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Champ Car contingent ready for Rolex 24  The Champ Car World Series will be well represented on the grid when the first major American auto race of 2008 gets underway Jan. 26-27 with the running of the 41st Rolex 24 at Daytona.  No less than five current Champ Car drivers, one of its team owners, one of its promoters and the reigning champion of its primary development series will take part in the 24-hour sports car endurance race at Daytona International Speedway, the opening event in the Grand-Am series.

Hoping to start the year with a victory in the Daytona Prototype Class are Champ Car drivers Justin Wilson, Graham Rahal and Ryan Dalziel, as well as team owner Jimmy Vasser. Champ Car drivers Robert Doornbos and Jan Heylen will compete in the GT Class against Long Beach promoter Jim Michaelian, who will share a car with his son, Bob Michaelian.

Wilson, the 2007 Series runner-up, will share a Ford Riley entered by Michael Shank Racing with Rahal, who as a rookie wound up fifth in the 2007 Champ Car point standings. More ...

Q&A with Toyota's Lee White  

Lee White

How would you rate Toyota’s NASCAR program today versus this time a year ago?
“I think AJ Allmendinger said it very well yesterday, when he said he was dead last in the test a year ago.  Yesterday, he was bouncing around the top-five all day with 40 cars -- and good drivers and good teams out there.  That itself makes a fairly strong statement about the progress since a year ago.”

Are you optimistic about the Daytona 500 given Toyota’s performance at Talladega last fall?
“After the Talladega race last fall, the chassis dyno results following that event showed that we did our homework.  We had very good rear-wheel horsepower after Talladega.  If you look at the results here, everyone else has put the same focus on it and caught up, or at least got closer -- or equal, in the case of the Hendrick group.  This is not the same as last year.  It’s completely different.  We have a year under our belts.  The teams we’re associated with have a year under their belts and we have added the Joe Gibbs operation, which has completely changed our outlook as a company.”

What are your expectations for Toyota in the Daytona 500?
“I’m optimistic that we have a shot to compete for the pole, win one or both of the 150s and have a couple of guys contend to win the race.  That’s why we’re here -- to contend, to compete and have a shot.  We’ll see how it turns out.  There’s some really strong competition.  There are good teams here.  It’s going to be fun.  I can’t wait until next week when Dale Jr. runs in the Hendrick stuff because those guys have been really strong yesterday and today." More ...

Yates puts want ad for sponsors  The rear bumper of the Nos. 38 and 28 cars at Daytona International Speedway say all you need to know about the ongoing sponsorship search at Yates Racing.

But team owner Doug Yates said he's dedicated to running two cars in the Sprint Cup series this season even if it means going without sponsorship that is vital to the cash flow necessary to run all teams.

"We're committed to running this team," Yates said on Tuesday, the second day of testing at DIR. "Obviously, you have to see how the year plays out. But right now our intention is to run two cars and be competitive and show people we can do a good job for them.

"You have to have cash flow to run the business. We're in the business of racing cars. We need some sponsorship and we intend to find them," he said.

Camping World, RCR Extend Partnership  Camping World Inc., America’s largest direct marketer and specialty retailer of recreational vehicles and outdoor camping accessories and services and Richard Childress Racing (RCR) have agreed to a one-year contract extension. The extension will showcase Camping World as the primary sponsor of Clint Bowyer’s No. 2 Chevrolet in 10 races as the Emporia, Kan., native pursues the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship. 

Camping World will also be a major associate sponsor on RCR’s No. 2 machine for the remaining 25 races and be featured on the car’s lower front quarter-panels.

"Clint Bowyer has proven to be a valuable spokesman for Camping World and our participating vendors and suppliers,” said Camping World President and CEO Marcus Lemonis. “We are pleased to, once again, align ourselves with one of the top drivers in NASCAR. As well, our association with Richard Childress and his organization has facilitated the creation of some important new business relationships and we are excited about the prospects for even more opportunities for additional partnerships in 2008.”

Barrett to test Atlantic car  

Patrick Barrett

As part of his prize for winning the 2007 Pacific F2000 championship, American rising star Patrick Barrett will test one of PR1 Motorsports’ Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda race cars at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in California on Wednesday.

The test comes from a team with which Barrett is well familiar, as the 18-year-old from Los Osos, Calif. won his 2007 Pacific F2000 title driving for PR1 Motorsports. The test was made possible by series partners that are common to both Champ Car Atlantic and Pacific F2000, namely Cooper Tires and Cosworth. PR1 Motorsports announced last March that it would provide the test to the 2007 Pacific F2000 titlist. Champ Car Atlantic veteran Mike Forest—who has driven for PR1 Motorsports in Atlantic for the past two years—will also be present at the test and will assist with driver coaching.

“It is a pleasant coincidence that Patrick won the Pacific F2000 championship driving for our team and now has the opportunity to test our Atlantic car,” said PR1 Motorsports owner Bobby Oergel. “We already have an outstanding relationship with Patrick, and I have no doubt that he will perform extremely well in the Atlantic car. I need to thank Cooper Tires and Cosworth for helping us with this test.” More ...

IndyCar Series sets Spring Training dates:  IndyCar Series teams will begin preparations for the 2008 season with Open Tests at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Sebring International Raceway.

The first Spring Training dates are scheduled for Feb. 27-28 on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway. IndyCar Series teams will test under the lights from 4-10 p.m. each day for the second consecutive year in preparation for the primetime season opener at the facility on March 29.

The following week, IndyCar Series teams will conduct their first ever Open Test at Sebring International Raceway. Half the field will test on March 3-4, and the other half of the field will test on March 5-6 on the 1.7-mile, 11-turn circuit. The test groups will be released at a later date.

Although the facility has been approved for team testing since 2005, this will mark the first Open Test at the venue.

"We're very much looking forward to getting back to the racetrack and preparing for the 2008 season," said Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations division of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series and the Indy Pro Series. "Homestead-Miami Speedway and Sebring International Raceway both offer first-class facilities in warm-weather venues to allow our teams and drivers the opportunity to get ready for another season of outstanding racing.

"Our race cars look spectacular under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway. I can't think of a better place to feel the energy of IndyCar Series racing in anticipation of a new season.

"We're also thrilled to be going to Sebring for the first time. Indy cars have used that facility as a training ground for years, and it should be a great track for our competitors to get ready for the road and street courses on our schedule."

"Spring Training at Homestead-Miami Speedway is really the ultimate in a live race preview," said HMS president Curtis Gray. "To have all the top IndyCar Series drivers here in advance of the March 29 season-opening 'SpeedJam' is going to provide some stellar on-track action-and all under the South Florida stars."

"We are honored to be hosting an IndyCar Series Open Test," Sebring President and General Manager Tres Stephenson said. "Sebring has been a favorite winter testing location for many Indy Racing League teams in recent years, and we look forward to having the prestigious IndyCar Series prepare for the 2008 season at our facility."

Indy Pro Series teams will also test at both tracks to prepare for the 2008 season. The series will host an Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 28 from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Indy Pro Series teams will test at Sebring March 31-April 1.

February launch for new Super Aguri  Super Aguri are to launch their 2008 car at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya next month, the team announced on Tuesday. The SA08 will make its debut at the Spanish circuit on February 19.
industry news
Mercedes-Benz sales hit record 1.29 million  German car maker Mercedes-Benz said Tuesday that the performance of its newest C class line had pushed 2007 sales to a record 1.29 million vehicles despite a slumping domestic market.  Overall sales gained 2.0 percent compared with the figure for 2006, parent company Daimler said in a statement.

Mercedes-Benz Cars comprises the eponymous brand along with Maybach limousines and the Smart city car brand.

Smart sales declined by 10.3 percent on the year to 100,600 units, the group said.

Q&A with Jimmie Johnson  The two-time defending NASCAR champion got back to business Monday with testing at Daytona International Speedway for the Sprint Cup Series opener next month. Between sessions, he made his first trip of the new year to the media center.

Q. What are your thoughts about returning to the race car?

A. I can't tell you how happy I am to get off the couch. If I sit around and eat any more food, drink any more beer, I won't be able to get back into my suit and my race car. We've enjoyed the off-season, celebrated the championship. I'm excited to get back to the track.

Q. A year ago during the off-season you tried to surf on top of a golf cart. Didn't end well. Anything bizarre this off-season?

A. So uneventful. I did play some golf, which was fun. I walked all the courses. I didn't even get in a golf cart, so that was helpful. I had a chance to play Augusta National, which was a killer experience. Had no business being there with my golf game, but it was a lot of fun to see it and experience it. Went to London for the Race of Champions event. Ran terrible over there, but had a great time. And then spent some time down in the Bahamas.

Q. Essentially you're chasing history this year. Cale Yarborough is the only one who ever won three straight championships. What would that mean to you to be in that kind of company?

A. Every year I look for different things to motivate me. In a sense, chasing history is that. I would love to win three in a row and be one of two guys to ever do that. I look at Jeff (Gordon) with four championships and think, you know, I've got a lot of years of racing left in me. Is that a mark that I can get to? Not standing here saying I'm going to be Babe Ruth with this thing, call it, get it done. But everybody needs something to motivate themselves. That's my motivation.

New Ferrari 'looks quick' - Schumacher  (GMM) Michael Schumacher on Tuesday said he expects Ferrari's newly launched 2008 car to be fully competitive this year.

The German and retired seven time world champion was among the bystanders in the chilly Fiorano pit garage on Monday as world champion Kimi Raikkonen put the first 55 laps on the F2008's odometer.

The Finn's best time of 60.897, set on wet Bridgestones and in damp conditions, was not representative, but 38-year-old Schumacher observed that the car nonetheless appeared quick.

"The first laps of a new Ferrari is always a special moment," he said.

"My first impression of this one is very good -- the car looks beautiful, but also visually quick.

"Let's see now if the first impressions are confirmed," Schumacher added.
NASCAR Day 2008 Announcement  A special announcement and unveiling regarding NASCAR Day 2008 featuring country music artist Garth Brooks and NASCAR President Mike Helton will be held Tuesday, January 8th. NASCAR Day, celebrated annually on the third Friday in May, is an opportunity for fans, corporations, schools and organizations across the country to raise money for The NASCAR Foundation and its Family of Charities in an effort to help thousands of children live better lives. NASCAR
Gordon takes big financial loss with Dakar cancellation  Robby Gordon said Monday the cancellation of the Dakar Rally cost him approximately $4.5 million, and he disagreed with the decision not to race at least a portion of the event.

Gordon, who won stages of the race the past three years and led the event in 2005, was in Portugal and preparing for the start when organizers canceled it because of “direct” threats of terrorism from al-Qaida-linked militants.

Gordon said his team had built two cars for the event and had more than $1 million invested in each vehicle. I’m extremely disappointed,” he said. “I can completely understand their decision not to go to Mauritania or not want to put competitors in an awkward or dangerous situation. That I understand 100 percent, but for them — with as many years as they’ve been doing this rally — not to have a backup plan. They just had no Plan B.” ESPN.com

Judge sides with NASCAR, ISC in Kentucky Speedway lawsuit  UPDATE Kentucky Speedway plans to appeal Monday’s ruling by a federal court judge dismissing its $400 million anti-trust lawsuit against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp.

“We are disappointed in the court's decision for ourselves, for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and for all those fans who have been hurt by what we believe are NASCAR's and ISC’s anticompetitive actions,” said Stanley Chesley, an attorney for Kentucky Speedway.

“We are convinced that there are serious issue of both fact and law.”

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston hailed Bertelsman’s decision.

“It puts an end to any question about which locations and dates NASCAR can operate its races,” Poston said. “Like other sports such as the NFL, MLB and the NBA, NASCAR can host its events where it decides is best for the sport and its fans.”

01/07/08 A judge has ruled in favor of NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. in an anti-trust lawsuit filed by Kentucky Speedway's owner.  U.S. District Court Judge William O. Bertlesman's opinion was issued Monday morning. In it, he ruled that even by granting Kentucky Speedway the benefit of the doubt on all reasonable inferences, the track failed to make a case.
Johnson signs with CAA to broaden his appeal  

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson has signed Creative Artists Agency to represent him in marketing, licensing and endorsement deals. Michael Levine, co-head of CAA Sports, will lead a team that will attempt to capitalize on Johnson's success on the track. Johnson's signing is the latest win for CAA Sports, which represents more than 350 athletes, including LeBron James, Derek Jeter, Sidney Crosby, LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson and David Beckham. CAA Sports football agents Tom Condon and Ben Dogra also last week signed Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, expected to be one of the top quarterbacks in this year's NFL draft. In recent months, CAA Sports has signed the New York Yankees, the AVP Tour and MMA brand TapouT as well. Johnson considered eight agencies before selecting CAA Sports and Wasserman Media Group as his finalists. Sporting News/SportsBusiness Journal
Haas CNC Racing announces Marketing Hire  Haas CNC Racing continues to take major strides in identifying itself as a mainstay in the Sprint Cup Series. With its most recent addition, the team announced Mike Verlander will serve as Director of Business Development. Verlander brings his experience from MCG Sports where he managed business development for Joe Gibbs Racing. Verlander has worked with leading teams including Evernham Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing. He has introduced and managed corporate partners through the highest levels of NASCAR. Verlander will begin duties immediately from Haas CNC Racing facilities. Haas CNC Racing PR
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Lawyer says jailed China GP boss to appeal
  • Hamilton happier with new McLaren teammate
  • Raikkonen positive after new Ferrari debut
  • F1 among 2007's most watched sports
  • Lauda says McLaren to feel spy effects
  • Hamilton expects to cope with TC ban

Lawyer says jailed China GP boss to appeal
(GMM)  The fired general manager of Shanghai's formula one circuit intends to appeal his four year jail term for embezzlement.

Yu Zhifei, who was instrumental in bringing the sport to China and a key promoter until his removal, was last week sentenced amid a major corruption scandal, including using nearly (US) $150,000 in public money to buy a house.

His lawyer told the Chinese news agency Xinhua on Monday that Zhifei, 54, plans to lodge an appeal before the deadline expires under Chinese law on January 13.

Hamilton happier with new McLaren teammate
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton on Monday said he rates his new McLaren teammate highly, but is not expecting to have the same sort of fractious relationship with Heikki Kovalainen that he shared with Fernando Alonso in 2007.

At the launch of the team's 2008 car in Stuttgart, the 23-year-old was asked by Bild newspaper if, given Alonso's departure after the tumultuous past season, he was happy to now have a less star-studded rival in the sister silver car.

"Heikki is also very, very fast," the Briton said.  "Believe me, I do not underestimate him."

While the McLaren duo officially have equal billing again, though, Hamilton said he senses that he will get along well with Kovalainen, the communicative Finn who debuted for Renault last year.

"You know how it is with certain people," he said, apparently referring to Alonso, who recently left the team after the first year of a curtailed multi-season contract.

"Some people you ask questions and they give you one word answers and some people make the conversation and are just easy," Hamilton added. More ...

Combined Daytona Sprint Cup test speeds  Cumulative speeds through Monday's session of the NASCAR Sprint Cup test at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, with position, driver, team and speed:

1. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 184.782 mph
2. Casey Mears, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 184.574
3. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 184.064
4. AJ Allmendinger, No. 84 Red Bull Racing Toyota, 183.981
5. Jacques Villeneuve, No. 27 Bill Davis Racing Toyota, 183.775
6. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 183.636
7. Travis Kvapil, No. 28 Yates Racing Ford, 183.580
8. David Reutimann, No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 183.512
9. Aric Almirola, No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 183.367
10. J.J. Yeley, No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota, 182.804
11. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 182.741
12. Jeremy Mayfield, No. 70 Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet, 182.605
13. Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 182.585
14. Mark Martin, No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 182.360
15. Joe Nemechek, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, 182.301
16. Jason Keller, No. 98 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 182.278
17. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 182.271
18. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 182.179
19. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 182.175
20. Kurt Busch, No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge, 182.157
21. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 181.991
22. Kyle Petty, No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge, 181.723
23. Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 181.682
24. Kirk Shelmerdine, No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 181.631
25. Robby Gordon, No. 7 Robby Gordon Motorsports Ford, 181.240
Aston Martin Racing reveals Vantage GT2  

Vantage GT2

Aston Martin Racing has revealed the first impressions of its new GT2 racing car.  Known as the Vantage GT2, the new car is based on the V8 engined Aston Martin Vantage road car.  The new car will mean Aston Martin is the only manufacturer to offer cars in every GT racing category:  GT1 – DBR9; GT2 – Vantage GT2; GT3 – DBRS9; GT4 – Vantage N24.

“We have looked to enhance and improve all our shows and will introduce more changes throughout the season,” Craddock said.  “SPEED will continue to improve and continue to cover NASCAR like no one else.”

For the first time, Aston Martin Racing is designing this car to run on either standard race fuel or E85 bio-ethanol (where regulations allow).  In 2007, Aston Martin Racing successfully converted a standard DBRS9 to run on E85.

Robin Brundle, Aston Martin Racing’s new managing director, said:  “The new Vantage GT2 completes our product portfolio for 2008 with competitive cars now available in every category.  Thanks to our experience with the DBRS9, we have been able to develop a bio-ethanol fuelled version, which will be eligible to compete in an increasing number of series now accommodating this greener fuel, including the American Le Mans Series.”

Aston Martin chairman, David Richards, will be announcing Aston Martin Racing’s 2008 plans at the Autosport International show on Thursday 10 January at 10.45 am.

tv news
SPEED Traveling "Circus" Takes Army to Move  When the SPEED™ traveling TV “circus” hits the road in February for 100 hours of NASCAR in High Definition at Daytona, the journey will begin with six tractor trailers carrying roughly 380,000 pounds … every nut and bolt it takes to air the NASCAR on SPEED programming each weekend.

Ninety-percent of SPEED’s NASCAR programming originates from the race track, highlighted by NASCAR RaceDay, Trackside Live, NASCAR Victory Lane, NASCAR Live, Tradin’ Paint and NASCAR Performance.  These sets and the people who maintain them spend the entire season as nomads on the road, residents of the “city” they construct at each race track.

NASCAR on SPEED broadcasts live from four primary sets that travel from one speedway to the next.  Seventy people, television production crew excepted, are dedicated to getting these mammoth stages to and fro each week, while six employees do nothing but set up and tear down the sets. 

“We have the main stage from which Trackside Live and NASCAR Live broadcast,” said Rick Miner, SPEED Senior VP of Production and Network Operations.  “There is also a NASCAR RaceDay stage, a NASCAR Victory Lane set, which is really a portable desk, and a NASCAR Performance set, which is more of a background prop and staging area than an actual set. Plus, there are additional desks and pieces.” More ...

tv news
SPEED Bigger and Better in 2008  As the days tick down until the 2008 NASCAR season officially opens at Daytona, SPEED is poised to shake up NASCAR and put fans in the driver’s seat with dramatic upgrades to enhance their race experience both at the track and on the sofa. 

It’s anything but conventional and humdrum at SPEED this season as most everything has undergone a facelift with one of these enhancements giving any Super Bowl party a run for its money. 

SPEED has tripled the size of its at-track “Gianormitron” TV to 12’x22’ and taken it High Definition.  The motor sports authority also made its SPEED Tower one-third taller, extending it to 60 feet, and revamped all NASCAR on SPEED sets and stages.  Additionally, SPEED is gearing up for its HD launch Feb. 7, offering extensive Speedweeks coverage and providing 22 days of testing coverage prior to the Daytona 500, capped off by the re-launch of SPEEDtv.com in widescreen format with new features. More ...

industry news
GM expects self-driving cars to become reality  

Click image to watch video

During the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, General Motors (GM) will showcase one of its latest projects – a vehicle that can operate without a driver. GM indicates vehicles that can park and drive themselves will give passengers the ability to multi-task and will also help reduce traffic congestion, save energy and reduce emissions. Currently, several outlets including GM, technology companies, university engineers and others are working on various self-driving options. GM’s self-driving Chevrolet Tahoe, nicknamed the “Boss,” was developed by the Carnegie Mellon University Tarton Racing Team, and was initially unveiled during the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Urban Challenge in November 2007. During a Jan. 8 address at CES by CEO Rick Wagoner, GM will also debut the petroleum-free Cadillac Provoq concept vehicle.
Honda says no to ethanol, says it's not efficient  Honda statement August 2006:
While competitors like Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Co. either plan to increase production or develop ethanol-powered vehicles, Honda Motor Co. had declared it has no plans to join the flex fuel bandwagon.

States U.S. sales chief John Mendel of Honda, "We're not against it. In the list of priorities right now, we haven't moved it up the list. It is less efficient from a fuel-economy standpoint."

Honda plans to focus, instead, on hybrid and diesel technologies as part of its alternatives to standard gasoline-powered vehicles.

This of course smacks right in the face of the IRL's farcical push to 100%ethanol.  Honda is the lone engine supplier of the IRL.

Q&A with Patrick Long  

Patrick Long

Q: How did stints with Petersen/White Lightning, Flying Lizard, Tafel and others in the American Le Mans Series prepare you for this phase of your career?

A: That was the main part of my development as a driver. Being there specifically with the Petersen/White Lightning guys for two years and achieving such great results was huge. They also helped me win at Le Mans for the first time in 2004. I've also had success with the Lizards and people like Kevin Buckler and The Racer's Group during my first full season in 2004. They took a chance on me.

My opportunities for 2008 really came thanks to Tafel and Flying Lizards at Sebring and on the street circuits this year. Those performances were huge chances for me to show the skills that I have been developing over five years. What's on my horizon is sports car racing and winning as many races as I can. Indianapolis holds a special place in my heart but I have plenty to chew on right now.

Q: What impact do you think an American driving for Roger Penske in a factory car will have?

A: I'm proud to support and represent the US full-time. But I've never seen myself being an American driver and having opportunities created by that. I've always seen myself as being the best driver I can be and letting that talk. More ...

NASCAR backmarker to test Indy Pro car  With the weather remaining dreary in central Indiana, Panther Racing’s Indy Pro Series team is packing up and heading south for a test, again.

Brent Sherman

Just weeks after a test with prospective drivers Leilani Munter and P.J. Chesson, the team heads to Homestead Miami Speedway to give former NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Brent Sherman an audition in the team’s IPS car.

Sherman, a NASCAR veteran with over 60 starts in the Busch Series and six starts in Nextel Cup – including a career-best 21st-place finish in the 2006 Daytona 500 – will run on the road course at Homestead for a bulk of the day Wednesday. While Sherman was introduced to racing in an open-wheel car, the bulk of his professional experience has been in stock cars.

Panther team owner John Barnes was excited to learn that Sherman is considering making the move to open-wheel racing.

“I was surprised when Brent called a few weeks ago,” Barnes admitted. “With so many open-wheel drivers moving to NASCAR, it’s exciting when you hear of a stock car driver wanting to come this way. Obviously, we were impressed with John Andretti and his performance in May, and there’s reason to think Brent could be successful in Indy-cars too.”

Martin and DEI announces '08 schedule  Mark Martin will race in 26 Sprint Cup events in 2008, including 24 point races and two non-point events. Martin will kick off the 2008 season and his tenure in the No. 8 U.S. Army/Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet with his record-extending 20th-consecutive Budweiser Shootout. Highlights of Martin’s 2008 schedule include the 50th running of the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600, Brickyard 400 and Sprint Cup All-Star event.

Martin will share the No. 8 ride with rookie Aric Almirola, who will run the remaining 12 events in the car. Martin will enter in the first four point races of the season before handing the wheel over to Almirola at Bristol (March 16) and Martinsville (March 30).

“I think it’s going to be an exciting season,” said Martin, who will enter his 26th year of Cup racing. “I’m so excited to be behind the wheel of the No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet and to be working with Tony Gibson (crew chief) and the No. 8 Team. It’s an incredible honor to drive the No. 8 car for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and we are excited about moving into the season.

“Those guys on this team really had some fast cars a year ago, and we are looking to build on that. Our goal is to be competitive and race up front this season.”

Martin will compete in both the Budweiser Shootout and Daytona 500 before making his 700th career start at California Speedway in February.

Allmendinger pleased with testing results  

AJ Allmendinger

AJ Allmendinger, seems to be much more confident at Daytona International Speedway testing this year, despite the fact that he will once more open the season outside the top 35 in owners points, and hence will have to qualify on speed. 

"So far, it looks like a competitive car at Daytona," said Allmendinger. "We weren't bad this morning. Our guys did a lot of work to get the bodies right in the off-season, and Toyota has stepped up their game.

"It's a combination of everything. We're only three hours in to a long process, but last year at this time, I don't think we were ahead of anyone after the first session. We've definitely had a better start, and that gives us something to build on."

"Obviously, the first goal is to get in the top 35 in points," he said. "If we can get in the top-35, we'll readjust our goals, but the first goal is the most important. Getting in the top-35 is huge for us, and that's what we're shooting for."

Martin calls NASCAR policy idiotic  

Mark Martin

Mark Martin said it was "idiotic" for NASCAR to only allow drivers to do single-car runs on the first day of testing at Daytona International Speedway.

"I feel that we're wasting our time with single-car runs," Martin said during the lunch break on Monday. "We should be drafting already, but it is what it is. We do get to start drafting tomorrow afternoon, so that's half a day sooner than we might have.

"Once we start drafting, we're really working on racing. The rest of this stuff is idiotic, with the [questions between driver and team]: 'Does this help? Not help? Is that faster? Is it not faster? Can you tell anything?' That's what we're doing right now.

"I guess we would do it for 15 days straight if they'd let us, but I don't believe you learn very much doing that. You learn a lot when you start drafting in 20-car packs. You can tell the changes that you make, you can have feedback, you can have input, you can make changes on the car that really make a difference in the way it handles."

Johnson tops opening session at Daytona  Jimmie Johnson started the first preseason testing session of 2008 the same place he ended the 2007 season, on top.  Johnson paced Monday Sprint Cup morning's test at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway with a lap of 184.782 mph in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. The 2007 Cup champion edged teammate Casey Mears for the fastest lap of the first session of preseason testing.  Mears, in the No. 5 Chevrolet, went 184.574. Jacques Villeneuve (Bill Davis Racing) was third at 183.329, with AJ Allmendinger (Red Bull Racing) fourth at 183.296. Jeff Gordon rounded out the top-5 at 182.296.

Testing continues Monday afternoon, with two sessions each on Tuesday and Wednesday, as well.

1. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 184.782 mph
2. Casey Mears, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 184.574
3. Jacques Villeneuve, No. 27 Bill David Racing Toyota, 183.329
4. AJ Allmendinger, No. 84 Red Bull Racing Toyota, 183.296
5. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 183.042
6. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 182.931
7. J.J. Yeley, No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota, 182.704
8. David Reutimann, No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 182.485
9. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 182.186
10. Travis Kvapil, No. 28 Yates Racing Ford, 182.171
11. Joe Nemechek, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, 182.068
12. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 181.991
13. Kurt Busch, No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge, 181.748
14. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 181.668
15. Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 181.624
16. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 181.616
17. Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 181.543
18. Kyle Petty, No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge, 181.477
19. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 181.466
20. Jason Keller, No. 98 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 181.426
21. Aric Almirola, No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 180.963
22. Robby Gordon, No. 7 Robby Gordon Motorsports Ford, 180.912
23. Kirk Shelmerdine, No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 180.647
24. Mark Martin, No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 180.339
25. Jeremy Mayfield, No. 70 Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet, 179.770

Kimi turns first laps in new Ferrari  UPDATE "The first impressions of the new car were very positive," said Kimi Raikkonen to the press after his first outing with the F2008 on the Fiorano circuit on wet tarmac. "I don't think we have to make any improvements at the moment. There were some problems today and we still don't have the final tires; but the impression was really fine. Next week we have further possibilities to see how the car behaves."

The Finnish driver replied to the question if a lower and maybe shorter car, without traction control, could influence its drivability: "I don't have many points of reference. I can only compare it to the last car. I did a test without traction control before Christmas and I have to say that first of all you have to drive very cautiously and consider that a car with traction control is fast and might respond a little bit faster. Surely the first impression is really positive and you can handle the car even without the traction control. The weather could have been better today, but it is really nice to drive this single-seater."

01/07/08 The new Ferrari F2008 car was given its first run out by Kimi Raikkonen at the team's Maranello base on Monday with the Finn managing 20 odd laps without any problems.  The track was slightly damp and provided an early challenge for Raikkonen given Formula One cars have no traction control this season.
racing news
Johnson wins 2007 Driver of the Year Award  Jimmie Johnson crushed the competition for Driver of the Year - 2007, much like he trampled his rivals on the way to his second-straight Nextel Cup Series championship. It was also Johnson's second-consecutive title in the United States most prestigious award in auto racing because the voting is done by an elite panel of journalists and broadcasters from coast-to-coast. The California-born driver becomes only the third driver to achieve this honor after Darrell Waltrip (1981-1982) and teammate, Jeff Gordon (1997-1998). "I am truly humbled to be honored as Driver of the Year. I appreciate this award and the recognition from the press," said Johnson. He added "they watch every race and for them to think I did the best job is awesome!" About the only surprise was that the vote, while conclusive, wasn't unanimous. In the year-end ballot each panelist votes for only one candidate. Johnson tallied 14 votes, while Champ Car champion, Sebastien Bourdais, earned two votes, the World of Outlaws' - Donny Schatz - and Carl Edwards, a Cup regular and Busch Series champion, also received one vote apiece. Johnson, who also won the fourth quarter ballot, will receive a trophy and a Tissot wristwatch to be presented at a later date. Go to www.dotyaward.com to see a new website devoted to Driver of the Year news, opinions and reader comments. DOTY PR
Montezemolo: "It will be an important year for Ferrari"  

Luca Montezemolo

Maranello - "Happy New Year to all of you," Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo said. "It will be an important year for all of us, for me personally and, I hope, also very important for Ferrari; because as we have seen by the end of last year and with the first laps of our new single-seater, the existing rules of this season made the car really different. Personally I think that this is a positive change for our sport. I've been with Formula One for 30 years now and the nice thing in this sport is the continuous research in innovation. This year the driver plays a much more important role and we have two drivers plus one, with Michael, who has done some tests during the winter with the new car and who can give us some important support, also thanks to the experience he has driving cars without traction control.

We can count on two very strong drivers. The aim is to win again, but it will be very difficult. I'm not saying that because of superstition. First of all because there are new rules (traction control, the gearbox has to be used for four races in a row, the McLaren system, the new Qualifying), which means that things really change; and then there is our fierce competition, the biggest car manufacturers in the world; this is the big difference to the Formula One we knew in the last millennium. There will be fierce competition, which will make especially the start of the season very exciting; the third point is that we have to deal with a Championship where everybody tries to beat Ferrari. Ferrari has won 7 Championships in 9 years; obviously our aim is to win 8 out of 10. But that also means that we need to work hard on our partners, on simulation, the team and all the details. This year the team takes its last steps in terms of reorganization, confirmed by Todt by the end of 2006. In the year 2006 there was the first change, the year 2007 was full of surprises and we didn't have Michael anymore. At the end we managed to win both World Titles. Already during the sabbatical year of Ross (Brawn) we had young and capable people at the track. This year Stefano Domenicali is head of track operations, next to the three key players Aldo Costa, Mario Almondo and Gilles Simon. This second step takes the team where it will stay for the next years without any traumas happening, rewarding those who knew how to manage our team during difficult times. Our team manager will be Baldisserri and there are many people working in the simulation department. Further we can count on the precious collaboration of Rory Byrne and Fainello's experience. For that I want to thank Jean Todt, to whom I had given only one aim: a dynamic stability of our team, to leave people at the top, able to take their own position. At the beginning of the season I want to add that it will be one without mysteries. And I have to acknowledge the Federation's efforts to manage that Formula One didn't lose in credibility this year thanks to the right decisions. More ...

Hamilton to celebrate birthday at launch  UPDATE Lewis Hamilton said to the gathered press: "The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-23 is the coolest birthday present you can get, well it is for me anyway! To see the car for the first time at such a great place as the Mercedes-Benz museum makes it an even more memorable day."

01/07/08 Today, Lewis celebrates his 23rd birthday. Lewis is spending the day at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart with Heikki and the rest of the team to launch the MP4-23.
Q&A Pedro de la Rosa & Gary Paffett  As the new McLaren, the MP4-23, was launched today at Stuttgart, both test drivers of the team, Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett, could not be missed. Both drivers talk about the upcoming season and the important differences between the MP4-22 and the new MP4-23.

Pedro de la Rosa
You have been with the team for over five years, what advantages as a test driver does that give you?
"Being in the team since 2003 gives me several advantages. The first is that I know every member of the team and their role within the team very well . All this saves time in order to achieve goals. Secondly, I have driven seven different cars, which gives me a good base to understand what we need to improve the car and make it quicker."

The main difference in the regulations this year is the removal of driver aids, what input does the test driver have in developing the car around this? How much work has had to be done and what has been the main difference in driving?
"Every season we have some kind of regulation changes and all we have to do is adapt ourselves and the car to these changes. People talk a lot about the removal of driver aids, but there is not much difference from a driver’s point of view. I have driven without driver aids for most of my life. However, the starts should be more interesting as it will be difficult to do them consistently. Regarding the car, we have made lots of detail changes which are a consequence of the simulation work already carried out and at the two track tests prior to Christmas."

2007 was one of the closest seasons the sport has seen for many years, do you think that 2008 will be just as exciting?
"It should be even better as I imagine there will be more than just two teams winning races." More ...

Kovalainen talks about 2008 season ahead  

Heikki Kovalainen

What are your aims for the 2008 Formula 1 season?
Of course joining a very ambitious team I have to be aiming for a competitive season and to be able to fight for a good position in the Championship. However the priority for me in the build up to the season is to get to know the team and understand how they work. The aim is to get to Melbourne and when the lights go off be as prepared as I can be, so that at the end of the race, whatever the result, we are able to say that there wasn’t anything more that we could have done better. So my main aim is to prepare and then from there start to improve and score as many points as I can.

There will be two new circuits in Valencia and Singapore – both street circuits – are you looking forward to racing on these and visiting new cities?
Yes absolutely. I have been in Valencia before obviously with Formula 1 testing, but the street circuit will be a welcome addition to the calendar. I am sure it will be exciting as they are always challenging. In Singapore it should be interesting especially with it being a night race. It will be something that we have never done before and both circuits should be good experiences.

2008 will see the inclusion of a night race in Singapore for the first time – what are your thoughts on this?
It’s a good thing to do as long as everything is safe and the lights are very good, Formula 1 is quite different to football and it will have a much bigger effect if a light fails. Obviously they have people working on that side of things, so as long as they can guarantee it all, it should be a very good thing for Formula 1. Also with the race being later we might be able to sleep a little longer. More ...

Hamilton talks about 2008 season ahead  

Lewis Hamilton

What are your aims for the 2008 Formula 1 season?
My aims are to have another fantastic year enjoying my life as a Formula 1 racing driver for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, to score as many points for the team and myself as possible, and try to go one better and win the Drivers’ World Championship.

There will be two new circuits in Valencia and Singapore – both street circuits – are you looking forward to racing on these and visiting new cities?
I am. I have never been to Singapore but I have heard it is a beautiful place so I am looking forward to going there, especially with it being a night race. Valencia is going to be interesting as well. I remember driving in Valencia at the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes launch last year and that was good fun, although very slippery, but of course the actual circuit we will be racing on is in a different location.

2008 will see the inclusion of a night race in Singapore for the first time – what are your thoughts on this?
I think it will be wicked. In all my years of racing I have never competed in a night race, apart from indoor karting, so it will be something new for all the fans to watch and definitely exciting for the drivers.  More ...

Hamilton not team favorite - Whitmarsh  

Will they really be equals?

(GMM)  McLaren will not abandon the policy of treating its race drivers equally in 2008, managing director Martin Whitmarsh insisted on Monday.

At the launch of the team's new car, the MP4-23, the Briton addressed speculation that Heikki Kovalainen has been signed as an unofficial 'number two' driver to support championship contender Lewis Hamilton this season.

In interviews prepared for the press for the launch event in Stuttgart, Kovalainen said his goal for the season was simply to "fight for a good position in the championship".  Hamilton, rather - runner-up in 2007 - stated his intention to "try to go one better and win the drivers' world championship".

But despite the turmoil of the warring teammates Hamilton and Fernando Alonso last year, Whitmarsh is adamant that the new lineup will also have equal billing in 2008.

"Last year we treated the drivers the same, and we will do so this season," Whitmarsh is quoted as saying.

"We want to win the championship, we have no internal favorite.  Both will have the same material and the same conditions."

industry news
Japan's Domestic Auto Sales Hit Low  Japan's domestic auto sales fell to a 35-year low last year as the nation faced high gasoline prices, limited income growth and shrinking demand, an industry group said Monday.
Sales of new cars, trucks and buses declined 7.6 percent to 3.434 million vehicles in 2007, the Japan Automobile Dealers' Association said in a statement. The figures do not include sales of minicars and minitrucks.

The result, which marked the fourth straight annual decline, was the lowest since 1972, when sales totaled 3.406 million vehicles.

The data showed that the world's third-biggest auto market is slow to respond to efforts by some Japanese car makers to spark local demand by boosting their offerings of new models. Japan's largest automaker, Toyota Motor Corp., has introduced nine models since last May but estimates a 6 percent drop in its domestic sales in 2007.

The nation's new vehicles sales in December alone fell 7.1 percent from a year ago to 236,142 vehicles, down for the first time in three months, the association said. And the outlook for the domestic market remains gloomy.

Another industry group, Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, has put its domestic sales forecast for this year at 3.427 million vehicles -- excluding minivehicles -- down 0.2 percent from sales for 2007. Yahoo Financial

Raikkonen shakes down F2008  

Felipe Massa and teammate Kimi Raikkonen

(GMM)  Ferrari's newly launched 2008 car made its track debut on Monday.

At precisely 10.30am at the Italian team's private Fiorano circuit, which was suffused in light fog, Kimi Raikkonen rolled the F2008 - shod with wet Bridgestone tires - onto the tarmac for a brief shakedown.

The car will be fully tested for the first time at Jerez next week.

The tifosi set off smoke bombs as Raikkonen drives by

"We are really satisfied with the new car and its modifications," Raikkonen, the 28-year-old Finn and reigning world champion, said.

"The cockpit is tighter and also the car is smaller.  We have to be ready for these changes," he added.

Raikkonen said he expected his old team, McLaren, to be strong in 2008, but did not mention Renault, for whom double world champion Fernando Alonso will race this year.

"We have to see how the test sessions and the first grands prix of the season will go," he said.

"McLaren will be there for sure.  And then there's BMW.  It will be a difficult year."

Industry News
Porsche Panamera Hybrid Revealed  

Porsche Hybrid system

Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, announced today that it is developing a hybrid drive version of its highly anticipated four-door Gran Turismo. The Panamera Hybrid will utilize the same gas-electric drive concept as the Cayenne Hybrid that comes to market at the end of the decade and will claim a remarkable 30% reduction of fuel consumption. 

The full parallel hybrid system of the Panamera will be configured with the battery unit positioned below the luggage compartment, and hybrid module, comprising of an additional clutch and electric motor, will be between the engine and transmission. Depending on driving conditions, the hybrid module has the ability to disengage either the combustion engine or the electric motor, or to combine both drive systems as one joint power unit. This flexibility results in benefits such as a zero emissions driving mode, fuel savings in both city and highway driving and maximum performance when desired.  More ...

Ganassi looks at another foreign driver  UPDATE AutoRacing1.com has learned that there is no truth to this story and Pickens will not be driving for Ganassi in any series.

12/27/07 New Zealand midget racing super star Michael Pickens will try again to secure a ride in NASCAR, with backing most likely coming from Chip Ganassi Racing.

Pickens is a two time national champion in his native New Zealand and came to the States early in 2007 to try his hand at stock cars with hope for an eventual spot in NASCAR. That trip however turned out to be controversial for the young man who normally drives a tow truck when he’s not racing.

Pickens supporters contributed more than $50,000 (AU) in a fund raising auction titled ‘Pickens 4 NASCAR’. The supporters believed the money was going towards Pickens buying pavement rides while he was in America.

When he arrived in March Pickens’ plan was to drive for the Wisconsin based Urban Force Racing Team - a fully funded free drive in the teams Late Model Stock Car. And to buy Late Model rides in what was described as “other opportunities that have been offered to him” and then to “maybe, run a couple of dirt races at the end of the season”.

But after just four races with the Urban Force Team and going against instructions from the team, Pickens appeared at the opening meeting at Angell Park, piloting a Steve Smith owed Midget, in the feature race Pickens crashed heavily wrecking the Smith car.

Back with the Urban Force Team it seemed Pickens was starting to get to grips with pavement racing when he finished 3rd in the 50 Lap Feature race at Madison International Speedway June 8. Cupscene

Williams extend Oris sponsorship deal  AT&T Williams and Swiss watch makers Oris have extended their current sponsorship agreement for another three years, it has been confirmed.

The company has been associated with the team since 2003, and their branding is carried on much of Williams' merchandise, as well as on the car and pit wall canopy.

Team Principal Frank Williams commented: “I am always delighted when long-standing partners agree to renew their relationship with the team as it is the greatest validation of what we do.

"In a split-second business, having a watchmaker of Oris’ stature and pedigree with us through to 2010 is a great vote of confidence.”

Fire spoils Ralf's New Year holiday  

Ralf was not smiling on New Year's Eve.

(GMM)  F1 refugee Ralf Schumacher's New Year's Eve trip to New York with his family turned into a nightmare, his wife Cora has told a German newspaper.

Bild-Zeitung reports that the former Jordan, Williams and Toyota driver, along with his wife and their 6-year-old son David, had to evacuate the five-star Gramercy Park Hotel at 5am when a basement fire triggered a fire alarm.

The Schumacher family was staying on the ninth floor of the building.

"I thought about the 11 September terror attacks," Cora said.  "There was smoke everywhere, people in their pajamas.  Never in my life was I as scared."

Stewart pays tribute to late brother Jimmy  (GMM)  Sir Jackie Stewart has credited his late brother Jimmy for triggering his ultra-successful career in formula one.

Although Jimmy Stewart, who died aged 76 last week, only contested one championship grand prix, in 1953, his professional motor racing career preceded fellow Scot Jackie's by a full decade.

"If it hadn't been for following Jimmy around to the races with my autograph book as a teenager back in the 1950s when he was a leading sportscar driver for the likes of the Ecurie Ecosse team, Jaguar and Aston Martin, I don't think I would have become so passionately involved in the sport," Stewart, who is 68, told The Guardian.

Stewart won three formula one drivers' titles, in 1969, 1971 and 1973.

He continued: "Many would have left their younger brother at home, but Jim looked after me.  I owe him almost everything, because he selflessly showed me the way."

The British newspaper said the Stewart brothers had become estranged when Jimmy, who recovered from alcoholism, was resentful of Jackie's achievements.

They later reconciled.

Raikkonen unfazed by TC ban safety fears  
Massa and Raikkonen with their new Ferrari F2008
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has played down his fellow F1 drivers' concerns that the ban on traction control will make the sport more dangerous, particularly on a wet track.

"This sport is dangerous anyway," the Finn, nicknamed within the sport as 'the iceman', said at the launch of Ferrari's new car for 2008, the F2008, in northern Italy on Sunday.

"You can have a big accident whether you've got traction control or not.  It will make driving in the wet a bit trickier, but if you think it's too dangerous then you shouldn't be in the car at all," Raikkonen said.

The 2007 world champion, who is renowned for being timid and often uncooperative with the press, was asked about the issue after a group of drivers - including his Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa - pushed for talks with the FIA about having input into how wet races are handled this year and beyond.

But rather than worry about driving without traction control, Raikkonen said the ban on driver aids makes grand prix cars more fun.

"For me it's a bit more enjoyable because you can get the car sideways, and it may help with overtaking because people will probably be making more mistakes," he said.

"It is more tricky for sure, you need to be awake more of the time," Raikkonen added.

He also said F1's fun factor will be key to how long he keeps racing.

"I have still two years (at Ferrari) left and if I go on having fun, I'll stay here.  I really like formula one and I have a brilliant team.  We'll see," Kimi said.

Hi-Def for Champ Car?  UPDATE #2 A reader writes, Champ Car had better get on the Hi Def boat soon. Last night Speed had live motocross racing on in HD from California. This may have been their first live broadcast in HD ever. The picture quality was excellent. We have DirecTV, so we get Speed in HD. Champ Car's ratings are going to continue to fall because of all the reasons you constantly mention, but also now because none of their events are broadcast in HD, which is what we the fans want.  Bob Blind

01/04/08 Now even ALMS races will be broadcast in high-def in 2008.  Seven events, including the 24 Hours of LeMans will be shown in high-def in the 16x9 format. That leaves Champ Car alone as the only major series to be broadcast in low-definition next year, further weakening its position in the marketplace.  Expect the TV ratings to plummet further.

12/26/07 A reader asks, Do you have any idea if Champ is close to securing hi-def for it's televised races?  It would seem to me to be a huge deal for attracting and/or keeping viewers & sponsors.  Brad Goeson, St Albert, AB

Dear Brad, No, unlike all the other major series, Champ Car cannot afford high-definition, so it is not in the plan for 2008......which will drive any existing sponsors it does have to look elsewhere.  It's called being penny-wise and pound foolish.  The money saved by not doing it will be offset tenfold by lost revenue from sponsors who either leave the series, or new ones who decide not to get involved because of it. And for those who think otherwise, just watch.  AutoRacing1.com
Keller to test for Gillett Evernham at Daytona  Jason Keller has been added to the list of drivers testing Monday through Wednesday during the first Sprint Cup test session at Daytona International Speedway.  Keller is listed in the No. 98 Gillett Evernham Motorsports car, a fourth GEM Dodge for testing.
Ferrari to focus on KERS development  Ferrari’s engine chief Gilles Simon has revealed that the team has merged its engine and electronics departments in order to maximize its development of a kinetic energy recovery system for 2009.  KERS technology can be used in Formula 1 from next year, as the sport aims to more into a more environmentally-friendly era over the next decade.

"This new organization is already looking ahead to the year 2009, when we will develop a kinetic system to reuse the energy produced by the car,” he said.

“This will take up a lot of our time this year.

“To combine the two departments is an obvious thing to do.

“We will do many test sessions inside and outside of the works.” More ...

Tickets on sale for MotoGP race at Mugello  As of now, you can already buy tickets for the Alice Italian Motorcycle Grand Prix, which takes place at our circuit on 1st June next. By clicking onto the site www.ticketone.it, or by going to one of over 400 sales points to be found all over Italy, it is already possible to buy tickets for the 2008 round of the motorcycle world championship, with a 20% discount. This confirms that the Mugello International Circuit thus rewards those who buy early, as well as favoring families who want to attend this great event, as under-13s can get in free of charge to the general admission areas, while under-16 tickets are available at reduced cost.

The last few Italian GPs have been a success both in terms of the crowds who attended and the spectacle on offer, thus confirming the worth of all the changes introduced over the past couple of years. These have included a camping-only area within the circuit, external parking free of charge, facilities for children, FMI members and the military, as well as giant screens around the track. These initiatives are prompted by the desire to make the experience, at this event that is unique in its field, as enjoyable as possible for the spectators at the circuit. With this spirit in mind, another new rule has been introduced, banning access within the circuit for two wheelers under 100 cc. More ...

Johnson Joins GAINSCO team for final day of Daytona testing  

NASCAR's biggest star, Jimmie Johnson, exits his car looking a bit dejected after not being able to match the times of his ex-Champ Car driver teammates

Two-time reigning NASCAR Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson joined his GAINSCO/Bob Stallings teammates for the third and final day of Daytona Test Days Sunday and handled the majority of the driving as the team went through its final preparations for the 46th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 26 – 27.

Johnson, who also tested with the GAINSCO team last November at Daytona just prior to clinching his second consecutive NASCAR crown, quickly turned laps comparable to his teammates Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Jimmy Vasser, who handled the first two days of testing.

"The team is working on different things, but from my standpoint I was trying to get up to speed and try not to tear up their great race car," Johnson said.  "I just wanted to get in some laps and get up to the pace that I need to be at.  I think I'm there.  I think it's time to race.  I feel great in the car and I got a lot of laps here today.  I am really looking forward to coming back." More ...

Heylen outpaces Porsche regulars  Without question Champ Car drivers are some of the very best drivers in the world.  Ex-Champ Car drivers Juan Montoya and AJ Allmendinger paced the first two days of Rolex 24 testing at Daytona Friday and Saturday.  Meanwhile Jan Heylen posted the fastest Porsche time, (3rd overall in GT, behind a Mazda and Ford),  faster even than the Porsche factory drivers and GT regulars etc.  However, with its failure to market its race series around its drivers, Champ Car continues to flounder and their drivers have to go elsewhere to gain the notoriety that they deserve.
industry news
Ford to unveil eco-friendlier 'turbo' engines  Ford Motor Co. is to unveil a new engine technology today called EcoBoost that will deliver up to 20% better fuel economy on half a million of the company's Ford, Mercury and Lincoln vehicles during the next five years.

The new EcoBoost family of four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines will be optimized with a combination of turbocharging and direct injection technology. The first vehicle to get the new technology, which Ford views as a near-term solution to improving fuel economy and reducing emissions, will be the Lincoln MKS sedan in 2009.

The new technology also is to be featured in Ford's latest concept vehicle, the Ford Explorer America.

Unlike more expensive hybrids and diesel engines, Ford says EcoBoost builds upon today's affordable gasoline engine and improves it, providing customers with a way to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions without compromising driving performance.

During a media briefing on the new technology in December, Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of global product development, said EcoBoost will offer up to a 15% reduction in CO{-2} emissions, which are believed to contribute to global warming.

Relative to the cost, he added that EcoBoost will pay for itself with fuel savings in about three years, versus seven for diesel and 11 for a hybrid.

Ford spokesman Said Deep said the technology will allow smaller engines to feel like bigger ones, so a four-cylinder engine will feel like a six-cylinder.

industry news
Gas prices aren't spurring small cars  Gas prices are becoming a bigger issue in the U.S. auto market, but consumers are not necessarily flocking in droves to tiny, fuel-efficient vehicles.

Through November, the small-car segment, which includes the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Chevy Cobalt, rose just 0.4%, compared with the same period in 2006, according to Autodata Corp.

The biggest gainer for the year has been crossovers, rising 15.6%. Crossovers offer the space of traditional SUVs, but they're built on car frames, providing a smoother ride and slightly better fuel efficiency. SUVs, down 6.2% for the year, are typically built on heavier truck frames.

The Honda CR-V is the top-selling crossover with sales through November of 200,501, up 31.3%. The Toyota RAV4 is second at 158,936, up 15%, and the Ford Escape is third at 152,294, up 6.7%.

Dakar "will return" next year  Dakar Rally chiefs insist that the event will return in 2009, despite this year's event having been cancelled due to terrorist threats in Africa.

"There will be a great event in 2009," said Lavigne. "We will start work on it from tomorrow.

"It could be another Dakar. It's a little complicated to imagine straightaway what will be The Dakar next year but we will work on it very quickly."

The cancellation of the rally stemmed from the murder of four French tourists by a terrorist group believed to be linked to Al Qaeda in Mauritania on Christmas Eve - which resulted in the French government warning people not to travel to the country.

Audi rejects latest F1 rumors  (GMM)  Luxury German carmaker Audi has issued a clear denial to speculation linking it with a formula one foray in the near future.

The recent management appointment at Volkswagen, Audi's parent, of former grand prix driver Hans-Joachim Stuck, spurred rumors that either marque could be preparing to take up pit lane's twelfth and final garage spot.

But Wolfgang Ullrich, Audi sport boss, answered: "Formula one is not a subject that we have discussed.

"We have a defined motor sports program," he told Eurosport MotorMagazin, "with the marketing and product aspects fully covered."

Ferrari thinks Raikkonen will win F1 title again  

Piero Ferrari

Ferrari's vice president Piero Ferrari believes Kimi Raikkonen will be favorite to repeat his word title in 2008.

"Yes, definitely," Ferrari told Gazzetta dello Sport when asked if Raikkonen was favorite for next season. "In the first season he broke the ice, found confidence and belief in the team.

"He will have a car that better suits his driving style, because I think that was the problem at one time last year: his style did not suit the F2007 and vice versa."

"The F2007 wasn't always the fastest car nor the most reliable," Ferrari added. "But Ferrari did a perfect job in the last race and that's how we won.

Ferrari with Jean Todt

"The F2008 must be more reliable, because to get the titles you need to finish the races. I'm less worried about performance."

"I think there will be little change. Everyone has his own way of dealing with things, but at the top there's a solid organization as could be seen last year. In 2008 there are fewer new people, so I don't expect any traumas."

racing news
60 years of Ferrari  Ferrari’s history is split into two main sections: the first is linked closely to the life and work of its founder, Enzo Ferrari who died in 1988, and the second to the Presidency of Luca di Montezemolo who took up his role in 1991. The Prancing Horse has always retained its identity as a manufacturer of luxury and racing cars, achieving results in both areas that are unique in the entire history of motoring.

Ferrari today
Ferrari boasts annual revenues in the region of €1,450 million and builds around 5,700 cars each year. Its current range spans four models: two 8-cylinders (the F430 Coupe and the F430 Spider) and two 12- cylinders (the 612 Scaglietti and the 599 GTB Fiorano). It is present in 52 markets worldwide and exports almost 90% of the cars built at its sole production facility, the historic factory complex in Maranello. Ferrari has direct regional headquarters in North America (which also has responsibility for Central and Southern America), Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain and France (the latter covers the West European countries). More ...

Shelmerdine to test at Daytona for RCR  Kirk Shelmerdine will be testing the #33 RCR Chevy at the Daytona International Speedway Monday, January 7th and Tuesday, January 8th 2008 in preparation for the 2008 Daytona 500 on February 17, 2008. Kirk Shelmerdine began his career as a Crew Chief and tire changer at the age of 18. Shelmerdine is best known for his record-breaking achievements while working as Crew Chief for Richard Childress Racing. Between 1986 and 1992, he lead Dale Earnhardt, Sr. to four Winston Cup Championships and won honors such as Mechanic of the Year and UNOCAL Pit Crew Race Competitions multiple times. His statistics include 246 top tens, 142 top fives, 14 pole positions and 46 wins. Shelmerdine decided to become a full time Cup driver in 2002. In February 2006 he qualified for the Daytona 500 and finished 20th driving his Kirk Shelmerdine Racing Chevy. With his long history with Richard Childress Racing, Shelmerdine looks forward to driving for his friend and previous boss. Wabash Motorsports PR
Said wins Bobsled Challenge  

Boris Said

Boris Said has been bobsledding longer than any of the other drivers at the 3rd Annual Chevy Bodine Bobsled Challenge presented by Whelen Engineering, but he's still learning new tricks. He utilized some of what he picked up Saturday morning to successfully defend his title. In his second championship run, Said shaved more than 1.5 seconds off his time to beat L.W. Miller and three other finalists.

Said's two runs were 52.12 and 50.53 seconds, for a total time of 1:42.65. Miller, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion, posted the fastest first run time at 52.11 and finished second overall at 1:43.37. Three-time NHRA Powerade Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin was third with an overall time of 1:43.99, followed by former NASCAR driver Larry Gunselman at 1:44.90 and 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Donny Lia at 1:45.46. The Bodine Bobsled Challenge will be aired on SPEED Jan. 20 and 27. Fans can go to www.bodynbobsled.com to learn more about the project and make contributions.
industry news
Ford shares dip to 22-year low  Ford Motor Co. shares fell to a 22-year low Friday, a brutal day for stocks. The plunge came one day after Ford capped a year of steep U.S. sales declines and said it had entered "focused" discussions to sell the Jaguar and Land Rover luxury brands -- presumably for far less than their purchase price. The sales slide reflected Ford's strategy to back away from sales to car-rental companies, but it left the Dearborn automaker in third place behind General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp.

Bloomberg News said the $6 price was the lowest paid for Ford shares since 1986.  Ford shares closed at $6.13 Friday.

Riley still interested in NASCAR ownership  Bill Riley, whose family is well known in the building of open-wheel and road-racing chassis, has not soured on NASCAR after his fledgling Riley/D'Hondt Racing has closed its doors.  The team ran one Cup race in 2007 after Riley and Eddie D'Hondt announced its formation in 2006.

"Eddie and I were promised a lot of things and had a lot of signed documents and promises, and they just didn't work out," Riley said. "It was simple as that. ... It's not an easy place to get in. It's not like you can walk in and beat the 48 team [of Jimmie Johnson].

"But that's where you need to be in motorsports. You need to be involved with that series."

"I'd like to try," Riley said Friday at Daytona International Speedway where his company had several cars testing for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. "There's some people talking to me, but I'm really taking my time with it.

"I have quite a bit of commitments with sports-car racing right now. ... The next time I get an opportunity to come in, I will be a bit more cautious [with potential sponsors] and a bit slower."

McDowell to take over #00 after 5 races  Michael McDowell, the 2007 runner-up on the ARCA circuit, will succeed David Reutimann in the #00 Sprint Cup car at Michael Waltrip Racing. McDowell, a 22-year-old native of Phoenix, likely will take over the #00 Toyota in late March at Martinsville, Va., when Reutimann will slide into the #44 car being vacated by the retirement of teammate and 1999 series champion Dale Jarrett [Jarrett will also run the All-Star race in the #44]. A formal announcement is expected later this month. Michael Waltrip Racing officials tested McDowell and Wise repeatedly during the offseason in the hopes that one would be ready to take over the #00 car in 2008. Wise, a two-time U.S. Auto Club champion, likely is bound for a Nationwide Series ride, pending sponsorship. NASCAR.com
Vasser Takes First Laps of 2008  

Vasser in the No. 99 car

Former Champ Car World Series Champion and Rolex 24 At Daytona class winner Jimmy Vasser took his first laps in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley since last September Saturday as GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing continued to work on its 2008 setup at Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Test Days.

After teammate Alex Gurney set the early pace in the afternoon practice, Vasser took the wheel in the middle of the session and quickly got up to speed on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course.  It was his first time in a race car since he drove for the team in practice for the 2007 season-ending SunChaser 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park where GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing clinched the Rolex Series team and driver championships. 

"These were the first laps I have driven this year and my first time in the car since I drove with the team at Miller in practice," Vasser said.  "So it's good for me to drive.  From a driving aspect, it's always good to get behind the wheel and knock a little of the rust off.  I am pleased that I didn't feel like I had lost much at all and to be able to jump in to try to help the team solve some of the problems we have been encountering trying to adapt to the Pirelli tire.  While the tire seems to be fairly grippy and pretty quick it does have some characteristics the team is still trying to come to grips with, but all in all we are reasonably pleased with getting the work done."

Allmendinger leads 2nd day of Rolex testing  AJ Allmendinger turned the fastest lap on the second day of Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 January Test Days, besting a field of 21 Daytona Prototypes at Daytona International Speedway preparing for the 46th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Allmendinger's time of 1:41.555 (126.198 mph) around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile infield road course at the famed superspeedway in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley was just off the weekend's top spot set by Scott Pruett's circuit of 1:41.232 (126.600 mph). Pruett turned his lap on Friday in the No. 01 TELMEX/Target Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing Lexus Riley. The NASCAR Sprint Cup pilot will trade his Red Bull Racing machine for a Daytona Prototype in the Rolex 24, co-driving the twice-around-the-clock race with Rolex Series regulars Ian James, John Pew and Burt Frisselle.

"I'm happy with the car; we've really improved it compared to the last two times I was here," said Allmendinger, who will run the Rolex 24 with Michael Shank Racing for the third time in as many seasons. "I got a little bit of tow on that lap, which was one of the only clean ones I've had all weekend. We have good speed with this car so far but we know we need to get faster." More ...

Ferrari F2008 launch preview  

Ferrari let the covers slip on a part of its 2008 challenger by releasing a teaser image of the car ahead of the world champion team's season launch at Maranello on Sunday

Ferrari has given the racing world a sneak-preview of its 2008 car, ahead of the official unveiling in Italy on Sunday.

The Maranello based team, to be the first formula one team to launch its new car, released a 'teaser' press photo, showing only the scarlet single seater's airbox wing and world championship decal.

About 100 members of the media and guests have been invited to the albeit low-key Ferrari launch at the team's headquarters, and La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that while Michael Schumacher will be present, bosses Jean Todt and Luca di Montezemolo are expected to stay unseen.

At the forefront, rather, will be Ferrari's new team principal Stefano Domenicali, as well as Kimi Raikkonen and the Finn's continuing teammate, Felipe Massa.

The car will be unveiled at 3pm, preceding a press conference.

Rocketsports hiring  This week's Autosport magazine is carrying the following ad:

Rocketsports Racing is currently seeking candidates for all positions within their Champ Car Team for the 2008 season. Race experience required. Rocketsports offers competitive salaries and full benefits. Please email resumes to jobs@rocketsportsracing.com
Synergy Racing ready for two-car Rolex 24 campaign  Famed Porsche campaigner Synergy Racing announced on Saturday ay a two-car assault on the 46th Annual Rolex 24 At Daytona as the team looks to start the 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series season with a new chapter of success. One of Grand-Am’s winningest teams will utilize the Grand-Am specification Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The two GT Class entries will carry on the Synergy tradition, once again carrying the traditional team numbers 80 and 81.

  The powerful driver line ups for both entries boast both speed and experience as well as  reflecting Synergy Racing’s close association with Porsche, which will chase an unprecedented 62nd sixty-second class victory in the race and a 37th class win for the Porsche 911. More ...
Miracle Sealants Joins Wayne Taylor Racing  Wayne Taylor Racing is pleased to announce today that Arcadia, Calif.-based Miracle Sealants Company has signed a multi-year agreement to become a partner of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac driven by Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.  Additionally, Miracle Sealants will support the No. 9 Toshiba Pontiac of Penske-Taylor Racing, driven by Kurt Busch, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe in the 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Miracle Sealants is an industry-leading innovator in the development and production of protection and maintenance products for natural stone, tile, grout and masonry surfaces. 

  “I’m really thrilled to have Miracle Sealants on board with Wayne Taylor Racing for the next few years, not least because the company’s owners have long since been passionate about motorsports,” said team owner Wayne Taylor.  “When you bring that kind of understanding and commitment to our sport, along with a well-thought-through plan for activating a component of your company’s marketing plan upon our racing platform, then results for both sides are sure to follow.  This is a great opportunity to build a long and solid relationship.”
industry news
GM says 2010 no sure thing for Volt  
General Motors Corp. still hopes to have the Chevrolet Volt -- the automaker's ambitious attempt at a plug-in hybrid -- on the road by 2010, CEO Rick Wagoner said on Thursday. But he cautioned that the timeline isn't a sure thing as the automaker works to develop the technology required to produce a battery-powered car for the masses.

"We continue to put massive resources into production as soon as possible," Wagoner said, responding in writing during an online chat session to kick off the automaker's 100th anniversary.

"2010 would be great, but (we) can't guarantee that at this time. We'll keep you posted regularly on our progress."

Wagoner fielded questions from automotive journalists and bloggers during the 50-minute question-and-answer session, on topics ranging from the automaker's overseas ventures to potential new products. More ...

Champ Car too passive to win the war  A reader writes, With regard to the Champ Car into oblivion article you published, the reason nobody knows about Champ Car is that the owners and drivers are too concerned about “not burning bridges” to call out Tony George and the IRL.  If the owners and drivers would, in interviews, call-out their Crapwagon brethren for the sheep they are, we’d start to get some press.  It’s like the old saying goes: “All publicity is good publicity.” (especially when you’re so weak that bad pub beats no pub at all).  Just once I’d like to hear a driver say, live and on-camera, something like “…of course it was a great race!  We’re great racers!  We have great cars!  Not like those Crapwagon-driving $h*t-heads in the IRL!  We race here because it’s the most challenging, most competitive series in the world!  Michael Andretti tucked-tail and ran to the IRL because he wasn’t good enough to cut it here anymore.  He should’ve listened to his dad.  We race here because we still possess our self-respect!  Any of us could jump into one of Andretti’s cars and wipe those bastards up, but the minute you go over there, you lose all respect from the motorsports community because everyone knows what a bunch of Wankers they are!  And Tony George is the illegitimate spawn of Lucifer himself!” 

Something… ANYTHING!  But no… they’re all too worried about stepping on the toes of a potential future employer.

Christopher Jennings, Nashville, TN
(and no… a Champ Car race will never happen here in Nashville, unless Champ Car decides to take the IRL on as described above).

American open-wheel racing held hostage: Year 13  Trying to figure out who started the American open-wheel racing war -- Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Tony George or the collective group of CART team owners -- is like debating whether the chicken or the egg came first. With the calendar now reading 2008, it's also a pointless exercise.

However, as The Split (which is now defined as the Champ Car World Series versus the Indy Racing League) heads into its unlucky 13th year, perhaps it is worth debating just exactly who is responsible for prolonging the ridiculous power struggle that has crippled this form of motorsport. Even after all these years, there is certainly plenty of blame to spread around.

A litany of individuals -- most notably Mario Andretti -- and a handful of powerful international corporations ranging from Ford, Toyota and Honda to Bridgestone/Firestone have tried their utmost to put a stop to the madness that has driven fans, sponsors, manufacturers and finally drivers to NASCAR. Yet even with interest and participation in the IndyCar Series and the Champ Car World Series at or near an all-time low, leaders from both leagues blindly claim all is well. More ...

Amp Energy to sponsor Talladega race  
Leaders from Pepsi-Cola North America joined today with Talladega Superspeedway to announce that beginning in 2008, the fall NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway will be known as the AMP Energy 500.

Mountain Dew AMP Energy drink is blasting onto the NASCAR scene in 2008 with several high profile sponsorships. In addition to the race at Talladega Superspeedway, Pepsi-Cola North America announced last year that Mountain Dew AMP Energy will be a lead sponsor of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s No. 88 Mountain Dew AMP/National Guard Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Mountain Dew is no stranger to the NASCAR scene, having found a winning formula as lead sponsor of Darrell Waltrip’s championship-winning Cup entries in 1981 and 1982 and most recently, having sponsored the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“Talladega Superspeedway and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. are a winning combination,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Rick Humphrey. “I believe AMP Energy has made a brilliant move sponsoring both NASCAR’s most popular driver and the track that he and his father are famous for dominating. I can’t wait to welcome fans back for the AMP Energy 500 event weekend and display this great product to the thousands of loyal Talladega fans.”

“Talladega Superspeedway is a popular, historic track that attracts some of the most devoted NASCAR fans in the country and it was our only choice for AMP Energy's first race entitlement,” said Ralph Santana, VP of sports, media and interactive marketing, Pepsi-Cola North America. “We’re looking forward to a big year for AMP Energy in racing and we plan to make the AMP Energy 500 a fun and exciting experience that will be an event the fans will not want to miss.” 

The 2008 AMP Energy 500 event weekend featuring the ARCA RE/MAX Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be Oct. 3 - 5, 2008. Guests will experience an action-packed day on Friday, Oct. 3, including two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practices, qualifying for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the ARCA RE/MAX Series 250. Then on Saturday, Oct. 4, fans will watch as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams set the field during qualifying for the AMP Energy 500, in addition to the return of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for the Mountain Dew 250. The AMP Energy 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, race four in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, is set for Sunday, Oct. 5.
Kahne heads to court next week  UPDATE Gillett Evernham Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne has filed a written plea of not guilty to a charge of misdemeanor battery stemming from an alleged pushing incident with a security guard Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  The not guilty plea was filed Thursday and cancels the arraignment scheduled for Tuesday.

Kahne also faces a civil suit stemming from the incident. According to witness statements, Kahne's brother said Kahne was pushing the guard's hands off of him, while the security guard claims Kahne shoved him.

01/04/08 Kasey Kahne has a Jan. 8 court date in south Florida on a misdemeanor battery charge.

Security guard Archibald Hutchinson sued the Gillett Evernham Motorsports driver over a Nov. 16 incident at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hutchinson claims he suffered "severe physical injuries" when Kahne (in his driver's uniform) shoved him after he tried to keep Kahne from entering a motor-home lot without showing any credentials.

Hutchinson's attorney says his client was injured physically and emotionally and is under medical care and unable to work. A police report says Hutchinson suffered "minor bruises and abrasions." The suit seeks unspecified damages in excess of $15,000.

Elliott to run the #21 at Daytona  Wood Brothers Racing is set to announce driver and sponsor information regarding their #21 Sprint Cup entry for the 2008 Daytona Speedweeks events. Veteran driver Bill Elliott has agreed to once again serve as the driver of the #21 Ford Fusion in this year’s opening event. The team will test with Elliott on January 14-16th of this month. He will compete in all Speedweeks events, which will include the February 9th Bud Shootout, the Gatorade Duels—and the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on February 17th. For the Daytona 500 event, the team will have primary sponsorship from McKee Foods, Little Debbie Snack Cakes Brand. Associate sponsors for this event will again be the United States Air Force and Ford Motor Company’s Motorcraft Brand. Crew Chief Gene Nead will lead all efforts in the Sprint Cup Series. Wood Brothers/JTG Racing PR
Dakar Rally cancelled  UPDATE The cancellation is set to leave organizers in excess of £26million out of pocket.  Inside sources at the Dakar Rally told GPUpdate.net that the real reason the event was called off is because no insurance company would agree to cover the event following the terror threats, not simply that the organizers decided to call it off on their own merit.

01/04/08 This year's Dakar Rally has been cancelled at the last minute. The organizers decided not to go ahead with the race due to concerns about the security situation in Mauritania, where nine stages of the rally were to be held.

Four French tourists were shot dead in Mauritania on Christmas Eve, by gunmen who are believed to have links with al-Qaeda. On Thursday, France warned of the danger of terrorist attacks during the rally and advised the organizers to cancel the event.

The Rally was due to begin tomorrow in the Portuguese capital Lisbon, ending in Dakar in Senegal on 20 January. Some 570 teams had registered this year, including 54 from the Netherlands. More ...

Ex-F1 owner eyes Toronto Maple leafs hockey team  Toronto billionaire Alex Shnaider, a one-time team owner in the prestigious Formula One auto racing circuit, has his sights set on another blue-chip sports investment: the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Shnaider has been consulting in recent weeks with investment bank and industry contacts about how much money it would take to pry the Leafs' parent company – Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment – away from its owners, say two sources familiar with the matter.

A spokesperson for the Russian-born Shnaider confirmed to the Toronto Star that he has "initial interest" in the juggernaut sports holding company.

Rahal to speak on Alternative Fuels in racing  

Bobby Rahal

The American Le Mans Series’ message of alternative fuels will take to the national stage again as Bobby Rahal, owner of Rahal Letterman Racing, will be a featured speaker at the Alternative Fuel for Vehicles Institute’s annual conference and expo in mid-May.

Rahal, whose team recently completed its first season in the American Le Mans Series’ GT2 class, has been a strong proponent of alternative energy sources in motorsport and his address will cover that very topic. Appropriately, a primary sponsor of the Rahal Letterman Porsche is EPIC (Ethanol Promotion and Information Council). The RLR duo of Ralf Kelleners and Tom Milner finished fourth in the GT2 championship with five podiums in the last seven events.

The annual AFVI conference features more than 200 speakers and is expected to draw 2,000 registrants for four days of activity, including workshops, sessions, networking, a Ride-n-Drive, a free public forum, and a trade show for fleets. The tradeshow features over 100 exhibitors, displaying products and services available for purchase and use today. Attendees see cutting-edge vehicles and technologies from exhibitors who share the practical knowledge their businesses have gained through real-world applications.

The American Le Mans Series’ alternative fuel initiative continues to be a high-ranking staple of its platform, providing one of many links from participating manufacturers’ race cars to their showroom counterparts. The Series plans to reinforce that position with an expected ‘Green’ announcement later this month at the North American International Auto Show.

Preparations for the 2008 American Le Mans Series, its 10th season of world-class sports car racing, begin January 28-30 with the annual Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway.

The 2008 season opens with the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 15. The race will start at 10 a.m. ET and will be broadcast live by SPEED, which will begin its coverage at 9:30 a.m. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA’s Live Timing & Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.

Father-Son Bonds Run Strong On First Day Of Rolex 24 Test  

Wayne Taylor

Wayne Taylor is experiencing a special father-son moment during this weekend’s Rolex 24 At Daytona test session as he is sharing the driver’s seat on the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley with his son Ricky Taylor.

Said Wayne Taylor: “I was just saying to him now that in all the years that he has been coming here, did he ever think that one day he would be driving with me? He said, ‘no.’ I said, ‘me too.’ I really never expected it. There are not many people that get the opportunity to do this. It’s really fantastic.”

Joining Wayne and the 18-year-old Ricky Taylor during this weekend’s test on the No. 10 car – which won the 2005 overall Rolex 24 – are Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante.

While the team hasn’t made their official driver lineup announcement, Wayne Taylor said his son Ricky’s biggest challenge in a preparing for a potential Rolex 24 start is negotiating the traffic that comes with the twice-around-the-clock challenge.

“This weekend, the focus is going to be getting through traffic,” said Wayne Taylor, who calls nearby Apopka his home. “He can do the lap times. The big thing in our racing is getting through traffic.”

“We’ve been talking about this for so long about being teammates,” said Ricky Taylor, who has previous experience in Skip Barber and go-karting.

In addition to his son Ricky, Wayne Taylor’s other son Jordan, 16, has locked up a Rolex 24 ride co-driving the No. 17 Terra Firma Motorsports Porsche in the GT class.

“I’m trying to get my wife in the pace car and then I’ll have my whole family on the track,” Wayne Taylor quipped.

Father-son part II: The starting command “Drivers, start your engines” for the 46th anniversary of the Rolex 24 will be a special one for Alex Gurney. His father Dan Gurney, the inaugural winner of the 1962 Daytona Continental (now Rolex 24), will serve as the Grand Marshal of this year’s Rolex 24 and will give the starting command.

Gurney and Jon Fogarty, the defending Daytona Prototype champions, along with 1996 Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser and two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will co-drive the No. 99 Lowe's/GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley in the Rolex 24.

Last year’s Rolex 24 didn’t go as planned for Gurney and the No. 99 car, which started on the pole but suffered an early freak contact incident and then later dropped out with a gearbox issue to finish 46th overall.

“I’m extremely excited about going racing again,” Alex Gurney said. “Everyone on the team is very motivated to try to repeat the kind of race performances we had in 2007. The Rolex Daytona 24 was the one race that didn’t go as planned but we are doing everything we can to make amends this year.”

Another NASCAR driver joins the Rolex 24: You can add another NASCAR driver to mix in the Rolex 24. A.J. Allmendinger will make his third career start in the Rolex 24 once again with Michael Shank Racing co-driving the No. 6 Ford Riley with John Pew, Ian James and Burt Frisselle.

“I get to turn left and right again so that’s always a fun thing,” said Allmendinger, who drives in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the No. 84 Toyota Camry. “The last two years, we came so close to winning it in ’06 and we were fast last year. I look at Mike and his whole team, they are real racers.  They are here to win and they work hard for it and have a great time doing it.”

Roar Before The Rolex 24: The second day of the three-day Rolex 24 test session on Saturday will be the Fan Fest event known as the Roar Before the Rolex 24. Admission is $10 and gates open at 9 a.m. The day’s activities will include fan forums, a tech talk, displays and garage access.

Gordon team devastated over cancelled rally  Vanguard Integrity Professionals CEO, CTO and founder, Ronn Bailey, expressed his "devastation" and "significant disappointment" in light of today's announcement that, for the first time in 30 years, the Dakar race has been cancelled. The decision to call off the race was due to direct security threats made by Al Qaeda to attack the race from Portugal to Senegal.

Bailey, whose company provides enterprise security software to approximately 500 U.S. and foreign governments, multinational corporations and large enterprises, has confirmed the significant security risk with his own sources. Bailey was making his 4th Dakar attempt as part of the only

All-American team, NASCAR veteran Robby Gordon's Team Dakar USA. Bailey and Gordon joined together in part to highlight American innovation, determination and international goodwill. More ...

ESPN Classic Televising Six Classic Daytona 500 Races  In advance of the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, ESPN Classic will be televising six of the best Daytona 500 races of all time every Monday at 2 p.m. ET starting Jan. 7. 

During the period, ESPN.com's NASCAR page will feature a poll where viewers can log on to choose their favorite Daytona 500 from the six. Then, on Saturday night, Feb. 16, the night before the 2008 version of NASCAR’s biggest race, ESPN Classic will show the top five races as chosen by the fans in their order of preference, starting at 10 p.m. 

The six races are:

1976 - On the last lap, David Pearson and Richard Petty wreck together while running first and second, both are the only cars on the lead lap. Pearson gets his car moving first and goes on to win the 500 at a snail's pace. Petty finishes second, a lap down, after he is penalized for having his car pushed across the finish line.  More ...

Super Aguri yet to confirm 2008 lineup  (GMM)  Super Aguri has clarified that the FIA's newly published official entry list for 2008 is not confirmation that Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson will definitely race for the Japanese team again in 2008.

While fellow small outfit Force India declined to lodge the identity of Adrian Sutil's teammate for this year with the governing body, the entry list showed Sato and Davidson as apparent fixed starters for the Leafield based squad.

When contacted about the issue, however, a Super Aguri spokeswoman explained that the duo are likely to keep their seats, but that contractual negotiations are still ongoing.

She added that team chiefs decided to lodge two driver entries with the FIA even though they are yet to finalize the plans for 2008.

AIM Autosport Announces 2008 Driver Line-Up  After making an impressive debut at the Rolex 24 At Daytona last year with a fifth place finish, AIM Autosport has set the bar even higher for their sophomore season of Rolex Sports Car Series competition, signing the youngest full time driver pairing for the full Rolex Sports Car Series season and tabbing two experienced, but still very young, drivers for the Rolex 24. And with a move to Ford power for the 2008 season, the team is anxious to get a strong start to the 2008 Rolex season.

Mark Wilkins and Brian Frisselle, who teamed for four top-tens from nine starts together in 2007, will co-drive the No. 61 Exchange Traded Gold Ford-powered Riley for the full 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series season. Joining the two young chargers for the Rolex 24 will be Colin Braun and Andrew Ranger.

“We’re really excited about this season and look forward to getting things off to a good start in the 24,” said Ian Willis, AIM Autosport team principal. “Our move to Ford power is one we are really happy about because they offered us a package that wasn’t just motors. There are a lot of engineering resources they are making available to us, and for a small team like ours, that’s really important so we can take the fight to the big guys.” More ...
Robby Gordon to test at Daytona  With the Dakar Rally, which was scheduled to begin Saturday, having been canceled, Robby Gordon will participate in the Sprint Cup test session Monday through Wednesday.  Gordon had planned to have Brendan Gaughan test for him.
Black racer demoted to Grand-Am Rolex series  Bill Lester is returning to his sports-car racing roots, but the driver hasn't totally given up on a NASCAR career.  Lester, who competed in 15 Craftsman Truck Series events for Billy Ballew Motorsports last season, with a season-best eighth-place finish at Kentucky, plans to drive the entire Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series this season.

"I have had some discussions [with NASCAR teams]. It's just looking for the right scenario," Lester said Friday before going out to test his sports car at Daytona International Speedway. "The way it is these days, unless you come from the right background or the right checkbook, it's real difficult. I don't have that background, and I definitely don't have those finances."

Lester, who competed in two Cup races in 2006, said he is always looking for and courting sponsors.

"Most people say I'm my own best salesman," Lester said. "I'm still working the phones and networking. Come to find out it's not what you know, it's who you know. You just never know what might occur in the future."

Before going to NASCAR, Lester raced in sports cars and competed in his first 24 hours race in 1998.

"This is coming back home essentially," Lester said as he stood outside the Southard Motorsports garage. "I started out racing sports cars, and it's kind of like riding a bike. It feels good to be back here. "It doesn't mean I'm done turning left, but in the meantime, I'm having a good time here."  Scenedaily.com

Allmendinger and Frisselle join Michael Shank Racing  Michael Shank Racing will turn to some fast and familiar faces as the Columbus-based team has inked Red Bull Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup pilot AJ Allmendinger and Daytona Prototype expert Burt Frisselle to join full-season drivers John Pew and Ian James in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley for the 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“It’s great we were able to get AJ and Burt back with us for the 24,” said team owner Mike Shank. “There are a million factors that go into a good finish in this race and obviously chemistry with the drivers is a big one. We’ve seen what AJ does in these cars, and I’m happy to be racing with Burt rather than against him, so we’re looking forward to this race big time.”

Allmendinger made a fast start in his first Rolex appearance, leading twenty-seven laps on the way to a strong second place finish in 2006. The California native re-joined the squad in 2007 and once again stormed to the front for twenty-seven laps before a motor issue hampered the effort.

“I love this race-the chance to go up against almost everyone in the sport and race for 24 hours, it’s just fantastic,” said Allmendinger. “Mike (Shank) is a racer to the core and his team is really focused on this event. We came so close to a win in 2006 and I really want to get back on that podium to start this year off on the right foot and with a new watch!”
Petty hires Finley as technical director  Petty Enterprises officials announced Friday that they have hired Derrick Finley as the team's technical director to oversee the two-car Sprint Cup team's car of tomorrow program as NASCAR utilizes the new car in all 36 races in 2008.

Finley has served as crew chief and in engineering roles for several Cup teams in his career. He holds a mechanical engineering degree from the University of New Mexico.

"We have been really busy this off-season with our move to Mooresville and our preparation of the car of tomorrow for the entire 2008 Sprint Cup season," Executive Vice President of Race Operations Robbie Loomis said.

"Derrick brings a lot of experience to Petty Enterprises that will be tremendously valuable as the season draws near. He is an excellent engineer and he has been a successful crew chief. That is exactly the type of person we were looking for to supplement [crew chiefs] Jeff [Meendering] and Billy [Wilburn]. We see Derrick as another key hire that will bolster an already strong foundation that we have here at Petty Enterprises."

"Petty Enterprises is the gold standard of stock car racing," Finley said. "Their legacy of success is unequaled. From top to bottom they have shown a commitment to return to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and I am honored to be part of that process. In crew chiefs Jeff Meendering and Billy Wilburn, we have two of the brightest minds in the garage area. Both Bobby and Kyle had several strong runs last year. Everything is in place to build on those finishes and have an even better year in 2008."

Aaron's to sponsor #00, MWR car  As early as Sunday, Michael Waltrip Racing’s #00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota team departs to participate in the first official 2008 Sprint Cup Series test session at Daytona International Speedway. David Reutimann, who switches to the #44 UPS Toyota Camry after the first five events, will test the #00 entry from January 7th-9th. Session two will commence on January 14th and include both the #55 Napa Toyota team and the #44 UPS Toyota team with drivers Michael Waltrip and Dale Jarrett respectively. The second session will wrap on the 16th. After the Sprint Cup Series test sessions conclude, there is no downtime for Michael Waltrip Racing. Not only is MWR testing Daytona this month, they are scheduling various test sessions simultaneously at different locations on a weekly basis. This weekend Josh Wise heads to the Harley Davidson Florida Evaluation Center in Naples (Fla.) for a straight-line test. Next week, Michael Waltrip and Michael McDowell are scheduled to test Cup cars at Nashville Superspeedway. Then McDowell heads back to Nashville on the 17th with David Reutimann to test at the venue again. Michael Waltrip Racing returns a third time as Josh Wise takes his turn at the 1.33-mile D-shaped oval on the 22nd in a Cup car. MWR site
Senate Declares "Race Day In America"  By unanimous consent, the United States Senate recently designated February 17th, 2008 – the date of the historic 50th running of the Daytona 500 – as “Race Day in America.”

The resolution, introduced during the 110th Congress by Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez highlights the historic 50th running of the Daytona 500 and festivities surrounding the event.

Noting that the Daytona 500 is the most prestigious stock car race in the United States; and that Daytona International Speedway is the home of “The Great American Race”; and that winning the prestigious Harley J. Earl Trophy is stock car racing’s greatest prize and privilege; and that well-known politicians, celebrities and athletes take part in the festivities surrounding the Daytona 500, the resolution passed easily.

“What a special way to recognize the most anticipated event in racing history,” said Speedway President Robin Braig. “We are looking forward to the historic 50th running of ‘The Great American Race’ and the festivities that surround it.”

RLR/Andersen Racing Signs Prendeville  RLR/Andersen Racing is pleased to announce that it will again field a car for Andrew Prendeville in the Indy Pro Series in 2008.

The 2007 season was the first for both Prendeville and the Palmetto, Fla.-based team in the Indy Pro Series, the official development series of IndyCar.

Prendeville, who moved from New Jersey to Las Vegas over the Christmas holiday, recorded seven top-10 finishes in the Indy Pro Series last year.  He ran as high as second in his first race at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, set the fastest lap of that race, and went on to finish fourth. He gave RLR/Andersen Racing its first podium in Indy Pro Series competition by finishing third in the next-to-last race of the season. More ...

Gordon to co-host "Live With Regis And Kelly"  Jeff Gordon is scheduled to make his 11th appearance as guest co-host on the popular daytime talk show “Live with Regis and Kelly” on Friday, January 18. The four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet will fill in for host Regis Philbin. “Live with Regis and Kelly” is in its 20th year of national syndication and continues to wake up millions of Americans each day. “Live with Regis and Kelly” is executive produced by Michael Gelman and distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. Produced by WABC-TV in New York, “Live with Regis and Kelly” airs in over 200 markets across the country. Check local listings for time and channel.
Hamilton to wear number 22 in 2008 - FIA  (GMM) Despite finishing his rookie formula one season in second place, the FIA on Friday confirmed that Lewis Hamilton will carry the number 22 on his McLaren in 2008.

The sport's governing body released the official entry list for the upcoming season, which also revealed that Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson have been retained to race again with Super Aguri.

The seat alongside Adrian Sutil at Force India, although rumored to be ultimately filled by Giancarlo Fisichella, is the only unconfirmed spot on the entry list.

World champion Kimi Raikkonen's 2008 Ferrari will bear the number 1, while Hamilton's teammate Heikki Kovalainen brings up the rear with the highest race number, 23.

Woking based McLaren bears the indignity in 2008 of the tail-end of F1's numbering system, which excludes the unlucky number 13, due to the British team's exclusion last year for espionage.

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro

1.  Kimi Raikkonen
2.  Felipe Massa

BMW Sauber F1 Team

3.  Nick Heidfeld
4.  Robert Kubica

ING Renault F1 Team

5.  Fernando Alonso
6.  Nelson Piquet

AT&T Williams

7.  Nico Rosberg
8.  Kazuki Nakajima

Red Bull Racing

9.  David Coulthard
10. Mark Webber

Panasonic Toyota Racing

11. Jarno Trulli
12. Timo Glock

Scuderia Toro Rosso

14. Sebastien Bourdais
15. Sebastian Vettel

Honda Racing F1 Team

16. Jenson Button
17. Rubens Barrichello

Super Aguri F1 Team

18. Takuma Sato
19. Anthony Davidson

Force India Formula One Team

20. Adrian Sutil
21. TBA

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

22. Lewis Hamilton
23. Heikki Kovalainen

industry news
BMW sales up 7.1%  The BMW Group in the U.S. (BMW and MINI combined) today reported its best-ever annual sales for both its brands of 335,840 vehicles, an increase of 7.1 percent over the 313,603 vehicles sold in 2006. December sales for both brands of 33,761 were up 1 percent over the 33,417 vehicles reported in the last month of 2006.
Schumacher turned down Ferrari job  Ferrari CEO Jean Todt says that Michael Schumacher turned down an offer to replace him as boss of the Formula One team.

Speaking in an interview with German publication Auto Motor Und Sport, Todt claims that his ideal replacement was the team's most successful driver.

"He would have been the best candidate for this job, but he did not want it," said Todt about Schumacher.

"Ross is a very good man. His successes with Ferrari speak for themselves.

"We spoke with each other for a long time - about what was best for Ferrari and what was best for him. But it was better for both parties, on a long-term basis, that he went to Honda and we occupied the team boss position internally.

"Ross is now a competitor, but he will remain a friend of Ferrari and myself."

"In the last 15 years I dreamed of being able to watch a grand prix on television in peace," he explained. "But no matter whether I am at the track or not, for me a grand prix will always be stressful. That will only change if I do not work no more for Ferrari."

National Guard to back Dale Jr Nationwide effort  The Army National Guard will continue its involvement in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2008 with a 21-race primary sponsorship of the No. 5 Chevrolets with drivers Landon Cassill and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The team will be fielded by JR Motorsports in partnership with Hendrick Motorsports.

Cassill, 18, will pilot 19 events in the No. 5 National Guard Chevys, kicking off his season Feb. 23 at California Speedway. The campaign will mark the most extensive racing action for the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native and 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate since he signed with Hendrick Motorsports in December 2006.

Providing bookends to the 2008 schedule, Earnhardt will drive the "Guard Car" in the Feb. 16 season opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and the Nov. 15 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The two-time circuit champion has earned five Nationwide-level victories at Daytona.

"The National Guard is very pleased to be sponsoring the No. 5 National Guard Nationwide Series car in 2008," said Lt. Col. Diana Craun, Deputy Division Chief, Strength Maintenance Division, National Guard Bureau. "The Guard's presence at Nationwide Series races will honor America's finest Citizen-Soldiers in an exciting way by featuring a unique Unit Patch on the hood, deck-lid and rear quarter-panels of the car. Additionally, Army Guard Soldiers from these honored units will be invited to watch the No. 5 car as it reaches Victory Lane."

Q and A with Renaults Dino Toso  As we head into another new season, Renault’s Dino Toso, has spoken about the challenges posed by the design of the French based squad’s contender for the new championship, the R28….

Dino, the 2007 season wasn’t an easy one for the ING Renault F1 Team. Has the team understood and eliminated the R27’s defects?
We understand the problems that we met this year but this analysis required quite some time as it was a combination of various factors. First of all, even if we knew that the change from Michelin to Bridgestone was going to involve a few modifications we underestimated the number of changes necessary. Quite simply, we didn’t have enough information at the time.

What are the particularities of the Bridgestone tires?
The front ones are very rigid and require an aero balance moved towards the front to work properly. But Renault had always had a tradition of rearwards-biased weight. We knew we had to change the balance but we didn’t know exactly to place it. When it became obvious that we had to shift the balance even further, we were caught in a trap, as the R27’s design wasn’t able to cope. Our budget, our logistics and our strategy showed that designing a new car during the season just wasn’t feasible.

You spoke about a combination of factors...
Yes, indeed. In addition to this specific problem we realized that there was a discrepancy between the data measured in the wind tunnel and those measured on the track. For us it was a completely new situation. The correlation between simulation and reality has always been one of Renault’s strong points. And finally the R26 was optimized for the Michelins whose characteristics were very different. More ...

Peak promoting Danica everywhere  Danica Patrick is everywhere. Well, at least her likeness currently is in more than 4,000 AutoZone stores across the country with an expansion to other major retail outlets this summer.

The Andretti Green Racing driver is featured on displays of PEAK Performance Motor Oil – recently announced as the Official Motor Oil of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. Every bottle features the IndyCar Series logo.

In addition to in-store promotions, the PEAK brand's parent company, Old World Industries, is working with Patrick on a national TV, print, and radio advertising campaign to highlight the new entry in the performance motor oil category. PEAK also will promote its motor oil with events at all domestic IndyCar Series races in 2008.

But that's not all. PEAK Antifreeze, the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have teamed up with Patrick to offer racing enthusiasts a chance to win an unprecedented IndyCar Series Driving Experience. Fifteen fans will enjoy a VIP experience during Pole Qualifying Weekend at the 2008 Indianapolis 500. Each winner will learn first-hand racing tips from Patrick before driving an IndyCar Series car around the famed 2.5-mile oval.

Click it: Enter to win an ultimate driving experience with Danica Patrick

Patrick has endorsement deals with PEAK Antifreeze and Mr. Clean Windshield Wash and Wiper Blades (another Old World Industries brand). PEAK Antifreeze has been the title sponsor of the IndyCar Series race at Chicagoland Speedway the past two years.

industry news
GM takes camouflage off new Camaro  

2009 Camaro

General Motors has released the first picture of the new Chevrolet Camaro without camouflage. In fact, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz has decreed that all of the preproduction Camaros be driven without the cladding and camouflage to better test aerodynamics and cooling efficiency, Chevrolet General Manager Ed Peper said on GM's Fastlane blog Thursday. The Camaro is to go on sale in 2009.
NASCAR teams to test at Las Vegas  All of the teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are expected to test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Jan. 28-29 to prepare for the March 2 UAW-Dodge 400.  On Jan. 30-31, the NASCAR Nationwide (formerly Busch) Series teams will test in preparation for the March 1 Sam’s Town 300.
Jackie Stewart's brother dies  Former Grand Prix driver Jimmy Stewart has died at the age of 76. He was Sir Jackie Stewart's older brother and was the man responsible for getting Jackie interested in racing. The two grew up in Dumbarton where their father Bob was a Jaguar dealer.  Sharing his name with the celebrated Hollywood star, who became famous after Stewart was born, made life difficult but in later years that paled into insignificance as Jackie won three World Championships.
Todt says no rift with Ferrari colleague  

Jean Todt

(GMM) Jean Todt has played down speculation that he may have fallen out with his Ferrari colleague Luca di Montezemolo.

After nearly a decade and a half as the Italian formula one team's boss, Frenchman Todt has finally stepped down, while maintaining his new role as CEO of the entire Maranello based marque.

But rumors recently hinted at increasing friction between the 61-year-old and Montezemolo, who is Ferrari's president and also chairman of Fiat, the marque's Italian parent.

Asked about the rumblings this week by the German trade magazine Auto Motor und Sport, Todt said: "If I look back on my time at Ferrari, the thing I am most proud of is that I survived 15 years in this job and am still able to independently determine my future.

"I do not have a problem with Montezemolo," he immediately added. "We are friendly with one another, even if naturally we do not always have the same opinion -- I am no yes-man. We have discussions openly.

"I am content, as long as I can help Ferrari and as long as I am still among the decision-makers," Todt said.

He also side-stepped claims that his next move could be to leave the Italian team altogether in order to succeed Max Mosley, who came under increasing pressure in 2007 to finally retire, as FIA president.

"That is not a question that I must answer today," Todt said. "Despite all the hostility, Max Mosley does a good job and I do not strive for it. On the contrary, I want him to keep going."

Kovalainen to test 2008 McLaren next Tuesday  
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen on Friday confirmed that he will make his McLaren test debut next Tuesday, one day after it is officially launched in Germany.

The Finn told the news agency SID that, following the presentation of the MP4-23 at the Unterturkheim Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart on 7 January, he will fly to Jerez.

At the Spanish test circuit, two new examples of the Woking based team's 2008 car will be ready to run. Kovalainen's teammate this year will be British incumbent Lewis Hamilton.

"I will fly from Stuttgart on Monday afternoon straight to Jerez, where the next day I will test the new car for the first time," Kovalainen, 26, said.

"I am certainly quite excited about it," he added.

After the fanfare of the team's 2007 launch on the floodlit streets of Valencia, this year's event was "always planned" to be smaller, Mercedes' competition director Norbert Haug insisted.

Monday's Stuttgart presentation, meanwhile, will be the first time that a new McLaren has been revealed on engine and equity partner Mercedes' home soil.

Casey Stoner: The man to beat in 2008  

Casey Stoner

The man to beat in 2008, Casey Stoner was without a doubt the rider of the most recent season in MotoGP as he took his first world title in dominant fashion. The 22 year-old this year made the transition from a spectacular -albeit inconsistent- rookie to a mature World Champion unfazed by any challenge.

Having made an impact in both the British and Spanish national championships, Stoner was tipped for success upon making his World Championship debut as a wildcard at Donington Park in 2001. Raised by the same academy system that has seen the likes of Dani Pedrosa and Toni Elias ascend to the heights of MotoGP, Stoner took full advantage of his family’s bold move to Europe to build on a promising national dirt-track career.

Beginning a permanent Grand Prix career in the 250cc class under the guidance of Lucio Cecchinello in 2002, it was when he dropped down to 125cc the following season that the motorcycling world began to take notice, with four podiums and a win at the final round showing the Australian’s quality. In 2004 he battled for the 125cc title with KTM, taking their first ever Grand Prix victory and finishing fifth overall. More ...

Industry News
Suspense grows over XM-Sirius antitrust  U.S. government antitrust lawyers have spent nearly 10 months so far investigating Sirius Satellite Radio Inc's plan to acquire rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc, despite company hopes that the deal would be approved by the end of 2007.

The delay may be due to the complexity of the issues raised by the merger of the only two U.S. satellite radio companies -- or because the Department of Justice (DOJ) is putting together a case to block the deal in federal court, analysts at Stifel Nicolaus said in a research note on Thursday.

Alternatively, top officials at DOJ may be leaning toward approval but might still be weighing arguments from staffers who oppose the deal, Stifel Nicolaus said.

"Like many others, we believed it was likely that the DOJ would have reached a decision before the winter holidays," Stifel Nicolaus said. More ...

Singapore GP lighting  The Singapore Grand Prix organizers have been giving details of how they intend the light the street circuit when Formula 1 holds its first night race on September 28 next year.

Lighting specialists Valerio Maioli SPA of Ravenna, Italy, has designed a bespoke, state-of-the-art lighting system for the event with the intention being to provide sufficient light for the drivers while minimizing glare and reflections from a wet surface or from spray created by other cars.

The system will feature a total of 1600 lighting projectors attached to aluminum trusses, which will be suspended 10 meters above the track on vertical steel pylons which will be mounted on prefabricated concrete blocks, which will be placed behind the barriers at intervals of 32m.

This will involve a total of 240 steel pylons and a mind boggling 108,423m of cables. The system will be powered by 12 twin-power generators, each located in a sound-proof container. Should one of the generators fail, the other generators will provide a back-up power by default. Each generator will also have its own engineer on standby whenever they are in operation.

The total power required for this will be 3.18 Megawatts, but the resulting light will be four times brighter than the floodlighting in normal sports stadia.

The entire circuit will be lit up in this way, including the run-off areas. These will not be as bright as the track itself in order to avoid confusing the drivers. Grandprix.com

tv news
Weekend USA TV Reminders  
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Australian V8 Supercars Bathurst

3:00am-5:00am (R) SPEED
Australian V8 Supercars Queensland Symmons Plains
1:00pm-2:00pm (10/21/07)
2:00pm-3:00pm (11/18/07) SPEED
Movie: The Racers (1955)
2:00pm-4:00pm FOX Movie Channel
Movie: Dale (2007) Dale Earnhardt documentary
8:00pm-10:15pm Country Music Television * Check local listings for your time zone CMT
AMA Supercross Anaheim
10:00pm-1:30am (L) SPEED
Dakar Rally Highlights Lisbon to Dakar (Rally Cancelled)
3:30pm-4:00pm Versus
The SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com

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