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DATE

News (chronologically)

8/6/04

Randy Ruhlman wins pole    Randy Ruhlman, in his 144th start, won his first Motorock Trans-Am pole Friday at Road America for Sunday's 35th Annual Trans-Am Rumble at the Road. Driving the No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette, Ruhlman also gave Chevrolet its first pole since October of 2002. Ruhlman, currently third in the championship, earns one bonus point for the pole.   Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR), points leader Paul Gentilozzi (No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR and Greg Pickett (No. 6 Cytomax Jaguar XKR) qualified second through fourth, respectively. Johnny Miller, in his first Trans-Am start this season, was fifth in the No. 64 Eaton Chevrolet Corvette. Gentilozzi said changes he made to his machine ended up slowing him down in qualifying. 'We made a mistake in the changes we made between sessions and we slowed the car down a fair bit,' said Gentilozzi. 'We'll have to go back and re-think those changes. We had an awful push and overheated the front tires. You just can do that here. You have get the car through the apex and I couldn't do that at all. It was very frustrating to drive around, knowing the car was faster, and not being able to get it there.

8/6/04

Leffler fastest on Friday at Brickyard   Jason Leffler -- running a just a one-race deal for Haas CNC Racing -- found the right combination late Friday afternoon and led a big field in the first practice for Sunday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Leffler's 48.791-second lap bested Casey Mears' effort by six-hundredths of a second. Like Leffler, Mears, who earned his first career Nextel Cup Series pole last week at Pocono, ran just six laps in the session. Both drivers posted their fastest laps on the sixth and final lap of the two-plus hour session.

8/6/04

Weaver fastest in Friday practice   The Dyson Racing Team has been looking forward to the American Le Mans Series stop at Mosport International Raceway all year, feeling that the high-speed Canadian circuit would suit the team's race cars very well and represented one of the team's best chances to take an overall race win this season.

On Friday, James Weaver showed that the team's optimism had merit as he pushed the #16 Lola EX257-AER/MG to a lap of 1:08.135, leading a two-hour test session on the 2.459-mile circuit that kicked off this weekend's Toronto Grand Prix of Mosport. Weaver will co-drive with Butch Leitzinger as the Dyson team seeks its first win of 2004 in Sunday's two-hour, 45-minute timed event.

"The car is in its element here," said Weaver. "It's very good aerodynamically and is stunning in the fast corners. The Goodyear tires work incredibly well in the long corners with all the download on the car. I love the high average speed and the elevation change here. Mosport is a unique blend of high-speed corners and elevation change, which makes it very exciting and satisfying to drive around."

"This is the kind of place you don't want to go out and watch because you realize how fast you're really going here," said Leitzinger. "It's best to be oblivious."

Second-fastest on Friday was the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 of JJ Lehto and Marco Werner at 1:08.615. The two will be trying for their fifth consecutive overall race win in the ALMS this season. The other Dyson Lola of Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace was third in Friday's test at 1:08.691.

Oliver Gavin unofficially broke his own track record in the GTS class when he turned a lap of 1:14.293 in the Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C5-R that he will share with Olivier Beretta. In leading the class during the session, Gavin was faster than the record of 1:14.417 that he set in last year's Mosport event.

8/6/04

Sun Trust team on front row   Wayne Taylor qualified the #10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley Mk.11 on the front row today for the start of Saturday's EMCO Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic event. CompUSA driver Max Papis set the fastest time at 1:19.496 (102.254 mph), with Taylor following with a 1:19.733 (101.950). It was the fourth time in seven events that Riley chassis cars made up the front row. 'I was a bit conservative with qualifying because I had just put the car in the gravel in the last practice session,' said Taylor. 'I knew we had a car for the front row, maybe even the pole. The tires are only optimum for about three laps. For me, the most important thing is the checkered flag. This is my best qualifying this year. 'The racing in Grand American is so competitive, you really have to have your act together, so we put more effort into having a good car for the race,' added Taylor. 'Saturday's race will be at 5:30 p.m., so it will be a little cooler, which will be nice. But we're all in the same boat.'

8/6/04

Observations from Mid-Ohio   Our sources report from Mid-Ohio where the Grand-Am series is racing this weekend that there was hardly any one there, today, perhaps 500 people  We hear it is doubtful that Rob Dyson will move his team to the Grand Am series from what our sources were told, he will stay in the ALMS.  A rumor that has been making the rounds is that Penske may be looking at entering a team in the Grand Am Prototype series. With Ganassi being there Penske may follow suit. Fourth The Grand Am series expects to have between 24 to 26 Daytona Prototypes in the series next year.

8/6/04

No standby for Earnhardt at Indy   Richie Gilmore told Claire B. Lang on XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144 that there is no plan for a stand by driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400. Earnhardt Jr. plans to drive the entire race and Gilmore feels strongly that Earnhardt Jr. will run the entire race. The #8 team had a serious meeting this week and they are committed to racing the entire race with Earnhardt Jr. as the driver and to step up performance as a team. No stand by has been appointed. XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144

8/6/04

Champ Car announces new Exec VP  UPDATE We added a photo of Joe Chrnelich to the right.  8/6/04 - The Champ Car World Series today announced the hiring of former Wisconsin State Fair Park-Milwaukee Mile CEO Joe Chrnelich to the position of Executive Vice President of Development, Government Affairs and Planning, effective August, 2004.

In his new position, Chrnelich will be responsible for managing Champ Car relationships with race promoters, identifying and investigating prospective race venues and completing the 2005 Champ Car World Series schedule. The former two-time captain of the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team has many years of experience dealing with racing organizations from the promoter's side, as part of his duties with the Wisconsin State Fair Park.

'I am very excited about the challenges of the new position,' Chrnelich said. 'It presents a different variety and scope of responsibilities as compared to my job at the State Fair Park. I think this is a great fit, especially considering my years of experience understanding the promoter's perspective and the requirements for producing a quality event. My top priority will be to establish and build long term relationships with our promoter partners while providing world class racing events for the Champ Car organization.'

Chrnelich was responsible for overseeing the recent $80 million dollar Master Plan renovation of the Wisconsin State Fair Park, including $23 million in new improvements to the Milwaukee Mile which sits on the fair park property. The Mile has the distinction of having the longest-running history of any venue on the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford schedule. This year the venerable Mile once again hosted a very successful Champ Car event, won by Ryan Hunter-Reay.

'I am very excited to have Joe Chrnelich as part of the Champ Car organization,' said series CEO Dick Eidswick. 'His expertise will be extremely valuable in helping shape the future of Champ Car and we look forward to many successful seasons together.'

Chrnelich will be attending the series at this weekend's Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America Presented by the Chicago Tribune. As a former consultant in the Sports, Entertainment and Government Affairs fields, he will draw upon all of his resources and relationships to ensure that the series maintains its place as the most diverse and challenging open-wheel racing series in the world.

'We need to establish open lines of communications with all our business partners and articulate a clear vision of where Champ Car is heading,' he said. 'We need to prioritize our short-term and long-term target markets, reach out to our local contacts to find out what each needs from us to be successful and then make well informed choices of venues that complement our vision. Once we accomplish that, I suspect we will have built a solid schedule and a series that everyone can be proud of.'

8/6/04

Biffle comments on Brickyard accident  Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus, was involved in an accident late in Friday's practice period at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Biffle will be forced to a backup car for tomorrow's qualifying session. GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus - "It just got away from me. I was just way too loose. That was our first qualifying run of the day and even though that was a good car, they've got another good one in the truck so we'll be alright." YOU WERE THE THIRD ONE TO FIND THE WALL TODAY. IS THE TRACK SLICK' "This place gets slick in the afternoon, but I don't know. Like I said, that was my first qualifying run and it just got away from me." AT LEAST YOU HADN'T QUALIFIED YET. "Well, we're still gonna start in the back because they don't want to use that motor. If we used that engine, we'd be OK but the drive shaft shoved into the back of the transmission and it broke the tail housing and stuff, so it could hurt the flywheel or the crankshaft. So instead of taking any chances, we'll just put a spare engine in it and start from the back." WERE YOU DOWN ON THE WHITE LINE WHEN IT LET LOOSE' "No, I was clear up by the wall. I just lifted on the gas and started to turn in and spun out. Mine got away in the worst possible spot - way early. Way early is worse than being down on the line already because in the middle of the corner that's your slowest speed."

8/6/04

Vasser fails inspection  Jimmy Vasser's #12 car failed the technical inspection after the first qualifying session at Road America, for being underweight. Vasser's 5th place time was disallowed.

8/6/04

IRL fines two drivers  Two chief mechanics were fined by the Indy Racing League and placed on probation today for the rest of the season for violations at Michigan International Speedway, where three crewmen were hit during pit stops.  In one of the accidents Sunday, Tomas Scheckter's car struck his mechanic, Steve Namisnak, early in the Michigan Indy 400. Scheckter swerved to avoid the car of Tora Takagi. Namisnak sustained a broken leg.  Takagi's chief mechanic, Don Lambert, was fined along with Mike Sales, chief mechanic for Adrian Fernandez. His car struck that of Vitor Meira, which tripped Mike Horvath, a crewman for Dan Wheldon. Horvath he was not seriously hurt. In another mishap, the car of Fernandez also spun into a crewman for Kosuke Matsuura, but no one was injured. The IRL took no action on that accident.  The IRL did not disclose the amount of the fines.  AP Story

8/6/04

Junqueira: Da Matta got a royal sc%#@ng from Toyota, hopes to team up with Cristiano in the future  Bruno Junqueira is not amused with the way Toyota F1 treated his childhood friend, Cristiano Da Matta. "Cristiano was royally sc%&$@ed by Toyota", he stated after qualifying third on the Friday Road America session.  Junqueira, who has been friends with Da Matta ever since their early karting days (both drivers hail from the Brazilian city Belo Horizonte, and their fathers competed head-to-head on the Brazilian stock-car scene), thinks Toyota's making "yet another mistake.  They keep blaming their drivers for the poor results, when clearly that is not where their major problems reside."   Bruno wouldn't mind sharing Newman/Haas colors with Cristiano on 2005 - perhaps on a third N/H entry: "I do think it's one of the best options (for him)," said Junqueira.  Cassio Cortes, reporting for AutoRacing1.com

8/6/04

Wiggins: We'll be here next year  We quizzed Herdez boss Keith Wiggins on whether his team would still be in Champ Car in 2005 since their primary sponsor Herdez was leaving the sport.  Wiggins said, "We'll definitely be here in 2005.  New relationships are developing very nicely, both in Mexico and in the USA."  As for what the team will be called, "we have npot decided yet," said Wiggins.  Mark C.

8/6/04

Road America to open up the kink  According the George Bruggentheis, President of Road America, they are looking to build a new bridge over the track from inside the Carousel to provide fan access to a new viewing area on the outside of the spectacular Kink on the back straight.  For those of you who don't know what the Kink is, it's one of the most spectacular flat-in-top gear corner that takes some real bravery to get through it without lifting.  With Road America's long straights, the teams try to run as little downforce as possible, which means the car gets lights through the Kink...and if you look closely, the tail of the cars stepping out.  He also tells us that Road America may do what we have been saying for years, to bring in a big carnival company and make the Champ Car weekend like Sebring and LeMans, a weekend affair for families throughout Wisconsin, many of who camp out over the weekend. "We are looking at it said Bruggentheis, if we did it we would probably set it up in the big field outside Turn 14 where it can be seen from the road." Mark C.

8/6/04

Mario Dominguez loses rear wing at 190 MPH  UPDATE We spoke to Mario Dominguez after qualifying today and he told us his rear wing support cracked again in qualifying, which ended his session early.  Very strange to get two failures in the same place in one day.  We jokingly told Mario he must be running too much down force, thereby overstressing the support bracket.  8/6/04 - Mario Dominguez had a support fail on his rear wing at Road America this morning. The support failed at the aluminum plate that attaches to the gearbox. The wing just laid down on the track behind the car and did not fly through the air.

8/6/04

Bourdais leads Friday AM practice at Road America   
Pos Driver # Engine/Chassis/Tire Lap Time Mph km/h Leader Previous
1 S. Bourdais 2 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:42.928 141.582 227.854
2 B. Junqueira 6 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:44.337 139.670 224.777 1.409
3 P. Tracy 1 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:44.442 139.530 224.551 1.514 0.105
4 J. Wilson 34 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:45.091 138.668 223.164 2.163 0.649
5 A. Tagliani 8 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:45.146 138.596 223.048 2.218 0.055
6 J. Vasser 12 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:45.361 138.313 222.593 2.433 0.215
7 O. Servia 11 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:45.487 138.148 222.327 2.559 0.126
8 P. Carpentier 7 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:46.282 137.114 220.663 3.354 0.795
9 A. Allmendinger 10 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:46.532 136.793 220.146 3.604 0.250
10 M. Dominguez 55 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:46.894 136.329 219.400 3.966 0.362
11 M. Jourdain Jr. 9 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:46.988 136.210 219.208 4.060 0.094
12 R. Gonzalez 21 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:47.101 136.066 218.976 4.173 0.113
13 M. Haberfeld 5 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone 1:47.163 135.987 218.849 4.235 0.062
14 G. Smith 17 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:47.371 135.724 218.426 4.443 0.208
15 R. Hunter-Reay 4 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:47.854 135.116 217.448 4.926 0.483
16 A. Sperafico 14 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone 1:48.020 134.908 217.113 5.092 0.166
17 G. Mazzacane 19 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:48.151 134.745 216.851 5.223 0.131
18 R. Lavin 3 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:50.665 131.684 211.924 7.737 2.514

8/6/04

Bridgestone/Firestone offers free Denver tickets    As the competition heats up for the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver, spectators can save cool cash and enjoy the hot excitement of many race weekend activities, compliments of Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC, presenting sponsor and exclusive tire supplier of Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. A free coupon book is now available for race-related events, automotive services, and performance-oriented products at participating Denver-area Firestone Tire and Service Centers, Peerless Tire stores, as well as participating TiresPlus locations. The coupon book is available while supplies last and includes a coupon redeemable for free admission to the racetrack on Aug. 13 and 14.  More...

8/6/04

Champ Car weighs deal with Portland    This Portland Oregonian article says, Champ Car's future in Portland might be determined this weekend at the Road America racetrack in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The three owners of Champ Car -- Paul Gentilozzi, Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven -- will discuss the 2005 schedule and the issue of where Portland fits after the city was wooed, then dropped, by the rival Indy Racing League.

Champ Car president Dick Eidswick appears confident a deal can be worked out when he meets Aug. 20 with Portland Commissioner Jim Francesconi. He said he thinks he can present the three owners "a proposal that makes sense," assuming there are no surprises from Francesconi. However, a key sticking point might be the length of contract. Francesconi, wary of Champ Car's long-term viability, has said he wants to keep his options open for 2006 -- presumably in the event the IRL re-enters the picture. But Tim Ramsberger, Champ Car's vice president for race promotions, said Wednesday, "If we sign a contract at all, our desire is to do a multiyear deal."

Champ Car pulled its three-year offer off the table after Francesconi stuck with his desire for IRL promoter Peter Jacobsen Productions and Champ Car to answer a request for proposal. "They were effectively asking us if the three owners wanted to bid on whether or not they would continue spending millions of dollars of their own money on Portland," Ramsberger said.

The IRL couldn't find a spot for Portland on its 2005 schedule. Ramsberger said Portland's June dates still are available on Champ Car's prospective 2005 schedule, which should come out early in September. "We're keeping a very positive attitude towards everything," Ramsberger said. "That doesn't mean we're bound to come there. Somebody asked me what the odds were that we would come back. I don't even know what kind of odds to put on that. We're interested in hearing what the city is proposing," Ramsberger said. "A three-year deal is still a possibility, but we'll see how it goes. We still have some flexibility with our schedule."

Ramsberger said he understands that Francesconi is trying to make the best possible deal for the city. He said he also thinks Francesconi, and the city, put too much faith in the IRL and not enough faith in Champ Car, which has been coming to Portland International Raceway for 21 years. "I think Jim may have been misguided," Ramsberger said. Will all be forgiven' "We'll see what happens," Ramsberger said.

8/6/04

Monday deadline for Button says BAR    B*A*R has issued an ultimatum to Jenson Button's management company, Essentially Sport, requiring them to arrange a face to face meeting between Button and B*A*R executives by close of business on Monday or face immediate action to enforce B*A*R's contract with Button. "We have been trying to talk to Jenson for days," said David Richards, B*A*R Team Principal. "He has a clear duty to all of those who've worked with him for the last two years to explain to them what is going on. We have complete confidence in the strength of our contractual rights," said David Richards "and in the option that we have exercised for 2005." The option was approved at a board meeting of B*A*R on 20th July. Jenson and his management team were informed of this in writing well before the end of the option period on 31st July, a fact acknowledged by Essentially Sport. Notice of exercise of the option had also been lodged with F1's Contract Recognition Board in Switzerland. If people make commitments they should keep them - and I will use every means available to me to make sure that all the requirements of our contract are met," said Richards. "If we do not have a meeting with Jenson by Monday night to sort this out, the processes to enforce our rights under the contract will commence without further notice."

8/6/04

Guy Smith grabs career lifeline    Former Le Mans winner Guy Smith (Photo right by Mark Scheuern/AutoRacing1.com)  is grasping his single-seater lifeline this weekend at Elkhart Lake.  Smith, who had been racing for Audi in sportscars this season, is keen to take the opportunity to prove he has what it takes in open wheel cars.  He said: "This has been a long time coming so I'm over the moon about the opportunity Rocketsports Racing has given me.  I did Indy Lights a few years ago with the intention to move up the ladder, but at the time the openings weren't there. I fell into sports cars and had a fantastic few years, not least with the win at Le Mans.  That win though, also served to fire me up again as I had reached the pinnacle of sportscar racing, so it was time for a new challenge.  It feels great to do something new and, although I know it will be tough in such a competitive series, I can't wait to get stuck in."

8/6/04

Chinese driver aims to make F1 grid    China's next big sports star could be a 21-year-old with a Dutch passport who doesn't even speak Chinese that well. But Tung Ho-pin happens to drive a racecar really fast, and many are eyeing him to be the first ethnic Chinese driver to make the Formula One (F1) circuit - the top level of international motor sports. Last year he dominated the Formula BMW Asia racing series, something of a minor league for F1, and as a reward from BMW, he got the rare honor of test-driving an F1 car. In Jerez, Spain, in front of dozens of racing journalists and one of his boyhood idols, Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya, Tung made 42 giddy laps before they could pull him out of the driver's seat.  More...

8/6/04

Tagliani has big wreck  Alex Tagliani just had a big accident at Turn 7 at Road America. Tag ended up on top of the tire wall at the right hand Turn 7. He is ok but the car has major damage.

8/6/04
Industry News

IMG may be sold  The Mercury News reported as follows: Sports marketing and management giant IMG is in talks with several potential investors who are looking to buy all or part of the company.  Speculation about the company's future has existed since May 2003, when IMG's founder and chairman, Mark McCormack, died from complications after surgery.  IMG co-chief executive Bob Kain said the company is in talks with investors and expects a decision by the end of the year.  Last month IMG said it was looking for financing partners to help expand its business and to provide cash to McCormack's three children, all of whom work for IMG, and his widow, former tennis pro Betsy Nagelsen. The company also said it had hired Rothschild North America to seek investors.  Kain said welcoming investors would help the company grow. He expects the IMG board to choose an investor that will be a partner, not a destroyer.

And www.cleveland.com reported:  This week, mergermarket, an online mergers and acquisitions information service in New York, reported that four major investment firms are bidding for IMG, the world's largest sports management company, with corporate headquarters on East Ninth Street.   The report, citing unnamed sources, said bidders include KKR and Forstmann Little & Co., which perfected the hostile takeover during the 1980s. The report also said bidders need to offer about $600 million to be considered.   The two other bidders reportedly are the Blackstone Group and Evercore Partners.

8/6/04

Road America key to N/H duo's success  Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais, first; Brazilian teammate Bruno Junqueira, second. Then look at the finishing order for the race last year at Road America: Junqueira, first; Bourdais, second.  Guess who sat atop the chart when most of the series' teams tested at the track earlier this summer in preparation for the Grand Prix of Road America this weekend. Yep. The two Newman / Haas drivers. Any thoughts on which racetrack has provided Newman / Haas with more successes than any other' Oh, yeah. Think these guys might be excited about this weekend and the Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America on Sunday'"  "I love Road America," he said. "Road America is a track I always drive my best, and I think I'm going to win.  "Of course, Bourdais may have something to say about that.  Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal

8/6/04

Allmendinger teams up with LAF  The RuSPORT racing team is showing its support for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) and honoring Lance Armstrong's historic 6th straight Tour de France victory by running the #10 Champ Car in all yellow with LAF and 'Live Strong' logos during this weekend's Grand Prix of Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

The RuSPORT team, in its first year in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford, posted second and third place finishes two weeks ago in the Molson Indy Vancouver. Driver A.J. Allmendinger hopes to again run at the front during this weekend's grand prix to build awareness of the LAF's mission to help people with cancer 'live strong.'

'This is actually a pretty big honor for me to have the #10 car carry the banner for Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation,' said Allmendinger. 'Lance has been such a great role model and inspiration for so many people that I hope I can do my part and deliver the great results this weekend that they deserve. Hopefully, together with Champ Car, we can reach more people and raise even more awareness for this great cause and provide some positive energy for those people living with cancer.'

The team's support of the LAF caps off a weekend of fundraising activities for the foundation. On Saturday, Allmendinger and fellow Champ Car drivers will take to the track on bicycles during the Tour de Road America. They will cycle the 4-mile track with team members, fans, and local cyclists to reach the goal of raising $25,000 for the LAF.

Volunteers for the LAF will also sell 1,000 'Live Strong' wristbands during the Grand Prix of Road America weekend. Fans are encouraged to stop by the LAF booth to make a donation and sign a banner congratulating Lance on his victory at the Tour de France. All proceeds benefit LAF programs that help young people with cancer live strong.

8/6/04

BAR Honda claims they have Button under contract    Following reports yesterday that Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's lead driver Jenson Button is leaving to join the Williams team in 2005, B*A*R Team Principal David Richards has made the following statement:

"We are absolutely astounded to hear that Jenson thinks that he is leaving B*A*R for Williams next season. Neither myself, nor any other member of the B*A*R team, has been contacted by Jenson to discuss this matter.

Jenson is under contract with B*A*R for 2005, since we took up an option on his services only last month. At no time during the last few months has Jenson expressed anything other than his desire to continue working with B*A*R to achieve our collective goal of winning the World Championship". Jenson joined B.A.R in 2003 from Renault and has seen his career transformed as a result. During the four and a half seasons of his F1 career he has scored 106 points, of which 78 have been in the last year and a half with B.A.R. In 2004 Jenson took his first F1 podium and he is currently lying third in the drivers' championship.

At the German Grand Prix, 23 July 2004, Honda confirmed their long-term commitment to B*A*R announcing the extension of their existing contract to at least 2007, with an even greater commitment of engineering resources. Their track record of 11 F1 World Championships clearly places them in an outstanding position to provide the resources to take the team and Jenson to the very top.

David continues: "It is our intention to enforce our current contractual position with Jenson. My duty is to the 400-strong workforce which has worked tirelessly over the past two seasons to give Jenson the car he has today; and to our partners, whose unfailing support and commitment to the team has contributed to the solid structure we now have in place.

Unfortunately this is now a matter for the lawyers and I have every confidence that the legal process will confirm that yesterday's announcement has not only been premature but also invalid".  BAR Honda

8/6/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Button stuns F1 in Williams switch
Tug-of-war declared for '05 Button
Zonta in for dumped da Matta
Ralf to also skip Hungary, Belgium
Williams scrap 'walrus' nose
Briscoe 'close' to F1 racing dream
Da Matta and BAR-Honda
Schu's '04 Ferrari is 'frozen'
Jaguar wants 'British driver' - Pitchforth
Marlboro's plan to buy Ferrari livery
Press gives Ralf 'hard time' - Gascoyne
Fifth is 'meaningless' - McLaren's Dennis
Jordan seeks F1 team agreement
Button deal 'will not happen' - Richards
Williams moved quickly to do-up Button
Webber to unite Aussie 'dream team'
Panis could stay at Toyota - Gascoyne
Hungaroring is 'too slow' - Montoya

8/5/04

Trans-Am will see bigger fields going forward    Look for 22 cars to start the next two Trans-Am races at Road America and Denver, up from 15 and 16 recently.  Our inside sources tell us they have big plans for the series in the future.

8/5/04

Guy Smith passes with flying colors  We hear that Guy Smith was quite impressive in his FIA evaluation test Tuesday driving the Rocketsports Champ Car that he will pilot this weekend in his debut at Road America. He will be in the car the rest of the year.

8/5/04

Special pit pass rules for night race at Fontana  California Speedway recently announced enhancements to its NASCAR Pit Pass which will go into effect for the Inaugural “Finish Under the Lights” Pop Secret 500 weekend. Access is limited to Pit only for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event weekend, as there will be no garage/paddock access on this weekend.

The biggest change involves the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race day on September 5. Pit road will be open to everyone, regardless of age, on race day Sunday. Guests can peruse the pits dressed for the warm weather in shorts, tank tops and sandals as the dress code has been relaxed for Sunday. Gates open at 11 a.m. and pit road will close approximately 60 minutes (2:30 p.m.) prior to the start of the Pop Secret 500. On Sunday, while pit road is open, the grass adjacent to pit road and the start/finish line will be open for guests to relax and have lunch on.  “We encourage race goers to come dressed for the warm Southern California weather that is expected for the Pop Secret 500,” California Speedway President Bill Miller said. “It’s not only a great opportunity for hard core race fans but this adds to the tremendous family atmosphere of California Speedway.”

Weekend pit passes are $45 and can only be used in conjunction with either a grandstand ticket or infield wristband. Tickets are still available for the Inaugural “Finish Under the Lights” Pop Secret 500. Friday’s tickets are general admission and cost $10 and include access to the infield for SPEED Channel’s Trackside Live. Saturday’s Target House 300 tickets are $40 for lower level and $50 for upper level seating and include access into the infield following the race for the Miller Lite Rock ’n Racing Concert. Sunday’s “Finish Under the Lights” Pop Secret 500 tickets are $65 for lower level and $105 for upper level seating. For ticket and event information, call 800-944-RACE [7223] or log onto www.californiaspeedway.com.

8/5/04

More NASCAR races in Mexico  In a telephone interview made to Reforma,  Robbie Weiss NASCAR International Director said that NASCAR is interested in all of the Hispanic markets, and will use Mexico as their trampoline.  He also said that NASCAR is not interested in having only one race a year in Mexico. “Neither the series or the new Mexico office is interested in having only one race,” said Weiss.  He said that they are getting into the Mexican project for the long haul and would like to see Mexican drivers in the future.  Monterrey for 2006 anyone' José de Jesús Arrambide reporting from Mexico

8/5/04

Better hope it doesn't rain Sunday  Because Champ Car does not allow a hard intermediate as well as a soft full-wet rain tire, Bridgestone is once again forced to bring their hardest rain tire to Road America this weekend.  The tire is made very hard to hold up during drying conditions on the high speed road course, meaning it's not sticky enough during full wet conditions to give the drivers the comfort they need.  Quote from Al Speyer, Executive Director, Bridgestone Motorsport: “Road America is quite different from any other course we run, and it presents some unique challenges for us. The length of the course and speeds run here require us to provide a harder compound than what we use at most venues – in fact, this is the hardest road-course compound we use in Champ Car competition. As road courses go, Road America is certainly the toughest one for us a tire manufacturer, but we’ve brought what we believe is a tire that will hold up well here. It’s a specification unique to this track that we won’t use anywhere else this season.”

8/5/04

Champ Car Hot Topics  The Grand Prix of Road America Presented by the Chicago Tribune (HDNet, 3 p.m. Eastern Time, August 8; Spike TV, 4 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time, August 8), is Round 8 of the 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Following is a current round-up of the latest Champ Car news, trends to follow, names to watch and a few statistics to track as Champ Car racing heads to the 4.048-mile permanent road course at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.  More....

8/5/04

It's official: Pizzonia to replace Ralf again  "I am obviously very pleased to be racing again and I thank the team for trusting me again," said Pizzonia. "I went back to Brazil after the German Grand Prix to see my family and friends and had really a good time. In Manaus, I trained a lot in the heat, usually at lunchtime, when the temperature goes up to 35°C, in order to prepare for Hungary's hot weather conditions. I feel fit and am looking forward to hopefully scoring some more points for the team. I like the Hungaroring, as it's quite a different track from the rest of the Formula One circuits. It's a bit tricky, with a lot of slow speed corners, and is extremely dirty, mostly on Friday and Saturday. Budapest is a great city so, all in all, I am really looking forward to the next Grand Prix."

8/5/04
ARCA

Kyle Krisiloff moves to stock cars  Chalk up yet another American open wheel driver going to stock car land.  Kyle Krisiloff will make three Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) starts in 2004 as a part of Hendrick Motorsports' driver development program, team owner Rick Hendrick announced Thursday.  Making his ARCA debut, Krisiloff will enter this weekend's event at Lake Erie (Pa.) Speedway in the No. 5 ditech.com Monte Carlo, followed by appearances at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway on Aug. 14 and Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 11.  Krisiloff, 18, will pilot the Chevrolets of Bobby Gerhart Racing (BGR), a developmental ally of Hendrick Motorsports. The Hendrick-BGR program has been successful in 2004 with one victory and six top-10 finishes in six races with drivers Blake Feese and Boston Reid.  An Indianapolis native, Krisiloff is also running a full schedule in the American Speed Association (ASA) this season through Hendrick's relationship with SS Racing.

8/5/04

Lack of consumer-based sponsors haunt Champ Car  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I'm up at Elkhart (not for the race) for the PGA Championship next weekend and the General Manager of the American Club said that this weekend's booking rate is an all time low for a Champ Car weekend.  I wonder how bad ticket sales are'   Not one sign driving into Elkhart about it being a race weekend. Over the years they had the signs up Monday of the event weekend, not just track signs I'm talking about the Motorola Racing signs, Team Penske, Miller, Bud, all the great sponsors that made Elkhart what it is, are gone. Who cares from a fan standpoint about JCI, Gulfstream, Cummins or Nextel's Corporate Company NII, they do nothing to market to the consumer. Off the top of my head I can think of only three cars that are sponsored toward the fan, Corona, Herdez and the sponsor for Trans-Am driver Drissi.  I wish we could hold an election and put Mark Cipolloni in charge of Open Wheel Racing with Robin Miller as Dir. of PR and Marketing.  Roger  Dear Roger, Thanks for the vote of confidence.  You make a good point and it's a problem that has haunted Champ Car for the past several years - most of the sponsors are in the Champ Car paddock because of business-to-business deals, hence they do almost no marketing to consumers and fans to help grow the series, especially the TV viewership.  Until such time as Champ Car's marketing department and that of the teams are focused on landing sponsors who market to consumers, Champ Car will remain largely invisible.  You forgot to mention McDonald's, they are a consumer focused company, but I see them doing little in the way of promotion of Champ Car and/or Sebastien Bourdais their driver so far.  How do teams land new sponsors focused on consumers when Champ Car's TV reaches so few consumers'  What comes first, the chicken or the egg - TV or sponsors' With regard to room bookings - If that were indeed true then we would not have such a hard time trying to find a room in the Manitowoc, Plymouth, Sheboygan or Fond du Lac area as we had! It could possibly be true for The American Club for those willing to spend the stratospheric rates that they normally charge. Mark C.

8/5/04

Younger drivers hoarding all the sponsorship  This FortWayne.com article talks about the struggles of the Veteran Nextel Cup drivers to find sponsorship while all the big deals are going to the younger drivers. 

8/5/04

Waltrip predicts Toyota will soon be in Cup  Darrell Waltrip said any resentment over Toyota's presence in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series has subsided, and he predicted that the Japanese automaker eventually will advance into the Nextel Cup Series. ''I don't have any inside information, but that's always been the assumption, that at some point we'll see Toyota in the Cup series,'' Waltrip said.

8/5/04

Rice and Manning to X Games  Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and IndyCar Series driver Darren Manning will be among the fans attending the X Games this weekend in Los Angeles. Rice, who started his racing career in elementary school by riding in Bicycle Motocross, said he is looking forward to watching many of his friends in the SuperMoto division, Freestyle Motorcycles and Bicycle Motocross events at the 10th action sports event. "I have a lot of buddies that will be in action, including Ben and Eric Bostrom in the SuperMoto," Rice said. "One of my sponsors, Red Bull, has a lot of athletes competing in a variety of events, so it will be fun to kick back and watch those guys and gals this time. After three races in a row, I can use a little time to relax with my friends." Manning, driver of the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, will support several Target-sponsored participants, including skateboarder Shaun White, who met Manning at a go-karting event before the Indianapolis 500. In addition, the Pennzoil IndyCar Series showcar and the IRL Fan Experience war wagon, which features four IndyCar Series video game stations, will appear at the California Speedway booth.

8/5/04

Rice gets new car  A trip to the X Games wasn't the only reason Buddy Rice was looking forward to this off weekend. A supercharged 1949 Mercury hot rod, a gift from team sponsor Argent Mortgage, was delivered to his Phoenix home while he was racing at Michigan International Speedway. "Wayne Lee at Argent said he would buy me any car I wanted after winning Indy," said Rice, who also owns a '57 Chevy, '65 Nova and '67 Lincoln Continental. "He thought I would want a Ferrari, or Porsche, or something like that. I said, 'No, I want a '49 Merc.' Wayne laughed at first, but I explained how I grew up in a drag racing family, and I love the big hot rods. I guess I am 'Old School' when it comes to cars." Pioneer, which shares primary sponsorship of the No. 15 Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone with Argent Mortgage, will outfit the interior of Rice's new car. "I'm very excited about that and want to thank Argent and Pioneer for their gifts," Rice said. "They're great sponsors."

8/5/04

Busch teams worried about expense of Mexico City 

JAY ROBINSON, Owner, Jay Robinson Racing (#49 Advil Ford; #39 Yahoo! Ford): “On the surface, I think this is a good step forward for our sport, and especially for the NASCAR Busch Series. Every team is looking to companies to become more involved in our sport, and enabling us to talk with companies which have international sales as one of their priorities. If we are going international, Mexico and Canada are the obvious places to go because we can drive there. Now, this kind of race is going to add more travel, more travel time and more expense to the race teams. That’s something I don’t think NASCAR is going to take lightly. Working together, we can make this work logistically and make it work financially for the race teams.

TRAVIS GEISLER, Driver, #36 National City Bank/DCT Motorsports Chevrolet: “My only concern is the expense of getting the teams and equipment to Mexico and back, and making the schedule work so it makes sense. It’s going to be difficult for some teams. Now I don’t think it is a bad thing for the sport in general. This will only help expand our audience, which is good for everyone. The more people we bring in, the better it is for us all. And people tend to really like what they see with NASCAR racing. For many, it will be one of their first chances to see stock cars.”

TINA GORDON, Driver, #39 Yahoo! Ford: “My sponsor is worldwide, so taking the series to a new country is a pretty big deal. I’m really excited we will be able to open up to millions of people in another country, and to give them an opportunity to not only see some great racing but an opportunity to see Yahoo! and Vasarette and Microtel and our other sponsors. It works for the fans, it works for the race teams and it works for the sponsors. Expenses are going to be a major factor, and it’s going to be expensive to do. But I am sure NASCAR is doing everything they can to make sure it’s a worthwhile trip for the teams and the track.”

8/5/04

Robby Gordon gets new Engineer  Greg Erwin has been named team engineer for Richard Childress Racing’s (RCR) No. 31 Cingular Wireless program for the remainder of the 2004 NASCAR season. Erwin first joined RCR in December 2002 as a multi-team engineer. He has enjoyed his short tenure at RCR and looks forward to working with Robby Gordon and the Cingular Wireless racing crew. “My responsibilities will pretty much continue to be the same as they always have, except instead of spending one-third of my week working on the No. 31 team, I will be able to devote 100 percent to that team’s efforts,” said Erwin, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University in 1992. Chris Andrews, Team Cingular’s crew chief, views the addition of Erwin as a positive step in the team’s continuing progress. “Greg has already done a lot this year for the No. 31 team specifically, and all three RCR Cup teams, in general,” Andrews said. “He has done a lot with the seven-post rig and simulator this year helping all of us in the research and development of our racing programs. “Although Greg hasn’t been at the track as much as the rest of us, he has still helped us out a lot more than others realize. I know he has spent many Friday nights and Saturday mornings doing research for us while we are on the road. Now, he’ll be a little bit easier for me to get a hold of.” Before coming to RCR, Erwin, of Mooresville, N.C., worked with Ganassi Racing, Team Sabco, and Diamond Ridge Motorsports.  Team PR

8/5/04

Big weekend for Rocketsports  Rocketsports driver Alex Tagliani heads to the Grand Prix of Road America Presented by the Chicago Tribune with his new teammate, 2003 Le Man 24 Hours winner, Guy Smith. Tagliani and Smith will meet at the picturesque 4.048 mile road course for Round Eight of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford. The Champ Car duo will join Rocketsports Trans-Am drivers, Tommy Kendall and Tomy Drissi, on Saturday evening for the Tour de Road America, bicycling fundraiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.   More....

8/5/04

NASCAR getting ready to turn cars into bricks  This AP article says, If all goes according to NASCAR's plan, sometime late next season Nextel Cup drivers will begin racing ``a brick.'' Not one made of clay, of course, but a big, bulky, aerodynamically challenged car. NASCAR wants something slower, safer for the drivers and less costly for team owners while still producing close, competitive racing. ``Some people do call it a brick,'' said Gary Nelson, who runs NASCAR's Research and Development Center. ``We call it `the Car of Tomorrow.''' Nelson said the car probably will be worked into competition over two or three years, beginning at Daytona and Talladega, the longest and fastest tracks, where horsepower-sapping carburetor restrictor plates slow the cars. He said road courses and short tracks would probably be next, followed by 1- and 2-mile ovals that comprise the majority of the venues. ``The trick is you can't run this car on the track with the current car,'' Nelson said. ``They won't mix in competition. It's not as aerodynamic, so it would be disadvantaged as far as running against the current car.''  More....

8/5/04

Overnight Pocono ratings up 2%  TNT reported that its airing of Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 Nextel Cup race at Pocono Raceway earned a 4.7 national cable rating/3.8 US rating (4.1 million households). The figures represent a 2 percent increase over last year's 4.6 national cable rating/3.7 US rating (4 million households). The cable station said the NBC/TNT pairing is averaging a 4.5 US rating through three Nextel Cup races, which is up 7 percent from last year's 4.2 US rating through the same three races. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter

8/5/04

Ganassi extends McMurray's contract  Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced today that they have exercised their option to extend Jamie McMurray's driver agreement into the future. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed per company policy. "We are excited about having Jamie (McMurray) as part of the team into the future," said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. "With the way the #42 Texaco/Havoline team has been running up front, we are in position to start winning races soon." Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR

8/5/04

NASCAR getting in bed with OCESA, to announce Busch race  2nd UPDATE This AP article is reporting that the Busch Series will indeed race in Mexico City next year.  If you read Autoracing1.com you already know this, and you know the date too.  We await Friday's official announcement.  8/4/04 - In an AutoRacing1.com exclusive, we now know why OCESA and NASCAR are having the NASCAR 3D IMAX show.  They are planning to announce the first NASCAR race in Mexico on that day.  The race will be held on March 5th at the Autodromo de los Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City, and the race will be part of the Busch Series (i.e. points paying).  We hear OCESA has informed different teams that they have already invited Adrian Fernandez and Michel Jourdain Jr. to race in that particular race, and they expect the Mexican Jimmy Morales to receive an invitation next week.  Our OCESA sources said that the announcement took so long because they were looking for a weekend with no Nextel Cup action so it would be possible to have some of the Nextel Cup drivers participate.  José de Jesús Arrambide reporting from Mexico   8/3/04 - As NASCAR attempts to break into Mexico, they have gone right to the promoter of the two Champ Car races in Mexico, OCESA, and is now clearly doing business with them, which will eventually lead to a NASCAR race in Mexico.  We received this invitation today from OCESA that says "NASCAR Mexico" (notice the new NASCAR Mexico logo) and OCESA invite you to meet a new and impacting way of living the auto racing experience. As part of the celebration we invite you to a private screening of the movie NASCAR 3D on an Imax screen. Thursday August the 5th 11:30 am. We would appreciate your punctual assistance as we will have a cocktail party. This is a personal and nontransferable invitation.  This is their first step of many as NASCAR attempts to get a foothold in Mexico. As we know, NASCAR doesn't do anything 2nd rate.  Mark C.

8/5/04

Zonta replaces da Matta  Panasonic Toyota Racing has today announced that its third driver Ricardo Zonta (pictured right) will be promoted to the role of race driver effective with the upcoming Grand Prix of Hungary. Zonta will replace Cristiano da Matta and race alongside Olivier Panis.

The team's test driver Ryan Briscoe will in turn assume Zonta's role during the race weekend, running the third car during Friday's free practice sessions.

Cristiano da Matta will continue to be employed as a Toyota driver for the remainder of the year and could consequently still be called upon to partake in any driving or marketing-related activities for the Panasonic Toyota Racing team.

Team Principal of Panasonic Toyota Racing, Tsutomu Tomita said: "We revised our original plans after we reviewed the results of the last three Grands Prix. Ricardo Zonta consistently performed very well, as indeed he also did in the first half of the 2004 season. We believe it is fair to offer Ricardo the chance to show his potential in full race conditions, before we enter into the final step of our driver evaluation for the 2005 season. We decided to retain Olivier Panis as a race driver for the rest of this season, based on the fact that he is the driver who has secured the team's best race result of the year so far (5th in Indianapolis) and has collected the higher number of championship points (5). Cristiano da Matta will remain a Panasonic Toyota Racing driver until the end of 2004 and could still be called upon to undertake activities accordingly."

8/5/04

Ralf cancels Hungary comeback  Ralf Schumacher has been forced to call off his plans to make a comeback from injury at the Hungarian Grand Prix.  The German told Bild newspaper that the spinal fractures he suffered in a 200mph crash at the US GP in June had not healed sufficiently. Schumacher's manager Willi Weber said: "The two vertebrae are not yet as hardened as is normally the case. "Another accident like the one in Indianapolis and Ralf could be made a paraplegic. Nobody could accept that." Schumacher said: "I feel good, but it's no doubt better for me to listen to the doctors." Bild said Schumacher's Williams team would announce on Friday who would stand in for him.

8/4/04

Ferrari freezes work on 2004 car  This BBC article says, Michael Schumacher will have better tires for the Hungarian Grand Prix but say his car will not improve before the end of the season, Ferrari say. Technical director Ross Brawn said the team had stopped developing the chassis to concentrate on their 2005 car. "The chassis is probably frozen for the rest of the season," Brawn said. "There are small bits on the engine but most of the performance gain for the rest of the year will come from the work we are doing with the tires." The German has been in devastating form this year winning 11 of the 12 races this season. However, he has had to fight harder for his wins in recent races as the likes of Renault and McLaren have reaped the rewards of their development programs.

8/4/04

Kurt Busch to appear on McEnroe tonight  Kurt Busch has his sights set on the 11th running of the Brickyard 400 this weekend. On Thursday he’ll take the opportunity to get an advantage on the competition by visiting with a legend from another sport to see if he has any words of wisdom to share on performing under pressure, as he visits tennis legend John McEnroe on his new prime-time talk show “McEnroe.”  “Mac was certainly a colorful character throughout his career on the tennis court, so it’s not a surprise at all to see him hosting his own talk show,” noted Busch. “He turned pro the year I was born, so I grew up watching him in his prime at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He certainly knows a lot about performing when it counts, so maybe I can learn a thing or two from him. But I’ll have to make it clear that climbing out of the car to head up to the flag stand isn’t really an option in our sport.”  Debuting last month, McEnroe hosts CNBC's "McEnroe," bringing his deeply imbedded passion for news, music, entertainment and sports to viewers. Also appearing on Thursday’s telecast are Oscar-winning actor Kevin Kline and Olympic track and field legend Edwin Moses.  "McEnroe" airs on CNBC weeknights at 10 p.m., re-airing at 1:00 a.m. ET. McEnroe is joined by sidekick John Fugelsang and an ensemble cast of contributors that will serve up insight and information in all areas of pop culture, entertainment, comedy, music, news and sports.

8/4/04

The ultimate driving experience  This MSN article talks about what it's like for a journalist to drive a F1 car, courtesy of Michelin.

8/4/04

Indy 500 loses its #1 status  For years the Indy 500 was said to be the #1 sporting event in the world, i.e. drawing the largest one-day attendance of any sporting event.  Now it's no better than #2 and will soon drop lower than that.  When Lance Armstrong smoked the competition and won the time trial stage up L'Alpe d'Huez in this year's Tour de France, the estimated total crowd on site for that race was between 800 and 900 thousand spectators. The amount of people on the side of the road was enormous.  The climbing portion itself (13.5K) was wall to wall, five to ten deep, the whole way!  Now that we know Indy has less than 300,000 on race day, it would need to triple in size to regain its #1 status, something we don't see happening for decades or more. Mark C.

8/4/04

Will the Champ Car fans support the IRL'  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, It comes as no surprise that the IRL, in their move to finalize their transformation into CART2, have decided to add the road racing venues in Sonoma and Watkins Glen to their schedule for next year.  What does amaze me however, is that they are proceeding with these plans and other grandiose statements of possibilities with venues such as Long Beach or Road America without batting an eyelash as to the one question begging to be asked.  "Where will the fans come from'"  There seems to be some underlying assumption that all of these Champ Car fans, who are currently boycotting and ignoring the IRL (with many extending their personal boycott to include the F1 race at Indianapolis as well) because of their visionary leader, will somehow now seem to forgive all past sins and flock to see the IRL race at road racing venues.
I would like to shake the hand of the corporate marketing genius that inks a sponsorship deal based on these assumptions.   Even more amazing to me is the fact that the mainstream national motorsports "media" not once asks these same questions. They seem to be part of the frantic lemming and Chicken Little groups who have shrilled about the IRL and Tony's "Visions" for all of these past years.  Is there something wrong here in the USA that has not yet infected the open wheel fans in Canada and Mexico'   Werner Fritz, Trevor, Wisconsin  Dear Werner, We learned long ago in life, when in doubt, follow the money. There have been rumors for years that the France family and Hulman George family secretly own many media outlets (radio, newspapers and magazines) and they dictate what is written, both positive or negative about a series or its drivers.  We have no knowledge as to whether there is any truth to those rumors. We do know, however, that the media outlets survive on advertisers, so when the oval track cartel sends a lot of advertisers your way, you tend to say nice things about them. Our customers should note that AutoRacing1.com is funded by you our subscribers and not a lot of advertisers, hence we are more at liberty to tell it like we see it and not how others want us to see it for fear of hurting their revenue.  Mark C.

8/4/04

Gentilozzi to make run at history    Road America has the longest-standing relationship with the Motorock Trans-Am Series, and that relationship continues this weekend as America’s longest permanent road course will again witness the rumble of V-8 racing engines. This year’s 35th Annual Rumble at the Road, Round 7 of the 2004 Trans-Am Series Championship, is part of the Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America weekend.

No other venue on this year’s schedule has played a bigger role in the history of the Trans-Am Series than Road America. The 4.048-mile road course has been a part of the Trans-Am Series legend since 1970, having hosted 35 events, including two in 1977, the most of any venue, active or inactive, on which the Series has competed.

Paul Gentilozzi could make Trans-Am and Road America history this weekend as the driver of the No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR could tie the win record held by late Trans-Am legend Mark Donohue. Gentilozzi, who earned his 28th Series victory last weekend in Trois-Rivières, could mark off the magic number 29 at Road America.

Gentilozzi, who has two career Road America Trans-Am victories, led a sweep of the podium by Rocketsports Jaguars at Trois-Rivières, with Tomy Drissi (No. 5 TAXI – The Movie Jaguar XKR) and Tommy Kendall (No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR) finishing second and third, respectively. 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. It also marked only the third time in Trans-Am history a team has swept the podium. The only other team to do it was Roush Racing, which swept the top five in 1986 at St. Petersburg.

8/4/04

Just Al returns to Toyota Atlantic    Brooks Associates Racing announced today that Al Unser, son of legendary racer Al Unser Jr. and grandson of racing icon Al Unser, will compete for the team at two upcoming races in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. Unser, who’s come to be known as “Just Al,” will test for the Brooks squad on Wednesday, August 4 at the 4.048-mile Road America road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The 21-year-old native of Albuquerque, New Mexico will then pilot the #10 car during this weekend’s Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Championship of Road America, Round 9 of 12 on the 2004 Atlantic schedule. Unser will also drive for the Brooks team later this month at the Molson Indy Montreal Toyota Atlantic race, August 27-29, at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve road course. Unser, who made his Toyota Atlantic debut in the season-opening race at Long Beach this year, will join teammate Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil) on the Brooks Associates Racing team this weekend as Kasemets returns to the track for his first action since Cleveland in July. “Having an unexpected seat open mid-season, the discussions with Al and his family have just continued and it’s really been more about balancing his schedule than ‘when’ he’d come on board. This move simply lets Al gain some experience in another formula,” said team owner, John Brooks. “Clearly, this Road America deal is last minute, so our goals for Al will be a bit different. Learning the track, making the transition back into Atlantic and a solid run in preparation for Montreal is our focus. I need to recognize my team also for their incredible patience – we’ve missed a couple races and it’s been a bit hard on everyone and I appreciate their continued support and first class effort.” Unser has never competed on the legendary Road America track, but he remembers many of his father’s Champ Car races on the circuit and he knows what he’s in for. “It’s one of the toughest road courses around and it will be a brutal test for me,” said Unser. “I’m looking forward to (running an Atlantic car). At my level of experience, I think this will help me grow immensely as a driver. I’m a racer and I want to race anything I can.”

8/4/04

New track changes for Denver GP    In further pursuit of fan enjoyment and on-track competition, the management team of the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver today announced four changes to the track layout. Please see accompanying track map for additional clarification.  “Denver’s first turn will now be one of the most action packed corners in Champ Car’s season. I expect the changes to produce more passing opportunities for the drivers and more enjoyment for the fans,” said Martyn Thake, director of operations for the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver. More....

8/4/04
Industry News

Tax changes to boost sports franchises   The US Congress could boost the value of pro sports teams by millions of dollars under a revision of corporate tax laws. Profitable franchises could find their values enhanced because under the proposed legislation, they would be able to write off far more in taxes than they can today when they sell their teams.  The revised legislation would let owners deduct the entire value of their sports franchises - including broadcasting contracts, players' contracts and concessions - from their income tax over a 15-year period.   Under current law, only players’ contracts can be written off, but only up to half a franchise’s value and only for the duration of those contracts, generally just a few years.   “At the end of the day, there is no doubt it raises franchise values,” said Robert Willens, managing director of the investment bank Lehman Brothers.   Willens said the provision could add five per cent to the value of many sports teams. Aaron Barman, who heads the sports finance group of Raymond James & Associates, said profitable National Football League teams could see their value rise by five to six per cent.   Major League Baseball has been among the strongest advocates lobbying for the change, congressional aides said.  SportsBusiness.com

8/4/04

Will IRL make Champ Car redundant'  UPDATE Another reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I feel the need to respond to this article. I think Champ Car is in the driver's seat. I agree with you that it depends upon the direction of the '06 formula. If Champ Car goes with lighter, smaller cars with V10 engines that produce about 800 HP then they will definitely distinguish themselves from the IRL. Champ Car should then release a new formula for the Toyota Atlantics. The TA cars should be the same size and weight as the new Champ Cars and run about 600 HP. I think this would be a huge blow to the IRL, since the feeder series for Champ Car would be much faster that their cars. Speed has always been the drawing factor for open wheel racing. As for oval racing, I think the excitement is gone from open wheel oval racing and I don't think it's solely because of NASCAR. Back in the 60's, 70's and 80's the fans would go to Indy qualifying to see how fast the drivers were going to lap the circuit. The speed brought the excitement. Seeing the drivers go out on the track and raise the bar from year to year as to who is the fastest man. I remember watching Rick Mears several times go out and turn laps that were amazing because he was able to push the limit that much further than his competitors. But during the 90's the racecar technology exceeded that of the safety technology. The cars were slowed down and with it the records didn't fall as frequently. This is why NASCAR became successful because they traded speed for rubbin' and bangin'. The days of open wheeled oval racing are all but gone. That is why the IRL has been a miserable failure. The only reason it's still in existence is because of the deep pockets of a few. It won't last forever. One day the IRL will implode from as you stated it's "false economy." Thanks for doing a great job! Joe Yack  Dear Joe, 800 HP would be too much for a Champ Car.  If they go with a lighter car and have 700 HP that would be plenty.  HP costs money.  Even F1 is shooting for 700 HP with their new engines.  Of course F1 cars will still be about 200 pounds lighter than a '06 Champ Car, even if Champ Cars lose 200 pounds, hence F1 cars will still be faster (should keep Bernie happy). Champ Car can get 1,200 miles from a 700 HP 3.5 liter V10 that costs less than the current Cosworth Turbo.  That's where they need to be.  As for the Toyota Atlantic cars, a full-size car would be too expensive.  Ditto for the 600 HP engine.  Assuming Toyota drops back to just being a race sponsor and doing track signage after 2005 (we don't know that for a fact), Champ Car should look to replace the cars with something the size and HP of the Renault V6 cars. The struggle for OWRS will be to keep costs low enough (both series) so that teams can afford the new equipment, and at the same time roll out a formula that would establish its niche and give the fans something to be excited about again.  Mark C.    8/4/04 - A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, I have always been a Champ Car fan and I think road racing drivers are the best in the world.  History pretty much supports that point.  I have nothing against the IRL going road racing.  What took them so long'  However, being a Champ Car fan I am worried that the casual fans will now be even more confused between what Champ Car is and what IRL IndyCar is.  Face it, IndyCar is a branded name so when you mention it to someone, they know what you mean.  Whenever I mention Champ Car the person goes huh, what's that'  To the casual fan what is there to differentiate Champ Car from IndyCar and isn't Champ Car at risk of losing its unique identity now'  Sean Murphy, Dublin  Dear Sean, If Champ Car switches to a normally aspirated V8 and keeps their heavy car, absolutely nothing.  We have beaten this dead horse enough.  Either Champ Car is going to become very F1-like in terms of the sound and nimbleness of their cars (i.e. shed 200 pounds) so that to even the casual observer there is no question which is which, or they risk being forced into obscurity by a series with a branded name and huge money behind it, namely the IRL.  We are not saying that the IRL is growing in leaps and bounds, certainly not, because their still plummeting TV ratings say otherwise.  However, all their cars are sponsored, they have three times the staff to get things done, and they have the Indy 500.  Unfortunately some within Champ Car want to keep ovals on the schedule for no other reason but to counter the IRL (just as the IRL counters them now with their road courses) because financially those races are losers.  As long as Champ Car wants to race on ovals, their cars must be strong and, therefore, heavy. Although ovals are a very small part of their business plan, the fact that they have even one means their car has to be severely compromised for the other 90% of their races.  So for 90% of their events (road and street circuits), their cars will look slow and lethargic, because of the other 10%.  Seems to us a bit backwards, opens the door for the IRL to offer the promoter an almost exact replacement, and is preventing Champ Car from making their product unique in North America and exciting as a F1 alternative worldwide.  At least the IRL has got it right - their car is strong and heavy for 90% of their races (ovals), and compromised on only 10% (road courses).  Letting go of the ovals is the ongoing debate within Champ Car that is preventing it from growing from an Indy Car series to a F1-Type Series.  Some of their non-USA races are still called "Indy" so it's clear they are not losing the "Indy Car" baggage anytime soon.  Guess we really are beating a dead horse. We'll see what the next gen Champ Car ends up sounding and looking like.  Mark C.

8/4/04

Micklewright: Lavín has been a revelation   This week's Autosport Magazine has a feature story on Paul Tracy and Neil Micklewright.  In the interview Micklewright says that adding a third car this year for Rodolfo Lavín has been a healthy move for the Forsythe operation. “The team was very happy to be able to go to three cars because it meant we could keep Patrick Carpentier in one of our cars,” Micklewright says. “Obviously he has a very long history with us and we all think highly of him. As for Rodolfo, well, he has been a little bit of a revelation. He’s definitely a lot better than we thought. There’s still a great deal of experience he needs to gain to make the most out of it all, but he’s doing very well.   I think the team has adapted well going to three cars, and Jerry [Forsythe] has made the necessary funding available to us. There have been some challenges but everybody on this team is so gung-ho about Champ Car and wanting to see it continue and thrive that I think everybody’s been giving 110 per cent in their own personal efforts to make that happen.”

8/4/04

Forsythe team misses Tony Cicale   This week's Autosport Magazine has a feature story on Paul Tracy and Neil Micklewright.  In the interview Micklewright says, “We’ve had a little bit of a problem coming to terms with the tires we’re using at some of the  venues this year,” Micklewright adds. “They’re great tires, absolutely phenomenal in fact, but the sweet spot doesn’t last very long. To get the most out of them, you’ve got to be good right from the get-go. Now we’ve made a lot of progress in getting a good set-up for any given track from the moment the car comes off the trailer, and that’s why we’re feeling optimistic about the rest of the season.”   Micklewright admits the loss of the team’s engineering chief, Tony Cicale, pre-season has been a blow to the squad. “Without Tony on board, there has been something of a void which I don’t think anybody but Tony can fill, ”he says. “We miss him and we hope that at some point in the future we’ll be able to get ourselves well enough funded that we’ll be able to have him back. But Paul has been very good – he understands the situation. And he has remained a staunch supporter of Champ Car and the Forsythe team.”

Tracy is equally frank about Cicale’s departure, although he’s entirely happy with his race engineer, Todd Malloy, who worked with Tracy in his Team Green days and joined Forsythe last year. “It’s been a little bit frustrating but we just didn’t have the budget to hire Tony,” Paul says. “I think it’s set the team back a little bit but we’re starting to rebound. Todd Malloy doesn’t have the experience of Tony watching over his shoulder. Maybe that has hurt us a bit. But at some point you’ve got to give a young guy a chance to do it on his own. For the most part I think we’ve been pretty good: we got the car right in Cleveland, Toronto and again in Vancouver.”

8/4/04
F3000

Euro 3000 and F3000 merger of assets   EURO 3000 looks set to be opened up to the redundant car from the Formula 3000 International Championship next year.   The organizers of the second-string series, which is contested by 1999-2001-specification F3000 cars, want to allow in the next-generation Lola chassis when they become available after the demise of the International F3000 series at the end of this season. These cars could either replace the existing machinery or form the top class of a two-tier championship.  Frederico Corbari, son of Euro 3000 founder Pierluigi, said: “We are discussing the options with our teams. We could stay as we are or switch to the later car. But the favored option, and the most likely, is to run both together and have A and B classes in our series.  “We believe it makes sense, because some of the later cars will come onto the market and some of the existing teams will want to move over to us.”  Corbari explained that by running two classes, Euro 3000 could dramatically expand from its present grid size of about 15 cars. “We would like to have 26 cars and we believe it’s possible,” he said. Arden International boss Christian Horner said: “Euro 3000 needs to upgrade and the most sensible and cost-effective way of doing it would be to use the existing F3000 cars. We’d look at it seriously if they go through with their plan.”  Autosport Magazine

8/4/04

Blaney keeps Childress ride   Dave Blaney will drive a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in the Nextel Cup for the remainder of the season. Johnny Sauter piloted the car from the start of the year until Blaney took over in June, originally on a temporary basis.

8/4/04

Guy Smith didn't bring money   This week's Autosport Magazine reports that “I didn’t have to bring any money to the Rocketsports deal,” said Guy Smith.  “Paul follows sports cars and kept an eye out for me. He said he didn’t want to repeat the mistake of taking a pay driver like Philippe.  I’m going up against a good teammate with a lot more experience, but hopefully I’ll be able to beat him by the end of the year,” he said.   Gentilozzi claims that Gidley, who qualified fifth at Vancouver last weekend, was released due to his clashing program in the Speed Touring Car Series.   “This isn’t a knock on Memo – he did a great job for us,” said Gentilozzi. “But he has conflicts and I needed somebody for the remainder of the year.”  [Editor's Note:  If Smith didn't bring money, then Gentilozzi could have hired the talented Canadian Michael Valiante as well.  Could this be a signal that Champ Car will indeed race in England (Manchester) in 2005 and Smith, along with Justin Wilson, will give the Brits something to cheer about'  Hmm......]

8/4/04

BMW doubts Mika will return  BMW Motorsport boss Mario Theissen says “I think it would be difficult (to come back), especially if you have achieved so much,” said Theissen.   “He certainly has all the ability and the driving talent that you need. The question is would he still take the risks and be as motivated as he was when he went for his first championship'”  “Nick Heidfeld is in the frame, like several others, but not because he is a German,” he said. “We really don’t look at this. It’s only in Germany where we would benefit from his nationality. Basically there’s just one major criteria – he has to be fast. It’s not about marketing. Of course you would like to have a guy that’s good at everything, but the first thing is to be successful. If the driver is not quick, forget about it.   If you look at a quick fix in a difficult situation, you might go for an experienced driver who’s just  available. If you look for the future, you would try to build up a young guy who joins F1. If you want to be strong next season, you need a guy who’s really right at that point.”  The target will be to have the second driver confirmed by the end of the season in order to have him in the car in the November tests,” he said.   Autosport

8/4/04

Bruni stays says Stoddart  Paul Stoddart says that he has no intention of changing his driver lineup for the rest of the year. Gianmaria Bruni’s place in the team was said to be under threat when he parked a drivable car at Indianapolis last month. Belgian Bas Leinders, the team’s Friday tester, has been linked with a race debut for his home round of the World Championship at Spa-Francorchamps on August 29.   Autosport

8/4/04

Brickyard 400 honeymoon over'  Many tickets unsold   This FortWayne.com article says, The novelty of the Brickyard 400 has worn off for Michael Davis and his wife, Sharon.  The local couple traveled to Indianapolis for each of the 10 previous Brickyard 400s through last year. But this weekend, they will be home, watching the race on television and saving a couple of hundred dollars.  They decided to sell their Turn 3 tickets to a ticket broker this season at a “slightly reduced” rate from the $75 face value.  “It is so difficult to see much of the race from those seats, and that’s true of a lot of seats (at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway),” Michael Davis said. “We will probably renew next season but this year, we’ll just stay home and do something else with that money.”  Apparently the Davises aren’t alone.  A search of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ticket Web site on Monday showed thousands of seats, including blocks of more than 100 together, still available for Sunday’s race.

8/4/04

Wilson told there's no way back to F1  This Northampton Today article says, JAGUAR have ruled out bringing Northampton ace Justin Wilson back to Formula One next season. The Cosworth-powered outfit are looking for a driver after Mark Webber announced he was moving to Williams next season. And they could be looking for two drivers with Christian Klien's future far from certain. Jaguar dumped Wilson for Klien and his £5m of sponsorship from Austrian drinks firm Red Bull. Klien has failed to impress in his first season, but managing director David Pitchforth ruled out going back to Wilson, who is now racing in the US Champ Car series. Reports suggest Jaguar are after a top British driver to raise the Milton Keynes-based team's profile with McLaren-Mercedes Ilmor's David Coulthard and BAR test driver Anthony Davidson at the top of their list. But when Pitchforth was asked if Wilson was on the list he said: "This is not an option for us." The news will be a blow to Wilson who still harbours hopes of returning to F1 after losing his seat after just five races with the Big Cat following his switch from Minardi last season. Wilson sits 10th in the Champ Car championship table and is second in the rookie standings.

8/4/04

Massive ticket giveaways will haunt IRL  We have received many emails asking why the IRL's TV ratings are so poor yet their race attendance appears to be up this year, Indy not withstanding.  The reason is simple, massive free ticket giveaways.  We know personally someone who went to Milwaukee for the Silver Crown race and was handed 4 free tickets for the IRL race.  Then he went to his motel and was given two more. Then he was given two tickets for the Michigan IRL race.  Also, his other friend 2 years ago signed up for Marlboro Cigarettes at a race, and was put on a mailing list and was sent 2 tickets for Kentucky with "LUNCH" and two hats. The whole thing is a give-a-way and this will eventually come back to haunt the IRL.  Once you give tickets away in a market, fans won't pay for them in the future.  They are creating a false economy and hence why their TV ratings are so poor - i.e. the "free loader fans" at the track don't bother to watch on TV because they are not true fans.  The number of fans wearing free red Marlboro hats in the IRL grandstands this year has been astonishing.  Perhaps Marlboro is making one last big push before sports tobacco advertising comes to a grinding haunt because of tobacco legislation.

8/4/04

Blockbuster panel for Champ Car Fan Forum  The Fan Forum in Elkhart Lake, WI has been set for Saturday from 12:00-1:00 PM. The location is the Media Tent on the outside of the Media Center.  Panel So Far: Paul Gentilozzi, Jimmy Vasser, Bruno Junqueira (12:15-12:45) John Lopes and possibly Danica Patrick from Toyota Atlantics.  The panel is subject to change (often does right up until the last moment because of racing commitments).  Please attend.  We will have some great prizes including fast laps (pace car rides), Speedgear merchandise, hats, suite passes, etc. You don't have to be an Inner Circle Fan Club member to attend....but look at the fan club sign up on the Champ Car web site...something you might be interested in.  Dave Wood, Champ Car Fan Forum

8/4/04

Carpentier a free agent  UPDATE This Canadian Press article says, Veteran Champ Car driver Patrick Carpentier said Tuesday he won't accept second-fiddle status on the Forsythe Racing team and will likely seek another ride next season.  The 32-year-old native of Joliette, Que., told a news conference he has had a difficult time racing in the shadow of featured driver Paul Tracy of Toronto.  Carpentier is in the final year of a two-year contract with Forsythe and was allowed to speak with other teams as of last Sunday.  ``I don't think I'll return to Forsythe next year,'' Carpentier told reporters at a news conference to promote the Aug. 29 Montreal Molson Indy.  ``A change would definitely be beneficial for him (team owner Gerald Forsythe) as well as myself.  ``I won't rule out a return, but it would really surprise me.''  Carpentier's future with Forsythe Racing appeared in doubt prior to the season when he was the odd man out after the team announced it had signed Rodolfo Lavin of Mexico.  But Forsythe instead added a third car for the 2004 Champ Car World Series, formerly known as CART.  Carpentier's agent, Alan Labrosse, said Tuesday he'll sit down with Forsythe this weekend to begin preliminary contract talks.  Labrosse, who is also the promoter of the Montreal race, said Carpentier wants to join a competitive team ``where his salary will be in line with his experience.''  8/2/04 - According to this LCN article, as of August 1st a clause in his contract allows Patrick Carpentier to talk to other teams to negotiate a ride for his services and that he won't be back with Forsythe next season.  The article also says he was not happy in Vancouver that he was ordered to help his teammate Paul Tracy, who won the race.

8/4/04
Industry News

NY City to salute Mario Andretti   Winning Race Cars to Make Once-in-a-Lifetime Appearance on Fifth Avenue and at Andretti Exhibition in Grand Central Station   Legendary race car driver Mario Andretti has accepted the invitation to be the Grand Marshal of New York City's 60th Columbus Day Parade, announced Lawrence Auriana, President the Columbus Citizens Foundation, which produces the annual event. The Parade will be held on October 11 from 11:45 AM to approximately 3:00 PM.   More....

8/3/04

Dyson to drive Zytek in LMES   Chris Dyson will drive the Zytek 04S prototype sportscar at the Silverstone round of the Le Mans Endurance Series [LMES], August 13-15.  The announcement was made today in Banbury by Zytek Motorsports' Trevor Foster.  "We've been watching Chris's development as a sportscar driver," Foster said. "His LMP675 championship last year in the American Le Mans Series was very impressive, and then we watched how he went at Le Mans in June.  "He showed good form there, and since then we've been keeping track of his performance in the ALMS. Certainly his duel the weekend before last with JJ Lehto at Portland was remarkable. So we asked if he'd be interested in driving with us at Silverstone later this month."

8/3/04

Penske Racing quotes on IRL going road racing   “I’m excited to be racing on road courses again,” said Castroneves. “When I competed in the CART Series, I found a lot of success on the road and street circuits, so I’m thrilled and I’m sure that a lot of our fans, teams and drivers share this same sentiment. I’ve never been to Infineon Raceway, but I know from what I’ve watched on TV that it will be a lot of fun going through the hills of Sonoma. Watkins Glen is steeped in tradition so I also think that will be a strong addition to next year’s schedule. I can’t wait to turn right again. I’m looking forward to testing the new road course package as soon as we can get the chance.”

While Marlboro Team Penske teammate, Sam Hornish Jr. may not have any Indy car experience on road/street courses, he has his fair share of experience on them as he competed in the Toyota Atlantic and Formula Ford Series before being called up to the IndyCar Series in 2000. While racing in the Toyota Atlantic Series in 1999, Hornish Jr. competed on several road/street courses and was named Rookie of the Year. In addition, Hornish Jr. also drove in the U.S. F2000 Championships from 1996-1998 where he competed in several road/street course including top-ten finishes at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio.

“I’m excited to see how the Indy Racing League package works on road courses,” said Hornish Jr. “I think racing on road courses will play to my strengths as it will be important to keep up your momentum and time your passes. They will be very challenging for the drivers, and if you make a mistake on these types of circuits it is really amplified. What most people don’t realize is that before joining the IRL I did most of my racing on road courses, and I actually raced at Watkins Glen.”

“Watkins Glen is a fun race track,” said Marlboro Team Penske Advisor Rick Mears. “It has a good combination of high speed and low speed corners, long straightaways and there are opportunities for passing. It also is a track with a lot of history. I ran Indy cars there (Mears won the last Indy car race at Watkins Glen in 1981), an endurance race and the Toyota Celebrity Race. I remember having a great battle with Parnelli Jones during one of the Toyota Celebrity events - there wasn’t a straight corner left on either car by the end.”

“What stands out most about the win was that when we were taking the car in for the tech inspection after Victory Circle, the car came to a grinding halt,” explains Howell, who was a mechanic for Mears at the time. “A piece of the gear box had come loose and jammed up the rear end of the car and we had to put it on the jack and drag it over for inspection. I’m looking forward to going back to Watkins Glen next season - the track is very challenging and it will be nice to compete there once again.”

“I think it is great that the Indy Racing League is adding road courses to its schedule,” continued Mears. “From a driver’s standpoint, one of the things I always enjoyed about racing Indy cars was the variety of tracks including short ovals, superspeedways, road and street courses. The drivers really needed to be well-rounded and versatile to win the Championship.”

“Road Racing will add another dimension to what it takes to be an IRL champion,” added Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing, Inc.

8/3/04

The IRL's plans for Portland/Northwest   Q. 16 races on the schedule right now. Could that go up before next year' 
KEN UNGAR: This is the schedule as it stands now. We've had instances in the past where we've added races after the original schedule was released. As Tony mentioned, in the case of St. Petersburg or any other possible opportunity, we'll just have to wait and see what other opportunities are presented to us.

Q. Ken, I spoke to you about six weeks ago. It sounded like you were pretty eager to try to make Portland a part of the schedule and get up into the Northwest market, which is relatively untapped by major racing. I'm curious how close Portland actually came to being on the schedule. Does the league see any urgency in getting out to a market that is pretty under-served'
KEN UNGAR: Well, we had very good conversations with both people at the City of Portland, the people at Portland International Raceway, as well as the promoter that we had been engaged in dialogue with, PJP, Peter Jacobsen Productions. We worked long and hard to try to create all the factors that needed to come together in order to make an event. As it turned out, really it was our schedule that could not accommodate a race at Portland.   The Pacific Northwest continues to be a priority for us. Just the other night, meeting at a social event in our paddock at Michigan, a number of competitors, teams and sponsors expressed interest and possible excitement about being at Portland in the future.   Even though it's not on our 2005 schedule, it's not something where the doors have closed. It's just we were not able to make all the stars align in 2005.

Q. With ISC announcing plans to build a track out there at the end of the decade, to have some big-time NASCAR racing, do you see it as an opportunity to get out there maybe before even NASCAR does and tap into things'
KEN UNGAR: Well, ISC has expressed an interest in building a track in the state of Washington. They have made us aware of their plans. Certainly if they do, that's one opportunity that may present itself. That may be the way that we choose to serve our fans in the Pacific Northwest.   Full Transcript of Press Conference.

8/3/04

Brian Barnhart on IRL at Long Beach   Q. Champ Car's contract with the Long Beach Grand Prix is up after next year. Is that something where we might see you guys be interested in for 2006'
BRIAN BARNHART: From my standpoint, Long Beach has a storied history. If an opportunity to race there was presented to us, I think we'd certainly have to take a look at adding it to our schedule. Full Transcript of Press Conference.

8/3/04

Tony George on  possible IRL St. Petersburg race   Q. I have a couple Florida related questions for Tony. I see that Homestead is number one on the schedule again. Obviously, you must be pleased with that market. Also is there any possibly of adding a street course at St. Petersburg'
TONY GEORGE: Well, the Miami market has been good so far for us. It's shown improvement and growth. Certainly I think (Homestead-Miami Speedway President) Curtis (Gray) has done a very good job for us down there. We continue to look forward to opening our season down there.   But with regard to the rumor of St. Petersburg, you know, it is something that is a rumor. Usually where there's a rumor there's some smoke. Whether or not there's any fire, I don't know. I think we'll have to wait and see as to whether or not an opportunity presents itself.

Q. Would there be any possibility of next season or are we looking beyond that'
TONY GEORGE: Anything's possible. Certainly by announcing our schedule today, it's not something that we were compelled to hold up our announcement of what we knew to be firm and ready to go. Our teams, our sponsors, all of our stakeholders are looking to us to make our plans for 2005 known.  I think if it comes about, it will be a bonus. I think it's a good market. It's a good venue, from what I recall, having seen on television when they ran there last year. Certainly it is a market and a venue with a lot of potential.   Its future on our schedule is not known at this point. Full Transcript of Press Conference.

8/3/04

IRL schedule to top out at 20 races   Whereas Champ Car is looking to keep its schedule at a maximum of 16 races per year, the IRL's Ken Ungar said on today's IRL media teleconference that they are looking to max out at 20 races per year when their schedule is fully mature, 6 of which could be road courses (i.e. 6 max).  With regard to St. Petersburg, Tony George stated that "it's only a rumor, but where there's a rumor there's smoke, however, whether it becomes a fire remains to be seen."  With regard to Portland, the door is not closed there, they just could not make it work for this year.  AutoRacing1's betting that the IRL is waiting for ISC to build their track in the Seattle area and will race there instead.  When asked about the month of May schedule, Tony George refused to speculate as to whether there would be a change.  He said they would announce that in early autumn.  When asked if the IRL would be interested in Long Beach after Champ Car's contract expires in 2005, Brian Barnhart answered that Long Beach has a rich history of open wheel racing and if an opportunity presents itself for them to race there they would take a serious look at it.  When asked about Road America, Mid-Ohio and other road courses, Ken Ungar acknowledged that they are examining all possibilities. Full Transcript of Press Conference.

8/3/04

IRL to run on modified Infineon track   To address the safety concerns addressed on these pages, the IRL will run on a modified Infineon Raceway track as shown on the diagram to the right.  We don't see any passing opportunities, but it is definitely safer.

8/3/04

St. Pete ponders new race partner   This St. Petersburg Times article says,  The organizers of the Indianapolis 500 are trying to secure a deal to hold one of its first-ever street races in downtown St. Petersburg.  The Indy Racing League, North America's dominant open-wheel racing organization, said Monday they are talking with city officials for an April 1 race.

"We need more warm-weather facilities," said Fred Nation, IRL's vice president of corporate communications. "It is a separate market from our other Florida venue in Homestead-Miami, and it should be an attractive venue for our sponsor and partners."Mayor Rick Baker confirmed the city is talking with IRL, but said it also has reached out to the sponsor of 2003's race, now known as Champ Car. "My desire continues to be to bring a Grand Prix race back to St. Petersburg," Baker said.  While the 2003 Grand Prix generated positive publicity for the city, a deal with IRL could be significantly more advantageous. The league is more financially stable than rival Champ Car and has more high profile sponsors and drivers, including two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves.  "It's the granddaddy of auto racing," said City Council Chairman Bill Foster. "To have an IRL event in St. Pete, that's like a Super Bowl or a Final Four. The economic impact would be huge."

While no formal negotiations have occurred with either group, IRL has been seriously considering St. Petersburg since a promoter began facilitating a deal between the racing league and the city, Nation said.  "Before that point, there have been a lot of venues we have been interested in, but that does not mean there was the chance there of making it happen," said Nation, who declined to identify the promoter. 

He (Baker) said a deal to bring a race here would likely be finalized within a few weeks.  "The event Champ Car had there was a good event," Nation said.  The 2003 race also drew about 50,000 racing fans to the downtown waterfront, but lost a reported $1.3-million and plans for a 2004 race ran into obstacles.  While Champ Car expressed interest in returning to the market for 2005, the slow pace of recent discussions with the city had prompted the league to postpone plans.

Champ Car president Dick Eidswick said he would not blame the city if it was seeking a more profitable deal. And if the IRL is willing to take a chance on an immature but potentially prosperous market, he said, so be it.  "It's a free world out there and if they're willing to pay for it, it's up to them," Eidswick said. "It's pretty clear that it is going to take an investment to get that race where it wants to be, to get it established as a marquee event and get local business behind it and get people to come."

Denis McGlynn, CEO of Dover Motorsports, which promoted the 2003 race, said St. Petersburg remains a viable market if fan interest can be rekindled after what would be a two-year absence of racing.  "They might have to grow it a little bit, but I think they could make it work," he said. "It depends on the date."  Last year, Dover pulled out of preparations for the 2004 race, leaving it in the hands of cash-strapped Championship Auto Racing Team. CART officials then announced they were filing for bankruptcy and postponed the race indefinitely. The future of the race also has been entangled in a financial dispute between the former local general manager of the race, Tom Begley, and Champ Car.

The city recently received a big bargaining chip that may help lure the IRL. At its July 15 meeting, the City Council voted to accept $1.5-million worth of equipment, including concrete barriers and ramps, a donation from Dover Motorsports.  As a city with its own racing equipment, St. Petersburg could become an even more attractive site for a race, Foster said. 
"I think that could be very important," he said. "We're not an Indianapolis. ... We have to work a little bit harder to make a deal. But we'll get there."

8/3/04

Petty unveils new website   Petty Enterprises has unveiled its newly-designed Internet web site at www.pettyracing.com. Animink, Inc., which has created websites, cartoon animation and 3D animation for almost six years, designed and is handling the new web site. The company is now based in Huntersville, N.C., and has designed sites for other NASCAR drivers, the Richard Petty Driving Experience, and the John Boy and Billy nationally-syndicated radio show. “We’re really pleased with Animink and the new design of www.pettyracing.com,” said Kyle Petty, CEO of Petty Enterprises. “They have done a tremendous job, and I know the fans are going to love it.” The Petty Racing site was recreated to better connect with race fans, and cater to those who already have a passion for motorsports and the Petty family. There are dialup and broadband versions. Both versions have audio and video clips, galleries and other downloadable features. The broadband version includes full motion-video, as well as music that changes as the user surfs the site. The motion and flow of the site is as unique as it is attractive. “Our continuous vision for Animink is to create animation and websites that are incredibly dynamic, and draw people in. I believe that the new Petty website does just that,” said Markus Alison, Animink Vice President. “We did things in the creation of this site that we have never done before. Users will experience something completely different.”

8/3/04

Feedback on "This isn't about the CART/IRL split" article   Some feedback on our article about taking underprivileged kids to see their first auto race.  A reader writes, Tim, What a great opportunity you gave those kids!!! Reading your article brought a smile to my face and reminded me of my youth, going to races with my dad. His love and involvement in auto racing was passed on to me and eventually led me to my current job....in auto racing. I now take my daughter to races when I can and am hoping that the racing genes didn't skip a generation! Again....kudos to you for sharing your passion with these kids! Maybe it can become an annual event' Dianne Patty  Another reader writes, Tim, I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your article on AutoRacing1.com about the group of kids you took to the Michigan Indy 400 race last weekend. That was such a nice thing for you to do! It sounds like you had some great help with Kay from the YMCA, too. Those kids and their families must have thoroughly enjoyed their day at the speedway. We lived in Michigan for 25 years when my husband worked for General Motors, and I saw firsthand some of the dire circumstances some of the disadvantaged kids came from, whether from the inner city or some of the suburbs like Pontiac. Those kids must have been thrilled to see their first live race and experience all the sounds and excitement of an open wheel race. MIS is in such a beautiful part of Michigan. (I spent many enjoyable times visiting the antique shops in the quaint towns out in the country around the speedway.) It sounds like everyone had a wonderful time at the race, but I know it must have taken a lot of work and patience on your part, too. It's wonderful that people like you and Kay give their time to share an event like this with these kids. I'm sure that was a day they'll never forget! Sincerely, Jenell Matthews

8/3/04

Whatever happened to the NASCAR Escape Hatch'   Last year the stock car roof escape hatch was developed and tested, eventually being used by Michael Waltrip during his victory celebration. Since then, the hatch has not been made mandatory by NASCAR. Drivers recently commented on the escape hatch and NASCAR policy:
GREG SACKS, Driver, #13 ARC Dehooker/Vita Coca Dodge:  “The escape hatch is a good idea, but it’s not something that needs to be mandatory. We can all get out of these cars through the windows pretty quickly. The bigger and taller guys, yeah, it’s probably better for them. They might have a tough time maneuvering through the side window if they are in a hurry. In that case, the escape hatch is better for them.  “I am an average-sized driver, and like a lot of these guys out here, we always are jumping out the window. It’s not hard and I think we are pretty comfortable going that way. If the escape hatch was the only way to get out of the car we would all use it, but for the longest time all we had was the side window. That’s what you’ll see most of the guys use.”

JEFF GREEN, Driver, #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge: “Last y ear we all saw Michael (Waltrip) jump out of the escape hatch after winning Talladega, but then what' We really haven’t heard too much about it after that. There was a lot of attention paid to it when the idea first came about, and it made some news when we first saw it work, but lately it hasn’t been an issue.  “I think it’s a pretty good idea. As our seats get bigger and our cars are getting smaller we need to have another option of getting out of the car. The escape hatch is great when we are pinned against the wall. It’s pretty easy to get out of. It can be something that is mandatory, and I don’t think you’ll hear anyone complain. It’s a great safety aspect for our cars.”

TRAVIS GEISLER, Driver, #36 National City Bank Chevrolet (Busch Series): “The greater the size of the driver, the more important the escape hatch. For a taller guy or a heavier guy, it might be more important to have a different way of getting out of the car in a hurry. As the side window gets smaller, it gets tougher. And if the driver’s side is blocked, you might really need the escape hatch as opposed to the right side window, especially if you need to get out quickly.  “Ninety-five percent of the time, maybe more, it probably would never be used and wouldn’t be a factor. Those few times it would be might make it worthwhile. It depends. The first time you are sitting against the wall on the driver’s side and have to get out in a hurry, that would be the time you would consider it one of the best ideas in the history of the sport.”

KEN SCHRADER, Driver #49 Schwan’s Home Service Dodge: “Right now, it’s OK to have it, but it’s not mandatory. I don’t know if it should be mandatory. Could it be a good thing if it was mandatory' Yeah. I think it’s a good option to have for everyone, and right now, we all have that option.  “If you’re up against the wall, driver side, and need to get out really quick, it would be really handy. Other than that, you’re not seeing guys going out the escape hatch because that’s not the quickest way you learned to get out of the car. Growing up racing, we all learned to climb out the side window. After a few hundred times of doing just that, well, you get pretty good at it. That’s the quickest way for most. I can see, however, how the escape hatch can be a good idea if that isn’t an option.”

KYLE PETTY, Driver #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge:  “The escape hatch is a good thing to have. It’s a good idea for everyone. Right now, it’s still the individual team’s decision, but maybe it should be mandatory. It’s a good, viable, way to quickly get out the car.  “Guys like myself, Michael (Waltrip), and some of the other taller guys in the garage really should use it. It’s really better for us when we have to get out. To not have to struggle going through the side of the car is easier for us when we are in a hurry. The escape hatch is a good way to solve that problem.”

8/3/04

Guy Smith/Rocketsports press release  Guy Smith, winner of the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours, will make an exciting return to open-wheel racing with Rocketsports Racing. The 28-year-old Englishman will join the Michigan-based team, owned by Paul Gentilozzi, in Round Eight of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford at Road America on August 8, 2004 to drive the No. 17 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone.

“This has been a long time coming so I’m over the moon about the opportunity Rocketsports Racing has given me”, commented a delighted Smith. “I did Indy Lights a few years ago with the intention to move up the ladder, but at the time the openings weren’t there. I fell into sports cars and had a fantastic few years, not least with the win at Le Mans. That win though, also served to fire me up again as I had reached the pinnacle of sports car racing, so it was time for a new challenge. It feels great to do something new and, although I know it will be tough in such a competitive series, I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

Rocketsports Team Owner, Paul Gentilozzi, commented: “I’m happy to welcome Guy Smith to the Rocketsports team to drive the No.17 car. I was impressed when I first met Smith in the 2002 Daytona 24 Hours, where he finished second overall. He earned his first Le Mans 24 Hours win in 2003, and I watched as he finished on the podium in Le Mans again this year.

“Smith has demonstrated his stamina and skill as a driver in diverse categories and series,” added Gentilozzi. “He’s fast and has started from pole many times in his career. He produced competitive results in the Indy Lights Championship, where he won Rookie of the Year (1998), and was recognized and invited to test Champ Cars in 1999. He’ll have a solid, dedicated crew behind him and we’re excited to have him join us at Road America.”

Smith began his motor racing career in karting as a boy. By 1995 he was well-established in single-seater racing and dominated that year’s competitive Formula Renault Sport Championship, winning the title and a test with the Williams F1 team. Two seasons in the British F3 Championship followed and Smith won his first ever F3 race from pole position.

Smith then headed across the Atlantic to the Indy Lights series in the United States where he finished third in the 1998 Championship and lifted the coveted “Rookie of the Year” title. Smith remained in Indy Lights in 1999 in order to make the progression up to what was then called the CART series. In his time with Indy Lights, Smith drove for Tasman Motorsport, the team that spawned such driving greats as Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Cristiano da Matta.

In 2000 Smith decided to make a change and moved into sports car racing in the American Le Mans Championship with Johansson Matthews Racing. He also had his first taste of the Le Mans 24 Hour race that year and claimed another Rookie of the Year award.

At that time, Team Bentley were about to embark on a three-year program to win Le Mans, and Smith was snapped up to join the squad. The rest is history as Smith won the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours, arguably the world’s most prestigious race, alongside the Indy 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix.

8/3/04

2005 IRL Schedule  

March 6: Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead, Fla., 1 1/2-mile oval
March 19*: Phoenix International Raceway, Phoenix, 1-mile oval
April 30*: Twin Ring Motegi, Motegi, Japan, 1 1/2-mile oval
May 29: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, 2 1/2-mile oval
June 11*: Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas, 1 1/2-mile oval
June 25*: Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, Va., 3/4-mile oval
July 3: Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kan., 1 1/2-mile tri-oval
July 16*: Nashville Superspeedway, Lebanon, Tenn., 1 1/3-mile oval
July 24: The Milwaukee Mile, West Allis, Wis., 1-mile oval
July 31: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich., 2-mile oval
Aug. 14: Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Ky., 1 1/2-mile oval
Aug. 21: Pikes Peak International Raceway, Fountain, Colo., 1-mile oval
Aug. 28: Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, Calif., 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course
Sept. 11: Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill., 1 1/2-mile D-shaped tri-oval
Sept. 25: Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, N.Y., 11-turn, 3.4-mile road course
Oct. 16: California Speedway, Fontana, Calif., 2-mile D-shaped oval
Schedule subject to change;
* Saturday

8/3/04

IRL is out, Champ Car may be in UPDATE This and Portland Oregonian article says, Paul Gentilozzi, one of Champ Car's three owners, said he will discuss the Portland situation with partners Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven during Champ Car's Road America event this weekend.   When told that IRL would not race at Portland in 2005, Gentilozzi said, "Oh darn. Who would have thought that' Honestly, I'm disappointed for the race fans of Portland. But they probably would have been disappointed with the IRL show anyway."

Eidswick was diplomatic about Portland's situation. He is resisting the urge to say, "I told you so" to Francesconi.   "I would never do that," Eidswick said. "He's a key person in a market we're interested in. The last thing we want to do is make life difficult for him.   "What we want is his full support and the full support of the business community to make this race really successful. . . . I told him we wanted to come back. With his support, and the support of the business community, who not come back'"

Gentilozzi said, "I think Dick may be reaching to say there's a good chance. You have my assurance, this is not a sure thing."   Said Eidswick, "Paul tends to be a little explosive at times. He didn't say it was off, did he'"

Francesconi said he is not forgetting that the last three Portland Champ Car races have lost money and drawn fewer fans each year. The other pressing issue is finding a source of the $10 million to $15 million needed to pay for improvements to PIR. This year's race went without a title sponsor.

"There have been some issues with the Champ Car races," Gentilozzi said. "Aside from the money issue, and how we're going to (finance) track improvements, there is the whole issue of how we're going to promote this race. It has to be better promoted. And the business community needs to do more."

Francesconi said the future of the Champ Car series also is an issue.   "The part that concerns me is the question, are they going to be around for three years'" he said. "The viability of the organization is a legitimate concern. There has to be performance measurements in the contract at some point. So if they are unable to perform, we're able to do something else."   8/3/04 -  [Editor's Note: With Champ Car wanting to limit its schedule to 16 races, quite frankly we do not see how Portland will fit on the 2005 schedule unless the rumored overseas races do not materialize.  We believe a Champ Car race in Portland is very doubtful for 2005.]  This AP article  says, The Indy Racing League and promoter Peter Jacobsen Productions could not agree on a race date for 2005, meaning the city of Portland will have to settle its differences with the Champ Car World Series if it wants an open-wheel race next year, according to a published report.

The Indy Racing League appeared to be a lock for a Portland race after city officials asked the rival circuits to each submit a "request for proposal" to stage a race next summer.  Champ Car officials, feeling they shouldn't be placed in a bidding situation because of their 21-year history with Portland, declined to submit one, leaving the IRL as the apparent winner.

But Portland will not be on the IRL's 2005 schedule, The Oregonian reported in its Tuesday editions.  Larry Blackmar, vice president of sales for Peter Jacobsen Productions, said the IRL could not accommodate the promoter's window for a late July or early August date.

So it looks like Champ Car, or nothing at all for Portland.  Champ Car officials wanted to sign a new, three-year contract immediately after this year's race. But city Commissioner Jim Francesconi angered them by asking for the proposal.

Now, 16 days after Champ Car took its offer off the table, Portland wants back in.  Champ Car president Dick Eidswick will meet with Francesconi later this month.  Francesconi and Eidswick spoke on the Monday, with Francesconi saying the conversation went "better than I would have expected."

Although his bargaining position would seem to be limited, Francesconi said he won't sign off on a Champ Car race until a few details are settled. He said he does not apologize for his handling of the situation.  "My responsibility is the track," he said. "If we could have gotten a better deal (from the IRL), then it's my duty to do it. It's a public track."

Eidswick was diplomatic about the situation, refusing to gloat over the turn of events.  "I would never do that," he said. "He's a key person in a market we're interested in. The last thing we want to do is make life difficult for him.  "What we want is his full support and the full support of the business community to make this race really successful."

8/3/04

IRL teams up with Target and General Mills  UPDATE  Added photos.  8/1/04 - Scott Dixon, the reigning IRL IndyCar® Series champion, will be featured on boxes of Wheaties, marking the first time an IndyCar Series driver has graced a cereal box cover.  Dixon, the driver of the No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Toyota, appears with the IndyCar Series championship trophy on the Wheaties box covers. The cereal boxes will be available exclusively in Target stores nationwide beginning Aug. 1.

In addition, Dixon and Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Darren Manning will be featured together on boxes of Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereals. The cereal boxes will also feature information on the IndyCar Series, along with additional photos of both Dixon and Manning on the back of the boxes.   The promotion, coordinated through the Indy Racing League marketing department and General Mills, features an IndyCar Series CD-ROM which has been inserted into the 800,000 packages of Wheaties, Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.

The CD-ROM feature a demo version of the IndyCar Series video game for the PC and will provide a link to the Indy Racing League website providing greater exposure to the sport of IndyCar Series racing and the League's drivers. The promotion runs through Sept. 15 and also will be featured in Target circulars. Additionally, cereal boxes will be displayed on end-caps (end of aisles) and on checkout displays, both prime shopping space in Target.

"This is one example of the League's driver marketing initiatives to create fans for our drivers and our sport," said Bill Long, Indy Racing League vice president for marketing. "General Mills and Target were perfect promotional partners to feature the reigning 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing and his teammate Darren Manning.

Dixon said he is excited to see his likeness grace the cover of cereal boxes.   "With all of the great athletes from various sports that have graced the cover of the Wheaties boxes over the years, it really is a nice honor to be among them," Dixon said. "It is pretty prestigious, and I think it's huge for Target Chip Ganassi Racing and the IndyCar Series as well. It helps introduce a whole new generation of fans to the sport we love. I've already got my whole family putting in orders for the three different cereal boxes but I'm having the hardest time getting Darren to sign a box for me. We are both getting a fair amount of teasing from our crew guys about how it is better to have us on a cereal box than on a milk carton, but I think they are just jealous."

Manning is also looking forward to having his face adorn the General Mills products.   "I knew that joining a first-class team like Target Chip Ganassi Racing was going to give me the chance of a lifetime but making it onto a cereal box, now I know I've hit the big time," Manning said. "Seriously, it's such a great opportunity for a guy like me, especially as a newcomer to the IndyCar series. It really is very exciting and it's going to be really cool to see my mug on the Target store shelves and know I will be buying quite a few boxes just based on the requests I am getting from friends back home in England. I think it's a nice way to reach out to new fans and celebrate Scott Dixon and the Target team's 2003 championship."

8/3/04

Calgary courts Champ Car   Two competing entities in Calgary want a Champ Car race.  This Calgary Sun newspaper article says, From horses to horsepower, the Calgary Stampede Board may shift into a new gear.   The CSB has submitted a proposal to the Molson Indy to host a Champ Car race in Calgary, Hilary Dolhaine, communications manager with the CSB, confirmed yesterday.   She could not reveal details of the proposal but sources say the race would be run completely on the Stampede grounds or down parts of Macleod Trail and through Victoria Park.

Molson Indy GM Bob Singleton, who has said Calgary would be "a very attractive market," visited the city two weeks ago to look at venues but would not comment on his findings when contacted yesterday.   Molson Indy already runs Champ Car races in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

Race City Motorsport Park vice-president Ray Kuntz said Singleton contacted him and toured the facility while he was in town.   Mayor David Bronconnier couldn't be reached for comment on the city's position in regards to a downtown race.

Alderman Madeleine King -- whose riding encompasses the Stampede grounds and Victoria Park -- said yesterday she has heard rumblings about a Molson Indy race being staged downtown but insisted "nothing has been approved ... It's all in the discussion phase."

A significant amount of government funding -- both municipal and provincial -- likely would be needed to stage such an event anywhere in Calgary.   While sources have said Molson Indy officials are keen on running any potential Calgary event downtown, Kuntz said Race City is still actively courting the Molson Indy.   "The money you'd spend to improve the site, you'd save that versus a temporary circuit that ties up traffic. You'd have costs every year for fencing and what-not, where here you spend it once," said Kuntz.   "I believe we can host it here with some upgrades ... from my point and my outlook, why put provincial money into creating a temporary venue when you have a venue that you could put the money (in) and upgrade it and have a permanent asset to the province'" 

8/3/04

IRL Michigan TV rating tanks  Despite numerous ads in the USA Today and other newspapers last week letting everyone know when the Michigan 400 would be on TV, the overnight TV Rating on ABC dropped a massive 20% in one year form a 1.2/3 share in 2003 to a 1.0/2 share this year.  The more money Honda, Toyota, Firestone, Marlboro and Tony George pump into the IRL, the faster the TV ratings plummet. The final rating is expected to drop further.  Last year's final rating was a 1.0 and the year before was a 1.2 so if the downward trend continues, we expect a 0.8 or a 0.9 final rating.

8/3/04

Intersport back to full strength  Jon Field wants to be part of the "dogfight," and he feels that he and co-driver Duncan Dayton will be back in the thick of the action this weekend when the American Le Mans Series makes its annual visit to Canada's Mosport International Raceway for the Toronto Grand Prix of Mosport.  Intersport Racing will be back to full strength this weekend with the team's Lola B160-Judd Prototype returning to action after missing the past two ALMS events due to a cracked chassis.   "I think we'll be right up there with them running at the front," said Field, team owner/driver. "We want to be in that dogfight for the overall win."  The team's LMP1 entry had not performed as well as normal in the races leading up to the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma, held July 18 at Sonoma, Calif. Field had been on the track at Infineon Raceway for practice and was sitting in the car on pit road when the chassis cracked. "We thought that maybe the chassis had been going soft," said Field. "The setups weren't working on the car in the three or four races before that and it had been miserable to drive. We couldn't figure out why, but then we found out at Sonoma.  "It wasn't that big of a deal, but luckily it happened in the pits and not on the track," he said.

8/3/04

Guy Smith to drive rest of year for Rocketsports  Guy Smith has told AutoRacing1.com - "Yes, I will be in the #17 car for the rest of the season, really looking forward to it, although I realize it will be a steep learning curve with such little track time before the first couple of races.  I have not been to either circuit but I feel very confident with the guys on the team and I am sure they will be a big help."

Like many other top racing drivers, Guy Smith began his racing career in karts at the tender age of 12. His first car race came just 9 weeks after his 17th birthday. Following four very successful years in the lower formulae of Formula Ford and Formula Vauxhall, the "Autosport Young Kartist" and "Autosport Young Driver of the Year" finalist graduated to the Formula Renault Sport Championship with Manor Motorsport.  Guy totally dominated the 1995 season, taking the championship title with no less than 9 race wins and 11 pole positions.

This performance was enough to prompt Williams F1 to invite Guy to test Damon Hill's Williams-Renault F1 car at Silverstone, where he quickly settled into producing some stunningly quick lap times.  Guy followed his Formula Renault success by winning his debut race in the 1996 British Formula 3 Championship with a flag-to-flag victory; an amazing feat by anybody’s standards especially as his teammate was none other than a certain Juan Pablo Montoya and his team's engines were the unloved Mitsubishi units.

Guy finished sixth in the F3 championship that season and, after a partial season of Formula 3 the following year; he was invited to join Johansson Motorsport to contest the 1998 Indy Lights series in the USA.  Guy finished the season third overall after winning two races from pole position (Portland and Toronto) and was awarded CART's "Rookie of the Year" title.

For the following season, Guy joined the championship-winning Tasman Motorsport Team as teammate to Brazilian Airton Dare. Sadly the team was sold in the early part of the season to Forsythe Racing and this caused the team's engineering continuity to break down. The anticipated Championship-winning success was not forthcoming but a highlight of the year was achieving pole position at Laguna Seca, finishing on the podium at Portland and Chicago and subsequently being invited to test a Reynard ChampCar for Walker Motorsports.

The following season Guy decided on a change of career path and was one of three drivers invited to pilot the brand-new Reynard 2KQ-LM Sports Prototype of Johansson Matthews Racing, alongside ex-Formula 1 driver and Le Mans winner Stefan Johansson and team owner Jim Matthews.  The team competed in the 2000 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in addition to the Le Mans 24 Hours race, in which Guy claimed another "Rookie of the Year" award. However Reynard's first foray into the world of Sports Car Racing was not a success as the car proved woefully unreliable; the highlight of the season being a 4th -place finish at the Daytona 24Hrs race.
Guy also passed his Indianapolis 500 "Rookie Orientation Test" aboard a Dallara IRL car.

However all was not lost as Guy's talent and speed were immediately recognized by Team Bentley who were putting together a 3-year program to win Le Mans. Guy was offered a race seat for 2001 alongside teammates Martin Brundle and Stephane Ortelli and was lying 3rd at Le Mans when the car broke down.  He also contested the 2001 European Le Mans Series with Stefan Johansson in the Gulf-sponsored Audi R8, notching up 3 top four finishes. Guy was also invited to drive the Reynard-Judd LMP900 car for the Monza 1000kms where he gained pole position and led the race until the brakes failed with 10 laps to go.

Bentley decided to reduce their racing program to one car for 2002 and Guy was retained as the full-time test driver for the program. Bentley agreed to release him for limited other races and he gained podium positions at the 2002 Daytona 24Hrs (2nd ) and Sebring 12Hrs (3rd ) driving the works' Riley & Scott Mk.111.

For 2003 Guy was a central figure for Team Bentley's attack on both the Sebring 12hrs and the Le Mans 24hrs. He is partnered with four time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and last year's pole-position winner 'Dindo' Capello. After finishing 4th at Sebring in January, the trio swept all before them at Le Mans in June to capture pole position and 1st place in the world-famous 24 Hours race. Guy was selected to pilot the car across the finish line at the end of the historic 71st running of the event to mark an emotional sixth win for Bentley.

8/3/04

Finally an article panning NASCAR announcers   Although it does not specifically say so, this SPEED TV article is pointed directly at NASCAR announcers who many times come off as uneducated hicks for the way they butcher the English language.  Hearing the phrases "done blowed up" or  "boogedy boogedy boogedy" is enough to make grown men cringe.  It's a black mark for the sport of auto racing in general and should be stopped.

8/3/04

Foyt pans IRL road races  AJ Foyt was interviewed by SPEED TV and he's steaming hot about the IRL going road racing next year.  Said Foyt, "They (Infineon and Watkins Glen) are the two worse road courses we could possibly run on, they are dangerous and we (AJ Foyt Racing) probably won't run them."  Autoracing1.com has said for quite some time now that neither of those tracks are safe enough for Indy Cars.  Yes, IRL cars are slow, and will probably be only as fast as a Toyota Atlantic Car (simulations say slower), but those tracks simply do not have enough runoff area in some places for open wheel cars and we are concerned for the drivers safety.  Mark C.

8/3/04

Gascoyne defends hiring Ralf  "The British press like to give Ralf a hard time," Toyota's Mike Gascoyne told the Sunday Times.  "It ain't easy being Michael's brother, and (Juan-Pablo) Montoya ain't the easiest teammate, but you have to say that considering Montoya's supposed to be the dog's b******s, there's been several weekends when Ralf has absolutely blitzed him. The key for us is to make this the right environment for him to be consistently fast."

"The example I'd give is that it's a similar situation to when Heinz-Harald Frentzen left Williams, with pretty much the same reputation: moody, arrogant, inconsistent, all that bull. He came to Jordan and nearly won the World Championship, which shows what sort of difference being in the right environment can make."

"We're very much aware of that when it comes to choosing a second driver. We need someone quick enough to push him without being political," the Toyota technical director said.

"Maybe a younger guy, maybe one of our current drivers. After all, Olivier got on with Jacques Villeneuve at BAR, which says something. Jarno Trulli' - could be."  However, he added that "having signed Ralf, we won't be rushing into a decision."

8/3/04

FIA to hear BAR appeal next week  According to this Reuters article, BAR's appeal over a cornering device they were banned from using at the German Grand Prix last month will be heard by the FIA next week, Formula One's governing body said on Monday. The software-controlled device would have allowed quicker and smoother cornering but was banned by stewards at Hockenheim when it was found installed on BAR's spare car after Friday practice. A statement released by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) on Monday said the appeal would be heard on August 9 with a decision expected the next day.  The FIA Press Release:  Motor Sports Association (the National Sporting Authority for the UK): Appeal on behalf of license-holder British American Racing GP Ltd against decision N°16 made by the Stewards of the Meeting on July 24, 2004. The appeal concerns an “electro hydraulic software controlled device which connects the front wheels via drive shafts and allows controlled torque transfer from a faster wheel to a slower wheel even under braking” on the T car of the team.

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