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Adrian Newey: We’re not ready for a Schumacher Adrian Newey: We’re not ready for a Schumacher"At some stage that (attracting a big name driver) will obviously be our aspiration, but initially we'll want to continue to work with David and young drivers, be that Tonio Liuzzi, Christian Klien or whoever else, and bring the car forward," Newey told Autosport. "Then it becomes much easier to attract one of the top drivers. Until you're at that point, you can't really do it. Regardless of salary, a top-five driver would only want to join a team if he thought he had a sensible shot of winning races and hopefully championships. If he's attracted for some other reason, such as finance, then we don't want him."

However, that said, Newey admitted that if the chance ever arose to work alongside Michael Schumacher, then he would jump at it….

"It would be tremendous to work with Michael. He's one of the few great drivers I haven't had the opportunity or pleasure of working with, but our first goal has to be to develop the car. As I said, we have to start to prove that we can do that before we can sensible attract a top driver."

Camel lands title sponsorship for Yamaha Factory Racing Camel lands title sponsorship for Yamaha Factory RacingYamaha Motor Co., Ltd. announces the start of a new partnership with JT International (JTI), a subsidiary of Japan Tobacco Inc., whose brand CAMEL will become the new title sponsor of Yamaha’s Factory MotoGP Team for 2006.

The Yamaha Factory MotoGP Team, consisting of reigning-World Champion Valentino Rossi and his team-mate Colin Edwards, will be known as the “Camel Yamaha Team” in 2006.

Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing Lin Jarvis commented “Yamaha is very excited to enter into this new partnership with JTI. JTI has been involved in motorsport at the highest level for many years and has been an active sponsor at the top level in the MotoGP class for the past three seasons. We look forward to working with JTI to enhance the respective images of our brands and to challenge together for victory, as Yamaha enters its “next 50 years” and aims to retain its MotoGP titles in 2006.”

“A new chapter in the history of Camel in motorsport is just beginning”, commented Roberto Zanni, JTI’s Regional President for Europe, “After three years of great satisfaction in the premier class of the World Road Racing Championship, we are today launching a new challenge for the title. Our new partnership with Yamaha, the historic, championship-winning Japanese manufacturer, will be highly motivating for us and it will be an honor to be by their side throughout the 2006 season. We share the same passion and desire for victory and, I am sure, success will not be long in coming.”

The Camel Yamaha Team will begin its 2006 campaign in Sepang, Malaysia with a three-day test on 23rd, 24th and 25th January.

Altadis Requests Arbitration With Yamaha Altadis Requests Arbitration With YamahaAltadis has initiated arbitration proceedings, seeking substantial compensation from Yamaha for the damages arising out of what Altadis considers to be a material breach by Yamaha of the two companies' two-year sponsorship agreement.

Altadis seeks both pecuniary damages and declaratory relief with respect to particular obligations that Altadis maintains have survived the termination of the parties' contractual relationship.

Altadis has requested an urgent decision in this regard, in the nature of an interim order obligating Yamaha to refrain from collaborating with any sponsor whose products compete directly with Altadis products for the coming season.

Altadis regrets that the negotiations to define the terms of a settlement that would have resolved the dispute without the need to resort to arbitration have proved fruitless.

Q and A with Jimmie Johnson at Daytona Q and A with Jimmie Johnson at DaytonaJIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE '06 SEASON? "I feel really really good about it. We've been working hard over the off-season. Our speedway stuff is strong, but more importantly we feel like we've made some good gains over the off-season on the intermediate stuff. In Dover, when they took away the rear shocks -- we had so much invested in the back of the car -- and after that, we were trying to get the front of the car optimized just like what everybody else was doing. So it just took us a while. The off-season was good for us. We're excited for the Vegas test. We're going to be ready for the championship. We just need to get through the first 26 (races) and save all of our energy and resources and victories for the final 10 so we can be the champions."

ON THE NEW '06 MONTE CARLO SS, DID YOU NOTICE ANY SPECIFIC CHANGES DURING THE FIRST SESSION TODAY? "Those are fast lap times (in the morning practice session). I think we're already faster than what the pole was -- or it's real close. From the minute we've been on the track with the new body and new engine stuff, we've been flying. So it's been good. I could really tell the straight line speed was in the car. But we haven't really worked on the race package yet. It's really just been in qualifying trim. I can tell it's fast."  zzzz

HOW IMPORTANT IS THE LAS VEGAS TEST GOING TO BE? "This year is going to be new for everyone. I think every test is going to have a lot of weight on it. We've got a procedure in place for the Vegas test (by) taking two different styles of cars to really try to make it a four-day test in a way, with two different cars, instead of just a single test with two cars. So we're really working through some things to try and maximize the two days that we have in Las Vegas."

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW FITNESS-RELATED PLANS FOR THE NEW YEAR? "Nothing really new. Last year, I really made it through the entire year training on a weekly basis and getting a good three or four days in (each week). That's led me to think about other things I want to do -- like maybe run in a marathon or compete in a triathlon. I actually have goals this summer to try and break up my workout during the week and bike 20 miles one day and run five miles, which is easy to run, but get a long run in over five or six miles one day a week and try to swim at least a mile a week. I just want to understand what that would mean on my body so if I ever do get a piece of free time, I could compete -- well, not compete -- but at least finish a triathlon."

IS THERE A PARTICULAR MARATHON YOU HAVE YOUR EYE ON DOING? "Well, I'd really like to, but we don't have any weekends off to do it. The three off-weekends we have, I'm not going to be running in a marathon. I'm going to be on a beach somewhere relaxing."

ON HIS TRIP TO SOUTH AFRICA DURING THE BREAK "It was awesome. It was just such an amazing experience to travel that far away. I had different ideas as to what it would look like and what the experience would be like. I couldn't have been more impressed. South Africa is really a clean, beautiful country. We spent some time in Cape Town. I was completely amazed at how modern and technical the city was -- and how friendly everyone was. Everyone spoke English, so it was very easy for us to get around and survive in the city. And then we went on safari, which was an awesome experience. We followed lions for a couple of days -- and giraffes and elephants -- we saw everything. It was really just a fun experience. It was great to get out and do something different."

Q and A with Elliott Sadler at Daytona Q and A with Elliott Sadler at DaytonaElliott Sadler is one of three Ford drivers participating in the first test session of 2006, which also marks the on-track debut of the new Ford Fusion. Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M’s Fusion, took part in a question-and-answer session in the infield media center at Daytona International Speedway early in the afternoon. More....
Ford Fusion makes track debut Ford Fusion makes track debutThe 2006 Ford Fusion made its on-track debut at Daytona International Speedway today. Greg Specht, Performance Operations Manager, Ford Racing Technology, talked about the manufacturer’s newest NASCAR entry.

GREG SPECHT – Performance Operations Manager, Ford Racing Technology – THOUGHTS WHEN HE FIRST SAW THE FUSION ON THE TRACK TODAY. “I got goose bumps for a couple of reasons. First, it’s the first time that we’ve introduced a new race car and a new production car at the same time since 1968 with the Torino. And then secondly, I was tickled with the response that I’m getting from the race teams. We spent a lot of time and effort along with them in developing the car, and you really never know until you get out on the track what you’ve got. This is the first time we’ve been under real, live testing conditions against the other manufacturers and so forth, and so far things look pretty good, so we’re pretty excited about it.”

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR DURING THE TEST SESSIONS? “What we’re looking at now is probably what we’ll see in qualifying. And so far, so good. It shows that we’re competitive. We’re not necessarily at the top of the grid, but we’ve got a good representation there, so early indications are that we’ve done our job, the teams have done their job, and we should be okay for qualifying.”

IS THERE ANY CONCERN ABOUT INTRODUCING A NEW CAR, ESPECIALLY SINCE THE TAURUS DID WELL LAST YEAR? “We were concerned that we didn’t want to come out with a car that was worse than the one that we already had out on the track. Absolutely. That was a great concern. What we have learned is that you don’t want, as a manufacturer, to go off and do this in a vacuum, you want to bring your teams with you because these are the people that have to take what you develop and race the thing. So, what we do and what we’ve learned over the years is the best thing is to bring those folks into the development process because they’re going to be able to identify problems, they’re going to be able to give you suggestions that we’re just not going to be able to come with as manufacturers. So, by putting our two heads together I think we come up with the bets possible solution that’s going to work on the track.”

WILL THERE BE MORE SUCCESS ON THE TRACK THIS YEAR? “Well, I think that the car is better than the one that we raced last year. I’m guardedly optimistic. We can only go by the wind-tunnel numbers that we’ve seen on our own car, and those indications are that we’re a little better than we were last year. Again, you won’t know until you get on the race track and the green flag drops, but so far we think we’re okay.”

Industry News
Ferrari 599 GTB to replace the 575M Maranello Ferrari 599 GTB to replace the 575M MaranelloWith the release of the 599 GTB Ferrari is presenting its most powerful V12-engined production car of all time.

Amedeo Felisa, Ferrari's Vice General Manager will announce today at the Detroit Auto Show the birth of the latest model developed in Maranello.

The new car is a concentration of Ferrari's most innovative and technologically advanced engineering solutions applied to a mid-front engined two-seater coupé. The result is a new benchmark for performance, driver involvement and design.

The Ferrari 599 GTB boasts class-leading power thanks to its 5,999cc V12 - derived directly from the Enzo Ferrari supercar - which produces no less than 620hp at 7,600 rpm for a weight/power ratio of just 2.6 kg per horsepower.

Ferrari has adopted the latest evolution in its tried and tested all-aluminum construction technology for the body and chassis.

The unmistakable Pininfarina design gives the Ferrari 559 GTB aggressive yet elegant lines which are perfectly integrated with the advanced aerodynamic solutions adopted to reach the performance figures attainable.

This new model is the symbol of Ferrari's production - the V12 berlinetta - and represents the latest interpretation of a theme that has seen such classics as the 250 GT, the 275 GTB, and the 365 GTB4.

The Ferrari 599 GTB replaces the last in that great line of berlinettas, the 575M Maranello, of which - together with the 550 Maranello introduced in 1996 - no fewer than 5,700 have been produced, a record for this type of model for the Prancing Horse.

The new car will be officially unveiled on the 28th of February 2006 at the Geneva Motor Show.

Elliot Bachelart takes two podiums in first run at Daytona Elliot Bachelart takes two podiums in first run at Daytona13-year old Elliot Bachelart (Son of Champ Car team owner Eric Bachelart) of Indianapolis got his first experience at the famed Daytona International Speedway last weekend behind the wheel of four different classes of karts, and highlighted his debut with two visits to the podium after scoring fastest race lap in a field of over 40 karts.
The young charger is keen to get as much experience as possible as he continues to improve and show great speed, and running the four different classes (HPV Jr. Lite, HPV Jr. Heavy, Yamaha Jr. Super Can LIte, and Yamaha Jr. Super Can Heavy) helped him experience a wide variety of karts with different weights, horsepower, and handling characteristics.
After spending the opening day familiarizing himself with the track and each of the four classes, Bachelart got day two started with a strong fifth in qualifying with the HPV light, but after missing the minimum weight by two pounds, he was forced to start from the back of the field. The race showed that his qualifying performance was no fluke, as he moved up to take 11th in the race and carded the sixth fastest lap of the event.
Each class holds qualifying, a heat race, and a final. The top 21 qualifiers make it to the Final, with a consolation race providing a chance for those who did not qualify for the Final. The top five finishers in the consolation race make it to the final, but are forced to start from the back of the pack. zzzz
Day three was the highlight of the week as Elliot qualified 6th in qualifying in the HPV Heavy class, finished 6th in the heat and gained a couple positions in the final to make it to the top 3 podium finish. Elliot also had the fastest lap of the race by .025 thousands of a second.
This podium finish was not the only highlight for Bachelart, as he won the Consolation A race in Yamaha Jr. SuperCan competition to make it into the Final. After starting the final race in 17th, Bachelart worked his way up to take fifth at the checkered flag on it's way to his second podium.
“Overall it was a very good weekend for me; two podiums and two top 15 finishes,” said Bachelart. “We had a couple of problems that we will try not to do again but besides that I learned a lot and my coach AJ Codalata did as well. There are some things we are now improving on and we will try to do even better for the next race which is at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on March 10-12th.”
Bill Elliott tops Day 1 times at Daytona Bill Elliott tops Day 1 times at DaytonaBill Elliott, driving the No. 36 Chevrolet (pictured right,  Photo courtesy CIA Stock Photo) for MB2 Motorsports, got off to a fast start Monday in the first of three days of testing for the Daytona 500.
Led by crew chief Frank Stoddard, Elliott posted the day's fastest speed at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway with a lap time and speed of 48.072 seconds at 187.219 miles per hour. Following Elliott were Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon with equal speeds of 187.029.
"I'm stepping in to an already good deal -- MB2 has a history of fast superspeedway cars," said Elliott, who has not driven a General Motors car since October of 1979. "We got by the first hurdle by having a fast car as soon as it was unloaded. If you're not fast off the trailer, it's then difficult to find that extra speed. We're in good shape after the first day of testing."
Elliott, who last entered the Daytona 500 in 2003, is a two-time winner of NASCAR's biggest race and has claimed the pole for the 500 a record-tying four times.
"Everything went smoothly today," explained Elliott. "This team is so connected. We've got a strong baseline and that will allow us to experiment more the next two days. I just mashed the pedal and took off for a very fast ride. It's nice to be on top of the speed charts, but I'd rather be at the top in another month."

Pos. Car Driver Speed
1 36a Bill Elliott 187.219
2 48 Jimmie Johnson 187.029
3 38a Elliott Sadler 186.908
4 24 Jeff Gordon 186.648
5 36b Bill Elliott 185.931
6 17a Matt Kenseth 185.801
7 20a Mike McLaughlin 185.713
8 4 Scott Wimmer 185.376
9 8a Dale Earnhardt Jr. 185.159
10 8b Dale Earnhardt Jr. 185.098
11 19a Jeremy Mayfield 184.923
12 80b Jeff Fuller 184.904
13 9a Kasey Kahne 184.759
14 43b Bobby Labonte 184.733
15 41 Reed Sorenson 184.729
16 17b Matt Kenseth 184.718
17 31 Jeff Burton 184.642
18 43a Bobby Labonte 184.634
19 21b Ken Schrader 184.631
20 24b Jeff Gordon 184.574
21 80a Jeff Fuller 184.517
22 9b Kasey Kahne 184.392
23 23a Mike Skinner 184.385
24 12a Ryan Newman 184.370
25 23 Mike Skinner 184.283
26 31x Jeff Burton 184.109
27 12b Ryan Newman 184.060
28 21a Ken Schrader 183.906
29 40x David Stemme 183.880
30 20b Mike McLaughlin 183.869
31 4a Scott Wimmer 183.730
32 41x Reed Sorenson 183.722
33 1a Martin Truex Jr. 183.348
34 78b Kenny Wallace 183.105
35 19b Jeremy Mayfield 182.953

Jeff Gordon fastest Monday morning at Daytona Jeff Gordon fastest Monday morning at DaytonaThe 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will kick off with a pair of much anticipated test sessions at historic Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the prestigious season-opening 48th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 19.

The list of teams expected to participate in the first NEXTEL Cup Series test session on Jan. 9-11 include (list is tentative and subject to change):


Pos. Car# Driver Speed
1 24 Jeff Gordon 187.029
2 48 Jimmie Johnson 186.928
3 36a Bill Elliott 186.521
4 17a Matt Kenseth 186.023
5 38a Elliott Sadler 186.020
6 20a Mike McLaughlin 185.927
7 8a Dale Earnhardt Jr. 185.628
8 36b Bill Elliott 185.300
9 8b Dale Earnhardt Jr. 185.132
10 4 Scott Wimmer 185.071
11 31x Jeff Burton 184.983
12 19a Jeremy Mayfield 184.885
13 80b Jeff Fuller 184.809
14 17b Matt Kenseth 184.710
15 20b Mike McLaughlin 184.642
16 43a Bobby Labonte 184.543
17 12b Ryan Newman 184.525
18 38b Elliott Sadler 184.509
19 31 Jeff Burton 184.483
20 41 Reed Sorenson 184.456
21 12a Ryan Newman 184.411
22 43b Bobby Labonte 184.305
23 21b Ken Schrader 184.260
24 23 Mike Skinner 184.143
25 4a Scott Wimmer 184.090
26 1b Martin Truex Jr. 184.019
27 23a Mike Skinner 184.015
28 9a Kasey Kahne 183.805
29 21a Ken Schrader 183.790
30 80a Jeff Fuller 183.733
31 1a Martin Truex Jr. 183.718
32 9b Kasey Kahne 183.554
33 40x David Stremme 183.236
34 40 David Stremme 183.083
35 41x Reed Sorenson 182.953
36 19b Jeremy Mayfield 182.619
37 78a Kenny Wallace 180.963

NASCAR Testing

Jan. 9-11
• Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet
• TBA, No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet
• Elliott Sadler, No. 38 M&M’s Ford
• Ryan Newman, No. 12 Alltel Dodge
• Jeremy Mayfield, No. 19 Dodge
• Dale Jarrett, No. 88 UPS Ford
• Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet
• Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet
• Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet
• Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge
• David Stremme, No. 40 Coors Light Dodge
• Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Target Dodge
• Ken Schrader, No. 21 Motorcraft/Air Force Ford
• Bobby Labonte, No. 43 Cheerios Dodge
• Bobby Hamilton Jr., No. 32 Tide Chevrolet
• Scott Riggs, No. 10 Valvoline Dodge
• Boris Said, No. 36 MB2 Motorsports Chevrolet
• Robby Gordon, No. 7 Jim Beam Chevrolet   zzzz

The list of teams expected to participate in the even-numbered NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series test session on Jan. 16-18 include (list is tentative and subject to change):

Jan 16-18
• Greg Biffle, No. 16 National Guard Ford
• Kurt Busch, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge
• Mark Martin, No. 6 AAA Ford
• Casey Mears, No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge
• Jamie McMurray, No. 26 Sharpie Ford
• Carl Edwards, No. 99 Office Depot Ford
• Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench/Reese’s Chevrolet
• Matt Kenseth, No. 17 DeWalt Ford
• Joe Nemechek, No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet
• Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet
• Brian Vickers, No. 25 Ditech.com Chevrolet
• J.J. Yeley, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet
• Sterling Marlin, No. 14 Waste Management Chevrolet
• Brent Sherman, No. 49 Schwan’s Dodge
• Kyle Petty, No. 45 Georgia-Pacific Dodge
• Jeff Green, No. 0 NetZero Chevrolet
• Dave Blaney, No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge
• Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet
• Michael Waltrip, No. 55 NAPA Dodge
• Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
• Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet
• Mike Wallace, No. 09 Miccosukee Gaming Dodge
• Morgan Shepherd, No. 89 Racing for Jesus Chevy
• Terry Labonte, No. 96 Texas Instruments Chevy

NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest dates, which will coincide with January’s NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and NASCAR Busch Series testing sessions at the “World Center of Racing,” will be held on the following days:

• Jan. 10 NASCAR Nextel Cup Fan Fest
• Jan. 13: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Fan Fest
• Jan. 17: NASCAR Nextel Cup Fan Fest
• Jan. 21: NASCAR Busch Fan Fest

The Fan Fest events, which include fan forums, bands, show cars, pit stop demonstrations and displays, start at 5 p.m. but fans will be able to enter the NEXTEL FANZONE beginning at 9 a.m. to watch all of the exciting testing action. Admissions for the NEXTEL Cup Fan Fest dates are $15 while Busch and Craftsman Truck Series admissions are $10.

Fans can watch all of the January testing sessions free from the Oldfield Grandstands located just outside of DAYTONA USA:

• Jan. 5-7 Grand American Rolex 24 At Daytona testing (all cars)
• Jan. 9-11: NASCAR Nextel Cup (odd owner’s points)
• Jan. 13-14: NASCAR Craftsman Truck (all trucks)
• Jan. 16-18: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup (even owner’s points)
• Jan. 20-22: NASCAR Busch Series (all cars) Photo courtesy CIA Stock Photo

Track News
Tickets on sale Tuesday for Allstate 400 Tickets on sale Tuesday for Allstate 400Tickets will go on sale to the general public Tuesday, Jan. 10 for the 2006 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  All fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.  Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time.  Reserved seats start at just $35.
SPEED to televise NASCAR testing SPEED to televise NASCAR testing(All shows are 30-minute, same-day delay with scheduled replays)
Jan. 9 (7 p.m. ET) NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing from Daytona Beach
Jan. 10 (7 p.m. ET) NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing from Daytona Beach
Jan. 11 (7 p.m. ET) NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing from Daytona Beach
Jan. 15 (7 p.m. ET) NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series testing from Daytona Beach
Jan. 16 (7 p.m. ET) NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing from Daytona Beach
Jan. 17 (6:30 p.m. ET) NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing from Daytona Beach
Jan. 18 (6:30 p.m. ET) NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing from Daytona Beach
Jan. 22 (7 p.m. ET) NASCAR Busch Series from Daytona Beach
Feb. 1 (7 p.m. ET) – NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing from Las Vegas
Motorcyclist killed in Dakar Motorcyclist killed in DakarAustralian motorcyclist Andy Caldecott was killed in a crash Monday during the ninth stage of the Dakar Rally.  Organizers said the 41-year-old Caldecott crashed his KTM motorbike about 155 miles into the 371.4-mile stage from Nouakchott to Kiffa.   "He probably died straight away," race director Etienne Lavigne said.   Caldecott, winner of the third stage, was in 10th place overall.  [Note: Dakar Rally highlights will be shown every day at 4:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET on OLN through January 15.  The Dakar Rally will be televised starting January 14, 7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET and continue to run at various times through January 30.]
Richard Petty's mother dies Richard Petty's mother diesElizabeth Toomes Petty, wife of NASCAR champion Lee Petty and mother of NASCAR champion Richard Petty, passed away Sunday morning at age 88. She is survived by sons Richard and Maurice, as well as nine grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren, one great grandchild, two sisters and two brothers. Funeral services are to be held privately. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations by made to Level Cross United Methodist Church, Victory Junction Gang Camp or to Hospice of Randolph County. Williams Company PR
McLaren reveal interim livery McLaren reveal interim liveryTeam McLaren Mercedes is returning to the track this Wednesday, 11th January, at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain, for the first test of 2006.

Test drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett will be at the wheel of two interim MP4-20's, which will be running in an orange livery, prior to the launch of the new Team McLaren Mercedes livery in mid-February. The orange is synonymous with the origins of McLaren, as the team ran its Formula One and CAN-AM racers in the color for a number of years starting with the M5A in 1968.

This week marks the start of 28 intensive on-track test days currently scheduled for the team in Valencia, Barcelona, Imola and Jerez leading up to the opening race of the 2006 World Championship, the Bahrain Grand Prix, on Sunday 12th March. Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya will be starting their programs during the week commencing Monday 16th January.

Further information about the first run of MP4-21, which will be some time in January and the 2006 livery launch will follow in due course on this website.

R+L Carriers to sponsor Kenseth R+L Carriers to sponsor KensethOne of the nation’s leaders in the trucking industry, R+L Carriers has joined Roush Racing as a full-time associate sponsor on the No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion team and driver, Matt Kenseth for the 2006 NEXTEL Cup season.

Based out of Wilmington, Ohio, R+L Carriers is a family owned and operated company that with 40 years of committed service to their customers, has grown to be one of today’s leaders in the Less than Truckload (LTL) industry.  With nearly 10,000 employees, R+L Carriers Inc. currently services 47 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and all of Canada. With future expansions already in progress, R+L Carriers will cover the remaining states, (Washington, Oregon, and California) by year 2007. 

In addition to becoming a full-time associate sponsor, R+L Carriers will become the primary sponsor for the No. 17 Ford in three NEXTEL Cup events in 2006 beginning with the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May, then again at Daytona International Speedway in July and Martinsville Speedway in October.  zzzz

"We are pleased to be working with R+ L Carriers on the No. 17 Nextel Cup car this season," said Jack Roush, owner of Roush Racing. "We understand the importance of getting where you need to go safely and timely, as we are in the business of doing that on a weekly basis. R+ L Carriers is a leader in their industry and it seems only natural that they would team with Matt Kenseth and Robbie Reiser on the No. 17 Ford Fusion, as they have been at the top of the NASCAR game for some time now."

This marks the second foray into auto racing for R+L Carriers, who in 1997 sponsored a car in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.     

“R+L Carriers is proud and very excited to join the winning teams of Roush Racing and DEWALT for the 2006 NEXTEL Cup campaign,” said President of R+L Carriers, Tom Cavellier.  “We feel the two organizations are similar to R+L Carriers philosophy which ultimately represents hard work, dedication, and continued commitment to be the leader in their respective industries.”

Bill Davis Racing to field 3 cars at Daytona Bill Davis Racing to field 3 cars at DaytonaBill Davis Racing will field three teams at Daytona; Mike Skinner will pull double duty between trucks and the #23 Cup car. Former Penske South crew chief Larry Carter has been retained as a consultant and will primarily assist Skinner's team through Speedweeks. Dave Blaney returns to BDR in the #22 Caterpillar Dodge and will be reunited with former Richard Childress Racing crew chief Kevin Hamlin. Michael Waltrip will make his debut for the organization in the #55 NAPA Dodge in February--the #22 and #55 will test next week, but former Winston West driver and current rear tire changer Tom Hubert will sub for Waltrip. Tony Anderson, a six-year BDR veteran who was the chief mechanic for the 22, has been promoted to car chief. Sporting News
New Wood Brothers shop to open New Wood Brothers shop to openA new racing company expected to open Jan. 25 in Harrisburg, NC could help the town become a destination for auto racing enthusiasts. Wood Brothers Racing/JTG Racing Inc. will bring a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series team, two NASCAR Busch Series teams and two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams. A second Nextel Cup team will arrive in 2007. The teams' drivers are Ken Schrader, Stacy Compton, Jon Wood, Bobby East and Marcos Ambrose. The company will have a staff of 120, he said. Plans include hiring 20 more employees by the end of this year. It will cost about $750,000 to upgrade the 129,000-square-foot former warehouse on N.C. 49 at Caldwell Road. It will be able to house up to 70 racing cars and trucks. Wood Brothers Racing/JTC Racing Inc. has said it planned to invest $6.5 million and will bring new jobs in exchange for $76,914 in tax incentives from Cabarrus County and $20,787 from Harrisburg. Charlotte Observer
Busch tests for Penske Busch tests for PenskeKurt Busch was at Lakeland Speedway last Wednesday getting acquainted with his new team. Breaking in the #2 Miller Lite Dodge with Busch was crew chief Roy McCauley and new car chief Corey Tucker, who honed his skills on Ryan Newman's Penske team that won six races in nine Busch Series starts last year. Sporting News
Industry News
Chrysler poised to overtake Ford Chrysler poised to overtake FordDaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group appears poised to surpass Ford Motor Co. to become the second-largest producer of cars and trucks in North America, perhaps as early as 2007.

This stunning reversal of fortune is playing out on the floor of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where two new Chrysler Jeep models will be unveiled today and where the buzz among the global automotive executives and news media is building about the deep cutbacks Ford will announce later this month.

Indeed, turmoil reigns in an industry where American giants General Motors Corp. and Ford are derided as junk credit risks and U.S. governors, including Michigan's Jennifer Granholm, are groveling for whatever crumbs that mighty Toyota Motor Corp. of Japan or rising star Hyundai of Korea might toss our way.

Talk of Toyota's expected takeover of the worldwide No. 1 auto sales spot from GM, in fact, has overshadowed the fact the Chrysler has been quietly gaining ground on Ford right here at home.

"If Chrysler has some winners with its new products, it could pass Ford in North American production as soon as 12 months from now," Sean McAlinden, chief economist for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, said Sunday.  More at Detroit Free Press

Honda signs long-term deal with Snap-on Honda signs long-term deal with Snap-onThe Honda Racing F1 Team is delighted to announce its first new commercial association of 2006 after concluding a long-term agreement with Snap-on Tools, who also become official tool consultant to the team.

Snap-on Incorporated is the leading global developer, manufacturer and marketer of tool, diagnostic and equipment solutions for professional tool users. Product lines include hand and power tools, diagnostics and shop equipment, tool storage products, diagnostics software and other solutions for transportation-service, industrial, government, education and other commercial applications.

In addition to providing tool hardware and consultancy to the team, Snap-on Tools branding will be incorporated into the Honda Racing trackside environment and will feature within the race car livery of the RA106 at selected races throughout the season.

Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer of the Honda Racing F1 Team, commented: "We are delighted to welcome Snap-on Tools to our team at such an exciting time for us. The acquisition by Honda has given the entire team renewed momentum and we are optimistic that the 2006 season will be a successful one for ourselves and our partners. We are delighted to be associated with Snap-on as the leading global developer of tools. In addition to the supply of tools, Snap-on will provide a highly sophisticated consultancy and diagnostics service to our team and in particular to our brand new state-of-the-art wind tunnel, which will require the highly specialized precision tooling for which Snap-on is renowned when it comes on stream later this season. We look forward to sharing many successes with Snap-on - both on and off the race track - in 2006 and beyond."

Terry Barcham, Managing Director of Snap-on Tools, said: "We have had a long and fruitful relationship with Honda over many years and we are delighted to form this association with the Honda Racing F1 Team. This will be a valuable showcase for our tools and equipment and we very much hope that our input will help the team towards their best season ever."

Premat gets nod for next round Premat gets nod for next roundAutosport reports that A1 Team France will run Alexandre Premat (pictured right) in the next round according to Jean-Paul Driot team boss: "There is nothing complicated about it. We have always had the policy of having Alex [Premat], then Nicholas Lapierre, then Alex and so on, so with the Indonesian round being moved it means that Alex will be driving in South Africa and Nicholas in Indonesia. It is a logical move and we are keeping it simple."

"We have know the Brazilian round has been cancelled for some time but nothing will happen to our system as a result," Driot added. "If there are 11 races there are 11 if there are 12 there are 12, whatever that means for our drivers."

Industry News
DCX to upgrade plants DCX to upgrade plantsDCX announced that they plan to upgrade plants to build more cars and trucks than they did last year, the division of DaimlerChrysler AG said Friday.  That expansion starkly shows the growing divide between Chrysler Group -- the old Chrysler Corp. before its merger with Germany's Daimler-Benz -- and the other two traditional U.S. carmakers, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp.

With growing sales, market share and a full plate of new models on the way, Chrysler plans to spend $6 billion to make its plants more efficient and capable of producing more cars and trucks on the same assembly line.

The news bodes well for some 43,000 DaimlerChrysler employees in Michigan, who have survived the job cuts of the past several years.

Meanwhile, Ford and GM face falling sales and market share, and plan to shed thousands of jobs to cut production.

"DaimlerChrysler is in a different position than GM and Ford," said Erich Merkle, director of industry forecasting for IRN Inc. "GM and Ford have been losing sales and market shares at an alarming rate."

For the man who has everything For the man who has everythingUPDATE A reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.Com, With regards to the IRL car up for auction at eBay (still no bids as of this writing) . . . Is it just me or might someone else be horrifically embarrassed for Tony George and the IRL at the site of this Frankencar?  Is this not an absolute low water mark for the slowly imploding IRL?  The once mighty juggernaut of open wheel racing in North America must now endure seeing its once lauded rolling stock debased by turn signals, license plate brackets and onboard starters so it can be motored  around on the streets of Indianapolis on a Friday night!  These cars have so little residual value the owner would actually spend money to make one street legal?!  if the IRL had any class they'd buy this thing up fast and lock it away in Terre Haute before an entire cottage industry develops to convert IRL cars for the street.  At least all those out of work IRL mechanics would have something to do.  J.N. Anderson, Shaker Heights, Ohio

01/08/06 Hey ladies.  Want to get that man in your life a car that will blow his socks off, as well as anything else on the road?  You can bid on this street legal IRL Indy Car. Starting bid is just $25K.

MotoGP news update MotoGP news update
Stoner confirmed

Casey Stoner has been confirmed as the sole rider for Lucio Cecchinello Racing in the 2006 MotoGP category.

The Australian cemented the deal just two days before the New Year after initially being expected to move up with the Honda Pons outfit.

"The LCR team is like a home away from home," said Stoner, runner-up to Dani Pedrosa in last year's 250cc World Championship.

"2006 will be my fifth year in the World Championship and the fourth with the LCR team, and I think we will get good results together like last season."

Stoner has every right to feel relieved, because...

...Checa is without a ride
Spanish veteran Carlos Checa has been left without a ride in the 2006 MotoGP World Championship by the withdrawal of the Honda Pons team.

Checa, 33, had been widely expected to race for Honda Pons alongside Casey Stoner until the Australian's decision to stick with LCR.

Former 250cc World Champion Sito Pons has run a team in the top category for 25 years but has failed to retain the backing of Camel or to secure funding from any other major source.

Pons plans to regroup for 2007 but Checa's future is uncertain.

"The timing of this decision at the beginning of the 2006 pre-season leaves me in a complicated situation," said the Spanish ace.

"I find myself without alternatives that would allow me to compete for good results."

Checa has competed in the top flight for a decade but has just two wins to his name, the last of them as far back as 1998. zzzz 

 All change at D'Antin
Luis D'Antin has named Spaniard Jose Luis Cardoso and German Alex Hofmann as the men to spearhead a two-pronged attack on the MotoGP category in 2006.

The D'Antin Pramac team will run Ducati Desmosedici GP06 bikes as a Ducati satellite for Cardoso, who makes his MotoGP debut, and Hofmann, who has one full season with Kawasaki under his belt in the premier class.

The announcement has prompted former D'Antin rider Roby Rolfo to quit the MotoGP scene and try his luck on a Ducati in the World Superbike Championship.

Barros, Xaus head off to Superbikes
Also quitting the top flight are Alex Barros and Ruben Xaus, both heading to Superbikes like Rolfo.

Brazilian Barros, 35, was Troy Bayliss' team-mate at Pons last year and scored an outstanding win in Portugal, the seventh of his career, but had no worthwhile offers for 2006.

Xaus, a former stalwart of the SBK scene, came into MotoGP with Ducati and was Rookie of the Year two seasons ago but had a dismal 2005 on a Yamaha.

Seb settles on Honda for 2006
In the quarter-litre ranks, Sebastian Porto will team up with Japanese rider Shuhei Aoyama in a new-look Repsol Honda line-up for Alberto Puig.

Argentine rider Porto, runner-up in the category in 2004, has seven GP wins to his credit after 10 years as a World Championship regular.

Aoyama is the 21-year-old brother of established star Hiroshi.

He has ridden in 125cc Grands Prix in Holland and Britain and in his home GP on a quarter-litre bike in both 2004 and 2005.

Last year he claimed the All-Japan 250cc Championship, a traditional stepping-stone for Japanese riders with World Championship ambitions.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Fisi in favor at Renault
Speed's tough road to F1
Red Bull won't sign Schu or Kimi, yet
Pastorelli still with budget trouble
F1 set for first test of 2006
Doornbos to sit out Jerez tests
Cloud still lingers over Spa
Murray Walker to make F1 return
Newey to focus on RB3 - Horner
Hockenheim race still in doubt
F1 is 'exhausting' - team member
Fisi questions Montagny's Renault exit
Racing News
Clean sweep for Michelin Clean sweep for MichelinIn an unprecedented year (2005) of motorsports victories, Michelin equipped teams won:
  • Formula One Driver and Constructor championships with Fernando Alonso and Renault
  • World Rally Championship Driver and Constructor championships with Sebastien Loeb and Citroen
  • MotoGP Rider and Manufacturer championships with Valentino Rossi and Yamaha
  • 24 Hours of Le Mans overall victory with Team ADT Champion Audi, the first win by an American team in 38 years
  • Their eighth consecutive overall 24 Hours of Le Mans, taking the top six places and victories in three classes
  • American Le Mans Series Manufacturer and Driver titles for Audi in LMP1, Corvette in GT1 and Porsche in GT2.

Clean Sweep For Racers, Automakers, Consumers

"Our accomplishments were unprecedented in 2005, with a clean sweep in motorsports and from JD Power and Associates," said Win Wall, chief operating officer for Michelin Automotive Industry Division. "This phenomenal clean sweep in 2005 speaks to the enduring quality and performance of Michelin tires in every application."

Michelin topped the rankings in all four areas of the J.D. Power and Associates 2005 Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction StudySM: luxury/sport tire; mass-market/non-luxury tire; pickup/full-size van tire and SUV tire. The latest awards bring Michelin's total to 44 for J.D. Power and Associates Original Equipment and Replacement Tire Awards in the United States, four times more than the combined total of all other competitors.

Grand Sham Grand ShamA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, A huge field of racing stars and one of the world's most famous tracks prepares for a sports car classic. Unfortunately there will be more crew personnel over the race distance watching than fans in the stands. And maybe even more than its TV audience. There is no getting around this series has the slowest , most ugly uninspiring cars out there. Like you say, " Tell us again, why we need the Grand Sham???" Name withheld by request, Toronto, Canada
Industry News
Honda sweeps Car and Truck awards Honda sweeps Car and Truck awardsSunday got off to a great start for Honda of America. The company swept the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards in the opening hours of the North American International Auto Show.

The Honda Ridgeline and the Honda Civic were named truck and car of the year, respectively. The awards are given by a consortium of 49 automotive journalists in the United States and Canada. Mitch McCullough of New Car Test Drive said the awards are given for vehicles that set "new benchmarks for product excellence" in the preceding model year.

The Honda Ridgeline was already named Motor Trend magazine's Truck of the Year.

"All the associates and people who worked on this car have done a tremendous job," said Dick Colliver, vice president of American Honda, in accepting the award for the Civic.

The other finalists for the truck award were the Ford Explorer and Nissan XTerra. The Pontiac Solstice and the Ford Fusion were finalists for the car award. Detroit Free Press

Saleen and Oreca announce Le Mans S7R race program Saleen and Oreca announce Le Mans S7R race programSaleen, the manufacturer of limited edition, high-performance vehicles, today announced that Saleen, in conjunction with Oreca Groupe, have formed a partnership for an all out two-car effort towards one of the most prestigious races in the world, the 24-Hour of Le Mans.

Oreca will also sell, service and support all European race cars for parts, sales, as well as provide technical services. Oreca will also be the repair center for Europe.

Saleen is delighted to partner with one of the most professional and respected race organizations in the world. This combination of Saleen and Oreca will give the European teams campaigning Saleens a local base for new cars, parts, service, repairs, and racecraft to help bring the cars to the winner's circle.

"The time is right time for Saleen to have a full European program. Globally, the S7 has grown in market presence and recognition, and with our new race program we will further showcase the racecraft and winning attributes of the S7R," said Steve Saleen, president and CEO of Saleen. "Since the introduction of the S7 in 2001, all prior teams have had to be serviced from the U.S. Now, with the addition of Oreca to the program we can provide better service to our customers abroad."

New Audi R10 highlights ALMS test New Audi R10 highlights ALMS testThe long-anticipated, on-track American debut of Audi's new diesel-powered R10 prototype, as well as Penske Racing's Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 race car, highlight the American Le Mans Series' second annual Sebring Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway on January 23-25.

Audi Sport North America will bring two R10s in the LMP1 class to Sebring. One Penske-run Porsche RS Spyder prototype will test, but all six factory drivers will be involved in preparation for the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 18.

Driving at the test for Audi Sport N.A. will be Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Rinaldo Capello. Biela and Pirro won the American Le Mans Series championship last year with Champion Racing, guiding the Audi R8 to its sixth consecutive Series championship and second straight for Champion. Penske debuted the Porsche RS Spyder at the Series' season finale in October at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, taking the victory in LMP2 with Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr at the wheel. Driving for Penske Racing at Sebring's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours will be Maassen, Luhr and Emmanuel Collard in the No. 6 Porsche with Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Patrick Long in the No. 7 entry. All are expected at the Winter Test.

Test sessions are scheduled from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day with American Le Mans Series cars slated to be on the track from 9-10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3-6 p.m.

Between 13-15 teams are expected to appear at the Sebring Winter Test. Additional announcements will be made over the next two weeks.

Pacific Coast has sleeper lineup for Rolex 24 Pacific Coast has sleeper lineup for Rolex 24Rolex Series newcomer Pacific Coast Motorsports has been flying under the radar during Daytona Test Days, with some more "high profile" drivers grabbing many of the headlines. However, that's just the way team president Tyler Tadevic likes it, as he feels the team's lineup of former Toyota Atlantic competitors Alex Figge, Ryan Dalziel, Jon Fogarty and David Empringham in the team's No. 89 Pontiac Riley could be tough to beat.

"We feel like we've got one of the best driver lineups in the paddock," Tadevic said. "Between Alex and Ryan, our full-time guys, and Dave and Jon coming in for the 24, we think it's a stout lineup. All the guys are within a small amount of time of one another all the time. These guys have won and raced at the highest levels. We definitely feel like we have the sleeper driver lineup, because we don't have any household names as it were, but the bottom line is that any one of my guys can go toe-to-toe with any other driver in the paddock and be just as fast."  zzzz

Tadevic also mentioned that the team has secured a new sponsor to be announced prior to the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The team is raring to go in its first full-year of Daytona Prototype competition after competing previously in Toyota Atlantic and the ALMS.

"I don't want to get ahead of myself, but we're excited about making that (sponsorship) announcement," Tadevic said. "We worked hard all last year to find a primary sponsor to really help pay the bills, and we weren't able to do that. We come here and before we even get into our first race, we were able to nail down a significant primary sponsor for the car. Definitely, from a commercial aspect, this series is the most promising series in any kind of racing as far as we're concerned. That's why we're here."

Big F1 test in Jerez slated Big F1 test in Jerez slatedThe first major F1 test of the new year begins at Jerez in southern Spain.  Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault and Toyota will be in action at Jerez on Tuesday before Honda, BMW, McLaren, Toro Rosso and Williams join them on Wednesday. Toyota, Red Bull and Renault will all be running their 2006 cars.

There will be ten days of straight testing at Jerez, though most team's will be splitting that into two separate three or four day stints.

Schu: "I’ll quit if I can’t win" Schu: "I’ll quit if I can’t win"Seven time world champion Michael Schumacher has warned that whether he retires at the end of this season depends on Ferrari.

The German, 37 - who for the first time this century was not able to fight for the title in 2005 - told his team that he 'must' be given a competitive car this year.

''If I don't have the chance to win races and fight for the title,'' he told Der Spiegel in an interview to be published on Monday, ''then I don't think I will be keen to continue my career.''

Schumacher and manager Willi Weber have repeatedly stated that the ace racer will decide about 2007 and beyond in the middle of this year -- the last in his current contract.

Schumacher also expressed concern about the future of the beleaguered Maranello based team, revealing that he believed Ferrari 'need more staff'.

''You cannot afford to stand still in formula one,'' Michael continued.  ''I want to know where Ferrari is heading.''

Formula BMW
Mansell's sons enter Formula BMW Mansell's sons enter Formula BMWEx-F1 World Champion And CART champion, Nigel Mansell was recently unveiled as an ambassador for the Formula BMW UK championship. The series begins at Brands Hatch in April and Mansell will spend the next 12 months grooming future Formula One stars, including his sons, Leo and Greg, who are making their racing debuts.
Rolex field overrun with IRL drivers Rolex field overrun with IRL driversIndianapolis 500 winner and defending champion Dan Wheldon, 2005 IRL rookie of the year Danica Patrick, former IRL champs Scott Dixon, Scott Sharp and Tony Stewart, Indy 500 winners Buddy Rice and Eddie Cheever, 2005 race-winners Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta, drivers Patrick Carpentier, Ryan Briscoe and Alex Barron, and car owner Adrian Fernandez are all planning to run in the Rolex Series opener. Cheever and Fernandez are also planning on running teams in the complete 2006 Rolex Series.

“There’s so many great drivers here from so many different disciplines, the Rolex 24 has become a great draw for drivers to come to this race,” said Herta, third-place finisher in the 2005 Indy 500. “It’s the chance to race against – and test yourself – against guys in other series that we don’t get to race against very often. It also gives me the opportunity to race with Buddy Rice, who I’m usually competing against.”

Herta and Rice will share the No. 28 Finlay Motorsports Ford Crawford with Michael Valiante and Rob Finlay, while Barron joins Memo Gidley and Michael McDowell in the team’s No. 19 entry.

“This is a really good outfit, and it’s going to give us a good shot here,” Rice said. “There’s a lot of real good people in the field, and that’s what makes it so exciting, that so many people from different forms of motorsports around the world can join us here and do this one race. It’s a lot of fun to come and do these deals. I’m glad it falls in a time frame where a lot of us can come here and do this.”

Vitor Meira hopes to land Rolex ride too Vitor Meira hopes to land Rolex ride tooAdd Vitor Meira to the growing list of IRL IndyCar Series drivers and owners planning to compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Meira, whose runner-up finish in the Indianapolis 500 was among four second-place finishes in IndyCar Series competition, finished seventh in the 2005 championship driving for Rahal Letterman Racing.  He also has two career poles and 15 top-five finishes in 46 career starts.

“It’s exciting, because this is something totally new for me,” said the 28-year-old Brazilian. “I drove quite a lot of sports cars in Brazil, including a 24-hour and five 12-hours or 1,000 miles, but they were all in open-roof cars. I never drove something like the Daytona Prototypes, but I’m sure it won’t take me long to get used to it.

“My goal is to be back here in the car for the Rolex 24. I want to run the 24 hours, I want to do a good job, then go back to IRL and start and finish a good championship, but this series is a good option, too, I’m also opening doors.”

Wheldon back for another Rolex 24 Wheldon back for another Rolex 24When 2005 Indianapolis 500 and Indy Racing League IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon signed-on to drive for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the IndyCar Series, the Englishman earned the equivalent of an "automatic bid" for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, what with the team's two-car Daytona Prototype program.

Wheldon is co-driving the No. 02 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with his new IndyCar teammate, Scott Dixon, as well as Casey Mears, who will drive the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge for the Ganassi team in the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. It will be Wheldon's second consecutive Rolex 24 At Daytona, as he co-drove last year with then-IndyCar teammate Dario Franchitti, Milka Duno and Marino Franchitti for Howard-Boss Motorsports.

"This is my second year at the race, and it was kind of a star-studded field last year," Wheldon said. "It's even better this year. I'm kind of afraid to think about how good it's going to be in four of five years. For me personally, I love being part of this race, because it kind of gets you back into the swing of things. The cars are obviously good to drive. They're a challenge. The track is a good track, and it just gets your mindset correct for what's coming up. It's also extremely enjoyable. I love the race. There have been a lot of great winners of this race, and I'd love to add my name to the list."

The trio of Wheldon, Dixon and Mears is intriguing, as all three drivers came up through the now-defunct Indy Lights open-wheel series before branching out into successful, albeit different, career paths.

"It's cool," Mears said of being reunited with Dixon and Wheldon. "Not only racing with Dan and Scott, but coming back and walking through the paddock here and seeing a bunch of people I used to race with. There are a lot of former open-wheel guys and current open-wheel guys. I raced against both Dan and Scott in Indy Lights. It's fun. It's good to see people you haven't raced with in a while. It's like seeing an old friend. Getting a chance to race with them, they're both champions in their own right. To be on the same team together is an honor for me."

"It's how it works," Wheldon added. "That's why, in this business, it's important to approach business with the mindset of treating everybody with a lot of respect. It's such a small arena. For example, Bryan Herta, my teammate from last year, he's teamed with somebody he races hard against, Buddy Rice. It's that kind of race. It's fortunate that I'm teamed with these two, because they're two guys that I get along well with, respect immensely and can learn a lot from. Although our paths have taken different directions, we've all been successful in what we've done and we've ended up at a good organization. It's been good for us."
Briscoe finds himself in familiar territory Briscoe finds himself in familiar territoryOpen-wheel standout Ryan Briscoe made his Rolex Series debut in 2005, competing in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley, which was coming off the 2004 Daytona Prototype championship.

The 2006 Daytona Test Days brought Briscoe back to the Rolex Series, as this year he will drive in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley in the Rolex 24 At Daytona-which is fresh off its own Daytona Prototype title run. The only difference between this year and last year for Briscoe is that the No. 10 machine that he will share with Max Angelelli, Wayne Taylor and Emmanuel Collard, is also the defending Rolex 24 At Daytona winner.

"It's definitely a positive," said Briscoe. "There's definitely pressure to keep up the performance and consistency, but that's absolutely what I'm here to do. So it's great to be a part of this organization. I wouldn't be here if I didn't think we had a chance to win. They proved it last year, and now I want to be a part of defending the win."

Although Briscoe has had limited time behind the wheel of the No. 10 machine, he finds himself growing more and more comfortable in the closed cockpit of the Pontiac Riley.

"It took a few laps just to get up to speed and get a feeling for the car," said Briscoe. "After a few laps, I was feeling really comfortable and felt as though I could drive the car to the limit comfortably. It's very different to drive compared to open-wheel car, but it is just another racing car, so you just have to adapt your driving style to it."

One thing Briscoe does admit will take time is getting used to such a large field, and so many cars running on the track at the same time. With more than 70 cars participating in the Daytona Test Days, Briscoe always found himself in traffic.

"Yesterday, I was practicing and I didn't get one free lap," said Briscoe. "You've just got to keep that in mind that it's going to be the same for everyone and really be patient. You've got a lot of slower cars out there. You've really just got to be patient and take your time and not get frustrated. I think that's the big thing. You're not just racing for yourself, but for a team with three other drivers. You keep in mind that it's the same for everyone. It's just the approach you have to have here."

With only three weeks before the green flag drops on the 44th Rolex 24 At Daytona, Briscoe admits that he's excited to ring in the 2006 racing season.

"Daytona is an amazing place to be at because it's got so much history and just the size of it when you walk in," said Briscoe. "The race itself, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, is a very famous race and known all over the world. To be able to take part in it in the top class with the best team is a real special thing."
Rolex testing wraps up at Daytona Rolex testing wraps up at DaytonaThe Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Test Days concluded on Saturday with the Rolex Series machines completing a total of 10,181 laps (36,244.36 miles) over three days of testing.

Saturday's final session saw Lucas Luhr post the fastest lap of Daytona Test Days with a lap at 1:43.431 (123.909 mph) aboard the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche Crawford that he co-drove with Porsche factory drivers Mike Rockenfeller and Patrick Long. Defending Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winner and Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Angelelli was second-quickest in Test Days with a lap at 1:43.698 (123.590 mph) in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley that he co-drove with Wayne Taylor, Emmanuel Collard and Ryan Briscoe.

Sascha Maassen's lap at 1:43.953 (123.286 mph) in the No. 58 Red Bull Porsche Fabcar from Friday turned out to be the third-quickest lap of Daytona Test Days. Maassen was sharing the car with Brumos Racing teammates David Donohue, Darren Law, Hurley Haywood, JC France and Ted Christopher.

Andrew Davis made it three days in-a-row atop the GT time charts after posting a class-best lap at 1:52.704 (113.714 mph) in the No. 74 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 in the final session. Davis partnered with Eric Lux, Graham Rahal and Charles Espenlaub at Daytona Test Days, and will also share the car with the threesome for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

SunTrust team wraps up Daytona test SunTrust team wraps up Daytona testThe No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley of Wayne Taylor, Max Angelelli, Emmanuel Collard and Ryan Briscoe experienced a very successful test at the Daytona Test Days this week in preparation for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

After eight practice sessions over three days, a 1:43.698 lap time at 123.590 mph set by Max Angelelli in the fifth session was the second fastest time of the test and the top time for numerous sessions. Seventy-five cars journeyed to the 3.56-mile Daytona International Raceway circuit to test in preparation of the 44th annual running of the historic twice-around-the-clock endurance race, scheduled for January 28-29, 2006.

“I’m extremely pleased with the test and I’m impressed by the team who put the car together in such a short time,” said Max “the Ax” Angelelli, in reference to the fact the team built a new SunTrust Pontiac Riley car for the 2006 season after last year’s finale in Mexico in early November. “The car did well. It ran very well. We had just a small issue and we solved it. I’m pretty happy for the guys. It’s a good start of the new year and I’m looking forward to the race. The race will be totally different. We’ll finally see who is the fastest and which team has the best package. There’s still a little bit of time to go before we see everything.”
Headless body causes a stir Headless body causes a stirThe most recent article by Mark Cipolloni on the headless body of open wheel racing has caused quite a stir, especially the photo of the headless body.

A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Just read your article on the endless IRL- CART war. I totally agree with everything you wrote. The IRL wasn't necessary back in 1994/95 and had the powers that ran CART at the time been a little less arrogant and a bit more "switched on" they may have been able to prevent the IRL from ever starting- sadly they weren't and proceeded to throw away all that was good about CART. In 2005 the IRL is almost what CART was back in the mid 90s- minus the big grids, diverse race tracks and public interest.

Nowadays I tend to watch both Champ Car and IRL races on TV, but neither truly captures the imagination the way the old Indy Car series did- CCWS only has a handful of truly competitive cars, and the IRL is just the Danica Patrick show and a bunch of drivers who stabbed CART in the back when the Japanese money left.

As the "war" has dragged on and on I've turned to NASCAR for my US motorsport fix- it may not be perfect but the racing entertains me on a Sunday evening and unlike CCWS/IRL I can watch it without thinking this would be so much better if all the OW teams and drivers were racing together again.

I'd love to see Indy Car become one series again- with the best of both worlds forming the sort of diverse calendar that made the old PPG Indy Car World Series so brilliant back in the early- mid 90s, frankly I don't see it happening so both CCWS and IRL will simply limp on until there is nothing left at all. Derek Parkinson

Dear Mark Cipolloni, I completely agree with your assessment over the years of T.G.'s "vision" of destruction. However, I don't believe it is doomed. Every major sport league\series has cycles- MLB, NFL, NBA, ATP, WTA etc.. has been up and down. I believe NASCAR has probably peaked. The difference in getting back to the top has been and will always be marketing. For whatever reason Champ Car does not believe in marketing their product, it's like they hope people will hear about it and buy it. Were there any Champ Car promos running in Texas (new Houston race) or other select markets during the Cotton Bowl on CBS which is a network partner- I doubt it? What about select markets during bowl games on NBC- I doubt it?

Why no sponsor activation through T.V. marketing?  Could McDonald's not relate the speed of their drive thrus with a Champ Car? Why doesn’t DHL promote the speed of their delivery service with a Champ Car? You get the picture, the concepts are endless and any number of Champ Car sponsors could do it.

The answer is that there is no consumer marketing direction within Champ Car's organization. Champ Car can continue to buy races, expand internationally and domestically, have an incredible field of talent, have a new chassis package etc.. but NONE of it will matter until they implement a marketing plan. Brian Kellione, Colorado Springs, CO

While I don't get too upset upon seeing a headless body, there's other in your audience who will be upset. I know you're trying to make a point but I suspect that you are preaching to the choir and you don't need to shock your subscribers with a headless body. Marco Clark

Once, again. I love your site for the great information. I enjoy the speculation and rumors and the fact that you report them even though you take a beating for it in the forums. However, as with reporting that a driver's family is involved in drug dealing, your photo in the 'Headless open wheel racing appears doomed' article is cheap and inappropriate.

I can live with all the self promotion and "you heard it here first" stuff. I can even live with reports of who the drivers are dating (although that seems cheap, as well), but these shock tactics are just over the line. A headless, bloody body is uncalled for and lacks any sort of good taste. I would expect this from an internet shock site, but not from a respected AUTO RACING journalist. What's next, gruesome pictures of the Zanardi crash or Greg Moore? This kind of reporting is disrespectful to yourself, to me, to your readers, and to the entire Open Wheel Racing community.

I don't bring this to your attention as a detractor. I am not posting this on a forum. I am coming to the source out of respect for you and your site. I very much enjoy your site and am concerned about the tabloid-like direction it is taking. Tim Hubbel, California

It's in very bad taste that you chose to put a decapitated human being as a comparison to the state of Open Wheel racing. You could have shown a two headed snake or a turtle with its head tucked into its shell. But that man you showed is somebody's Dad or Son! Very disappointing. Nancy Doornbos

Good article Mark, but it seems a bit dramatic. Don't get me wrong, seeing your opinion, agreeing, well written as usual, but that picture? Umphhh!! Brian Defreese

Dear readers, I apologize if the photo was a bit offensive. It has been replaced.  I reluctantly chose to use it because it's time the open wheel racing community gets a bit of a jolt and wakes up to the fact that war is always ugly, and the internal war going on within the open wheel community is going to leave open wheel racing lying in the gutter bloody and dead, just like the guy in the photo, if the powers that be don't take drastic measures now. Mark C.

Industry News
GM tells Toyota to put away party hats GM tells Toyota to put away party hatsThey may want to hold off on the party hats at Toyota Motor Corp. General Motors Corp. Chairman Rick Wagoner said Friday that GM sold nearly 9.2 million cars and trucks worldwide in 2005, the most since 1978, casting doubt on forecasts that Toyota Motor Corp. might surpass GM as the world's automotive sales leader this year. For the first time in its history, GM sold more cars outside the United States than inside. Not only did GM emerge as the market leader in fast-growing China, it also posted all-time sales highs in Latin America and Europe. The result was a 2% increase in global vehicle sales, despite a 4.3% drop in U.S. sales.

Toyota, the world's No. 2 automaker, sold 8.1 million vehicles last year and recently projected that it will build 9.06 million cars and trucks in 2006, leading to widespread speculation that it would blow past GM this year. Until the final 2005 numbers were tallied, it had been 27 years since GM sold 9 million vehicles in a year. But GM's strong growth overseas suggests that Toyota can't count on being fitted for the crown just yet. "We had a good sales year on balance around the world," Wagoner said in an interview with a small group of journalists. "Chevy is the big dog," he added, noting that Chevrolet sales surpassed 4 million units last year, up 180,000 units over 2004, "so that brand strategy is feeling pretty good." Most recent headlines about GM have focused on its abysmal financial performance in North America, its weak credit rating and sagging stock price. But Michael Robinet, vice president of global forecasting services for CSM Worldwide Inc., said GM deserves some credit for its gains abroad. "I do think they've done a good job in South America, they've cleaned up some of their European issues and done a decent job in Asia," he said. GM boosted sales 35% to 665,390 vehicles in China last year, surpassing Volkswagen AG to become the top-selling automaker in the world's fastest-growing auto market. While pleasantly surprised at some of the final sales tallies from abroad, Wagoner acknowledged that he still faces the daunting task of turning around GM's car and truck operations in North America, where the company lost $4.8 billion during the first nine months of 2005. -- Detroit Free Press--
Todd Bodine puts bobsled on the pole Todd Bodine puts bobsled on the poleTodd Bodine heads into Saturday's Chevrolet Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge "on the pole" after qualifying runs for the event wrapped up on Friday afternoon at the Verizon Sports Complex. The event is a fundraiser to benefit the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project. The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, founded by Geoff Bodine (9th fastest), provides American-made bobsleds to the United States bobsled teams free of charge. The two Bodine brothers, along with eight other NASCAR drivers, including Tim Fedewa (2bd fastest), Kevin Lepage (3rd), Boris Said (4th), Dick Trickle (5th), Brad Noffsinger (6th), Stanton Barrett (7th), Steve Park (8th), and Joel Kauffman (10th), will compete in the challenge on Saturday. All NASCAR racers were in competitive but high spirits when they arrived in Lake Placid for the Challenge, as they joked with each other and signed autographs for adoring fans.

The Chevrolet Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge got underway on Thursday afternoon when the NASCAR drivers arrived at the Verizon Sports Complex for a lesson in Bobsled 101. The drivers took to the track with U.S. bobsled team athletes for an overview of the sport, followed by a ride down part of the track behind a U.S. team driver. When it came time for the NASCAR drivers to actually drive themselves, they could not get enough of the action and finished the evening with a craving for more speed. The drivers started higher up the track on Friday to complete their final training runs and two qualifying heats. As the temperature dropped, the ¾ mile track became faster and the NASCAR racers got all the speed they wanted as they flew through the 17 curves at speeds of nearly 60 miles an hour.

Driving the last sled of the day, Todd Bodine came out on top after the second run with a combined time of 1 minute, 47.24 seconds. Bodine was followed by Fedewa and Lepage in second and third, respectively. Bodine credits much of his successful bobsled driving to the U.S. bobsled athletes saying, "It's great to see our young kids as good as they are. And now with the bobsled project giving them good equipment, our future for bobsledding is looking pretty bright. It's a great feeling." All 10 drivers as well as their many eager fans are looking forward to the feature race of the Chevrolet Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge beginning at 10 am on Saturday morning, with an afternoon race set for 1 pm. Country artists Cowboy Crush will open the proceedings with their rendition of the National Anthem. Tickets for the event can be purchased at the main gate of the Verizon Sports Complex.

Gordon’s Hummer breaks down again Gordon’s Hummer breaks down againEarlier reports from Africa indicated that Robby Gordon and his American made Hummer H3 Dakar effort had "crashed heavily" while competing in the seventh stage of the famed Dakar Rally. There was no crash, and communication directly from Gordon and his navigator Darren Skilton indicate, that while the car is down for repairs, it is for a broken radiator and clutch problem. While night has arrived in Mauritania, and repairs are obviously difficult, every effort is being made to return the Hummer to competition when the race resumes Sunday. Saturday is a day off for all competitors. An overall victory is clearly impossible, however, should Gordon and Skilton make the necessary and expected repairs to the vehicle, the tandem will have eight more race days in which to secure stage victories. More information will be provided regarding the status of the repairs as they are made available.

[Note: Dakar Rally highlights will be shown every day at 4:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET on OLN through January 15.  The Dakar Rally will be televised starting January 14, 7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET and continue to run at various times through January 30.]

Heidfeld: Having JV aboard will be positive Heidfeld: Having JV aboard will be positive"Having Jacques on board should also be a positive - it's always beneficial to have a teammate," Nick Heidfeld told F1 Racing magazine. “The crossover between Sauber and BMW has been very harmonious so far - but it will still take time to get everyone working together and for people to get to know each other. Next season will be a year of learning. Of course, I hope that the car will be quick, but realistically, we want to finish the season in the top six of the constructors’ championship."
Renault plans Jerez test program Renault plans Jerez test programPreparations with the new Renault R26 are progressing well. The engine fired up for the first time in a complete car at Enstone before Christmas, dyno testing continues at full speed in Viry and the next milestone will arrive when the car hits the track next Tuesday.

The Renault F1 Team has an intensive schedule ahead, with testing planned for seven of the coming eight weeks in order to prepare as thoroughly as possible for the season-opening race in Bahrain, on 12 March.

The first of these tests, in Jerez next week, will focus primarily on allowing the team and drivers to learn about the new car and its characteristics. Problems will be solved as they arise and mountains of data collected to allow analysis to begin back at base.

Fernando Alonso will test for all four days, from 10 – 13 January; he will run with the R25 for the first two days, before discovering the new R26. Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen will run two days each, with the Italian in the R26 and the Finn aboard the R25.

The mood at the Renault F1 Team? Well what would you expect from a team of pure-blooded racers? They can't wait to get back to the track and start running!
Date Circuit Driver Car
Jan 10 Jerez  Fisichella R26  Alonso R25
Jan 11 Jerez  Fisichella R26   Alonso R25
Jan 12 Jerez  Alonso R26   Kovalainen R25
Jan 13 Jerez  Alonso R26   Kovalainen R25

Murray Walker signs BBC deal Murray Walker signs BBC dealLegendary British F1 Commentator Murray Walker just can't stay away from F1 even in retirement at the ripe old age of 82.  He has signed a deal with BBC to do some limited F1 commentary of their internet radio show Five Live Sport.
TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET (Replay) SPEED: ALMS
4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. ET (Replay) SPEED: Formula 1
Stage 8
4:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET, OLN
The Year in Review
5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. ET, SPEED 

For a complete listing of Sunday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com and Race Fan TV.

Track News
Gateway and Dodge extend deal Gateway and Dodge extend dealGateway International Raceway and Dodge announced a four-year extension Friday that will allow Dodge to continue as primary sponsor of the Dodge Ram Tough 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.
Dodge has been a track sponsor and title sponsor for the past nine years. The 2006 race will run at 7 p.m. April 29.

Oval season tickets are on sale now, priced at $125 for adults and $65 for children 12-under. Three-day adult passes for NHRA drag racing is $125. Nitro three-day passes are $135 with children's three-day passes at $60 each.

Season tickets can be purchased by calling 866-35-SPEED. Individual tickets for all events go on sale at 8 a.m. Jan. 23.

TV News
Bisignano's son dies Bisignano's son diesJohn Alexander Bisignano, son of television motorsports reporter John Bisignano, died on December 30th in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was 20 years old. His mother and father were at his side when he passed away.

John Alexander was a male model. During a Copenhagen visit that summer, he became ill and was diagnosed with the very rare Ewing's Sarcoma. He was treated for the cancer at Memorial Sloane-Kettering Hospital in New York and later in Copenhagen.  The funeral was today north of Copenhagen.

The family requested that instead of flowers, donations be made in John Alexander's name to the Storm Foundation, PO Box 1958, Breckenridge, Colorado, USA 80424-1958. All contributions will be forwarded to Sloane-Kettering and Lance Armstrong's LIVESTRONG.

Fellows adapting to Prototype Fellows adapting to PrototypeRon Fellows’ last drive in the Rolex Series was in the 2001, when he shared the overall victory with Johnny O’Connell, Chris Kneifel and Franck Freon — in a team car to the Corvette driven by the late Dale Earnhardt.

“This is my first time back here in five years,” Fellows said. “It’s great to be back here. The garage area is unbelievable compared to five years ago. This has always been – and always will be – one of my favorite races. Heck, it’s Daytona.”

Fellows raced in the Rolex 24 six times, and he finished second overall in 2000 in addition to his 2001 victory. He will share the No. 40 Derhaag Motorsports Pontiac Riley with Justin Bell, Chris Bingham and Randy Ruhlman. The team changed the clutch on Friday, and picked up nearly three seconds in the final practice session.

“I can see how this can be real fun racing,” Fellows said of his first experience in a Daytona Prototype. “There’s obviously a lot of cars, and they are fun to drive. The downside for a new team and new driver is that it’s so competitive. We’ve got a bit of a learning curve to go through to get the car to where we can be more competitive. But we made some solid gains today, so we’re looking forward to Saturday.”

Wilson and Allmendinger the 'odd couple' Wilson and Allmendinger the 'odd couple'Since announcing their intentions to compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona during the Hoosier Tire Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway last month, Champ Car teammates A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson have been hard at work learning the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley they are co-driving with Oswaldo Negri Jr. and Mark Patterson for Michael Shank Racing. Both drivers remain optimistic about their chances for victory, and have enjoyed their time in the Daytona Prototype thus far.

“I think the car is a lot of fun,” Allmendinger said. “It really takes me back to being in Barber Dodge. It’s like a bigger Barber Dodge race car. I’m having a lot of fun between just driving the car and dodging the traffic, so I’m really looking forward to the race itself.”

One of the bigger challenges both drivers have faced thus far is the fact that they must share the car between themselves, Negri and Patterson. It is particularly an issue for Wilson, who must share the same seat with three other drivers, and is considerably taller than Allmendinger in particular.

“The biggest challenge is getting fitted in the car, with various sizes of drivers,” Wilson said. “I’m the tallest at 6’3” and it’s just tight. You have to make a few compromises to make sure that all four drivers can fit in, and we can all do the full distance.”

“For me it’s fine, because these cars are pretty tight in the cockpit,” Allmendinger added. “The size difference between myself and say, Justin, isn’t that big of a deal for me. It’s going to be interesting. We need to work on the driver changes because we’re a bit slow between me and Justin trying to crawl in and out of the car and get belted up. But if that’s the biggest thing we’ve got to worry about, I’m not too worried. Everything’s new, so it’s exciting.”  zzzz

While Wilson has previously competed in sports car endurance races, this is an entirely new experience for Allmendinger, who has never raced a car with a roof or participated in a sports car endurance race. However, the 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year has found a somewhat unique way to familiarize himself with the concept.

“I have done endurance racing on my computer,” Allmendinger said. “With the video games, I’ve got it down. I can easily sit in front of a computer screen and do 18 to 20 hours of driving, so I don’t think this should be a problem.”

Whether or not Allmendinger’s computer training will pay dividends on January 28-29 remains to be seen, but both drivers are certainly looking forward to the challenge of competing in North America’s premier endurance race.

“It’s really cool when you get to look at, first, the Grand-Am side of it with guys like Andy Wallace, Wayne Taylor, Scott Pruett and Max Angelelli,” Allmendinger said. “Those guys in their own right are amazing drivers. Then you take in the mix of Champ Car drivers and ex-F1 drivers, and there’s so many different genres of drivers. A lot of NASCAR drivers will be here, and I’m really looking forward to that. It’s kind of cool to walk around and see the faces that, typically, you only see on TV. For me, being fairly young and still new to my career, I’ve looked up to a lot of these guys. I’m excited for so many reasons to be in the race.”

“I’ve watched the race the last few years and I’ve done sports car racing before,” Wilson contributed. “It’s just one of those races that’s great to have on your CV. It’s an extremely good event and it’s very enjoyable to be here. As I was watching the races throughout last season, I was thinking, ‘It’d be nice to be there and see some of my old friends and race against them.’ You’ve got guys racing from all different championship categories, and they all meet up to do this one event. It’s a big attraction to all the drivers.”

Dallenbach seeks DP win Dallenbach seeks DP winWally Dallenbach is a four-time GT winner of the Rolex 24, but he’d love to add an overall victory in the event to his resume. Come to think of it, the popular NBC broadcaster would like to do more racing in the Rolex Series.

“This is a race I would really like to win overall,” Dallenbach said. “I’ve been coming to this event, off and on since 1983, and I still love it as much now as the first time I came here. I love road racing. It’s always been my first love. I have one year left on this TV contract, and I’m really taking a serious look at competing in this series next year, full time. I enjoy this series, I enjoy the cars. It’s very competitive. I’m still young enough – I think I’ve got a couple more good years in me – and I want to do some more driving.”

Moran escapes scary crash Moran escapes scary crashAfter Alex Gurney posted the fastest time during Day 1 of Daytona Test Days, things were looking up for the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley team of Gurney, car owner Bob Stallings, Rocky Moran Jr. and Champ Car star Jimmy Vasser. However, the team’s fortunes took a downturn in the final session on Friday, as Moran spun and crashed hard in Turn 1. Moran was taken to nearby Halifax Medical Center following the incident complaining of neck pain, but a CT scan was negative according to Dr. Tara Wilson, who diagnosed Moran with a muscle strain in his neck. Moran was to be released from the hospital on Friday evening. The car had some damage to its rear and left side, as well as to its floor, which means that the team will be unable to participate in Saturday’s final sessions at Daytona Test Days.

“We’re obviously very disappointed that we’re not going to be able to run tomorrow,” Stallings said. “I only got a couple of laps in the car, but the real benefit here is that Rocky is in good shape. The car really protected him, because he backed it in there pretty strong, and he’s fine. We’re going to head home, regroup and get things fixed.”  zzzz

Despite the setback, Stallings remains optimistic for a good showing when he and the team returns for the Rolex 24 At Daytona on the weekend of January 26-29 based on what he saw during the first two days of testing.

“We’ve been very pleased by our progress this weekend,” Stallings said. “I’ve been especially pleased by Jimmy Vasser. He got in the car, did one session, and was right on the money within six or seven laps. I was really happy about that. He’s a really mature guy, and he wasn’t pushing it. Rocky also was not pushing it, and he was doing pretty well himself. We’re happy with the car.”

Two Porsche powered prototypes in top-5 Two Porsche powered prototypes in top-5A pair of Porsche-powered Daytona Prototypes made their presence felt during Day 2 of Daytona Test Days, as Sascha Maassen turned in the fastest time of the day’s final session and the second-fastest time of the test overall in the No. 58 Red Bull Porsche Fabcar for Brumos Racing, while Lucas Luhr clocked the second-quickest time of the session and the fifth-fastest time overall in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports Porsche Crawford.

Maassen turned a best lap at 1:43.698 (123.590 mph) in the car he is sharing with David Donohue, Darren Law, Ted Christopher, Hurley Haywood and JC France, which brought plenty of smiles in the Brumos Racing pit box.

“The Brumos team has won this race six times, and we intend to be there seven,” said team owner Bob Snodgrass. “After the past couple of seasons of stumbling around 10th through 12th place, and really having very, very difficult times throughout the last couple of seasons, to come here and be quickest today is a huge accomplishment for us. We’re using six drivers here this weekend, so what we’re doing here is just using our car as a mule and testing the engine reliability. We’re just trying to run every mile we can. We are and we’re really thrilled.”

While the Job/Emory team has encountered its share of issues throughout Daytona Test Days, the car has been plenty fast, as evidenced by Luhr’s best lap of 1:44.133 (123.073 mph). Luhr—a Porsche factory driver—is sharing the ride with fellow factory pilots Mike Rockenfeller and Patrick Long.  zzzz

“We have had a lot of small problems, really new car type things this weekend at Daytona,” Job said. “We have experienced everything from small electrical issues, to power steering failure to a drive line issue yesterday.  The times that we have posted is a result of actually very little running.  This proves our theory about the combination of the Crawford chassis with the Porsche power.  Patrick, Lucas and Mike have really come up to speed with the car and are giving us great feedback.  I hope we are getting our small things out of the way this weekend and that we will be able to run trouble free for the race.”

The Brumos and Job/Emory teams join the No. 8 Synergy Racing Porsche Doran of Patrick Huisman and Burt and Brian Frisselle as Porsche representatives in the Daytona Prototype class. Snodgrass believes that the strength Porsche has shown in early testing has been well-deserved.

“Porsche was the first manufacturer, to really, fully commit itself to this series,” Snodgrass said. “When the Porsche Fabcar came out, initially, we were the first cars in the series. Porsche has steadfastly stood by us and we have been through a development program with Porsche Motorsport North America. That development program has yielded huge results in terms of a great powerplant, great flexibility of the engine, and a tremendous deal there.

“With the Fabcar itself, we have gone through a real serious evolution program on the car, all with the help of Porsche in Germany. We have had a serious dedication to staying with this program and staying with the Fabcar product. All along, we’ve had the belief that it’s going to be a fantastic car, and today, we proved it is a great car.”

SunTrust team fastest on Day 2 at Daytona SunTrust team fastest on Day 2 at DaytonaLap times continued to come down in the second day of Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve testing during Daytona Test Days on Friday.

Leading the way was Max Angelelli in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley. Angelelli turned a best lap at 1:43.698 (123.560 mph), which was unofficially quicker than the previous Daytona Prototype track record on the 3.56-mile road circuit at Daytona International Speedway. Angelelli is sharing the No. 10 machine with his fellow 2005 Daytona Prototype co-champion Wayne Taylor, as well as Emmanuel Collard—with whom Angelelli and Taylor co-drove to the overall victory in the 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona—and Australian driver Ryan Briscoe.

For the second consecutive day, Andrew Davis held the top spot in the GT class. Davis ran a best lap at 1:53.028 (113.388 mph) in the No. 73 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 he shares with Eric Lux, Charles Espenlaub and Graham Rahal.

Fans asked to honor Bignotti Fans asked to honor BignottiThe family of George Bignotti, who won the Indianapolis 500 seven times as a chief mechanic, is seeking the help of race fans around the world in celebrating his 90th birthday on Jan. 12 by sending him a birthday card.  Fans are asked to send cards to:
George Bignotti
9413 Steeplehill Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89117.
Dakar Day 7: Peterhansel wins eventful day Dakar Day 7: Peterhansel wins eventful day
Leno to pace the Daytona 500 in Vette Leno to pace the Daytona 500 in VetteUPDATE LOS ANGELES - A specially outfitted 2006 Corvette Z06 will serve as the official pace car of the 48th running of the Daytona 500, on Feb. 19. "Tonight Show" host and auto enthusiast Jay Leno will drive the pace car.

The Daytona 500 is NASCAR's premier race and traditionally kicks off the Nextel Cup racing season. Selection of the Z06 model marks the second consecutive year that a Corvette has been selected as the Daytona 500 pace car.

"It is a wonderful honor to have Corvette serve once again as the Daytona 500 pace car," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. "Chevrolet has a long, successful history at Daytona and there's no better vehicle to showcase our performance legacy than the Corvette Z06 - a car that was born on the race track."

The Corvette Z06 that will serve as the Daytona 500 pace car is mechanically identical to those available at Chevrolet dealerships. It is the fastest vehicle ever offered by Chevrolet and General Motors. With 505 horsepower (377 kw) and 470 lb.-ft. of torque (637 Nm) from its 7.0L all-aluminum, racing-inspired engine, the Corvette Z06 leaps from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds and has a top speed of 198 mph. It also differs from other production Corvette models with extensive use of lightweight materials, including carbon-fiber front fenders and a chassis comprised of aluminum and magnesium. A racing-ready suspension and large, 18-inch front wheels and 19-inch rear wheels help keep it glued to the tarmac, so it requires no drivetrain modifications to satisfy its role in front of the racing pack. In its official capacity, however, the pace car is outfitted with a variety of safety equipment and highly visible strobe lights.  zzzz

Interestingly, the Corvette Z06's 505-horsepower (377 kw) output is actually more than the power produced by the race cars that will compete in the Daytona 500 - a first for a pace car. This is because of the unique "restrictor plate" rule established for the Daytona and Talladega , Ala. racetracks. On these 2.5-mile-long super speedways, the restrictor plate reduces airflow into the engine to limit horsepower and keep race car speeds below 200 mph. With a restrictor plate, racing engine power is reduced from about 750 horsepower to about 450 horsepower. Race cars can still average more than 190 mph on Daytona's long straights.

The Corvette Z06 Daytona 500 wears a unique paint scheme, inspired by the hot-to-cool color transition of a space capsule entering Earth's atmosphere at a high rate of speed. The paint scheme is carried out with an elaborate, interlocking scallops design - a twist on hot rod-style flames - that blends "hot" Lemon Drop yellow at the nose of the Corvette with Lemon Glow, Amber Ecstasy, Blazing Copper and Hot Poppy. The colors culminate with a cool Sapphire Trance blue color at the rear of the vehicle. DuPont, the sponsor of Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Monte Carlo, supplied the colors, which are from the company's "Hot Hues" line of automotive paint.

"As if the Corvette Z06 needed help in looking fast, the intricate paintwork of the pace car gives it the appearance of tremendous speed," said Peper. "It is one of the most elaborate and stunning vehicle designs we've created." Leno Behind the Wheel

Jay Leno, host of the "Tonight Show" and an unabashed auto enthusiast, will drive the Corvette Z06 during opening ceremonies and the pace laps that start the race. Leno, who has a large collection of vintage automobiles and motorcycles, has previous experience as a pace car driver.

Chevrolet returns to the Daytona 500 with 18 victories - the most of any manufacturer - including last year's champion Jeff Gordon. Chevrolet also returns as the defending manufacturer's cup champion, an award that has been bestowed 29 times. Also, defending Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart drives the No. 20 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Joe Gibbs Racing. "The Corvette Z06 already is a performance legend and the fans will enjoy seeing it lead their favorite drivers around Daytona's famous tri-oval," said Robin Braig, president of Daytona International Speedway. "It promises to be a great race, and kicking it off with a Corvette at the head of the pack is the best way to start." The Daytona 500 is one of the largest events in motorsports, drawing more than 168,000 fans to the track and attracting nearly 11 million American television viewers. It also is broadcast around the world. 

01/05/06 During today's General Motors news conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Jay Leno rode a 2006 Corvette Z06 onto the stage and announced that he would be pacing the Daytona 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup season opener.  "This car will be faster than the NASCAR cars," Leno said, "because it doesn't have those wimpy restrictor plates."  In the past, the Daytona 500 has been paced by Pontiac, but this year, Chevrolet was named the official pace car.
Martin to be featured in AAA safety announcements Martin to be featured in AAA safety announcementsJack Roush will join AAA officials in previewing its new 2006 NEXTEL Cup race car sponsorship in Detroit's Cobo Center, at the AAA Motorsports exhibit in Michigan Hall in the lower level on Tuesday, January 10th. AAA has signed a contract with Roush Racing to sponsor the #6 Ford Fusion, driven by Mark Martin, at NEXTEL Cup Series races in 2006. At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the #6 AAA Ford racecar will be on display, as well as a racing simulator for media members to test their driving skills in a virtual experience of roaring around the track at over 200 miles per hour. In addition to announcing the new AAA-Roush sponsorship, AAA officials will discuss the Auto Club's plans to advocate for improved teen driver safety and will preview a series of public service announcements featuring Mark Martin. GMR PR
Fisichella high on Montagny Fisichella high on MontagnyGiancarlo Fisichella says the Renault F1 team made a mistake in dropping Franck Montagny (pictured right at Champ Car race in Mexico City) as their test driver. "Franck is a fantastic test driver - the best that I've met," said Fisichella in this week's Autosport. "I don't know how good he is at racing, but in testing he is the best. "It's a mistake to lose him, I think."

Montagny is eyeing a possible ride in Champ Car if the necessary sponsorship can be found. It is quite a waste to see such talent sit on the sidelines or be just a test driver. Montagny really wants to race, but told AutoRacing1.com will only do so if he can land a competitive ride.

Kimi not happy, says Lauda Kimi not happy, says Lauda(GMMf1NET) Triple world champion Niki Lauda can always be turned to for a plain-spoken F1 opinion.

The former driver, 56 - who even led the defunct Jaguar team for a spell earlier this decade - has chimed in again with his criticism of Ron Dennis' early signing of 2006 Renault driver Fernando Alonso for 2007.

Last month, he told the McLaren boss off for making a 'disastrous' call, noting that the implications could affect the psychology of the drivers involved.

But now, pondering in more detail how Raikkonen might be feeling about attacking 2006 while a rival is the silver team's favored driver, Lauda wonders if Ron has set the path for a disillusioned Kimi in 2006.

Of course, it is possible that 26-year-old 'iceman' Raikkonen - linked with lucrative moves to Ferrari or Toyota - and Dennis have already chatted about next year, and are singing from the same hymn book.

It is also worth nothing that, while team president John Howett denied that Toyota 'has offered a contract or payment for the services of Kimi Raikkonen,' his careful wording does not reject the proposition that Kimi has been approached.

But, if Kimi's future really is clouded, Austrian Lauda remarked: ''He will definitely not be happy.''

Alonso switch ’good’ for Fisichella Alonso switch ’good’ for Fisichella(GMMf1NET)  Fernando Alonso's future switch to McLaren 'could be good' for 2006 Renault teammate Giancarlo Fisichella.

The Roman, to turn 33 next Saturday, admitted in Autosport magazine that it was possible his team would 'change the way they act' towards a driver that has already vowed to leave.

Team boss Flavio Briatore is already urging Alonso, 24, to be professional in 2006, telling Gazzetta dello Sport that the Spaniard 'well knows what the responsibilities of a racing driver ...  are.'

Similar to Fisichella, the Alonso switch might also turn out to be a good thing for McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya.  The bombshell indicated that Kimi Raikkonen has eyes for another team, which would likely leave Colombia's Montoya to be the incumbent when 24-year-old Alonso arrives.

''I, and the whole system here, have a lot of time for Juan Pablo,'' Ron Dennis is quoted as telling Reuters in a report this week.

Red Bull gets Newey 2 months early Red Bull gets Newey 2 months earlyUPDATE Red Bull bosses are likely to enjoy the weekend, in the knowledge that Adrian Newey is starting work at Milton-Keynes on Monday.

The highly respected technical brain, whose nine year tenure at McLaren contractually runs out this week, was not expected to arrive at his colorful new employer until late February.

But Newey will start as 'chief technical officer' next week, to complement a strong design team with technical director Mark Smith.

Newey's role at Woking based McLaren was as technical director, but he is believed to be looking forward to what will be a more 'hands on' job with his new squad.

''For me it's obviously going to be a bit of a funny year,'' Newey, referring to the situation of having led the design of the 2006 McLaren MP4-21, told Autosport.

But he lived through a similar phase at McLaren in 1997, after switching from Williams. Without working for the Grove based team that year, his Williams FW19 car won 8 races and 11 poles, securing the drivers' world championship for Jacques Villeneuve.

01/05/06 Red Bull's preparations for the Formula One season have been boosted by securing top designer Adrian Newey's services nearly two months earlier than envisaged.  A spokeswoman for the Ferrari-powered team confirmed on Thursday that Newey, who produced championship-winning cars for Williams and McLaren, would start work on Monday as chief technical officer.  Red Bull said in November, when they announced a major coup in signing the Briton from McLaren, that he would join at the end of February. The season starts in Bahrain on March 12.
Champ Car star Tracy immediately puts Rolex car atop charts Champ Car star Tracy immediately puts Rolex car atop chartsUPDATE The 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series season got off to a quick start for Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR, as the #6 Riley-Lexus was quickest in the second afternoon session with a 1:45.818-second lap of the famed Daytona International Speedway road course.
The team announced the addition of Paul Tracy to the Rolex 24 At Daytona effort during a lunchtime press conference, and the Canadian hotshoe had an immediate effect as he took the car to top of the sheets in his first session with fresh tires on Thursday.
“That was exactly what we were looking for him to do,” commented Mike Shank. “We were quick all day and it was great to have Paul jump in and put us on top for the session. Obviously we aren’t going to win this race with one fast lap, but it is of course important to have speed right out of the gate. Everyone is doing a really good job and we are very excited about coming back here for the race in a few weeks, but we have a lot we still want to accomplish in the next two days.”
Tracy joins an already strong roster of talent for the #6 entry, as Kenny Wilden, Mike Borkowski, and Paul Mears Jr. will be sharing the Graydon Elliott machine in the 44th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. All four drivers were on the pace in Thursday’s test, with the Graydon Elliott machine never dropping out of the top-ten times all day. The team will continue to test on Friday and Saturday.
Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR staff and crew would like to extend their heartfelt condolences on the passing of Paul Mears’s mother.

Graydon Elliot Fusion Racing with MSR benefits from the support of team partners including Graydon Elliott Capital (www.graydonelliott.com), the Mears Transportation Group (www.mearstransportation.com).

01/05/06 In a news conference on Thursday afternoon, the newly-formed Fusion Racing with MSR team announced that Canada-based Graydon Elliott Group has signed on to sponsor the team’s No. 6 Lexus Riley, and that the team’s four drivers for the Rolex 24 At Daytona will be long-time Rolex Series competitors Paul Mears Jr. and Mike Borkowski, as well as Canadian standouts Kenny Wilden and 2003 Champ Car champion Paul Tracy.

The No. 6 Graydon Elliott machine will run alongside Michael Shank Racing’s No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley to be driven in the Rolex 24 by Oswaldo Negri Jr., Mark Patterson and Champ Car stars Justin Wilson and A.J. Allmendinger. After the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the full-time driver lineup for the No. 6 machine will be Borkowski and Wilden, with Mears scheduled to compete in selected events, while Negri and Patterson have signed-on for the full year in the No. 60 Daytona Prototype.

“Graydon Elliott’s corporate profile is very similar to ours and we have put everything in place to grow together,” said Fusion Racing partner and MSR team owner Mike Shank. “I am also very happy that Mears Transportation will remain with the team this season, as they have been excellent to work with. They have such a strong presence in Florida that the races at Daytona and Homestead are almost like home events for us.”  zzzz

Tracy made his decision to join the team after testing several different cars during last month’s Hoosier Tire Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Tracy’s decision appears to have been the right one, as the winningest active Champ Car driver logged the quickest time during the third of the day’s four test sessions.

“It’s just a decision I had to make,” Tracy said. “Mike was the first guy that approached me about driving here. I was really searching for an opportunity to do the first three or four races, but obviously, driver lineups are pretty much set for the season. It was pretty tough for me to find a situation where I could do three or four races and not the whole season.

“This deal was here, and they were obviously very keen with Graydon Elliott because they’re a Canadian company and me being Canadian. Really, when it came down to it, I had to look at all the options and say, ‘What’s my best shot at winning the race?’ I think it’s driving with Mike and these guys. That’s my best shot at winning the race and that’s why I’m here. I’m really looking forward to it and I think it’s exciting.”

Michael Shank Racing off to fast Daytona start Michael Shank Racing off to fast Daytona startThe #60 Michael Shank Racing Flight Options Lexus Riley of Mark Patterson, Oswaldo Negri, A.J. Allmendinger, and Justin Wilson began preparations for the 44th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Thursday, as the bright orange and black machine ran third quickest in the second afternoon session with a fast lap time of 1:46.57-seconds at Daytona International Raceway. The test day is the first of three for the Rolex Sports Car Series field, as nearly eighty cars participated in the first official track activity of the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series season.
“Things are going well for us so far,” smiled team owner Mike Shank. “ We were fast right off the truck, and the only thing the guys are worried about tonight is making sure the car is clean and ready to go tomorrow morning, so it’s great to have a trouble-free day and to make as much progress as we did today. Justin (Wilson) and A.J. (Allmendinger) are a great addition to our team, and their feedback from the car is very similar to what Mark (Patterson) and Oswaldo (Negri) were experiencing in the car, so they are finding a good compromise with the set-up between them all, and that’s going to be very important to us for setting a good strong race pace.”
For the 2004 Champ Car Roshfrans Rookie of the year Allmendinger, the day marked the first time he’d taken to a closed-cockpit car at Daytona, but he was enjoying every minute of it.  zzzz
“It takes some time to get used to all the traffic!” said Allmendinger. “It can be a bit frustrating as far as posting a fast lap time, but that’s the way it’s going to be for the race, so we have to get the car good for those conditions. I’m having a lot of fun in the car, and am looking forward to getting even faster tomorrow.”
The test also marked a reunion of sorts as Allmendinger was rejoined with Negri, who oversaw Allmendinger’s run to the 2002 championship in his role as driver coach and  test driver in the Barber Dodge Pro Series.
“It’s fun to be working with A.J. again, and Justin has a lot of experience with the endurance races, so this was a good first day for us,” said 2004 Racesite.com “Rising Star” winner Oswaldo Negri. “I haven’t driven on this track for quite some time, so it was good for us to be fast right away and get to work on fine tuning the car for what we’ll need for the race.  I know I say it all the time, but this team is really amazing, and I am very excited about how competitive we should be in this race.”
The test will continue on Friday and Saturday, with the 44th Rolex 24 At Daytona getting underway in three weeks’ time.
The Michael Shank Racing staff and crew would like to extend their heartfelt condolences on the passing of Paul Mears’s mother.
Gurney fastest on Day 1 of Rolex 24 testing Gurney fastest on Day 1 of Rolex 24 testingAlex Gurney clocked the fastest lap on the first day of Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Test Days on Thursday. Gurney logged a best lap at 1:45.265 (121.750 mph) in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley that he is sharing with car owner Bob Stallings, Rocky Moran Jr. and 1996 Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser for Test Days and the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

In the GT class, Andrew Davis was quickest in the No. 74 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 with a lap at 1:54.136 (112.287 mph). Davis is co-driving the No. 74 machine at Daytona Test Days with Eric Lux, Charles Espenlaub and Graham Rahal, the son of open-wheel racing legend Bobby Rahal. Testing continues at Daytona International Speedway on Friday.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Host: Chad McQueen
4:30 a.m.-5:00 a.m. ET, SPEED (Details)
7:00 a.m.-8:00 a.m. ET, HISTORY
Stage 7
4:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET, OLN
'The Betsy'  (1978)
8:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. ET, SPEED

For a complete listing of Saturday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com and Race Fan TV.

Fernandez completes first day in Rolex car Fernandez completes first day in Rolex carAdrian Fernandez had only one prior opportunity to run in a 24-hour race, but it was a defining moment in his motorsports career.

“I ran a Volkswagen Beetle in the (1981) 24 Hours of Mexico,” Fernandez recalled. “We didn’t finish, but I came away from the race, saying, ‘This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.’”

One day after announcing that his Lowe’s Fernandez Racing team will compete in the full 2006 Rolex Series season, Fernandez and his Rolex 24 At Daytona co-drivers Scott Sharp and Mario Haberfeld got acquainted with their new mount at Daytona Test Days. Fernandez is confident that his new team will adapt quickly to Rolex Series competition.

“I have no question that our team will be a winner here,” Fernandez said. “It’s just a question of getting experience, getting time in the car. We got into the IRL in 2004, we didn’t start the first race at Homestead and our next race at Phoenix was a disaster. We just didn’t have the time in the car, but eventually, we got it.”  zzzz

That year, Fernandez won three of the final six races, along with a second place finish, in his final full season behind the wheel.

“I know our team is going to be very competitive, but it’s tough,” Fernandez said. “We need to take the time to learn a lot of things, but I think the big thing here is that Riley has really helped us a lot with our chassis. We didn’t have that help in the IRL. Riley is a great company and a great car to work with, and that’s going to make a big difference for us. If we are straightaway competitive, it will be because of their help.”

Haberfeld, a veteran of eight years racing in England and two years in the Champ Car World Series, has one Rolex Series start, racing for SAMAX/Tuttle Team Racing in the 2005 season finale at Mexico City.

“Driving with a roof over my head is a very different experience for me,” he admitted.  “I was worried about how
I would react, but I was surprised how close the car felt like an open-wheeled car. The Daytona Prototype obviously feels slower and reacts slower, but it has the same feeling as a Champ Car. When Adrian called me about driving with him, I felt it was the perfect opportunity.”

For Sharp, the test brought back memories of December 2002, when he joined Brumos Racing for the first test of a Daytona Prototype.

“We did a 24-hour test, and that was the first time a Daytona Prototype really hit the track,” Sharp said. “We raced the following February with six Daytona Prototypes, and then it doubled both of the next two years. Obviously, the level of competitiveness, the level of preparation, the growth of the class, everything has been tremendous.

“Adrian’s IRL team pays first-class attention to detail and preparation of our cars,” Sharp added. “I’m sure he will bring that attitude over here to the Rolex Series.”

Fernandez said that former crewmen from the Panther and Rahal IndyCar Series teams have joined his Daytona Prototypes effort for the season.

“I think it’s pretty cool, because a lot of people from different series are here to race,” said Fernandez. “I feel like I can be racing here for awhile, even through I’m 42. It’s exciting. This is a great opportunity. It’s a long-term deal, and I’m happy to get back on the road courses. This is a series that is growing and has a lot of potential, and it’s exciting to be back.”

Fernandez also will do double-duty in Mexico City March 4-5, running in both the Rolex Series and in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the NASCAR Busch Series.

Shepherd to run Daytona Shepherd to run DaytonaMorgan Shepherd will test for the Daytona 500 in the 2nd session [Jan 16-18] and plans attempt to make the race in the #89 Dodge. Shepherd recently hired Doug George as the crew chief.
De Villiers new overall leader in Dakar De Villiers new overall leader in Dakar
NASCAR Hall of Fame, three cities left NASCAR Hall of Fame, three cities leftNASCAR announced Thursday that three cities – Atlanta, Charlotte and Daytona Beach – are still under consideration for serving as the host site for the sport’s first-ever officially-sanctioned Hall of Fame. Kansas City and Richmond were the two other cities that had submitted proposals to NASCAR and been involved in the process since the early part of 2005. “NASCAR is extremely appreciative of the time, effort and commitment put forth by the cities of Kansas City and Richmond,” said Mark Dyer, NASCAR vice president for licensing. “Both of their proposals were outstanding and the passion and enthusiasm the people involved showed for the NASCAR Hall of Fame has made a lasting impression on all of us. We’d like to thank Gov. Sebelius of Kansas and Gov. Warner of Virginia, along with all of the other people who put so much work into this project. Both of these cities are extremely important to our sport and should be congratulated for their efforts. As we move forward in this process, we believe it is necessary to focus our attention on the three cities of Atlanta, Charlotte and Daytona Beach. Based upon the proposals that we have reviewed internally for the past several months, we believe these three cities provide us with the best opportunity to build and develop a world-class NASCAR Hall of Fame for our millions of loyal fans.” NASCAR hopes to make a final decision on its Hall of Fame site sometime within the first quarter of 2006. NASCAR
Complete ’06 Long Beach schedule Complete ’06 Long Beach scheduleLONG BEACH, Calif. -- For the first time ever, six races – capped by the season opener for the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford – will highlight the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend, April 7-9.

The ambitious schedule includes the debut of two racing series on the city streets. The hard-charging Daytona Prototypes, part of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, will stage a 90-minute race at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon. That race follows the 12:15 start of the 30th Anniversary Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, always a crowd favorite.

The other new addition, the SPEED World Challenge GT, wraps up racing activities at 4 p.m. Sunday, following the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Series Race (10:35 a.m.) and the Champ Car Race (1 p.m.).

In addition, the hit series of 2005 – Drifting – will take to the track for their special brand of speed at 5:05 p.m. Friday, 3:10 p.m. Saturday and 3:20 p.m. Sunday.

The weekend schedule also includes the popular Lifestyle Expo, Tecate Fiesta Friday Concert, Saturday Rock-N-Roar Concert and Tecate Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach pageant. All of these weekend in-circuit events are FREE to race ticket holders.

The complete weekend schedule (subject to change): zzzz
Friday, April 7
Gates open     7 a.m.
Lifestyle Expo opens    8 a.m.
Rolex Series practice    8 a.m.
Atlantic Series practice    9 a.m.
Champ Car practice    10 a.m.
Toyota Pro/Celebrity practice   11:30 a.m.
Atlantic Series Qualifying    1:20 p.m.
Champ Car Qualifying    2:05 p.m.
Toyota Pro/Celebrity Qualifying   3:15 p.m.
Rolex Series Qualifying    3:55 p.m.
Driver autograph session (Champ Car paddock) 4 p.m.
Drifting Challenge    5:05 p.m.
SPEED GT practice    5:35 p.m.
Tecate “Fiesta Friday” Concert (concert stage)  6 p.m. (approx.)

Saturday, April 8
Gates open     7 a.m.
Lifestyle Expo opens    8 a.m.
Rolex Series practice    8 a.m.
SPEED GT practice    8:30 a.m.
Atlantic practice     9:45 a.m.
Champ Car practice    10:30 am.
TOYOTA PRO/CELEBRITY RACE (l0 laps) 12:15 p.m.
Atlantic Qualifying    1:15 p.m.
Champ Car Qualifying    2 p.m.
Drifting Challenge    3:10 p.m.
ROLEX SERIES RACE (90 Min.)   4 p.m.
“Rock-N-Roar” Concert (concert stage)  5:30 p.m. (approx)
Tecate Miss Toyota Grand Prix pageant  (following concert)

Sunday, April 9
Gates open     7 a.m.
Lifestyle Expo opens    8 a.m.
SPEED GTQualifying    8 a.m.
Atlantic Series warm-up    8:35 a.m.
Champ Car warm-up    9 a.m.
Drifting Challenge    3:20 p.m.
SPEED GT RACE    4 p.m.

Tickets for the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach can be purchased from the Grand Prix ticket office by calling the toll-free ticket hotline at (888) 82-SPEED. A handy ticket brochure – which includes circuit map, grandstand and parking locations, ticket prices and order form – can be obtained by calling the ticket hotline. Tickets are also available online at longbeachgp.com or ticketmaster.com.

Ticket prices for the Grand Prix range from $35 for Friday/Saturday general admission up to $115 for a three-day ticket that includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seats in upper levels of the grandstands. Pre-paid parking packages are also available when ordering through the Grand Prix Ticket Office. Handicapped seating, Bosch Champ Car Garage passes, super photo tickets and a variety of hospitality club packages are also available.

Industry News
Ford to go on offensive Ford to go on offensiveFord’s President of the Americas, Mark Fields, kicked off the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show today with a strong assessment of Ford’s place in the US market, and what it needs to do to regain its footing against increasingly popular import automakers.

“It’s time to play offense,” said Fields, though he failed to detail exactly what type of offense Ford will play, aside from emphasizing the importance of brands in an increasingly competitive market. Fields admitted that “we lost our way to our customers,” and went so far as to claim that the days of the Big Three were “long gone” and that US automakers were now looking at a landscape on which a Big Six played, with no assurances of success. “We have to earn our customers every day,” said Fields, though he refused to list just how Ford plans to make the changes needed that will facilitate such earning power, saying that his “Way Forward” plan for Ford will be released on January 23. He did, however, say that domestic automakers could increase their sagging market share, but that first they need to “stabilize.” He also cited the recent success of the Ford Fusion, Ford’s new mid-size sedan, as well as the F-Series truck and the upcoming Ford Edge crossover. And though Ford has no known plans to debut a small production vehicle here in Los Angeles or at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Fields pointed toward small cars, specifically subcompacts, as part of Ford’s strategy for the future, saying that “Small is big in America.”

“Without American Innovation and red white and bold, we would have missed the small car trend,” said Fields. Ford has plans to debut a small concept car named Reflex at next week’s Detroit show, while Toyota, Nissan and Honda have already announced plans for production subcompacts. Fields also took a few veiled shots at Toyota, saying that Toyota “Wants to be an American brand,” and that even though they have made significant strides in appealing to American buyers, “that doesn’t make them an American brand.”

“For Ford, it’s third down and ten,” said Fields. “But we’ve got a pretty good game plan.”

IROC to return to road course IROC to return to road courseOfficials from the Crown Royal IROC Series announced on Thursday that Daytona International Speedway will host a pair of events on its four-race 2006 calendar, including a return to the same 3.56-mile road course used by Rolex Series.

Celebrating its 30th season in 2006, the Crown Royal IROC Series will open the campaign on the 2.5-mile oval at the “World Center of Racing” on Friday, February 17, but will return to the DIS road course for Round 3 on Thursday, June 29 during the weekend that also includes the Rolex Series and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series.

The Daytona road course first hosted the IROC series for the 1973-74 season finale. However, this year’s event will mark the return of IROC to a road course for the first time since Rusty Wallace won at Watkins Glen International in 1991.

“We’ve missed the road racing element of the series over the years and I can’t tell you how thrilled we are to add a road course back into the mix,” said IROC President and General Manager Jay Signore. “This will be the first time the Crown Royal IROC Series will race on the Daytona road course since our inaugural season. I want to thank (Daytona International Speedway President) Robin Braig and his staff, as well as everyone at NASCAR and the Grand-Am series for working with us on the schedule to make road racing once again part of the challenge for the Crown Royal IROC championship.”

Champ Car star joins Rolex 24 field Champ Car star joins Rolex 24 fieldAs America’s leading active open-wheel race-car driver in terms of wins, poles, starts and laps led, Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) could be forgiven for taking a few months off if he so chose, as he prepares for his 16th season of racing in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

But the Canadian star knows that the best way to prepare for the rigors of Champ Car racing is by doing more racing, and he has again chosen one of the most demanding races in the world to include in his pre-season regimen. The 30-time Champ Car race winner announced Thursday that he will partner with Michael Shank Racing for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, to be held at Daytona International Raceway January 26-29.

Tracy will join Paul Mears Jr., former Indy Lights competitor Mike Borkowski and former Champ Car Atlantic driver Kenny Wilden on the four-man team, piloting the #6 Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing Lexus-Riley Daytona Prototype in the twice-around-the-clock endurance event. It is the second straight season that Tracy has competed in the prestigious event. He ran with Bell Motorsports last season and helped put his car in the lead early, but mechanical problems doomed his effort to an early retirement.

“Running at Daytona really helped my preparation for the Champ Car season last year, and I wanted to come back and do it again,” Tracy said. “Running with Mike Shank is a great opportunity for me, his team knows how to win in the Prototypes, his driver lineup is solid and he has a reputation of putting strong cars on the track. It should be a great opportunity.”

Tracy will also be running out of the same stable as fellow Champ Car standouts Justin Wilson (#9 CDW/Intel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and A.J. Allmendinger (#10 Red Bull Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), as the two RuSPORT drivers committed to the first MSR machine for the Rolex 24, partnering with Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson for the race.

Fusion Racing with MSR Announces New Title Sponsor Fusion Racing with MSR Announces New Title SponsorFusion Racing with MSR is pleased to announce the title sponsor for the #6 Riley-Lexus will be the Graydon Elliott Group.  For the 2006 season #6 Riley will be referred to as Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR.
Graydon Elliott, a Canadian-based, Investment Banking and Wealth Management Group, specializes in a wide range of financial advisory services and products. The rapidly expanding company will be utilizing its connection with the Fusion Racing with MSR team to continue its expansion into the United States.
Graydon Elliott first became involved with MSR (Michael Shank Racing) in 2005 as an associate sponsor for the #6 machine and the positive results have led the firm to move into a title sponsor role for 2006. Mears Motor Coach, which adorned the #6 Michael Shank Racing entry that visited the podium twice in 2005, will maintain its association with the team in 2006, and continues to be an important partner for the team.
While team owner Fusion Racing will manage the team’s business opportunities, MSR will continue to manage the day-to-day business of striving for that podium finish.
Fusion Racing partner and MSR owner Mike Shank said, “Graydon Elliott’s corporate profile is very similar to ours and we have put everything in place to grow together. I am also very happy that Mears Transportation will remain with the team this season as they have been excellent to work with. They have such a strong presence in Florida that the races at Daytona and Homestead are almost like home events for us.”
Industry News
GM becomes top-selling foreign automaker in China GM becomes top-selling foreign automaker in ChinaGeneral Motors Corp. became China's top-selling foreign automaker last year, surpassing Germany's Volkswagen AG, after seeing its sales grow 35.2 percent to 665,390 vehicles, according to company figures released Thursday.  South Korea's Hyundai and Japan's Honda also reported strong growth, while Volkswagen, the former market leader, saw its sales decline in 2005.

GM, which is looking to growth in China to make up for its shrinking market share in the U.S., said sales were driven by the continuing popularity of its Buick brand, led by the Excelle sedan and hatchback. It sold 105,000 of those two models through September, according to the China Auto Industry Association, although GM gave no figures for the entire year.

Sales of the Buick GL8 luxury passenger van also recorded steady growth, while newly introduced Chevrolet and Cadillac models also did well.

The sales growth gives GM, the world's largest automaker, about 11.2 percent of the Chinese market, up from 9.4 percent in 2003, the company said.

Nearly all GM cars sold in China are made domestically.

The company has opened a second plant in Shanghai last year and added three new Chevrolet models in 2005, the Sail compact car, Epica intermediate sedan and Aveo hatchback. That pushed China sales for the brand past the 100,000 mark for the first time, establishing China as Chevrolet's fourth-largest global market.

"We have no intention of letting up on the accelerator," Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group, was quoted as saying in the release.

Volkswagen, which once had more than half of China's car market, said overall sales declined for the second straight year, falling about 15 percent to 564,306.  More at Detroit Free Press

Industry News
Toyota announces new VP Toyota announces new VPToyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., announced today the appointment of Jerome Miller as the company's new vice president for diversity and inclusion. He reports directly to President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Press and fills a position first established in 2002.

"This is a key position in our organization, and we're delighted that Jerome Miller has agreed to lead our efforts to become a more diverse and inclusive company," said Press. "He has broad experience in managing the complexity and challenges of global markets and a deep commitment to promoting effective internal and external relationships needed to advance diversity and inclusion."

Before joining Toyota, Miller was vice president of global diversity and community affairs for Delta Air Lines and president of The Delta Air Lines Foundation. Prior to that, he served as vice president and chief diversity officer of the Intercontinental Hotels Group, and held a number of human resources and business change management positions at Intercontinental Hotels Group, The Coca-Cola Company, Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company and Ford Motor Company. He has an M.B.A. from Atlanta University and a bachelor's degree in economics from Savannah State College.

Terry Labonte’s 2006 schedule announced Terry Labonte’s 2006 schedule announcedHendrick Motorsports today unveiled the 2006 schedule of two-time champion Terry Labonte, who will appear in 10 races with the organization during his final year of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition.

The team will again campaign its No. 44 Chevrolets with primary sponsorship from Kellogg Company, GMAC and CARQUEST Auto Parts.  Kellogg’s will continue its 12-year relationship with Labonte as primary sponsor in half of the planned events.

“This is an opportunity for me to have a little more fun,” said Labonte, 49, who has 22 career Cup victories and two series championships (1984 and 1996) to his credit.  “I’ve been fortunate to do this for nearly three decades and I’m excited to go back to some of the places that have meant so much to me, my team and my family over the years.”

Labonte, who began racing at the Cup level in 1978, will appear at six different venues during his 2006 Hendrick Motorsports “Shifting Gears – Lone Star Style” schedule, including multiple races at Texas Motor Speedway, Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway.

A Corpus Christi, Texas, native, Labonte will compete April 9 at Texas Motor Speedway, followed by dates at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway.

The July 23 event at Pocono will open the second half of the 10-race slate, prior to dates at California Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

The final race of Labonte’s storied career will come Nov. 5 at Texas Motor Speedway.

April 9, Texas Motor Speedway
May 13, Darlington Raceway
May 28, Lowe’s Motor Speedway
June 11, Pocono Raceway
July 9, Chicagoland Speedway
July 23, Pocono Raceway
Sept. 3, California Speedway
Oct. 1, Kansas Speedway
Oct. 14, Lowe’s Motor Speedway
Nov. 5, Texas Motor Speedway

Schu has 'more talent' - Rubens Schu has 'more talent' - RubensDeparted Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello admits that the Maranello team is designed to win championships for six-year teammate Michael Schumacher.

The 33-year-old Brazilian, who will christen his new Honda tenure with a maiden test next week, told Autosport that leaving the red team is very much a case of 'moving forwards'.

But he does admit that Germany's seven time world champion is special.

''I think, talent for talent, Michael probably has a bit more,'' Rubens conceded, ''(but I) did quite well to survive, and to always promote the harmony inside of the team.

''But up to a point ... you lose a little bit of patience and you see that you're getting nowhere, so it was time to leave.''

It's a rare thing to hear a top driver admit that his former teammate had more talent.  On second thoughts, then, Barrichello returns to the theme that Ferrari is very tuned to the German.

He contended: ''If you throw us at the beginning of a team with the same everything, I can probably do very well.  I think I can be world champion as much as he can.''

FIA waits for Aguri's $48m FIA waits for Aguri's $48m(GMMf1NET)  The door to the 2006 F1 grid will be opened to 'Super Aguri' as soon as a missing $48 million entry bond changes hands, the sport's governing body says.

An FIA spokesman was quoted in a 'Reuters' report as promising that an announcement about the eleventh grand prix team would be made 'on receipt of the (financial) guarantee.'

Honda-powered Aguri's $48m is then repaid by the FIA over twelve months.

If the money is forthcoming, Leafield based Aguri's official entry is believed to be a mere formality, after all ten teams agreed to the late team application.

The spokesman said Aguri has promised to lodge the bond 'early next week'.

Track News
British GP ticket sales increase British GP ticket sales increaseA big crowd is likely to race to Silverstone for this season's British GP.

The circuit's managing director revealed that January ticket sales for the June 9-11 event are higher than a year ago.

''We are delighted with the early support from fans,'' said Richard Phillips, boss of the formula one race's promoter.

''Ticket sales are up on January 2005.''

The once embattled British race's good news is despite the fact that 2006 qualifying is set to clash with England's first World Cup football game against Paraguay.

Silverstone, originally a world war two bomber base, first hosted grand prix racing in 1948, and was scene of F1's inaugural championship round in 1950.

Its current agreement to stage grands prix with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone runs until 2009. GMMF1NET 

A1 Grand Prix
A1 GP reschedules Indonesia race A1 GP reschedules Indonesia raceThe A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Sentul Circuit, Indonesia, is now to be held on 10-12 February after the postponement of the event from its original date of 13 - 15 January 2006.

Following the sudden death of the Dubai Emir, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum on Tuesday 3 January, the seventh round of the World Cup of Motorsport has been postponed as a mark of respect for his close family that includes A1 Grand Prix founder, president and chairman, Sheikh Maktoum, who are now in an official period of mourning.

With the first half of the season successfully completed following races in Great Britain, Germany, Portugal, Australia, Malaysia and Dubai, the remainder of the 2005/06 World Cup of Motorsport will run as follows:

 Date Circuit
 27 - 29 January Durban, South Africa
 10 - 12 February Sentul Circuit, Indonesia
 24 - 26 February Parque Fundidora Monterrey, Mexico
 10 - 12 March Laguna Seca, California, USA
 31 March - 2 April Shanghai International Circuit, China

France named among the most powerful in sports France named among the most powerful in sportsNASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France was named fifth in the Sporting News top 100 most powerful people in sports list, down from second last year. "As head of a family-run business," Stuart Miller wrote, "France has more freedom than traditional commissioners. And although he didn't do anything as revolutionary in '05 as his implementation of the Chase for the Nextel Cup in '04, he continued expanding NASCAR's presence with a points race in Mexico, changed the rules specifically to clamp down on owner Jack Roush's reach and listened to the pitches of several cities hoping to land the NASCAR Hall of Fame." Others on the list with NASCAR ties included: FoxSports.com/AP
* 2) George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN and ABC Sports; co-chair Disney Media Networks
* 7) Dick Ebersol, chairman, NBC Universal Sports and Olympics
* 9) David Hill, chairman, FOX Sports; president and COO, DirecTV
* 13) August Busch IV, president, and Tony Ponturo, V.P. of global media and sports marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
* 20) Ed Goren, president and executive producer, FOX Sports
* 22) David Levy, president, Turner Sports; president, Turner Entertainment ad sales and marketing
* 26) Jack Roush, owner and CEO, Roush Racing, NASCAR
Mike Wallace back in the No. 09 for at least 7 races Mike Wallace back in the No. 09 for at least 7 racesMike Wallace confirmed with Motorsports Lounge that he will attempt to qualify and race the #09 Miccosukee Gaming & Resorts Dodge owned by James Finch in the 2006 Daytona 500, and run six other races in the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Season, and possibly more if the team can pick up additional sponsorship. "I am excited about going to Daytona with James Finch, Marc Reno and the team," said Team ML driver Mike Wallace. "We do have to qualify to get into the race, but once in, we are going for the win". Wallace and the team are not strangers as he has driven the #09 Dodge many times in the past. Wallace has had multiple top 12 finishes with the team, and came close to winning the Daytona 500 in 2003. Wallace also drove for Marc Reno in his first NASCAR Busch Series race and his first ARCA Series race. "Marc and I have a good working history, and we are confident we will have a good run in Daytona in the #09 Miccosukee Dodge." The team will be taking three cars (one old and two new) to Daytona for testing on January 16th, 17th and 18th [2nd session]. Currently, Mike Wallace and the team are looking to race seven races in 2006, which includes the two Daytona and two Talladega restrictor plate races, Richmond in Sept., night, Bristol in August and Homestead. However, the team is looking to race more events if they acquire additional sponsorship. Interested parties can contact James Finch of Phoenix Racing for details and sponsorship opportunities. Motorsports Lounge PR
NASCAR Drivers running Rolex 24 At Daytona NASCAR Drivers running Rolex 24 At DaytonaAt least nine drivers with NASCAR ties are scheduled to test Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series cars Thursday through Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the Jan. 28-29 running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Defending Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart and recently retired Rusty Wallace are on the entry list for testing. They will be teammates - but in different cars - for Howard-Boss Motorsports. Ganassi Racing driver Casey Mears will be part of Ganassi's driver lineup, which includes former Cup driver Scott Pruett, who still drives road-course Cup events. Two-time Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie is on the entry list, as are Mexican drivers Adrian Fernandez and Michel Jourdain, who ran partial schedules in the Busch Series last year. NBC commentator and former Cup driver Wally Dallenbach will also participate. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
Robby Gordon Cup news Robby Gordon Cup newsWhile Robby Gordon and his off-road racing team navigate their Jim Beam/Toyo Tires Hummer H3 through Northern Africa’s Sahara Desert, his NASCAR Nextel Cup Series team is preparing for its second season of competition from its shop in Charlotte, N.C. Robby Gordon Motorsports (RGM), which was originally scheduled to participate in Daytona testing Jan. 9-11, will now test at Daytona Jan. 16-18 due to Gordon’s participation in the Dakar Rally through Jan. 15. While Gordon will use the first day of the test as a travel day back from Dakar, the team will employ a replacement driver on the first of the three days, with Gordon back in the seat for the session’s final two days. The test will be the first outing for the team with its new DEI engine package that it will campaign the entire 2006 NASCAR season. With the prowess of DEI engines on all types of tracks, particularly at NASCAR’s two restrictor-plate tracks – Daytona and Talladega – better results from the second-year program are expected. “Last year was a frustrating season for everyone here, but we would like to believe those days are behind us,” said John Story, general manager of RGM. “Not only did we have a completely new group of people working together for the first time and a new engine program, but we also came into the Nextel Cup Series in a year where the rules were amended to protect those teams that have shown loyalty to the sport. Given our bad start, we fought the new “top-35” rule all season and were never able to get ourselves into the position we hoped. At some point early this season we will benefit from the same rule we fought all season. While we’re still outside the top 35, we have so much going for us that we didn’t have last season. Chief among them is our team. With the exception of one person, the entire team that spent the last half of the season together is back again for 2006, and we have added a number of people to the staff to improve what was already a good team. We also have a fleet of cars that are all but complete and ready for the race track. At this time last year we didn’t have a single car on the ground. We now have as many as 11 cars all but ready to go. “The final, and perhaps biggest key to RGM having a successful 2006 season is the fact that we will again have sponsorship from Menards, Jim Beam, Harrah’s and CarLoans.com in addition to a long list of associate sponsors. I believe our sponsors see where we’re headed as a team and are also anxious to see how far we can improve this year.” Following three days of testing at Daytona, RGM will take part in NASCAR’s second test Jan. 30-Feb. 1 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before returning to Daytona International Speedway for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500 with Jim Beam as the primary sponsor. Robby Gordon Motorsports PR
Tracy to test Gordon's Cup car Tracy to test Gordon's Cup carFormer Champ Car champion Paul Tracy will test Robby Gordon's Nextel Cup car at Daytona next week, according to this week's Autosport.

The Canadian will substitute for Gordon at the second of the official three-day test sessions, which begin next week, while the American is traveling back from the Dakar Rally.

Former Champ Car racer Gordon told Autosport: "It helps me out and it helps him out, it's a win-win situation for both of us. It lets him work around NASCAR when he's not testing his Champ Car.

"He'll get some more superspeedway experience. He can learn from my engineers, but at the same time it helps me because I need a driver who can drive and test as well."

Chevrolet Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge Chevrolet Geoff Bodine Bobsled ChallengeThe Chevrolet Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge hits the ice at the Verizon Sports Complex Jan. 5-7. Before that happens, however, it’s important to take care of the sponsors. And that’s what Michelle Walker of Walker Arts in Lake Placid is doing this week as she prepares the competition sleds. These NASCAR drivers will begin training on Thursday with qualification on Friday and a pair of races on Saturday.
Track News
Chinese track hiring Chinese track hiringGoldenport, the track trying to undergo a major expansion so it can host a Champ Car race, or other big-league motorsports, is looking for a financial manager to help raise the necessary money and to manager their finances. This indicates that the local government probably is not going to give Goldenport the money necessary for the improvements and the track is on its own.

With Champ Car planning to race at the Olympic site right after the games end in the summer of 2008, the government must have decided it best to invest their money there rather than at Goldenport.
Goldenport Holding Ltd. is the parent company, the umbrella under which various entities that make up the Goldenport Companies exits. The branches include Beijing Goldenport Exhibition Co. Ltd., Beijing Goldenport Motor Park, Beijing Goldenport International Circuit, Goldenport Motor Club Co. Ltd., and Beijing Sinosonic Sports Development Co. Ltd.

Qualified candidates should meet the following requirements: zzzz

Required Work Experience
1. Minimum 10 years financial management experience for large business group(s)
2. Financial management experience for multiple sectors of industry, preferably including manufacturing, service, high-tech and sports areas.
3. Knowledgeable and experienced in financial management, raising of capital and capital operation; strong capability in financial risk control; independent experience in raising money for medium or large projects; familiarity with the operation of business listings in stock markets and fund raising.
4. Possession of various finance raising channels and wide business connections.
5. Establishment of good communication and cooperation relationship with various banks, industrial & commercial administration institutions, and taxation institutions.

Professional Know-how & Capability
 1. Bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance and other relevant professions; CPA or above certificate; bilingual (Chinese and English) capability and MBA holder preferred.
2. Professional know-how of China’s relevant accounting, taxation, and auditing laws and regulations; familiarity in the capital market operation rules, stock market listing rules & procedures both in and outside of China; knowledge of investment bank businesses and relevant laws and regulations.
3. Proficient at business operation analysis, cost control & cost evaluation, capable of accomplishing business value assessment and setting of a range of financial management systems to control accounting budgets and curb operational costs.
4. Mastering the use of necessary accounting and other office software.
5. Be meticulous, painstaking and capable of seeing the larger picture.
6. Show a high level of professional accountability and responsibility and holder of an unblemished professional work record.

Role Description
1. Formulation of business financial strategy, financial management and business internal control.
2. Fund raising for the development of the business and completion of business finance and accounting plans.
3. From the point of view of financial supervision, control and support, to provide precise and complete financial data, analysis and suggestions for the business’s major decisions.
4. Performing risk evaluation, guidance; follow-up for major investment projects and operations of the business; performing financial risk control.

With NASCAR in pocket, ABC drops golf With NASCAR in pocket, ABC drops golfABC Sports is no longer part of the negotiations for the PGA Tour's next television contract, leaving only CBS and NBC to broadcast the majority of tournaments.

The tour's contract expires after this year and the Tour has twice negotiated massive deals with the networks through the popularity of Tiger Woods.

But the networks have said they were losing money on golf, and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem introduced a revamped schedule to the negotiations this year. Losing money on Golf? Wait until they see how much they lose on their NASCAR contract - just ask NBC.

Starting in 2007, the tour will feature the FedEx Cup, a points race that culminates with three major tournaments, ending with the Tour Championship. It is designed to sustain interest throughout the season.

ABC now has bigger financial commitments to the NFL and MLB, while ABC/ESPN will reportedly pay as much as $270million a year for a piece of NASCAR.

Bob Bell: A busy two months ahead Bob Bell: A busy two months aheadWhile most of its rivals have spent the off-season to date running hybrid cars fitted with V8 powerplants, Renault has opted to run the R25 fitted with a restricted V10 engine. As the team get ready to test the R26 for the first time, Chassis Technical Director Bob Bell talks about progress with the R26.

Bob, can you give us an update on progress with the R26?
"The team has done a fantastic job so far. The program for the R26 was very tight, and that put pressure on everybody to rise to the challenge of producing the car on time. However, the car build went smoothly, and we began static testing of the first chassis here at Enstone before Christmas. We are on time, and that does great credit to the whole team."

What can you learn from static testing?
"The chassis testing rig allows us to confirm the basic structural characteristics of the car, as well as providing an initial understanding of its dynamic responses. The car has met our criteria, and we have seen the improvements we hoped for."

Before Christmas, the team tested with a restricted V10 engine in the R25 chassis, rather than running a hybrid car. What did you learn? 
"When it comes to winter testing, there is no single, right answer – only a correct solution for each different set of circumstances, which vary for every team. Running with a restricted V10 until the New Year, and then bringing out the definitive package very early, was the best option for Renault. Our testing went very well, we ran reliably and learned a lot, particularly about the differences in chassis set-up for 2006."

How is the atmosphere within the team at the moment?
"We are all excited about starting work with the new car. Our figures from the wind tunnel are good, the engine has given strong results in terms of performance and reliability over Christmas, so we now want to start learning about the R26 on the track. The focus has been on getting the car out early to maximize our mileage ahead of the opening race, and ensure it is fully reliable for Bahrain. We have a busy two months ahead, but it is a challenge we relish." Source Renault

DAMS sign up Monfardini DAMS sign up MonfardiniThe DAMS GP2 squad has announced that Ferdinando Monfardini is to become one of the two Le Mans squad's official 2006 Driver. The Italian makes the step to the French based team after a consistent rise through the lower motor racing formula, having successfully tested with Jean Paul Driot owned Team in Spain and France early in 2005.

Ferdinando Monfardini, said, "This is really a great opportunity for me and I am looking forward to start the new season. This is one of the moments that all racing drivers are working towards, being with a winning organization like this, the right platform to get results and I am determined to do as much as I can, while doing the best possible job for the team. DAMS has shown many times that it is an excellent place for a driver to work and I intend to make the most of this opportunity. Let me thanks Mr. Driot and all in DAMS, for giving me the chance to prove myself at the maximum level and let me thanks my sponsors and my Family for supporting me again."

Jean Paul Driot, DAMS GP2 Team Owner said, "We had three opportunities to test Ferdinando during the winter, two with the GP2 car in testing and one in real race condition at Monza World Series event. He was making part of our short list for 2006 as he has already 1 season of experience with the car with interesting results. The team has been impressed after these tests and both parties agreed quickly for 2006. Ferdinando will bring his experience of the GP2 car and DAMS is more than focused to help him getting the high results he deserves."

Eric Boullier, DAMS GP2 Technical Director said, "Ferdinando is young and, despite his age, has already an impressive career. We appreciated his speed and his technical feedback during the few tests we did with him, and really estimated to work with him. We welcome him on board and look forward to a winning season!" Source DAMS

Dremel Teams Up with MF1 Racing Dremel Teams Up with MF1 RacingMF1 Racing - the Formula One team owned and operated by Midland Group - is pleased to announce a partnership with Dremel, the worldwide leader in multi-tool systems. Dremel Europe, which already sponsors Dutch MF1 Racing driver Christijan Albers, will also sponsor and supply the Silverstone-based team for the 2006 and 2007 World Championship seasons.

"We are very proud to have Dremel join us as a partner," says Colin Kolles, Managing Director of MF1 Racing. Dremel is a successful, global brand our team knows and trusts. Our designers and engineers use Dremel tools during the crucial model-building stage of the design process and a multitude of other applications. Their products deliver outstanding precision with optimal results, and that is what MF1 Racing aims to achieve, as well."

"With the bold move of stepping into Formula 1, Dremel is once again breaking new ground in the area of brand building," commented Aleksandar Bursac, General Manager of Dremel Europe. "Research indicates that Formula 1 is the most popular spectator sport among Dremel users and prospective clients, and that the combination of cars, technology and attention to detail is especially appealing to them. We are confident that sponsoring Christijan Albers and MF1 Racing will have a positive effect on Dremel's brand image, as well as on other aspects of our business. In Formula 1, details make all the difference… and Dremel is big on details."

Dremel was founded in 1932 in Racine, WI, USA, by Austrian immigrant A.J. Dremel. Currently operating in home improvement markets around the world, Dremel's core product line is defined by the Dremel Multi-tool, a versatile high speed motor unit which can be used to drive a system of over 150 available Dremel accessories and attachments.

Thanks to the quality, precision and safety of its products, Dremel is the brand of choice for people passionately engaged in hands-on projects such as woodworking, automotive restoration, model building, and other creative hobbies.

The partnership between Dremel and MF1 Racing was facilitated by GR8industries.com, the leading brand and motorsports marketing agency in the Benelux region (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg). MF1 Racing 

Latest F1 News in Brief Latest F1 News in Brief
New McLaren heads for January debut
Alonso's a bearded winner
Age is Schu's new weakness - Irvine
Rubens won't move from Monaco
Setback for novel 'A1' series
'RB2' set for proper test debut
First Aguri to be 'SA106'
'The car in front should be a Toyota'
ART re-signs Premat ART re-signs PrematART Grand Prix has re-signed Frenchman Alexandre Premat's contract for the upcoming GP2 season putting to an end any rumors that Premat might race in Champ Car in 2006..  Premat joined the team last season for the inaugural GP2 championship and finished in fourth position. His teammate Nico Rosberg won the title.

Team Principal Nicolas Todt said: "I am very happy that the team could come to an agreement with Alexandre. It is a logical continuation of last season, during which Alexandre proved to be a race winner. It will be necessary for him to now become a championship winner, an objective that matches his superb talent."

ART's General Manager Frederic Vasseur added: "I am particularly satisfied that Alexandre has opted to remain with the team as he is one of the best drivers in the championship, as he already proved in 2005. Alexandre is French and we will do our best to break the sad reputation that French drivers do not succeed at the highest level anymore."

"What great news," said Premat. "The environment was excellent within the team last year, especially with Nicolas Todt and Frederic Vasseur, and we are guaranteed to begin the new year well.

"After a difficult start to the 2005 season, I progressed well throughout the championship to end up fighting regularly with the leaders. My objective will therefore be very simple in 2006: to win the championship." Source ART

New TV technology for racing New TV technology for racingNAVICAM is a new television technology that will create a buzz among fans of fast moving sports. The system allows extreme action close-ups, thereby enhancing the viewer’s TV experience. It is particularly suited to motor-racing, such as the Indy Racing League including the Indy 500, Nextel NASCAR and Bridgestone Champ Car racing or the American Le Mans Series. Winter sports, water sports, and air-sports will also benefit. The crystal clear close-ups also increase the amount of time the sponsors on the cars remain visible to the viewer, which makes Navicam very attractive to advertisers and the teams and drivers that are financed by such advertising.

Navicam solves one of the oldest problems with fast-moving sports on TV: the lack of synchronization between the movement of the target and the movement of the human-controlled camera. This causes the cameraman to leave a large margin for error around the target object: thus it usually fills less than a third of the screen. It also leads to the target 'floating' around on the screen, blurred pictures and soft focus. And it accounts for the main quality discrepancy that we have come to consider inevitable between TV images and still images.

The patented Navicam system synchronizes the movement of track-side TV cameras with the movement of fast-moving objects. This is achieved by combining navigational technologies, such as state-of-the-art GPS coupled with IMU’s (Inertial Measurement Units), and controlling the motion of robotic TV cameras with high precision and reaction times way beyond the capability of human cameramen. The technology has the advantage of allowing the cameras to 'lock onto' any of the competitors in a race and sustain panning close-up shots with highly powerful zooms. Thus Navicam provides highly detailed images, which could traditionally only be obtained in still shots of fast-moving objects. The result is better quality TV images, more detail, more color, and a higher perception of “being there”.
SPORTSBRANDEDMEDIA, the first sport marketing company to specialize in sports product placement in mass media outlets, will represent Navicam in the US market. John Meindl, president of SPORTSBRANDEDMEDIA says: “This represents a huge leap in the way that fast action sports are presented on TV. It also creates a big opportunity for advertisers, especially in an environment where viewers are getting more sophisticated in avoiding advertising on TV”. The visible part of Navicam is a spectacular-looking robot that normally is placed on a high structure overlooking the circuit. Anticipating the media interest in both trade and lifestyle media, the high profile of the events, the extensive network coverage, it is expected that at least one technology brand will advertise its contributions to the Navicam technology with the help of SPORTSBRANDEDMEDIA.

Grand-Am series called better than F1 Grand-Am series called better than F1Last year for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, we had 62 cars running. Typically, the Rolex 24 has a larger entry than for testing. This year, our entry list for the Daytona Test Days comprises 33 Daytona Prototypes and 42 GT cars for a total of 75 entries, which shows the type of growth that we've come to expect but should never take for granted in this, the greatest road racing series on the planet.
--Grand-Am President Roger Edmondson

While we admire Roger Edmondson's enthusiasm for his series, to say it's the greatest road racing series on the planet, i.e. even better than Formula 1, is one of the funniest statements we have heard since Tony George stood up at a motorsports conference in Indianapolis some years ago and predicted that the IRL would eventually surpass NASCAR and F1 to become the biggest racing series in the world!

Dario and Marino to share Daytona Prototype Dario and Marino to share Daytona PrototypeScots Dario and Marino Franchitti will again share a car at the Grand-Am Daytona 24 Hours, the #7 Pontiac-powered Riley run by SAMAX Motorsport and backed by fuel giant CITGO.

The pair will co-drive the Daytona prototype with CITGO favorite Milka Duno and Irish DP rookie Kevin McGarrity for the opening round of the Rolex Sports Car Series' opening round, which takes place on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course at the end of the month.

The Franchitti brothers partnered Duno and Dan Wheldon in the 2005 race, and were running fourth when contact with a wayward Porsche ended a strong run after 18 hours, leaving unfinished business for IRL race winner Dario.

"I'm really excited to be racing for CITGO again, especially with Milka and my brother," Franchitti Sr commented, "It is an added bonus to have my good friend Kevin McGarrity on the team this year, and I think we will have a lot of fun, although ultimately we are here to try and win some watches!"

Papis lands ride for Rolex 24 Papis lands ride for Rolex 24Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced today a two-car effort for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series' 44th running of the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona, featuring six drivers representing championships each year dating back to 2003. Scott Pruett, Luis Diaz and Max Papis will unite for the twice-round-the-clock classic to form the driver lineup for the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley, while CGR Team Target IndyCar pilots Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon join NASCAR NEXTEL Cup stablemate Casey Mears in the no.02 Target Daytona Prototype.
Win tickets to Long Beach GP Win tickets to Long Beach GPVisitors taking in all the automotive glitz and glamour of the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show, Jan. 6-15 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, have a chance to head home with more than just the usual array of slick brochures and pamphlets.

By merely stopping by the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach booth, they could end up clutching a pair of tickets to the 32nd Annual seaside spectacular, April 7-9!

The free race ticket drawing is part of a Grand Prix booth display that also features a Champ Car and weekend appearances by Lindsay Bedell, the 2005 Tecate Miss Grand Prix of Long Beach, and runner-up Venus Ramos. In addition, red-coated members of Long Beach's renowned Committee of 300 will be on-hand to give interested Auto Show-goers information about the record six racing series that will be scorching the streets of Long Beach in April. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach display will be in Kentia Hall at the Convention Center, near the SpeedZone and America's Tire Co. displays.

Greater L.A. Auto Show hours are: Mon. - Thurs., 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri., 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun., 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults ($7 Mon. - Fri. for senior citizens, 65 or older), with kids 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult. Call (310) 444-1850 or visit laautoshow.com for more information.
IndyCar Series teams to test at Phoenix IndyCar Series teams to test at PhoenixThe Indy Racing League will conduct a two-day test for IndyCar Series teams on Jan. 24-25 at Phoenix International Raceway.

"The main reason for the test is to allow the teams to familiarize themselves with their equipment," IRL Senior Technical Director Les Mactaggart said. "Several of the teams will be changing engine suppliers and chassis, and this will give them a chance to evaluate that equipment before the season begins."

In addition, the test will allow officials from Honda and the IRL to assess the durability of the Honda H16R Indy V-8 engines that will be used solely beginning in 2006.

"We're not sure where we stand in terms of mileage," Mactaggart said. "We have an initial target of 1,100 miles between rebuilds and a long-term goal of 2,000 miles between rebuilds, so this will help us find out where we are as we continue the mileage evaluation."

The test is not open to the public. Media wishing to attend the test should contact the IRL Public Relations Department.

Herta to appear Herta to appearAndretti Green Racing driver Bryan Herta will appear at the International Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 5 in Las Vegas on behalf of his sponsor XM Satellite Radio.  Herta will sign autographs and greet fans from 1 to 2 p.m. in the XM booth at the show, which is world's largest technology tradeshow.
Crawford forms own Indy Pro Series team Crawford forms own Indy Pro Series teamMichael Crawford has been a racing fan for most of his 38 years, but as he puts it, "that doesn't mean anything." Instead Crawford cut his teeth in the automotive and racing industries for 16 years to the point where he's ready to form his own race team.

Michael Crawford Motorsports will field two cars in the Indy Pro Series, the Indy Racing League's development series, in 2006.

"I wouldn't say this is something I've always dreamed of," Crawford said, "but when you've had success once and then are given an opportunity to do it again, you have to take it."

Crawford has been the general manager of Sam Schmidt Motorsports since the end of the 2002 season, helping build a team which won the Pro Series championship in 2004 and fielded three cars that finished in the top six in points in 2005.

"In 2002, our goal was to become the 'Penskes' of the Pro Series," Crawford said. "I still think we have a way to go, but I also think we are thought of very highly." zzzz

"Michael developed the infrastructure for Sam Schmidt Motorsports," said Sam Schmidt. "He has a high level of integrity and knows how to take care of his people. His knowledge and experience will lead to success as a team owner."

Crawford is stepping out on his own after running 14 events under the Sam Schmidt Motorsports banner in 2005. He fielded the No. 11 car in eight races and also conducted six tests. He recently acquired a second car and has updated both of them for 2006.

"This effort in 2006 is a result of the contributions of many friends and supporters," Crawford said. "The team would not exist without the assistance of Sam Schmidt, Scott Mayer, Tim Whiting and each of the drivers who worked with us in 2005. Sam Schmidt has been an inspiration and mentor for four seasons. Scott Mayer gave me the confidence and commitment necessary to take this next step. Tim Whiting is the key to the whole program. Tim will be our lead engineer, team manager and the key to our success on the track."

Crawford is working on identifying drivers and sponsors.

"Michael Crawford Motorsports is a perfect example of the Indy Pro Series as a platform for drivers, team owners, team members, sponsors and others to develop their skills and take them to the next level," said Roger Bailey, executive director of the Indy Pro Series. "Michael has been part of the Indy Pro Series from the early stages, playing an integral part in the success of Sam Schmidt Motorsports. He has a bulldog approach that will serve him well as he forms his own team to compete in 2006 and beyond."

Crawford's career in motorsports began in the early 1990s with The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Armed with an MBA from the University of Wisconsin, the Mequon, Wis., native started working in the company's market research department. Shortly thereafter, he transferred into the racing division where he was responsible for the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and International Motorsports Association (IMSA) programs. From 1995-1997, he worked on Goodyear's IRL IndyCar® Series program.

Crawford then spent two seasons at Kelley Racing and three seasons with PDM Racing.

"2000 was a magical year for me," Crawford said. "Sam Hornish Jr. and I drove all over together - northwest Ohio, northeast Indiana, looking for sponsors, knocking on doors. It was the Cinderella story."

Crawford hopes to bring that magic back in the future under his own team's banner.

Daytona Test Days Entry List Features Past Champions Daytona Test Days Entry List Features Past Champions
Borkowski, Wilden, and Mears join Fusion Racing with MSR for 2006 Borkowski, Wilden, and Mears join Fusion Racing with MSR for 2006Seeking to continue the pace and progress the team made in 2005, the  #6 Fusion Racing with Michael Shank Racing (MSR) Lexus-Riley will benefit from a Canadian-American line-up of drivers in 2006, as Toronto native Kenny Wilden will team with American Mike Borkowski for the entire fourteen-race schedule, with Paul Mears Jr. joining the effort for select events during the year.
Having scored two podium appearances in 2005 with the #6 entry, Fusion Racing with MSR made keeping their drivers for 2006 a priority, and is looking forward to the continuity that retaining them will offer.
“I’m really happy to have Mike (Borkowski) and Paul (Mears) back with us, and that Kenny (Wilden) was available to race with us all season,” said  Mike Shank. “We have been working hard to put everything in place for this year, and we should be consistently competitive all season.  Paul has continued to make amazing strides in the car, and we are really looking forward to him being with us for part of the season as well.”
Shank isn’t the only one excited about the line up, as both sides of the new partnership between MSR and Fusion Racing are looking forward to a strong campaign in 2006.  zzzz
“I am really excited about our driver line-up for the 2006 season and we will have another significant announcement tomorrow that will put us in an extremely competitive position for the 24,” said Fusion Racing managing partner Dennis Bainbridge. “Mike Shank and his team do an excellent job preparing for these very difficult races, and Fusion Racing is very excited about our prospects for the year.”
Canadian driver Kenny Wilden has a long and storied history with Michael Shank Racing, going back to his days in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, including a run to second in the 1999 championship battle. The Canadian has made quick work of adjusting to the rigors of Rolex racing, scoring a fifth place in his debut event with the team at Laguna Seca, and backing that up with a run to the podium at Barber Motorsports Park.
“I am so happy to have this opportunity with Michael Shank Racing,” said Wilden. “This team is so strong, and we all know each other very well, so it should be a great environment. With Rolex becoming so incredibly competitive, hopefully our good chemistry will give us a bit of an advantage out there.”  
Borkowski joined the team in 2005, and scored two podium finishes during the season to bring his Rolex career total to twelve, as the American took third at California Speedway with Mears, and followed that up with another third place finish co-driving with Wilden at Barber Motorsports Park.  Borkowski won renown in a variety of road racing series with a string of championships on his way up to a breakthrough rookie campaign in the Trans-Am Series in 1997, and took runner-up in the 2003 Daytona Prototype championship battle, so he knows what he is talking about when he says that this lineup will give the team the chance to be a factor in the championship battle this season.
“The Rolex series has become so exciting, and this season is going to be even more competitive, so to have all the tools we need in place to be a consistent performer and a factor in the championship-great cars, drivers, sponsors, and a strong team, is very exciting for me as a driver and I am very excited about this season,” said Borkowski. “Kenny and I work really well together, and I am glad that Paul (Mears) will also be with us again this season.”
Mears, who first broke into the Daytona Prototype ranks in 2003, will be contesting a limited schedule starting with the 2006 Rolex 24 at Daytona, and will return to the cockpit to race at Virginia International Raceway, as well as on one of his favorite tracks for the 6 Hours of the Glen race in June, and again at Daytona for June’s Brumos 250, as well as taking part in the Rolex Sports Car Series debut at the 4.3-mile Miller Motorsports Park facility in Utah, which will host the season-ending race of the 2006 season with a nine-hour run into the sunset on Labor Day weekend.
“Mike and his guys do a hell of a job every weekend, and I’m looking forward to working with them again this season,” said Mears. “The Rolex Series has become amazingly competitive, and I love the challenge that it brings, so having a team like Mike’s behind me, Mike, and Kenny is a huge plus for us.”
The team will announce the full driver line-up for the 2006 Rolex 24 at Daytona as well as a new title sponsorship for the #6 car on January 5th at the Rolex Test Days at Daytona International Raceway.
Fusion Racing with MSR benefits from the support of team partners including Graydon Elliott Capital (www.graydonelliottt.com), and the Mears Transportation Group (www.mearstransportation.com).
Graydon Elliott, a Canadian based Investment Banking and Wealth Management group, specializes in a wide range of financial advisory services and products. The rapidly expanding company will be utilizing its connection with the Fusion Racing with MSR team to continue its expansion into the US. Visit www.graydonelliottt.com for more information.
Based in Orlando, Florida, Mears Transportation Group started in 1939 with three taxicabs, and with founder Paul Mears’ dedication to outstanding service, has grown to comprise a fleet of 540 taxi cabs, 180 motor coaches, 100 shuttle vans, 12 limousines, and 185 luxury sedans, as well as including resort concierge services. Airport, attraction, cruise, charter, and taxi transportation are the core services that Mears strives to provide to the entire Florida market.
Fusion Racing is a Canadian company involved in many aspects of the motorsports industry such as providing sponsorship opportunities, organizing and hosting corporate hospitality events, racecar development and manufacturing and racing equipment distribution. The company's focus is providing and managing motorsports sponsorship opportunities for Canadian companies doing business in the United States.
 Based in Columbus, Ohio, Michael Shank Racing (MSR) was formed in 1989 when Michael Shank first began driving racing cars professionally. Shank retired from the cockpit in 1997 to focus his efforts on running the team, which quickly found success in the Champ Car Toyota Atlantic Championship. With several race wins under his belt, Shank was named as Team Owner of the Year twice in four years. MSR joined the Rolex ranks in 2004.  MSR has four Rolex Sports Car Series podiums, with Mike Borkowski, Paul Mears Jr., Kenny Wilden, Oswaldo Negri, Mark Patterson, and Burt Frisselle as drivers.
Autocourse Top-10 Champ Car drivers Autocourse Top-10 Champ Car driversThe impressive 2005/2006 Autocourse Champ Car Annual is out and it includes their top-10 rankings of drivers for 2006:
  1. Sebastien Bourdais (Series Champion)
  2. Justin Wilson
  3. Paul Tracy
  4. Oriol Servia
  5. AJ Allmendinger
  6. Timo Glock (Rookie of Year)
  7. Alex Tagliani
  8. Jimmy Vasser
  9. Mario Dominguez
  10. Ronnie Bremer
New Grand-Am team announced New Grand-Am team announcedLowe’s and Fernandez Racing today announced the creation of Lowe’s Fernandez Racing which will field the No. 12 Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype for drivers Adrian Fernandez and Mario Haberfeld in the 14-race Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series in 2006.

The team begins testing on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the 44th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Delphi Fernandez Racing’s Indy Racing League driver Scott Sharp, a former Rolex 24 winner, will join Fernandez and Haberfeld in their quest to win North America’s premier endurance race.

“This is exciting for all of us,” Fernandez said. “I am honored that I can continue my relationship with Lowe’s and build something new with them in Grand American. Last year, we established the foundation of our relationship in NASCAR and now we will build something new together in the Rolex Sports Car Series.”

Fernandez, 42, a Mexico City native who now resides in Phoenix, made his mark as an open-wheel star through a 12-year career at the top levels of the sport. In 2005, he branched out to NASCAR running six races with Hendrick Motorsports in the Busch Series.  zzzz

“I will race in the Mexico City Busch race in March with Hendrick Motorsports, and I think we will have a very good shot at running up front there again,” Fernandez said. “I’m looking forward to that opportunity, but my main focus will be on the Rolex Series and getting the No. 12 Lowe’s Pontiac to victory lane.”

Fernandez noted he sees tremendous growth potential with the Grand American Rolex Series.

“Grand American Rolex Series competition is growing in popularity, and I expect it to keep growing in the coming years. I like the direction this series is headed. Hopefully we will bring a lot of new fans to the sport.”

Haberfeld, 29, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and current resident of Key Biscayne, Fla., is a former British Formula 3 champion, who made his US racing debut in the Champ Car World Series contesting the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

“This is an honor for me to join Adrian Fernandez, who I have admired my entire driving career, along with a company like Lowe’s, whose racing involvement is so extensive,” said Haberfeld.  “It gives me great confidence that this is going to be a successful team on and off the race track.”

The Lowe’s Fernandez Racing team is a new addition to Lowe’s involvement in auto racing. Lowe’s sponsors the No. 48 Nextel Cup car driven by Jimmie Johnson and the No. 5 Busch Series car driven by Kyle Busch. In addition to the Hendrick Motorsports entries, Lowe’s owns the naming rights at Lowe’s Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C.

“Lowe’s is proud to have Adrian back behind the wheel and to welcome Mario to Team Lowe’s Racing,” said Bob Gfeller, Lowe’s senior vice president of marketing and advertising. “Adrian’s fans, many of whom are also Lowe’s customers, have demonstrated their passion for Adrian and Lowe’s is proud to support the sport our customers care about. We look forward to supporting Adrian and this team both on and off the track.”

Fernandez Racing was formed in 2000 by Fernandez and motorsports veteran Tom Anderson. The team has grown to encompass the Super Aguri Fernandez Racing and Delphi Fernandez Racing teams, which currently contest the IndyCar Series with drivers Kosuke Matsuura and Scott Sharp respectively.

Lowe’s Fernandez Racing will be based at the Fernandez Racing headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind. Anderson will oversee the program as managing director, with Steve Miller as team manager, Mike Sales as chief mechanic and John Ward as race engineer.

Miller has been involved in motorsports for over 20 years in a variety of roles from mechanic to engineer and team director, and most recently served as general manager for Fernandez Racing. Sales has spent the past four years at Fernandez Racing in both chief mechanic and team manager roles and, as a veteran of over 33 years in the sport, brings extensive racing experience. Ward’s distinguished career as a race and design engineer dates back to the mid ‘70s, and he most recently served as race engineer with Fernandez Racing in the IndyCar Series. His impressive roster of accomplishments include the design of a Daytona 24-Hour and Sebring 12-Hour race-winning chassis.

Lowe’s Fernandez Racing will field a Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype in the Rolex Series. Pontiac earned ten victories and four second-place finishes in 2005 winning their second consecutive series championship. Likewise, Riley Technologies enjoyed a dominant season securing their second consecutive Daytona Prototype constructor’s championship in 2005.

The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series is the fastest growing auto racing class in the world, leading a resurgence of major-league road racing in North America. It is sanctioned by the Grand American Road Racing Association, which also oversees the Grand-Am Cup Series.

Television coverage of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series will be carried on SPEED Channel in 2006. Rolex Series races will also be distributed around the world via ESPN International, and Spanish-language broadcasts via FOX Sports Espanol.

Additional information on Lowe’s Fernández Racing and the Rolex Series can be found at media.lowesracing.com, www.fernandezracing.net and www.grandamerican.com.

Q and A with Rubens Barrichello Q and A with Rubens BarrichelloAfter spending six years at Ferrari, Rubens Barrichello is ready to start a new chapter in his F1 career by joining the Honda Racing F1 Team in 2006. In his first interview with the Honda F1 site, the Brazilian talks about how it feels to be a Honda driver, what he thinks he can achieve this year and more…

How does it feel to be an official Honda Racing F1 Team driver?
"I feel very excited because I think that this is a very good team. I’m really looking forward to working with Honda and the engineers, marketing and everyone at the factory. I think that the team has everything except a race win – and I hope that this is where I can help."

How familiar are you with the key team members and are you looking forward to working with fellow countryman Gil de Ferran?
"I am very much looking forward to working with Gil. He was definitely one of the key factors for me coming onboard. Obviously I have been in touch with the team for a few years and I was talking to the key team members in 2005. More recently we have been discussing when I will be able to start testing in the RA106 – I am very excited about that."

What lessons have you learnt at Ferrari and what can you bring to Honda Racing F1 Team?
"I think I will be able to bring lessons learnt not just from Ferrari but from my thirteen years of racing. I have experience of winning races and Championships so I am happy to bring this to the team."

What are the practical adjustments you've had to make – both socially and professionally – now that you're driving for a UK based team?
"I have worked for seven of my thirteen years in racing for UK based teams. The journey from my home in Monaco to the Operations Centre in Brackley will be a little bit longer for me now than at Ferrari, but as the team tests a great deal in Spain, I do not think that I will have to adjust that much at all." zzzz

What are your first duties and when will you first drive for the team?
"I will be testing for the first time next week in Jerez and I am very excited. I am starting to drive a little bit too fast on the roads now so I am definitely missing a racing car!"

The run-up to the first race in Bahrain is an intensive period of testing. Presumably you'll want to do as many miles as you can behind the wheel before arriving at the Sakhir circuit?
"Yes of course. I hope that I can do as many miles as possible and compare everything. The program for the new car, the RA106, looks good and we’ll just have to take it to the track and see how it goes. I am very excited about driving for a new team, especially for Honda, because the reason why I never left Ferrari is because I did not think that there was anything better. Right now there is something better and I hope that I can help move the team forward and see if I can fulfill my dream of winning the Championship."

What do you expect will be the main differences between driving the Honda Racing F1 Team RA106 and your 2005 F1 car, and are you anticipating that you will have to change your current driving style at all?
"To be honest I am open minded because I do not want to have any limits to my new car. I want to see how it goes. There will be differences for everyone on the grid this year with the change in engines from V10 to V8. There will be less power of course, but I am sure that the engineers will be clever and find a way in a year’s time to give us a little bit more, which is what drivers want – they always want more power!"
What do you think of the reintroduction of tire changes and the new qualifying format? Do you believe it will increase people's interest in Formula One?
"I think that the pit-stops were, to a certain extent, good for Formula One because you could do something with the strategy. But with the 2005 tire regulations we thought that people would be struggling at the end of the race and that people would be overtaking, but it did not happen because the cars are difficult to overtake in and the tracks do not make it easy either. So whenever we had problems with the tires, in Monaco for example, there was no overtaking, so you slow down, 3 seconds go off the pace, and so I guess that the changes had to be made. But I do not like to see changes all the time, it is good to have consistency."

What are your impressions of Jenson Button and are you looking forward to gauging yourself against him on the track this year?
"The team goes forward when you work well together and I am the kind of guy who likes to make friends and not make enemies. I know Jenson as a friend, but I have never worked with him. He is definitely a good driver, so it will be challenging to work with him and the best man will win!"

What are your ambitions for your first year with Honda Racing F1 Team?
"Firstly, there is no limit to my imagination. Obviously we want to keep our feet on the ground though and with everyone at the team trying to improve last year’s car we are in a strong position. I can bring some of my experience to improve the whole package and I really believe we can win races this year." Source Honda

Cheever Racing to enter 2nd car in Rolex 24 Cheever Racing to enter 2nd car in Rolex 24Cheever Racing will field a second Daytona Prototype entry at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, announced team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. today.

The No. 51 Cheever Racing NetVu Video Lexus Crawford will be driven by Stefan Johansson, Tommy Erdos, Mike Newton and Warren Hughes.

As winner of the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans, and five-time competitor at the Rolex 24, with best finishes of third in 1999 and fourth in 2005, Swede Stefan Johansson brings a wealth of experience to the team.

“I am excited to join Cheever Racing for the 2006 Daytona 24 hour race, not only because it is a well run and professional team but also because of my long friendship with Eddie,” said Johansson, who competed against Eddie Cheever Jr. in both Formula One and Champ Car racing.

“Eddie and I have known and raced against each other since the early eighties. The race will no doubt be one of the most competitive in history, with a huge grid and even more great drivers and teams than last year. I really look forward to the challenge and believe we have a good chance of getting the job done,” Johansson continued. zzzz

Johansson teams with the trio of drivers that won the LMP2 class of the 2005 Le Mans: Brazilian Tommy Erdos and Englishmen Mike Newton and Warren Hughes.

“This second car will greatly enhance our chance of success at Daytona,” Eddie Cheever Jr. said. “Stefan is a longtime friend and the fans better be watching if we have the opportunity to go head-to-head with each other on the track! The France family has done a tremendous job of building the excitement for this race. It is going to be an exciting event.”

The drivers of the No. 51 car will join Eddie Cheever Jr., Christian Fittipaldi and Patrick Carpentier, drivers of the No. 39 Cheever Racing Lexus Crawford at the Daytona test days, Jan. 5-7.

The 44th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, North America’s premier endurance event, is Jan. 26-29 at Daytona International Raceway.

Based in Indianapolis, Cheever Racing opened its doors in 1997 to race in the IRL IndyCar Series. The team went on to win the 1998 Indianapolis 500. A leader in American motorsports, the team is built on owner Eddie Cheever Jr.’s 30-plus years of experience in Formula One, sports cars and open-wheel racing. Cheever Racing

A1 Grand Prix
A1GP forced to postpone another race A1GP forced to postpone another raceThe sudden and unexpected death of the Dubai Emir, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum on Tuesday 3 January 2006 has prompted the postponement, due to mourning, of the seventh leg of the A1 Grand Prix series originally scheduled for 15 January 2006 at the Sentul Race Circuit. A1 Grand Prix is working closely with the government of Indonesia who have been most supportive, to identify an appropriate replacement date. 

Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum became ruler of Dubai and Vice President and Prime Minster of the U.A.E in November 1990. He was one of four brothers and the first son of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. He was instrumental in overseeing many of Dubai's initial infrastructure projects including the Dubai Airport, the installation of the country's electricity grid as well as numerous schools and modern residential districts. He also funded a great number of charitable projects including orphanages in the developing world and the construction of schools both inside and outside the UA.E. 

Tony Teixeira, CEO of A1 Grand Prix comments: "The entire staff, team owners and associates of the A1 Grand Prix family mourn the loss of a great visionary and benevolent ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh bin Rashid Al Maktoum. While difficult logistically, we felt it important to observe a respectable period of mourning for this beloved family member of our founder, president and chairman, Sheikh Maktoum. Condolences and sympathies are respectfully offered to all the peoples of Dubai." 

All Dubai Shopping Festival activities have been suspended during the mourning period for the late Dubai ruler.  [Editor's Note:  We will be surprised if this race is ever rescheduled as the series is bleeding cash and how many tickets could they possibly sell in Indonesia to pay the huge transportation costs?]

Hankook Tires for new F2000 series Hankook Tires for new F2000 seriesThe newly created F2000 Championship Series is proud to announce Hankook as the official tire for the series. Commencing with the season-opener in April, all the drivers in the F2000 Championship Series will race on Hankook racing slicks. Utilizing technology gained from its involvement in Formula 3 competition in Asia and Europe, the Hankook tires will be radials, rather than bias-ply. Offering greater performance and reliability, the radial tires will allow drivers to get the most from their cars, while keeping tire costs under control.

"We are excited to be part of the inaugural F2000 Championship Series season," said Hankook Marketing Director Bill Bainbridge. "Continuing to expand our involvement in open-wheel motorsports, we expect this new partnership to be mutually beneficial. I look forward to seeing some of the best Formula Continental drivers in the United States racing on Hankook radials." "The F2000 Championship Series is very pleased to announce Hankook as the official tire of the series," said Series Director Michael Rand. "A leader in tire technology, particularly for the junior open-wheel ranks, Hankook was the ideal choice. While racing a radial tire will be new to many of our drivers, we believe Hankook's history and skill ensure it will be a success. Combined with the great service from Frisby Performance Tire, its a winning partnership for the series competitors." zzzz

Available in both 6 inch (front), 8 inch (rear) and 8 inch (front), 10 inch (rear), to allow great ease to drivers from various series to race in the F2000 Championship Series, the Hankook radials will be distributed by Frisby Performance Tire in Illinois. Beginning in the new year, testing will be conducted on both the 6's and 8's as well as 8's and 10's to determine what tire compound should be used.

With both the F2000 Championship Series and the West coast based Pacific F2000 Series using Hankook tires, the series organizers have elected to allow drivers to contest a limited number of races in either championship. Registered F2000 Championship Series drivers will be allowed to race in up to two events in the Pacific F2000 Series without registering, while the Pacific drivers can do the same with the East coast series.

In addition to announcing the tire package for the upcoming year, the F2000 Championship Series has revealed it will be sanctioned by SCCA Pro Racing. As part of the sanction agreement, drivers will only require a SCCA Club Racing National license or greater to contest the series, allowing for easy transition between the amateur and pro ranks.

The inaugural season of the F2000 Championship Series gets underway April 14-16, with Rounds One and Two at Virginia International Raceway.

For more information of the series, please contact Mike Rand at (860) 364-5252, michaelrand@sbcglobal.net or via fax at (860) 364-9362. Additional news and information will be available shortly at www.f2000championshipseries.com.

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