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Jeff Gordon sells Colorado property  Jeff Gordon has sold most of nearly 2,000 acres he owned in the high country above Missouri Heights [Colorado] to a development group headed by the man who created the Dallas National Golf Club in Texas a few years ago. And John MacDonald, formerly of the Ernst & Young accounting and consulting firm, said he plans to build much the same kind of project here as he did in Dallas. The course designer is to be golf architect Tom Fazio, who also designed the Dallas National course. The deal has yet to close, said broker Scott Davidson of the Aspen Associates Realty Group.

Gordon, who reportedly bought the land outside of Carbondale in 2006 for $9 million, was not even thinking of selling the land until MacDonald approached him. But over time he became convinced it was the thing to do, according to John Bickford, Gordon’s stepfather and business manager. “I found it by actually driving around and looking for golf property,” MacDonald said of the deal, adding with a hearty laugh, “It took a while, but I wore him down.”

Gordon retains a 50-acre parcel of his own, as well as “a couple of memberships in the club,” MacDonald said. Gordon’s parcel overlooks the proposed golf course site but is not near it, MacDonald said, stressing that the 300-acre golf course will not be peppered with homes, as are a number of other golf subdivisions that have sprung up in the Roaring Fork Valley. Bickford and MacDonald both noted that the property butts up against a neighboring development known as High Aspen Ranch and another called The Ranch at Coulter Creek. He said that some of the homeowners in those subdivisions are likely members of his proposed golf club. More at the Aspen Times

Q&A with Simon Pagenaud  Simon Pagenaud and the rest of de Ferran Motorsports came into the American Le Mans Series with as much hype and excitement as any other team in recent Series memory. A year removed from his rookie effort, Pagenaud is moving to LMP1 with Gil de Ferran and Acura. The young Frenchman took some time to look back on 2008 and look ahead to 2009.

Question: What is the one memory that stands out to you from your 2008 season?

Answer: Well, it is not a good memory but very honestly that’s what stands out to me. It’s our incident in Mid-Ohio where my refueler Keith Jones was injured during a pit stop. Fires are always dramatic. Keith is doing much better now, and we are all delighted about that. Those risks are part of racing - I would gladly deal without it - but motorsports can be dangerous. More ...

A new open wheel series is born  There was no major press conference, no fireworks, no big deal made of the event.  But the event happened anyway.  The newest major American open wheel racing series was born, right in a corner of the USAC booth at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Orlando, Florida.  Tucked into the back corner of the booth sat a model of the “proposed car”, described as being very close to the final version.  Nearby, two attractive models stood, and a designer involved in the car’s design, and other USAC officials.  There was no confetti, no fireworks, and no celebration.  USAC’s newest racing series, the Gold Crown Series, was silently thrust into the world.   

The world it was thrust into was one of a world-wide recession, not the best of times to launch a new racing series. The series is planning to begin in 2010.  This much is known as of this date: it is a front engine car (rear engine design was not considered), the series will include road courses, the intention is to become a destination series for USAC, and the series will not replace the Silver Crown Series, and will not take over Silver Crown Series events.  It will be a pavement only series, leaving the dirt events for the Silver Crown Series.  USAC wants to develop young drivers and build their careers, “from when they are 5 until when they are 35 years old,” according to Kevin Miller, USAC CEO and President. More ...

Giniel de Villiers wins Dakar Stage 5  South African Giniel de Villiers scored his first stage win of the 2009 Dakar Rally and moved into second place overall after Stage 5 on Wednesday.

In the longest special of the rally so far -- 506 kilometers from Neuquen to San Rafael in Chile -- de Villiers mastered the sand dunes to reach the finish line in 5 hours, 47 minutes.

Sprint Cup driver Robby Gordon finished third and moved to seventh overall, 41 minutes, 48 seconds behind Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who led the rally entering Stage 5, lost more than 15 minutes after steering problems hampered his driving. He dropped to third place overall.

Al-Attiyah, who won Stages 1 and 3, now leads de Villiers by 2 minutes, 24 seconds in the overall standings.

Yvan Muller, competing in a single-seater SMG buggy, was forced out of the event after his car caught fire following a collision with the truck of Elisabete Jacinto. No one was injured.

After 14 stages covering the 9,574-kilometer (5,950-mile) circuit, the race will finish on Jan. 18 in Buenos Aires.

Thursday's route is a 395-kilometer drive from San Rafael to Mendoza.

The Dakar Rally is being broadcast on Versus, with daily updates on RobbyGordon.com.

Honda axes new NSX, other models  The restructuring of Honda’s new model program that led to the death of the new Honda NSX is much more extensive than previously thought. Honda is completely dismantling its plans for the next two years as it attempts to deal with the rapid collapse in new car sales across the world.

Among the casualties of Honda’s rethink are a range of rear-wheel-drive cars to be sold under the Acura brand, a proposed V8 engine, a successor to the Honda S2000 and a convertible based on the forthcoming Honda CR-Z coupé.

Acura, Honda’s US-market luxury rival for Infiniti and Lexus, has been hit hardest by the changes. Not only has it lost the NSX successor — due to be branded as an Acura but killed off last month — but the program to develop new rear-drive cars aimed specifically at the BMW 3, 5 and 7-series has also been canned. More ...

Human waste to power cars of tomorrow?  New research from Kajima, a Japanese company, and Tokyo University, suggests that microbes from human waste could be a good source of energy for hydrogen fuel cell cars. According to a report yesterday on Japan’s Nikkei, the company has produced a fuel cell that generates 130W from each cubic meter of waste. Kajima believes it will take another decade to commercialize the product.

Researchers from the University of California, and administrators at California’s Orange County Sanitation District, appear to be further along. Last fall, they installed an $8 million fuel-cell device to convert human waste into hydrogen fuel. In an interview with the Orange County Register, Scott Samuelsen, director of UC Irvine's National Fuel Cell Research Center who helped develop the device, said, "The waste stream from society is being turned around, and providing energy and transportation fuel for the society."

The Sanitation District has used methane gas from sewage to power its systems for years, but the new device—built by Air Products of Pennsylvania and FuelCell Energy of Connecticut—is able to separate the methane into three streams of energy: one to help heat the sewage, one to generate electricity, and one for storage tanks ready for use in hydrogen cars. (Of course, the cost of a practical hydrogen car will be prohibitive for many years.) More ...

September deadline for Donington  UPDATE Donington Park, the track taking over from Silverstone as the venue for the British Grand Prix in 2010, needs to raise almost £40 million to upgrade the track and facilities in time to host the race.

According to a report in UK newspaper the Telegraph, the investment required for track improvements and the construction of a new pit and paddock complex and hospitality suites, has not yet been raised.

Owners Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd (DVLL) have until September this year to satisfy Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone that plans are on course.

DVLL reportedly intend to fund the redevelopment with bank debt secured against future ticket revenue, largely drawn from the corporate sector. The track owners are reportedly planning to sell over 6,000 seats to corporate customers, with annual fees of around £5,000 a seat guaranteeing £30 million a year in revenue from just five to 10 per cent of paying customers.

Planning permission for the first stage of improvements to the circuit is expected to be granted by North West Leicestershire District Council tomorrow.

01/07/09 (GMM)  Circuit chiefs at Donington Park have until September to cement a place on the 2010 formula one grid, the sport's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone says.

The track is expected to be granted council planning permission to commence $150m in necessary upgrades, but the other outstanding consideration is the securing of the actual funding in the midst of a global financial crisis.

"They have a contract with us that I am sure they understand, and I would imagine they have considered the state of the market and have a fall-back position," Ecclestone, who penned the 10-year contract last July, told the Daily Telegraph.

"I am relying on what they told me they will deliver, and we have a September deadline, from memory, to see that all is as it should be.  If it is not then we have four or five venues ready to stage a race," the British billionaire said.

Andrew Hambel, chief executive of ISG - the company engaged to structure the seat packages for the 2010 race - admits that the world's current situation is an obstacle for Donington.

"Now is neither the best time to be persuading people to part with money for a new sporting proposition, nor is it the best time to be asking banks to back an offer of this sort," he acknowledged.

"Whether it all stacks up to deliver the kind of financing we need is uncertain, but we would not be devoting the time we are to putting this package together if we were not confident that we can deliver."

GM gets reduced rate for Daytona 500 sponsorship  General Motors has renewed its sponsorship of Daytona Int'l Speedway and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500, "but at a cheaper price," opting to sponsor the event "on a year-to-year basis" rather than signing a multi-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Chevrolet spokesperson Terry Rhadigan said, "Let's just say it’s a fraction of what it had been in previous years, dollar-wise." GM has sponsored the race for more than 40 years.  “We’re very pleased to have them back as a partner,” Daytona spokesman Andrew Booth said. “We’ve had a great relationship with them, and they’ve been a great partner to us.” DETROIT NEWS
Singapore to modify circuit for 2009  Singapore race organizers today announced their intention to modify their circuit for the 2009 race. The circuit, which hosted the first ever Formula One night race last year, will undergo revisions and modifications designed to improve the spectacle as well as increasing safety at some points on the track.

Speaking to autosport.com, track boss and event chairman Colin Syn announced that the priorities were to improve overtaking and to review the surface, the bumpy nature of which caused some set-up issues for drivers in 2008. 

He said: “We are modifying turns one, two and three because we want drivers to have more opportunities to overtake this year.

“We want to reduce the bumps and smoothen out the circuit,” he added. “So that will be an improvement next year to make the race even better than it was in 2008.”

Alonso rated better than Hamilton  Former Ferrari team boss Cesare Fiorio has claimed that Fernando Alonso is a better driver than Lewis Hamilton.

"In situations like this [with the raft of new technical and aerodynamic regulations for 2009], a team can gain an advantage over another because its engineers have had a hunch that turns out to work better," the 69-year-old reasoned. "In that context I have no doubts - I would prefer to have Alonso in my team, because for me he is still the best driver around."

Fiorio, the man who gave Alonso his F1 test debut with Minardi in 1999, added that an Alonso-Ferrari combination would give the entire field cause for concern.

"He is stronger even than Lewis Hamilton; the two are equal in terms of raw speed, but Fernando has a lower propensity to make mistakes. He's consistent, has a good rhythm inside the car and he's intelligent. More ...

Brundle steps down as driver manager  (GMM)  F1 racer turned TV commentator Martin Brundle is stepping back as a driver manager.

The 49-year-old, who was the retiring David Coulthard's long time manager, had been involved in a driver management company with his broadcasting colleague and former teammate Mark Blundell.

The business, 2MB Sports Management, will now be run solely by fellow grand prix veteran Blundell, handling the careers of rising stars including McLaren test driver Gary Paffett.

While Blundell is not moving from the British broadcaster ITV to BBC's F1 coverage in 2009, Brundle will continue to occupy the commentary booth this year, as well as oversee his son Alex's graduation to the new Formula 2 series.

"I have decided to step back from all driver management in order to focus fully on my own career, and that of my son Alex," Brundle said.

SpeedCar Series-Q and A with Claudio Berro  Claudio Berro, former member of the Ferrari Formula One team, is now director of operations for the new Speedcar series, which is now in only its second season. The season got underway at Dubai last month and as such Claudio has given his initial assessment of the series itself to the official website….

What do you think of the concept of Speedcar Series category of racing?

Speedcar Series is the right concept for the future. Every driver has the exact same car in everyway with no aerodynamics, no electronic aids and not much downforce. It’s a hard car to drive and it comes down to the driver’s mettle. It makes the race on the track more exciting for the drivers and just as exciting in the stands for spectators to watch.

What are your goals for 2008/2009 season?

Our main objective for Speedcar Series Season 2 is to have 9 high caliber professional teams on the roster and 18 cars on the grid. More ...

racing news
Toyo Tires 24 Hour Preview  This Friday and Saturday (January 9th and 10th), the Dubai Autodrome will be hosting the fourth edition of the TOYO TIRES 24H of Dubai, the first major international motor racing event of 2009. A strong entry with over eighty teams and impressive cars promises an exciting and spectacular race. Among the competitors are former F1-driver Johnny Herbert, ex-DTM touring car stars Kurt Thiim and Roland Asch and GP2 racer Ho Pin Tung.

While daytime temperatures in a large part of Europe hardly rise above zero degrees Centigrade, teams are getting ready for the race in Dubai in bright sunshine and in pleasant temperatures of around 25 degrees. "The containers have arrived at the circuit and today (Tuesday), teams have started unloading their equipment and setting up their pit boxes", reports Gerrie Willems from Dubai, speaking on behalf of race organizers CREVENTIC. More ...

Larry McClure to plead guilty on tax charges  
Larry McClure
Morgan-McClure Motorsports co-founder Larry McClure will plead guilty to tax fraud, according to documents filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Va.

McClure is scheduled to enter the guilty plea Jan. 15. A sentencing date has not been set.

According to a plea agreement signed Monday by McClure and filed with the court, McClure will plead guilty to five counts, including the filing of false tax returns for 2002, 2003 and 2004, as well as making false statements to Internal Revenue Service investigators.

According to the indictment, McClure did not report $325,000 of income obtained for the use of race cars in the Automobile Racing Club of America series. More ...
track news
Donington GP hopeful of council green light  (GMM)  Organizers of a British grand prix at Donington Park in 2010 are confident they will this week receive council permission to go ahead with the project.

After the South Derbyshire District Council recently declared that the local area will benefit from the event despite some environmental costs, circuit boss Simon Gillet said he was "confident we have the planning in the bag".

The final decision is set to be taken by the North West Leicestershire District Council on Thursday.

A circuit spokesman said work on the necessary improvements at Donington Park, said to be costing nearly $150m, is ready to commence.

"There is a strong determination to make it succeed.  Work is set to start as soon as permission is granted," the spokesman Dave Fearn told the local Nottingham Evening Post.

He added: "We are optimistic that everything will go in our favor.  It is a culmination of a lot of hard work by everybody on all fronts."

Ferrari confirms Honda engine offer  UPDATE (GMM)  Ferrari has confirmed that it will be able to offer engines to the formula one team based at Brackley.

Following Honda's withdrawal from the sport, team boss Ross Brawn said he contacted his former colleagues at Ferrari about procuring the famous Italian outfit's 2.4 liter V8 power plant in 2009, should Honda Racing F1 be rescued by a buyer.

A Ferrari spokesman confirmed Brawn's account, and said no deal has been reached yet.

"They have asked us whether we would be able to provide them with engines, and we said yes," he is quoted as saying by the German news agency SID.

"That's all, nothing more," the spokesman added.

Including Toro Rosso, Ferrari supplied two customer teams with engines in 2008, but Force India will switch to Mercedes-Benz power ahead of the forthcoming season.

01/06/09 (GMM)  Honda team boss Ross Brawn has confirmed he is in talks with his former employer Ferrari about securing a customer engine supply for 2009.

The Briton told La Gazzetta dello Sport that he and colleague Nick Fry are also speaking with multiple potential buyers of the Brackley based team.

"Honda has already said it will not supply us with engines, so that's why I contacted Ferrari," said Brawn, who was the Maranello team's technical director until 2006.

"We haven't signed anything yet but I really appreciated the support from president Luca di Montezemolo and Stefano Domenicali.  It's like being among former schoolmates: they still see me as one of their own."

Brawn said his priority is to safeguard the jobs of Honda Racing F1's staff, rather than protecting his own position or selling to the highest bidder.

When asked how many parties the team is speaking to, he answered: "I can only say it's more than one.  The objective is to save the jobs ... my presence is certainly not a priority."

He said the team was unlikely to return to the test tracks prior to the start of the season, but that he is "really optimistic" about the chances of survival.

"There's no hurry because modifying the car to install a different engine requires at least six weeks of work anyway.  It's unlikely we'll manage to be on track during the winter.

"That's why we are studying a package of evolutions for 2010, when we aim to step up the ladder.  Next year will remain for us a transitional one," Brawn said.

Survey says McLaren most popular team  (GMM)  McLaren has overtaken its top formula one rival Ferrari in the popularity stakes, according to the results of a global fan survey.

A year after the Fernando Alonso turmoil and the 'Stepneygate' spy scandal, the Mercedes powered team has emerged as the sport's most popular outfit in the results of the survey, carried out by Renault's title sponsor ING and published in the British magazine F1 Racing.

The survey, spanning 160 countries and involving 70,000 people, showed 29 per cent selecting McLaren as their favorite team.

The result is a dramatic turnaround compared with the survey two years ago, when McLaren attracted only 21 per cent of the vote, and the arrival of the new world champion Lewis Hamilton must be credited.

It means Ferrari, previously F1's standout favorite among fans, dipped in popularity from its previous 30 per cent two years ago to 28 per cent in 2008.

The next two favorite teams were Williams and Renault, each polling 6 per cent.

"While Lewis deserves every accolade he has received since becoming the youngest world champion the sport has ever seen, in reality, for this to be achieved requires the same level of dedication and hard work from every member of the team in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart," McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said in reaction.

68 per cent of those who completed the online survey said they have followed F1 for 10 years or more, and a third said they attend at least one race per season.

Childress announces 3-driver Nationwide lineup  Richard Childress Racing’s No. 29 Holiday Inn/Holiday Inn Express Racing team has added championship-winner Clint Bowyer to its driver lineup for the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series season.

The 2008 Nationwide Series drivers’ champion will share the behind-the-wheel duties with Jeff Burton and Stephen Leicht, who were announced in August as co-drivers for 2009. Burton and Scott Wimmer steered the No. 29 Holiday Inn Racing team to the 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series owners’ championship and finished fifth in the owners’ standings last season.

Crew chief Dan Deeringhoff, who guided Bowyer to the Nationwide Series driver’s title, will move from RCR’s No. 2 team to assume the position of crew chief for the Holiday Inn Racing team. More ...

Tracy sponsors basketball team  
Paul Tracy Panthers
Indy Car driver Paul Tracy, who is still trying to land a ride for 2009, is sponsoring a basketball team in Las Vegas called The Summerlin Panther's.  They are undefeated so far this year.
Penske comments on Detroit GP, IRL future and Helio  Roger Penske orchestrated the return of the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix to the Motor City in 2007 following a six-year absence.

His decision to cancel it this year because of the chronic state of Michigan's economy was a personal blow to the Birmingham race team owner and businessman. But it was the correct call, he says.

While on vacation during the holidays, Penske responded by e-mail to questions from the Freep's Mike Brudenell regarding, among other things, the cancellation of the race and the future of his IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves, who is scheduled to appear in a Miami court in March on tax-evasion charges.

His answers appear below: More ...

13 spots yet to be filled for F2  Eleven drivers have thus far signed up to compete in the new FIA Formula 2 Championship and they come from an eclectic background as it is not yet clear where the new series will fit into the existing structures of international single-seater racing. The most experienced drivers thus far are Renault World Series runners Julian Jousse from France and Canada's Robert Wickens. The former was runner-up in that championship to Giedo van der Garde. while Wickens split his time between the World Series, the Formula 3 Eurocup and A1GP, winning races in all of them, but not making any impression in the championships.

From Formula 3 there are Italian Marco Zipoli, who raced in Italy, Swiss lady racer Natacha Gachnang, who was a frontrunner in the Spanish F3 series and Sweden's Sebastian Hohenthal, who has spent the last two years in British F3. Formula Renault supplies Henry Surtees (son of former F1 World Champion John Surtees), Germany's Tobias Hegewald, who raced in the Formula Renault Euroseries, Pietro Gandolfi, a lackluster performer in Swiss Formula Renault and 19-year-old Indian Armaan Ebrahim, who has been racing in Asia.

In addition Formula Palmer Audi will provide two F2 drivers: FPA champion Jason Moore and Alex Brundle, the son of former F1 racer turned commentator Martin Brundle.

The number of cars is limited to a maximum of 24 so there are 13 slots left to be filled.

The winner of the championship will receive a full test with the AT&T Williams F1 team while the first three in the final classification will qualify for an FIA Superlicense. Grandprix.com

Tickets for China GP in April go on sale  The 2009 Chinese Grand Prix is being moved up on the Formula One calendar as the season's third race to avoid a clash of dates with the inaugural ATP Masters series in Shanghai.

The F1 Chinese Grand Prix will be held from April 17 to 19 this year after Australia (March 27-29) and Malaysia (April 3-5).

In the previous five years, Shanghai staged the event in September and October.

Motor racing's governing body, the FIA, made the changes as per the wish of the host country. More ...

Volkswagen Takes U.S. Market Share from Detroit & Japanese  Volkswagen AG, Europe’s biggest automaker, clawed U.S. market share away from Toyota Motor Corp. and Chrysler LLC as new models and the resilient Jetta helped stem a sales decline in the recession-scarred auto industry.

Volkswagen, helped by the Wolfsburg, Germany-based carmaker’s luxury Audi brand, increased its share of U.S. car sales to 2.8 percent in December from 2.1 percent a year earlier. Audi’s 9.3 percent dip and the VW brand’s 14 percent drop came in a month in which the world’s largest auto market crumbled 36 percent to a 16-year low as shaky consumer confidence and tight credit sapped demand. More ...

Sainz wins Dakar fourth stage  Spaniard Carlos Sainz won the fourth stage of the Dakar rally by six seconds from Qatar's Nasser Al Attiyah on Tuesday to maintain the overall lead in the controversial race.

Sainz, who also won Sunday's second stage, completed the 459-kms stage across the dust-laden back roads of southern Patagonia in three hours 42.57 minutes with his Qatari rival, winner of the first and third stages, in hot pursuit.

Sainz, who clinched the 11th Dakar rally stage of his career, retained the overall lead where he is 3.49 minutes ahead of Al Attiyah after the section from Ingeniero Jacobacci to Neuquen.

Marc Coma completed a double for Spain when he won the motorcycle stage in four hours 9.32 minutes to extend his overall lead to 42.57 minutes ahead of Johan Street.

Coma, who has won three of the four stages, finished 1.17 minutes ahead of Frenchman Cyril Despres with Street in third place a further four seconds behind.

British pair in artificial coma after Dakar Rally wreck  Suffering from pulmonary problems, Paul Green and co-driver Matthew Harrison, of the Rally Raid UK team were taken to hospital in Santa Rosa and placed in an artificial coma – thought to approximate to heavy sedation – in a bid to speed up their recovery. Organizers said it was expected they would be brought out of the coma on Thursday.

Juan Enemeterio, chief doctor of the Hospital Modelo of Santa Rosa's intensive care unit, said: "Green took a heavy blow to the thorax and the spinal column. There are hopes of recovery, but we'll wait 24 hours to see whether he can be moved to Buenos Aires. He is connected to a respirator, and his condition is serious."

Harrison remains in an induced coma, having also suffered a thorax injury.

Their accident was the first major incident in the 9,500km off track rally which covers large tracts of Argentina and Chile. The race has been switched from Africa following security fears in North Africa which caused last year's race to be cancelled.

Tommy Baldwin Announces New Sprint Cup Team  Tommy Baldwin, a five-time Sprint Cup and former Daytona 500 winning crew chief announced the formation of a new Sprint Cup Series race team under the existing Tommy Baldwin Racing banner. The team, located at 604 Performance Road, in Mooresville, NC, is aggressively preparing its Toyota race cars with plans to compete in the 51st running of The Daytona 500 in February. The team plans to compete full-time in the Sprint Cup series. Baldwin is excited about his new program, "With tough economic times upon us, the timing for starting this team is right. Our overhead is low and we have a great group of talented mechanics and specialists to choose from. We can offer sponsors the chance to get into Sprint Cup racing at a fraction of the costs, without compromising on-track performance, due to our low overhead," Baldwin said. Baldwin is no stranger to team ownership as he formed a successful Nationwide program which was responsible for bringing Unilever into the sport. Baldwin, a 12 year Sprint Cup veteran, later sold the team to what is now known as Gillette-Evernham Motorsports.

It was during his ownership of the Nationwide team that Baldwin began a business relationship with Joey Arrington, of Arrington Manufacturing, Inc., located in Martinsville, Va. Baldwin will secure his Sprint Cup engines in 2009 from Arrington Manufacturing who works closely with Toyota. "We are honored to be working with Tommy again, this time on his Cup efforts. He has always been great to work with and we are looking forward to a successful year," said Arrington.

"We will do everything we can to support NASCAR and its fans," Baldwin said. "We are thankful for the opportunity NASCAR offers as we are able to prepare our own car to compete in one of the nation's top sporting events. That's what makes NASCAR so different from the other major sports. It's still attainable to be an owner, if you are willing to put the work in and I'm no stranger to hard work," Baldwin added. Everest Marketing PR

IndyCar Series drivers geared up for Rolex 24 at Daytona  The past two IndyCar Series champions and the 2007 Firestone Indy Lights champion will co-drive one of the two Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates cars in the 47th Rolex 24 At Daytona later this month.

Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti will join Alex Lloyd in the No. 02 Target/TELMEX Daytona Prototype. The drivers participated in testing at Daytona International Speedway Jan. 2-4.

Chip Ganassi and co-owner Felix Sabates are the first team owners to win three consecutive Rolex 24 At Daytona overall titles. Last year, Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas teamed up to win the race on the 3.56-mile circuit.

Other IndyCar Series drivers entered in the twice-around-the-clock race in the Daytona Prototype class include: More ...

Duno featured in parade  
Milka Duno
IndyCar Series driver Milka Duno will be among the guests of honor in the Three Kings Day Parade on Jan. 11 in Miami.

Duno will be featured during the 39th annual event with actor Fernando Allende and Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez. The parade begins at noon (local time) along 8th Street between 4th Avenue and 22nd Avenue.

Fisher signs endorsement contract  
Sarah Fisher
IndyCar Series team owner and driver Sarah Fisher signed an endorsement deal with SimCraft Racing Simulators. Fisher will appear at the company’s booth Jan. 8-11 at the 2009 International CES when it launches its series of racing simulators.

SimCraft's car racing simulators include the APEX SC830 and the APEX SC320, patent-pending military-grade simulators that bring the sense of touch to the home market. The APEX SC830 was developed for the training of professional racers (and fanatics of SimRacing) and offers three degrees of freedom (roll 40§ / pitch 25§ / yaw 40§). The APEX SC320 was designed for the hardcore gamer and offers two degrees of freedom (roll 20§ / pitch 20§). Two models of the APEX SC830 will be displayed at the 2009 CES.

"The APEX SC830 is possibly the best real-life simulator I've ever experienced," Fisher said. "As far as the feedback the driver receives from the device, it's very similar to being in an actual race car. To be honest, the first time I used it, I was speechless. I'm very impressed with the capabilities and I will definitely be spending more time on the APEX as I prepare to run the 2009 IndyCar Series circuit."

Can Dixon repeat?  
Scott Dixon
Three months from the start of the IndyCar Series season and reigning champion Scott Dixon is being pressed for a prediction. Can he make it two in a row against another formidable field on the most diverse set of racetracks in motorsports?

Dixon takes the middle of the road - attempting not to appear arrogant while not devaluing confidence in his abilities or those of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew.

"Winning is tough, but to defend is harder," said Dixon, who though he won a series record-tying six races in 2008 claimed his second IndyCar Series championship by a scant 17 points over Team Penske's Helio Castroneves. "Last time we tried it, it didn't work out too well. But next year I think the team looks very strong, the development has been good in the off-season, already the car is super fast and I have a new teammate (Dario Franchitti) joining me." More ...

track news
Ford becomes official vehicle at Bristol  Bristol Motor Speedway announced today that two local Ford organizations have teamed up to provide the official vehicle of the track in 2009.

Tri-Cities and Charleston Ford Dealer Advertising Group have signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with the .533-mile facility, which is owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc.

“It is exciting for us to renew our partnership with Ford here at Bristol Motor Speedway," BMS President Jeff Byrd said. "We had a strong relationship with them the first two years after [SMI] purchased the track, and teaming up with them again in partnership with the dealers of this region is a good fit.” More ...

TV News
Versus, Speed See Double-Digit Viewership Growth In '08  SportsBusiness Daily reports that for '08, Versus saw the biggest viewership gains among cable sports nets for both total day programming and primetime, up 20.2% and 23.6%, respectively, from a year ago. Speed also saw double-digit growth in '08, as the net had a successful season of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series telecasts. Among the ESPN-branded nets, only ESPN saw gains in '08, up in both total day and primetime. ESPN2 was only slightly off from its '07 marks, but ESPN Classic saw a significant drop, down around 30% in both total-day and primetime viewership.
tv news
Expanded Roles for Massaro, Reid, Welch in ESPN’s NASCAR Coverage  Three veterans of ESPN’s motorsports team, Mike Massaro, Marty Reid and Vince Welch, will have new NASCAR responsibilities on ESPN in 2009.

Massaro, who has been a NASCAR pit reporter the past two years, will join Nicole Manske and Allen Bestwick as host of NASCAR Now, ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program. Massaro and Manske will share the primary host role on a rotating basis, while Bestwick will continue as host of the Monday roundtable discussion edition. Massaro will still work the pits for selected NASCAR Nationwide Series telecasts.

Reid, who has been the lead announcer for ESPN’s coverage of the IndyCar Series the past three years, as well as a play-by-play announcer for selected NASCAR Nationwide Series telecasts the past two years, will see his NASCAR appearances increase. Reid will be the play-by-play announcer for ESPN’s coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series for much of the second half of the season, after ESPN begins its 17-race coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Dr. Jerry Punch will continue as play-by-play announcer for the Sprint Cup coverage and for the Nationwide Series in the first half of the season. More ...

Kubica tops Polish sports poll  (GMM)  Robert Kubica's Polish compatriots have voted him the top local sportsperson of 2008.

Almost 130,000 Poles agreed that the BMW-Sauber driver, fourth in the drivers' championship and winner of the Canadian grand prix, should win the ranking organized by the sports daily Przeglad Sportowy and state television TVP.

In the popularity poll, Kubica, 24, beat Olympic gymnast Leszek Blanik (more than 120,100 votes) and shot put athlete Tomasz Majewski.

Regenerative shock absorbers to charge hybrid batteries  Shock absorbers that generate electricity have been developed by North America's Tufts University. Like regenerative brakes, these dampers use the surplus kinetic energy in a vehicle to generate electricity that can contribute to the recharging of hybrid batteries, further extending their range. The shock absorbers are at the experimental stage, but Electric Truck LLC, an American licensing and technology incubation firm, has committed to develop the system for hybrid vehicles according to Gizmag magazine.

The electricity is generated by harnessing the movement of a vehicle's body relative to its wheels via the shock absorbers, the vertical movement used to drive a linear electric motor that generates an electric current. Conventional shock absorbers convert the kinetic energy they generate into waste heat - these regenerative versions are claimed to have the potential to contribute between eight and 44 percent of a vehicle's energy needs when it is driven at moderate speeds. Regenerative shock absorbers are particularly effective when used on big and heavy vehicles, but they are eventually expected to appear in road and racing cars.

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Ferrari to debut next week, Red Bull in Feb.
  • McLaren boss racist says sacked employee
  • Kubica starts own kart team
  • Glock says post-Brazil storm 'hardest moment'
  • Ferrari to bring back pit 'traffic lights'
  • Verstappen avoids jail over wife assault

Ferrari to debut next week, Red Bull in Feb.
(GMM)  Red Bull Racing has announced that its 2009 car, the RB5, will make its track debut in February at the Spanish test circuit Jerez.

The confirmation coincided with Ferrari's announcement that its own single seater for the forthcoming season is to be the first 2009 car to hit the tracks next Monday.

But Red Bull boss Christian Horner said the RB5 debut date of 9 February is designed to "take full advantage" of the later start to the 2009 championship.

"We are using the time to ensure we have optimized the car as much as possible, within the regulation  changes, to start on the grid in Melbourne," he added.

The unveiling of the new Ferrari is scheduled to take place at the Italian team's Maranello headquarters, with Felipe Massa to debut the car later that day at Fiorano.

Ferrari clarified that the car, probably to be designated the F2009, will not yet be in its race-legal 2009 specification.

McLaren boss racist says sacked employee
(GMM)  Having already been labeled homophobic, McLaren boss Ron Dennis has now been accused of racism by a sacked employee.

It emerged last year that the employee, Peter Boland, was bringing legal action against Dennis and his companies because he said rumors he was gay led to him being unfairly dismissed.

The case has now returned to a Southampton (UK) employment tribunal, where 27-year-old Boland, who worked as Dennis' private jet steward, claims the Briton had been "insensitive" to Arab business colleagues.

Hong Kong-born Boland said Dennis had offered the Arabs alcoholic drinks when he knew they would not accept them because of their religious beliefs.

And after another trip to the Middle East, Dennis "came onboard and was offered a drink," Boland, who is representing himself, said.

"Ron said he did not want a drink.  Ron said he wanted to go to the bathroom to wash his hands because he had been shaking hands with Arabs all day."

Boland claims he was sacked by Dennis in the wake of the false rumors about his sexual orientation, but McLaren say he was rude, made mistakes and fell asleep during some flights.

But as well as accusing Dennis of sexual discrimination and racism, Boland - who turned down a settlement offer of $11,000 - also said his boss once called him "fat" before he was fired in May of last year.

McLaren, partly owned by the Saudi Arabia-born Mansour Ojjeh as well as the Kingdom of Bahrain, declined to comment. More ...

Grand Prix Racewear suspend business after 'trading difficulties'  Has leading motorsport clothing and technical equipment supplier Grand Prix Racewear Ltd become the latest victim of the global credit crunch?

Leading motorsport clothing and technical equipment supplier Grand Prix Racewear (GPR) Ltd has revealed that it has suspended business following 'trading difficulties'.

The company - based at Silverstone circuit for more than 21 years - stocks some 35,000 product lines in car parts and motorsport racewear and accessories, from HANS devices and helmets to fuel and cooling systems, and its logo is famously emblazoned across the helmet of the iconic Stig from cult BBC motoring program Top Gear. More ...

Toyota orders 11-day output halt as sales slump  Toyota Motor Corp is to halt production at its Japanese plants for 11 days in February and March as a sharp slide in U.S. sales has left dealers' lots full of unsold cars. A 37 percent slump in December sales in Toyota's biggest market was its sharpest fall in more than a quarter of a century and worse than declines at struggling U.S. rivals General Motors and Ford Motor.

"I never expected the crisis to spread this fast and leave this deep a scar," Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters at a Tokyo event hosted by Japan's top business lobbies. Toyota had already announced a three-day production halt for this month at its 12 directly operated Japanese plants -- four car assembly plants and eight for engines, transmissions and other components. A sweeping suspension of domestic production is almost unprecedented. In 1993, Toyota halted output for one day as a strong yen hammered sales. More ...
Cash-starved GM to auction historic vehicles  General Motors' cash problems could give car buffs the rare opportunity to buy some of GM's most unique vehicles at auction next week, giving gearheads an extraordinary chance to own some of Detroit's history.

The auction is part of an effort to raise cash for the struggling automaker but also done to manage GM's fleet of historic and unique vehicles. GM's Heritage Center in Sterling Heights has about 200 of the automaker's 1,000 historic or special vehicles on display.

More than 200 of the center's vehicles will be put up for sale at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. Tom Freiman, manager of the Heritage Center, estimated the sales could generate less than $5 million. The auction will run from Sunday through Jan. 18 and include hundreds of rare and valuable vehicles. More ...
Treasury to give GM second loan of $5.4 billion  The U.S. Treasury said Monday it will grant General Motors Corp. a second loan totaling $5.4 billion on Jan. 16 as part of the $13.4-billion rescue of the ailing automaker.

The second loan, following the $4-billion loan issued last week, was disclosed in an update on the Treasury's spending of money from the $700-billion financial industry bailout.

Chrysler LLC won its $4-billion loan last week as well.

With the GM and Chrysler aid plans, and the $6-billion infusion into GMAC, the Treasury cannot lend the additional $4 billion it pledged to GM without tapping the second half of the bailout fund, something Congress has vowed to block until after the Obama administration takes office.

The rest of the first $350 billion has been pledged to shore up banks and financial institutions such as insurer AIG. Detroit Free Press
McLaren's Hallam settles into NASCAR  Former McLaren head of race engineering Steve Hallam is now settling into his new role as Director of Competition at Michael Waltrip Racing in Charlotte, North Carolina. Hallam spent 27 years in Formula 1 before deciding to try something new.

Hallam, 56, had been at McLaren since December 1990 and in his career worked with drivers such as Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Michael Andretti, Gerhard Berger, Kimi Raikkonen, Mika Hakkinen and most recently Lewis Hamilton.

Hallam will now oversee the NASCAR Nextel Cup activities of Michael Waltrip, David Reutimann and Australian Marcos Ambrose.

"It would have been easy to stay at McLaren until I retired," Hallam said. "But what attracted me to Michael Waltrip Racing was the opportunity to work with a young team and, in particular, to be part of the continued development and growth of the multi-car Cup operation as they strive to provide the best equipment and support for their teams. This is a great opportunity to join a closely knit team who are looking to build success by harnessing Toyota engines and technical support to build cars at a level where we can improve upon the tremendous foundation that has already been built."

Hallam's first taste of NASCAR came in 2007 when he visited a Nextel Cup race as a guest of a Toyota executive.

"I realized there is life outside of Formula 1 and it is very exciting, different and challenging," Hallam says. "It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted to be a part of that." Grandprix.com

Max Angelelli hilarious video  Watch Max Angelelli attack various members of the Grand-Am paddock in this hilarious clip from Barber Motorsports Park's museum.

tv news
TLC will air "NASCAR Wives"  TLC is gearing up a new reality show tracking the spouses of NASCAR drivers. The cable network has ordered a docusoap series titled "NASCAR Wives," starring women with surnames familiar to racing fans. TLC will air an hour of the series as a special Jan. 24 with a lead-in from the network's most-watched annual event, the Miss America pageant. A full season, including an undisclosed number of episodes, will follow in the spring. The concept mixes racing with the "wives genre" peppering cable primetime, from Lifetime's drama "Army Wives" to Bravo's reality show "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Participants include DeLana Harvick (wife of Kevin, who has 11 career Sprint Cup Series wins), Shana Mayfield (wife of Jeremy, a 15-year Sprint Cup veteran), Kelley Earnhardt (sister of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and wife of #82 Red Bull Racing crew chief Jimmy Elledge) and Angie Skinner (wife of Mike, who competes in NASCAR's top three national series. The series is produced by NASCAR Media Group for TLC. Hollywood Reporter
Gainsco team ready for Rolex 24  
Gainsco car to be driven by Johnson, Fogarty, Gurney and Vasser
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and its team of champion drivers wrapped up a solid and successful three days of on-track activity at Daytona Test Days Monday as Jimmie Johnson turned the team's fastest lap of the day in the final session of the test.

After Jon Fogarty drove a few laps at the beginning of the final afternoon run, Johnson took over the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley for the majority of the session.  He quickly ripped off a series of fast laps before ending with a day's best lap time of 1:42.981 (124.450 mph).

"I even had a better lap going but I had some traffic in one of the turns," Johnson said.  "I just wanted to get in the same second bracket with the other fast guys, and I was able to do that today.  I was very thankful I got a ton of laps.  The team did a great job being organized and ready to be down here and was able to give me a lot of seat time, which is really the thing I need in this car." More ...

Porsche Panamera to make world debut in China  
Porsche Panamera
Porsche AG will present the new Panamera to the public for the first time at Auto Shanghai 2009 in China, scheduled from April 20 to 28, 2009.

Porsche’s unique, four- door Gran Turismo will be making its world debut at a press conference on April 19 and will be entering the market in late summer 2009 with the first models in U.S dealerships in the fall. The four-door Panamera will combine a wide range of features seemingly contradictory at first sight, and will offer a unique synthesis quite unparalleled in the premium segment.

The Panamera will come with all the sporting and dynamic characteristics of a genuine Porsche combined with a very high standard of driving comfort. More ...

ALMS fans vote for best race  There is no shortage of anticipation for the start of the 2009 American Le Mans Series. The annual Winter Test at Sebring is three weeks away and the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida a little more than two months after that. What race are fans looking forward to the most? They are speaking loudly and in large volumes, and this represents the first selections of many preseason comments.

“Utah, for it is the track that is the closest to Le Mans. And that in a way, gives the teams a ‘Test Race’ for the 24 Hours. The track is wide and open, and offers great racing in the corners; I still smile at the many pictures of the opening lap as the cars go into Turn 1 with three or four cars abreast. And if they do go off the track they just lose position without bringing a full course yellow. The second is the Petit Le Mans. There is some history and tradition with this track. The beauty of Georgia in the fall, the view of the cars turning through ‘The Esses’ and the high-speed stretch on the back make it special.”
Glenn Burr
Salt Lake City
More ...

Rahal turns 20  Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal left his teen years behind yesterday and celebrated his 20th birthday at home in New Albany, Ohio.  Rahal, who was born on January 4, 1989, became the youngest winner in IndyCar Series history when he drove to victory in his series debut in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 6, 2008 at the age of 19 years and 93 days old.  Following is a Q&A on his milestone birthday:
What did you do to celebrate your 20th birthday?
"I truthfully didn’t do anything really. I had a nice quiet day which was exactly what I wanted. I spent time last night with family and friends at my house playing some pool and that was perfect." More ...
Alonso unhurt in Kenyan plane incident  UPDATE (GMM)  Fernando Alonso's manager has accused the media of over-dramatizing the incident involving the Renault driver's return to Europe from a holiday in Kenya.

It was reported that, as the 27-year-old Spaniard and members of his wife's family tried to leave Malindi airport last Sunday, one of the private jet's wings struck a building.

But Alonso's agent Luis Garcia Abad told the Spanish news agency Efe: "No-one can say it was an accident.  Fernando wasn't even inside the aircraft.

"We are all surprised by the commotion it has caused (in the media)," he continued.  "It is true that you should not believe everything that is published."

Fernando Alonso's life passed before his eyes
01/05/09 (GMM)  Fernando Alonso has emerged unhurt from an incident on Sunday aboard a private plane in Kenya, according to reports.

Citing the information of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the website of Spain's sports publication Diario AS said a wing was damaged when the plane, also carrying the Renault driver's wife Raquel and members of her family, took off early on Sunday evening.

Alonso, 27, was attempting to return to Spain after visiting northern Kenya where his team boss, Flavio Briatore, owns the luxury resort Lion In The Sun.

A Renault spokesperson confirmed the incident that occurred at the Malindi airport, insisting that no-one was hurt.

AS said the plane's right wing struck a building, causing the pilot to momentarily lose control.  It is said that a female pilot was in a state of minor shock.

The party, including Raquel's sister and her partner, subsequently organized to return to Spain on another private flight.

DAKAR: Day 3 – Al-Attiyah takes second win.  Nasser Al-Attiyah has secured his second stage win of the 2009 Dakar Rally after setting the quickest time on the 551km run from Puerto Madryn to Jacobacci.

Having lost the lead to Volkswagen's Carlos Sainz during stage two, Al-Attiyah set about moving back up the order after a trip off-course on Sunday saw him slip from first place down to fourth.

The BMW man looked well placed to make up most of his stage two losses as he opened up an advantage of almost three minutes by the second checkpoint, but he lost time over the final part of the stage to finish just 35 seconds clear of Sainz.

Despite that, Al-Attiyah was still able to move back up to second place overall after three stages, three minutes and 40 seconds behind Sainz, with Giniel de Villiers slipping down to third place. More ...

A1GP adds Brazil finale  A1GP has added a round at Interlagos to its 2008/09 calendar as this season's finale.

The last race was scheduled to be at Brands Hatch on May 3, but the event in Brazil will take place two weeks later to bring the fourth A1GP championship to a close.

The British circuit had hosted the finale for the last two seasons after holding the opening race of the inaugural season in 2005.

This year's March 29th date, for which a venue was yet to be confirmed, has been removed from the schedule to make way for the races in Brazil.

The event, to be held at the same venue as Formula One's finale, will be A1GP's first in South America.

Ford sales plummet in December  Ford Motor Co. says its U.S. sales plummeted 32 percent in December as buyers continued to steer clear of showrooms due to economic uncertainty.  Ford's sales for the full year dropped 21 percent, making it likely that the Dearborn, Mich., company will trail Toyota Motor Corp. and remain the No. 3 U.S. auto seller for the second straight year.

Toyota and other automakers report December and full-year sales later Monday.

Ford says it sold 138,458 light vehicles last month, down from 204,787 vehicles in December 2007.

For the entire year, Ford sold about 2 million vehicles, more than half a million fewer than in 2007.

Porsche to Boost Holding in Volkswagen  Porsche SE bought additional shares in Volkswagen AG and will boost its stake in Europe’s biggest carmaker to more than 50 percent, attaining indirect control over Sweden-based Scania AB.  Hence, Porsche will be required by Swedish law to launch a mandatory offer for the truck manufacturer, Stuttgart, Germany- based Porsche said in a statement today.

Porsche “is not bound by pre-acquisition prices and is only obliged to offer the minimum price prescribed by law,” Porsche said in the statement.

Porsche, the maker of the 911 sports car, said it doesn’t have a strategic interest in Scania and is not interested in acquiring Scania shares.  Bloomberg

Citigroup tells investors to sell Renault shares  Renault SA, France’s second-largest carmaker, fell the most in two weeks in Paris trading after Citigroup recommended that investors sell the stock, citing Europe’s auto-sales slump and conditions attached to state aid.  Renault declined 65 cents, or 3.2 percent, to 19.31 euros, the biggest drop since Dec. 19, valuing the carmaker at 5.5 billion euros ($7.47 billion). Citigroup analyst John Lawson downgraded the stock to “sell” from “hold” after revising estimates to reflect a projected 15 percent contraction of Europe’s car market this year.

While Boulogne-Billancourt, France-based Renault has been quick to benefit from state aid, “government cash might also come with strings attached, limiting restructuring,” the London-based analyst said in a report today.

The French government has announced more than 1.3 billion euros in financing and direct aid for carmakers and parts suppliers, hit by the worst sales slump in almost a decade. In return, Renault Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn has pledged not to close any French plants. More ...

Gaughan to run full Nationwide schedule  Rusty Wallace Racing officials announced today that Brendan Gaughan will drive the team's No. 62 Chevrolet full time in the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Gaughan will compete for Raybestos Rookie of the Year. Gaughan takes over the ride, formerly the No. 64, that was shared by David Stremme and Max Papis and finished in the top 10 in the 2008 series owner standings.

The No. 62 was chosen in honor of Gaughan’s family racing background, which includes eight Truck series wins while driving his family-owned No. 62 Orleans Racing entries.

"It's going to be very exciting for me to drive the No. 62 again," Gaughan said. "That number has a lot of meaning to my family that not many people know about. My big brother John's football number was 62, and my two big brothers have always been my heroes in life.  More ...

More details on IRL Versus TV deal  Versus programming will be Indy Car Series and Indy Car Series ONLY. If there is an expectation that Versus will dedicate non-race programming to a stock car or formula car series on Indy Car Series time, that expectation will not be met. Versus is dedicated to the Indy Car Series fan and developing programming that attracts new fans to the Indy Car Series and the Versus Network.

The multi-year partnership with VERSUS calls for the network to televise at least 13 races per year for the next 10 years, with each telecast lasting a minimum of three hours and includes extended pre-race coverage. VERSUS also will air a one-hour preview show the day before each race that will feature qualification highlights and all of the relevant IndyCar Series stories of that weekend. Additionally, the network will feature extensive coverage of all the qualification days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway leading up to the Indianapolis 500.

VERSUS will feature at least 10 hours of IndyCar Series ancillary programming each season focused on the drivers, teams and tracks as well as allowing for extensive coverage of the Centennial Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Further, VERSUS will have IndyCar Series re-airs in the week following every race as well as the Firestone Indy Lights schedule highlighted in weekly 30-minute telecasts.

More detail about serial programming, show titles, and viewing times will be announced in detail in the coming weeks. Versus will be rolling out commercials on most major networks regarding the 2009 season, thereafter.

Chrysler sales plummet 53 percent  Chrysler says its December U.S. sales plunged 53 percent, blaming a tough economy with driving customers from showrooms.  Chrysler sold a total of 89,813 vehicles compared with 191,423 in the same month last year. Despite the drop, the month's sales were up about 5 percent from November levels.

The Auburn Hills, Mich.-based company said car sales tumbled 59 percent, while truck sales tumbled 51 percent. For the full year 2008, Chrysler said its sales slid 30 percent to 1.45 million vehicles.

GM sales plummet in December  General Motors dealers in the United States delivered 221,983 vehicles in December, down 31 percent compared with a year ago. However, total deliveries were 67,000 vehicles more than November's result, up more than 43 percent month over month. GM December car sales of 87,506 were off 25 percent and truck sales of 134,477 were down 35 percent compared with a year ago.
racing news
Tony Stewart named Grand Marshal for Fiesta Bowl  UPDATE A reminder to all of you football and race fans that Tony Stewart will take part in the coin toss before the Fiesta Bowl game tonight.

01/01/09 Tony Stewart will serve as Grand Marshal for the Fiesta Bowl parade in Phoenix on January 3.  In addition to being the Grand Marshal, Tony will take part in the coin toss before the Fiesta Bowl on January 5.  Tony is the first NASCAR driver to serve as Grand Marshal for the bowl game.
Henry Surtees for Formula Two  
John and Henry Surtees
Henry Surtees, whose father John remains the only man to win world championships on two and four wheels, has signed up to compete in the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship.

Surtees becomes the second son of a former Grand Prix driver to have confirmed his participation in F2 so far, following the recent announcement that Alex Brundle - son of Martin - will also race in the championship in 2009.

After a successful karting career Henry made the step up to car racing in 2006, finishing third in the Ginetta GT Junior Championship. The 18 year old switched to single seaters in 2007, taking sixth overall in a strong Formula BMW UK campaign. He then competed in the Formula Renault UK championship in 2008, scoring a number of impressive results towards the end of the year. Surtees finished runner-up in the Formula Renault UK Winter Series and also took part in two British Formula 3 National class races, winning one and finishing on the podium in the other. More ...

racing news
Suspended sentence and fine for Verstappen  Jos Verstappen was fined 1,650 euros for threatening his ex-wife and handed a suspended sentence of three months in prison. The former Formula 1 driver heard the court's verdict on Monday morning in Belgium.

Verstappen was accused of verbal threats and of beating his wife and daughter. Verstappen also had to pay his ex-wife the symbolic amount of 1 euro for damages.

Ferrari to launch first  Ferrari will become the first team to launch their 2009 car.  Today they announced that their 2009 car will be unveiled on Monday, January 12th at their Fiorano test track in the morning with Felipe Massa slated to drive it for the first time later in the day.

Ferrari's launch kicks off two weeks of car unveilings, with Toyota following on Thursday 15th, and McLaren the 16th.  Renault, Williams and BMW Sauber will then unveil their new cars the following week.  It's expected that everyone's KERS design will be kept hush-hush.

Loeb gets another crack at F1 car  The first test of the winter got underway today in Spain and, at the wheel of the Red Bull RB4, as part of a "thank you" from Red Bull for winning the World Rally Championship yet again,  was Sebastien Loeb. Having had a shakedown at Silverstone last week, the Frenchman had a better idea of what to expect and produced an excellent performance throughout the day.

After spending most of the morning settling in and finding a good balance on the car, Loeb was actually put to more "serious" use in the afternoon, evaluating the Bridgestone slick tires that will be used in 2009 and providing the team with valuable data.

"I don’t think I’d like to take this much horsepower into the forests!" quipped the Frenchman. "It was a great experience and I had fun, although I have to say that driving one of these cars is tougher physically than driving my rally car. Towards the end of the day, I began to get a good feel for the car and enjoyed the sensation of it moving around on the track. I have to say that the level of grip in the high speed corners is very impressive.

Fastest Lap: T. Sato 1:20.763, compared to Loeb's 1:22.503.

Red Bull RB5 to debut in February  Red Bull Racing’s RB5 will make its scheduled track debut at Jerez de la Frontera on Monday 9 February, 2009.  Christian Horner, Team Principal, said “Our strategic plan has always been to take full advantage of the later start to the 2009 season and we are using the time to ensure we have optimized the car as much as possible, within the regulation changes, to start on the grid in Melbourne.”
Penske Racing Announces Rolex 24 Driver Lineup  Penske Racing today announced its driver lineup for the 2009 Rolex 24 at Daytona and that Crown Royal Cask No. 16 will become a sponsor for the upcoming 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season. 

The storied whisky brand will be a primary sponsor on a special Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Penske Porsche Riley Daytona Prototype at the Rolex 24 at Daytona on January 24-25, 2009.  Driving the No. 16 machine in the legendary endurance event will be multiple sports car champions Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard, joined by Team Penske IndyCar Series pilot Ryan Briscoe. More ...

Webber still eyes February return  (GMM)  Mark Webber is back in training and hoping to return to the cockpit of a formula one car in February.

The Red Bull driver, who badly broke the two main bones in his right leg just above the ankle in a cycling crash in November, has now returned from Australia to Europe.

"I want to be testing at the beginning of February," the 32-year-old told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Webber has begun a rehabilitation program with the goal of casting aside his crutches by the third week in January.

He said he is swimming "a lot", and doing light leg exercises with the aid of a trampoline mat, and strengthening his foot and ankle with elastic bands.

"I can't push it too much because the swelling will come back," the Australian explained.

"It could have been much worse," Webber said.  "I was lucky it was the right leg, which is not working too hard in the car."

Used for pressing the throttle, however, the right leg is still essential, particularly in the era without traction control.  "The most important thing is that I get the feeling back," he confirmed.

GM concession talks begin  In a series of historic talks expected to be tense and sweeping at times, General Motors Corp. will launch formal negotiations this week with the United Auto Workers, bondholders, dealers and others to transform the automaker into a smaller, viable company.

GM has pledged to revamp labor contracts, reduce debt and shrink the number and type of vehicles it produces to satisfy conditions imposed after the federal government granted the automaker and Chrysler LLC $17.4 billion in emergency federal loans. The loans will ensure the companies survive through March, but each automaker must develop plans by Feb. 17 to ensure long-term viability.

GM needs financial concessions to implement a restructuring plan unveiled last month that includes eliminating up to 31,000 jobs, shutting nine plants and renegotiating its 2007 labor contract with the UAW. GM also wants to close 1,750 dealerships, possibly eliminate Saturn and convince banks and bondholders to swap some of the company's debt for equity.

Key stakeholders such as the UAW have resisted calls for additional wage and benefit cuts. But unless GM and Chrysler receive concessions from the union and others -- or President-elect Barack Obama relaxes restructuring targets -- they could be forced to file bankruptcy, a threat that looms over the negotiations, analysts and industry experts said. More ...

The argument for salary caps in F1  These are difficult times for the motorsport world. Consumer confidence around the world has been shaken by the financial chaos that has occurred since the credit crunch. The International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn says that 2009 will be a "very dark" year unless governments do more to get economies moving again. The Frenchman says that measures taken so far are not sufficient.

Formula 1 - and motorsport in general - needs to be prepared for the worst. The F1 agreements that came together in early December were a good start - and a clear indication that F1 had put aside its differences in the face of serious worries about the future. There is good reason for such fears. In the United States of America there have been around 700 workers laid off in the NASCAR industry in the last two months.

There are already rumors in F1 circles that teams will soon start to lay off people as the agreements made in December are put into effect. All of this is unpleasant but necessary. Costs have to be reduced and while laying off workers is one way of doing it, there should also be thought about a salary cap for drivers. It is not fair that people are losing their jobs in the F1 industry when drivers are being paid as much as $50m a year. Their talents are valuable, but so too are the talents of the people who will be losing their jobs. Young men do not need $50m a year. They can live comfortably for the rest of their lives with considerably less than that. If teams must lose people, it is only fair that drivers should make sacrifices as well. More at Grandprix.com

Esteban will Race with top Euro F3 team  
Esteban Manuel Gutierrez
The young talent, Esteban Manuel Gutierrez, native from Monterrey Mexico, and current champion of the Formula BMW Europe series, confirms his participation in the 2009 season with the successful French team ART Grand Prix. Same team in which British driver Lewis Hamilton was champion in 2005, and in which German driver Sebastian Vettel also participated in 2006. Esteban had the chance to test in the prestigious circuit of Magny Cours, at the beginning of November with the team that has won the F3 Euroseries title five times in a row. Esteban clicked very well with the team from the first minute, and expects to reap more successes with them and continue growing in his career as a professional driver and of course, represent his country, Mexico in an exceptional way.

Esteban Gutierrez at speed in his new Euro F3 car
This test and others that Esteban had with other teams have helped the Mexican driver to adapt to the Formula 3 car, which has a greater aerodynamic load than other formula-type cars he has raced before, which makes them more difficult to drive. Gutierrez also has learned a great deal about the technical aspects in the different tests that he had with various F3 Euroseries and German F3 series teams. Everything he's learned in the different training sessions will help the young 17-year-old driver to incorporate to this new challenge called the Formula 3 Euroseries. More ...
Schu admits he thought about F1 return  
Ferrari advisor and former F1 great Michael Schumacher
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has admitted he has contemplated returning to formula one since retiring at the end of 2006.

The seven time world champion, who turned 40 on Sunday, has since flirted with professional motorcycle racing, and remains an advisor and occasional test driver for his former team Ferrari.

And he told Bild newspaper that he thought about coming back to F1 "perhaps two times".

"I have had a few interesting possibilities," he explained to the German newspaper, "but I rejected them all almost immediately."

Schumacher said his original reason for hanging up his helmet - because he felt he no longer had the motivation to devote his life entirely to the sport - is still valid.

"So I would only be racing for the sake of it or for fun and, no, that's not my thing," the title winner in 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 said.

Coulthard bowed out as high Scottish earner  
David Coulthard
(GMM)  David Coulthard bowed out of life as a formula one racer near the top of a Scottish sports rich list.

After fifteen consecutive seasons on the grand prix grid, the 37-year-old still collected (US) $13 million in 2008, Scotland's Sunday Mail newspaper said.

Earned through both his Red Bull retainer and sponsorship deals, as well as investments like his Monaco hotel, it put Coulthard second on the Scottish high-earners list to the 21-year-old tennis player Andy Murray ($18.2m).

In position three is golfer Colin Montgomerie, with 2008 earnings of $7.4m.

The only other race driver on the list is Dario Franchitti, whose $3.78m was earned before his NASCAR team shut down mid-season.

Chris Hoy, the newly-knighted Olympic cyclist, ranked seventh with his $3m.

Stewart slams Mosley and Ecclestone  
Jackie Stewart
Sir Jackie Stewart, speaking to The London Times at his house in the Chilterns, says “The era of big change in F1 is now essential because the sport has grown larger than either the governors or the commercial-rights holders. And that's just a fact,” says Stewart.  “It has taken too long to achieve the things it should have achieved years ago and that other sports have long ago matured to, and other sports have prepared themselves more fully for the opportunities that have come their way.”

In Stewart's view, Ecclestone, who has become a multibillionaire as Formula One's impresario, has become far too powerful, even if he played a key role in making the sport what it is today. “But having done it, he now rules and nobody is up for taking on a battle with him. Bernie has such power and influence that he could suffocate almost any performer who would dare to suggest that there must be change,” he says. More ...

Bouchut, Farnbacher Pace Second Day of Rolex 24 Testing  Christophe Bouchut and Dominik Farnbacher recorded the fastest laps in their respective classes during Sunday's second day of activities of the "Roar Before the Rolex 24" at Daytona International Speedway. The three-day session has 52 cars entered in preparation for the 47th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona Jan. 24-25, the opening race in the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season.

Bouchut led the Daytona Prototypes with a lap of 1:41.884 (125.790 mph) in the No. 55 Edata Solutions/Supercar Life Racing LevelFive Motorsports BMW Riley co-driven by Scott Tucker and Ed Zabinski, while Farnbacher ran a lap of 1:51.424 (115.020 mph) in the No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3. Both speeds were unofficially better than the existing track records for their classes. More ...
Ganassi Racing announces Daytona 24 entries  Defending Grand-Am Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced today a two-car effort for the Rolex Sports Car Series' 47th running of the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona, featuring six drivers representing some of the best talent the motor racing world has to offer. Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas will unite to form the driver lineup in the No. 01 TELMEX/Target Daytona Prototype, while Team Target IndyCar pilots Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti join Alex Lloyd in the No. 02 Target/TELMEX Daytona Prototype.

Last year, the team became the first in history to win three consecutive overall titles in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The CGRFS roster will look to add to the record book this year with an impressive group of international racing champions representing three Indianapolis 500 titles (Montoya-2000, Franchitti-2007 and Dixon-2008), five open wheel championships (Montoya-1999, Dixon-2003/2008, Lloyd-2007 and Franchitti-2007), three Daytona Prototype championships (Pruett-2004/2006 and Pruett/Rojas-2007) and five former Rolex 24 winners. More ...

BMW drivers not good enough for new F1 cars  BMW's current F1 drivers simply are scared and not good enough to handle the new F1 cars.

BMW Sauber drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica have said they will probably break off their front wings because they do not have enough talent to know where they are because they cannot see them.

"I can imagine that now we will see many more touches," German Heidfeld said. "Sitting inside the car, the driver cannot see the wing although, of course, you know it is there.

"However, in previous seasons, you knew you could take a chance (and not damage the wing); now I think there will be more problems, especially at the start.

"If everything continues as it has been, the 2009 season will be very dangerous."

"It is too wide," he told Marca. "I am curious to see how many of these wings will be flying in the first race in Australia - I believe that they are going to be flying from all sides."

"After my first lap in testing, I thought about returning to the pits because the other drivers (without the new dimensions) did nothing but pass me," the veteran said.

"Compared to them, it seemed that I had stopped - and, in addition to that, it is very easy to spin [Editor's Note: The accelerator works both ways, if they do not have enough talent they will just have to lift off and go slower]. It is very, very dangerous."

Carlos Sainz takes overall lead in Dakar Rally  
Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn
Spain's former world rally champion Carlos Sainz overcame poor visibility to take the overall lead in a congested Dakar Rally on Sunday after winning the second stage, a 237km special from Santa Rosa to Puerto Madryn.

The Volkswagen driver finished ahead of the Mitsubishi of France's Stephane Peterhansel, the defending champion, by 1min 14sec, and 1:56 in front of his South African teammate Giniel De Villiers.

Saturday's opening stage winner Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar, in a BMW, finished ninth, 6min 32sec behind Sainz.

"It was a very difficult stage with all the dust and the bikes," admitted Sainz who won the Rally of Argentina twice during his world rally championship career.

"At times, we nearly had to stop. I even hit a biker at one point; I hope he's going to be OK." More ...

Childress-Howard Motorsports Announces Driver Lineup  The driver lineup for the Childress-Howard Motorsports entry in the 2009 Rolex 24 at Daytona has earned victories in the Rolex 24, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the IndyCar Series.

The talented driver quartet for the No. 2 CHM Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototype is headed by three-time Rolex 24 overall winner Andy Wallace (1990, ’97, ’99). NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and 2006 Rolex 24 overall winner Casey Mears, IndyCar Series star and 2006 Rolex 24 competitor Danica Patrick and veteran sports car racer Rob Finlay will all see significant time behind the wheel.

Only five drivers have won more Rolex 24 overall titles than the three earned by Wallace. His trophy case also includes trophies from the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1988), the 12 Hours of Sebring (1992, ’93) and the Petit Le Mans (1999). More ...

racing news
Just Marketing International (JMI) forms Advisory Board  In tough economic times, thought leadership is essential in steering businesses through difficult periods and ensuring that they still have the inside advantage needed to succeed. It’s this basic and fundamental premise that Zak Brown, Founder and CEO of Just Marketing International, has seized upon in setting up a ground breaking Board of eight of the world’s most impressive and influential business leaders. The JMI Global Advisory Board consists of the world’s best, coming together for the first time to offer guidance, opinion and unprecedented thought leadership to JMI and its clients.

The JMI Global Advisory Board will address a whole range of business issues such as optimizing return-on-investment from marketing spends and communications issues such as media convergence, media fractionalization and rapidly changing consumer trends and preferences. The Board represents a cross-section of business sector and modern business points of view and experiences. In addition to exemplary leadership within their respective industries, the Board members have collective extensive experience in the creation and execution of substantial motorsports sponsorship platforms in Formula One, NASCAR, MotoGP, IndyCar, NHRA, Grand-Am and other major racing series. More ...

Mazda MX5 Supercharger wins SEMA Global Media Award  At the recent SEMA show held in Las Vegas, Cosworth was honored to receive the SEMA Global Media Award for the new Mazda MX5 Cosworth Supercharger system.

Recognizing the increasing global appeal of specialty automotive style and performance equipment, SEMA presented the annual Global Media Awards to select member companies. Held at the 2008 SEMA Show, the award ceremony attracted hundreds of international buyers, SEMA-member company representatives and the press.

Winners were selected by a prestigious jury comprised of international journalists representing 48 titles and 23 countries. The voting panel reviewed over 2000 new style and performance products introduced at the SEMA Show, and from these each journalist selected products that would most interest enthusiasts in their respective country. More ...

Robby Gordon 17th after opening stage of Dakar Rally  Robby Gordon sits 17th after Saturday's opening stage of the Dakar Rally in Argentina.

Gordon, driving the Team Dakar USA Hummer, completed the opening stage in two hours, 50 minutes and 40 seconds. The stage opened with a leg from Buenos Aires to Santa Rosa de la Pampa, Argentina. The race takes place in South America this year.

Gordon is 14 minutes, 25 seconds behind the leader, Quatari driver Nasseer al-Attiyah. Qatar's Nasser Al Attiyah won the first stage of the Dakar Rally on Saturday, a 231-mile dusty run in which he held off a posse of Volkswagens led by former world champion Carlos Sainz.

Al Attiyah, winner of the UAE Desert Challenge, completed the leg in his BMW from Buenos Aires south to Santa Rosa in 2 hours, 36 minutes, 15 seconds.

"It was a fairly easy route but still quite fast," Al Attiyah said. "However, it didn't feel like I had to push it to the limit during the race." More ...

track news
Local council backs Donington GP  (GMM)  An environmental study into the impact of a formula one race at Donington Park claims the area will benefit from the British grand prix moving from Silverstone.

It is a shot of good news for the venue, whose contract to stage the British round of the championship from 2010 has attracted much skepticism.

The South Derbyshire District Council's positive findings, revealed in the local Evening Telegraph newspaper, comes as the final decision about planning permission is due to be issued by the North West Leicestershire District Council this Thursday.

Environmental chiefs at South Derbyshire had looked into impacts such as increased noise and traffic, but found that the project should proceed because of the benefits to the area.

Director of community services Mark Alflat said: "The development offers substantial economic opportunities.  The grand prix has the potential to attract both visitor spend and inward investment.

"New facilities, along with associated developments, will create substantial construction employment opportunities.

"This would bring new investment and highly skilled employment opportunities to the area."

Donington Park boss Simon Gillet commented: "We are confident we have the planning in the bag."

F1 crisis 'home made' says Berger  (GMM)  Five weeks after departing the scene as a formula one team owner, Gerhard Berger has issued a bleak assessment about the economic health of the sport.

The former 50 per cent owner of Red Bull's second team Toro Rosso, who also won 10 grands prix as a driver, told the Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick that he remains passionate about F1.

But he said: "I had to see formula one as a business, and I do not want a business in an environment that is unhealthy.

"F1 is being affected not only by the global financial crisis: our sport's crisis is also home-made."

Berger explained that he "cannot afford" to run a team, and insists that Red Bull also wants to have full ownership so it has a "free hand" in the running of its teams.

However, he also said at the Austrian ski resort at Kitzbuhel: "What is being done now with budgets of $300 million per year can also be done with 30 million, when reason returns."

Berger said F1 emerging from the current situation is going to require "a lot of Bernie Ecclestone's skill".

"Formula one has moved onto thin ice," Berger insists.  "The organizers of the traditional tracks can't afford it any more.  The high costs mean that it can't any more be covered by the normal sponsors.

"With F1 at this level, the manufacturers will only keep on a friendly face for so long."

He thinks he headed for the exit at "the right time".

"And for 2009," Berger added, "Toro Rosso will have a good and fast driver in Buemi."

tv news
Weekend USA TV Reminders  UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below.
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Car Crazy -Coronado Speed Fest Coronado, CA
Vintage racers 
8:00am-8:30am (R) SPEED
My Classic Car -Vintage Race Fords
Part of Show 
9:30am-10:00am (R) SPEED
Summer Shootout Lowe's 
12:00pm-1:00pm -Round 5 SPEED
Trippin' on Two Wheels
1:00pm-2:00pm Sicily
2:00pm-3:00pm Spain SPEED
Dakar Rally Highlights Argentina-Chile 
3:30pm-4:00pm VS
The Motocross Files 
4:00pm-4:30pm -Torsten Hallman
4:30pm-5:00pm -Ron Lechien SPEED
AMA Supercross Lites Anaheim 
5:00pm-6:00pm (1/3/09) SPEED
AMA Supercross Replay Anaheim 
6:00pm-7:00pm (R) SPEED
Dakar Rally Highlights Agentina-Chile
6:30pm-7:00pm VS
NASCAR Confidential - The Next Generation 
7:00pm-8:00pm  SPEED
All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV programs, see TVRacer.com
Sam McQuagg dies  Sam McQuagg, the 1965 rookie of the year in what was then NASCAR’s Grand National Series (now Sprint Cup), died Saturday morning. He was 73. McQuagg competed in 62 races in NASCAR’s top series, getting a victory in the 1966 Firecracker 400 at Daytona in a Dodge owned by Ray Nichels. He won more than 250 feature races at local tracks, highlighted by his 1963 season at Thunderbowl Speedway in Valdosta, Ga. That year, McQuagg won 35 of 37 features and caught the eye of a woman named Betty Lilly of Valdosta. She gave McQuagg $25,000 and he used that to finance his rookie NASCAR campaign in 1965, when he had five top-10 finishes.

McQuagg was leading the Southern 500 during his rookie year when Cale Yarborough tried to pass him. Yarborough wrecked, flying over the guardrail and rolling several times before ending up in the parking lot. Yarborough was not injured. McQuagg got a shot with the Dodge factory-backed team in 1966 and then drove for car owner Cotton Owens the following year.

At Darlington in 1967, McQuagg wrecked in his own car, rolling several times and going over the guardrail. He scaled back to more local track racing after that and made his final Cup start in the 1974 World 600 at Charlotte. McQuagg worked as a commercial pilot after retiring as a racer. He was a member of the Jacksonville Speedway and the Georgia Automobile Racing halls of fame.
Valiante tops opening day of Rolex 24 testing  Michael Valiante ran the fastest lap of the day in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley, leading the opening round of the "Roar Before the Rolex 24" at Daytona International Speedway. Valiante ran a lap of 1:41.760 (125.943 mph) to lead the first day of the three-day session in preparation for the 47th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona Jan. 24-25, the opening round of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.

The "Road Before the Rolex 24" continues Sunday with practice for the Rolex Series and Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. The test concludes Monday, with practice from 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Spectator admission is $10 both days, and includes access to the Sprint FANZONE and Grand-Am garage areas. "The car is working real well, and the team has been phenomenal," said Valiante, who will be running his first race with Michael Shank Racing, co-driving with AJ Allmendinger, John Pew and Ian James. "The team is working well together in the short amount of time I've been here, and they've made it real easy for me to come in and drive the car. We've been working well since the first test here in October."

Meanwhile, Scott Pruett led the opening session with a lap of 1:42.163 (125.459 mph) in the No. 01 TELMEX Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. While Pruett is seeking his fourth career and third consecutive overall victory in the Rolex 24, Ganassi Racing is going for a fourth consecutive triumph, dating back to a 2006 triumph by the team's No. 02 entry. "It's always nice to pick up after a winning season," said Pruett, who won second Daytona Prototype championship last season. He will be joined by defending co-champion Memo Rojas and Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 01 entry. More ...
Rolex 24 testing schedule  UPDATE Here is the full schedule.

01/03/09 The following are the times (Eastern Time) the Daytona Prototype Class is scheduled to be on track testing for the upcoming Rolex 24 race.  Live Timing Link below.

SAT:  9:00 – 1-:45  /  1:30 – 4:00 /  6:30 – 8:00
SUN: 9:00 – 10:45 / 1:00 – 2:30 / 4:00 – 5:00
MON: 10:15 – 12:00 /  2:30 – 3:00

Live timing link.  On the left side of the page click on ‘LIVE TIMING’.  Once live timing is up click on the top right corner ‘VIEW ADVANCED TIMING & SCORING’
Petty just an employee now  Petty Enterprises has merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports (GEM), which means that two teams fielding five cars are going to turn into one team fielding three. Apparently, Kasey Kahne will remain in the No. 9 Dodge, A.J. Allmendinger will move into the No. 19 for the discarded Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson will drive the No. 43 that is as familiar as the name Petty. Nos. 10 and 45 will be no more.

Translation: George Gillett has bought the name Petty and the No. 43. Richard Petty is now mainly a spokesman, not an owner. This is all about what big businessmen refer to as “the brand.” The Petty brand was worth something. Petty Enterprises wasn’t. Petty will be to the team what Col. Harlan Sanders was to Kentucky Fried Chicken. Long before he died, Col. Sanders was a brand, not an owner, of the “11 herbs and spices.” Petty is now a brand, not a race team. Kentucky Fried Chicken is now KFC. Soon we’ll find out specifically what Petty Enterprises is going to be. Gillett-Petty? Gillett Racing with Petty? (In effect, Gillett has already raced with Petty … and won.) More ...

skip barber
Conor Daly ranked #1  In a not unexpected move, the recently announced eformulacarnews.com annual driver rankings placed Conor Daly number one for the Skip Barber National Championship.

In what was his first full season of racing cars, Conor Daly certainly made an impression. The second-generation race pilot got off to a slow start, but quickly became one of the drivers to watch. In the second half of the season, Daly really made his mark, eventually ending the year as the series champion via a series-high five wins and eight podium finishes. With the Skip Barber National title on his resume, Daly now joins the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder program, in the 2009 Star Mazda Championship.

Having signed with the defending team champions Andersen Racing, fans can expect to once again see Daly standing on the top step of the podium during race weekends in 2009.
Ferrari test no help for Bortolotti  
Mirko Bortolotti
Italian F3 champion Mirko Bortolotti might have shown impressive performance on his F1 testing debut with Ferrari before Christmas, but he admits that his run at Fiorano has so far failed to open doors for 2009.

The Ferrari link will continue when Bortolotti tests the A1GP development car at the new Portimao track later this month, but his racing program beyond that remains clouded by uncertainty as he chases the finances to move up the ladder.

“I have various proposals to think about, and I could run in either the F3 Euroseries or GP2," he revealed to Italy's La Stampa, "Although one of my strengths is adapting quickly to new cars and situations, Lucidi's team manager, Gabriel, has advised me to do another year in F3, but my family does not have great economic means, so I have to hope that I can find a sponsor."

Admitting that his relationship with Ferrari does not extend beyond the A1GP run, Bortolotti concedes that time is running out for him to secure something meaningful for 2009.

"I will have to decide as soon possible," he said of his options, "There is nothing arranged with Ferrari for the time being, only a good relationship - but I am happy to have been given the chance they gave me. Now I must think about my future. I must be sure of having something competitive, to ensure that the dream does not end. For seven years, I played the drums, and I still have a sense of rhythm, but I want to be a racing driver!" Crash.net

Blundell tips Raikkonen to take '09 title  
Can Kimi Raikkonen get his form back or is he washed up?
Mark Blundell takes an early gamble and says Kimi Raikkonen will be champion again in 2009.

Kimi Raikkonen will win the 2009 FIA Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship - that's the prediction of Crash.net columnist and former ITV-F1 pundit Mark Blundell.

Raikkonen endured a largely torrid season in 2008 and, while he definitely had the speed to set a record-equaling ten fastest laps, he was forced to play second fiddle to Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa, who only lost out on the title by one point following a dramatic final round showdown in Brazil with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton. Despite all that, however, Blundell reckons the 'ice-man' could come good again this year.

"I might be completely wrong here but, for some reason, I think Kimi Raikkonen might turn things around and come back stronger than ever," MB told Crash.net Radio in his exclusive 2009 F1 season preview. More ...

Former ISC employees get probation  Former International Speedway Corp. employees William Kilgannon and Todd Polakoff have avoided prison time for their roles in an extortion conspiracy in association with the failed attempt to put a race track on New York’s Staten Island.

Polakoff was sentenced to three years probation, while Kilgannon got two years of supervised release, according to court documents. They were sentenced Dec. 12 in U.S. District Court in New York.

Polakoff and Kilgannon were among 62 people indicted in February as part of a wide-ranging, 80-count federal indictment that targeted alleged Mafia members, including three high-ranking members of the Gambino crime family.

Kilgannon and Polakoff were former employees of ISC subsidiary North American Testing Co., which handles design and construction for ISC. More at Scenedaily.com

track news
Donington gets thumbs up from EIA  An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out behalf of the Donington circuit, which is scheduled to take over the British Grand Prix from 2010, reveals that noise levels in the area will increase but the boost to the local economy will outweigh the disadvantages of the redevelopment the local council insists.

The Derby Evening Telegraph reports that the South Derbyshire District Council believe that the £100m project will bring benefits to the area and that a final decision on Donington’s planning application is expected next Thursday.

"The development offers substantial economic opportunities,” said Director of Community Services Mark Alflat. “The Grand Prix has the potential to attract both visitor spend and inward investment. New facilities, along with associated developments, will create substantial construction employment opportunities.”

"This would bring new investment and highly-skilled employment opportunities to the area," he added. 

The circuit redevelopment will increase local noise levels the environmental survey suggests but Alflat insists that “there are a small number of areas which could experience notable changes in noise levels.”

The 2010 British Grand Prix will be a car free event with fans taking public transport for the final stint of the journey to the East Midlands venue.

"We are confident we have the planning in the bag,” stated circuit boss Simon Gillett.

Chrysler given $4B loan  Troubled Chrysler LLC late Friday received an initial $4 billion loan from the U.S. Treasury Department, part of the $17.4 billion it and General Motors Corp. had sought to help the companies stay afloat.

Chief Executive Robert Nardelli said the loan will allow the automaker to continue its restructuring and pursue "our vision to build the fuel-efficient, high-quality cars and trucks people want to buy, will enjoy driving and will want to buy again."

track news
Legends of Riverside Racing Film Festival and Gala  The "Legends of Riverside" has become a must do, exclusive event featuring racing films, documentaries, never before seen racing footage, fine food, race car displays and the opportunity to hear the tales of past races from the guys who drove in them.

From Formula 5000, the open wheel cars of the '60s and '70s, unlimited horsepower Can Am cars, Indy cars and Ferraris, Maseratis and the famed California built Scarabs, these guys drove them all and have they got tales to tell.

Plus the "Cannonball Run" competitors, with even more amazing stories of those flat out drives across the country; the stuff movies are made of; disguised as nuns or hospital patients; evading the police and dodging road hazards and traffic jams.

Riverside International Automotive Museum - Riverside International Raceway - Legends of Riverside Automotive Film Festival and GalaThis year, the "Legends of Riverside" will be honoring the drivers of the "Times Grand Prix" of '58 and '59, including Dan Gurney, Bruce Kessler, Carroll Shelby, Bill Krause, Joe Playan, Scooter Patrick, John Fitch, Stirling Moss, Peter Brock, Bob Bondurant, Andy Porterfield, Augie Pabst, Tony Settember and the Seattle Team Empire group of George Keck, Tom Meehan, Ralph Ormsbee and Pete Lovely.

The Formula 5000 crowd includes 1968 Champ Tony Adamowicz and Eric Haga, Jerry Entin, Stuart Forbes Robinson, Davey Jordan and Skeeter McKitterick. And from the USRRC, Indy Car and Can Am ranks, you'll meet  Jerry Grant, Bill Vukovich, Elliot Forbes Robinson, John Morton, Lothar Motschenbacher, Bob Bondurant and Oscar Koveleski, founder of the Polish Racing Drivers of America. More ...

Team Dakar USA clears scrutineering  After months of preparation for what many consider to be the toughest motorsports event on earth, Team Dakar USA completes scrutineering.  Scrutineering consists of several hours of activities that include document processing, a GPS instruction class, photos, Iritrack and Tripy installation, and vehicle technical inspection.  Both the Monster Energy Toyo Tires Hummer and Vanguard Hummer have drawn crowds everywhere they go. They have quickly become a fan favorite in Buenos Aires. 

“I’m very excited to be here,” said Robby Gordon. “The response to the Hummers has been incredible. Everyone on the team has worked hard to get all the vehicles ready and we feel we are very well prepared. To conclude preparations, Team Dakar USA is going through all of the support vehicles to make sure the final details are met.  All spare parts, tires, tools and other equipment need to be accounted for.  The assistance vehicles and equipment are a vital component in the Rally. More ...

Barrichello thinks ex-Honda team can still win  With the news that Honda was pulling their support from Honda racing and closing the doors on their Formula One involvement, instead of seeing his chances of remaining in the pinnacle of Motorsport diminish, Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello is confident that his position has strengthened to some degree.

Before the news was announced, the Brackley based squad were busy testing younger up and coming drivers such as Bruno Senna, however, now that new owners may be coming in, Barrichello is confident that they will need the likes of a more experienced racer, such as himself.

“At the end of the day, as I said it won't change anything for me,” he told Autosport. “If someone comes and buys the team with a tighter budget but with the competence of the people we have there, especially with Ross, I think they need both drivers to be experienced. So, I think it will change very little.

Rubens has been in England recently visiting the factory and it has only made him more determined to stay in Formula One. However, he did admit interest from other racing series’, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what he really wants to do….

“I've talked to several people. It was funny that my telephone started to ring about different things as soon as Honda said they were pulling out. I had calls from the WTCC to the 24 Hours of Daytona it really started to ring. But my focus is completely on F1. For the love of speed I would do anything, even IRL, but I have unfinished business in F1. I am sure I can finish higher up, if not winning the championship.”

racing news
10-greatest race teams of all-time  As a new season of motorsports around the world approaches, two teams might be on the verge of accomplishing greatness.

In Sprint Cup, Hendrick Motorsports has somehow made itself even stronger for the coming season, adding four-time Sprint Cup runner-up Mark Martin to its powerhouse stable. The team boasts the driver voted most popular in the sport, Dale Earnhardt Jr., along with three-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson and four-time champion Jeff Gordon. All four drivers making the Chase next season is certainly possible, if not probable.

In the world of IndyCar, the past two champions join forces at Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Dario Franchitti won the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series title in 2007, and then bolted for Sprint Cup. He's back, and paired with last year's Indianapolis 500 and title winner, Scott Dixon. The two have combined for 24 IndyCar wins and 114 top-10 finishes.

But are these two of the greatest teams ever assembled in motorsports? We seek the answer to that by looking at the top 10 greatest multi-car teams in the history of motorsports. Keep in mind these teams must have had at least two cars that competed for the full season or race.

1. 1988 McLaren-Honda: Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna (F1)
Senna left Lotus to join Prost and McLaren in 1988. It proved to be a fantastic decision, resulting in three world titles for the Brazilian.

Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost

AP Photo/Nasokazu Oinuma

Ayrton Senna, right, and Alain Prost dominated Formula One in 1988 like no one before or since.

In their first season together, Prost and Senna combined to win 15 of the 16 races, providing a balanced attack in the process (Senna won eight races, Prost seven). Senna's one additional victory proved to be the difference, as he edged out Prost 90 points to 87.

The next-highest points total? Gerhard Berger, with 41 points. Not only was this the most dominant multi-car team in any single season of motorsports, but it sparked one of the best Formula 1 rivalries of all time over the course of the next half-decade before Senna tragically died at Imola in 1994. More at ESPN.com

Danica Patrick Busted Again  UPDATE Race car driver Danica Patrick paid a $196 fine Wednesday to take care of a ticket she received for speeding last month in north Scottsdale.  The popular Indy car racer had been scheduled for a Monday court appearance at Scottsdale City Court.  Patrick was pulled over Dec. 9 in a gold 2007 Mercedes near 14700 N. 100th St. for going 54 mph in a 35 mph zone, police said. It was her second Scottsdale speeding citation in a year. In January 2008, she was cited for going 57 mph in a 40 mph zone.

12/29/08 Indy race car driver Danica Patrick has yet to learn that the funny little pedal on the left is the brake.

Cops confirm Patrick was busted earlier this month in Scottsdale, Ariz. for driving 54 in a 35 -- 19 over the speed limit -- which bested her last run-in with the fuzz where she was going 57 in a 40 -- only 17 over.

Danica received a citation and is due in court at the beginning of January. TMZ

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