Rumors

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Speculation

A rumor rated as 'speculation' is one that has no supporting information

Strong

A rumor rated as 'strong' is one where we received information from more than one source.

Fact

A rumor rated as 'fact' is one that has proven to be true

False

A rumor rated as 'false' is one that has proven to be false based on new information

These rumors are just that, RUMORS, and are not to be taken as 'fact' unless so noted.  Please visit our Hot News page for news.  If you have a rumor, or can supply more information about one listed here, e-mail us with as much supporting information as possible and we may post it. User Agreement and DisclaimerNewer rumors supercede older ones of the same topic.  Go to our forums to discuss any rumor. 

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9/11/03

Villeneuve to lose ride before end of year  UPDATE In this Canadian Press article, Villeneuve now says it was all a joke about him being replaced for the last race in Japan. "I said that, but it was a joke," said Villeneuve. "As nothing surprises me anymore and knowing what certain people on the team want to do next season, I said that it wouldn't surprise me if there was a Japanese driver in my car. "But I said that as a joke."   9/11/03 -  Jacques Villeneuve has fuelled speculation that BAR may drop him before the end of the season by suggesting he is uncertain to take part in the Suzuka finale, according to a story in this week's AUTOSPORT Magazine. When asked about the team's prospects for the Japanese Grand Prix, Villeneuve answered: "I really don't know how well we can do there…of course, if I am in the car." Speculation has grown that BAR may choose to please engine partner Honda by running Takuma Sato on his home ground in Suzuka – especially if it is planning to run the Japanese driver in 2004 as well. Sato is currently the team's test driver, and is known to be a favorite of the Honda company. Although Villeneuve is still in negotiations with BAR for next year, no final decision has yet been made.

9/11/03

CART to stay in Indianapolis   Look for CART's prospective new owners of CART, Open Wheel Racing Series LLC, to keep the series headquarters in Indianapolis even though none of them live there.  That's because they won't be running the day-to-day operations, a strong management team will be.  We hear they are setting it up pretty independent from themselves so as not to make other team owners feel as though they are getting preferential treatment as team owners.  We assume the new owners will all sit on the Board of Directors.  Mark C.

9/11/03

CART to announce 2004 schedule   Look for CART, along with the prospective new owners of CART, Open Wheel Racing Series LLC, to announce the 2004 CART schedule during a press conference during the Miami race weekend (last weekend in September).  There have been rumors it will be a shortened schedule.  We shall see.  Mark C.

9/11/03

McRae seeks NASCAR ride  2nd UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.'  World Rally star Colin McRae says he will not walk away from the World Rally Championship at the end of this season, regardless of whether he is retained or not by his current Citroen team. McRae told Autosport that recent rumors suggesting he was considering retiring and/or switching to circuit racing are not true. He says he will even find sponsorship to buy a WRC drive with one of the top four teams if necessary. "I have still got some unfinished business here," said the Scot. "If I don't stay with Citroen, then there are lots of options for me to look at." With Sebastien Loeb already signed up for 2004, Citroen boss Guy Frequelin must choose between McRae and Carlos Sainz for the second seat. "For my heart, the decision between Colin and Carlos is very difficult," Frequelin said. "They're both fabulous drivers who should be in the sport,  but we only have room for one." Speed Channel  9/7/03 - This Scotsman.com article confirms there is something to this rumor.  9/6/03 -   AR1 sources report that Citreon World Rally Championship (WRC) driver Colin McRae is off to the USA next week to seek a NASCAR ride in 2004.  McRae did do one ASCAR race (supporting the last CART race at Rockingham) and loved it and was good at it.  He was a Ford driver in WRC for many years, so perhaps Ford will try to help him find a NASCAR ride. Photo: McKlein/LAT/Ford.

9/11/03

Bernie 40%, manufacturers 60%   Currently Bernie Ecclestone owns 25% of F1 and Kirch (now the banks after bankruptcy) owns 75%.  Bernie sold them the 75% years ago at a huge profit for him.  Our European sources tell us that in the new, soon to be announced deal (new Concorde Agreement or whatever it will be called) Bernie will get 15% Kirch's cut and the manufacturers 60% (60 + 15 = 75%) leaving Bernie with 40% of F1 (25 current + 15 = 40%).  We are told the manufacturers (GPWC) will give Bernie full control to run F1, that they never really wanted control, just a guarantee that they would get a bigger share of the money.  They will now automatically get 60% of all profits, to spend as they see fit, either plowed back into the race team(s) they are associated with, or as revenue on their balance sheet.  The real kicker is that Bernie is buying back the 15% at pennies on the dollar for what he sold it for.  Bernie always wins. We await this deal to be done in a matter of weeks.  Mark C.

9/11/03

2004 Toyota Truck teams Jayski.com reports - They been told by multiple sources that the 2004 Toyota truck teams are as follows:
Alex Meshkin/Larry McReynolds - 2 teams/trucks
George diBadart - 2 teams/trucks
Bill Davis Racing - 2 teams/trucks
Darrell Waltrip - 1 team/truck

9/11/03

No Winston Preview in Winston Salem? Officials at the Joel Coliseum said they are not sure if the T. Wayne Robertson NASCAR Preview Show will go on in Winston-Salem or go on at all. It is a huge event loved by thousands of race fans. On a mid-January Saturday for the past 14 years, crowds averaging 15,000 get up close and personal with their favorite drivers. The show also raised millions of dollars for charity and pumped millions more into local hotels and restaurants. But last June everything changed when NEXTEL took over the lead sponsor role from RJ Reynolds. NEXTEL, based in Reston, Va. has no ties to Winston-Salem. When NASCAR released its 2003 schedule Tuesday, there was no mention of the preview show. NEXTEL has given no commitment and the Coliseum needs a decision soon. WXII 12 News calls to NEXTEL Headquarters were not returned. Coliseum officials said they are prepared to sign a backup event, a family entertainment show, if NEXTEL backs out. WXII12.com

9/10/03

CART buyout announcement imminent   2nd UPDATE You read it here first, we said it was imminent and would be announced today, and it was.  See our Home page for full story.  This rumor is now 'fact.'  Now we shall see if Vannini reacts.  9/10/03 - Upon hearing this rumor we phoned Jon Vannini to see if an agreement had been struck between him and those involved in the CART buyout such that Vannini would not file his lawsuit, or would join the Open Wheel Racing Series LLC in the buyout.  Recall we reported both sides met a couple of weeks ago and had a productive discussion.  Vannini stated to AutoRacing1.com today, "we have ceased talking at all and as far as I am concerned we have resolved nothing."   And so the saga continues.......  9/10/03 - A birdie tells us we might hear some news about the CART buyout today.  Stay tuned....and we'll see.

9/10/03

Bernie to dump Indy for Long Beach?  4th UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.'  We spoke to folks involved with the Long Beach race ourselves and there is no truth to the rumor of a 2nd race in LB.     9/10/03 - This rumor is elevated to 'strong' today.  AR1 sources have learned today that the Long Beach race organizers have applied for a 2nd race to the City of Long Beach starting in 2005.  We also hear that Toyota is chomping at the bit to sponsor the race. We assume they will sponsor both races.  Our spies say it's a done deal and that Chris Pook brokered it for Bernie Ecclestone.  We shall see, but it's clear Chris Pook may have another job waiting once he leaves CART, if he wants it.  2/16/03 - This rumor has come back, but with a slightly different slant. EU's new decision to instigate a tobacco ban from July 2005, leaves several teams having to appease their sponsors for 18 months without the promotion of their product, forcing F1 to go outside of Europe as a result. "The teams all signed their contracts (with sponsors) to the end of 2006. We've now got the teams with contracts to 2006 and an EU ban from July 2005,” FIA President Max Mosley said. “The only way the teams can observe those contracts in 2006 is to reduce the number of Grand Prix in the EU to a point where the tobacco companies don't object." China and Bahrain have been confirmed for 2004 with talk of a new track in India to follow suit. Egypt and Mexico are also potential hosts as well as a second event in America.  So instead of dumping Indy, perhaps Bernie will bring the F1 cars back to Long Beach in addition to Indy.  There is also no question Bernie has his eyes on the revamped Mexico City track.  Gerald Forsythe was the man behind turning that track into a world class facility again and rumors were rampant that Bernie Ecclestone flew in the morning of the CART race in November to have a look around.  AutoRacing1.com has learned that Forsythe has held a series of meetings with Bernie over the past several months, not only about CART, but about how CART and F1 can work together.  If Bernie wants to go back to Mexico City, Forsythe can make that happen.  If Bernie wants to go back to Long Beach, Chris Pook can make that happen.  If CART wants to race in Europe, or China, Bernie can help make that happen.  If Pook wants CART to use identical engines to F1 from 2005 onward, Bernie can make that happen.  There are endless ways the two sides can work together for mutual benefit.   11/11/02 - It appears this rumor has made it to Indianapolis.  This article in today's issue of the Indianapolis Business Journal by Anthony Schoettle says an alliance between Formula One and CART, subject of much conjecture, could spell doom for the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis. Sources close to both series have said CART President and CEO Christopher Pook and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, longtime friends, are discussing a relationship that would essentially make CART an F1 support or feeder series. "There's a lot of whispering back and forth on both sides, and you have to wonder what that's about," said Zak Brown, president of Indianapolis-based motorsports marketing consultancy Just Marketing. "I wouldn't think [Indianapolis Motor Speedway President] Tony George would be too thrilled about that. A CART-F1 relationship would put him in a precarious situation." Any deal between the two would closely tie European-based F1's North American marketing efforts to CART. It also would give CART additional clout in Europe, a market Pook said is key to his series' survival. But sources said it's the domestic situation that has George nervous. "I would think when F1 came to the United States, they would want to run CART races in conjunction with their events," said Tim Frost, principal for Frost Motorsports, a Chicago-based financial advisory firm specializing in the motorsports industry. "A CART-F1 relationship would put the [F1] race at Indianapolis in an interesting position." Pook would have no interest in any affiliation with a race run at the IMS--home of the rival Indy Racing League, said Glen Reid, an analyst covering CART for Bear Stearns in New York. Likewise, IMS officials said George would have no interest in CART cars at the F1 Grand Prix in September. Pook, sources said, could lobby Ecclestone to move the USGP to Long Beach, Calif., where F1 has experienced success before. Pook formerly headed the Grand Prix at Long Beach, an F1 race for eight years before becoming a CART event. F1 has two years left on a five-year agreement to run the USGP at the Speedway, and Frost said Ecclestone is unlikely to get out of that. But after 2004, all bets are off. "The question becomes, does the economic benefit of F1's affiliation with CART outweigh the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis' relationship to F1?" Frost said.  Click on link above to read entire article.  10/7/02 - The rumor we heard in Miami is that Bernie Ecclestone will soon move the USGP out of Indy and back to Long Beach at the end of September.  Long Beach will still have their CART race in April, i.e. two races per year.  We hear Toyota wants to sponsor the F1 race in Long Beach.  The rumor is that Chris Pook is helping to facilitate this move as part of the deal/rumor that has Bernie buying into CART.  Why dump Indy?  Because attendance is dropping like a lead brick and it's not a glamorous enough town for the F1 jet set says the rumor mill..

9/8/03

Evernham down to one team, Kahne to Cup?  There has been speculation on the future of Evernham Motorsports if Bill Elliott retires and Jeremy Mayfield moves on after this season. Mayfield, who had a season-high second-place finish at Richmond, says he does not want to leave and adds that the potential for chemistry is there between him and crew chief Kenny Francis. One scenario that has been suggested is Evernham losing one team and Brad Akins' #38 Busch Series team changing allegiance from Ford to Dodge. That would allow Dodge to promote that team and its driver, 23-year-old Kasey Kahne, to Winston Cup. FoxSports

9/8/03

Traction Control in NASCAR  UPDATE This Winston Salem Journal article talks more about traction control in NASCAR and the only real way to stop it is to issue standard ignition systems.  9/6/03 -   According to this Winston-Salem Journal article, Did NASCAR uncover a traction control device at Darlington and then sweep it under the rug? That's what some crew chiefs suspect, and NASCAR's actions haven't helped.   As many as 16 teams may have used the device this season, according to one driver. NASCAR has been unclear about what penalty might be assessed if traction control were discovered.  So when NASCAR cleared Casey Mears' Darlington car after discovering a suspicious electrical device hidden in the door panel, rivals were quick to raise questions.  The device, which NASCAR has not allowed rival teams to examine, was revealed when the door was ripped open in a crash. The team said the device - which was wired both to the battery and to the dashboard - was a voltage regulator.  'It's just a simple box that monitors the direction of the current of the battery,' said Andy Graves, general manager of Mears' team. 'If the current is only flowing one way, then your alternator isn't working, and the light comes on to let us know.  'But when there's something out there that nobody's ever seen before, they all get panicky and think you're doing something illegal. But this is actually something that NASCAR approved for us three years ago, so we've had the thing a long time.'  Robbie Loomis, Jeff Gordon's crew chief: 'As far as what they had, I didn't see it so I don't know. However, the belief appears to be growing that traction control is out here. It's unfortunate that anytime someone starts running good, people want to suspect that. But it probably is out there.'  Car owner Doug Yates says NASCAR needs to 'get serious' about policing traction control.  'The scuttlebutt is that several guys have traction control. But we're not willing to take the risk of using it,' Yates said. 'However, there's a guy who will sell you a box for eight grand that he says is undetectable.  'What's frustrating to me as a car owner is for my drivers to say they're racing against 10 guys with traction control. Well, I'm not willing to take that risk. I think NASCAR needs to really get serious about this deal and do something: 'If you get caught, you're outta here.'  'All I want is for NASCAR to get proactive and get on top of this. There are two ways to do it - with the ignition box or with the alternator. And it's funny - you'll see the same guy having trouble with his alternator, and it just happens to be a guy who's winning races.  'That to me is as big a question as finding something in Casey's car. How does that other guy keep having alternator trouble but somehow keeps winning races?  'This is something that's pretty serious, and it's pretty depressing to be racing against someone using it.'

9/8/03



Elton John Concert almost sold out  UPDATE Part of this rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  It was announced this morning that the Elton John concert is Sold Out through TicketMaster – Grand Prix Americas Still Has a Few Package Tix Available!  If you missed out on getting your tickets for the Elton John concert, on Saturday Sept 27th, the Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com still has some special Elton John/Race packages available for $89. Includes admission to the Elton John Concert on Saturday night (9/27/03), General Admission to the race (3-day ticket), a Grand Prix Americas Hat, and a Motorock T-Shirt. Note: If you have already purchased tickets or would like to add the concert to another ticket, call the ticket office at (305) 373-3333.  9/8/03 - AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that the Elton John Concert in conjunction with the Miami Grand Prix Americas is almost sold out, so if you are planning on going, better get your tickets immediately.  We also hear that Metallica will be the Friday night concert.  And.....an ALMS team will be having a party Saturday night with a big name act.  The weekend is shaping up to be one heck of a big entertainment bonanza for anyone who is going.  It's clear that CART, ALMS and Trans-Am are building this event up to be the big season finale once Fontana goes off the CART schedule.  The number of sponsors (9 and counting) the race has attracted is impressive.  Mark C.

9/7/03


Merger?  There will be no merger  2nd UPDATE In the last paragraph of this Autoweek article, Paul Gentilozzi sets the record straight on his group's plan for a merger, or shall we say no plans. The reunification of open-wheel racing is not on OWR’s agenda. “Carl’s [Carl Russo, who started the talk about a merger] a provocative guy and that’s his personal statement. That’s not a statement for all of us,” says Gentilozzi. “We definitely would love to have one series. We haven’t hidden that fact. We think it’s the best thing for racing. But that is not the position of OWR. When we’re ready, we’ll put our position in a press release. So running with what Carl says is probably not the right thing. After we have a deal, we’ll release our philosophy.”   9/6/03 - Another reader responds, I have a question for the man with a reliable source who asks his name be withheld. He states Tony has everything he needs. What exactly does he have? The one good thing you used to be able to say is that at least the show was good. Now they are nearly every bit of the parade that CART has become. I don’t care if they merge or not, I would just like to know what everyone in the IRL is so damned proud of. Sincerely, Steve Fisher, (A gentleman not afraid to put his name to his thought)  9/6/03 - An anonymous reader writes - I don't know where this new wave of IRL/CART merger has come from, but I really don't think it will ever happen. Tony has everything he needs, why would he want what CART has (or what they don't have).  An amicable existence would be the ideal situation, but even that may never happen. Tony will only run road courses if it's the right thing to do and to appease the manufacturers, not to spite CART. IRL wants to go to Canada, Mexico, and Long Beach, but we probably won't ever see Mid-Ohio or Elkhart Lake on their schedules. I don't mind if you state all this, but please do anonymously if you choose to. Not that any of it is stuff you've never heard, but my info is from an extremely reliable source. Name withheld by request

9/7/03

CART and Open Wheel reach agreement  UPDATE Rumor has it that the price that was finally agreed to was $0.75 per share and should be announced soon as it goes for shareholder vote. Although not a blockbuster deal for the shareholders, if this deal does finally get approval we can tell you that the new owners certainly understand what needs to be done and have some big announcements planned soon thereafter.  8/29/03 - A rumor circulating here in Denver is that CART and Open Wheel Racing Series LLC have reached an agreement on a buyout price.  It would be inappropriate for us to publish any numbers, and it's just a rumor right now, but the number we heard was different than the $0.50 per share that Open Wheel bid.  At the appropriate time CART will announce that they have reached an agreement and the price will be announced.  The process will then move into the 30-day SEC required shareholder vote phase.  Mark C.

9/7/03

Harvick & Rudd to be penalized  A post-race incident involving Winston Cup drivers Kevin Harvick and Ricky Rudd and members of both crews is expected to result in several NASCAR penalties this week. Following Saturday night's Chevrolet 400 at Richmond International Raceway, Rudd drove his #21 Ford onto pit road after finishing third in the race. He was followed minutes later by Harvick, who wrecked while running second on Lap 393 of 400 after being hit by Rudd. Harvick parked his #29 Chevrolet alongside Rudd's Ford [after bumping into it]. For several minutes, the two drivers yelled back and forth, while both sat in their cars. In the meantime, several members of Harvick's team and a couple of Rudd's teammates began exchanging insults. During the growing unrest, Mike Scearce, the jack man for Harvick's team, jumped on the hood of Rudd's car, denting it. Harvick then climbed from his car and stood on the driver's-side window shelf, yelling at Rudd while Kirk Almquist, the catch can man for Harvick's team, restrained him. A Winston Cup official yelled at Harvick to get off his car, with Harvick responding, "It's my car, I can stand on it if I want." Harvick's wife, DeLana, and crew chief Todd Berrier then began to move him away from the car. Several seconds later, a group of series officials began telling everyone involved that all members of Rudd and Harvick's teams were required to report to the NASCAR hauler immediately. "We're not going to condone this type of pit road behavior. What happens on the race track is going to stay on the race track and we'll deal with it as best we can," said NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter. "I can assure you we are not going to condone the type of bench-clearing mentality that occurred after the race." The team members waited in the hauler until NASCAR president Mike Helton and Winston Cup series director John Darby arrived. The two spent the better part of the next hour speaking to crew members, drivers and the car owners of both teams.  Photos by CIA Stock photo, article from ThatsRacin.com

9/6/03

Menards to sponsor IPS series  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement. The 2004 Menards Infiniti Pro Series schedule will consist of 12 races at some of the nation’s finest oval venues, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy Racing League officials announced Sept. 6. See Hot News page for more details, including 2004 schedule.   9/5/03 - Rumor out of Chicagoland has John Menard sponsoring the Indy Racing League Infiniti Pro Series with an announcement due on Saturday at 2:30 PM.  We assume he will put the "Menards" Hardware store name on the series.  Also expect the 2004 schedule to be announced.

9/6/03

DEI courting hotel & pizza    According to this Winston-Salem Journal article, DEI is negotiating with Domino's and Best Western for sponsorship, according to team sources.

9/6/03

Greg Penske to move up    According to this Winston-Salem Journal article, Greg Penske, Roger's son, could be in line for a top NASCAR job, according to NASCAR sources. Penske is on the ISC board of directors and runs Penske Automotive Group.

9/6/03


Eli Lilly to NASCAR instead of CART?   Has CART's uncertain future caused it to lose another sponsor to NASCAR?  According to this Winston-Salem Journal article, Eli Lilly may become the next pharmaceutical company to join NASCAR, according to industry sources, possibly marketing Cialis, a Viagra alternative.  However, it was our understanding that Paul Newman was to be a spokesperson for Cialis, so perhaps they will market the drug in both series.

9/5/03

Zonta looking for CART ride  According to this Grandprix.com article,  There are whispers that Toyota Formula 1 test driver Ricardo Zonta wants to get back into competitive racing and is trying to put together a deal to take part in the last four Champ Car races this year in Miami, Mexico City, Surfers Paradise and Fontana. The 27-year-old from Curitiba has been out of the spotlight since the end of 2000 when he was dropped by BAR. He was the Jordan test driver in 2001 and then moved to the Telefonica World Series in 2002 and won the title, earning himself the job of Toyota test driver this year. Once hailed as a great rising star, Zonta won the 1997 European Formula 3000 title after a season-long battle with Juan Pablo Montoya and was signed by McLaren to do development work, being placed in BAR by McLaren in 1999. In Brazil he suffered a big accident when something broke on his car and he missed several races because of a broken ankle but gradually became competitive with Jacques Villeneuve when he returned to the team.

9/4/03

Canada might rescind tobacco law for Canadian GP   According to this Canadian Press article, The Quebec government might consider a temporary suspension of its anti-tobacco law in an attempt to save the Montreal Grand Prix race but Premier Jean Charest said Thursday his party is split on the issue. ``We have asked a working group to look at all the scenarios,'' Charest told a news conference. ``There are people who are invoking the possibility that we could change the law, but we're not working on that scenario right now.'' Charest's Liberal cabinet will discuss plans to save the Formula One race at a special cabinet meeting Friday. The debate over tobacco laws resurfaced Thursday with reports that the Charest government is prepared to allow tobacco companies to advertise for the race for one more year. However, even if the provincial government allowed an exception for the annual race, a federal law would still block advertising by cigarette companies and effectively end any chance of the race returning in 2004. Federal politicians from Prime Minister Jean Chretien to Health Minister Anne McLellan have said they will not reopen the law to save the race.   In Halifax on Thursday, McLellan repeated the position, saying the law allowed five years for event organizers to adapt to the change. [Editor's note: One has to wonder if they relax the law for one race, whether that sets a precedence and opens the door for Players to ask for an exception for CART].

9/3/03

Carpenter to drive first IndyCar race  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.'  Ed Carpenter will make history at Chicagoland Speedway when he competes in the Infiniti Pro Series Chicagoland 100 on Sept. 6 and makes his IRL IndyCar Series debut in the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 7. No driver has competed in both Indy Racing League series on the same race weekend. Carpenter, 22, from Indianapolis, will drive the No. 18 PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone in the Delphi Indy 300. “I am very excited about the opportunity to run at Chicagoland Speedway,” Carpenter said. “It will be my first IndyCar Series race, and I hope it is the first of many. I have worked hard at becoming an IndyCar Series driver, and the next step is just around the corner.” Carpenter, who won the inaugural Freedom 100 Infiniti Pro Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, is fourth in the Pro Series point standings with 263 points. Rookie Mark Taylor leads the standings with 364. “I hope to get back on the podium in the Pro Series race after having a couple rough races in the past few events,” Carpenter said. “For the IndyCar (Series) race, I am just looking forward to the opportunity and want to learn as much as possible in my first start.” Paul Diatlovich, owner of PDM Racing, announced on Sept. 2 that the team had secured Metabolife, one of the world’s leading dietary supplement companies, as a primary sponsor for the Chicagoland event. “Our team, along with our driver Ed Carpenter, are extremely proud to represent Metabolife,” Diatlovich said. “Metabolife has done so many remarkable things for so many people, and we hope to build upon their existing success.”   9/3/03 - Rumor has it that Infiniti Pro Series driver Ed Carpenter, stepson of Tony George, will make his IndyCar debut this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway driving for PDM Racing.

9/2/03

Villeneuve to replace Montoya at Williams   According to German magazine AutoBild's official website, Jacques Villeneuve is being touted as a possible replacement for Juan Montoya, should the Colombian manage to achieve his aim of leaving Williams for McLaren at the end of the year. See related rumor below.   Villeneuve won the World Driving Championship driving for Williams before leaving for the big money at BAR.

9/2/03

Montoya to leave Williams after this season   Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya is seeking a move to McLaren-Mercedes at the end of the current season, a year before his contract with BMW-Williams ends, a German report said yesterday. Montoya's manager, Julian Jacobi, will if necessary seek legal action to secure freedom of movement based on the Bosman ruling, Autobild motorsport reported. The 1995 European Court of Justice ruling was on action against restrictions in football within the European Union brought by former Belgian player Jean-Marc Bosman. Reports have linked Montoya – currently challenging for the Formula One drivers' championship – with McLaren once his contract expires with Williams at the end of 2004. There has been no comment from Montoya.

9/2/03


CART/IRL merger in 2005  According to this Denver Post article,  Four CART owners recently formed Open Wheel Racing Series and offered to buy the struggling series' outstanding shares for 50 cents per share.   According to Loveland-based (soon to be Denver-based) car owner Carl Russo, one of the partners in Open Wheel Racing Series, the group is planning on running the company by protecting its best assets next year, then will merge with the Indy Racing League as early as 2005. [Editor's note: this is the year the Champ Cars were supposed to get new engines. A big issue for a merged series would be common equipment.  CART fans are vehemently opposed to IRL equipment and Paul Tracy coined them Crapwagons after driving one and almost winning the Indy 500.  That will be an issue that must be addressed.  Toyota, Honda, Ford, and Chevy (through Cosworth) could all revert back to the 2.65 L turbo formula since all have designs for such an engine, and Cosworth has proven this year that with 1,200 miles between rebuilds, and the ability to crank up turbo boost and lower revs gives similar performance as before, but at a much lower cost than an IRL engine.  IndyCars were turbocharged for years, and in our eyes remain the proper engine from the standpoint of flexibility, cost, and sound].

9/2/03

Pook could be replaced by Thursday According to this Denver Post article  CART President Chris Pook could be replaced as soon as Thursday, when CART's board of directors meet in Chicago. Four CART owners recently formed Open Wheel Racing Series and offered to buy the struggling series' outstanding shares for 50 cents per share.   According to Loveland-based car owner Carl Russo, one of the partners in Open Wheel Racing Series, the group is planning on running the company by protecting its best assets next year, then will merge with the Indy Racing League as early as 2005.  CART's primary assets include the Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.), the most successful open wheel street race in America. The Long Beach and Denver races are owned by Dover Motorsports and operated by the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.  Because of that connection, Frew expects the Grand Prix of Denver to survive, even after a possible merger with the IRL in 2005.  "That's our ace in the hole," Frew said. "It's a huge tie."  Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, said what happens Thursday in Chicago will help dictate the fate of the Grand Prix of Denver.  But for now, he said any series wanting to race in Long Beach will have to also consider Denver, as well as Dover's third street race in St. Petersburg, Fla.  "Suffice to say, Dover Motorsports has a significant presence in racing in this country, so (we're) not going to only look at what's best for Long Beach, but all our venues," he said.  Frew said CART easily could be replaced by the IRL as the sanctioning body of the Grand Prix of Denver.  "CART put no money down for this race," Frew said, adding that CART gets only a percentage of the proceeds.

9/1/03


Newman/Haas orders G-Force cars  UPDATE The truck is stainless steel with a large red variegated image of Paul Newman. It is kept far from the IRL Garages in a no access area for anyone. Locked gate. It had been raining all day in Chicago so the track was closed. Hopefully it clears up for testing Monday.  8/31/03 - AR1 sources tell us that CART team Newman/Haas has ordered and may have already taken delivery of G-Force cars with which to contest the 2004 Indy 500.  AR1 spotted a trailer at Chicagoland this weekend and no one is allowed to get near it.  Speculation is that it might be the Newman/Haas team who will test.  We are trying to find out the real story about the mysterious trailer.  Mark C.

8/31/03

Who else besides Elton John?  Besides Elton John, look for future concerts put on by MotoRock to include Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica.  How do we know this?  MotoRock's website has links to just three performing groups right now, Elton John, and those two.

8/31/03

Barber Dodge Pro Series to stay?   For weeks now there have been rumors floating around the CART paddock that the Barber Dodge Pro Series was in financial difficulty and the new owners of Skip Barber might disband the series.  However, this weekend we heard that they have had recent meetings and their intention is for the series to continue in 2004, though the final decision has yet to be made.

8/31/03

Wirdheim loses out on Jordan test   UPDATE We are told that Wirdheim will indeed lose the test at Monza Friday. It does not affect the test on Wednesday in Monza. Further tests at IMS should not be affected as well.  8/31/03 - Rumor has it that the planned test between F3000 championship winner Bjorn Wirdheim and the Jordan Grand Prix team will not go ahead at the Italian Grand Prix as scheduled after reports that Hungarian driver Zsolt Baumgartner will complete the two hour session instead. Baumgartner paid $250,000 for the team to allow his participation in the Hungarian Grand Prix last weekend after regular driver Ralph Firman was forced to sit the race out due to injuries sustained in a heavy practice shunt on the Saturday. Reports say that Zsolt has secured additional funding to allow him to race the EJ13 at the Italian GP, at Wirdheim’s expense. However, at this stage the team has made no formal announcement in this regard and Wirdheim’s participation in next week’s testing session at the Monza circuit is still scheduled.

8/30/03

Mayfield out?   Evernham may be in the market for a new driver, if Jeremy Mayfield leaves [the #19 car]. Evernham and other Dodge team owners have been under heavy pressure from Dodge executives to improve performance. Winston Salem Journal

8/30/03

Camathias close to announcing 2004 deal  We spoke to Joel Camathias this morning in Denver and he let us in on a little secret.  He has sponsorship lined up for a full-year effort in 2004 and they are waiting to see what's happening with CART before making the announcement.  He said they are also trying to find the "right' team.  Apparently his sponsors wanted to jump in this year, but Joel advised them to hold their money and plow it into the 2004 effort.  Mark C.

8/30/03

Papis hopes to be back in Champ Car in 2003  We flagged down Max Papis this morning in Denver and he was in a surprisingly good mood.  He told us he hopes to be back in a Champ Car before this year is out and appeared pretty confident that would happen.  While he would not tell us who he is talking to, one would have to believe a 2nd Fittipaldi Dingman entry would not be out of the question. Mark C.

8/30/03

JJ or Ward in #30 car in 2004   Richard Childress says he's reviewing the Steve Park-Mike Beam [#30 AOL Chevy] operation. Sprint star J.J. Yeley and Ward Burton are on Childress' list of potential drivers, according to team sources. Scott Wimmer is considered the leading candidate to replace Ward Burton in the #22 car.  Winston Salem Journal

8/30/03

Ganassi going to 4 teams in 2004   Now that Chip Ganassi has lost the battle for Tony Stewart, he could jump back into the marketplace to find another man to fill that possible fourth Winston Cup team. According to one man familiar with the new game plan, Ganassi is going to the top of the standings and will keep making runs at drivers at the sport's big names until he finds one willing to bite on his $5 million a year deal. Winston Salem Journal

8/30/03

Michelin teams to boycott Italian GP   This is related to the rumor below about Michelin's F1 tires being supposedly illegal.  In fact Michelin thinks they are well within the rules as written today, and any change in the rules must be discussed for the 2004 season.  However, if the FIA sticks to its threat to measure tires differently at Monza, Michelin teams will boycott the race and only the Bridgestone runners will participate (8 cars).  If this were to happen, Juan Montoya's title hopes would take a severe blow, but if the FIA wants to hand Michael Schumacher his 6th world title on a silver platter (a record) this is a way to ensure it happens.

8/29/03

More announcements expected for Miami  We hear that more announcements are in the works fro CART's Miami Grand Prix of Americas.  Whether you noticed or not, the race has landed a plethora of sponsors, and with more announcements expected to go along with today's MotoRock announcement, Miami is going to turn out to be quite an event.  We are told ticket sales are running ahead of last year.  Mark C.

8/29/03

Walker to run three cars  At today's press conference here in Denver to formally announce Sportsbook.com as the primary sponsor on the Darren Manning car for the remainder of the year, Derrick Walker stated that he would run a three car Champ Car team in 2004 if sponsorship can be found for the 3rd car (Michael Valiante).  He admitted, however, that at this late stage, it will be a challenge.

8/29/03

Michelin tires illegal?  UPDATE Michelin responds - Following recent press articles and several questions we received from journalists, we would like to clarify a few points.

After the Hungarian GP, the FIA has decided a new interpretation of the Sporting Regulation concerning F1 tires. This applies to the definition of the front tires tread width, which was so far measured when new, according to article 77, c) of the Sporting Regulations. The FIA wants us now to consider the width of the front contact patch after the tire has been used on track.

We would like to point out a few facts :

- our front tire profile has been deemed « to comply with the F1 Regulations » in writing by the FIA. The controls have been made on new tires, which confirms the interpretation of article 77, c).

- the procedure to measure the width of a contact patch as required now is unknown at the moment, which prevents any further work. We can expect some difficulties in the definition since a tire in its use can be in systematic contact with various 'objects', for example curbs, which, according to their profile and position, can touch up as far as the middle of the side walls.

- all Michelin's partners are concerned by this regulation change, as they all use the same front tire profile.

- we are fully open to discuss this regulation change wished by the FIA and help to define a measurement procedure which could be enforced in 2004. We feel it is of course not realistic to ask for it before the Italian F1 Grand Prix.  8/29/03 -  GP 2003.com reports that last Tuesday, Japanese tire supplier Bridgestone, analyzed images from the Hungarian Grand Prix and in the process it came to their attention that the tread on the Michelin competitors was surprisingly wide. The broad front rubber now in question forms part of a new technology developed by Michelin for all their partner teams this season.  After this discovery, Bridgestone alerted Charlie Whiting, who in turn carried out certain checks. The technical delegate of the FIA then decided to change the interpretation of the regulation aimed at the checking of tires. From now on, the tread width will be measured after use and must not exceed 270mm.  For Michelin, whose tires were perfectly legal when measured up until now (specified by the regulations until today), this is very bad news. Indeed, the French manufacturer will have to conceive and develop all new compounds in time for Monza, fifteen days from now.

8/29/03

Look for big name in Saturday night concert in Miami  2nd UPDATE We are updating this rumor to 'fact' today, but with a different big name.  Elton John will be the headline act, not David Bowie.  This was announced during a Motorock announcement this morning in Denver.  Look for more on this elsewhere.  8/25/03 - We are hearing that David Bowie will be the headline act on Saturday night.  8/25/03 - Rumor has it that in Denver next weekend, Motorock will announce their first concerts in conjunction with a CART race - Miami at the end of September.  Both Friday night and Saturday night will feature concerts.  We are told the solo act that will be announced for Saturday night will get a lot of people's attention. Rather quietly Miami has added quite a number of associate sponsors such that this race might just turn a profit this year.  If they can sell the race grandstands out, and if the concerts draw big numbers, this years race could be a good indicator whether CART's going to start to turn profitable in a year or two.  Mark C.

8/29/03


Pook phones Tony George  UPDATE A reader responds to this rumor, Dear AR1.com, With all due respect to you and your fine publication I believe it is now AR1 who stretches the envelope of reality to an absurd breaking point. Speaking only for myself and a fair number of like-minded fans I am acquainted with, it no longer matters what Mr. Pook and Mr. George cook up to reunite one TOTALLY ill conceived and, judging by attendance, unwanted racing series with another that’s simply running out of cash, the direct result of it finally having to pay-up for years of selfish, egotistic and just plain stupid management. Since the split Tony George has demonstrated in the most visible fashion possible, by both his deeds and words, what kind of man he is. Or more to the point, what kind of man he is not! What matters here is character and Tony George does not possess the character of a man I am willing to trust, believe or support financially by way of purchasing his “products.” CART fans will NEVER again embrace Tony George, the IRL, the Indy 500 or anything he touches. I think it's a safe bet they would never support a CART run by (perish the mere thought) Tony George. The damage has been done. It is irreversible. It is now time for all the principals on both sides of the divide to suffer the consequences of their actions. I for one would rather see CART go down fighting than see it sold to Tony and Roger so the IRL could feed off it like some modern day corporate vampire long overdue for fresh blood. I also believe that if CART folds, so too will the IRL. What was it called during the Cold War: Mutually Assured Self Destruction. The clock is ticking Gentlemen. What’ll it be? J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois Dear J.N. We think you may be jumping the gun.  The Fat Lady has not sung yet.  If the CART buyout by OpenWheel Racing Series LLC is approved, CART will be in good hands.  Mark C.  8/29/03 -  We have it on good word from our IRL sources that CART President Chris Pook, who said over and over how Tony George would not return his calls, but who in truth never once did place a call, finally did so in recent weeks. And when he did, despite the bluster, rhetoric, personal attacks, and insults (not our words), Tony George talked to him...and was polite and gracious we are told by our sources. Now the question was why did Chris Pook call Tony George?  We suspect, that out of desperation to save the CART series, it was to see if Tony had any desire to bid for CART.  We have heard in recent weeks that Tony may have expressed some willingness to listen to suggestions about merging the two series, though we have no knowledge if indeed he has any intention of wanting to do that. Killing off CART is the worse possible scenario because the CART fans are bitter and will NEVER embrace the IRL. The only way to reunite the fan base is for it to look as though both sides laid down their arms, shook hands and merged to become stronger. CART can die any day now, and if that were to happen it's too late, the chance to win over those CART fans will be forever lost.  Mark C.

8/29/03

Heidfeld to be Ferrari test driver?   Rumors in France are that Nick Heidfeld could find a job next year as the second test driver at Ferrari, replacing Felipe Massa who is expected to take the second seat at Sauber, alongside Giancarlo Fisichella next year.

8/29/03


Will Daimler Chrysler cutbacks affect F1 and NASCAR programs?   There are reports from Germany that DaimlerChrysler is about to announce major cost-cutting efforts, designed to trim $1.5 billion from Mercedes and Chrysler by the end of the current year.  Germany's Focus magazine quoted an unnamed DaimlerChrysler executive saying that all areas of the company will be told to cut costs significantly in the second half of the year.  One has to wonder if their F1 and NASCAR programs will be affected?

8/28/03

Vasser might retire   Former Champ Car title winner Jimmy Vasser has hinted that he could be considering retirement at the end of the season, according to a story in this week's AUTOSPORT Magazine. The 1996 CART Champion has become disillusioned this season after toiling with an uncompetitive American Spirit Team Johansson Reynard, and would rather hang up his helmet than endure another frustrating year. The 37-year-old said: “I don't want to use the ‘R' word, but if the right situation doesn't come along it would be more sensible for me to quit than to take a deal where maybe you could show some flashes of speed, but only once in a while.”

8/28/03

Wilson to lose ride in 2004  Justin Wilson's hopes of retaining his Jaguar seat may be dashed because the team could need a paying driver for 2004, according to a story in this week's AUTOSPORT Magazine. Wilson's performances since his Jaguar début in the German Grand Prix may not be enough to secure a seat alongside Mark Webber, who has already been confirmed for next year. Jaguar's financial situation is likely to be affected by the heavy losses of parent company Ford.

8/27/03


More on Helton, DEI, and Hornish  The NASCAR racing world is buzzing about a rumor that Mike Helton will pack up his job as president of the stock car racing sanctioning body and move his stuff over to Dale Earnhardt Inc. For anyone who follows the ins and outs of NASCAR in general and DEI in particular, Helton taking over the reigns at the Mooresville, N.C., based team makes absolute sense. Since the death of Dale Earnhardt at Daytona in 2001 the family firm has been run by a triumvirate -- Earnhardt's widow, Teresa, racing boss Ty Norris and shop boss Steve Hmiel. The problem is that the three vie for decision-making power, and often it ends up that nothing gets done, or when it gets done it gets done badly. A case in point was the apparent deal offered open-wheel ace Sam Hornish by Norris. Hornish, the two-time defending IRL champ, signed with Team Penske yesterday [Monday]. Norris had made a handshake deal for Hornish to join DEI to replace Jeff Green in 2004. The deal would have been a double win for DEI, as it would have kept Pennzoil from taking its sponsorship off the #1 team. But according to sources in the garage, Norris failed to pass the deal by Teresa Earnhardt. When she got wind of it, she put the kibosh on it -- not because she didn't think Hornish was a good driver, but because it was not her idea. Now Hornish is telling people the whole thing soured him on ever racing for DEI. And then there's the Dale Earnhardt Jr. contract dispute. Junior holds Norris in high regard, both as a friend and team boss, but thinks that maybe Hmiel and his stepmother don't realize his value. DEI without Junior is unthinkable but many NASCAR people are saying that Helton may be the only one capable of patching things up between the 28-year-old superstar and the team. Toronto Sun

8/27/03

Why did Bernie withdraw his bid for CART?   Bernie Ecclestone has stated to the Toronto Sun, and to the Guardian in the UK, that he has withdrawn his bid for CART.  There has been a lot of speculation as to why he withdrew his bid.  The most plausible explanation/rumor we have heard is this - Bernie signed a very tightly worded non-compete contract with Kirch for F1 years ago that does not allow him to be involved in any other open wheel series in the world, this we know for certain.  That would preclude him from buying into CART.  However, word on the street is that Bernie is trying to get the non-compete wording changed as he renegotiates with the banks to take back control of F1.  He hoped to have that deal done by now, thereby opening the door for him to buy into CART.  However, the F1 talks still are not finalized and Bernie had to tell CART, sorry guys, but I can't do this yet, you must proceed without me for now.  Hence, in the 11th hour, CART has had to scramble to pull together a group of team owners to buy CART.  Rumor?  Fact?  Perhaps someday we'll know what really happened.

8/26/03

Salo to get PK Racing ride  3rd UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today with the announcement that Papis and PK Racing have parted company (see Hot News page).  We await the formal announcement of Salo within hours or days.  8/23/03 - We spoke to Kevin Kalkhoven about this rumor.  He said Salo was looking good for 2004, but he wasn't sure if he would run him this year.  When asked if he would run a 2nd car in any races this year he said possibly. Photo - Salo chats on telephone in Montreal - by Mark Cipolloni  8/23/03 - AR1 inside sources tell us to look for Mika Salo in a PK Racing car by Denver.  8/22/03 - Mika Salo has been rumored on numerous occasions to be getting a shot at a PK Racing ride.  He is here in Montreal this weekend and tested with the team this past week at Mid-Ohio.  We hear Kalkhoven is more than likely going to run two cars in 2004, and we hear Salo may get a shot at a race before this year is over.  Salo told SPEED TV.com “It’s the first time I’ve raced with a gearshift in 10 years!” he explained. “Actually, I quite enjoyed it. I thought the car would be like a donkey, but it was quite good; good brakes, good engine, good handling. Only in the high-speed corners did it feel a little lazy compared to a Formula 1 car, because of the weight difference. Mid-Ohio was very demanding, very technical. The team is good and it was good fun. We ran 150 laps, about 300 miles and made a lot of changes to the mechanical setup, which was something different: in Formula 1 these days all the changes you make are to the software.”  Mark C.

8/26/03

Will de Ferran return to CART?  Last year there were rumors that Gil de Ferran was not enamored with racing on ovals all year (they are very dangerous) and that he might return to CART and its safer road racing series.  However, that never happened.  After his second concussion and broken back this year at Phoenix, things changed.  Now that he announced his retirement at the end of 2003, some are speculating that he will return to CART in 2004.  However, last night on SPEED Channel's Wind Tunnel he was asked if he would race again, and he indicated he might take on an advisory role at Penske Racing, or perhaps someday own a team.  He gave no indication he would return to driving.....but then again last week he said he was not retiring and was staying with Team Penske, only to announce his retirement Monday. Gil lost a bit of credibility on that one.  Therefore, now that we know we can't take everything he says as gospel, The Professor may yet be heard from.....   Mark C.

8/26/03

Will Cadillac use CART to make assault on Mercedes and BMW?  The new Cadillac CTS-V due out this fall uses the Chevrolet Corvette engine and that puts out a whopping 400 HP for a car in this class.  It's getting rave reviews everywhere.  Wayne Taylor has ties to Cadillac and has been making noises about starting a Champ Car team. Now comes word from Grandprix.com that the management of Cadillac, General Motors's premium car brand, is reported to be considering the development of a luxury model specifically for the European markets. The plan appears to be to take on BMW and Mercedes with the equivalent of a BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C class (yes, it's called the Cadillac CTS-V, but they might come out with a whole car). General Motors has recently granted sole European importation rights to Cadillac products to the Dutch deal Kroymans. Cadillac did have a Le Mans program to help boost the value of the brand in Europe but this was cancelled because of lack of success. It will be interesting to see if the US company decides to embark on a new sporting program to promote sales but it is hard to imagine that the company will make a major effort in motor racing, despite the obvious route of going into F1.....unless CART continues to race in Europe - see related article where we discuss how very real the possibility is of CART returning to Germany. We here at AR1 have made a strong case that CART should do a deal with Ford such that the Cosworth engine can be badged by up to five manufacturers.  Doing that, Cadillac can be in CART as early as 2004.  GM owns Chevy & Cadillac.  If their Chevy division can badge a Cosworth in the IRL and get the deal done in a matter of weeks, their Cadillac Division can badge a Cosworth in CART in time for 2004.  The only thing standing in the way of this happening is common sense, or the lack thereof. But first the future of CART must be settled, and settled very soon.   Mark C.

8/25/03

Heidfeld might step down to test role  UPDATE "We are still speaking but I don't see a big chance to stay here," Heidfeld told PA Sport. "The second driver is not decided but I am also talking to other teams. What can I do? It is not in my hands. Talks are going on, the situation has changed but I can't tell you anything.  I am quite confident of staying in Formula One although I think this year is quite a difficult situation because there is little change on the drivers' seats. All the top teams are done, there are no changes there. So we try to make the best out of it." Should he not land a race seat for 2004, the German revealed he would be willing to take a test role, but only with a top team. He said: "It is not something I am aiming for but if I can't find a reasonable seat for next year, you have to think about it. It could be more clever to try and get a good test in a reasonable team, then you never know what happens during the season."  8/14/03 - Germany's Nick Heidfeld is thinking about taking on a role as test driver, if his Sauber team engages Fisichella and Massa for 2004.  Too bad for CART that they are not racing in Germany in 2004 because both Heidfeld and Frentzen appear to be out of a F1 ride in 2004 and would have possibly accepted a full-time ride in CART.

8/25/03


Sam Hornish to Penske & NASCAR  3rd UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement from Penske racing.  No mention of any NASCAR effort so it looks like the IRL gets to keep Hornish.  8/25/03 - This Indy Star article says, Roger Penske confirmed for the first time Sunday he is working to sign two-time Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. And Penske doesn't have a track record of losing drivers that he wants. "I try not to, anyway," he said, smiling. Penske would not say what package of races he has in mind for Hornish, but he reiterated that his IRL program is set with Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves. Signs point to Hornish running a combination of ARCA, NASCAR and IRL races next season, although he might only run the Indianapolis 500 in the IRL. An announcement is due this week, Hornish said. Penske said he has been entertained by the speculation surrounding Hornish. Some has Hornish going to Joe Gibbs' NASCAR program; some has him bound for Rick Hendrick's team. "I know what we're doing and that's going forward," Penske said before the IRL's race at Nazareth Speedway. "We don't make our plans until it's the right time. "We're in the middle of it (with Hornish), yes, but let's let it pan out and see where it ends up."  8/22/03 - This rumor is getting close to going to fact.  We still hear Marlboro may be moving from the IRL to NASCAR and, according to this SPEEDTV.com article, (also see this related article)  Sam Hornish Jr. will sign this week with Roger Penske, who plans to move him into Rusty Wallace's stock car in 2005, a source said Friday. An anonymous source close to the situation confirmed that Hornish will run a mix of IRL IndyCar Series, NASCAR Busch Series and ARCA races for Penske in 2004, then replace Wallace on Penske's NASCAR Nextel Cup team in 2005. When asked about the report Friday during practice for the Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway, Hornish said little. "I really can't comment on that," he said. Speaking under condition of anonymity, the source said Hornish's contract with Penske will cover three years, the last two of which are specified for Nextel Cup. Wallace is expected to retire following the 2004 season. Hornish's move will not displace Gil de Ferran next year on Penske's IRL team, the source said. Instead, Penske will expand his IRL team to three cars for at least a portion of the 2004 season, something he previously indicated he would not do. Hornish will compete in the Indianapolis 500 in 2004, the source said, but it isn't clear if Hornish will run the entire IRL schedule, just the Indy 500 or a handful of selected IRL races. At the same time, he'll compete in selected Busch and ARCA races.  8/20/03 [Editor's Note: Recall that CART was criticized by its critics for letting Jeff Gordon get away.  Now those critics eat crow.  It wasn't CART's fault that NASCAR was so appealing.  Ditto with the IRL and Hornish.]  This Indy Star News article says, Sam Hornish Jr. sounded Tuesday like an Indy Racing League driver bound for NASCAR. A day after informing Panther Racing of his intent to leave the IRL team at the end of the season, Hornish said on a teleconference that he doesn't feel obligated to the IRL despite being the two-time defending series champion. "I'd feel different if I was the first guy to (leave)," he said. "But it keeps continuing to happen." Hornish noted that Tony Stewart left for NASCAR a year after winning the IRL's 1997 championship. Kenny Brack won the IRL title in 1998, the Indianapolis 500 in 1999 and was in the Championship Auto Racing Teams series the next year. Although Hornish hasn't won a race in his two International Race of Champions seasons, he has arguably driven better than his finishes indicate. He is attractive to Winston Cup team owners because of the success of fellow open-wheel products Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Stewart, among others. The Defiance, Ohio, native is also a 24-year-old American who suits the demographics of many NASCAR sponsors. Hornish said he is "very close" to a multiyear contract with a team he refused to name. His agent, John Caponigro, said an announcement should come next week. Team Penske and Ganassi Racing are possibilities. Each has teams in the IRL and NASCAR, but Penske president Tim Cindric reiterated Tuesday his team is not in discussions with Hornish and Caponigro. Ganassi's general manager, Mike Hull, said Hornish's price is too steep, reportedly $3 million for the first year. Joe Gibbs' NASCAR team also might be interested in Hornish if Stewart is sincere about moving to Ganassi's team. Ty Norris of Dale Earnhardt Inc. talked to Caponigro informally during the Brickyard 400, but he got the idea Hornish was headed to Andretti Green Racing in the IRL. Michael Andretti said Sunday that he thought AGR was out of the running for Hornish. "We don't have any room anyway," he said. Hornish was asked repeatedly Tuesday about staying in the IRL, and he could not commit. Asked as many times about his interest in NASCAR, and he spoke of stepping out of his comfort zone and setting a platform for his future. "You never know if you've done the right thing," he said. "I'm still not sure, but we're going to find out. There's only one way to find out."

8/25/03

Another Childress & Hornish rumor   UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' with the Hornish to Penske announcement.  8/25/03 - Richard Childress is putting together a major technological association with a top Indy-car team, to add another layer of expertise to his Winston Cup operation, and to give Robby Gordon a solid Indy 500 option next May. Childress also confirmed that he is considering a fourth Winston Cup team, but only if he feels his current three teams are each solid. 'I've been exploring with Indy-car teams how to use their technology, the way Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi can use their own Indy-car technology down here,' Childress said. 'We're trying to hook up with a top Indy-car team to put a technology program together and tie the sponsorship programs together. We haven't worked out the structure, but it's all being discussed.' One possible driver for a fourth Cup team would be Sam Hornish, the GM Indy-car star who is being wooed by other NASCAR teams as well. Childress already has a long-term contract with Rusty Wallace's 16-year-old son, Steven, 'because he's good. He wins in everything he sits in. And he couldn't have a better teacher.' Winston Salem Journal

8/25/03

Kodak to leave NASCAR?   Kodak is in its 17th year as primary sponsor for the No. 4 Morgan-McClure team, but rumors persist that it will not return after this season. Team owner Larry McClure could not be reached for comment, but Ed McClure, his brother, says the contract runs through 2005. Because most sponsor contracts contain performance clauses, Kodak likely has an out. Sources at Dale Earnhardt Inc. deny that Kodak will sponsor the #1 car next season. Sporting News

8/24/03

Canadian GP might get reprieve   The federal justice minister will likely recommend to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien that Formula One get a one-year exemption from tobacco advertising laws, a report in yesterday's Journal de Montreal says. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone struck the Canadian Grand Prix from the 2004 calendar because of a federal ban on tobacco advertising that would bar five of the 10 teams from showing logos. The grace period would allow those fighting to keep the race in Canada time to find other solutions, sources said. A delegation including federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon and Quebec Municipal Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Fournier traveled to Budapest last week to persuade Ecclestone to let F1 cars race without tobacco logos.  Toronto Star

8/24/03

IRL to move Indy 500 start back   The IRL may move the Indy 500 start time back 1 or 2 hours to improve plummeting TV ratings, at least that's the advice of ABC to Tony George.  That would hurt the chances of any driver doing the Indy 500 and Coca Cola 600 double.  "(TV officials) have talked about it for as long as I've been around," George said to the Indy Star. "Yes, there's a potential benefit to the TV ratings, but living in Indiana, the Farmer's Almanac suggests there's a higher probability of rain as the day goes on. "It doesn't take five or six hours to run the race like it used to; you can do it in three now. But moving it back would hurt people trying to do the (NASCAR) double."

8/23/03
F3000

F3000 and Renault  According to this Gandprix.com article, There are whispers in Formula 1 circles that Formula 3000 is going to get a major revamp in 2005 with a change of engine on the cards. The Formula 3000 field shrank to 14 cars at the weekend in Hungary and there are similar problems with numbers in the rival European Formula 3000, the Formula Nissan and Formula Renault V6 championships. There is little logic in having four competing series all trying to establish themselves as the important formula, particularly as Nissan and Renault are sister companies. We hear that the plan is for Renault Sport to become the engine supplier for F3000 - although the engines will probably be based on a John Judd unit rather than a production-based Renault engine. This will take away the need for the Renault V6 series and Formula Nissan and if costs can be cut the European Formula 3000 series will fade away as its only raison was to provide Formula 3000 at a sensible price. Formula 3000 will switch to becoming Formula 2.

8/23/03

New sponsor for Walker Racing  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today with Sportsbook.com on the sidepods of Manning's Car. Photo by Paul Josephson/AR1. 8/22/03 - We have it on good word that Walker Racing will have a replacement sponsor on the side of Darren Manning's car starting tomorrow morning here in Montreal. The decals will be yellow, and we'll let you guess who it is until we reveal the company tomorrow morning.  Hint:  It is a big multi-national company. Air China was given the opportunity to match the new deal or move to a smaller decal and location.  They chose to step aside altogether to let this new deal happen.  Mark C.

8/23/03

NASCAR trying to censor the media   According to this Winston Salem Journal article, NASCAR officials also have been talking to reporters privately about the Busch-Spencer fight, making the case that fighting should not to be glorified in newspaper articles. NASCAR officials just criticized an NBC piece on safety.

8/23/03

France daughter to take over NASCAR   According to this Winston Salem Journal article, This week's New Yorker has a lengthy article on NASCAR. The piece itself is fairly routine, but it does have a curious paragraph in which the writer, who spent considerable time with Bill France Jr., hints that Lesa Kennedy, his daughter, could take the helm of the family empire. Kennedy is head of the family's International Speedway Corp.

8/23/03


Hornish to Hendrick Racing rumor   According to this Winston Salem Journal article, Sam Hornish, the two-time IRL champ, apparently is headed for a Winston Cup career with Chevy team owner Rick Hendrick, according to team sources.  Now we have two strong rumors that Hornish will drive for either Penske or Hendrick.  You decide, but it appears his IRL days are numbered.

8/22/03

Team Rahal to run Fogarty  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Jon Fogarty will be sponsored by Norwalk Furniture for the last two races of 2003 with a hint of bigger and better things in 2004.  Photo by Mark Cipolloni  8/21/03 - There is a lot of speculation on what the Team Rahal announcement will be Friday in Montreal (see Hot News page).  Rumor has it that they will announce a 2nd Toyota Atlantic entry for the final three races of 2003 for last year's Toyota Atlantic champion, Jon Fogarty.

8/22/03

Helton to run DEI   Is NASCAR’s Mike Helton slated to take over the reigns at DEI? While it was no secret that Mike Helton and the late Dale Earnhardt were close friends, rumors swirl that Helton will be leaving NASCAR after the season for a position at DEI. When asked about the possible move by SPEED Channel's Dave Despain, Helton refused to comment on the subject, fueling the fire that a deal has already been cut. What would entice Helton to leave NASCAR, possibly an ownership stake at DEI, and possibly bringing Dale Earnhardt Jr into the mix as a partial owner of the team that sports his fathers (and his) name.

8/21/03

Hornish to Andretti Green?  Chip thinks so   According to this Autosport article, Chip Ganassi has said that he's not in the running to sign Sam Hornish Jr, who announced on Monday that he wouldn't return to the Pennzoil Panther Racing IRL IndyCar Series team next year. The 24-year-old has been linked with both IndyCar and NASCAR Winston Cup teams, but Ganassi says Sam doesn't feature in his plans. "He's not going to me, I can tell you that much," said Ganassi, and added: "I think Michael [Andretti]'s got him." Ganassi became the target of speculation when Hornish began hinting that he was interested in NASCAR but still wanted to participate in the Indianapolis 500. Reportedly interested in the two-time IRL champion are Roger Penske, Michael Andretti, Joe Gibbs, Richard Childress and Dale Earnhardt Inc. Hornish hinted at his interest in NASCAR during an IRL teleconference on Tuesday, one day after he told Panther officials that he wouldn't return to the team next season. "You never know if you've done the right thing," Hornish said. "I'm still not sure, but we're going to find out. There's only one way to find out."

8/21/03

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IRL to lose Marlboro sponsorship to NASCAR?   UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, With the word now out that Hornish is not renewing with Panther what are the odds that he signs with Penske, does a very limited IRL schedule (Indy) and goes to NASCAR with Marlboro sponsorship? With RJR gone Marlboro can now get some NASCAR exposure. Indy Car fan  Dear Indy Car Fan, With Winston's exclusive tobacco agreement with NASCAR now gone, one has to think that companies like Marlboro are licking their chops to get into to Winston Cup as early as next year.  Penske has already admitted he is looking  for a replacement sponsor for Marlboro for his IRL team.  We shall see, perhaps Hornish will be NASCAR's Marlboro man.  If Marlboro goes, we could see Kool and others following suit. Mark C.  6/16/03 - We reported a few weeks ago that all tobacco advertising will likely be gone from the USA motorsports scene in 2006.  It should be remembered that the major tobacco companies are already committed to stopping sports sponsorships by an agreement in September 2001 called the International Tobacco Products Marketing Standards which defined the minimum restrictions which the companies agreed to place on themselves worldwide. They created a common code of advertising and sponsorship standards which included an agreement to end sports sponsorships on December 1, 2006.  This AP article says, Team Penske chief Roger Penske will need a new major sponsor when the team loses Marlboro, and he's already targeting a successor. "I will be making a proposal to a major sponsor in New York (Monday)," Penske said. "I can't divulge who it is. We've had a great sponsor, and we've got to fill it in."  Sounds to us like Marlboro might be gone after 2004. The "hot" rumor at Laguna was that Roger had asked for two numbers to run in CART for next year. We report what we hear, you decide if the rumor is true.   Mark C.

8/21/03

A good chance Player's Forsythe team will fold after 2003  UPDATE Dear AR1.Com, Did I miss a BULLETIN on MSNBC or something or is Canada not a democracy anymore. Call me crazy or uninformed or just plain stupid but don’t the Canadian people still have the right to vote! Don’t companies like Players have the power to sway public opinion, if not perception? Don’t ALL politicians, even Canadian politicians, crave re-election? Why aren’t the smart Canadian politicians campaigning on a platform of repealing, or at least modifying with the injection of some common sense, their anti-tobacco legislation so a respected Canadian institution like Players can keep on racing and so the city of Quebec can keep their F1 race? Now that I mention it, why aren’t American fans raising the same ruckus with OUR elected officials? Have we ALL become a pack of Lemmings? It’ll ALWAYS be “The Winston Cup” in our minds no matter how many millions Nextel spends. Why are “We The People” permitting our governments to ruin something we love and support? Who’s in charge here? And how ironic is it that a Brit is the only guy trying to do anything about it by using the considerable might of his F1 machine to facilitate wholesale changes in government policy. I guess this is a perfect example of “we get the government we deserve.” J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois  Dear J.N.  We must not let our love for auto racing blind us to the fact that tobacco products kill a lot of people. If the tobacco companies did not knowingly put additives in their products that were addictive, the public and the government would be far more lenient I suppose.  But the fact they did it and tried to cover it up resulting in the severe restrictions they now face.  Why didn't Player's diversify into other businesses years ago?  They did (see related article), then retreated back to 100% tobacco, and with no other products to use to sponsor a race team, now have no alternative but to leave racing. Over the years the company expanded into areas beyond the tobacco industry -- a diversification which dictated certain changes in corporate structure. Hence, in 1970, Imperial Tobacco Company of Canada Limited was reorganized and renamed Imasco Limited (Imperial and Associated Companies) making Imperial Tobacco Limited a subsidiary. Imasco operated in the following areas: tobacco, pharmacies, financial services and real estate. Tobacco products, however, still accounted for a major portion of total Imasco revenues. Imperial Tobacco, then a division of Imasco, manufactured a whole range of tobacco products, including cigars, cigarillos, fine cut, and, of course, cigarettes." I believe they sold off the other businesses to maximize shareholder value and allow BAT to purchase the remaining portion of ITL. The climate for tobacco companies is not great and any businesses associated with a tobacco interest assumes a lot of legal liability which in turn was reflected in the price of Imasco stock.  After 2006 all tobacco advertising ceases anyway, so even the efforts of Bernie Ecclestone in Canada and Belgium are only delaying the inevitable two years.  Mark C.  See rebuttal on Hot News page.  8/20/03 - According to this Canadian National Post article, "It's a complete sponsorship ban on any tobacco brand," says Mark Thorne, Team Player's marketing communications manager -- ultimately an employee of Imperial Tobacco. "We can't sponsor anything from the team (Player's Forsythe racing) to the jazz festival." The company could still hold on to its 50% interest in the team --the other 50% is held by Gerry Forsythe, Champ Car's largest shareholder -- but that is unlikely, says Thorne. "We can't brand the car, nor can we use the design elements," he adds, casting aside the possibility of doing what some Formula One teams do when prohibited from carrying advertising brand names in certain countries. (My personal favorite is Jordan's Bitten Heroes in place of Benson & Hedges at the 2001 U.S. Grand Prix.) The end to the right to sponsorship creates three issues; one is the ownership of the team. "We could continue to own the team if we choose to, but there is no benefit to us," says Thorne. He says co-owner Gerry Forsythe will have to bring in sponsorship that will effectively pay for Forsythe to buy Imperial Tobacco's share of the team. It will cost from US$14-million to US$20-million to run the team in 2004, and that kind of money has been hard to come by. "If we could find a sponsor for the team, that would be great, but that [is proving] very difficult to do. We are looking, Gerry Forsythe is actively looking and he is pushing hard." The reality is, though, that if a sponsor is not found, neither partner will retain the team and it will fold.  The third and more immediate issue is what does the team do for the three races after the Oct. 1 deadline. It will unquestionably finish the season -- Tracy leads the championship -- but what will the cars look like? According to Canadian legislation, the blue-and-white color scheme would have to go, but Thorne says Player's has a legal opinion it could run with TeamPlayers.ca identification, since all three remaining events are outside of Canada. However, this could be viewed as provocative. "The mood is still very good. We're very fortunate. We have a lot of great employees, and on top of that we are performing very well on the track. Most of the team [members] are racers and Paul is winning and Pat is winning, so the mood is very positive. The goal is to win the championship." If that happens, it may be greeted by an eerie silence. Come Oct. 1, there will be no press relations, no Web site, no press kits or announcements -- all are prohibited by the legislation. Team Player's will be unable to talk about it. The media will have to rely on its own resources to rustle up stories. So, if Paul Tracy wins the driver's title, he will have to sing the praises of the team on his own. Despite efforts to the contrary, with each passing day it looks more likely that any victory chant will also be the team's swan song.

8/20/03

CART settles with Heitzler and Judd  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to fact today with the announcement by CART that they have settled out of court with Heitzler.  Their recent SEC 10Q statement said CART also settled with Judd, Della Penna, PPI and ESPN..  Litigation expense was $1.4 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2003, with no corresponding expense in the same prior year period. This expense was partially attributable to an arbitration settlement of $1.75 million paid to Engine Developments Ltd., in a breach of contract case over a contract to purchase engines, a settlement of a breach of contract suit filed by two former team owners, DellaPenna Motorsports and Precision Preparation, Inc., and settlement of contract disputes with ESPN television over the canceled Texas Motor Speedway race. The expenses were partially offset by receipt of $1.0 million from proceeds received from a bankruptcy settlement regarding claims filed against EuroSpeedway Lausitz for loss of sanction fees and other damages that occurred when the 2002 event was canceled as a result of the bankruptcy of the promoter.   8/2/03 - In an AR1 exclusive, we are hearing that CART has reached tentative out of court settlements with both John Judd and former CART President Joe Heitzler (this one is close) with regard to both of their lawsuits against CART.  In our mind, this is further evidence that CART is scrambling to get all of its ghosts in the closet cleaned up before a major buyout bid, rumored to be August 7th, but not confirmed. The threatened Jon Vannini lawsuit remains just that, a threat for the time being.  He is holding off the lawsuit by requests from two of the team owners.  He is respecting their requests.....for now.  Mark C.

8/20/03

Montoya to Minardi  This Pitpass.com article makes a good argument for why Juan Montoya could end up driving for the Minardi team with Ferrari engines in 2005.  Too far-fetched?  Think again. However, other rumors suggest he is already signed by McLaren for 2005.

8/20/03

Elliott to retire There are rumors floating around that NASCAR's most popular driver, Bill Elliott, may retire at the end of this season or next.  Greg Biffle is rumored to be his replacement.

8/20/03


Hornish weighs options with Penske in NASCAR  According to this RPM.ESPN.com article, Sam Hornish Jr. didn't say he was leaving the Indy Racing League for NASCAR next year during Tuesday's national teleconference, but the American star of the all-oval open-wheel series gave every indication he was following Tony Stewart's career path.  A day after announcing he would end his successful three-year run with defending IRL champ Panther Racing, Hornish all but said his next challenge would be with a roof over his talented head.  And all signs point to Roger Penske's multipurpose operation being his next stop.  "People come to a point where, even though things are good, you want to step outside and try something new," replied Hornish when asked what the deciding factor was in his decision to leave Panther Racing.  "I've been sick about it for the past week and I'm still sick today. But there are a lot of great opportunities out there."  When asked about leaving the IRL without its brightest star, the 24-year-old native of Defiance, Ohio, said: "It's weighed on my mind a lot of times. I'm trying to make as many people happy as I can and I've got to make myself happy, too.  "NASCAR has been a possibility for quite a while now and I get 50-50 from the fans. Half say they can't wait to see me (in NASCAR) and (half) want me to stay. You want to run where the fans are going to come watch you......"I'd feel different if I was the first guy to do it. Tony Stewart won the (IRL) title and did something different. Kenny Brack won the IRL championship and did something else. If I was the first guy to do it I'd feel really bad." Then Hornish hastily added he hadn't made any announcement yet but that he was "pretty close" to a deal. Any deal would have to include the Indianapolis 500 so that immediately narrows the field of candidates. Caponigro, who represents Mario and Michael Andretti plus Al Unser Jr., is thought to be after a three to five-year deal for Hornish, who was rumored to be making less than $500,000 this season at Panther Racing. Obviously, Panther took a chance on him in 2001 and it paid big dividends for both because now Hornish is ready to be compensated accordingly. "It's not about the money," insisted Hornish, who refused to even hear an offer from Panther Racing. "Opportunities aren't always measured in money. There are outside things and other relationships. "Panther always kept me happy inside and outside the race car. It's a wonderful organization and I consider them my friends. There is no conflict, I just want to try something else and I don't know if it was a surprise to them. "I think it's about what they were prepared for." Of course, open wheel doesn't need another loss to NASCAR. Hornish would join Stewart, Newman, Jason Leffler, Robby Gordon and Jeff Gordon in the exodus to NASCAR. "It would be a sad day for open wheel racing if Sam left," said Mario Andretti, who put Hornish together with Caponigro. "He drives like crazy, he's a good looking kid and he's well spoken. "Sam brought a lot of the party." But it sounds like this party is moving south.  Related article.

8/18/03

Hornish to re-sign with Panther Racing 2nd UPDATE Mike Hull was misquoted by Bruce Martin from SportsTicker. Here is a more accurate quote from Mike Hull on the Sam Hornish issue. "Our organization has never had a formal meeting with Sam Hornish or his representatives. Unfortunately, our business model is enhanced by spending money on the whole race team, not just the driver." - Mike Hull, Managing Director, Target Chip Ganassi Racing.  8/18/03 - This rumor is downgraded to false as Hornish is departing company with Panther Racing.  See Hot News page.  8/18/03 -  Rumor in the IRL paddock is that Sam Hornish will re-sign with Panther Racing this week.  We know the IRL is keen on keeping their biggest star and poster boy.   Therefore, one can suspect that Tony George, who is rumored to have paid countless teams money to stay afloat, will more than make up for any cash needed to meet Sam's salary demands. He's smart enough not to let Hornish get away.  All this talk about Hornish driving for another IRL team or in NASCAR is thought to be a ploy to get more money out of Panther Racing and to make some news headlines for the IRL.  None of the talks are thought to be serious.  It's rumored that Hornish is getting paid peanuts by the Panther Team now.  Ganassi Racing's Mike Hull stated over the weekend that the team terminated talks with Hornish's management team when they demanded a salary of $3 million for his services.  "We don't pay any of our drivers that kind of money," Hull was heard to say.  Mark C.

8/18/03

NASCAR to announcement Sunoco as fuel sponsor  3rd UPDATE    Sunoco's move into NASCAR as the official gasoline may come with a surprisingly small price tag. According to one report the deal is only $8 million a year, less than half what it would cost to be a full Winston Cup team sponsor. However, Sunoco will likely have to buy all the race-track gas stations from Unocal, a project estimated at anywhere from $25 million to $50 million. Part of the Sunoco-NASCAR deal could be that Sunoco is the only gasoline allowed at NASCAR's 100-odd short tracks. Winston Salem Journal  8/15/03 - This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.  Sunoco replaces Unocal, which has provided racing gasoline to competitors since NASCAR started. But earlier this year, ConocoPhillips, Unocal's parent company, decided to end its status as the Official Fuel of NASCAR. Helton said Friday at Michigan International Speedway that he doesn't expect any problems as teams switch from Unocal to Sunoco. Sunoco already distributes racing fuel to more than 400 tracks across the country and supplies about 80 percent of the fuel to NASCAR's Dodge Weekly Racing Series. "I think there's a very tiny gap there because of Sunoco's involvement in racing fuel, and the confidence that the competitors across NASCAR have in it," Helton said.   8/14/03 - This rumor is about to go to fact.  This AP article confirms it will be Sunoco.  8/14/03 - NASCAR is slated to make a major announcement Friday and rumors are it will be to announce their new fuel supplier to replace Union 76, who was there from the beginning of NASCAR.  We hear it will be Sunoco

8/18/03

Guy Smith seeks Champ Car ride  According to this article on CART.com, Guy Smith, the Englishman who co-drove a Bentley to victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, journeyed to Mid-Ohio last weekend to make the rounds of the CART paddock in search of a ride in the Champ Car World Series; preferably in some or all of this season’s remaining races; if not, then next year.  At age 28, Smith knows he’s getting a bit long in tooth to break into Formula One. “I’m looking at a few teams to do Formula One testing but I’m getting old and if I want to do Formula One I’ve got to do it now,” he says. “But this (Champ Cars) is where I spent two years of my career and I love it. Absolutely love it, the racing and the people. So that’s why I’m here at Mid-Ohio: to have a look around, talk to people, see what’s going on and get my name out there.”

8/17/03

Ralf signs contract extension?  German newspaper Bild reported on Saturday that BMW Williams driver Ralf Schumacher has agreed to sign a contract extension with his team until the 2006 season. According to the paper, Frank Williams offered his current driver a contract to drive for the team for $9 million per season.  While the German driver was asking for $15 million, Ralf accepted a price cut of around $3 million of what he makes today.  An announcement is expected before the Italian GP.  Ralf Schumacher's manager Willi Weber said to the Bild that "a contract extension would be good. Then both sides could start preparing for the future together in a serene way." BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, who was asked to comment on the contract extension said to the SID news agency, "this is only speculative, and, we don't participate in that." "We cannot confirm the agreement with Ralf Schumacher," stated Liam Clogger, spokesperson for Williams, to SID. "We are satisfied with his performances and we want to continue with him but there is no urgency."

8/16/03

Response to Vannini & Co buying CART  UPDATE Another reader responds, Just a quick note of response to Mr. Master’s comments regarding team owners once again owning CART. I do not believe it is possible for CART to survive let alone thrive without team owners participating at the highest levels of the organizational chart. I am no longer concerned about the evil cabal of owners sitting around the board room table in Delaware dealing themselves all the Aces! The owners who screwed up CART are all runnin’ in the IRL now (hasn’t Penske managed to take that thing over yet?). I agree the owners have NO PLACE on the racing & rules side of the business, however, right now CART’s very survival is dependent on the team owners, their relationships with sponsors, and their willingness to race in CART. With the new ownership developments AR1 has been reporting (EXCELLENT work Gentlemen!) I think there will be excellent balance in the new ownership, and on the new board. A dictator, yes, but please, a benevolent dictator. Personally, I hope there is enough stock left out there for fans to continue to own some of the sport they love and, while we’re at it, I think it’s time CART create a NEW seat on the board for a Director whose job it will be to look out for the interests of the people who will ultimately shoulder complete responsible for CART’s future success or failure. The often maligned and generally ignored fans! I humbly volunteer for the position. Respectfully, J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois  Dear Ray and J.N.,  Teams owners should not be running CART, as they are conflicted.  In some respects, it would be better for the sport if Vannini and Company took over.  Not only do they have far more wealth, they are not team owners, nor race promoters, hence are not conflicted and would act in the best interest of the sport at all times. Nothing against Messrs. Gentilozzi, Kalkhoven, Forsythe, Newman, et al, but CART needs them to focus on being great competitors who focus on fielding strong race teams with great drivers.  Leave it to others who are not conflicted and who have deeper pockets to run the sport.  Mark C.  8/16/03 - A reader writes in response to the rumor that Jon Vannini & Co. could possibly take over CART, Dear AR1, What a fascinating report! Your web of names and connections is the stuff of great thrillers!  I love the Weaton/Baton thing....brilliant!  Ah...if only it could be true. Surely by now everyone realizes that the road to CART’s salvation will not be through a team owner led buyout. After all, who got us here in the first place people! No...CART needs a dictator...individual or corporate...with the simple responsibility of running a profitable business. Absolutely no connection to teams or manufacturers. A marketing person who loves racing. Sounds a lot like Mr. Vannini. I have the highest respect for Messrs. Gentilozzi , Kalkhoven and Forsythe (thank god for them and their fortitude) but these are team owners...bloody good ones, that we need to do that job and that job only. I was a part of the CART circus during its last heydays and I remember the hoards of people jamming the paddocks to get a glimpse of Nigel, Mario or Emmo. The huge hospitality areas full of celebrities and beautiful people. More cars than the grid could hold and always the anticipation of a great battle ahead. And that was on any given CART Sunday at any track. I do not believe that the NASCAR steamroller has destroyed the playing field to the exclusion of other forms of the sport. There are millions of open wheel fans out there and they are waiting for CART’s rebirth.  I also pray that this comes in the form of a takeover by a group who understands sports marketing. Not concerts or any other fluff. That reported link up really scares me as it indicates that whoever is behind the idea has absolutely zero knowledge of racing and the racing fan.....zero!. This is about CART racing....wide open, thrill a minute battles joined on every type of track in any kind of weather....the rest is just icing. If CART is so tired that it needs to be propped up by some pop musical acts then please let it die in dignity. Otherwise get your group together with Jon Vannini and lets go racing again! aloha.......Ray Masters, Hawaii  

8/16/03

Will Vannini & Co own CART at end of day?   3rd UPDATE  Doing some further research and speculation, leads us to believe who will own CART is still very much up in the air. This is a twisted web, so pay attention. Baton Broadcasting - was CFTO TV in Toronto - a member channel of CTV. The B was for Bassett and the "aton" part was from Eaton (note the pattern?).  The money was virtually all Eaton family and they controlled it. In 1997 Baton took over the CTV Network which it subsequently sold to Bell. The amount of money the Eatons have probably came from the sale of CTV. You will see some of the connections here. Much of the $1.7 billion, in our opinion, is long gone.  The "W" may stand for Woodbridge.  Woodbridge is the holding company for the Thomson Family interests in Thomson Corp.  Ken Thomson is the major shareholder and his son David (very tall) is now the Chairman. The family is reported to be worth $16 billion (Canadian) and ranks first on the list of wealthiest Canadians, and is far wealthier than even Bernie Ecclestone. David was seen with Jon Vannini on more than one occasion. David Thomson backed David Tennyson (former IMSA driver) in a go-kart operation and he is an avid race fan - just too bloody tall to fit in a race car. The Eatons don't have the kind of money that Thomson has. We would not be surprised if the Eatons are down to $300 to $500 million now. There is no doubt, however, that the Eaton and Thomson families have know each other for a long time. Some funny things to ponder -- Woodbridge has 25% of Bell Global that controls TSN with 65% and ESPN has 35%. The TSN bit is a conflict with the SportsNet. We can't imagine these guys are getting into this to "help" Jon Vannini. If our guesses are right and the W is Woodbridge, this could get VERY interesting (five-fold). For the wealth of Thomson look at this proxy statement.  They (through Woodbridge) have 448 million shares. Value today is $30.90 per share and dividend is 72 cents US. So, market value of their stock is over $13.8 billion (US) and their annual dividend alone is $322.56 million (US). If anyone could spend pocket money to buy CART, it has to be Woodbridge. A guess?  Yes, but what does the W stand for other than Woodbridge - especially if Vannini has been seen with David Thomson. By the way, note that George Eaton's address is the same as Weatons in the SEC filing and that is still his address in the phone book today.  We haven't been able to find out much about Michael Smith, who filed for Weatons Holding to report they have 6.2% of the stock. There is a Michael Smith in Caledon who is the son of Leo and is on the Board of this company. See this website. They might well have more than enough money to be involved. This Michael Smith is a member of the Toronto Club and the National Club.  He could well be one of our silent and unknown wealthy individuals. If he is this Michael Smith who signed the SEC filing, and we believe he is, then a very interesting situation is unfolding. Weatons ----- W + Eatons. Eaton's was the largest Canadian dept store for years and finally went under, was re-org'd, then underwater again and sold to Sears. Michael Smith was on the Board of Eaton's.  Now, what does the W stand for. Well, Jon Vannini has been seen with the son of a very very very very wealthy Canadian (note that very used 4 times means wealthier than the Reichmans were at one time) and their private holding company starts with the letter W. This "son" happens to be very very tall and is very very interested in racing. We can't say much more at this time, but if our guess is right then there just might be one or more backers for CART with money that would even make Bernie look like a small fish in the ocean.  Remember in our rumor, we projected that Vannini and friends might control up to 50% of the shares of MPH. Everyone is assuming that Gentilozzi, Kalkhoven, Forsythe, et al will own CART, but given this research we are beginning to think that Vannini and company could easily outbid them and take over CART without blinking an eye. Collectively they certainly are worth more money than the group everyone assumes will own CART, and could, therefore, do a lot more for the series long-term. The plot really thickens. Mark C.  8/16/03 - Also, while Eaton was a sports car driver stateside and is best remembered for that and his F1 exploits, he does also have Indycar racing on his resume. He made four USAC oval starts in 1971 and one in 1972 with his first race, 9th at Milwaukee, his best result. But his Indycar career ground to a halt when he failed his rookie test at Indy, and he never returned.  Note that Fox (Do you recall some postings here not too long ago about the Murdock interests?  Murdock's News Corp owns Fox) owns 20% of the Canadian sports net and Molson (CART and F1) owns 20% and Rogers, major Canadian cable operator owns 20%. CTV, the private Canadian broadcasters owns the remaining 40% and Eaton is an almost 20 year director of that organization. George's son James is buddies with Jon Vannini. It appears Vannini, with his existing 8.8% and the Eatons with 6.2%, own 15% of the stock now. There are others who will side with Vannini.  Rumor has it that the buyers of CART will have a very difficult time getting shareholder approval for the sale without going through Vannini and friends who will vote as much as 50% of the stock however Vannini votes.  Our investigators are on the case, stay tuned.. 8/15/03 - Doing a little research on the company “Weaton Holdings” turned up nothing, but a search on the address “17485 McLaren Caledon” and found the following link.  This is a filing for a Canadian broadcasting license for SportsNet2. In the list of directors, the address is associated with a George R. Eaton. A little further research turned up the following links 1 and 2.  Apparently George Ross Eaton (“a former hippie and race-car driver”) was an occasional F1 driver in the late 60’s/early 70’s.  Also, he was a descendent of the founder of Eaton’s department store in Canada, and served briefly as CEO before the store went bankrupt. We don’t know if this means anything. We couldn’t find any link to Forsythe or Ecclestone, but the link to F1 is interesting, to say the least.  8/15/03 - Weatons Holding, Ltd. of Canada has acquired 920,900 shares, or 6.2%, of CART stock as revealed in this Schedule 13G SEC filing.

8/16/03

CART buyout taking shape   UPDATE Very interesting.  We learned that the address given below for Willis Capital LLC, is that of Indeck Power Company, which is owned by Gerald Forsythe.  But the filing says that Willis Capital is a member of Open Wheel Racing Series LLC, which is owned by Kalkhoven. It's possible Gentilozzi bought some of Forsythe's shares.  Ah, the web they weave.  8/15/03 - According to this Securities and Exchange Form 3 document filed today, the deal to buy out CART is taking shape. The following will each take a 10% share of 3.3 million shares (20% of total outstanding shares), but in reality, it's Kalkhoven who now owns 1.65 million and Gentilozzi who now owns 1.65 million shares

1. OPEN WHEEL RACING SERIES LLC (Owned by Kevin Kalkhoven)
275 Middlefield Road, Second Floor
Menlo Park, CA 94025
2. 21ST CENTURY RACING HOLDINGS LLC (Owned by Kevin Kalkhoven)

275 Middlefield Road, Second Floor
Menlo Park, CA 94025 
3. KALKHOVEN KEVIN

275 Middlefield Road, Second Floor
Menlo Park, CA 94025
4. WILLIS CAPITAL LLC (Owned by Paul Gentilozzi, but address is that of Indeck)

1111 Willis Avenue
Wheeling, IL 60090
5. BIG BANG RACING LLC (Owned by Paul Gentilozzi)

201 N Washington Street, Suite 900
Lansing, MI 48933
6. GENTILOZZI PAUL VICTOR

201 N Washington Street, Suite 900
Lansing, MI 48933

It appears Vannini, with his existing 8.8% and the Eaton's with 6.2%, own 15% of the stock now (see related story on Hot News page). There are others who will side with Vannini.  Rumor has it that the buyers of CART will have a very difficult time getting shareholder approval for the sale without going through Vannini and friends who will vote as much as 50% of the stock however Vannini votes.  Our investigators are on the case, stay tuned...

8/16/03

Barber Dodge fate to be determined  Rumor has it that Skip Barber management will decide the fate of the Barber Dodge Pro Series after Montreal.   We hear they are bleeding too much money and the owners are not racing experts. We hear they are considering folding it again as they did 2 years ago when they bought the assets of Skip Barber.  If this happens, CART should immediately replace this series with the underpowered Toyota Atlantic series cars and sanction the very sensible, very affordable Fran-Am V6 series (reported on Hot News page recently) as the next-to-last rung on the CART ladder.  Why?  Because the Fran-Am V6 cars will blow the Toyota Atlantic series cars in the weeds, outperforming them in every aspect.  CART doesn't need their top-rung paling in comparison to the competition.

8/15/03

Houston back on CART schedule for 2005   5th UPDATE You read it here first.  Houston is back on the CART schedule, with the first race slated for March 11-13, 2005. Chris Pook will be in Houston next week on Wednesday August 20th to meet with the Houston Racing Commission. The meeting is open to the public.  We will post the new track layout as soon as we have it.  Mark C.   8/8/03 - Our inside sources in the city of Houston tell us that the CART 2004 Houston race is off due to construction issues. Our source tells us that the city is ready to sign a deal with CART for a March 2005 date but is waiting for CART to find a title sponsor for the race. Our source predicts that the deal will be ready to sign in 5 weeks. 7/25/03 - According to a report in a Houston paper, Toyota will spend $100 million over 20 years on the Arena.  Also, Houston will host the Super Bowl, Baseball All-Star game, and possibly a CART race in 2004.  It will be a banner year for the city.  7/25/03 - As predicted, The Houston Rockets have secured a naming rights deal with car manufacturer Toyota for the NBA team's new $200 million arena. While the terms of the rights deal have not been announced, the car manufacturer will lend its name to the new Toyota Center, construction on which is scheduled to be completed in September. The Toyota Center will not only play host to the Houston Rockets but also WNBA teams, the Houston Comets and minor-league hockey affiliate the Houston Aerosol.  Now the question remains whether Toyota will get involved with the rumored return of CART.   7/24/03 - We hear from our Houston sources that the new arena for the Houston Rockets basketball team will be named Toyota Arena or Toyota Center. The price for the naming rights isn't out yet, but the building will be right alongside the Houston Grand Prix if it stays in its current location on an extended course. There's supposed to be a press conference about the naming sometime today or tomorrow.  Should CART return to Houston, the "Toyota" Atlantic Series would be a natural fit.  Our informants tell us that CART and Toyota are getting close to renewing the Toyota Atlantic Series contract.  Toyota also sponsors the CART race in Long Beach.  Might they sponsor the Houston race too?  We can speculate can't we?  7/22/03 - A new source to AR1 tells us Houston is indeed signing a deal with CART for a new race beginning in 2004. The track will be much longer than the last layout (Thank God!). The race is important to Houston as the downtown area has been under construction, including a large rail line on Main Street that goes out to the Medical Center (near the Astrodome and Reliant Center). The race will be in and around the same location as previous years (East side of downtown Houston) - the layout is not yet complete and is pretty confidential. The City's focus is on new Downtown arena and George R. Brown Convention Center owned by city/county. The race will be the second major event of 2004 with the first being the next Superbowl.  We hear the race will be in the Spring.  Mark C.

8/15/03

Sarah Fisher eyes NASCAR  According to this Knoxville Post article, "If the Gen IV (Chevy/Cosworth engine) isn't it, and if a major sponsor isn't forthcoming real soon, IRL driver (Sarah) Fisher might even turn to stock cars - one of the few four-wheeled racing vehicles she has never commanded. 'That's definitely one thing I'm looking at,' she said. 'We've talked about it this year. It's a lot easier for a sponsor to justify a NASCAR program, even though it requires more expense."

8/15/03

Pacific Coast Motorsports to announce major sponsor  Look for a major sponsorship announcement in September from Toyota Atlantic Team: Pacific Coast Motorsports (PCM) and team driver Alex Figge. At this point all PCM will say is the sponsorship will encompass the Toyota Atlantic event scheduled for September 28th in Miami as well as the complete 2004 and 2005 CART Toyota Atlantic schedule. A press announcement will take place at Firebird Raceway located in Phoenix, AZ. prior to the Miami event with additional media information slated for the Miami Grand Prix Weekend. Stay tuned to AutoRacing1.com for further updates.

8/15/03

Dodge to drop Intrepid  The Winston Cup Scene is reporting that the Dodge Intrepid will stop being made in 2004. While not announced, Dodge is expected to cease production of the Intrepid by the end of 2004. Dodge is supposedly looking at bringing the Dodge Charger or Dodge Daytona back in 2005. Winston Cup director John Darby said NASCAR has been informed by Dodge that the Intrepid would be replaced. The submission for a new car will be July 1, 2004 but the car doesn't have to be completed by then. The Intrepid has won 15 Cup races since making it debut in 2001. Winston Cup Scene

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