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Thanks for visiting our News Bits page - news snippets from the world of Auto Racing.  Please visit our Rumors page for all the scuttlebutt.  If you have some news, 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 & disclaimer. Newer rumors supercede older ones of the same topic.  Go to our forums to discuss any hot news.  

DATE News (chronologically 8/16/00 to 8/22/00)
8/22/00

CART board holds off on HP decision - UPDATE - Jon Beekhius on RPM2Night reported that the idea of limiting gears is only being considered for Texas and it's 4 gears not 3.  He also reported that it looks as though Turbo boost will be reduced to 37 or 38 inches next year and then down to 34 in 2002 for all the remaining tracks. At issue is whether or not the 1 inch difference will make the manufacturer's want to change the mechanics of the engine to optimize performance.  Interestingly he also said the turbo manufacturers have asked CART to ban longitudinal turbo fans.  Current turbos are radial fans, but at lower boost pressures, a longitudinal one might be more efficient.  They don't want to go through the expense of designing a new one for two short years.  A new engine spec will start in 2003 and we are willing to bet, and firmly endorse, it will be the 1.8 liter 55 inch turbo formula.  8/13/00 - The CART board voted to table the decision to approve the engine manufacturers two-step turbo boost reduction proposal until all avenues have been explored, including limiting the no. of forward gears in the cars (we do not endorse that concept....CART Driving 101 uses two forward gears)

8/22/00

Last weekends TV Ratings (Source: Speedvision) 
NASCAR (ESPN, 8/20) 4.06 rating / 10 share / 3.186m households
CART (ABC, 8/20*) 1.3 rating / 3 share (overnight)
NASCAR Busch (ESPN, 8/19) 1.08 rating / 4 share / 0.852m hh
NASCAR Qualifying (espn2, 8/18) 0.65 rating / 2 share / 0.462m hh
NASCAR Happy Hour (espn2, 8/19) 0.58 rating / 1 share / 0.414m hh
ASA (TNN, 8/19) 0.5 rating / 1 share / 0.365m hh
NHRA (TNN, 8/20) 0.3 rating / 1 share / 0.256m hh
CART Qualifying (espn2, 8/19*) 0.31 rating / 1 share / 0.219m hh
*-Tape-delayed showing

8/22/00

Additional tire compound for USGP The first US GP since 1991 is scheduled for the 24th of September and tire supplier Bridgestone confirmed this week that they'll be introducing a specially designed compound for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  The teams will have the chance to evaluate the new compound only at the practice sessions prior to the qualifying session and Sunday's race, but according to Bridgestone the characteristics of the F1 circuit at IMS forced them to develop a new compound.  David Coulthard said in an interview  "I have heard various scary stories about the tire pressures we will need to run to handle the constant high 'g' that we're going to have to pull through that section of the banked circuit that we're going to be using".  Luckily for F1, Bridgestone can call on their CART design team who have experience making tires for high speed turns at Indy.

8/21/00

Scott Dixon to get PacWest Champ Car test PacWest Racing Group will make a further investment into its long-term future when Dayton Indy Lights star Scott Dixon drives for the team in this week’s Champ Car open test at Laguna Seca in California. Dixon, just 20, leads the Dayton Indy Lights championship having won three of the seven races this season and will run at Laguna Seca on both Thursday and Friday – sharing the first day with regular PacWest Champ Car driver Mark Blundell and the second with his teammate Mauricio Gugelmin. PacWest’s Vice-President of Racing Operations, John Anderson, made the decision to include Dixon in the open test after the young New Zealander produced some pleasing results in a recent private session at Putnam Park near Indianapolis which was run in both wet and dry conditions. That “rookie” test was observed by regular Champ Car driver Memo Gidley who had no hesitation in recommending Dixon was good enough to drive in the Laguna test. “There is no doubt that Scott is doing the job for us in Indy Lights and that he deserves some more time in a Champ Car,” said Anderson. “Part of Scott’s contract involves several days of Champ Car testing, but this test is not just about that. We certainly see Scott and his Indy Lights teammate Tony Renna as part of our long-term future and we must create every opportunity for them to gain experience in these cars.” 

8/21/00

Valvoline buys into MB2 The Valvoline Co. today announced a landmark agreement to become the first major consumer products company in history to own a NASCAR Winston Cup team, with veteran driver and Michigan native Johnny Benson behind the wheel of the Valvoline Pontiac Grand Prix. Valvoline will be an owner with MB2 Motorsports of the No. 10 team, starting in 2001. The new team is named MBV Motorsports. Valvoline also signed a three-year agreement to be the primary sponsor of the No. 10 Pontiac beginning in 2001, continuing Valvoline's long and successful sponsorship role in Winston Cup racing. Benson will continue to be a teammate with Ken Schrader, who drives the No. 36 M&M's Pontiac for MB2. (Source:  That's Racin)

8/21/00

Road America Interviews UPDATE - We have our interviews page with more audi from Road America.  8/20/00 - All of our interviews from Road America can be found on our interviews page.  So far this weekend you can listen to interviews with Bobby Rahal, Michael Andretti, Dario Franchitti, Gil de Ferran, Patrick Carpentier, Kenny Brack, Max Papis, Shinji Nakano, Memo Gidley, Mark Blundell and Christian Fittipaldi; as well as the Vasser/Ganassi breakup press conference.

8/21/00

Road America attendance estimated at 75,000 and 140,0000 Although no official numbers were released we were told by one track personnel that around 75,000 were in attendance for race day and 140,000 for the weekend under Chamber of Commerce weather.

8/20/00

Eurospeedway Grand Opening draws 100,000 Nearly 100,000 fans packed the new Eurospeedway at Lausitz, Germany on Sunday for a Champ Car demonstration that helped to preview next year's first-ever FedEx Championship Series event to be contested in Germany. Veteran driver Bryan Herta drove a car owned by Walker Racing for several demonstration laps on the two-mile oval as part of the speedway's weekend-long grand opening celebration. "Wow, that was unbelievable," Herta said afterward. "There were just under 100,000 people here today and there was not racing at all, just demonstrations by different types of cars. We did two ceremonial laps first thing this morning, then ran eight more later in the day and to finish, we did some donuts just for fun, and the audience was on its feet and yelling the entire time. The interest from the fans is enormous, and they were so kind. It's going to be a spectacular place to race. The track is great; it's most like Rio but faster than that. It's very wide and I think passing is going to be good." The German 500 will be contested at Eurospeedway on the weekend of Sept. 13-15, 2001.

8/20/00

Did you know? Did you know that TV star Jerry Springer is a big Michael Andretti fan?  Now you do.

8/20/00

Need a place to stay for USGP?  Need a place to stay during the upcoming SAP United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis? VisitIndiana.net is offering a new service for visitors to Indianapolis for this upcoming event in September. Because hotel demand for this event is so high, with those attending the race are staying as far away as 80 to 100 miles, finding accommodations can be a challenge. VisitIndiana.net is offering to list, for a fee of $50.00, listings of those people willing to rent their homes or room during this time.  You can also learn more about this online at VisitIndiana.net

8/20/00

Buddy Rice wins 5th Atlantics race of year Buddy Rice came from 8th starting position to win today's Toyota Atlantics race at Road America.  The race ended under yellow, but not before Rice made a stirring pass of Dan Wheldon with about 4 laps to go.  More to follow.

8/20/00

Lap around Road America with Kenny Brack  Many drivers consider Road America to be one of the 10 best race tracks in the world.  In North America it is considered to be the best.  This 4-mile track has it all, three long straights surrounded by tall trees, high speed and low speed turns, and a lot of elevation change.  Listen as Kenny Brack takes you around a lap.

8/20/00

Bruno "JHUN Kay Rah"  We are told that the proper pronunciation of Bruno Junqueira's last name is "JHUN - Kay - Rah".  Others say it is "Jhun-Kera"  If rumors are to be believed, better get used to one of them.  We like the latter.

8/20/00

Highlights of Bobby Rahal weekly conference (UPDATE : full audio

  • It does not sound like Bobby will stay on as CEO and President permanently.  He reiterated that James Hardymon is looking for a permanent replacement and one gets the feeling that is what Bobby wants

  • It was easy to get the owners to agree to reductions for in-season testing next year

  • With testing CART teams are doing the equivalent of 36 races per year, on par with NASCAR

  • Winston Cup costs more per car per year than CART

  • Spring training will definitely be out west somewhere next year, with two days for the media to meet with drivers, golf tournaments, tennis tournaments and the like.  No on track running.  An announcement is imminent.

  • CART's Michigan 500 outperformed NASCAR's Winston Cup Michigan 400 TV ratings in 10 of 13 major TV markets.

  • They had hoped that the Texas race would be a night race, but evening NHL playoff TV conflicts nixed that idea for this year.  Look for it to maybe happen in 2002.  Bobby likes the idea.

8/19/00

Fittipaldi loses engine in morning practice  Christian Fittipaldi had a bad Saturday morning practice session.  He lost one engine and ran out of fuel on course with his backup car.

8/19/00

Emerson Fittipaldi meets with CART  Showing just how committed he is to his CART race, Hal Whiteford informed us that Emerson Fittipaldi flew up to CART's offices in Michigan this week to discuss the Rio race.  It's still a go with only TV details to be ironed out.  We asked Bobby Rahal about the possibility of it being a night race.  He said probably not this year, but they may run the race in late afternoon or early evening.  This can be done because the daylight hours are long there.  Hal told us Emmo is being very cooperative.  The decision of using the oval vs. the road course is still up in the air.

8/19/00

CART closer to agreement with engine manufacturer's on HP reduction  Hal Whiteford told us that he had a very positive meeting with all four CART engine manufacturers this weekend and they are VERY close to making an announcement as to HP reductions the next two years.  He said they still had one more thing to go back and consider and announcement will be out by Vancouver at the latest.

8/19/00

CART to meet with Watkins Glen - 2nd UPDATE - Hal Whiteford confirmed with us again today that he will meet with the President of Watkins Glen, Bryan Sperber, and ISC's Gene Haskett this week at Watkins Glen.   8/12/00 - Bobby Rahal stated today that Hal was not going to The Glen to negotiate any deal for a race.  He was going to determine what safety improvements will be required for year 1, year 2, etc.   8/11/00 - At today's Fan Forum in Mid-Ohio, CART's Hal Whiteford let it be know that he has a meeting with Watkins Glen officials in 2-weeks to talk about a future CART race at the facility.  Track safety upgrades are sure to be high on the agenda.

8/19/00

Just to clarify - no Handford Device at Road America  To clear up any earlier confusion some of you may have had, the Champ cars are running regular road course wings this weekend, not the Handford Device as some may have thought.

8/19/00

Can manufacturers deliver cars on time?  With the cut back in testing time next year, it is imperative that the teams have their new 2001 cars or update kits as soon as this season is over to take advantage of the short off-season testing window.  When asked at today's Manufacturer's forum, all four representatives (Carl Haas, Kim Green, Mike Hull, and Keith Wiggins) felt it might be a real concern because everyone is going to want their cars at the same time.  It seems no one has bothered to ask the manufacturers if they can deliver in time.  With zero in-season testing time after 3/1/00, the off-season (which effectively ends 2/1/00 to get ready for RIO) will become very important.  The second question becomes - assuming the manufacturers to meet the first wave requirements, what about the 2nd and 3rd cars the teams order, i.e. the ones they actually race during the season, will they be delivered on time?

8/18/00

Ganassi and Vasser make it official  This afternoon Chip Ganassi and Jimmy Vasser sat down with the press for an official announcement on their split followed by a Q& A session with the media. Chip said it was one of the hardest things he had to do.  Jimmy was obviously very disappointed.  Listen what Chip has to say about the rumor Tom Anderson might be leaving the team, as well as the entire press conference.  You can also here this and all other interviews on our Interviews Page

8/18/00

We talk to Gil de Ferran  We had a chance to talk to Gil after qualifying today.  Listen in as he talks about brake wear, aerodynamic balance and whether Team Penske can be as dominate as they were last weekend.

8/18/00

Did you know?  That Michael Andretti is now looking for a 3-year deal rather that a 2-year for a new contract.  So he stated today at Road America.  We had a chance to talk to him after qualifying today.

8/18/00

Friday Barber Dodge Results  Barber Dodge Pro Series drivers had a little more than 12 minutes to establish the grid for round 8 at Road America in support of the CART FedEx Motorola 220. The provisional pole qualifying session was abbreviated by nearly 20 minutes of track repair following an incident in the Champ Car practice, which preceded the session. In spite of the shortened session, Matt Plumb of Unionville, Penn., took the provisional pole and set a new unofficial qualifying record in the process. Plumb's quickest lap came on the fifth of five run as he circled the 4-mile road course in 2:12.805 sec. for an average speed of 109.731 mph. In fact, the first eight qualifiers all set times below the previous qualifying record of 2:13.925 sec. including the record holder himself Nilton Rossoni. He was second quick only 0.036 sec off of Plumb's time. Jamie Menninga continues to show his qualifying form, placing third in the session hot on the heels of Rossoni."It was just one of those laps," said Plumb of his fast lap in his red and white No. 17 Cam 2 Barber Dodge Reynard. "I caught up to Nilton (Rossoni) coming out of turn three. He was on a cool down lap and moved over for me, and when I got through the Carousel, I knew this was something pretty special. I took it easy for the last couple of turns to make sure I didn't toss it off the road. Depending on the track conditions tomorrow there's a good chance I can go faster."  Like Plumb, Menninga set his quickest lap on his fifth and final tour of the circuit. Having been quick throughout the most of the session knows that there is still more speed in the Event Marketing Enterprises Barber Dodge.

8/17/00

Did you know?  That Juan Montoya was really our Dan Maldonado in disguise?  As this picture shows, Juan is really Dan.   We asked Dan why he has assumed the identity of a race car driver  He said "as a kid my favorite carton was Spiderman and he always wore that really cool red suit."  "When the opportunity came up for me to drive in the red Target uniform for Chip, I just had to have it."  Let's hope he doesn't' climb walls for relaxation.

8/17/00

Submit your question to Mario Andretti  Mario Andretti will join CNNSI.com users for a chat Monday, Aug. 21 at 4 p.m. ET.   Submit your question now.

8/17/00

Michigan news  Todd Bodine will sub for Terry Labonte in the #5 Frosted Flakes/Kellogs Chevy this week in Michigan. Labonte is still feeling the aftereffects of an accident suffered in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona.  Carl Long will try to qualify the #85 Mansion Motorsports car at Michigan this week. Also, Kerry Earnhardt will sub for Dave Marcis and drive the #71 Realtree/Marcis Racing Chevy and Andy Houston is scheduled to run Cal Wells' #98 McDonalds/PPI Motorsports Ford. 

8/17/00

Last weekends TV ratings (Source Speedvision)
NASCAR (ESPN, 8/13) 3.77 rating / 10 share / 2.960m households
CART (ABC, 8/13) 1.5 rating / 3 share (overnight rating)
NASCAR Busch (ESPN, 8/12) 0.82 rating / 3 share / 0.646m hh
WoO Knoxville (TNN, 8/12) 0.6 rating / 1 share / 0.480m hh
NASCAR Happy Hour (espn2, 8/12) 0.59 rating / 1 share / 0.420m hh
ASA (TNN, 8/12) 0.4 rating / 1 share / 0.334m hh
NASCAR Trucks (espn2, 8/12) 0.39 rating / 1 share / 0.281m hh
Indy Lights (espn2, 8/13*) 0.25 rating / 1 share / 0.179m hh
CART Qualifying (espn2, 8/12*) 0.16 rating / 0 share / 0.117m hh
*-Tape-delayed showing

8/17/00

The red Menace  American driver Memo Gidley is pleased to announce a new nickname for his beloved Della Penna pit crew: THE RED MENACE. The moniker was selected by Memo's fans, who have been voting since last Friday on five possible names posted on the front page of CART.COM. "This crew has a lot of skill and a lot of heart, and I'm delighted to give them a name they can wear with pride," beamed Gidley. "I expect the RED MENACE to push me towards the front in each of the remaining seven races this season, and I thank my fans for all the good wishes they included in their emailed votes."  Votes were received from the United States, Canada, Colombia, England and Australia, and the winning "Red Menace" ran neck and neck with "Pennamaniacs" throughout the six-day voting period. A number of write-in suggestions were received, ranging in quality from witty to sophomoric, including Crimson Flashes, Memomen, Fetchmen, Memo and the Mechanics, Methanol Maniacs, Memo's' FetchOfanatics, Memo's Red Army, Gidley's Gearbox Gorillas and Gidley's Jack-Aces. 

8/16/00

Wheldon looks forward to Road America - In the last two races of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, young Briton Dan Wheldon has finished third and second – at Toronto and Trois Rivieres respectively. This weekend he is aiming to go one better and take outright victory in the ninth round of the prestigious 12-race series which is being held at the famous Road America track at Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin. 22-year old Wheldon is currently in second place in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship which is a stepping-stone to the CART FedEx Champ Car World Series to which he is aspiring for next season. Dan Wheldon will contest this Sunday’s race on the long 4.048-mile road course in his Jayhard / BG Products Swift Toyota – entered by PPI Motorsports. Before leaving his California home to race at Road America for the first time in his career, Dan Wheldon said: ‘I’ve heard so much about Road America and understand that it’s quite similar to some of the tracks I’ve raced in Europe. We’re into our last four races and I have the team’s encouragement 

8/16/00

Interesting F1 News 
Montoya will be a success in F1 says Patrick Head (Autosport)
Williams technical director Patrick Head believes Juan Pablo Montoya will be a success when he switches over to Formula 1. Although Head refused to confirm it, Champ Car ace Montoya will leave Chip Ganassi Racing and drive for Williams-BMW next season, replacing the Benetton-bound Jenson Button. Read More....

Zonta set for Sauber seat (Autosport)
Sauber is set to sign Ricardo Zonta for 2001, with McLaren test driver Olivier Panis taking over the Brazilian’s BAR seat. Read More....

Alesi relishes potential Ferrari deal (Daily F1)
Jean Alesi has welcomed the prospect of Prost potentially securing a supply of customer Ferrari engines next season. Read More....

David Coulthard determined to secure title (Daily F1)
David Coulthard is resolute in his self-belief that he can this year’s World Championship, despite team-mate Mika Hakkinen taking the lead in the title standings last Sunday in Budapest.  Read More....

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