18. 18 HEIDFELD Jordan Ford B 1'18"257 + 0'02"501 15
19. 39 GLOCK Jordan Ford B 1'18"768 + 0'03"012 17
20. 15 KLIEN Jaguar Cosworth M 1'18"810 + 0'03"054 9
21. 20 BRUNI Minardi Cosworth B 1'19"088 + 0'03"332 17
22. 40 LEINDERS Minardi Cosworth B 1'19"270 + 0'03"514 14
23. 21 BAUMGARTNER Minardi Cosworth B 1'19"959 + 0'04"203 13
24. 19 PANTANO Jordan Ford B 1'20"029 + 0'04"273 17

7/23/04

German GP: Thursday Press Conference    BMW Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya talks of his Hockenheim chances ahead of the German Grand Prix.   Rookie Jaguar racer Christian Klien talks of his season with Jaguar Racing and the forthcoming German Grand Prix.  Michael Schumacher can help clinch Ferrari the constructors' title this weekend in Germany. Schumacher talks of football, his season and the German Grand Prix.  Transcript

7/23/04

Competitive Champ Car grid makes drivers push hard    This Canadian Press article talks about the number of incidences in Champ Car races that result because all the cars are so equal, meaning the drivers have to make risky moves to make a pass.

7/23/04

Bourdais a hero back home    This Vancouver Sun article says, For Sebastien Bourdais, it's like Joe Walsh said: It's tough to handle this fortune and fame; everybody's so different, I haven't changed.  The sophomore Newman/Haas driver felt like that when he returned in June to his hometown in France for his fourth 24-Hours of Le Mans.  He and his teammates -- Nicolas Minassian and Soheil Ayari -- had all sorts of mechanical problems with their Pescarolo Courage car and finished 19th.   But what made Bourdais squirm was the sudden adulation from tens of thousands of fans who hadn't paid a lot of attention to the driving whiz until now.  "I had a hard time because the fans identified me as a superstar and I'm not," Bourdais said days after returning from Le Mans to race at Portland. "It was tough, really. I mean, at the parade there were 150,000 people and they all wanted an autograph. How are you going to do that? So you wave -- 'Yeah, hi!' -- and you can not stop. You stop and you spend two hours in one spot and that's just a tenth of the demands, you know?"

7/23/04

Enhanced TV for Vancouver    "The Molson Indy Vancouver, iLoveTV and Molson website iam.ca will be working again in partnership to bring an exciting new dimension to sports viewing on television", says Judy Davey, Vice President, Media and CRM, Molson Canada.  "It is with great enthusiasm that iLoveTV continues a working relationship with Molson to bring sports fans a whole new enhanced TV viewing and interactive experience", says Wayne Thompson, iLoveTV's spokesperson.  Molson Indy Vancouver fans will be able to follow their favourite drivers on a unique live-and-in-real-time SynchroCast Internet platform while watching the race on TV.

The iLoveTV Enhanced Television SynchroCast platform has finally made TV/Internet convergence a reality. Viewers will be less inclined to channel-surf as iLoveTV SynchroCasting will deliver to fans a more compelling, interactive broadcast.  TV-Internet SynchroCasts will give fans the opportunity to learn more about their favorite athletes, play trivia games, enter contests, respond to promotions, update sports pools on the fly and purchase merchandise online while watching the game on TV. The best news of all is that the iLoveTV TV/Internet SynchroCast of the Molson Indy Vancouver will be free to consumers at iam.ca.  Log on to iam.ca at 1:00 pm (Pacific time) 10:00am (Eastern time) this Sunday, July 25th to experience the live TV/Internet SynchroCast of the Molson Indy Vancouver.

7/23/04

Wilson blames Tracy for taking him out   In his latest column in Autosport, rookie Justin Wilson explains what happened between him and Paul Tracy in Toronto -  In the race, Bruno [Junqueira] and Mario [Dominguez] crashed in front of me so that cleared them out of the way and put me third behind Bourdais and Paul Tracy. We were able to run quick in the race. I was right up behind Tracy who was up behind Bourdais. I wasn't struggling to hang on at all, in fact, I was sitting there quite comfortably. When we came to the first pit stops, my team did a great job and got me out ahead, so I was second. Bourdais was still leading and it was all looking good. Then there was a full course yellow when Memo Gidley crashed… I didn't get a good restart and Paul [Tracy] went past on the outside down the back straight, then as we got on the brakes he braked early, so I went back up the inside. I turned in to the corner and everything was fine, but just before the middle of the corner I just got hit from behind and spun around. I definitely got hit, one hundred percent. He [Tracy] has said that I was already starting to spin, and he hit me when I'd spun, but that's not the case because the first time I put any opposite lock on the car was when the load came off the rear wheels. He also said I did a banzai move on him but that's not the case either. We looked at the data afterwards and I braked earlier than I had done on the previous flag restart. But he braked very early and I was able to pass him.

7/23/04

Honda renews with BAR   The partnership between B·A·R F1 and Honda Motor Company enters a new era today with the announcement of a long-term extension to their current engine supply and joint chassis development agreement. Together, they will build on B·A·R Honda's current success to achieve their target of winning the FIA Formula One World Championship title. The extension of the contract cements the ever-increasing partnership between Honda and B·A·R and will run until at least the end of 2007. Honda returned to Formula One in 2000 with an engine supply and joint chassis development partnership with B·A·R. A new three-year contract was agreed from 2002, with a further commitment to strengthening the joint chassis development program. At the same time, Honda has continued to improve its development structure within Honda R&D and this has made a substantial contribution to the success which B·A·R is now experiencing, with the team currently lying third in the 2004 Constructors' Championship. In the 11 races to date this season, British driver Jenson Button has achieved six podium finishes, and team-mate Takuma Sato scored the first podium finish by a Japanese driver for 14 years with third place at the United States Grand Prix. Commenting on today's announcement, Takanobu Ito, Managing Director of Honda Motor Company Ltd., said: "Five years have passed since Honda began its third era of Formula One racing. This season we are realizing concrete progress in this new challenge and are aiming to reach our initial goal of getting our first victory. In order to consistently win races in the future, we have made a new multi-year contract with B·A·R in which we will supply engines and conduct joint development of chassis technology. We will continue to make an utmost effort in this Formula One challenge and ask for your continued support as we strive to fulfill the expectations of Honda motorsports fans worldwide." David Richards, Team Principal of B·A·R, commented: "The flourishing partnership between B·A·R and Honda is now starting to show in our on-track performance and Honda's commitment to our future will ensure both long-term stability and the continued competitiveness of the team."  BAR Honda

7/23/04

George happy where IRL is at   This Milwaukee Journal article says More than 10 years after Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George announced plans to form his own series around the Indianapolis 500, heated debates about the decision and the politics of the sport continue.   While the Indy Racing League has grown throughout its nine seasons and now includes many of the most successful owners that had made up CART, major open-wheel racing in the United States remains factionalized.  Most involved agree that a unified open-wheel series would be stronger, but a recent round of discussions toward that end resulted in a joint statement from the IRL and Champ Car, the offshoot of CART, saying that no such deal is imminent.

That brings us to the Milwaukee Mile.   With the Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 set for Sunday, the track at State Fair Park will become one of the rare venues to have held races in both series in the same season. Where does the sport of open-wheel racing - and the IRL, in particular - stand at this juncture?  "There's always room for improvement in areas I'm sure are numerous, but for the most part, it's been a good year and I'm happy with where we're at," George said in a recent interview.  "There's always the hope that we'll continue to grow, keep our level of competition on the track exciting and grow our entrant ranks and our sponsorship ranks and our fan base."  The series is essentially what George imagined, he said, with a growing rank of professionally run teams and races in previously untapped markets, such as Dallas / Fort Worth and Kansas City, Kansas. [Editor's Note: Did he imagine he would destroy an entire sport when he created the IRL and split the sport in two?  It's happening.]

Not what it was.
  Critics, though, contend that the IRL has weakened the position of open-wheel racing in the sports world, citing low television ratings and reduced interest in the Indianapolis 500 over the past decade.  Even George admits he is fascinated and amazed when he watches videos from the 1970s and '80s and sees crowds well into the hundreds of thousands for Indy qualifying.  More.....

7/23/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Jaguar 'treated me like sh*t' - Pizzonia
Mercedes confirm Gary Paffett talks
Jordan 'blocked' Heidfeld's Williams drive
'Flu Schu 'not old enough' to quit
F1's monotony in hands of press - Montoya
Montoya still wants '04 win
Five teams hunt German win - Button
'I know I have to show my talent' - Klien
Ralf has 'active' role at Hockenheim 
Button waits for karting revival
Williams is badly 'organized' - Niki Lauda
Pizzonia to race in Hungary, too
Speechless Trulli wants to stay at Renault
'Don't blame Schu for Formula Yawn' - BAR's Richards
Pizzonia must 'ask for help' - Montoya 

7/22/04

ALMS testing at Portland Friday   Testing starts on Friday at Portland International Raceway for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Portland Grand Prix. ALMS cars will have two hours of testing time starting at 12:50 p.m. (PDT) on the 1.944-mile road racing circuit located in a city-owned park at the northwest edge of the Rose City. The race marks the return of world-class sports car racing to Portland for the first time since the ALMS last raced at the circuit in 2001. JJ Lehto and Marco Werner, drivers of the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8, will be seeking their fourth consecutive ALMS overall race win, a feat that would establish a series record. 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 1 p.m. (PDT) and will be a timed event of two hours and 45 minutes. SPEED Channel will have live, flag-to-flag coverage in North America starting at 4 p.m. (Eastern) while MotorsTV will have full live coverage in Europe.

7/22/04

Business is good in Vancouver  Here in Vancouver the Champ Car business is a big boon to the city and business is better than ever.  As an example, the golf cart company (Attica) has absolutely no carts left.... in previous years they have rented on average 75 to 85 carts, this year they have rented 135 and had to get carts from their competitors!  One of the reasons is that there are 3 different production companies shooting around the race.  A lot of the hotels are sold out, the weather forecast is good and the town is pumped.  Champ Car looks like it's about to pull off another successful race, in this their rebuilding year.  Mark C.

7/22/04

Valiante: It was like a slap in the face  In this National Post article (need subscription to read) titled "Local driver passed over, calls move slap in the face"   "There seems to be a near-universal belief that Michael Valiante deserves to be racing in the Molson Indy Vancouver this weekend," says the article.  He was passed over by Rocketsports for Memo Gidley, leaving the young Vancouver hot shoe watching his hometown race from the sidelines....a big PR opportunity for Champ Car in Vancouver blown.

7/22/04

Series to add more cars   The World Series by Nissan is getting more and more cars, and the situation is much better than in Euro3000.  Italian Giacomo Ricci (19) will drive for Vergani Formula, alongside Giovanni Tedeschi (17), beginning with the Eurospeedway race in August. Ricci has already participated in the last two seasons of the Spanish Formula Junior Championship where he finished 4th last year.  This season he has also raced in the Euro F3000. The deal is for the rest of the season. If Epsilon Euskadi can fill the ex-Vilariño seat (you can bet on it) and Gabord really, as rumored before, will have a second driver from the German race on, World Series will bring 18 cars to EuroSpeedway......Maybe 19, if a team fields an additional car for the free agent Ander Vilariño. Guenter Reinhold reporting from Europe

7/22/04
Industry News

Bridgestone announces promotion of Joe Barbieri   Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT), announced today that Joe Barbieri has been promoted to the position of manager of motorsports. Barbieri, previously a project supervisor in the BFNT motorsports department, assumes his new responsibilities immediately. Barbieri is a native of Akron, Ohio, and began his career with the company in 1972. He has been involved in the Bridgestone Motorsport and Firestone Racing programs since 1987 and has served as a project supervisor since 1994. With his promotion, Barbieri will take on additional responsibilities related to budgeting for the department, as well as coordination of contracts with race teams, leagues and venues. "It’s impossible for me to express how valuable Joe has been to our motorsports program over the last 17 years,” said Al Speyer, executive director of motorsports for BFNT. “Without him, our programs certainly wouldn’t have been as successful as they have been over the last decade. I have no doubt that he’ll approach his new responsibilities with the same dedication and passion he’s always shown.” Bridgestone is the official tire and presenting sponsor of Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Firestone is the official tire of the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

7/22/04

ALMS ratings from Infineon   The American Le Mans Series garnered a 1.1/3 share overnight rating on CBS for its race last weekend at Infineon Raceway.  They were hoping for a bump up in ratings due to Dale Earnhardt Jr., but he crashed and burned in morning warm-up and never raced.

7/22/04

Molson merges with Coors  UPDATE Molson Inc., Canada’s largest brewer, has agreed to merge with Adolph Coors Co. in a $6 billion (U.S.) deal that creates a new beer behemoth and ends the independence of two of North America’s biggest family-run brewing icons. “This transaction allows us to create a stronger company in a consolidating global industry while preserving Molson’s rich heritage as North America’s oldest beer company and Canada’s leading brewer,” Eric Molson, chairman of Molson, said in a combined statement with Coors early today. The agreement would create the world’s fifth biggest brewer — to be called Molson Coors Brewing Co. (TSX: MOL.A) — as measured by volume of beer sold and the third-biggest brewer in the United States.  As part of the transaction, Molson chairman Eric Molson would become chairman of the combined company, while Leo Kiely, chief executive of Coors, would become the new company’s chief. O’Neill was named vice-chairman of synergies and integration, and Timothy Wolf, currently chief financial officer of Coors, will be the chief financial officer of the combined company. The company will have executive headquarters in Denver and Montreal, with its Canadian operations managed from Toronto and its U.S. operations from Golden, Colo. The transaction comes after days of speculation among investors that an interloper like Heineken would emerge to break up the deal and try to steal Molson.  Toronto Star  7/19/04 -  [Editor's Note:  What, if any effect this merger might have on Champ Car's three Canadian races remains to be seen]  This Toronto Star article says, One of Canada's oldest breweries may share its legacy after Molson Inc. (Champ Car race sponsor in Canada) confirmed today that it's in advanced talks concerning a possible "merger of equals" with U.S. counterpart Adolph Coors Co.    "An announcement could be made in the near future," Molson said in a statement after the markets closed.   "There can be no assurance that a transaction will take place."    If the deal is finalized, it means that Canada's two main brewers will be owned at least in part by foreigners. Labatt is owned by Belgium's Interbrew.

"Molson Inc. and Adolph Coors Company confirmed that they are in advanced discussions concerning a possible merger of equals between the two companies, the terms of which are still being discussed and are subject to final board approvals," the statement said.  The parties confirmed that terms being discussed include Molson chairman Eric Molson becoming chairman of the new company's board. Leo Kiely, Coors chief executive officer, would retain his position while Molson president and CEO Dan O'Neill would become vice-chairman, synergies and integration of the combined company.

"If the Molson family wanted to give up control of the business, as they probably would in this case, it (the merger) is a natural fit." Among the hurdles a merger must overcome is a feud among Molson family members. Ian Molson, who was recently kicked off the board of directors, is reportedly opposed to the merger. As holder of 10 per cent of shares, he may hold a veto over some transactions, including the sale of the company. But a merger may allow cousin Eric Molson to retain control and allow the company to evolve.

The two beer companies, which are of similar size, already have deals in place to distribute each other's products in their respective markets. Combined, they would have a market share of about 4.1 per cent and rank seventh in the world, ahead of Scottish and Newcastle. Coors is already the seventh largest brewer in the world, accounting for 2.7 per cent of global production. Molson ranks 13th, with about 1.5 per cent of the world's production.

7/22/04
Formula GP2

First test of GP2 car   The first 'GP2' car hit the French 'Paul Ricard' test track on Wednesday.  Driven by Renault's F1 test ace Franck Montagny, the development 'Dallara' chassis was system-checked ahead of more than 20 days of planned running.  'GP2' is to replace F3000 as F1's support-category in '05.  Series organizer Bruno Michel refused to 'comment on ... ultimate performance,' but he said the plan is to have a 'fast, reliable car' by October.  In that month, 'GP2' will start 'taking orders' for the new championship.  Montagny, also French, said he felt 'comfortable' in the Renault-powered car.  He added: ''I was confident immediately, which is a good sign.  The mechanics made a thorough check of every part of the car before letting me out on the circuit” he said. “Once in the cockpit, I felt very comfortable. As a driver, your first impressions when you get into a car are very important, and I was confident immediately, which is a good sign. The aim of these first runs was not to set quick times, but I still got some idea of the car’s potential and I believe it will perform impressively. Our work today focused on the Renault engine, making runs at different engine speeds and loads. Furthermore, the build quality is exceptional: Dallara and Mécachrome have done a great job.”  [Editor's Note: In terms of size, weight, wheels and tires, this car is everything the next generation Champ Car should be except it has a 4-liter V8 engine making 600+ HP and the Champ Car version should have a screaming V10 making 700+ HP]

Meanwhile, at the 'Farnborough Air Show' this week, the Formula One-style open-wheeler car for the Dubai-based 'A1GP' winter-championship was on display.   CEO Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum said 'team members' have been traveling the globe 'negotiating with over 24 [potential] franchise holders.'

7/22/04

Vilariño splits from team   Ander Vilariño and his former team Epsilon-Euskadi had decided to end their contract. The Basque driver has reported that the decision was taken because he was very "upset with his personal relationship with the management of the team"..  Vilariño will continue to work in finding some financial backing at least for the last three events, although by his own words, "this is a very difficult situation, as the season is well advanced. "For sure I will be not taking part in the event at Lausitz August 5th, but at least I would like to try for the final three meetings, but only with a top team," said Vilariño.  The team Epsilon Euskadi has expressed their farewell to the driver in a press release where it confirms that the Team is already looking for a new driver to replace him in the World Series by Nissan. The announcement is set before the race at the Eurospeedway in Lausitz.  It seems strange that a team funded by the Basque government has French drivers racing for it. Does this mean that the race in Bilbao is in treat of not happening, as Bilbao is in the Basque country and the race was being promoted by the same people?  Guenter Reinhold reporting from Europe

7/22/04

Toyota to light up Cologne   Toyota Motorsport in Cologne plans a spectacle in the city of Cologne for Aug. 21st.  In front of the "Cologne Mediapark" a show-race between the two F1-cars with Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis at the wheel will take place. They also plan to perform a pit stop demonstration to bring real racing atmosphere to the city.  Prior to that Cologne will see a parade from Cologne-Marsdorf, the Toyota headquarters, to the media park, with two Toyota Corolla World Rallye cars, two Toyota-Yaris-Cup-Cars and the vintage 2000 GT.  The two F1-cars and the Le-Mans GT-One cars will participate in the parade, being transported on trucks.

7/22/04

Justin Wilson making the grade   This SPEED TV article says, In the past five decades, the English have given us John Cooper, Colin Chapman, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, rear-engined cars, Lotus, Lola, McLaren, March kit cars, Chaulkie, Rabbit, Morris Nunn, Cosworth, Reynard, Nigel Mansell and a new way to look at open wheel racing.  But nothing may be any more refreshing or well timed than the latest offering from the United Kingdom.  His name is Justin Wilson and he's a very different breed in almost every way.

At 6-5, he looms above the Champ Car paddock but what stands out most is his enthusiastic attitude, good-natured persona and impressive ability to adapt to everything that's been thrown at him the last five months.  Whether it's been on an oval, airport, road course or street circuit, the 25-year-old Brit has taken to the turbocharged, non-traction controlled Champ Cars with amazing aplomb.

Going into this weekend's annual trek to Vancouver, the lanky lad from Northampton has qualified 3rd, 4th, 2nd and 4th in four of the last five races and run up front on a solid but low-budget team that's never been in such rarified air.  "I wouldn't trade Justin for anybody in this paddock," says Chris Mower, who engineered Wilson's F3000 title in 2001 and is back with his old buddy this season. "He's smart, he's patient and got a great temperament.  But he was still a bit of an unknown and there was still a little reluctance to hire him. So Eric (Bachelart, co-owner) put it to me: 'What would you do?' I said let's get him, which was kinda like puttin my balls in a vice, until everyone saw what he could do. Now everybody is real happy." Formula 1's loss has definitely been Champ Car's gain and Bachelart is downright giddy with his Tower of London.  "This team has very little money, don't forget that," said Bachelart, who along with Mike Lanigan owns Mi-Jack Conquest Racing. "But we've all got the same engines and chassis and if you get a good driver and good engineer, you can be competitive.  "Justin is a joy to work with and really confident with Chris and our team. We've got a very honest relationship and he's made it so I enjoy racing again." More..... 

7/22/04
V8 Supercars

Alex Yoong drives Shanghai F1 circuit   WPS Racing was given the honor of christening the Shanghai International Circuit in China last Monday as part of the historic signing ceremony to announce that a round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series will be held at the new track from next year.  WPS Racing’s new team signing Alex Yoong became the first driver to fire up a V8 Supercar around the circuit and was joined by Queensland Premier Peter Beattie.  About 400 invited guests watched on as Yoong fired up the WPS Racing car, specially flown into Shanghai for the event, and shot Mr Beattie around the track for a series of hot laps.  “Mr Beattie had a great few laps and was absolutely beaming when I got him out of the car.  “It is an awesome track and it will blow all the Australian teams away when they come and see the quality and size of the facilities.”  Mr Beattie described next year’s first race, to be held in June as round five of the 2005 season, as a landmark event in terms of logistics and export dollars.  “Under a five year deal, V8 racing will for the first time travel outside Australasia. This is an exciting and historic event and one which will add a further dimension to one of Australia’s most important relationships.

7/22/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Michelin admits to Sauber talks
F1 tester tries first 'GP2' car
Rubens enjoys 'anti home-race' advantage
Gene, Herbert, to drive Minardi
New aero is 'step forward' - Mark Webber
Ralf to offer 'moral support' at Hockenheim
Paffett to replace Fisichella in '05
Raikkonen out to topple Schu - McLaren's Dennis
Indian GP is 'dead in the water' - report 
Alonso yearns to stretch Renault's legs
'Heads would have rolled' - McLaren's Whitmarsh
New Hockenheim 'not as good' - '00 winner
Webber can't race a Williams in '04 

7/22/04

Interest low for Road America   Our contacts at Road America tell us interest in the Champ Car weekend is down for 2004.  Having so many races at the track close together doesn't help, however, this has been the trend for years now ever since Champ Car lost all its big hero drivers like Mario Andretti, Rick Mears, AJ Foyt, the Unsers, Nigel Mansell, Fittipaldi, etc.  They were racing heroes to a lot of people.  When a fan is a hero worshiper they will drive/fly anywhere to see their heroes race, even way up to Road America.  However, without enough big heroes (not to degrade the current crop of drivers, most are very good, but they haven't yet developed a cult following), they have to bring the racing to the people, hence more urban street races.  Champ Car lost their way when they lost their heroes and were clueless how to replace them.  Contrast this to NASCAR where the drivers are heroes - the fan following is huge.  Ditto with F1 and Schumacher, Raikkonen, Montoya, etc.....and before them Senna, Stewart, Clark, Prost,  Fangio, Nuvolari, Moss, Hill, Villeneuve, Andretti, etc.  At the end of the day, every great sport flourishes on the backs of their great athletes.  Mark C.

7/21/04

Da Matta bullish on new car   Toyota will unleash their new TF104B at Hockenheim this weekend.  Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis cannot wait to getting their hands on the heavily-revised car - but technical director Mike Gascoyne has warned that the race weekend will be "something of a test session" for the team.  He said: "We used last week's test in Jerez to shake down the chassis of the new TF104B car. Most of the parts that make a difference to the lap time will appear for the first time this weekend.  We know from simulations what kind of step we could make, but we have to wait until Friday to see how the data translates to the track.  The German Grand Prix will be something of a test session for us, as we establish a baseline of the TF104B's potential.  The car has an upgraded aero package, as well as a substantially repackaged chassis with lower weight and centre of gravity.  The debut of the TF104B now marks the start of a renewed development process for Toyota which will take us to the last race of the season in Brazil."

Da Matta said: "Everyone at Panasonic Toyota Racing is really looking forward to racing our new TF104B race car at this weekend's German Grand Prix.  Last year, the Hockenheimring was a track that suited our car - we qualified in the top ten and both cars finished in the top six. Now we hope the TF104B comes out as we have targeted, and we can start to aim for more results like that."

Panis added: "Personally, I am hoping for something of a turnaround of fortune with the debut of our TF104B race car at this weekend's German Grand Prix.  A lot of hard work has gone into producing this car, so I would take this opportunity to thank every single member of the team for their individual contribution.

7/21/04

Gidley to Rocketsports with Air Force backing   Rocketsports Racing welcomes Memo Gidley back to the team for the Molson Indy Vancouver. Gidley first drove the No.17 Rocketsports Champ Car in the Toronto Indy, and made a favorable impression on the second year organization with his demeanor, feedback and performance. With overwhelming support from Champ Car fans, Gidley will make his fourth Vancouver start in the No.17 Rocketsports Air Force Reserve Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone.
 
“My first race with Rocketsports in Toronto was new and fun, but a bit of a whirlwind. Another weekend with Rocketsports will be equally exciting, but with more preparation and time, I’ll have the opportunity to develop a working relationship with the team. We’ll have the chance to be more competitive and produce better results in the No. 17 Air Force Reserve car.
 
“I’ve driven the Molson Indy Vancouver three times before and it's an awesome track because it’s long with lots of slow and high-speed corners - even a 140 mile corner, which is unheard of in a street course. The passing and chicanes make it exciting to drive and watch. Vancouver’s also a great venue because the people are real race fans and make the event,” stated Gidley, whose father is from Duncan, British Columbia.
 
Demonstrating his dedication to racing, Gidley will step out of the No. 17 Rocketsports Lola following Champ Car qualifying in Vancouver at 2:45 PM on Saturday, and hop into a jet helicopter to fly 270 miles south to Portland International Raceway. There, he’ll strap into the No. 48 Air Force Reserve Ford Focus for the 4:15 PM start of the Speed World Challenge Touring Car race, as part of the American Le Mans weekend.
 
“I was thrilled to get another call from Rocketsports and the opportunity to drive for them in Vancouver. I’m appreciative of Rocketsports for being so accommodating, allowing me to fulfill my commitment in the No. 48 Air Force Reserve Ford Focus Touring Car at the Speed World Challenge in Portland on Saturday afternoon,” said Gidley. “I love racing and will do it as much as possible - even on the same weekend.
 
“I’d be happy to race 24/7, 365 days a year if I could,” Gidley added. “Pulling double-duty with two events on the same weekend will be a challenge, but it’s an outstanding opportunity. I’m excited to build relationships with two fine teams and series, and race a Ford-powered Champ Car and a Ford Focus Touring Car in the same day.”
 
“Champ Cars are awesome, fun cars to drive, and the fan support to keep me in a Champ Car has been most impressive, especially in the weeks since the Toronto Indy. The Champ Car World Series has some of the most committed individuals in the motorsport industry, and it’s been great to be welcomed back by drivers, team members and fans.”
 
Gidley will test the No. 48 Air Force Reserve Ford Focus in Portland on Thursday afternoon, then head to Vancouver, ready for Champ Car practice Friday morning. “Attempting to drive two different cars, in two different cities, nearly three hundred miles apart should be interesting and a lot of fun,” said Gidley. “I’m grateful to Paul Gentilozzi and Maj. Greg Pachman for the chance to pull-off this different kind of double".

7/21/04

IRL in Portland not a done deal........yet   This Portland Oregonian article says, Portland City Commissioner Jim Francesconi, not completely sold on the Indy Racing League replacing the Champ Car World Series at Portland International Raceway, said Tuesday "some conversations need to happen" before Portland would sign a contract for 2005.  "I want to speak with them myself," Francesconi said of the IRL and IRL president Tony George.

Beaverton-based Peter Jacobsen Productions, which submitted a proposal Monday to stage an IRL race at Portland International Raceway next year, has a meeting scheduled Thursday with the track's race committee.   "They'll go over specifics of the proposal, they'll do some negotiating, then they'll make a recommendation," said Francesconi, who oversees the city-owned raceway as Portland's parks commissioner.

Francesconi said he remained mystified over Champ Car's decision Friday to pull its offer of a three-year extension when it was asked to submit a "request for proposal." Champ Car, previously known as CART, has staged events at PIR since 1984.   Francesconi told Champ Car last week it was driving the negotiations because the IRL offer was for one year, not three. But Francesconi said Champ Car is not returning his calls and appears ready to end a 21-year relationship.   "I'm surprised they didn't either call, ask for a meeting or make a proposal," Francesconi said. "All they had to do was call or submit a proposal."

Paul Gentilozzi, one of Champ Car's three owners, said his group refuses to take part in a "bidding process."  We won't do it," he said. "We busted our tails to have a race there (in June), promoted it ourselves to show good faith and in essence they've just turned their backs on us.   You can't play with sanctioning bodies. And that's what I felt like they were doing. Perhaps they were being played, too, because in my sincere opinion the IRL has no intention of really going there."

Ken Ungar, the IRL's vice president of business affairs, called Champ Car's assertion that the IRL simply was interfering with Champ Car "absolutely ridiculous."

Tim Ramsberger, Champ Car's race promotions vice president, said, "We offered to come back and they put us in a bidding situation that we warned them we were not going to participate in. . . . I think what happened is, Francesconi got some bad advice."

Francesconi reiterated Tuesday that his only interest was making the best deal for the city, putting on a quality event that will generate enough money to finance key PIR improvements. Francesconi said the upgrades are necessary, "or else we're going to lose the race just because we don't have a good enough track (i.e. it's a dump right now).   This is a business. Racing is a business. Protecting the public is a business," he said. "Champ Car has chosen to proceed in a way that I don't quite understand and we're going to move forward in a way that produces the best race for our citizens."

IRL schedule nearing completion
The IRL is working on its 2005 schedule and has not yet committed to come to Portland for a late July or early August 2005 race. Ungar said the IRL is hoping to complete the schedule by the end of this month.

The IRL, which never has raced on a road course such as PIR, also is negotiating with road courses in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Sonoma, Calif. Ungar has said "at least two" road racing venues would be added for 2005, possibly more.

"We've had some pretty intense discussions with the IRL, but there are some things we need to work through and nothing's been signed," said John Cardinale, the vice president of media relations at Sonoma's Infineon Raceway (formerly Sears Point). "We're excited about the possibility of an IRL race."

Julie Giese, a spokesperson for Watkins Glen, said, "Right now we're in a holding pattern, waiting to hear back from them. We're waiting to see where they're at with their schedule, like everyone else."

The IRL's proposal for Portland includes the strong likelihood of a title sponsorship from one of its major engine manufacturers -- Honda, Toyota or Chevrolet. The IRL also offered $200,000 in track rental, an amount that could increase to $400,000 in year three if the race is a success and the IRL returns in 2006 and 2007. Champ Car paid $80,000 to rent the track in June.

The IRL's television package with ABC and ESPN also is more lucrative than Champ Car's broadcast deal with Spike TV.   "The IRL involves more resources," Francesconi said.   Mark Wigginton, PIR track manager, said it is important a decision is reached soon so Champ Car or the IRL has time to sell the event.   I know success is built by having time to do the show and put all the pieces together," Wigginton said. "If you don't have a year to do that, then you're starting with one foot in the hole.   My sense is, people want a really good race and a good show. I don't think they're too concerned with who puts it on."

7/21/04

Skip Barber National at Mosport: Boys to Men   Mosport International is a track where all but one of its 10 corners are fast, high speed sweepers, fourth and fifth gear for the most part, with blind turn-ins. To spice things up, a few downhill off-camber complexes are thrown into the mix. Oh, and there's very little run-off area. In other words, Mosport is a track that historically separates the men from the boys

That being the case, all the teenage boys in the Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER must well and truly be ''men,'' as they put on a heck of a show, refusing to let Mosport intimidate them -- especially when you consider only two of the drivers had previously even set foot on the grounds before this week. Then even more so when it's learned that none of the competitors had driven the track in the rain -- which, of course, started to fall heavily just before the start of the first of the two races.  More.....

7/21/04

James Weaver on Wind Tunnel   American Le Mans Series driver James Weaver will appear on SPEED Channel's popular Motorsports talk show "Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain" live from Portland International Raceway on Thursday, July 22.  Weaver, from England, will drive for the Dyson Racing team in Sunday's Portland Grand Prix, the first American Le Mans Series event to be held at Portland International Raceway since 2001. SPEED Channel will have live, flag-to-flag coverage of the race on Sunday starting at 4 p.m. (Eastern).  "Wind Tunnel" airs at 10 p.m. (Eastern) and viewers will have the opportunity to call 1-866-W-TUNNEL and ask questions of Weaver. Questions can also be sent via email to windtunnel@speedtv.com.

7/21/04

Herdez team responds to recent reports   The following statement is produced in response to recent media interest concerning the future of Herdez Competition (HVM Inc).

Grupo Herdez notified the team at the beginning of 2004 that they would be significantly cutting back their racing program in 2005. Like any marketing program, racing sponsorship will always have an optimum period of return and the team’s programs with Herdez have been highly successful in playing a part in establishing Herdez brands in the United States and Canada. In Mexico, the growth of the team into a leading challenger in the Champ Car World Series has been a marvelous parallel with the image of Herdez products, which are known for their quality and consistency.

The team is in negotiation with several potential new partners and is looking forward to continuing, and expanding, its relationships with our other current partners who represent a substantial part of the team’s business. The partners brought in to support Ryan Hunter-Reay and the continuing relationship with Mario Dominguez into 2005 also contribute to the stability of our business program.

With the team enjoying considerable success and now acknowledged as a premier racing team in Mexico, there is significant interest from companies looking to capitalize on the team’s marketing programs with immediate benefits from the impetus and recognition that has been created in the past three years.

Offering enormous exposure in Mexico and the Latino markets in America and Canada, the team, which currently leads in advertising ratings in the 2004 Champ Car World Series, will continue its growth into and beyond the 2005 season.

7/21/04

ALMS boss brings sportscars to NW   This Seattle Post article is a good story about ALMS President Scott Atherton who grew up in the Northwest and this weekend's ALMS race in Portland is a homecoming of some sorts.

7/21/04

Dumbed down simply doesn't work for Open Wheel racing   If you haven't already seen it, check out an article titled "Dumbing Down the Drive" by Doug Replogle on page 23 of the August issue of Racecar Engineering. He does a very good job of summarizing the affect of what he calls the "aura" strategy (the aura of high tech without true competition) used in both splinters of North American open wheel racing today. We especially noticed this quote: "The IRL provides an even better test case, since it offers everything that the public is being told that it wants: design features borrowed from series' where technology is actually the basis of competition, rigid limits on innovation and contrived close finishes through the use of mandatory downforce levels (and rev limits).  Despite (or perhaps because of) all these features the IRL's main achievement to this point has been to make people stay away from the Indy 500....................Meanwhile, the teams have shown their gratitude by staying away as well."  [Editor's Note: Bottom line, and we have been saying it for years, open wheel racing is not stock car racing.  Any aura of dumbed down does not work.  Now, about those screaming V10's Champ Car........]

7/21/04

Kalkhoven: I don't give a shit  This Vancouver Sun article says (read all 3 pages), Last year, the IRL drew one million less fans in North America than did Champ Car. Costs to run a car have risen dramatically in large part because of the competition between Toyota and Honda. And after trumpeting its all-oval schedule as somehow being patriotically American, the IRL is talking about intruding into Champ Car turf by adding road races next year, even though it would require significant -- and costly -- changes to its cars to have them turn lap times consistent with Champ Cars.  "They are so enthusiastic to do something with us, it's frightening," said Kalkhoven after the meeting with Penske.

Earlier, Kalkhoven had said "all the talk of consolidation is coming from the other side after a disastrous Indy [500]. I don't give a shit, simple as that. Our job is to build this series."  There have been merger talks in the past between George, Champ Car owners and engine manufacturers, but they have always broken down.  "I couldn't count the number of people who have sat down and had meetings about that subject, but at the end of the day nothing ever happens," said Forsythe.  "We're not focusing on it, I can assure you that."

Champ Car is also committed to try to take its series to more international locations in Europe and South America.  "I'm sure we'll be in four or five countries outside the U.S. next year," says Gentilozzi. [Editor's Note: We believe he meant 4 or 5 additional countries - South Korea, England, Germany or Spain, Argentina, and Brazil]  Gentilozzi and his partners also believe that the improving economic recovery since the 9/11 terrorist attacks will lead companies back to auto racing to promote their products.  It was the forthright, energetic Gentilozzi, whose Champ Car history spans all of two years, who took a leadership role in making sure the series had 18 cars to start the season.  "The thing that excites me is that all we had to do is show a little stability and the motor sports community worked their way back to the table to talk to us," he said.  "I believe strongly that our formula is right."

7/21/04

Paul Newman sounds off on Champ Car  In this Vancouver Sun article (read all 5 pages) says, "Road racing is a great American tradition," Newman says of his unwavering loyalty to Champ Car. "I don't mean to denigrate any racing at all -- anything with four wheels and it goes around and guys are competitive, whether it's a Volkswagen or a competition [car] -- but I think road racing and street racing and ovals is a combination that insists on a different measure of excellence on all the disciplines. "Of course, I'm an old racer ... I supported this series since 1983 and I will continue to support it so long as I have a breath and so long as they've got some cars running." Newman says IRL boss Tony George has tried to kill Champ Car but won't succeed, in large part because of Champ Car's fan support. Despite the circuit's financial struggles, the defections and a late start on promotion and marketing this season, Champ Car drew its typical large crowds at Long Beach, Calif., for the season opener and in Monterrey, Mexico. The series also remains hugely popular in Canada. More than 72,000 attended the July 11 Molson Indy Toronto on race day, despite a late start in marketing and promotion of the event. "Look at Vancouver. Gosh, look at all the Canadian races and the support for all the Canadian drivers. As long as we have the fans behind us, we're going to be fine."

7/21/04

Andrew Ranger set to fill Gilles Villeneuve's shoes  This National Post article says, Minutes before the biggest race of Andrew Ranger's career last year, an on-track doctor was making his rounds on the starting grid, measuring the heart rate of the drivers. With the North American Fran-Am Pro championship on the line in Phoenix, every driver's pulse was beating with the voracity of a revving engine.  But not Ranger's. Legend has it what the doctor found was a kid who gave the indications that he was sleeping, not stressing over his first racing championship.  Such are the tales that seem to surround the future of Canadian racing, who has been dubbed the next Villeneuve -- as in Gilles, not Jacques.

The 17-year-old driving prodigy returned to Toronto for the Molson Indy weekend, where Ranger was second-best in the Toyota Atlantic race while competing against drivers who have lived behind a wheel longer than he has lived his life.  "Everybody who races in the Toyota Atlantic has experience, so it's pretty tough," says the Sierra Sierra Enterprises racer. "It's always about my age, because I'm so much younger."  It wasn't long ago that the Quebec native was gliding across the frozen waters of his Roxton Pond hometown in a snowmobile. Ranger had raced pretty much anything with an engine before he was old enough to secure a driver's license. Still, the son of dirt racer Robert Ranger turned heads when he won five races en route to capturing the 2003 Fran-Am championship in his first year of racing cars.  "It's fun for me," he says of the comparisons to Villeneuve. "He's a big guy and it just gives me pressure. I like the pressure. I think it's good for me."  More......

7/21/04

Vegas drivers excited about Vegas race  This Vancouver Sun article talks about the three Champ Car drivers who live in Las Vegas and how excited they are about a race in their hometown, even if two of them are originally from Canada.

7/21/04

Champ Car test set for Vegas  Las Vegas race fans can get a sneak preview of the Champ Car World Series next month. The Champ Cars, who will run the second half of the double header with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on Sept. 25 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, will hold an open test session for all teams on Aug. 18. The test will begin at 2 p.m. and will run until 10 p.m. The grandstands will be open to spectators at no charge. There will be no test for the Craftsman Truck Series because NASCAR does not allow in season testing for that series. Speedway and Champ Car officials announced earlier this month the unprecedented twin bill of the Trucks and Champ Cars. The Las Vegas 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25. The Champ Car event will run immediately following the Truck race. Tickets are available for the doubleheader by calling the LVMS ticket office at 1-800-644-4444 or logging on to www.lvms.com. Tickets also are available to the Truck Series garage and Champ Car paddock.

7/21/04

Vancouver race still has life  This Vancouver Sun article says,  The long-term future of the Molson Indy Vancouver is compromised by probable development around the street course at the south end False Creek, but the promoter is prepared to extend the race one or two more years "if the business case made sense."  Molson Sports and Entertainment vice-president Bob Singleton was reluctant to elaborate much more than that on Monday. And on the eve of this year's race, after which Molson Sports and Entertainment's three-year contract to promote races here and in Toronto expires, hard answers about Vancouver's immediate future are as elusive as Champ Car series leader Sebastien Bourdais is proving to be of late.

"We're focused on putting on this year's race . . . putting on a world-class event and then we'll see where that takes us," Singleton told reporters at a luncheon where he and Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven spoke about the series.  We're talking to Champ Car, have been for some time. A sanctioning agreement with Champ Car is multiple pages. These things aren't done in 20 minutes. It's much easier for us to go back to Kevin if I run two great races in Toronto and Vancouver."

Kalkhoven said Molson does an "extraordinary job putting on an event.  As a clue," he said with a big smile, "we are sitting here together still talking."

Two weeks ago, the Molson Indy Toronto, despite a late marketing start after Champ Car was rescued out of CART's bankruptcy in February by Kalkhoven and partners Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi, drew 72,561 on Sunday, just 694 fewer than last year. The three-day figure of 164,218 was down 3,134.

Singleton said he was "happy we got to where we got. It's still a huge event and we're proud of it."  The three-day crowd for Vancouver's race is expected to be close to the 162,271 who attended last season. But continued fan support is not the only issue in Vancouver.

Concord Pacific, which owns some of the land on which the temporary race circuit is located, have plans to develop the property. Plus, an athletes' village for the 2010 Olympic Games is also scheduled for the area.

Concord officials did not return calls on Monday, but Brent McGregor, deputy city manager for Vancouver, said "if you look at what the zoning process is they have to go through, I would think it's going to be a couple of years before a shovel goes in the ground."  He said he was optimistic the "integrity of the current track" could be preserved for two years. It would be a stretch for three years, he said, but "it might be possible."

7/21/04

Champ Car does not need merger   This Canadian press article says, Champ Car is off life support and doesn't need to merge with the Indy Racing League to survive, says series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven.   In fact, the two open-wheel circuits are evolving in different directions, says Kalkhoven, who co-owns PKV Racing and along with team owners Gerry Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi rescued Champ Car from bankruptcy last year. "I don't actually think a merger is inevitable, to be honest," he said Tuesday.

"There were only two meetings and they were relatively brief and relatively inconclusive," said Kalkhoven, here for this weekend's Vancouver Molson Indy.   From Roger's perspective, he feels like they did what they could do and it didn't work out," said Penske Racing spokesman Chris Schwartz. "There's some disappointment there but it's time for both sides to move on."

Kalkhoven said the differences boil down to incompatible visions of where motorsport is going.

Champ Car wants to be an international circuit featuring a mix of oval, road and street courses, with event-style race weekends like the highly successful Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal races promoted by Molson's sports and entertainment arm.   The aim is to draw in not just race fans but also those seeking entertainment at the events' many side shows, he said, noting the series events in Cleveland and Denver are hewing closer to the Canadian approach.

The IRL focuses mainly on the race itself, an approach that has brought dwindling crowds.   "Their model is to look at motorsport as it was in the last two decades and extend it forward," said Kalkhoven. "Those are mutually almost incompatible approaches for the future. They're different business plans."

The IRL remains largely a U.S.-based oval-track series - with one stop in Japan - but will add two American road-course events to its 2005 schedule, said John Griffin, IRL vice-president of public relations.   "We feel there's a great tradition of oval racing in this country and those are two critical factors why we feel that we'll be able to succeed," he said.   The IRL is interested in expanding to Mexico and Canada, said Griffin, but conceded that might be difficult with Champ Car currently holding the prime venues.

Molson met with IRL executives earlier this year, said John Singleton, vice-president of its sports and entertainment division.   "We were called into a room in Indianapolis," he said. "IRL was certainly interested in Toronto.   But it's my job to promote open-wheel racing in Canada from coast to coast to coast."   Molson is in the midst of negotiating renewals of its contract with Champ Car for the Vancouver and Toronto races, and has two more years to run on its contract for the Montreal event.   There's talk of adding another stop, perhaps Calgary, but Singleton would not comment.   Molson's merger discussions with Coors will have no immediate impact on its sports promotions, said Singleton.

It now costs around $11 million US to run a two-car team for the 16-race season, said Kalkhoven.   Griffin said the average two-car IRL team spends about $8 million, thanks to limits on car testing and engine and tire supplies.

Champ Car expects to announce its 2005 race calendar by the end of August. Kalkhoven warned the sparsely attended Portland, Ore., race may be dropped after talks broke off with local politicians.   Griffin said next season's 16-race IRL schedule could be announced in two weeks (Besides Nazareth, what other race will be dropped to keep schedule at 16-races?)

7/21/04

Vancouver Toyota Atlantic Hot Topics   Following is a current round-up of the latest Toyota Atlantic news, trends to follow, names to watch and a few statistics to track as the series racing heads to the 1.781-mile temporary street course at Concord Pacific Place in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  More....

7/21/04

Vancouver Champ Car Hot Topics   The Molson Indy Vancouver (HDNet, 4 p.m. Eastern Time, July 25; Spike TV, 4 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time, July 25), is Round 7 of the 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Following is a current round-up of the latest Champ Car news, trends to follow, names to watch and a few statistics to track as Champ Car racing heads to the 1.781-mile temporary street course at Concord Pacific Place in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  More....

7/21/04

New Busch series Director   NASCAR has appointed a new director of its Busch series – replacing the out-going Brian DeHart. It has promoted Joe Balash to the position. Balash joined NASCAR several months ago as the technical director for NASCAR's touring divisions. He came to NASCAR from the American Speed Association where he most recently served as that sanctioning body's senior vice president of race operations. Said NASCAR president Mike Helton: "He brings a lot of experience to our competition department and everyone is looking forward to working with him."

7/21/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Renault's Bell - 'drive faster, Jarno'
Renault has fixed Alonso's V10 blow-up
Renault to support '05 changes - Symonds
Toyota accelerate new V10-spec debut
New Hockenheim is 'safer' - Fisichella
Teams have chance to beat Schu - Dupasquier
Jordan chief rues Hockenheim's lost character
'More to come' in Germany - Kimi Raikkonen
'We'll tie up the title soon' - Ferrari's Schu
'I can still be champion' - Coulthard
Michelin 'in talks' with Sauber - source
Button eyes podium return in Germany
15-year old tests F1 car
'No-one wants to slow down' - Ecclestone
F1 is 'two-tier' sport - Pat Symonds 

7/20/04

Symonds discusses new F1 rules   The FIA announced a proposed package of F1 rules changes for 2005 and beyond last Friday. Executive Director of Engineering at Renault, Pat Symonds, discusses them. More...

7/20/04

Marlin fastest   Sterling Marlin placed himself among the favorites for the 2004 Brickyard 400 pole by turning the fastest unofficial lap in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing July 20 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The day’s testing was the last before teams return to Indianapolis for the 11th Brickyard 400 on Aug. 6-8.  Marlin’s fastest lap of 49.9153 seconds, 180.305 mph in the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge was more than 1.3 mph off the overall top time and speed in private testing set by Jeff Green on July 7. Green put together a lap of 49.5483, 181.641 in the No. 43 Cheerios Dodge.  More...

7/20/04
Industry News

Toyota leaving Ford behind   This Financial Times article says, Toyota Motor, the world's second-largest carmaker, is set to increase its lead over Ford Motor after boosting its sales forecast for this year as its American rival reported a loss in its automotive operations. 
Toyota passed Ford in sales last year and said it expected this year's sales to hit 7.39m vehicles, up 9 per cent and 4 per cent above its earlier estimate. It is expected to remain the world's most profitable carmaker after making a net profit last year of more than twice that of its nearest competitor.

The success of Toyota - alongside smaller Japanese carmakers Honda and Nissan - has been an important factor behind the problems at Ford, as well as those at General Motors, the biggest producer, which reports second quarter results on Wednesday.  Japanese manufacturers have been able to steal market share from the American producers in their home market, recently starting to compete against US pick-up trucks and large offroaders, the most profitable vehicles. Toyota is also rapidly gaining share in Europe and is building new factories there as well as in China and the US.

On Tuesday the scale of the problem facing US carmakers was underlined when Ford slipped back into loss in its automotive business, although record financial services profits helped it beat its own forecasts for the second quarter.  Toyota is aiming to take 15 per cent of the world car market in the next decade, almost exactly on a par with GM. But Fujio Cho, Toyota president, has repeatedly denied that he is aiming to pass GM.

7/20/04

Stewart & Foyt wreck at Indy   NASCAR drivers Tony Stewart and Larry Foyt crashed today -- but neither was hurt -- during testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for next month's Brickyard 400. Stewart returned to the track in a different car. Stewart, fourth in the Nextel Cup driver standings, damaged the right rear of his car when he hit the wall in the second turn. Foyt hit the wall in the first turn, damaging the car's right side. He did not return to the track because his team brought only one car for the session leading to the Aug. 8 race. Indianapolis Star/AP

7/20/04
Star Mazda

What's Richie Hearn up to?  Spotted Richie Hearn this past weekend at Infineon with his wife Brenda. She is currently in her 8th month of pregnancy! No clue to as to the sex of the baby, we guess the Hearns like the element of surprise. This will be Richie & Brenda's first child together, as Brenda has a daughter by a previous marriage, Kasey.  Also Richie now has a 2-car Star Mazda team as he picked up another driver in addition to Raphael Matos after the Infineon race, and he'll be starting at Portland.  We think his name is Scott Jenkins.

7/20/04
Industry News

Scoop: New Ferrari spy photo   In a scoop from Corsanews.it, Autoracing1.com was able to obtain this spy photo of the new Ferrari F430 taken today in the streets around Fiorano, Italy.  The mayor of Fiorano, where the Ferrari test track is, closed a few streets so Ferrari could test their new car called the F430.  Luca Montezemolo was not able to witness the test because he was busy with his new new job as President of Fiat, but he spoke through TV to those in attendance at the private test.  The new car will carry a V8 with more power than the Modena.   The engine is similar to that used in their Maserati cars.   In the future the Alfa Romeo 8C may use the same engine.  Ferrari hopes that the new F430 will be introduced at the end of the year in Detroit and Los Angeles. Before then, Ferrari F1 test driver Luca Badoer will be the primary tester of the new F430. 

7/20/04

Wilson hopes to make career in Champ Car   In last week's Autosport Magazine Justin Wilson reveals that he hopes to make a career in Champ Cars and would only consider a return to F1 in the right circumstances. “If I make a career racing Champ Cars and get to stay in America for years to come, then great,” he says. “If I get an offer this year or next year, or three or five years from now, to go back [to F1] then I’d look at it. If it was a good offer I’d go. If it wasn’t I’d stay. You’ve just got to balance things out."

7/20/04

It was the worse day of Tony George's life   In this exclusive interview by Autoracing1.com with former CART President Joseph Heitzler, Heitzler reveals - "The last time I had seen Tony was when I attended the 2001 Indy 500 as the CEO of CART and as a guest of then CART supporter Roger Penske.  As I’m sure you may remember, CART drivers swept the top five positions that year.  Tony, in a very private moment backstage at the awards banquet, said it was the worst day of his life!  I obviously was in a bit of a different mood." [Editor's Note:  In reality, CART had swept the top 6 places because 6th was NASCAR driver Tony Stewart driving for a CART team (Ganassi) and the top IRL driver was 7th.]   "We had a cordial relationship. When our drivers finished in the top five spots in the 2001 Indy 500 I could have really hit him hard but I decided not to rub it in. No good could have come from it. We treated it very softly. Our guys took all his cash back to CART with them. That was good enough I thought. I did find Tony to be dedicated and passionate about his mission. I have no respect for his mission but can at least respect his passion."  Read the full interview.

7/20/04

Heitzler thinks Champ Car needs to go global   In this exclusive interview by Autoracing1.com with former CART President Joseph Heitzler, Heitzler says - "As a global sports entertainment product they [Champ Car] will be enormously successful. North America is too small for this product and the North American market is already crowded with the oval racing entities. As tobacco bans force F1 out of their traditional venues new opportunities for Champ Car to step in, fill the void, and introduce new customers to our product are created."

7/20/04

Heitzler to form new company   In this exclusive interview by Autoracing1.com with former CART President Joseph Heitzler, Heitzler reveals - "In the U.S. there is a great deal going on that I would love to share with you and your readers but, for all the obvious reasons, I simply cannot. What I can share is I am in the final stages of forming a new U.S. company that will be focused on providing corporate communications services with an emphasis on special events, such as motor sports. I’m very excited about this new venture and look forward to sharing more information about it with you and your readers just as soon as everything is finalized."

7/20/04

NASCAR safety?   ABC Network News last night featured Dale Earnhardt Jr's flaming Corvette crash with the spin that NASCAR was on the cutting edge of safety, and that's what saved him. It wasn't even a NASCAR race! The NASCAR spinmeisters are unbelievable...their safety is way behind Champ Cars, F1 and the IRL. What a sham.

7/20/04

Only IRL bid for Portland   This Portland Oregonian article says, The Indy Racing League took a big step toward coming to Portland in 2005, and the Champ Car World Series all but closed the book on its 21-year relationship with Portland. That was the situation shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, when the city's deadline passed for proposals to stage an open-wheel auto race at Portland International Raceway.

Peter Jacobsen Productions on Monday submitted a proposal that would bring the IRL to Portland for at least 2005 -- assuming IRL and PJP can strike a deal. But Champ Car stood firm on its claim that it would not submit a proposal, and also did not return phone calls to City Commissioner Jim Francesconi, who oversees the city-owned and -operated track as Portland's parks commissioner. Francesconi said he left messages with Champ Car president Dick Eidswick and race promotions vice president Tim Ramsberger on Monday.

"Evidently, (Champ Car) has made a business decision not to return to Portland," said Francesconi's chief of staff, Kevin Jeans-Gail. "Jim encouraged them to respond with a proposal, and wanted to see some interest on their part to meet with us. We were trying to be flexible and open up some direct communication with them, but they've elected not to return our calls."

So it appears the future of open-wheel racing lies in the hands of PJP and the IRL, which still hasn't committed to coming to Portland. The specifics of the PJP proposal will not be released until a final deal comes together, but Francesconi's office was optimistic that could be soon. "We have a very good proposal from PJP," Jeans-Gail said. "We plan to meet with them this week, talk through the details and work on an arrangement that would benefit the track, race fans and the city."

If and when PJP is awarded the right to stage next year's race, it will not be a done deal until the IRL signs on. "They came to us to see if we can help them bring a race to Portland." PJP president Ed Ellis said. "They are looking at four or five different venues, but before they can make a decision, they need to know that Portland wants them. I think Portland is in their top two or three on the list, but that's just my conjecture. If the city looks favorably on our proposal, the IRL needs to determine if Portland is its city of choice."

Ken Ungar, IRL's vice president of business affairs, said Monday that Portland is indeed high on its list of potential race sites. "We don't have a race in the Pacific Northwest, and this would be an opportunity to get one," Ungar said. "We know Portland has great fans, and there is a strong group of Indy car fans."  More....

7/20/04

Substitute driver rule coming   Fox's Darrell Waltrip reports that NASCAR is probably taking a pretty hard look right now at approving a substitute driver for all competitors who regularly race in Nextel Cup, but especially for those who are in the top 10 in points. I [DW] just feel certain that they're going to approve a substitute driver in case something like Dale Jr's accident happens to someone else. FoxSports

7/20/04

No concussion for Earnhardt   Dale Earnhardt Jr. did not suffer a concussion in last Sunday's accident and will attempt to drive this weekend at New Hampshire.  Martin Truex will be on standby to relieve him if the pain from his burns is too great.

7/20/04

Over 80% of Cup drivers not prepared for fire   This Fox Sports article says, In the neighborhood of 80 to 85 percent of Nextel Cup drivers do not wear enough to protect themselves from fire in the cockpit. I only know one driver who has worn a balaclava for years, and that's Kyle Petty. A lot of drivers wear a lot of the underwear, but they won't wear the helmet sock which was made to protect them in the event of fire. If you go back and look at a lot of guys who have been burned inside of a stock car, they burn their necks and faces because those areas are still exposed. If a driver has ever been burned, he understands the need for protection because getting burned is very painful.--  Jeff Hammond

7/20/04

Potential traffic woes for NH fans   NASCAR fans heading to New Hampshire next weekend might want to rethink how and when they're going to get home. The NASCAR Nextel Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway is expected to bring anywhere from 37,000 to 40,000 vehicles to the area on Sunday. The track expects to issue 7,000 permits for recreational vehicles that weekend. And while many of them ordinarily might wait until Monday to head home, that's when the Democratic National Convention starts in Boston. During the convention, Interstate 93 through Boston will be closed.  AP Story

7/20/04

ALMS hands out Infineon penalty   Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister won the GT class in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR after apparent winners Johannes van Overbeek and Darren Law received a 42-second post-race penalty for driving through the pits during the race without stopping. The win was the first of the season for Bergmeister, who was unable to drive at Sebring earlier this season due to illness and had to watch as Bernhard won the race with co-driver Sascha Maassen for the Alex Job Racing team. Van Overbeeck and Law dominated most of the race after gaining nearly a lap lead on the field due to pit stop exchanges. However, after the race it was determined by race officials that the Flying Lizard Motorsports car had done a drive-through of the pits on its first apparent pit stop, a violation of ACO Code 18.10 which requires cars to stop, shut off the engine and then re-fire the engine upon entering the pits. The amount of the penalty was in lieu of a stop-and-go penalty that the team would have received during the race. The penalty dropped the car to second place in the final standings. The other Job Porsche driven by Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb finished third in the GT class.

7/20/04
V8 Supercars

WPS secures Yoong for Shanghai races   Ex-Formula One driver Alex Yoong believes Australia’s V8 Supercar Championship Series has tapped into an emerging motorsport powerhouse with its decision to race in China from next year. Yoong, who was a special guest in China today for the landmark announcement that a round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series will be held in Shanghai on June 10-12, 2005, has won multiple races throughout Asia. He said international motorsport events were still in their infancy in China but the supporter base was growing strongly and authorities were aggressively pursuing events. “What you have to remember about China is that most people are first generation car owners, so motorsport is a completely new experience for them,” said Yoong, who is racing in the V8 Supercar series with Australia ’s WPS Racing. I won a race in China in 1994 and the crowd was reasonably muted as I believe it was one of the first international motorsport events in the area. But the crowds are growing dramatically as they are more educated about motorsport. I feel China will be a huge motorsport market and it’s exciting to think about how they will respond to the V8 Supercars.”

Yoong, who was born in Malaysia, is regarded as an ‘overseas Chinese’. His grandfather is Chinese and he still has relatives living in the country. I guess that may give me a bit of an edge over the Aussies when it comes time to race in China,” said Yoong. Some will find China a big culture shock but that may be moderated by the fact we are competing in Shanghai, which is a modern city. Still, I think the Aussies will be surprised by the number of cars on the road and the size and pace of the city.” Yoong is the only Asian driver in the V8 Supercar Championship Series.  He has had three test days with millionaire Australian businessman Craig Gore’s WPS Racing team (sponsored by Wright Patton Shakespeare Financial Group) as a forerunner to driving in the prestigious Sandown and Bathurst V8 Supercar endurance events in Australia later this year.

7/20/04

SAFER Barrier in time for NASCAR/Champ Car weekend   Installation of Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barrier got under way Monday as construction crews braved the July desert heat. The process, which will take about three weeks to complete, will have the barriers in place for the upcoming Las Vegas 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck and Champ Car World Series doubleheader on Sept. 25. The SAFER barrier system is made up of steel tubes and pads of hard foam that are affixed to a speedway’s concrete walls to absorb some of the energy that is transferred during a crash. The SAFER wall project began in the fall of 2000 and remains an ongoing safety initiative among NASCAR, Dr. Dean Sicking and the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska. Based on measurements by engineers, Las Vegas Motor Speedway will install 6,107 linear feet of the SAFER barrier, covering approximately 75 percent of the speedway’s outer walls. The SAFER barrier system will be placed outside of all four turns as well as most of the front straightaway.

7/20/04

More feedback on Champ Car/IRL unification article   A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, Great article by Mark Cipolloni and excellent multiple points on why US OW racing in US cannot be a single series given the differences in personalities, cars, engines, tracks, etc. To summarize your article, I interpret the main obstacles to reunification are (in order of the ‘hurdle factor’: …TG, TG, TG, common chassis, TG, common engines, TG, mix of oval/street/road courses, TG, schedule, TG, governing board structure, and of course don’t forget TG, TG & TG). I disagree with you, though that there could be an ABA – NBA or NFL-AFL scenario where each series co-exists in separate venues with separate rules, and they meet for a super bowl ‘race of champions’. This is just too complicated, mainly because given the obstacles listed above, I doubt they could even agree on what common cars/engines would be used and where the races would be held, under whose sanction. Heck, if there’s so much work in putting a race of champions together, they might as well just reunify altogether. Therefore it “ain’t ever gonna happen.” [Editor's Note: A separate entity can start the open wheel IROC series independent of IRL or Champ car and invite the drivers to race in equally prepared Lola/Cosworth Champ Cars which just about all the drivers in both series have driven at one time or another.  We expect all new Champ Cars in 2006 so what better use for all the existing cars - it's either that or the market is flooded with show cars.  These cars race well on ovals and road courses, whereas the existing IRL cars are useless on road courses. The key will be for Roger Penske to start this open wheel IROC series much like he was instrumental in starting the existing NASCAR IROC series....yes, NASCAR because that is essentially what it is.].

This is a simpler way to reunify OW racing. It could be done tomorrow and we could have it by the opening race of 2005. Simply, the teams that left the former CART to race in the Indy retirement league, must see the writing on the wall that … 1) It is not the lower cost series; 2) They still have inequitable engine leases of varying performance levels; 3) They are wrecking equipment & drivers at a record pace; 4) Despite having the ‘big’ names, ‘big’ sponsors, & ‘big’ ABC (always been crummy) TV contract, the ratings are declining anyway; 5) Unless they give tickets away, nobody, I mean nobody, attends the races; and most importantly 6) After 2006 the big sponsors, especially tobacco, and most likely Toyota & Honda will be leaving. As a result, all of the main teams like Cap’n. Roger, Cheap G., Adrian F., Mike (Not his daddy) A., and Bobby Ray Hall have to do is dust off their Lolas, lease a Ford 2.65-L turbo, and switch back to the OWRS Champ Car series. It is easier to go around a brick wall (or “brickyard”) than through it.

What would happen if this occurred ? 1) The IRL loses ½ to ¾ of its cars immediately and cannot field any viable race (remember, the IRL has not generated any new recent teams as OWRS has, only those stolen from OWRS/CART); 2) The only way the Indy 495 can happen is that TG must accept OWRS and their cars/engines into the next May race– so the sponsors – the ones used as excuses (“my sponsor must have Indy”) are satisfied; 3) Without a field & races, ABC cancels contract and negotiates a new one with OWRS; 4) Without the IRL, there will be enough sponsors for everyone and the Toyota & Honda handouts become less important if not irrelevant; 5) Small underfunded teams go back to support series and/or merge into larger teams so that a 24-20 car field is normal; 6) Toyota is free to go to NASCAR without looking like it bailed out; 7) Honda can pound sand … or … go into the taxicab races or join OWRS as a future competitor. So Mr. Penske, Mr. Ganassi, Mr. Rahal, Mr. Andretti - here’s my challenge to you … do you have the nerve to force unification by dumping the IRL and (re) joining OWRS; as this is the only way “unification” will happen in 2005 ???   Again, you have a great site, keep up the good work !  Glenn Tanner, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 

7/20/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Trulli fit for Hockenheim return
Hockenheim is 'bogey' Bridgestone track
'I miss the old Hockenheim' - da Matta
F1 drivers 'get used to' danger - Alonso
F1 in for wet Hockenheim ride - weather
London GP is 'not practical' - BAR's Richards
Webber to Williams in '04 'unlikely' - spokesman
Brit GP package 'is now ready' - BAR spokesman
Ferrari winners are 'not geniuses' - Todt 
Klien must 'show his talent' - Jaguar's Pitchforth
F1 doesn't need top Brit - Ecclestone
Schumacher won't be beaten again - Montoya
F1's 'sexist pigs' to claim revenge ... ?
Home grand prix will be 'tough race' - Schu
BAT 'is pleased' with F1's smoking power
'We never wrote-off McLaren' - Renault's Bell

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