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DATE

News (chronologically)

8/2/04

Drivers beware  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I just raced a pro F2000 Zetec race at Infineon, and it is a perfect place for the IRL in that someone is sure to get seriously hurt there. Coming out of Turn 6 there is a hillside with light posts where if you go off you can get thrashed.  The exit of super fast Turn 10 has virtually no runoff and a tire wall (which I nailed head on); and in the hairpin, Turn 11, if there is a brake failure there is absolutely nowhere to go except head on into the wall (which cannot be moved back because a road and a building are there). I went off in Turn 10 at 125 MPH and went head-on into the paltry tire wall. Minimum dirt runoff there. The data showed a 52 MPH to zero mph trace. Ouch. Can you imagine how fast one of those IRL guys is going at that point? Perfect for Tony's version of racing. We will see how much slower an IRL car is than the Champion Audi. Ira Fierberg, Hermosa Beach, CA Dear Ira, The instructors at the Jim Russell School there told us that when Adrian Fernandez's girlfriend was there for some sort of school, they gave him a ride around the track and asked him if Champ Car could race there.  "Absolutely not, too unsafe" was his reply.  However, there have been some improvements made to the track since then and one IRL official mentioned SAFER Barriers would be installed.  We shall see, but the drivers had better be certain their medical insurance premiums are paid up before racing there. Once again this is an example of the IRL making a decision to do something because Champ Car does it (so they can say they road race and steal venues from Champ Car), rather than focus on their core business, oval track racing.  The current cars simply are not equipped to road race, and when they do, the upgrades will be expensive. Mark C.

8/2/04

Busch team folds   Owner Michael Holigan announced today he is closing the Enzyte NASCAR Busch Series team. “Enzyte was very supportive of us, and I appreciate them taking a chance on a startup team,” Holigan said. “Miller Electric, Kaeser Compressors and Peterbilt have also been very supportive, and I want to publicly thank them as well. “Regan Smith brought a lot to our efforts, and worked hard for us on and off the track. Tim Sauter tested for us, and offered us a lot of input. I am grateful for both of them,” he added. “Our crew chief Todd Myers and all of the guys who worked on the team did their best and I am proud of their efforts.” Holigan Walters Racing motocross team will continue competing in the AMA Chevrolet Motocross Championship. The Reality Of Speed, the successful weekly motorsports reality television series, will continue for the remainder of the year.

8/2/04

IRL Chatter  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I am curious as to the rationale for printing every hypothetical situation, rumor, innuendo, etc. involving the IRL's assault on Champ Car?  This type of rhetoric seems more appropriate for the chat rooms and race forums.  Maybe you should start an Op/Ed page in addition to Hot News and the Rumor section.  To the casual fan or reader, the constant chatter about the IRL stealing this venue or that venue, some negative press written by some sports writer, etc. just fuels the fire that Champ Car is failing and the IRL is winning.  I would like to poll how many readers dropped their subscriptions to Racer magazine/Indy Car? I know I am not renewing because I could care less about the IRL.  I would suggest some serious investigative journalism to determine how foreign automakers have seized control of the Indy 500 and now are attempting to control US motorsports through strong-arm tactics, leveraged buyouts, cash handouts, and buying media coverage.  Who is paying for the TV ads, full page spreads in USA Today (Firestone ads, ABC/ESPN, etc. )? Find out how much money is being back channeled to Penske, Ganassi, Rahal, Fernandez, and most of all Andretti/Green.    Hopefully Champ Car will be announcing some blockbuster news soon to counter the IRL, including sponsor, TV, schedule, and new engine/chassis formula.  This silliness has to end some time, and Champ Car has made it clear what their future plans and business model will be.  Why can't the IRL stick to their plan and leave Champ Car alone?  Name withheld by request.  Dear No Name, The IRL can't stick to their original business plan because it was a complete and utter failure, so they have had to revert to morphing into what CART once was.  Many of the letters we receive from fans are as a result of not being comfortable that Champ Car has a future.  They have witnessed CART lose one battle after another vs. the IRL, and given their attack appears unrelenting, they remain worried.  We have received countless emails from readers, which we did not print, mocking Champ Car for not being able to finalize the 2004 schedule and it's already August, let alone announce a 2005 schedule, its dismal TV coverage and its lack of series and driver promotion.  Until they hear some blockbuster news about Champ Car, news that will ensure its future, they will remain worried. When its future is secure, it will no longer be a story, and we will no longer report on it.  Mark C.

8/2/04
Industry News

Toyota expected to post healthy profit   Toyota Motor Corp. is expected to report about a 13-percent gain in first-quarter profit after it cut costs and led Asian vehicle manufacturers in taking record shares of U.S. automotive sales. Net income in the three months ended June 30 is projected to rise to 251 billion yen ($2.23 billion) from 222.6 billion yen a year earlier, according to the median estimate of four analysts polled by Bloomberg. Toyota reports results Tuesday in Tokyo. Toyota President Fujio Cho, who led the carmaker to four years of record profits during his five years at the helm, has been expanding production in the United States, eastern Europe and China to sell more Lexus LS 430 sedans, Soluna Vios compact cars and others. 

Chief Japanese rival Honda, faced with sliding sales in the crucial U.S. market and the embarrassment of a big recall for transmission repairs, relaxed its tough stance against incentives. It still avoids outright cash rebates to consumers but is slipping money to dealers to help them close sales.   During the first half of 2004, Honda racked up a 3 percent increase in U.S. sales, compared with the market’s overall rise of 2.2 percent.   But that modest gain was achieved at a price: Honda more than doubled incentives, to $1,011 from $479 a year ago, according to Autodata Corp. in New Jersey.   “The market is as competitive as I’ve seen it in the last 10 or 11 years,” said Dick Colliver, vice president for sales at Honda’s U.S. operations.   With North America accounting for around 80 percent of Honda’s profit, higher incentives are squeezing margins. In addition, the yen’s rise erodes the value of Honda’s U.S. earnings. The company expects its earnings this year to fall 10 percent from last year’s record $4.4 billion profit.

8/2/04

Williams admits FW26 not fast enough  According to Frank Williams, the FW26 "is faster than its predecessor." The problem, though, is that "Ferrari, BAR, Renault and McLaren-Mercedes have also improved." However, Williams is still determined to end the season on a high and believes he can still put one of his drivers on the top step of the podium. "It's very simple: in order to win you need a car in which you can win in," he told the BMW Motorsport website. "Our goal has to be to supply a car that is in a position to do so." He added: "The best driver in the world can only win when he has a car capable of doing so."

8/2/04

No dash lights, no more changes  Nextel Cup director John Darby says NASCAR is working on sending caution warnings, possibly by radio, to drivers when there are accidents or debris on the track. Darby isn't a big fan of using dashboard lights for that purpose. He wonders where they'd go and whether drivers would notice them. "You can't guarantee that the driver is going to see it," Darby says. "You have to develop a system that's easy to put into play." Darby added that after evaluating the first half of the season and recent wind tunnel tests, he's fairly confident that no more changes will be made to the cars this season. FoxSports/Sporting News

8/2/04

Can Earnhardt finish the Brickyard 400?  That's the question on everyone's mind going into next weekend's Brickyard 400.  Earnhardt turned his Chevrolet over to Indianapolis native John Andretti after completing just 52-of-200 laps of the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway. Earnhardt, who started 16th, was already a lap down in 32nd place when he called it a day. He was clearly hurting as he sat in his pit, head down, while Andretti was strapped into the car.  Earnhardt said later he got out more because of the car's condition than his own. But he clearly still is experiencing considerable discomfort from the second-degree burns to his thighs.  "Hopefully I can go to Indy and get through it," he said. "I think I'll be able to without any problem. I just wish this thing would heal up a little faster."

8/2/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Jordan 'sold' to royal family
Jaguar has 'embarrassed' big teams - Webber
FW26 is hard 'on tires' - Montoya

Even Schu's car is not 'perfect' - Head
Liuzzi deserves F1 seat - F3000 chief
Motivating driver is 'new' to Williams - Sam Michael
I would 'end' summer break - Schumacher
Start F1 race in 'reverse order' - Jean Todt
Loner Trulli is 'brave man' - Briatore
'We're consistently quick' - BAR's Willis
'Maybe I'll return to F1' - Villeneuve 

8/2/04

Long Beach is the next big Champ Car/IRL battle  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, "Is the Handwriting on the Wall"?  With IRL tentatively going to St. Pete, which is not a big market, I now fear they will take Long Beach. They will do it, by (1) having Toyota threaten to leave, and (2) Tony George offering to pay the purse, thereby leaving Dover Motorsports a "risk free" event.  OWRS cannot possibly match the offer since they are a "for profit business" and not a "communist conspiracy that pays no attention to the laws of capitalist economics" (ie. subsidizing failing industries). In that event, OWRS would lose its signature USA event, and would be mortally wounded. Mordichai Rosen, LA California  Dear Mordichai, With their 2005 schedule now set to be released this week, the IRL can then turn its focus toward which events they can take from Champ Car in 2006.  Certainly Long Beach will be a prime target.  Can OWRS come up with a big enough counterproposal to beat the IRL's?  If not the IRL will indeed cripple Champ Car.  That win, more than any other, will make headlines and have the media worldwide proclaiming a major victory by the IRL. The next 12 months could get interesting.  Mark C.

8/1/04

Gentilozzi dominates at Three Rivers  Paul Gentilozzi dominated Sunday’s Motorock Trans-Am Series race at Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières in Quebec. Gentilozzi, driving the No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR, led 64 of 65 laps to win his fourth race season and the 28th of his career, moving him just one victory away from the Trans-Am win record held by the legendary Mark Donohue

Gentilozzi led a sweep of the podium by Rocketsports Jaguars, with Tomy Drissi (No. 5 TAXI – The Movie Jaguar XKR) and Tommy Kendall (No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR) finishing second and third, respectively. Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformend Line Products Chevrolet Corvette) and Bob Ruman (No. 23 McNichols/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top five.

The Rocketsports sweep was the first for the Lansing, Mich.-based team since 1991, when Darin Brassfield led Irv Hoerr and Gentilozzi to the checkered flag at Infineon Raceway.

Gentilozzi took the lead from Kendall, who started on the pole, when Kendall overshot turn six on lap two. Gentilozzi wasn’t seriously challenged from there. More.....

8/1/04

Michigan tidbits  

  • Thomas Scheckter can't escape drama at Michigan. Two years ago, in the middle of a highly public feud with team owner Eddie Cheever, he drove to victory, narrowly beating new teammate (and heir to his seat) Buddy Rice. Last year he won the race again. This year he was again going for the lead when he was spun in the pits, losing any hope of the win along with the services of his fuel man for a few months to come.

  • From Chevy comes this word... They are in IRL through at least 2005, using motors provided by Cosworth. They are not excited about racing beyond North America, as the budget for the IRL engines comes from Chevy North America, and that division would not benefit from racing beyond the US and Canada.

  • From the IRL and Michigan International Speedway... there will be an IRL race next year at Michigan. The crowds, no doubt boosted by massive local promotion plus tons of freebies distributed by Marlboro, saw the largest open-wheeled crowd since the tragic July 1998 CART race, in which three fans were killed and six more injured as a tire left the track. No official estimates of the crowd are given, but press room guesstimates are around 35,000+.

  • The grandstands were full of red Marlboro hats.  Between kids being free and the Marlboro giveaways, estimates are that 2/3 of the people there on Sunday were there free of charge. Smokers probably wanted the free smokes (Michigan cigarette taxes were just raised by $0.70 a pack).

  • A warped humor moment occurred when holders of Marlboro freebie tickets, who got them by smoking cigarettes, were seen huffing and puffing while climbing to the top of MIS's tallest grandstand. One wonders if any smokers decided to quit when they reached the top....

  • We suppose it has a different meaning at CART races, but a lovely young lady was seen wearing a tee shirt that said (in a spot suitable for advertising), "You can't spell 'girl' without 'IRL.'

8/1/04

Broken leg for Panther Racing crew member  Panther Racing crew member Steve Namisnak sustained a fractured right tibia in a pit road incident. He was being transported to Indianapolis for further treatment.  His driver, Tomas "Crash" Scheckter bowled him and a couple of other crew members over on his first pit stop.  Scheckter’s (and Chevy’s) day was ruined when another competitor was signaled out of the re-fueling spot seconds before the South African driver arrived at the same cross point. The collision sent Tomas into one of his crew and resulted in his being a lap down when the mess was cleared.

8/1/04

Gomes out duels David at Three Rivers   Marcos Gomes took his first win in North American Formula Renault 2000 competition after besting fellow Brazilian Renato Jader David in race-long battle for the lead in the Formula Renault Western Union Grand Prix at the 35th running of the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières on Sunday. Eurointernational’s Juan Martin Ponte took the final podium spot and scored five bonus points for the fastest lap of the race, just .001 of a second faster than David’s quickest, to extend his lead in the points championship.

Mark Wilkins took forth in his Aim Autosport Formula Renault, with Briton Katherine Legge impressing again in her GTI/Roshfrans machine, improving one position from the sixth place she scored in her Toronto debut to take fifth at Trois-Rivières.

Brandon Thomas brought his Western Union-liveried Renault across the line in sixth, with Philippe Gelinas scoring seventh at the finish. Antoine Bessette lost his rear wing in the closing laps of the race, but the former rally driver kept firm control of his car and finished in eighth. Ricardo Imery overcame braking problems during to race to finish ninth, with Valerie Limoges of Longueil, Quebec, netting tenth in her debut.

Results

1/Marcos Gomes/GTI/Roshfrans/32 laps/35:113
2/ Renato Jader David/Gelles Racing/-2.114
3/Juan Martin Ponte/Eurointernational/-3.563
4/Mark Wilkins/Aim Autosport/-9.636
5/Katherine Legge/GTI/Roshrans/-15.426
6/Brandon Thomas/Gelles Racing/-37.534
7/Philippe Gelinas/Gelles Racing/-40.798
8/Antoine Bessette/Aim Autosport/-41.826
9/Ricardo Imery/Eurointernational/-1:01.501
10/Valerie Limoges/Valerie Limoges Racing/-1:08.501
11/Tim Hauraney/Condor Motorsport/-1 lap
12/Michael Yager/Gelles Racing/-13.034
13/L-P Dumoulin/Aim Autosport/-13.732
14/Daniel St. Germain/ Atlantic Racing Team /-21.381
15/ Robert Siska/RJS Motorsports /-26.549
16/Stephane Roy/Atlantic Racing Team/-11 laps

8/1/04

Chesson wins Michigan IPS race, his first  Results Sunday of the Paramount Health Insurance 100 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series event Aug. 1 at the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed, reason out (if any):
1. (5) P.J. Chesson, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
2. (3) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
3. (1) Al Unser, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
4. (4) Paul Dana, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
5. (10) Phil Giebler, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
6. (8) Jesse Mason, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
7. (6) Leonardo Maia, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
8. (2) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 36, handling
9. (9) Gary Peterson, Dallara-Infiniti, 26, mechanical
10. (7) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, 8, accident
11. (11) Rolando Quintanilla, Dallara-Infiniti, 0, did not start
Race Statistics
Winner's average speed: 173.112 mph
Time of race: 34:39.5834
Margin of victory: 0.0941 of a second
Cautions: 1 for 4 laps.
Lead changes: 8 among 3 drivers.
Lap leaders: Luyendyk 1, Medeiros 2-32, Chesson 33-34, Medeiros 35, Chesson 36-37, Medeiros 38-41, Chesson 42, Medeiros 43, Chesson 44-50.
Point standings: Medeiros 322, Dana 236, Mason 205, Luyendyk Jr. 188, Maia 155, Pollard 152, Quintanilla 145, Roe 142, Chesson 142, Giebler 136.

8/1/04
German DTM

Paffett wins, Audi driver Ekström takes back DTM lead    Gary Paffett started from pole position and won a dominant victory at the Nürburgring with Mattias Ekstrom second and Bernd Schneider third.   Mattias Ekström has kept his promise of recapturing the DTM lead for Audi at the Nürburgring. Before a perfect turnout (103,000 spectators during the weekend), the Swede in his Audi A4 DTM clinched second place, now leading the overall standings by five points ahead of the previous leader, Christijan Albers. Though Ekström had fallen back to third place right after the start, he managed to move back to second as early as in the first lap. Over the whole distance, the Audi works driver stayed on the heels of Gary Paffett, the ultimate winner of the race, whilst avoiding any unnecessary risk that might have jeopardized his aim of recapturing the lead of the standings. Tom Kristensen, as well, delivered a strong performance: the Dane in his Audi A4 DTM fought his way up to fifth place after starting from grid position nine. The other four Audi drivers were involved in collisions right in the starting lap, which frustrated any ambitions they'd had for the race. Audi

8/1/04

IRL going to erode Champ Car's market  UPDATE Another reader responds, In response to Mr. Smith’s ridiculous comments regarding the IRL now being able to offer race promoters (like they’re that stupid) a low cost alternative to Champ Car that will finally put Champ Car out of business, please permit me to, once again, point out to your readers, and Mr. Smith in particular as he apparently hasn’t been paying ANY attention to what’s REALLY going on in the world of open wheel, the most salient facts he, and the other five IRL fans, again fail to acknowledge when their wishful thinking again asserts the IRL, by virtue of the fact the Idiot Grandson has managed to scrape together a couple of road races (that wasn’t part of the vision was it Tony), is now ideally positioned to finally, after 10 years, kill off Champ Car.

First, the IRL has no fan support. Not at the races, not on TV. If I’m a promoter why would I EVER consider switching from a product that pulled 2.6 million ticket buying fans last year, and is well on its way to beating that attendance this year (hell, the two Mexico events alone probably drew more fans than all the IRL events combined, excluding the Irrelevant 500 of course, which is now on life support thanks to Tony’s “vision”), to a “cheaper” product that can’t fill my grandstands even if I deeply discount my ticket price to Toyota and Honda and Penske so they can give those tickets away? What’s wrong with this business model Mr. Smith? You're absolutely right. The IRL is a cheaper product! So cheap in fact NO ONE is willing to buy a ticket they can get for free! The IRL exists only as a support race for the 500. The IRL’s “All Ovals, All The Time” business plan has been proven to be a complete and utter failure. Hence the need to now try road racing, as if a couple of road races (do any of those guys remember how to change gears and turn right?), one at a GREAT track in the middle of nowhere, the other at a facility long ago deemed UNSAFE for anything other than sports cars, is going to save the IRL! Bring on the IRL at Portland! Let’s see how many fans show up for THAT snooze-a-thon!

Second, the IRL package is dumbed down NASCAR style managed competition that has been flatly rejected by the marketplace and is completely inferior to Champ Car. With all due respect to AR1 it doesn’t matter what formula Champ Car puts on the track (though a formula closer to F1 would be better), Champ Car fans are road racing fans and they see Tony and the IRL for the farce they are. Crapwagons on a road course is like elephants on ice skates and will also be rejected by Champ Car fans.

And finally, Champ Car and road racing fans hate anything with Tony’s fingerprints on it. True motor racing fans resent the way NASCAR and the IRL have tried to return racing to a blood sport. You IRL fans are nothing more than NASCAR fans who didn’t get enough wrecks during your Sunday Bubbafest. No true fan of motor racing would support a product that puts “the show” ahead of driver safety and honest competition. May you all go to hell for the damage you have supported to a once proud sport.

Mr. Smith, it is the IRL that is destined to fail, as recently proven by Mr. Penske’s self-serving attempt at unification, which OWRS smartly rejected for fear that even the slightest taint of Tony George on Champ Car might damage the progress they have made. The music over there in the Invisible (even more so with each race) Racing (that’s not racing) League is gonna stop real soon and Penske is facing the prospect of not having a chair for the first time in his racing career! Too bad Roger. When you lay down with dogs, you catch Bubbas! Wishing all you IRL ghouls are somehow included in the next major IRL crash I remain, Most unrespectfully, J.N. Anderson Chicago, Illinois  Dear J.N.  Whether the IRL has any fans or not, what you fail to address is the fact that they have all the sponsors and hence money.  If the IRL outbids Champ Car in all its key markets, eventually there may not be any Champ Car left.  To date, the IRL mode of operation has been to steal everything that was once CART's - races, teams, sponsors, drivers and manufacturers. We see no indication that strategy is changing, and if they take Portland and St. Pete, both former Champ Car races, there will be further proof the full-scale attack continues.  Long Beach 2006 will be the next major battle - to be fought in 2005. Mark C.   8/1/04 -  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Now that the IRL is definitely going road racing, Champ Car is redundant and should be eliminated.  The IRL will now offer every Champ Car promoter a cheaper alternative and put them out of business.  So what if their cars will be slower.  NASCAR is much slower yet they are the most popular.  Using your words, Stick a fork in Champ Car, they're done.  Maxwell Smith, Atlanta, Georgia 

Dear Maxwell, You bring up a good point. As long as Champ Cars are still thought of as "Indy Cars" the IRL will attempt to steal every bread-n-butter street and road race from them. As their existing race contracts expire they will offer the promoter an alternate "Indy Car" race, and at a lower cost. Yes, they will be many seconds a lap slower, but the casual fan won't know the difference. And if the next generation Champ Car switches to a normally aspirated V8 (same as the IRL) the two types of cars become even more similar.

Now I hope our readers understand why we have repeatedly said that the next generation Champ Car must be very F1-like so that the cars can be referred to as F1-style cars and not Indy Cars. There is a significant difference between a F1 style car and an Indy Car. Even the casual observer can see the difference. Hence why the next generation Champ Car must be: 1) the size of an F1 car, i.e. a bit smaller, 2) lighter and nimble like an F1 car, i.e. weigh no more than 200 pounds more than an F1 car, 3) scream like an F1 car, i.e. they need to switch to a V10 engine turning around 13,000 RPM. A V10 engine has a much more pleasant engine note (sound) than a V8 engine. The pistons are smaller and lighter and rev up and down the RPM range faster. They won't scream as high-pitched as a current 19,000 RPM F1 engine, but scream they do.

Ideally, the next generation Champ Car engine will be based on a detuned 3.5 liter V10 ex-F1 engine, lasting 1,200 miles between rebuilds to keep costs down. If the next generation Champ Car is a F1-style car, then Champ Car will have a reasonable chance of selling a promoter thinking about switching to the IRL, a superior product that not only sounds faster, but is visibly faster. If instead they adopt the same heavy car (so they can also race on ovals) with a V8 engine, then they offer a promoter and the fans nothing more than what the IRL offers and, as we have seen already in every race market Champ Car is currently in, the IRL will come in and outbid them.

OWRS can't afford to get the next generation 2006 Champ Car wrong. If they do, their long-term future will be in serious jeopardy. As an example, the Long Beach race contract expires after the 2005 race. We already know that the IRL is going to offer Dover Motorsports (the promoter) a better "Indy Car" deal because they have deep pockets and are flush with big sponsors behind them, including Toyota, the current race sponsor. We saw how much more they offered the city of Portland (CART rented the track for $80K vs. the IRL bid of $250K plus a title sponsor) and for Long Beach their bid will be significantly better. If Champ Car offers the city of Long Beach an F1-style race rather than an Indy Car race for 2006 and beyond, they might have a chance of renewing the contract, because Long Beach fans still long for F1. If however, they offer Dover nothing more than an Indy Car race, Long Beach, arguably Champ Car's premier race, may be an IRL event from 2006 forward.

By adopting an F1-style car, Champ Car opens itself up as a viable alternate to F1 in the world market as well. To me the choice is obvious.  Mark C.

8/1/04

Toronto Star hammers Champ Car   This Toronto Star article says, F1 isn't the only series that could use some fan-friendly counseling.  For instance, how did you like the little stunt that Champ Car pulled in Toronto a few weeks ago? The Molson Indy, which was advertised as a 95-lap race, was checker-flagged after only 84. (I saw rip-off mentioned in just one report among all the newspaper, radio and TV coverage of that event.)  Why did they do this? Because, although there were more than 72,000 people in the stands at the CNE, and thousands more watching from coast-to-coast on Global TV in Canada (would there even be a Champ Car series if it wasn't for Canada?), the people in charge of that series were more concerned about wrapping everything up in exactly two hours so it would fit nicely into the time period reserved for the race on the U.S. cable network, Spike TV.  Let me point something out here: there were more people watching that race in person in Toronto that day than ever watch a Champ Car race on Spike TV.   More people watch the Ren & Stimpy adult party cartoon on Spike than a Champ Car race on that channel.  Maybe one of these days, when nobody is watching the races anymore, in person or on television, a little light might pop on in the heads of the people who make some of these really dumb decisions.  Fans? What fans? What happened to them anyway? Where'd they go?  Those folks really do need some help ... Memo Gidley getting a Rocketsports ride again in Vancouver when Canadian Toyota Atlantic graduates Michael Valiante or Jonathan Macri could have done at least as good a job is just plain stupid.

8/1/04

Photos from Pocono   Our photos from Pocono by Jim Garrahan on Saturday are now available.  Happy hour was canceled due to the rain. You'll notice some photos of John Andretti and the #8 Earnhardt car. They put a formed "booster seat" in the #8 for John and he was trying it on for size. Not sure why, because we thought the rule was that he had to turn at least one lap in the car to be a back-up for Junior. That never happened to our knowledge. The on track action is from the ARCA Giant 200 race won by Ryan Hemphill.

8/1/04

Three Rivers race lands Western Union   North American Formula Renault officials announced today that Western Union will be the presenting sponsor for the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières round of the 2004 championship. The partnership will feature an on-site presence for the famous gold and black colors of Western Union, and every Formula Renault car will carry Western Union identification as well.

Western Union is a global leader in money transfer and message services, with a history of pioneering service dating back more than 150 years. Western Union continues today to help consumers and businesses transfer money or make payments using money orders and other electronic systems.

“Western Union is very excited about the opportunity to be a part of this energizing and amazing event,” said A.J. Hanna, Vice President and General Manager of Western Union Financial Services. “The excitement and speed of the Trois-Rivières weekend attracts people of all ages, from around the corner to around the country, and it provides an ideal environment for us to participate in. Western Union is involved with cultural and sporting events all around the world, and we are particularly ecstatic to be representing Quebec at this level, as it reinforces our desire to be a part of everyday life for all Québéquois.”

Western Union, which has over 190,000 locations around the world, and over 2,800 locations in Canada, was welcomed as a partner for the Formula Renault series.

“Formula Renault is excited to have Western Union support the series and our drivers for this fantastic event,” said North American Formula Renault General Manager Brett Ross. “The opportunity to participate in the 35th running of the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières was a special one for the series, and Western Union joining us makes it even better. We appreciate their involvement, and will work to grow the relationship in the future.”

8/1/04

Gomes to start today's race from pole   Marcos Gomes scored the pole position for Sunday’s North American Formula Renault 2000 race at the 35th running of the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières with a 1:12.488-second lap of the 1.502-mile temporary street circuit in rainy conditions, besting championship points leader Juan Martin Ponte by just .017 of a second in a fiercely competitive session, which saw the top nine drivers qualify within one second of Gomes’ time.

The pole position is the third of the season for Gomes, who moved to fifth ahead of Renato Jader David in the championship standings with the five bonus pole points. Gomes knows that he has a lot of ground yet to make up to Ponte, but he also knows that he has to finish the race to make a dent in Ponte’s lead.

“I know we have a good chance to win tomorrow, no matter what the conditions are,” said the GTI/Roshrans/ITUPETRO pilot. “I want to win and get as many points out of the weekend as I can, of course, but I have to keep in mind that this is a long championship and points will be important in the end. The track is very challenging with the bumps and the variety of surfaces, but it is a lot of fun, and I know that the race is going to be exciting tomorrow.”

Championship points leader Ponte was disappointed to have come so close to the pole but not get it, but is feeling confident about the race.

“I did the best that I could, there was no more speed in the car, so I am happy to get the most out of it, but its of course difficult to be so close and not get it!” said Ponte about the pole and the five bonus points. “We should be ok in the race as we have a very good car, and I will try to keep the championship in mind.”

8/1/04

Toyota gets first NASCAR win   Travis Kvapil gave Toyota its first NASCAR victory by winning the flag in the Line-X 200 Craftsman Truck race at 2-mile Michigan Speedway. Kvapil, the 2003 series champ driving a Chevrolet, won for the first time this year in a Toyota.

  1. Travis Kvapil, No. 24 Line-X Toyota, 100 laps

  2. Ted Musgrave, No. 1 Mopar Dodge, 100

  3. Mike Skinner, No. 42 Tundra Toyota, 100

  4. Johnny Benson, No. 23 Tundra Toyota, 100

  5. Bobby Hamilton, No. 4 Square D Dodge, 100

  6. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Superchips Ford, 100

  7. Terry Cook, No. 10 Power Stroke Ford, 100

  8. Shane Hmiel, No. 15 Earl Small's Harley-Davidson Chevrolet, 100

  9. Robert Huffman, No. 12 Tundra Toyota, 100

  10. Dennis Setzer, No. 46 Silverado Chevrolet, 100

7/31/04

IRL to announce 18-race schedule   The IRL is set to announce a 16-race 2005 schedule on Tuesday with two additional TBD dates for a total of 18 races.  This SPEED TV article says, As expected, the Indy Racing League will add two road courses - Watkins Glen International and Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. - to its preliminary 2005 schedule during a press conference Tuesday at Watkins Glen, N.Y.  IRL officials confirmed Saturday that the league will unveil a 16-race schedule during Tuesday’s announcement. Two additional to-be-announced dates will be available in the schedule, with their intended use for road or street-course events. One of those dates is likely to go to Portland International Raceway, which has not renewed its contract with Champ Car World Series (they are trying to get St. Petersburg for the other date).   Specific details of the schedule were not disclosed by IRL officials Saturday at Michigan International Speedway, where the IndyCar Series is preparing for Sunday's Michigan Indy 400.   The announcement marks a much-anticipated move by the IRL from its ovals-only format to a more varied mix of venues. It also marks the return of Indy-style racing to Watkins Glen and Sears Point, two of the nation’s most famous and storied race courses......“We’re going to have to a lot of changes,” said Tony Kanaan, the IndyCar Series’ current points leader. “These cars are built to race on ovals. We’ll need a new brake system, for sure. We’ll need a new differential, and maybe a little bit more power, too. Otherwise we’re going to be too slow.” Others indicated the cars would need new or revamped gearboxes. “Brakes and gearbox will be the biggest changes,” Bell said. “A couple of tests in the fall will tell. It’s no different from a Champ Car, really. The parts have been around forever. They know how to do it. I’m sure there will be some teething problems, but it shouldn’t be a big deal.”  Related ESPN.com article, which adds that the two road races will be in September.  It also says Portland is doubtful for the IRL, though the schedule will list two TBD dates so Portland could still be added.

7/31/04
Formula Renault Eurocup

American Red Bull team 1-2 at Spa   To pack your bags for Formula 1, championships are requisite luggage, and Scott Speed continues to prepare for his trip up the ladder as he moves in on the Formula Renault Eurocup championship. Speed extended his points lead with another win as he led fellow American Colin Fleming across the line for yet another Red Bull Junior Team 1-2 finish at the Grand Prix circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. "A perfect day - pole position, a start-finish-victory, the fastest lap, and I am further ahead of Pagenaud in the championship,” said Speed. “A big thanks to my Red Bull Junior teammates!" Fleming had a strong start, catapulting from fourth on the grid to move ahead of Speeds’ championship rival Pagenaud and come home second, with Dominique Claessens just missing out on a podium spot with a fourth-place finish. “What a day for the Red Bull Junior Team!” exclaimed Fleming. “First, second, and fourth for the American drivers is outstanding. I would have liked to had more of a battle with Scott, but he was just too quick today.” All three drivers have progressed through the Red Bull Driver Search; a program that aims to discover and support the "diamond in the rough," lacking the knowledge and contacts needed to embark on a career in racing, as well as talented young drivers already in racing. The long-term goal is to have a steady group of three to six American drivers racing in Europe, on the Red Bull Junior Team, groomed to break into Formula 1 and compete for the World Championship.

7/31/04

Unser wins IPS pole at MIS   Qualifying Saturday for the Paramount Health Insurance 100 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series event on the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed:
1. (2) Al Unser, Dallara-Infiniti, 193.118 mph
2. (5) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 193.064 mph
3. (11) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 192.620 mph
4. (91) Paul Dana, Dallara-Infiniti, 192.598 mph
5. (76) P.J. Chesson, Dallara-Infiniti, 191.084 mph
6. (33) Leonardo Maia, Dallara-Infiniti, 190.190 mph
7. (24) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, 190.022 mph
8. (3) Jesse Mason, Dallara-Infiniti, 189.262 mph
9. (27) Gary Peterson, Dallara-Infiniti, 188.786 mph
10. (22) Phil Giebler, Dallara-Infiniti, 187.651 mph
11. (10) Rolando Quintanilla, Dallara-Infiniti, no speed

7/31/04

Kendall inherits pole at Three Rivers  UPDATE  This afternoon’s Motorock Trans-Am Series qualifying session at Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières, which was postponed from this morning due to inclement weather, was canceled due to rain. The session was run as a practice. The field was set by the fastest times earned in the four practice sessions, placing Tommy Kendall (No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR) on the pole, his 43rd in Trans-Am competition. Paul Gentilozzi will roll off second in tomorrow’s race in the No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR, ahead of Tomy Drissi (No. 5 TAXI – The Movie Jaguar XKR). Canadian Ron Fellows (No. 40 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette) and Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR) will start fourth and fifth, respectively. Due to the cancellation of qualifying, no bonus points were awarded.   7/31/04 - Tommy Kendall set the fastest time during third-round practice Saturday at Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières. Kendall, driving the No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR in rainy and wet conditions, set a time of one minute, 16.039 seconds (72.010 miles per hour). The morning practice was originally scheduled as a qualifying session. Qualifying was postponed to this afternoon due to rain. Paul Gentilozzi was second fastest in the No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR, ahead of Tomy Drissi (No. 5 TAXI – The Movie Jaguar XKR). Canadian Charlie Webster (No. 95 CJ Webster of Canada Chevrolet Corvette) and Joey Scarallo (No. 06 Toyo Tires/ROH Wheels Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top five.

7/31/04

Seen in Michigan   UPDATE According to this Michigan Speedway schedule, Friday was Fan Appreciation Day.  From the looks of these grandstands, it appears not too many fans were appreciated. Next year they'll have to give away some free tickets in the hope more fans will come out for Fan Appreciation Day.  7/31/04 - (Left) Dan Wheldon shaved his head.  (Center) Vitor Meira and Buddy Rice stare at the empty grandstands at yet another IRL Friday practice.   Whereas Champ Car draws 40,000 + on Fridays at its street circuit events, the IRL drivers drone around in front of no one.  A complete waste.  (Right) Kenny Brack is looking healthier each time we see him.


Photos courtesy of Ron McQueeney/IMS

7/31/04

Kanaan tops Saturday AM practice  

Pos Driver Diff Time Speed Lap C/E/T Status
1 Tony Kanaan (11) 33.3533 215.871 1 D/H/F
2 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.1467 33.5000 214.925 1 D/T/F
3 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 0.1791 33.5324 214.718 1 G/H/F
4 Scott Dixon (1) 0.2401 33.5934 214.328 1 G/T/F
5 Sam Hornish Jr. (6) 0.2635 33.6168 214.179 1 D/T/F
6 Vitor Meira (17) 0.2776 33.6309 214.089 2 G/H/F
7 Buddy Rice (15) 0.2888 33.6421 214.018 1 G/H/F
8 Townsend Bell (2T) 0.3148 33.6681 213.852 1 D/C/F
9 Dan Wheldon (26) 0.3197 33.6730 213.821 1 D/H/F
10 Bryan Herta (7) 0.3389 33.6922 213.699 1 D/H/F
11 Adrian Fernandez (5) 0.3779 33.7312 213.452 1 G/H/F
12 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.3991 33.7524 213.318 1 D/H/F
13 Darren Manning (10) 0.4078 33.7611 213.263 1 G/T/F
14 Tomas Scheckter (4) 0.4263 33.7796 213.146 1 D/C/F
15 Alex Barron (51) 0.5450 33.8983 212.400 2 D/C/F
16 Ed Carpenter (52) 0.5563 33.9096 212.329 1 D/C/F
17 A.J. Foyt IV (14) 0.6341 33.9874 211.843 1 D/T/F
18 Mark Taylor (13) 0.7186 34.0719 211.318 1 G/H/F
19 Scott Sharp (8) 0.7358 34.0891 211.211 1 D/T/F
20 Felipe Giaffone (24) 0.8627 34.2160 210.428 2 D/C/F
21 Jaques Lazier (20) 0.8851 34.2384 210.290 2 D/C/F
22 Tora Takagi (12) 0.9064 34.2597 210.159 1 D/T/F

7/31/04
Open Wheel Racing

Another great article   A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, Mark Cipolloni and Cassio Cortes hit the proverbial nail on the head yet again with the article, Open Wheel Racing is in serious need of consolidation. I have been thinking the same thing for quite some time now and I am glad someone has addressed it.  It isn't just about the CART/IRL split, which is the first thing that comes to your mind, it's the entire sport of open wheel racing that needs consolidation, worldwide.  Gregory Haynes, Miami, FL

7/31/04

Biffle says he is staying at Roush   Take Greg Biffle's name out of the 2005 sweepstakes. He says he's staying with Jack Roush, even though it's unclear if his sponsor, the National Guard, will return. Biffle has been under consideration for the third-team ride with Joe Gibbs.  Winston Salem Journal

7/31/04

NASCAR Trucks/IRL divorce at MIS   UPDATE This MLive.com article says, Race promoters in Portland, Ore., still want to stage an Indy Racing League event at Portland International Raceway next July or August, but apparently it won't be on July 31 -- the date for Michigan International Speedway's IRL race in 2005.   MIS President Brett Shelton said Friday that he fully expects Michigan to once again be the site of the IRL's race in the final weekend of July 2005. The IRL schedule could be released as soon as early next week.  "That's one date that's been talked about," Larry Blackmar, a promoter for Peter Jacobsen Productions in Portland, said Friday. "But frankly, we've been talking with Ken Ungar (senior vice president of business affairs for the IRL) about a range of dates, and the range has been the last part of July to the first couple of weeks of August." More....  7/30/04 - This MLive.com article says, The future of the Indy Racing League at Michigan International Speedway is somewhat fuzzy. But one thing is clear: The NASCAR trucks are moving from July to June.   NASCAR released its schedule for the 2005 Craftsman Truck Series on Thursday, and the traditional pairing of the IRL and the Truck Series is no more. The trucks will race at MIS next year on June 18, the day before the Nextel Cup Series event at the Brooklyn track.   MIS officials knew the announcement was forthcoming but were surprised by the timing of it.   "They didn't inform us that they were going to announce it yet," MIS spokesman Bill Janitz said.

The Truck Series will hold the Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners 200 on Saturday, one day before the Michigan Indy 400 IRL race. That will be the end of a marriage between the IRL and the Truck Series, which have been held on the same weekend the three years the IRL has raced at MIS.  Janitz said an Infiniti Pro Series event will work as the lone support race for the IRL next year. The developmental open-wheel league will hold a 100-mile event Sunday prior to this year's IRL race.   Janitz said the traditional open-wheel weekend will shrink from three to two days next year. Qualifying for the Truck Series race is traditionally held on Friday.

The IRL has not released its much-anticipated 2005 schedule. The series is expected to add at least two and as many as four road races to next year's schedule, and one Oregon newspaper has reported that the IRL is considering running a race at Portland International Raceway on July 31, 2005, which is traditionally Michigan's weekend for an open-wheel race.   Race promoter Larry Blackmar told the Portland Tribune, a free city newspaper, that the last weekend in July 2005 is a possibility.  "They've just asked us to consider that date," Blackmar was quoted as saying in a July 23 story. "It's not guaranteed, but it's right where we wanted to be."

7/31/04

No Toyota engines for Jordan until....   Toyota has gone on record saying they are prepared to share their F1 engine with at least one other team, but not until the final engine specs are agreed upon and there is some stability.  The FIA is pushing for a move toward 2.4-liter V8's.

7/30/04

Gentilozzi fastest in afternoon at Three Rivers  Paul Gentilozzi led a trio of Rocketsports Racing Jaguar XKRs during second-round practice Friday for Sunday’s Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières, Round 6 of the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series title chase. Gentilozzi (No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR) turned the 1.502-mile temporary street circuit in one minute, 4.497 seconds 84.897 miles per hour. Gentilozzi’s teammate Tommy Kendall (No. 11 Jaguar Performance XKR) was second quickest, ahead of Tomy Drissi (No. 5 Taxi-The Movie Jaguar XKR). Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR) and Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Canada Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top five. Qualifying for Sunday’s race is scheduled for tomorrow at 10:40 a.m., followed by final practice at 2:30 p.m.

7/30/04

Renato David fastest at Three Rivers   Renato Jader David quickly acquainted himself with Trois-Rivieres' 1.502-mile temporary street circuit in Friday practice for the North American Formula Renault 2000 race on Sunday as part of the 35th running of the famed event, powering his Gelles Racing machine to a quick time of 1:06.131-seconds in the second of two practice sessions on the day. Marcos Gomes, who was fastest in the morning session, scored a quick lap just .094 of a second behind David in his GTI/Roshrans/ITUPETRO-livered Formula Renault. Championship points leader Juan Martin Ponte was another driver to set a time under 67 seconds, finishing third on the day, with UK Formula Renault graduate Katherine Legge just behind in fourth. The Trois-Rivieres event is the second North American Formula Renault start for the Guildford Surry, UK native, as she ran her first-ever street race in Toronto as part of the Molson Indy and showed no fear, taking a strong sixth. Gelles Racing pilot Brandon Thomas, who broke out during the Toronto round to score his first podium in Formula Renault competition, continued to show good pace with the fifth quickest time of the day in his Western Union machine.

7/30/04

IMSA extends eligibility of prototypes   The American Le Mans Series and its sanctioning body, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), have extended the eligibility of 2003 specification Prototype race cars in the series through the 2005 season, officials have announced.

The eligibility of Le Mans Prototype (LMP) cars homologated under the 2003 Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) LMP 900 and LMP 675 regulations and run under the 2003 configuration will continue in the American Le Mans Series through the end of 2005. The cars will continue to be classified as LMP1 and LMP2 as specified under the relevant ACO regulations. Cars homologated under subsequent specifications will also remain eligible in their configurations.

The American Le Mans Series operates on an agreement with the ACO that includes use of the famous "Le Mans" name as well as use of the technical rules and regulations of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The eligibility extension applies only to the ALMS and not to the 24 Hours of Le Mans or the Le Mans Endurance Series.

"One of the founding principles of the American Le Mans Series is stability of rules and regulations," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the ALMS. "The announcement now of the extension of eligibility for 2003 specification Prototypes through 2005 allows our current race teams, as well as those that will be joining our series, to operate in a stable environment as they make their plans for 2005 and beyond.

7/30/04

Big Champ Car weekend slated for Road America   Road America will host five of the top open wheel racing series in the U.S. beginning Thursday, Aug. 5 and running through Sunday, Aug. 8, when the feature, Bridgestone Presents Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford takes the green flag at 2:00 p.m. Other series running include the Motorock Trans-Am Tour, Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Championship of Road America Presented by Yokohama, Formula BMW USA and the Skip Barber National Championship. Tickets for the four-day weekend are available online at www.roadamerica.com and by phone, 800.365.7223. Daily prices are $10 Thursday; $25, Friday; $40, Saturday and $55 Sunday.   More.....

7/30/04

Townsend Bell crashes at Michigan   Townsend Bell hit the Turn 2 wall at Michigan in this afternoon's practice.  The red flag came out to end the session.  No report of any injuries so far.  The same can't be said for the car however.  The Panther/Menard team has another big repair bill to set them back.  They have had quite a few this year.

7/30/04

Kanaan leads Friday PM practice at Michigan  IRL IndyCar® points leader Tony Kanaan posted the fastest lap during the opening day of practice for the Michigan Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.  Kanaan's best lap around the 2-mile, D-shaped oval was 33.5200 seconds, 214.797 mph, in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Kanaan's lap was slightly faster than rookie Kosuke Matsuura, who posted a lap of 33.5799 seconds, 214.414 mph in the No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone.  "There was a lot of drafting, and we worked on race setup a lot," Kanaan said. "I ended up having a pretty good lap behind my teammates. I don't think the lap time says a lot. We're just working, like I said, on race setup, and we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Tomas Scheckter, who captured the MBNA Pole Award in the previous two IndyCar Series events at Michigan, was third after posting a lap of 33.6013 seconds, 214.277 mph in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.  The only incident of the day occurred when Townsend Bell, driver of the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, spun and made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2. Bell was uninjured.  Also on July 30, Paul Dana posted the fastest lap during practice for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Paramount Health Insurance 100.  Dana, who captured his first Menards Infiniti Pro Series victory at The Milwaukee Mile on July 25, posted a lap of 37.2627 seconds, 193.223 mph in his No. 91 Ethanol/Hemelgarn Johnson Dallara/Infiniti Firestone.

Pos Driver Diff Time Speed Lap C/E/T Status
1 Tony Kanaan (11) 33.5200 214.797 6 D/H/F Pit
2 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 0.0599 33.5799 214.414 15 G/H/F Pit
3 Tomas Scheckter (4) 0.0813 33.6013 214.277 11 D/C/F Pit
4 Buddy Rice (15) 0.0815 33.6015 214.276 22 G/H/F Pit
5 Dan Wheldon (26) 0.1957 33.7157 213.550 21 D/H/F Pit
6 Ed Carpenter (52) 0.2250 33.7450 213.365 9 D/C/F Pit
7 Adrian Fernandez (5) 0.2263 33.7463 213.357 23 G/H/F Pit
8 Vitor Meira (17) 0.2415 33.7615 213.261 10 G/H/F Pit
9 Alex Barron (51) 0.2611 33.7811 213.137 32 D/C/F Pit
10 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.2680 33.7880 213.093 7 D/H/F Pit
11 Sam Hornish Jr. (6) 0.2721 33.7921 213.068 22 D/T/F Pit
12 Felipe Giaffone (24) 0.3137 33.8337 212.806 21 D/C/F Pit
13 Townsend Bell (2) 0.3506 33.8706 212.574 11 D/C/F Accident
14 Bryan Herta (7) 0.3582 33.8782 212.526 8 D/H/F Pit
15 Scott Dixon (1) 0.3628 33.8828 212.497 14 G/T/F Pit
16 Mark Taylor (13) 0.3701 33.8901 212.451 24 G/H/F Pit
17 A.J. Foyt IV (14) 0.3823 33.9023 212.375 24 D/T/F Pit
18 Jaques Lazier (20) 0.4416 33.9616 212.004 31 D/C/F Pit
19 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.4508 33.9708 211.947 24 D/T/F Pit
20 Scott Sharp (8) 0.4786 33.9986 211.773 13 D/T/F Pit
21 Tora Takagi (12) 0.4959 34.0159 211.666 28 D/T/F Pit
22 Darren Manning (10) 0.6274 34.1474 210.851 28 G/T/F Pit

7/30/04

Kendall fastest at Three Rivers so far   Tommy Kendall proved he hadn’t forgotten his way around Trois-Rivières’ tight 1.506-mile temporary street course as the three-time winner set the fastest time in Friday morning’s first-round practice. Kendall (No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR) turned in a 1:04.462-minute lap at 84.943 miles per hour. Paul Gentilozzi was second fastest in the No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR, ahead of Canadian Ron Fellows (No. 40 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette). Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Canada Chevrolet Corvette) and Bob Ruman (No. 23 Cenweld/McNichols Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top five. The next practice session for the Motorock Trans-Am Series is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. today.

7/30/04

CARA Charities picnic at Road America   Next Saturday (August 7), CARA Charities will hold a special free picnic for the Champ Car community as part of the Champ Car World Series weekend at the legendary Elkhart Lake’s Road America. CARA Charities, founded in 1981 by Betty Rutherford and the women of open-wheel racing, has distributed over $3.5 million dollars to numerous racing and community organizations. CARA serves the community through charitable work and promotes the friendship of all those involved in the motor sports family. Led by national director Mary Lou Bogner, CARA Charities hosts a variety of charitable events during the 2004 racing season. “We want to invite all of the CARA Charities membership and all of the Champ Car community to join us for our annual picnic at Road America,” said Barbara Butz, president of CARA Charities. “It is a great opportunity for everyone to get together and enjoy some great food and conversation.” The picnic will be held in a special tent area at the “top of the hill” of the motor coach, just south of the Champ Car paddock area, and will start at 12 noon. “There is no charge for the luncheon and we at CARA Charities hope everyone can attend this gathering at such a picturesque racing facility as Road America,” said Butz. “There are very few road courses in the world like Road America.” Reservations are encouraged by e-mail at carachar@aol.com or by calling 317-299-2277.

7/30/04

It was time for Trulli to go   Flavio Briatore says he and Jarno Trulli needed to part ways in order to avoid the Renault team from becoming stagnant.   "It was a very tough decision because Renault is competitive thanks to Trulli," Briatore tells the Italian daily Gazzeta dello Sport. "Jarno and Fernando are friends. We need competition within the team in order to improve the performance, in order to motivate Alonso, who at 23 is our man for the future.   I have peace of mind over Trulli," adds Briatore. "I started managing him when he was racing in F3 in the German championship, we have been together for 10 years. Now he must go on alone. He's a fine driver and a brave man.  What we are giving Fisichella is the chance of his life. Next year we expect to be fighting for the title and he will play an important role."

7/30/04

Scheckter leads Friday AM practice at Michigan  

Pos Driver Diff Time Speed Lap C/E/T Status
1 Tomas Scheckter (4) 33.6389 214.038 33 D/C/F Pit
2 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.0752 33.7141 213.560 19 D/H/F Pit
3 Townsend Bell (2) 0.0822 33.7211 213.516 6 D/C/F Pit
4 Vitor Meira (17) 0.1400 33.7789 213.151 20 G/H/F Pit
5 Dan Wheldon (26) 0.1426 33.7815 213.134 5 D/H/F Pit
6 Alex Barron (51) 0.1448 33.7837 213.121 14 D/C/F Pit
7 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.1891 33.8280 212.841 17 D/H/F Pit
8 Buddy Rice (15) 0.1997 33.8386 212.775 3 G/H/F Pit
9 Sam Hornish Jr. (6) 0.2477 33.8866 212.473 23 D/T/F Pit
10 Adrian Fernandez (5) 0.3134 33.9523 212.062 23 G/H/F Pit
11 Ed Carpenter (52) 0.3274 33.9663 211.975 7 D/C/F Pit
12 Bryan Herta (7) 0.3664 34.0053 211.732 22 D/H/F Pit
13 Jaques Lazier (20) 0.3701 34.0090 211.709 33 D/C/F Pit
14 Felipe Giaffone (24) 0.3773 34.0162 211.664 7 D/C/F Pit
15 Mark Taylor (13) 0.4020 34.0409 211.510 9 G/H/F Pit
16 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 0.4386 34.0775 211.283 35 G/H/F Pit
17 Scott Dixon (1) 0.4833 34.1222 211.006 12 G/T/F Pit
18 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.4908 34.1297 210.960 7 D/T/F Pit
19 A.J. Foyt IV (14) 0.5551 34.1940 210.563 30 D/T/F Pit
20 Scott Sharp (8) 0.6539 34.2928 209.957 10 D/T/F Pit
21 Tora Takagi (12) 0.8540 34.4929 208.739 30 D/T/F Pit
22 Darren Manning (10) 0.9869 34.6258 207.937 4 G/T/F Pit

7/30/04

Watkins Glen looking good for IRL race   This Star-Gazette article says, The Glen could be on the verge of gaining a highly coveted open-wheel series race in the Indy Racing League.  "It's pretty safe to say we'll see some road courses on our schedule," is all IRL spokesman John Griffin would say Wednesday. He said the IRL's 2005 schedule could be announced as early as Tuesday.  "We're cautiously optimistic about the IRL," Glen President Craig Rust said Monday.  Griffin said last week that the IRL was looking at Watkins Glen "favorably."

While Griffin wouldn't comment further this week, with words such as "cautiously optimistic" and "favorably" regarding a Glen-IRL marriage, I'd say it's a good bet Penske Racing and the rest of the IRL teams will be here in 2005. However, new concerns have emerged about the future of the Glen's NASCAR Nextel Cup event because of International Speedway Corporation's proposed new track near New York City. ISC owns 12 of the tracks on the Nextel Cup circuit, including Watkins Glen.

ISC spokesman David Talley said Wednesday from his Daytona Beach, Fla., office that ISC entered into an agreement Friday to purchase 676 acres of waterfront property in the New York City borough of Staten Island. The plan is to build an 80,000 seat, three-quarter mile oval track on the site in hopes of hosting two Nextel Cup events and an Indy Racing League race.

It's been one of NASCAR's primary goals in recent years to have a race in the nation's top financial and media market, but could it come at the expense of the Glen?  Brian France, NASCAR's chairman of the board and an ISC board member, told AutoWeek in its July 19 issue that "it's possible" the Glen could lose its Cup date if a new speedway were built in the New York metropolitan area.   "Do I like to see that in print? No," Rust said Monday. "What does it say? It means it might not happen, also."

Talley backed up Rust, saying "It's a little early to call the demise of Watkins Glen. To have the diversity of a road course like Watkins Glen is something that NASCAR fans enjoy. At this time, we wouldn't expect that it would lose a race."

7/30/04
Industry News

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation Golf Classic   Auto racing will mix with golf on Oct. 18 at the Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles. The Sixth Annual Jim Murray Memorial Golf Classic will honor The Wonderful World of Auto Racing benefiting the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation. Indy-winning driver and car owner Bobby Rahal will represent auto racing. Details as to participation, program advertising and sponsorship, can be obtained from Linda McCoy Murray, PO Box 491304, Los Angeles, Calif. 90049, phone (310) 476-8948.

7/30/04

Ferko case cost ISC $2 million.   ISC's recent second-quarter conference call for analysts revealed the now-settled Ferko lawsuit cost it over $2 million to defend.  ISC is also investing back into its business.   2004 capital expenditures including the Daytona infield upgrades recently reported here, track lighting at Fontana, Darlington and Phoenix along with widespread SAFER barrier installation, will cost $135 to $140 million.

7/30/04
Industry News

Dover Motorsports reports earnings increase   Dover Motorsports has reported its latest financial figures – and thanked its NASCAR races for boosting earnings.   The firm revealed earnings before income taxes for the quarter ended June 30, 2004 increased by $3.047m or 30.3 percent to $13.093m compared with $10.046m in the comparable quarter of the prior year.  It says improvements in all of the company's NASCAR events as well as lower general and administrative expenses, depreciation and net interest expense contributed to the increase in earnings before income taxes.   Revenues increased by $3.039m or 6.4 percent to $50.888m compared with $47.849m in the second quarter of 2003. Broadcast revenues, admissions and event-related revenues all increased over the comparable period of the prior year.   Dover Motorsports operates five tracks in four states and stages races for NASCAR, IRL, NHRA and Champ Car.

7/30/04

No Mexico for Trucks in 2005   It was rumored, but it looks like NASCAR won't be racing in Mexico in 2005, at least the Truck Series will not be. The 2005 Busch Series schedule has yet to be announced.   The 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule was announced Thursday with no hint of Mexico or Canada.  It increases the number of races held in conjunction with the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and closes existing "gaps" between late winter and spring events. The 25-race schedule, which opens Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway and concludes Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, includes 16 same-week races in cities hosting NASCAR Nextel Cup events. 2005 Truck Schedule

7/30/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Even Schu wouldn't win in FW26 - Williams
Montoya - 'I'm still motivated'
Bourdais has 'more to offer' - manager
Coulthard takes pole for Williams drive
'B spec' Toyota is no 'flop' - Gascoyne
Webber 'can win F1 title' - Murray Walker
I had other offers, says Fisichella
Minardi lines up Wilux successor
Mercedes will 'stay in F1' - Norbert Haug
Birthday boy Alonso is 'special' - agent
Cyprus to build F1 test track
Klien's 'staying at home' in August
Webber wants 'no danger' teammate - Walker 

7/29/04
Speed World Challenge

Fellows to drive Caddy at Mosport   The General Motors' Cadillac CTS-V racing team will field a third car for Round 6 and 7 of the SCCA Speed World Challenge GT at Mosport International Raceway on August 7 and 8. Ron Fellows, Corvette C5-R driver, will pilot the #12 CTS-V race car in the events, joining Max Angelelli and Andy Pilgrim on Team Cadillac. The Mosport weekend consists of two Speed GT races; Fellows will compete in three races during the weekend as he will also continue with his role with the Corvette team. “Ron Fellows is one of the world’s best road racing drivers and will be a great ambassador for our Canadian motorsports and V-Series fans at Mosport,” said Mark LaNeve, general manager of Cadillac. “Many people forget that Ron was actually our first test car driver for the Cadillac LMP program and has had a relationship with Cadillac and GM Racing going back many years. We’re very excited for him to join us for these two races at Mosport.”

7/29/04

Final IRL Nashville TV rating   The final rating for the IRL's race at Nashville shown live on ESPN was a 0.5.  That race was two weeks ago but the rating was so low we had a hard time getting the data.  Clearly all the artificially close rev-limiter created finishes the IRL generates isn't winning over any new fans or getting them to tune in on TV.  As we stated long ago, the IRL alienated the Champ Car fans when the league was created and now has alienated the oval trackers who supported it in the first place by morphing into CART, which the oval trackers hated.  And now they are going to go road racing, which should alienate the oval track fans even more and drive ratings lower in coming years.  It should have stuck to all ovals and all American drivers, and then it might have ridden on the coattails of NASCAR and won over some of its fans.  By going after CART and stealing everything it could out of the CART paddock, it lost sight of its original intended purpose.  By shifting its business focus to destroying CART, the IRL lost any hope of creating a unique niche and growing from there.  Clearly the IRL has made some major tactical blunders and its future looks bleaker by the day.  Mark C.

7/29/04

Milwaukee - IRL TV ratings continue to disappoint   UPDATE  As expected, the final rating for the IRL race in Milwaukee live on ABC dropped to a 0.8 (0.7 in the LA market), which is horrible for network TV and trending toward cable TV territory. The more money Honda and Toyota pump into the series, and the more free tickets that are given away at the races, the further the all-important TV ratings are dropping for the IRL. By comparison, the last time Champ Car's Milwaukee race was on network TV it got a 1.2 final rating (CBS 2002).  7/28/04 - ABC's broadcast of the IRL race from Milwaukee this past weekend garnered a 0.9/2 share overnight rating, which is horrible for network TV.  The final TV rating is expected to go lower.  In the San Francisco Bay area the ABC rating was 0.3!  Despite all the money Honda and Toyota are pumping into the series to try and make it successful, the ratings have now fallen below ALMS, which on CBS the previous weekend, garnered a 1.2 rating (also network TV).  The IRL can tout all their rev-limited artificially close finishes they want, the fans simply are miffed at Tony George for splitting the sport of Indy Car racing and killing it, hence they are rejecting it.

7/29/04
Industry News

Atlanta Motor Speedway 2005 schedule   Atlanta Motor Speedway officials announced Thursday the speedway’s 2005 schedule, which included the addition of a second NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, as well as the return of the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Busch Series race to the spring race weekend.  Thanks to the overwhelming success of this year’s EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, Atlanta Motor Speedway added the second truck race to the fall Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 weekend.

The March 18-20 Golden Corral 500 weekend will also be shuffled, as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race will move from its previous Saturday afternoon slot to Friday night, immediately following Georgia Power Qualifying, which will also move to a nighttime start.

The Golden Corral 500 weekend will continue on Saturday with the return of the Aaron’s 312 Busch Series race, which had been traditionally held in March until moving to the fall date two years ago.

The Oct. 28-30 Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 weekend will again kick off with Georgia-Pacific Qualifying Night and continue on Saturday with the newly added second NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. The weekend will culminate with the running of the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, the seventh of 10 races in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.

“We’re pleased with the changes to our schedule and feel that NASCAR has done a great job in working with us to give the fans two solid weekends of great racing action,” said Atlanta Motor Speedway President and General Manager Ed Clark. “Our fans have told us they love night qualifying, they love the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series … and we’ve updated our schedule to reflect their requests.”

In addition to the two NASCAR Nextel Cup weekends, Atlanta Motor Speedway will also host one of the largest car shows in America, the NOPI Nationals, and a full season of grass-roots racing in the Thursday Thunder Legends, Bandolero and Roadster Racing series.

7/29/04

No more Father Phil   Father Phil will be leaving the motorsports community in Nov. 2004. His new assignment will be in Rome, Italy at the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. He will be Rector of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart at Piazza Navona (in the heart of Rome.)   CARA is compiling a book of letters which will be book-bound and presented to him later in the season. If you wish to be included, please mail a letter to Father Phil on your stationary to CARA, 2915 N. High School Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46224.

7/29/04

New Hampshire TV rating   UPDATE TNT’s coverage of Sunday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Siemens 300 earned a 5.3/ (4,700,000 HHs) final Nielsen cable rating, making it TNT’s highest-rated Cup race ever. The 5.3 is a 13% increase over last year’s 4.7/ (4,000,000 HHs). Through two races, NBC/TNT’s combined NASCAR coverage is averaging a 4.9 (not including the Daytona 500), up 8% over last year’s 4.5. HHs are up 10% to 5.3 million from 4.8 million TNT  7/28/04 - NASCAR fans revved up ratings for TNT's coverage of the Siemens 300. The Sunday night race was the most watched basic-cable show, with 6.8 million viewers. As usual, HBO's Six Feet Under was the most watched pay-cable show, with 3.8 million. Yahoo  New England doubleheader a hit ... In the off-to-a-good-start department, TNT's season debut at New Hampshire mirrored that of its sister network, NBC, three weeks ago at Chicagoland Speedway. The two networks will televise the second half of the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season, and just as NBC enjoyed significant viewer response in Chicago, TNT scored big last week with its season-opening coverage of the Siemens 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. According to Nielsen Media Research, an average of 4,706,000 households tuned in, a 17% increase from 2003. An average of 6,766,000 viewers tuned in, a 15% increase from 2003. The Siemens 300 was the most-watched NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event since premier-series competition began at New Hampshire in 1993. But that's not all. The NASCAR Busch Series event, the Siemens 200, also was a viewer hit. An average of 1,514,000 households tuned in, a 41% increase from 2003. An average of 1,954,000 viewers tuned in, a 43% increase from 2003. The Siemens 200 was the most-watched NASCAR Busch Series event since that series debuted at New Hampshire in 1990." NASCAR PR

7/29/04

Modest growth for the IRL in Michigan   UPDATE A reader responds to this article, Well of course the IRL is doing better at MIS. Where else do they have to go but up! The real question should be WHY are they doing better? The answer, if we were to be brutally honest with ourselves, is the high speed (I know that’s a contradiction in terms for the IRL) superspeedway events; IMS, MIS, Fontana, TMS, offer the greatest potential for “death and destruction” so the “fan support” (is there really such a thing as an IRL fan?) is greater. The IRL and NASCAR have turned the motorsports clock back to 1961 and have converted modern motor racing back into the blood sport it once was. All it’s going to take is another Dale Earnhardt, or a couple more Kenny Bracks and maybe throw in a few dozen dead spectators for good measure and ALL corporate support for motor racing will once again disappear under an avalanche of memos from insurance companies BEGGING their clients to sponsor golf or figure skating, ANYTHING but car racing! Once the corporate liability insurance premiums start going up watch how fast corporate support completely evaporates when management must justify to the board obscene insurance premiums. The oval track cartel's thirst for a freak show, and what else can you call Bubbas throwing beer cans at race cars going 180 mph, and the IRL’s lust for “a good show” at all cost, should be categorically rejected by ALL who call themselves true fans of professional motor racing until such time as these sanctioning bodies place the overall advancement of the sport, the ENTIRE sport, ahead of their simpleminded cultivation of a customer base that has more in common with ghouls . . . than with us. An IRL “fan” is a NASCAR fan who doesn’t get enough taxi cab crashes! J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois  7/28/04 - This Michigan MLive.com article says, The Indy Racing League is back at Michigan International Speedway this week, and despite predictions of another modest fan turnout, the open-wheel series continues to strengthen its foothold at the Brooklyn track.  That's the company line anyway, as MIS president Brett Shelton expects a satisfactory attendance for the Michigan Indy 400. The race is slated for 3 p.m. Sunday.   In 2003, the speedway offered discounted tickets, weekend ticket packages and free admission for children age 12 and younger. The event drew an estimated crowd of 30,000, which was consistent with the first IRL race at MIS in 2002.  

The speedway and other tracks owned by International Speedway Corp. decline to release official figures, but Shelton said interest has grown each year for the IRL.  "We've seen growth the three years, and in that way, it's been consistent," said Shelton, who is in his fourth year as MIS president. "That's probably good and bad that it's been consistent growth. I'd like to see some abnormal growth."

MIS' peak day for open-wheel racing came in May 1996, when MIS and Championship Auto Racing Teams went head-to-head with the Indianapolis 500, and the IRL and drew 105,000 fans. A second CART race at MIS that summer attracted 84,000.

Interest in open-wheel racing at MIS, at least in terms of attendance, hit a low point in 2001 when a track source said that 29,000 tickets were sold for the final CART race at the speedway. The IRL's debut one year later drew a similar-sized crowd.   "I said all along, the first year I really thought that the IRL couldn't be judged purely by the folks in the grandstand," Shelton said. "You have to look at it as a property, as a series of racing.   We're a race track. We're not a fairground or a shopping mall. You look at racing series as business partners. In the open-wheel world, I think the IRL is doing a great job. Certainly the association with the Indy 500 is extremely important to us."

Still, racing fans have yet to fully embrace the IRL as the country's premier open-wheel series. The proof will be in the 100,000 or so empty seats at MIS on Sunday.   Both series would probably benefit by merging into one series. Should the two sides merge, or should one side close up shop, it stands to reason that the new series would draw up a new schedule by picking and choosing tracks that draw the most fans.   That day could be a day of reckoning for MIS, which could find itself without an open-wheel race if its attendance does not pick up. MIS has played host to open-wheel races since 1968.   "We're working hard toward earning on our spot on the schedule, whether its NASCAR or the Indy Racing League," Shelton said. "We don't take being on someone's schedule for granted. You have to work hard to earn your keep around this place. No one is going to give it to us."   Shelton said that despite the low attendance figures, the race still makes money.   "We're happy with the race in our business plan," he said. [Editor's Note:  It's rumored that the IRL still pays the purse, hence MIS can make money.]

7/29/04

Haug calls for 50% cost reduction    Mercedes boss Norbert Haug has called for a 50% cut in spending on Formula One engines.  Haug, who supplies engines to McLaren, said: "We need to save money and do better things with the money we have. The money we spend on engines should be cut by 50%.  If we spent that much less we would be in a position to give a little bit of money to the McLaren team and we could help the smaller teams, do better promotion that kind of stuff.  We are inclined to think about the future of Formula One, we are here for the long term.  A company like DaimlerChrysler, and especially Mercedes-Benz, takes care and that is probably why sometimes we are controversial. But we are always constructive on the future of the sport."  [Editor's Note:  Cutting the engine size to 2.4 liters certainly will not cut costs at all.  The solution to cutting costs is quite simply really - 1) Ban exotic materials, 2) Limit RPM to say, 15,000 RPM, 3) Ban pneumatic valves, 4) Set a minimum engine weight, 5) Require engines to last 4 complete race weekends.]

7/29/04

Hamilton Jr. signed by PPI for 2005    PPI Motorsports has signed Bobby Hamilton Jr. to replace Ricky Craven as driver of the No. 32 Chevrolet for the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup series. Craven, a veteran of 14 seasons in the Cup series, said last week he would finish out the season with PPI but would not return to the team next year. He is currently 32nd in the season points and has not finished better than 16th. PPI hired veteran crew chief Harold Holly to come along with Hamilton Jr. next season, PPI team owner Cal Wells said Wednesday. Four of Hamilton's victories came in 2003 with Holly as his crew chief. Holly also helped Jeff Green win the series title in 2000.

7/29/04

Formula Renault to debut at Three Rivers   After a weekend off following the Molson Indy Toronto race weekend, North American Formula Renault will reconvene to race north of the border once again this weekend on the 1.5-mile temporary street circuit at the famed Grand Prix of Three Rivers for round five of the 2004 season. Eurointernational’s Juan Martin Ponte of Argentina leads the point standings by ten points over Venezuelan teammate Ricardo Imery, with Canadians Antoine Bessette and Mark Wilkins tied for third just seventeen points behind Ponte.

Ponte, who won the series debut race in Phoenix, but was knocked out of the race while going for the lead at Mt. Tremblant before rebounding to take the win at Watkins Glen, is glad to be back atop the standings after scoring third place in Toronto.

“Having everyone chase me in the points is definitely something I prefer!” said a smiling Ponte. “This series is so competitive, you can’t give an inch to anyone or they will pass you by on the track, or in the points, so I am hoping for another strong podium result at Three Rivers and to grow my lead. I enjoy the street circuits.  I think it is a special challenge for the teams to get the car set up well, and there is risk at every corner for the driver, so it is very satisfying to do well on these kinds of tracks.”

7/29/04

Ford racing drivers to visit Jackson Place   Ford Racing and Your Indiana Ford Stores will host Ford Racing Fan Appreciation Day on August 5, 2004, from 4 - 10 p.m. on Jackson Place Street in downtown Indianapolis. This year's Ford Racing Fan Appreciation Day will give fans a chance to meet many of today's biggest racing stars.  The event will feature Ford NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers including Dale Jarrett, Elliott Sadler, and Kurt Busch and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers Jon Wood and Rick Crawford. All Ford Racing drivers will participate in autograph sessions as well as a question and answer session for the fans.

Ford Racing Fan Appreciation Day is a free event and consumers can have the chance to win great Ford Racing prizes by picking up a scratch-off to win coupon at their local Indiana Ford Stores beginning July 19th. Everyone is a winner, but the coupon is redeemable only at the Ford Racing Fan Appreciation Day.  Prizes would include 200 pairs of PowerStroke Diesel 200 tickets for the race at IRP August 6th, Ford Racing merchandise, and other items such as food and beverage coupons for local restaurants.

In addition, fans will have a chance to meet with product specialists to learn more about Ford products. They will also have a chance to schedule test-drives at the Ford dealer nearest them for the weeks following the event. Fans will have the opportunity to check out the new 2005 Ford products including the 2005 Ford Mustang GT and the all-new Ford Five Hundred and Ford Freestyle.  Ford Racing drivers will sign 400 autographs during 90-minute sessions. Autograph sessions will run from 4:15 - 6 p.m. and 6:30 - 8:15 p.m. Select drivers will also participate in question-and-answer sessions. As schedules permit, other Ford drivers may be added to the event.

7/29/04

Champ Car uses wind tunnel for Las Vegas  This Champ Car article says, Tuesday at the Auto Research Center (ARC) in Indianapolis, Champ Car and ARC engineers spent all day working with scaled-down versions of the latest Lola and Reynard Champ Car models, searching for the optimal aerodynamic configuration for the September 25 Champ Car Las Vegas 400 to be held on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval.

Champ Car Director of Technology Lee Dykstra and Technology Manager Steve Sewell orchestrated a day-long session at the ARC wind tunnel facility on Tuesday, teaming with the respected engineers from ARC to find a useful superspeedway setup. The goal was to find a way to maintain the high-speed action that fans come to expect from the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, while still providing a challenge for the drivers.

“We could make it so the cars would be flat (full throttle) all the way around the track,” Dykstra said. “But that is not a situation we want our guys to be in. We want to set it up so they have to drive the car and use their skills. By taking out some of the downforce, we will give them cars that are challenging to drive while still being very competitive.”  More.....

7/29/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Minardi 'will survive' sponsor blow
Renault defend Trulli dump
'Glamour' doesn't interest Frank's new boy
Briatore made Williams 'choose' - newspaper
Webber will 'see out' season at Jaguar
Dixon is not Webber's new teammate 
Renault has 'grown up' too - Fisichella
Webber puts in 'more effort' - Button
Wilux turns F1 focus to Jordan
Briscoe to land '05 Jordan seat
'I won't cut Schu any slack' - Mark Webber
Renault fixed 'unbroken' line-up - report
BMW 'supports' Webber signing - Theissen
Ferrari clear path for new engine rules

7/29/04
Industry News

Automotive industry tidbits   Over the next 24 months, Fiat brands will introduce four-wheel-drive versions of 10 vehicles in a bid to break Fiat Auto out of its sales doldrums. If consumers respond positively, the Italian automaker is considering adding up to five more models with the option by 2008..........Ford Motor Co. is reviewing the structure of its Jaguar unit after a disappointing second-quarter loss for the Premier Automotive Group. PAG swung to a $362 million loss for April to June from a profit of $162 million a year earlier.........Hyundai is developing a luxury brand similar to Toyota's Lexus marque, say sources here. Hyundai would introduce the new brand in 2007 to counter its "cheap" brand image in US and European markets................General Motors remains coy about what it plans to do with the Daewoo name in Europe, but it is keeping open the option to use the Chevrolet brand in all European countries.....................Mercedes-Benz will drop supercharged Kompressor gasoline engines from its future lineup in favor of turbochargers. Mercedes will add a turbocharged 2.0-liter gasoline engine in the new A class this autumn.  According to Bosch, 40% of European gasoline passenger cars will be turbocharged by 2008. ...............UnitedAuto Group, a US-based dealership group, is expanding aggressively in Europe.  In July, it acquired nine dealerships plus a 75 percent interest in 10 other sales outlet in Europe........The Dodge Viper, a muscular American sports car, has been "Europeanized" by British performance-engineering specialist Prodrive Ltd. The third-generation Viper, the SRT-10, will be introduced in Europe in December as part of parent DaimlerChrysler's plans to turn Dodge into a global player.............Kia Motors Corp. was the hottest carmaker in Europe in June, and Spain continued to be the fastest-growing major European market. Kia sales grew 49 percent to 15,610 units compared with the same month a year ago..............Ford Motor Co. has been promising that its Premier Automotive Group luxury division will deliver 30 percent of group profits by mid-decade. Following news last week of PAG's $362 million second-quarter loss, that goal now seems elusive, to say the least.......Analysts are recommending the Jaguar F1 program be dropped........Volkswagen is preparing its first branding campaign in China to defend its lead in the world's fastest-growing automotive market. The ad agency Dynamic Marketing Group will bring VW's "love"-based marketing platform to the country........Eckhard Cordes is likely to be named next head of DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes Car Group this week, say sources.

7/28/04
Industry News

Rahal and Parsons to be inducted   1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and 1950 Indianapolis 500 winner Johnnie Parsons head a class of seven inductees July 29 into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.  Also being inducted into the hall's 16th class during ceremonies at the State Theatre in Detroit will be NASCAR executive Bill France Jr., NHRA Top Fuel champion Joe Amato, multi-class sports car champion and former Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 starter Geoff Brabham, driver-designer-builder Don Vesco and longtime Los Angeles Times motorsports writer Shav Glick.  Rahal made his Indy-style car debut in 1982 and was named Rookie of the Year. He won Indy as a driver in 1986 and recorded a victory May 30 in the 88th Indianapolis 500 as co-owner of the IRL IndyCar® Series team Rahal Letterman Racing with Buddy Rice behind the wheel.  Rahal recorded seven top-10 finishes in his 13 career Indianapolis 500 starts.  Parsons won the 1949 AAA National Championship after only limited experience in Indy-style cars the previous year. He was second in the 1949 Indianapolis 500 as a rookie, and won the following year. He also finished fourth in 1956.   Parsons had 11 Indy-car style victories. He died in 1984.  The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Novi, Mich., houses more than 40 racing and high-performance vehicles. For tickets to the induction ceremony, call (800) 250-7223.

7/28/04

Driver comments on possible NY City race   It was reported this week that ISC had purchased over 600 acres of land on Staten Island, NY to build a 3/4-mile, 80,000 seat oval by the 2009 season.  Here is the reaction by some NASCAR drivers to the news.  More....

7/28/04

Renault 2005 driver lineup announcement  The Mild Seven Renault F1 Team today announced its official driver line-up for the 2005 season, which will see Spain’s Fernando Alonso joined at the team by Italian Giancarlo Fisichella. For 31 year-old Fisichella, this will mark his debut as a Renault driver, but a return to the team he last drove for (as Benetton) in 2001. “We are delighted to welcome Giancarlo to the Renault team,” commented Managing Director Flavio Briatore. “Since we last worked with him in 2001, every aspect of his approach to the sport has matured. I am confident that Fernando and Giancarlo are the drivers we need to achieve our goal of winning the world championship in the coming seasons.” Fisichella’s arrival will see the departure of Jarno Trulli from the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team, upon the expiration of his contract at the end of the season. “Jarno’s dedication and enthusiasm have been great assets and he has made an important contribution to the development of the team, and the image of the Renault Group” concluded Briatore. “He is assured a successful future in Formula 1, and I wish him all the best for the future on behalf of the entire team.”

7/28/04

Minardi and Wilux terminate relationship   The Minardi F1 Team has today released the following statement regarding its relationship with Wilux B.V. Netherlands: "Due to irreconcilable differences concerning, among other things, the decision by Minardi to run without sponsorship livery in the 2004 British Grand Prix and the decision by Wilux not to adhere to contractual payments, sadly, the sponsorship agreement between Wilux and Minardi has been terminated today. The Team wishes Wilux every success in the future."

7/28/04

Toyota blames drivers, not new car for poor results   Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne has hinted that poor driving, rather than fundamental problems with the car, was to blame for the team’s new TF104B failing to shine on its debut in Sunday’s German Grand Prix.   “There’s nothing wrong with the car, not a single problem,” he said. “I’ve always said that if you do the wind tunnel testing properly and make it work to the right level of accuracy, then what you have in the tunnel is what you have at the track, as happened with this car.   I don’t think we’ve got any issues. We were able to get the car dialed in pretty quickly, so we don’t have any issues from a set-up point of view. We don’t need to learn anything more from the car. We’ve got the performance gain we expected and we’ve got a new package coming for Monza, so I’m confident we’re going to score some points, but it’s just frustrating because we should have scored them here.  We need to find another second in aerodynamics,” he said. “But I’m very confident we now know how to do that.”

7/28/04

Stewart welcomes 3-car team   Tony Stewart is not concerned about dwindling resources at Joe Gibbs Racing if the team adds a third Nextel Cup team for the 2005 season. The team currently fields a pair of Chevrolets for Bobby Labonte and Stewart. “You don’t have to have three times the equipment,” Stewart said. “A lot of times you can utilize the same resources and not necessarily have to have so many extras. If you have adequate resources to start with I think it helps. If you’re a team that doesn’t have enough funding to begin with it can be a distraction and take away from the effort.” Regarding the addition of a driver, Stewart doesn’t have a preference between a veteran and a rookie. “There’s pros and cons to having a veteran, and there’s pros and cons to having a rookie. It could really go either way. You could have a rookie and do just fine or you could have a veteran and do just fine.” The 2002 series champion also says that he had a phone conversation with Kasey Kahne today, discussed their July 11th coming together at Chicagoland Speedway and that “there’s no problems between Kasey and I. It was a very productive phone call.” NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter

7/28/04

Renault defends replacing Trulli with Fisichella   Trulli is 14 points ahead of the highly-rated Fernando Alonso in the World Championship, so why is Renault replacing Trulli and not Alonso? "We looked at all the performances," Faure told the AFP newsagency, "the lap times, the qualifying performances, the race, the mistakes (Trulli made amateur mistake in French GP and lost a position on the last lap]. We took everything into account and we could not gloss over such a mistake. Recently we have lacked a bit of dynamism and aggression and we think Giancarlo can bring that to us and fulfill our ambition to win the Constructors' championship in 2005 or 2006. We were accused when we let Jenson Button go of not going on the results achieved by the drivers but we were proved right and now we will be judged by the ones in 2005."

7/28/04

Williams plans test for Ralf   BMW-Williams is planning a minor test session in the days preceding the Hungarian Grand Prix to determine if Ralf Schumacher is capable of getting back behind the wheel of a Formula One car this season.   Schumacher is continuing to recover from neck and back injuries sustained at the U.S. Grand Prix earlier this year. However, he made it clear during last weekend's German Grand Prix that he plans to be back in time for the race in Hungary.

7/28/04

Webber leaves Jaguar for Williams   Jaguar Racing announces today that after two mutually successful and rewarding years with the team, Mark Webber (27) the much liked Australian driver, has chosen to contend the 2005 F1 season with opposing team, BMW-WilliamsF1. Mark Webber will continue to race for Jaguar until the end of the 2004 season and will remain integral to the development of the Jaguar R5 until close of season.  More....

7/28/04

2004 Champ Car attendance to date   Figures include practice, qualifying & race.
Long Beach..............167,000
Monterrey, Mexico....183,000
Milwaukee..................46,500
Portland.....................50,000
Cleveland...................46,000
Toronto.....................164,000
Vancouver.................158,400

          Total to Date...814,900 (after 7 of 16 races)

Average fan attendance to date: 116,000

7/28/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Ferrari 'will be beaten' - Jean Todt
Renault deal 'is fine' - Fisichella's agent
Ferrari and Liuzzi in 'secret' talks - report
Haug slams Jordan for organizing Albers test
Schu's not 'walking' it anymore - Button
Renault to 'lose chief designer' - report
F1 drivers to do 'Race of Champions'
Test ban is not 'good timing' - Toyota's Panis
FIA marvels at Shanghai track
'I can win '05 championship' - Alonso
F1 chiefs blast London GP
Button must snare Hungarian pole - BAR's Richards
'Girls don't play with cars' - Button
Irvine and Minardi
Sauber under 'no pressure' to replace Fisichella
Official - Webber to Williams; Fisi to Renault

7/27/04

Dixon does need surgery   IRL driver Scott Dixon definitely needs hand surgery after two high speed crashes in practice for the Milwaukee round of the IRL. He severally sprained his ankle, chipped a bone in his right thumb and also bruised his ribs, ruling him out of the race. A spokesperson from Team Target has confirmed he will undergo minor surgery this week to remove a piece of dislodged bone from his hand. Dixon will need a four day rest period, but will be available for the next round in Michigan this weekend.

7/27/04

Penske Racing to take Matsushita plant   After considering a competing city for its headquarters, Penske Racing South will stay in Mooresville, buying and renovating a massive former industrial plant at a cost of $15 million. Penske's NASCAR teams, which include drivers Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman, will be consolidated into half of the vacant, 440,000-square-foot Matsushita Compressor Corp. building in Mooresville Business Park. The motorsports company will try to lease the rest of the building, says Don Miller, Penske president. Penske expects to close on its purchase of the property within 60 days. "We like it here," Miller says of Mooresville. "A lot of our people live right there." Mooresville, which touts itself a Race City USA, considers Penske's decision a major coup, ensuring the team's 200 jobs will remain in town.  Miller expects Penske to complete its renovations of the building by year end. Plans call for installation of a 300-foot elevated walk above the shops, intended for fans to view team operations. Penske will move into the facility right after the first of the year, Miller says.   Charlotte Business Journal

7/27/04
Industry News

Delphi to establish Asian presence   Delphi Corp. plans to announce today that it has opened a technical center in Japan, wrapping up a string of announcements that bolster the world's largest auto-parts maker's presence in rapidly growing Asia Pacific markets. Troy-based Delphi started using its new engineering center, which includes product-testing equipment and an advanced videoconferencing system, earlier this year, near Nagoya, home of Toyota Motor Corp.  It also recently opened smaller customer-service centers capable of light engineering work in Utsunomiya, where Honda Motor Co. has a research facility, and Hiroshima, where Mazda Motor Corp. is based. Both centers are designed so that they could be expanded later.

"We know how important it is to our Japanese . . . customers to have local support in their home market, so we are pleased to enhance our presence here," said J.T. Battenberg III, Delphi's chairman, CEO and president.  "With our major engineering centers in all four regions of the world, we'll be able to provide around-the-clock support to our customers here."  Battenberg has been on a tour of the major Asia-Pacific markets. Last week, he attended a ground-breaking ceremony for a $50-million technical center in Shanghai, China. Friday, he formally opened the company's second South Korean technical center, a $40-million, 240-person facility for developing gasoline and diesel engine-management systems.  Detroit Free Press

7/27/04

More good news for World Series by Nissan   UPDATE As previously rumored, the World Series by Nissan will indeed invade EuroSpeedway with 19 cars.  Epsilon Euskadi signed the Frenchman Julien Vidot, runner-up in the  World Series Lights in 2003, as a replacement for Ander Vilarino.  And Team Gabord has a second car now, surprisingly with Japanese Takaya Tsubobayashi at the wheel.  What's good for World Series, is bad for the World Series Lights. This category is down to 7 cars, after Giovanni Tedeschi took the step to the World Series category.  7/23/04 - It looks like the World Series by Nissan is getting healthier by the day.  Sergio Hernandez (19), from Spain, signed for the rest of the season with Saulnier Racing. Tristan Gommendy will stay, so Saulnier will field two cars from Lausitzring on....... Guenter Reinhold reporting from Europe

7/27/04

NBC Ad revenue up   NBC’s ad revenue from NASCAR is up 20 percent this year, a “jump attributed primarily to the new format in which the final 10 races will act as a playoff” for the Nextel Cup, according to Andy Bernstein of the Sports Business Journal. The network has “sold title or presenting sponsor ad packages for 10 races and expects to close a few more by the end of the season. Last year it sold 11 in all.” Presenting deals require the purchase of at least six 30-second spots per race, and title sponsorships require eight to 10 spots, costing $750,000 to nearly $1.5 million. ExxonMobil retailers recently signed on as the presenting sponsor for the Aug. 8 Brickyard 400. Subway, already title sponsor of the Oct. 24 race in Martinsville, bought the presenting sponsorship of the Checker Auto Parts 500 in Phoenix Nov. 7. But NASCAR is still “not making money for NBC.” NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer, on breaking even with NASCAR: “We’re not there, but we’re gaining on it.” NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter

7/27/04

Dashboard caution lights coming   NASCAR vice president of communications Jim Hunter says that series officials are looking at the possibility of adding dashboard caution lights and functioning taillights to cars. The caution lights, which already are being used in other racing series, could be used to quickly warn drivers to slow down for accidents; a yellow light would be mounted on each car's dashboard and could be activated by NASCAR officials. As it stands, drivers must rely on their team spotters, trackside yellow lights or the official at the start/finish line to determine when officials have issued a caution. The lights could be a safety improvement, but officials remain concerned that they could lead to more timing and scoring disputes between teams and NASCAR. Having functioning taillights on race cars, meanwhile, would be a radical change. They could play a marginal role in helping a driver avoid plowing into the car in front of him, an issue on restarts during several recent races. But drivers likely would not want the driver behind them able to tell precisely when they were braking heading into a turn; that would allow the trailing driver to better judge where passing might be easier. USA Today

7/27/04



Feedback on ride-buyer article   We received a lot of email agreeing with this letter, i.e.  that ride-buying has no place in the major leagues, though a token few readers felt ride-buying was acceptable.  Dear AutoRacing1.com,  I just read the article on your site by Mr. Cortes and feel as if he read my mind. For quite some time now I've been preaching the simple, seemingly obvious and even more obviously ignored (particularly in the open-wheel ranks) fact that amateurs pay to race while professionals are paid to race. I'm no real NASCAR fan and never in a million years would've thought I'd use any corner of that world as an example of how to do things, but I'm not aware of a single Cup-level driver who isn't paid to play...hell, even the Joe Ruttman, Morgan Shepherd, Carl Long gang profited from their field-filling efforts!  Peter Stark

7/27/04
Karting

Go-kart racer killed   This Ekartingnews.com article says, David Smith, 22 years old, of Barrington Hills, Illinois was fatally injured this past weekend during the WKA Dunlop Tire Road Racing series event at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia. Competing in the CIK 125 Sprint class on Saturday, David struck a deer in the early laps of the race. He was flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital. David passed away Sunday afternoon. He had been attending the event with his father, Roger. Smith was a regular competitor in the WKA series, which was holding the fifth of nine national events. Smith with sixth in the championship in the CIK Sprint 1 class. This is the fourth road racing fatality in the U.S. within the last three years. Ronnie Jackson died at Summit Point in July 2001 when his B-Stock kart left the track and impacted a barrier. Michael Davis was killed at Daytona International Speedway in December 2001 after contact with another kart sent him into a barrier and Jeff Edwards died at Thunderhill Park in California last summer when he left the racing surface and reportedly was struck by another kart.

7/27/04

More on the future of Vancouver  This Canadian The Province article says, While there were signs of scaled-down corporate involvement in the Champ Car event (Vancouver) whose three-year lease extension has expired, series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven said negotiations with landlord Concord Pacific have shifted gears.  "There have been very serious negotiations but there are issues about the site," said Kalkhoven, who is also part-owner of PKV Racing, which fields drivers Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Gonzalez.

"Vancouver is a great site and it's a great track. We very much want to come back as long as it's practical. We really do. And I think we have every chance of doing so."  Is there anything Kalkhoven would change here?  "Frankly, nothing," he said.

There's the possibility of a one- or two-year extension if the business plan makes sense to Molson -- which also has interest in a proposed Calgary race.  So Molson Sports and Entertainment vice-president Bob Singleton clarified Kalkhoven's comments.  "We didn't have any talks this weekend," said Singleton. "We had conversations, but no real talks. Kevin is like everybody. It's wishful thinking, but that's okay."  Mayor Larry Campbell sang the same tune before the Indy.  "We're working hard with the sponsors and Concord, and we hope to have it back," he said.  Champ Car will release its tentative 2005 schedule in early September. The Vancouver date is expected to be available, although it hasn't been awarded.

7/27/04

Bourdais doesn't agree with IRL concept  This St. Petersburg Times article says, Sebastien Bourdais does not like oval-track racing. His 18th-place finish this season at Champ Car's only such track - the Milwaukee Mile - is not the reason. That's why Champ Car, with its schedule full of street/road courses, suits the 25-year-old Tampa resident so well.   Though the Indy Racing League is considered the dominant open-wheel series in North America, Bourdais said he wants no part of it in its all-oval format.  "I would not want to compete in the IRL because it is very dangerous on the ovals," said Bourdais, who finished fifth in the Molson Indy Vancouver on Sunday and leads the standings by 27 over teammate Bruno Junqueira. "I am not really keen to do that.  I think it is very interesting and very technically challenging and good for the series, but I think there is a balance you have to find.  (Champ Car) is shy on the ovals, but the IRL is just wrong," Bourdais said. "The whole thing with trying to repeat NASCAR with open-wheel racing is just wrong. It is way too dangerous.  I can accept doing five or six races on ovals, but a whole season is too much."

7/27/04

#99 still looking for sponsor  Jeff Burton has been in a funky mood since NASCAR's Mike Helton rejected a $15 million a year team sponsorship offer from Crown Royal three weeks ago - a sponsorship package that NASCAR's sister company, the International Speedway Corp., quickly picked up without batting an eye about a conflict of interest. But car owner Jack Roush says he has some new leads for sponsorship for Burton's team. "We've got a number of new, potentially positive discussions going on," Roush said. "I'm very hopeful based on some news I got today that we'll have full sponsorship, at the kind of numbers we're looking for, for next year for Jeff's car. I'm very hopeful that we'll get the help we need to help us have a reasonable finish with it this year. We have the resources to stay with the program until we decide that there is no prospect for sponsorship for it, and it's very much alive today." Winston Salem Journal

7/27/04

Said gets sponsorship for The Glen   USG Corporation announced that it will sponsor Boris Said in the Aug. 15 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup road race at Watkins Glen International to help promote its Durock Brand Cement Board, a high-strength ceramic tile backer that provides superior tile adhesion. Said will drive the #36 USG Durock Brand Chevrolet as a third entry for MB2 Motorsports, which fields Joe Nemechek's #01 U.S. Army Chevrolet and Scott Riggs' #10 Valvoline Chevrolet. USG is also an associate sponsor on the #01 and #10 MB2 cars plus a primary sponsor on Nemechek's #01 car at four Nextel Cup races. MB2 Motorsports PR

7/27/04

Rain washes out first test day at The Glen   A light rain washed out the first day of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing at Watkins Glen International, leaving 14 teams with hopes of sunshine for tomorrow's final day of testing [shame they didn't test the 'wet' tires]. With tomorrow's forecast calling for more rain, few teams opted to head home early and try again next week. Track officials have been able to schedule additional NASCAR testing time around existing track rental customers on Monday, August 2 from 7:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Tomorrow's session, scheduled from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., and the newly scheduled Monday session will be open to the public. Drivers that arrived at the historic road course Monday included defending race champion Robby Gordon, last year's second-place finisher Scott Pruett, road course aces Boris Said and Ron Fellows, veterans Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett and Michael Waltrip and rookies Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers, Brendan Gaughan, Scott Wimmer and Scott Riggs. German Klaus Graf, who competed earlier this year at Infineon Raceway, was also on hand. Jamie McMurray and Casey Mears are scheduled to test on Tuesday. Watkins Glen PR

7/27/04

Dixon to miss Milwaukee, cleared for Michigan  UPDATE Scott Dixon has been given clearance from doctors to get back behind the wheel of his Toyota/ Panoz G Force for this upcoming weekend's Michigan Indy 400. Dixon returned to Indianapolis and met with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Scheid of Ortho Indy on Monday afternoon for further evaluation of his injuries. A CAT scan was performed on his ankle and closer examination has determined that he has a contusion and sprain of his left ankle but has not re-injured any old fractures. It was also revealed that Dixon's right hand sustained a small bone chip (non displaced fracture) and ligament tear at the base of his right thumb. Dixon will be fitted for a brace on his right hand to stabilize his thumb and allow him to grip the steering wheel and drive comfortably at the next race this weekend in Michigan. He will wear the brace until next week, when he will be scheduled for a minor surgical procedure, requiring a four day recovery period, to repair the ligament and secure the small piece of bone fragment in his thumb. "I'm really happy to know that I'll be able to get behind the wheel this coming weekend in Michigan since both the ankle and the thumb are feeling much better," said the reigning IndyCar series Champ Scott Dixon. "I'll be fitted for a brace for my thumb in the next few days simply to make it more comfortable to drive but I'm sure it'll be fine by race day. This past weekend on track was very disappointing for all of us at Target Chip Ganassi Racing. However, while it has been a rough season to date, it is a credit to this Target team to see how hard the crew has been working to get the cars ready to race, not just this past weekend but every single time out there. I just want to get back to racing as soon as possible and get back on top where we should be."  7/25/04 - Defending IRL IndyCar® Series champion Scott Dixon will not compete in the Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 on advice of Dr. Henry Bock, IRL Director of Medical Services.   Dixon suffered a chipped bone in his right thumb and a sprained left ankle in a separate incidents July 24. He will meet with Dr. Terry Trammell and undergo an MRI on July 26 in Indianapolis.  Dixon, sixth in IndyCar Series points, qualified 14th (164.420 mph) and will receive points for a 22nd-place finish.  Dixon's No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone made contact with the Turn 2 wall in the practice session preceding MBNA Pole qualifying. On the second timed lap of his qualifying run in the No. 1T, the car made contact with the Turn 4 wall. Dixon was taken to the track medical center and then transported to Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Milwaukee for X-rays.

7/27/04
Star Mazda

Hearn team gets sponsorship deal   Showtime Networks has signed a deal with Richie Hearn Motorsports to sponsor his racing team in the US Star Mazda Series. It will utilize the sponsorship – which runs from July 30 to September 15 – to showcase its upcoming reality series, American Candidate. The deal includes on-car signage and a major promotional push through Mazda dealers.

7/27/04

ISC buys Staten Island land   UPDATE  International Speedway Corp., the country's largest motor sports raceway operator, announced yesterday that it has signed a deal to buy more than 600 acres of Bloomfield land to build the New York metropolitan area's first NASCAR track. Representatives of the Florida-based company told the Advance they signed contracts Wednesday with two companies to buy two adjacent parcels of land in the shadow of the Goethals Bridge, to build an 80,000-seat raceway. ISC officials hope that buying the parcels will lead to bringing NASCAR to a population and media market they've been trying to break into for years. NASCAR president Brian France and ISC president Lesa Kennedy are brother and sister. France has said he's eager to bring stock car racing to the New York City market. However, ISC officials noted they have no guarantee from NASCAR to run any of its premier Nextel Cup races on Staten Island. Once ISC closes on the land, the racetrack plan must still survive a lengthy approval process, complete with public hearings and an environmental impact review, before the city ultimately decides whether the races can begin. Officials insisted the track would only host three big race weekends a year. ISC officials said they'd like to see two Sunday races in the NASCAR's Nextel Cup series, the sport's top level of competition, plus one Indy series race, on the three-quarter-mile track. Some of NASCAR's other races, like the Busch circuit, would likely run on Saturdays during the big race weekends. Besides the races, the track would be available for events like car and boat shows or charity functions, officials said. Staten Island Advance  7/26/04 - International Speedway Corp. has signed a deal to buy more than 600 acres on Staten Island on which to build its long-coveted track in the New York City metropolitan area, according to a report in the Staten Island Advance.   Officials of ISC told the newspaper they hope to close the deal by November.  Now we shall see if they get all the approvals necessary to actually build the track, though this purchase appears to suggest they believe they can.

7/27/04

More on Champ Car video game   "We actually see our new company as being in the racing and driving business, more than the game business. We are putting together a global Web site that will be a central place for anyone interested in racing and driving--from beginners, who need some initial instruction in a racing school, up to professional race drivers who would like the opportunity to get track time at a low cost. In addition to providing a simulator and training, we will be sanctioning online race series at all levels--from 140 hp Formula Fords up to 800 hp champ cars, with everything in between--and in many types of cars, including formula, sports car, stock car, even off-road cars. Racing is a very expensive sport, so not many people get a chance to participate. We would like to change that, to allow more people to really learn about racing and to experience some of the thrill. In addition, we want to open up the data formats so that our members can build virtual racecars of all types and tracks as well." - David Kaemmer - Ex-Papyrus head honcho and current head of a new "development" project for SE games

7/27/04

Schumacher to compete in Race of Champions   Organizers of the Race of Champions competition have signed up Michael Schumacher and World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Loeb to take part in the end-of-season head-to-head competition in identically prepared rally-raid cars. The event will move from the Canary Islands to Paris's Stade de France and the two World Champions could be up against Moto GP's Valentino Rossi if he agrees to join the party. The Race of Champions has also featured stars from NASCAR in the past and it is quite likely that Jeff Gordon has received an invitation and will be joining in the fun. The event will take place on December 4 and there are likely to be 70,000 people present to watch the show, which will take place on a one-kilometer figure-of-eight parallel course designed and built especially for the occasion. Schumacher will represent Germany in the contest which is billed as a Nation's Cup with teams of two drivers per country. "I have seen it on TV before," Schumacher said. " It looks like a lot of fun."

7/27/04
Industry News

Tecate sponsoring a different kind of car   We were at one of the local arcades in Monterrey recently and noticed a few new machines in their racing section of the arcade.  Next to a very old game called CART Racing (Montoya is one of the characters) they added 3 machines of a game called Karting Duel. It's some kind of simulator. A go-kart is attached to the machine and it moves according to the movement of the screen. The funny part is that the 3 karts have Tecate livery, and they added Tecate logos in the parts adjacent to the screen. Now we know where all the Fernandez money went - sponsoring of arcade games. José Arrambide reporting from Mexico

7/27/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Fisichella signs two-year drive - report
Antonio, Marc - or Ralf - for Hungary?
Even F1 bosses need a break
Alonso's 'stunning' adaptation - Symonds
Kimi's wing was 'cracked' - Coulthard
HANS made injury worse - Takuma Sato
Give small teams a 'box' of cash - Mercedes' Haug
Liuzzi races onto F1 short lists
'I'm not copying Michael' - Schumacher
Williams plan 'shake down' for Ralf
'05 to reveal F1's next 'Prost' - Ross Brawn
Test drivers in the running - Mario Theissen
Button's learnt 'anything is possible'
'B' car is encouraging - Toyota's Tomita
Button duel was a 'big risk' - Alonso

7/26/04

Daytona upgrades underway   The multi-million, multi-faceted infield renovation project at historic Daytona International Speedway is going full throttle. Since 1975 Daytona 500 champion Benny Parsons kicked off the massive renovation project earlier this month, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series garages, the NASCAR Busch Series garages, the Goodyear tire building, the scoring trilions, the Pepsi scoring tower, the Sunoco gas station and track offices have all been demolished. The only buildings still standing in the infield are the infield media center, the care center and Gatorade Victory Lane. In addition, the digging for the new state-of-the-art tunnel in Turn 1 is also underway and the filling of the borrow pit has started. Daytona International Speedway's infield renovation project, which is scheduled to be completed in time for December's Daytona KartWeek, includes:
* A new tunnel located in Turn 1 that will accommodate team transport vehicles and guest's specialty vehicles.
* New NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series garages
* Uniquely designed Fan Zone that offer a variety of entertainment and fun for all ages as well as roof-top viewing of the new NASCAR Nextel Cup and NASCAR Busch Series garage areas and action on the track
* Waterfront specialty vehicle parking area with premium and standard specialty vehicle parking spots as well as waterfront docks, activity zones, playgrounds and an exclusive community center.
* New Gatorade Victory Lane where fans can now also be part of the Victory Celebration by taking advantage of the new unique Victory Lane Club and Victory Circle Plaza.

7/26/04

Earnhardt Jr. comments on his condition   "The plan is to rest and take it easy this week so I'll be ready to do 500 miles Sunday. The burns heal a little more every day, but I'm still in a lot of pain. I felt pretty good inside the car, but I'm going to need all my strength. Pocono can wear you out even when you're 100 percent healthy. I couldn't have finished 300 laps (at New Hampshire) but I'm going to do all I can to get through this and be ready to go this week. I owe it to my team.  They've worked so hard for so many years to put us in a place where we're in position to grab a championship, and I owe it to my sponsors and especially my fans. Everyone has been really supportive of me and that means a lot. Anybody can be cool and get along great when you're winning races and kicking butt, but when things don't go right, it's important to have that support behind me."

7/26/04
Industry News

Molson & Coors to expand sports sponsorship   In Denver, Darrell Proctor wrote that once the Coors-Molson merger is complete, “Molson Coors will almost certainly be looking to expand its sporting presence.” The Bonham Group Chair Dean Bonham said, “Long-term, it's very likely they will create efficiencies by combining budgets and pursuing properties that weren't equitable for them. I don't expect to see that in the short term. It typically takes a year or two to see that.” Coors CEO Leo Kiely, who will be CEO of the new company, said that Coors Field will keep its name. Coors is also the official sponsor of the NFL. Molson CEO Dan O'Neill, who will be Vice Chair, said the merged company “would keep its current ties to hockey and likely look for new ones.” Molson sponsors eight NHL teams –- the six Canadian franchises and the Sabres and Red Wings, as well as Champ Car races in Canada.  Rocky Mountain News

7/26/04

Helton warns drivers to respect all sponsors   NASCAR President Mike Helton told drivers Sunday that they should “be respectful of every one of the sport’s sponsors, even if it sells a product that competes with” a driver’s sponsor, according to Rick Minter of the Atlanta Constitution. Helton added that drivers who are sponsored by companies that compete with victory lane sponsors should not knock the competing products off of their cars after winning a race. Helton: “Don’t take it on yourself to take the product off your car. You can move away from it or move around it to be polite and respectful to everyone involved”  Atlanta Constitution.   More Helton: “For years there have been sponsors that conflict with a car’s sponsor or a driver’s personal sponsor. We’ve been able to work through those with politeness and respect, and we need to get back to that”  Charlotte Observer.  Kurt Busch, who is sponsored by Coca-Cola, accidentally thanked the wrong company after winning yesterday’s Nextel Cup Siemens 300 in New Hampshire. Busch: “This is an awesome win for Coca-Cola, Gatorade, well not Gatorade, a few of our other guys we’ve got laying around.” Gatorade is a Pepsi brand, while Powerade is Coca-Cola’s isotonic beverage  TNT.

7/26/04

F1 upstages Tour de France   9.04 million German viewers tuned in to RTL TV to watch the German GP from Hockenheim Sunday, far surpassing the 3.05 million German viewers tuned in to watch the conclusion of the Tour de France.  The difference - national pride.  Michael Schumacher is German whereas Lance Armstrong, as dominating on bikes as Schumacher is in F1, is an American.

7/26/04
Industry News

Herdez pullout starts early   Mexican driver from Monterrey David Martinez, who was competing in Europe’s Renault Formula series, will not complete the season because his sponsor, Herdez, has pulled the plug on their European team. David Martinez was having a Cinderella story - he was invited to a one race deal to run at Monterrey in 2003 in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, and because he won the race he was able to find sponsorship for the rest of the year. Because of his performance he was able to move to the Renault Series in Europe, but now his promising career will have to be put on hold, making him one of the first casualties of Herdez pulling out of racing.  Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico

7/26/04

Brawn thinks 2005 tire rule will be good   “Every driver has to have sympathy with tire use and it's going to be particularly interesting next year because we've got one tire for the whole race," said Ferrari's Ross Brawn.   "It means that a driver will have to think about the tire from the time he starts qualifying to the time he finishes the race.  It will be interesting to see how that evolves. Some drivers will use the tires at the beginning of the race and have nothing left, while some will be more conservative and then come back.  If you remember the days of Alain Prost, he would spend half the race looking as if he was nowhere and then come back and destroy everybody. That's what will happen next year. I think you'll see some interesting racing because towards the last third of the race some guys will be running out of tires and we might actually see some overtaking.   Michael is very good at that and Rubens is very good at it. I don't know if this year's softer tire compounds have particularly worked in Michael's favor, but I'm sure that next year the driver's feeling for the tire and getting the most out of it over 60-70 laps, is going to be crucial.” 

7/26/04
MotoGP

Rossi bounces back   Valentino Rossi has answered the challenge laid down by arch-rival Max Biaggi after his win in the German GP a week ago the best way he knows how – with a clear-cut victory in the British GP at Donington.  It was Rossi’s fifth win of the season on his Yamaha and gives the reigning world champion a 22-point lead in the championship.

It was also his 95th GP podium, equaling the tally of Australia’s five-time world champion Mick Doohan. Rossi’s podiums have been scored in the 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP classes, while Doohan’s were all in 500cc.

“This was a great victory at an important race, and the bike was good to ride,” Rossi said.  “I had a little problem with the gentle rain that started falling, but everybody slowed down and then the weather got better and it was possible to win. I am happy because I have taken a small advantage in the championship and at some tracks we will not have the advantage in race conditions so it is good to have these extra points.  I will sleep much better in the summer break.”

Biaggi could only manage 12th at Donington after starting from eighth on the grid, while Spain’s title challenger, Sete Gibernau, was third. The Honda pair are now equal second in the championship on 142 points.

American Colin Edwards upstaged teammate Gibernau for second place, scoring his first MotoGP podium since switching from world superbikes last season and moving up to fourth in the championship on 95 points.  Troy Bayliss also heads into the break in a good mood and predicts more from Ducati in the second half of the season.  Bayliss finished fifth at Donington after starting from fourth on the grid - just five thousandths of a second from the front row - and clocking the fastest lap in the damp warm-up session before the race.  It was the Australian’s first finish in five races and included a heart-stopping 195kmh excursion off the track after being passed by American Nicky Hayden on his Honda.  “ I’m really happy to finally get a decent result under my belt, especially after a tough few races,” Bayliss said.  “ But really I thought I might do a bit better. The track was quite a bit cooler than it had been and we lost some grip. I had one big ‘let go’ down Craner (curves) which was pretty scary. It was a long ride across the grass. I just told myself, ‘Don’t touch anything!’

7/26/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Jarno - 'Truly, I'm leaving'
Clean sweep is 'impossible' - Schumacher
Button doesn't choke in 'best' F1 drive
'Iceman' loses cool in Hockenheim failure
Furious Panis orders investigation
Pizzonia does enough to retain drive
FIA rule cost Button victory - Coulthard
Jordan fouled my big chance - Heidfeld
Schu drives a 'tractor' - David Coulthard 
'One of my best F1 starts' - Alonso
Bruni's in trouble with Minardi sponsor
Ralf's 'struggling' in race to wait
Alonso eyes Hungarian double
'First lap crash was my fault' - Rubens
Webber deal to be announced 'in days'
Bridgestone investigate blow-ups 

7/26/04

Feedback on next-gen Champ Car   A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, Didn't Lola submit a design to supply the GP2 spec chassis and lost to Dallara? Wouldn't it be smart for Champ Car to investigate if they could adopt whatever Lola had on the drawing board for GP2 or even the A1 Grand Prix for their 2006 chassis formula?  I really like the current turbo formula, because the ability to adjust the flexible boost level gave it longevity. But I see a current opportunity to adopt the V-10 that I think Champ Car should not ignore. Ford (current series supplier) is pulling the plug on the expensive factory Jaguar F1 team to become a customer base supplier of the Cosworth V10's. I think Ford would be pretty receptive to transitioning from the Cosworth turbo motor, they currently supply, to a variation of the Cosworth V10s they developed for the factory Jaguar team. Champ Car should also then court BMW (support series supplier and huge advocate of the V10 formula) with guarantee of V10 formula as direct alternative to uncertain future F1 motor formula. If everything worked out Champ Car could line up their chassis supplier and two motor suppliers for the 2006 season.  Just a thought.  I love autoracing1.com. Keep up the great work!  Thanks, Nathan Brophy, Dallas, TX  Dear Nathan, Champ Car will need to decide whether it still wants to race on ovals.  If they do, the car must be stronger and heavier, so the GP2 design wouldn't work in that scenario.  The old Ford 3.5 liter F1 engine used pneumatic valves, which are expensive to maintain.  The current 3-liter engines do too, but Champ Car will want longevity from their engines, which means lower revs than a F1 engine, coupled with a larger displacement (3.5 or 4.0 liters) to gain back some HP lost by turning the revs down.  We have maintained for quite some time now that the next-gen Champ Car must be about 200 pounds lighter than the current car and have a V10 with about 700 to 750 HP.  If they look like F1, and sound like F1, they become a suitable alternative to F1 worldwide.  They also need to have a narrower track like F1 for all their narrow street circuits....in other words, a GP 2 car with a V10 engine making 100 HP more than a GP2 car.  Mark C.

7/26/04

HDNet concert before Vancouver race   A reader writes, Just wanted to let you guys know that HDNet broadcasted a Gloria Estefan concert just before the Vancouver Champ Car race. I thought that was a good idea on behalf of HDNet. Kind of goes with the Motorock theme Champ Car was doing. Gloria Estefan and her performers are so internationally diverse, just like Champ Cars. I think it will be great for Champ Cars if they get HDNet to do a different concert before each race. Also wanted to ask, why doesn't Champ Cars have their sponsors periodically appear at the top of the screen before and after the race timing display during the race. It would make the sponsors a little happier. Rod, Orlando, FL.

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