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DATE News (chronologically)
01/08/07
track news

New Tunnel at Road America UPDATE More construction photos of the new tunnel at Road America.  If you want to get technical this is really a bridge now carrying the race track over a depressed entrance roadway. The warm weather has allowed construction to proceed well into the winter months.  Is that work we see going on outside of the final turn in the distance in the center photo 2nd row?  Perhaps they are improving the runoff on the outside.


12/14/06 Elkhart Lake, Wis.-Elkhart Lake's Road America, Inc. has begun a significant construction project which includes the addition of a new tunnel to the paddock and the removal of the Bill Mitchell bridge. The project, which will be completed by May 2007, is part of the track's long-range facility improvement plan.  

The new tunnel is located approximately 100 yards south of the farmhouse office, and provides access to the paddock between turns 13 and 14. Designed to accommodate two lanes of vehicle traffic and two pedestrian walkways, the tunnel has a 16.5' clearance and is 36 feet wide and 168 feet long. McMahon and Associates of Neenah, Wisconsin, designed the tunnel and is serving as general contractor. The tunnel's unique pre-cast concrete roofing structure enabled the tunnel to be located in this desirable location near the farmhouse office and Gate 1. When completed, the tunnel will be the main entrance point into the paddock and will be a dramatic landmark at the historic track. A grand opening celebration will occur during the AMA Suzuki Superbike Championship weekend, May 31-June 3, 2007, in conjunction with an official sponsor entitlement.  

The goal of the project is to enhance the racing experience for spectators and competitors. In addition to better paddock access, removal of the Bill Mitchell Bridge will create a new viewing area for spectators and provide better track logistics for racecars and motorcycles.

Comment
01/08/07
cc

Justin Wilson marries
AutoRacing1.com want to congratulate Justin and Julia Wilson on their recent marriage.  Justin and Julia were married on December 29th, 2006 in Sheffield, England at a small ceremony with close friends and family.  Photos

Comment
01/08/07
alms

Audi confirms ALMS return
The North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan is the largest auto show this side of the globe, perhaps the world. Each year, executives from the American Le Mans Series roll into Detroit not only to meet with the hierarchies of the manufacturers who participate in the world's premier sports car series, but also to learn of new developments and innovations each will announce during Media Days, the three-day introductory to the show.

This year's Audi press conference Sunday provided a little extra bonus for the American Le Mans Series contingent. Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management for Audi A.G., announced that Audi would be back to defend its title in the American Le Mans Series in 2007. That announcement was followed by a dramatic unveiling of Audi's new Q7 V-12 TDI Concept and its Q7 3.0 TDI that featured Grammy award-winning recording artist Seal, who provided a live performance to highlight the two new Audi models.

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01/08/07
f1

Tower Records set up booth to boost F1 ticket sales
Tower Records in Suria KLCC will be selling more than just music and movies this month. Racing fans can also get tickets for the Petronas Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at discounted prices with limited edition F1 gifts. Situated at the Concourse Level of Malaysia’s famous shopping destination, Tower Records will have a special F1 Early Bird Promotion counter where fans can purchase tickets to catch the GP scheduled for April 6-8 at the circuit in Sepang.

The Sepang International Circuit (SIC) general manager, Datuk Ahmad Mustafa, said that the program was part of the organizer’s strategy to secure a full house of 120,000 spectators.

“This program is to promote the current 5% discount being offered for purchases of tickets until Jan 31. But, if you purchase it at the early bird counters, you will gain even more,” said Ahmad.

Comment
01/08/07
f1

Schumacher to shake down new TF107 Tuesday
Toyota’s new car, the TF107, will undergo a shakedown at the Paul Ricard circuit in France Tuesday ahead of the official launch this coming Friday. Regular driver Ralf Schumacher will carry out this newly modified agenda while third driver Franck Montagny, who was scheduled to undertake an aerodynamic test at Vairano in Italy this week, will now defer his plans until next week, after the launch.

Despite the delay, Franck is very pleased with the way things are progressing.

“I could see the new car, sit inside, check all the minor details that will make life a lot easier when I return for the first tests and at the moment it is all going very well. The team is really very accessible and I am finding myself fitting in there more and more,” he told his official website.

Comment
01/08/07
nascar

Waltrip satisfied with ESPN Documentary
Michael Waltrip’s road to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series as a full-time owner with multiple teams has been carefully documented through an 11-episode television series on ESPN2 called Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Era, which debuted Sunday, December 10.

“I feel ‘A New Era’ has accurately depicted the challenges we have faced and the successes we’ve already enjoyed as a team,” Waltrip said.

Waltrip has allowed inside access to the building of Michael Waltrip Racing and ongoing construction of Waltrip Raceworld. The show has provided unprecedented access to one of Waltrip’s greatest feats. 

Read more & Comment...
01/08/07
nascar

Woodard Racing squashes team rumors
Contrary to recent reports that Woodard Racing has folded its NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series operations, team owner Rick Woodard squashed those rumors stating the team is alive and preparing for the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series opener at Daytona International Speedway next month.

“Woodard Racing has not ceased operations and we are diligently preparing for our return to the series next month,” stated Woodard. “Woodard Racing is continuing its hunt for primary sponsorship, but we continue to work away and prepare ourselves for another year of competition.”

[Editor's Note: This was not one of the NASCAR teams we reported to be folding. Interesting that they plan to go racing without primary sponsorship.]

Comment
01/08/07
ga

Mowlem to drive for Doncaster Racing
British racing star Johnny Mowlem will return to the scene of one of his greatest victories when he competes in the 2007 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. Mowlem, a former GT class champion in the world endurance classic, will drive a Porsche GT3 in the GT class. The car is campaigned by Doncaster Racing, one of the top teams in the Rolex Sports Car Series. Mowlem was GT champion in the 2004 edition of the race.

Mowlem is listed among the top endurance racers in the world by most observers. He completed a rare triple in 2006 when he competed in the world’s three most significant 24-hour races, those at Le Mans, France and Spa, Belgium and of course; Daytona.

“The scope of the Rolex 24 at Daytona is just tremendous,” Mowlem said. “The entry list has a galaxy full of stars from all over the racing world, many of whom are good friends, so it's a fantastic way to start the year. Daytona has been very kind to me, I've competed there seven times and been fortunate enough to stand on the podium four times, including twice finishing second overall. Obviously 2004 was the highlight with a second overall and the GT win. I still wear the Rolex everyday, and I would love to win myself another!”

Comment
01/08/07
nascar

Bobby Hamilton Sr. Funeral Services
Tuesday January 9, 2006  5PM till 8PM - Visitation for the Public   

Location:
Hermitage Funeral Home
535 Shute Lane
Old Hickory, TN 37138
615-889-0361

In lieu of flowers please make donations to the American Cancer Society or the Victory Junction Gang Camp.

Comment
01/08/07
cca

Atlantic sponsors received impressive TV exposure in 2006
Champ Car Atlantic Championship series commercial partners enjoyed a impressive amount of television exposure in 2006, according to figures provided by research and analysis industry leader Joyce Julius and Associates

The 2006 year-end Joyce Julius report reveals that Atlantic series and team sponsors reaped an estimated exposure value of $7,184,505 during the course of the ’06 season. This impressive figure represents an increase of nearly 19 percent from the total 2005 sponsor exposure value from the Atlantic Championship. Joyce Julius calculates the exposure value based on total exposure time and sponsor mentions throughout the series’ television race broadcast coverage. Dollar values are assigned based on the sponsor’s exposure, on-screen time and verbal mentions compared to the individual broadcast network’s estimated cost per 30-second commercial rate.

All 12 Champ Car Atlantic Championship races were aired on a tape-delayed basis last season on the SPEED television network. Including race re-broadcasts, a total of 24 Atlantic events were broadcast on SPEED in 2006.

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01/08/07
nascar

Daytona testing: Raines fastest before rain
Twenty-six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams went to work Monday at Daytona International Speedway, for the first session of NASCAR Jackson Hewitt Preseason Thunder testing.

Among them, three Toyota teams turned their first laps at the 2.5-mile tri-oval. The manufacturer makes its NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut this season.

Monday’s session was shortened due to rain, necessitating an additional half day session from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Thursday, but Team Red Bull Toyota driver Brian Vickers said the team still got in enough practice Monday to evaluate their progress.

“We just want to come down here and have a good test,” said Vickers. “It’s our first time testing – not only as a group of people but the cars as well. All of it’s a learning process for us.”

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01/08/07
cc

Ranger not sure which league he will race in
According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Canadian Andrew Ranger does not know where he will race in 2007. Despite raising over $1M in sponsorship, Champ Car teams are telling him that's not enough. While his priority remains Champ Car, the danger of waiting too long and losing the sponsors is too great a risk to take, which in turn has forced Ranger to contact IRL and NASCAR Busch teams who have expressed an interest in the French Canadian youngster AutoRacing1.com has learned. Rumor has it that the asking price by some teams is $2M, $3M and even $4M for a full season. We hear that a number of Champ Car drivers are facing this same dilemma.

Ultimately the model must change. Champ Car teams cannot continue forever relying on drivers to bring a large chunk of their annual budget. The series must position itself and the teams must improve their marketing departments such that they can land sponsorship on their own and drivers get paid to drive rather than paying to drive. This is a sport, not a rent-a-ride program. Imagine Derek Jeter paying to play for the NY Yankees. Would never happen.

Comment
01/08/07
track news

Milwaukee Mile inks deal with The Gordon Flesch Company
Milwaukee, Wis. –  The latest marketing partnership announced by The Milwaukee Mile is a new multi-year agreement with the Gordon Flesch Company, one of the largest independent providers of office equipment solutions in the United States.

This arrangement makes the Madison, Wisconsin-based Gordon Flesch Company The Milwaukee Mile office equipment provider through the 2009 season.  It includes visibility and exposure on multiple levels for the family-owned business. 

“The Gordon Flesch Company is proud to partner with The Milwaukee Mile,” said Tom Flesch, president and CEO. “We look forward to supporting world class auto racing in our home state of Wisconsin, along with being able to share our sponsorship benefits with our valued customers.”  

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01/08/07
TV News
Karting

Stars of Karting, Celebrity Race, to be shown on Versus
The Stars of Karting, All-Stars Karting Classic, Celebrity Race that was run at the PRI show in Orlando, FL on December 14, 2006, will be aired on Tuesday, January 9, 5:00 pm-6:00 pm ET, on Versus.

Comment
01/08/07
ips

Indy Pro teams to compete for $4M purse
The Indy Pro Series is making an effort to pay out more money to teams than the Champ Car Atlantic series, which could result in Atlantic teams jumping ship.....maybe.  Although the purse is up, so too are the number of races a year - now 16.  So although the purse is going up 24 percent, the number of races is going up by a bigger percent, so it is a bit of propaganda to say the purse is up.  On a per race basis it is not.

IndyCar.com Story

Indy Pro Series teams and drivers will compete for almost $4 million in 2007, a 24 percent increase over 2006, league officials announced Jan. 8. The total payout includes more than $3.7 million in event prize money plus additional money from contingency awards.

“We’ve gone from $1 million to almost $4 million in two seasons,” Indy Pro Series Executive Director Roger Bailey said. “The increase is one of the major factors driving our growth and shows the commitment we have for teams, drivers and sponsors. The Indy Pro Series is one of the healthiest series in motorsports.”

Four payment schedules are in place for the series-record, 16-race schedule in 2007, which opens March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The biggest purse, $300,000 split among the top 18 finishers, will be paid at the Freedom 100 – held on the historic 2.5-mile oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the Friday before the Indianapolis 500. The winner of that race will pocket $40,000.

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01/08/07
track news

Indy 500 finish voted most memorable
The thrilling, final-straightaway pass for victory by Sam Hornish Jr. in the 2006 Indianapolis 500 was a finish for the ages, and readers of popular motorsports Web site speedtv.com agree.

Speedtv.com readers voted Hornish's victory by 0.0635 of a second over rookie Marco Andretti - the second-closest finish ever in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" - as the most memorable motorsports moment of 2006 in a poll conducted at the Speed Web site.

Hornish's victory earned 39.8 percent of the more than 6,000 votes cast. It beat the runner-up, Michael Schumacher's dramatic engine failure in the Japanese Grand Prix, by more than 1,000 votes.

Comment
01/08/07
industry news

GM and Ford sales leap in China
General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. said today their sales in China’s booming car market jumped last year, a boost for automakers that have seen demand slump in North America.

General Motors, the country’s No. 1 automaker, said it sold 876,747 vehicles in China last year, up 32% from 2005. It said sales of its flagship Buick brand grew by 24.9% to 304,230 units. Vehicle sales continued to outpace most projections as a result of unprecedented consumer demand for passenger cars,” Kevin Wale, president of GM China, said in a statement.

Ford said sales of its brands — which include Ford, Lincoln, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo — rose 87% to 166,722 units. Sales of Ford-brand vehicles were up 89.3% at 155,404.

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01/08/07
nascar

Bobby Hamilton loses battle with cancer UPDATE #2 Level Cross, N.C. - Bobby Hamilton was the driver of the famed ‘43’ owned by Richard Petty from 1995-1997.  He won for Petty Enterprises in 1996 at the Phoenix (Ariz.) International Speedway and also at the North Carolina Speedway (Rockingham) in 1997.  Richard Petty commented on the passing of Bobby Hamilton.

“The entire Petty family and organization is saddened by the passing of Bobby Hamilton.  Bobby was not only a huge part of the racing family, but of the Petty family as well.  He will always be a part of our family.  He had a heart of a champion and that affected everyone around him.  You could always count on Bobby.  He was just that type of guy.  He never let you down and gave you everything he had on-and-off the track.  His family is in our hearts and prayers.”

01/07/07 Bobby Hamilton Racing is saddened to announce that its owner Bobby Hamilton Sr. passed away this afternoon at his home in Nashville, Tennessee from complications of Cancer.

“He will be greatly missed as a husband, a father, a grandfather, an owner and a friend,” said the Hamilton Family. “We want to thank everyone for their love and support of our racing operation and the outpouring of care and concern during his cancer battle. One of Bobby’s greatest loves in life was racing and we will continue on in his honor.”   

Hamilton won four Nextel Cup Races and the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion. 

Funeral arrangements are pending.

01/07/07 Former NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Bobby Hamilton Sr. died today at the age of 49 after losing a 2-year battle with cancer. 

In August a Press Release read: After extensive treatment from chemotherapy and radiation Hamilton and his doctors were optimistic about findings in his post-treatment CT Scan. However, microscopic cancer cells still remained in the right side of his neck. Since that time, Hamilton is continuing his chemotherapy treatment and has gone through several procedures to keep the cancer at bay.

"There are two things that I've truly learned from an unfortunate battle like this. One thing is that some people really go out of their way to sincerely support my battle. The flip side to that unfortunately is people really use the circumstances to say or write the story based on complete speculation and don't think about the repercussions it causes. Cancer is an ongoing battle, and once you are diagnosed you always live with the thought of the disease in your body. It is the worst thing you could ever imagine.

"I have great people surrounding me at BHR who really stepped up to the plate to ensure that my company is on the right track for 2007 and beyond. We ended the 2006 season on a high note and made a great announcement adding my friend Ken Schrader to our No. 18 Fastenal Dodge. We feel that his knowledge will help lead our rookie Chase Miller in the No. 4 Dodge Motorsports Dodge in the right direction. We made some personnel changes and are really excited about 2007. I'm still here, despite what people say, and I'm still calling the shots around BHR. Our sponsors have been very understanding and their support is tremendous. We will continue to be a championship caliber team."

Comment
01/08/07
f1

Manufacturers to get F1 voice
The car makers involved in Formula One racing are set to get an official voice within the sport’s governing body, the FIA revealed on Monday.

The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council has voted to establish a new Formula One Manufacturers’ Advisory Commission, with representatives from BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Ferrari, Honda, Renault and Toyota all eligible for membership.

BMW’s Professor Burkhard Goeschel has been invited to become Chairman of the new commission, while the FIA will be represented, as required, by President Max Mosley, technical delegate Charlie Whiting and technical consultants Tony Purnell and Peter Wright.

The move follows last November’s agreement between Goeschel (on behalf of the manufacturers) and Mosley concerning the future path of Formula One racing. Specifics relating to exact technical regulations are still to be established - something the new commission should help facilitate. Formula1.com

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01/08/07
f1

Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE
De la Rosa eyes future return to F1 grid
Sidecars to support F1 in Melbourne

01/08/07
Tests confirmed for Bahrain, Malaysia
Alonso to debut new McLaren
Albers in Lisbon for Dakar rally
Sutil plays down 'wake-up call' comments
Spyker to race two new cars in 2007 - Sutil
F1 needs more small teams - Donnelly
Rahal son sets sights on F1

Comment
01/07/07
scca

Muniz gets 2nd in Atlantics debut
Former Malcolm in the Middle star actor turned race car driver Frankie Muniz got his Atlantic career off to a good start by finishing 2nd today in the SCCA Florida Nationals at Sebring. Muniz is graduating from Formula BMW to the Champ Car Atlantic series in 2007 with Jensen MotorSport.

“I’ve always wanted to race, but I never knew what the first step would be,” Muniz said. “I did the Toyota Pro-Celebrity Grand Prix of Long Beach, where they have a pro-celebrity race, for three years and I won all of them. It was fun, but it wasn’t real racing. So when the show was coming to an end, I was actually starting a NASCAR team that I was going to own.”

Instead of becoming a NASCAR owner, the 21-year-old decided to get behind the wheel. His opportunity came in February at the same course he raced on last week, when he was seeing if he had what it takes to get into the business.

“Eric Jensen, who owns my team, knew I wanted to start driving and start racing and offered to let me have a test drive,” Muniz said. “Now I am back here nine months later, racing in the Champ Car Atlantic series.”

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01/07/07
dakar

VW leaves Europe with triple lead
Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn in their Volkswagen Race Touareg celebrated their first stage victory in the 545-kilometre special stage leading from Portimaõ to Malaga, ahead of Nani Roma and Luc Alphand (both Mitsubishi). It was the second stage victory for Volkswagen following the success claimed by Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz in a Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 from Team Lagos the day before, and the Race Touareg’s 43rd stage victory since 2004. The Portuguese Carlos Sousa continues to lead the rally, while Sainz improved to second place overall in this demanding special stage. Tight corners along deep abysses and difficult stretches through the mountains marked the second competition day of the 8,000-kilometre desert classic.
 
The runner-up in last year’s "Dakar”, Giniel de Villiers, and his co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz completed the Volkswagen trio at the top of the leader board after a no-risk drive that saw them finish the stage in sixth place. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford follow in position seven overall. A major loss of time was suffered by Ari Vatanen: the four-time "Dakar" winner from Finland made a driving mistake while running through water that cost him more than an hour and a half. Despite this mishap, Vatanen finished on his own strength.

Read more & Comment...
01/07/07
Industry News

Acura planning the next NSX
This afternoon saw the worldwide debut of the Advanced Sports Car Concept, heir-apparent to Acura's sports icon, the NSX, at the 2007 North American International Auto Show.

Distinguished by sharp angles and futuristic sculpting, the concept features what the manufacturer calls subtle cues associated with its predecessor. LED headlights intended to evoke the first-generation NSX's pop-up headlights.

"Our intention was to design an exotic sports car that gracefully combines advanced technology and strong emotion," said Jon Ikeda, principal designer, Acura Design Center. "The technical, machined surfaces and keen-edge design are balanced with sweeping curves and dramatic lines, all of which results in the ultimate exotic sports car."

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01/07/07
Industry News

2006 was the best year ever for Lamborghini
With more than 2000 models sold in 2006, Lamborghini rang in the new year celebrating its best year ever. The Italian automaker gave details of its success at a brief press conference today at the 2007 North American International Auto Show.

Worldwide sales were up 30 percent in 2006 —2,087 units over 2005’s 1,600 units. Of those 2,087 units, 876 of them were sold in the United States, up 37 percent over 2005 U.S. sales. Growth was strong in Europe, where 746 units sold in 2006 represented a 50 percent increase. With 151 cars delivered, Great Britain saw growth of 81 percent.

The growth is attributed to a stronger dealer network – there were 65 dealers in 2005 and 100 by the end of 2006 – and a growing product lineup. Lamborghini sells the Gallardo Spyder and the Murcielago LP640 Coupe.  Murcielago LP640 Roadster sales are expected to begin in the spring.

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01/07/07
Industry News

BMW shows new 3 Series Convertible for first time
A sleek new 3 Series convertible with BMW’s first retractable hardtop made its worldwide debut today at the 2007 North American International Auto Show.  The car will be available in US showrooms starting at the end of March.

“BMW has over 70 years experience in producing dynamic convertibles, and all this experience and our innovative spirit are reflected in this convertible,” said Klaus Draeger, Member of the BMW Board of Management for purchasing.

The 3 Series convertible features a lightweight steel retractable hardtop, a new series of 6-cylinder gasoline engines with High Precision Injection, and a new interior with more luxury and new detail solutions to increase convenience.

B MW also showed the Hydrogen 7, a flex-fuel vehicle that runs on gasoline and hydrogen fuel, and the new BMW X5, which began arriving in US showrooms at the end of November 2006.

Comment
01/07/07
Industry News

Mercedes debuts Luxury 4-door Convertible Concept
Mercedes-Benz unveiled a super-elegant 4-door convertible concept car today at the 2007 North American International Auto Show; and the carmaker said the Concept Ocean Drive could become reality if demand becomes evident.

The concept derives from the 12-cylinder Mercedes-Benz S600 because of the S’s long wheelbase. It features a shoulder-level heating system that allows occupants at all four seating positions to ride in comfort with the top down even in winter months.

The Concept Ocean Drive has a snub nose and elegant grille, and a tapered rear with a heavy boot that covers the convertible soft top. The interior is awash in luxury appointments. This design exercise allowed stylists nearly limitless opportunity to create a 4-door luxury convertible that recalls aristocratic autos of days gone by.

Mercedes-Benz also displayed its S550 4Matic and E350 4Matic all-wheel-drive sedans as well as a GL420 Bluetec, a diesel-powered full-size SUV, a ML320 CDI 4Matic midsize SUV, and the  R350 4Matic crossover.

Comment
01/07/07
Industry News

Audi shows first look at V12-powered SUV concept
Three-time Grammy winner Seal sang at today’s Audi press conference as the Q7 V12 TDI concept made its worldwide debut at the 2007 North American International Auto Show.  The German automaker also showed a production Q7 fitted with a 3.0-liter diesel engine that uses Bluetec technology, which Audi shares with Mercedes-Benz.

“This car will be launched in 2008 and I can confirm that we will launch other models with this technology,” said Rupert Stadler, chairman of Audi AG.

The clean Bluetec technology meets emission standards in all 50 states. Stadler predicted diesels could make up 10 or even 15 percent of the US market by 2015.

The V12 concept employs a road-going version of the V12 that powered Audi’s R10 TDI sports prototype to triumph in the LMP1 category of the American Le Mans Series.

Comment
01/07/07
Industry News

Toyota Unveils New Tundra CrewMax Pickup
The all-new Toyota Tundra CrewMax full-size pickup made its worldwide debut today at the 2007 North American International Auto Show.  Featuring more than 44 inches of rear legroom, the super-sized CrewMax will go on sale in March, joining the rest of the new Toyota Tundra lineup, which will arrive at dealerships in February.

The CrewMax was the result of customer feedback.  “We were told emphatically, ‘Give me a super-sized model with enough room for a sliding and reclining rear seat,’ ” said Jay Lentz, executive vice president, Toyota Motor Sales.

Lentz also announced that Toyota will release a flex-fuel Tundra next year that can run on E-85 ethanol.  This model will be released as a 2009 model.

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01/07/07
Industry News

Chrysler strives to retain Minivan market leadership
A six-speed automatic transmission and swiveling second-row seats are among thirty-five new or improved features of the 2008 Chrysler Town & Country and the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, which the Chrysler Group unveiled today in the early hours of the North American International Auto Show.

Chrysler Group design Vice President Ralph Gilles noted that the latest iterations of the Town &  Country and Grand Caravan have eliminated the “pudge factor” thanks to a wider track, lower sills, bigger tires, and sleeker windows. The  Town & Country’s front cap mimics that of the Chrysler 300C, while the Grand Caravan retains the Dodge crosshairs grille.

Chrysler Group hopes to maintain its status as sales leader in the minivan market, a role it has held since introducing the first minivan 23 years ago. 

Comment
01/07/07
Industry News

GM sweeps Car of Year awards in Detroit
At a press conference today to kick off the North American International Auto Show, the Saturn Aura was named the North American Car of the Year. The award is presented annually by a jury of 49 prominent automotive journalists from throughout the United States and Canada. Meanwhile the Chevy Silverado was named the North American Truck of the Year, giving GM a clean sweep.

Saturn

"We're extremely pleased that the Aura has been named the North American Car of the Year," said Jill Lajdziak, general manager for Saturn.  "The Aura is an important step in our ongoing product revitalization plan, and this award is proof that our efforts are paying off."

The Aura features the design found on all new Saturn vehicles, with a bold chrome-bar grille and sharp lines with flowing surfaces.  It also exhibits the brand's new attention to detail on the interior as well, with tight gaps and improved materials over past Saturn vehicles.

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01/07/07
f1

McLaren off-season testing schedule
World champion Fernando Alonso will shakedown the new McLaren-Mercedes MP4-22 on January 17, two days after the car's official launch at Valencia.

McLaren look set to test exclusively at Valencia during January, according to the test schedule on the team's official website, and following the initial run with their 2007 car, they will return to the same venue the following week, with Lewis Hamilton joining Alonso on track from January 24-26, for an 'exclusive' three-day program.

VALENCIA (SHAKEDOWN) - 17th JANUARY
Day 1 - Alonso
VALENCIA (EXCLUSIVE) - 24th - 26th JANUARY
Day 1 - Alonso & Hamilton
Day 2 - Alonso & Hamilton
Day 3 - Alonso & Hamilton
VALENCIA - 30th JANUARY - 1st FEBRUARY
Day 1 - Alonso & De la Rosa
Day 2 - Alonso & Hamilton
Day 3 - Paffett & Hamilton
JEREZ - 6th - 8th FEBRUARY
Day 1 - De la Rosa & Hamilton
Day 2 - Alonso & Hamilton
Day 3 - Alonso & De la Rosa
BARCELONA - 12th - 14th FEBRUARY
Day 1 - Alonso & De la Rosa
Day 2 - Alonso & Hamilton
Day 3 - De la Rosa & Hamilton
BAHRAIN - 22nd - 24th FEBRUARY
Day 1 - Hamilton & Alonso
Day 2 - Hamilton & Alonso
Day 3 - Hamilton & Alonso
BAHRAIN - 27th - 28th FEBRUARY
Day 1 - Hamilton & Alonso
Day 2 - Hamilton & Alonso

Test schedule and driver line-up are subject to change

Comment
01/07/07
ga

Valiante fastest of Finlay drivers
Daytona test days for the prestigious Rolex 24 Hour endurance race came to a close Saturday afternoon.   Twenty-eight Daytona Prototype machines were scheduled to participate in the three day open test session, including the No.19 Ford Crawford driven by Rob Finlay, Michael Valiante, Michael McDowell and the 2000 NASCAR champion Bobby Labonte.

Finlay Motorsports proved once again that they have what it takes to run up front in the twice around the clock event scheduled to take place on Saturday, January 27.  The Mooresville, NC – based team finished within the top-10 spots on the speed charts in every session but two (8 practice sessions total) and Michael Valiante is credited with posting the team’s quickest lap of the week, with a lap time of 1:44.518.

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01/07/07
IMSA
alms

IMSA revises performance balancing rules for ALMS
IMSA, the sanctioning body for the American Le Mans Series, have revealed its revised procedure for performance balancing after all the complaints from teams last year in a series of three technical bulletins. The first outlined the new procedure which competition adjustments will be made throughout the year. Additionally, two further bulletins were issued confirming the specification of GT1 and GT2 cars at the opening race and possible new alternative fuel regulations for ethanol.

The ACO Technical Regulations are the basis for the technical regulations of all “Le Mans” branded championships. However, in order to maintain sporting balance between cars in each class IMSA reserves the right (at its discretion) to observe an adjustment method during each season. IMSA will follow the method below:

1) For adjustments within each class, IMSA may make one change, by notice no later than forty five days prior to the first race of the season. During the season IMSA may make two additional adjustments within each class, which may occur at any time during the season. Individual car types that enter late in the season, or that have not competed regularly in the series previously, may receive an additional adjustment at any time, which shall not count as a change within the class.

2) Adjustments of engine restrictor diameter and boost pressure take effect 21 days following the notice, all other adjustments take effect seven days following the notice.

3) The following maximum changes apply:
a. Minimum weight of the vehicle
  i. Up to plus 25kg and minus 50kg (“LM”P1)
  ii. Up to plus 25kg and minus 25kg (“LM”P2)
  iii. Up to plus 50kg and minus 50kg (GT1 cars)
  iv. Up to plus 50kg and minus 25kg (GT2 cars)
b. Engine restrictor / boost pressure change
  i. Up to +/- 10% restrictor area and / or 9% of absolute permitted pressure (All Cars)
c. Other parameters may be changed by IMSA as may be required.
d. The above changes are the total maximums that could be applied in the season, not the maximum change per adjustment.

Read more & Comment...
01/07/07
dakar

VW occupies the first five positions after opening stage
The opening day’s stage in Portugal was won by local matador Carlos Sousa with his German co-driver Andreas Schulz in a Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 entered by Lagos Team. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz finished second for Volkswagen in a Race Touareg 2 on the 464 kilometer long stage from Lisbon to Portimao. The hoards of spectators lining the sandy stage witnessed an exciting tussle for third place: Carlos Sainz with co-driver Michel Périn and Ari Vatanen/Fabrizia Pons recorded identical times at the stage finish. Fifth place went to Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford in another Volkswagen Race Touareg 2. Only 3:56 minutes separate the first five drivers, the closest rival – Guerlain Chicherit in a BMW X3 – trails by another minute.
 
The successful opening day continues a trend for Volkswagen: Now, for the third year in succession a Race Touareg driver tops the leader board to start the world’s toughest desert rally on the way to Dakar. Carlos Sainz led the field last year at the beginning, and a year before Robby Gordon did just that. The Volkswagen Touareg has now recorded its 42nd stage victory and 37th day leading the field since its rally career started in 2004.

Read more & Comment...
01/06/07
f1

Speed, Liuzzi, confident of keeping seats
(GMM) Scott Speed and Vitantonio Liuzzi have expressed confidence that they will retain their Toro Rosso race seats in 2007.

The Faenza based team is notably the last in formula one to confirm its driver plans for the new season, amid speculation that a pay-driver like Tiago Monteiro could be signed to help STR co-owner Gerhard Berger pay his share of the bills.

Asked about the announcement delay, however, Californian Speed - who according to rumors is the more likely of the pair to lose his seat - said he was sure he would line up alongside Liuzzi on the Albert Park grid in March.

"To me it has always been clear that I would race," the 23-year-old told the German website f1total.com, also rejecting theories that Toro Rosso is making a last-minute bid to extract Sebastien Bourdais from his Champ Car contract.

"I have signed a full time contract."

Speed added: "I don't know why they haven't confirmed it yet, but I am sure that Gerhard has a reason."

Italian Liuzzi sounded a more cautious note, but generally agreed that a Liuzzi-Speed lineup is most likely for 2007.

He told the Italian website f1grandprix.it: "I'm pretty sure I'll stay in the team, but I don't know why they still don't want to confirm.

"But after all, the team is theirs, so this kind of decision is up to them."

Comment
01/06/07
nascar

Skinner to attempt the Daytona 500
Mike Skinner will start testing next week in Daytona in his #5 Toyota Tundra Truck - then head right into the 2nd Nextel Cup test in the Bill Davis Racing #23 Toyota in preparation to make the Daytona 500 with Tommy Baldwin leading the attempt.

Comment
01/06/07
Dakar

Robby Gordon best of the Open category
With the 13th best provisional scratch time of 1’29’22, American Robby Gordon recorded the best time for the Open category in this first special stage. Pending validation by the commissaries, Portugal’s Carlos Sousa has recorded the best scratch time in the first special section of the 2007 edition of the Dakar with a time of 1’20’38", 2’31 ahead of South African Giniel De Villiers in an official Volkswagen, and 2’38 in front of Spaniard Carlos Sainz, also driving an official Volkswagen. Worthy of note: the first five places are all filled by Volkswagens.

Top 35
RANKING OVERALL
Pos. N° Name Make Time Variation Penalty
1 313 SOUSA (POR) SCHULZ (ALL) VOLKSWAGEN 01:20:38 00:00:00
2 301 DE VILLIERS (AFS) VON ZITZEWITZ (ALL) VOLKSWAGEN 01:23:09 00:02:31
3 303 SAINZ (ESP) PERIN (FRA) VOLKSWAGEN 01:23:16 00:02:38
4 308 VATANEN (FIN) PONS (ITA) VOLKSWAGEN 01:23:16 00:02:38
5 305 MILLER (USA) PITCHFORD (AFS) VOLKSWAGEN 01:24:34 00:03:56
6 312 CHICHERIT (FRA) BAUMEL (FRA) BMW 01:25:30 00:04:52
7 304 ROMA (ESP) CRUZ SENRA (ESP) MITSUBISHI 01:25:31 00:04:53
8 302 PETERHANSEL (FRA) COTTRET (FRA) MITSUBISHI 01:25:55 00:05:17
9 309 AL ATTIYAH (QAT) GUEHENNEC (FRA) BMW 01:26:38 00:06:00
10 306 MASUOKA (JAP) MAIMON (FRA) MITSUBISHI 01:27:54 00:07:16
11 319 MULLER (FRA) METGE (FRA) BUGGY 01:28:22 00:07:44
12 317 LAVIEILLE (FRA) BORSOTTO (FRA) NISSAN 01:28:49 00:08:11
13 320 GORDON (USA) GRIDER (USA) HUMMER 01:29:22 00:08:44
14 369 SPERRER (AUT) PONCET (FRA) BUGGY 01:29:49 00:09:11
15 328 VIGOUROUX (FRA) WINOCQ (FRA) CHEVROLET 01:31:15 00:10:37 

Read more & Comment...
01/06/07
Industry News

China can't build roads fast enough
If you thought your local roads were traffic-congested then take a look at this picture.  Hundreds of cars queue aimlessly for the chance to actually get to their destination in Xiamen, south China.  The country has experienced a massive increase this year in the sale of cars, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Comment
01/06/07
Industry News

GM again sells more cars abroad
U.S. automaker giant General Motors Corp. sold more cars outside the United States than at home for the second year in a row in 2006, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. The Detroit auto giant is expected late Friday to report global sales fell slightly last year, with most of the 80,000-vehicle sales decline coming from its core U.S. market. It is also expected to say that 55 percent of its 9.1 million-plus sales occurred abroad, said the report.

General Motors boss Rick Wagoner insists the US company will not give up its position as the world's top automaker without a fight. Speaking ahead of this weekend’s press opening of the North American International Auto Show, the GM chairman and chief executive said he was well aware of the seemingly unstoppable rise of Japan’s Toyota.

“I like being number one and I think our people take pride in it. So it’s not something we’re going to sit back and let somebody else pass us,” Wagoner told reporters late Thursday.

“We’re going to have to fight for every sale and do it in a way that is consistent with building the enterprise,” he said.

Read more & Comment...
01/06/07
TV News

USA TV reminders for Sunday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Le Mans Classic Le Mans
4:00am-5:00am (R) SPEED
Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Era
10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
Bodine Bobsled Challenge -NASCAR Drivers Lake Placid
2:00pm-4:00pm SPEED
Dakar Rally Highlights Lisbon to Dakar
3:00pm-3:30pm Versus
AMA Supercross Anaheim, CA
6:00pm-7:00pm (1/6/07) SPEED
The SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Era
10:00pm-11:00pm
11:00pm-12:00am ESPN2

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

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01/06/07
dakar

Team Dakar USA clears first hurdle
Robby Gordon’s Team Dakar USA arrived at the Belém Cultural Centre in Lisbon for scrutineering in an impressive all black convey that consisted of six off-road vehicles that include the H3 race Hummer, a T4 4x4 race entry to support the H3, a 4x4 support truck, a 6x6 support truck, and two assistance Hummer H1’s.

After almost a year of preparation for the most challenging off-road race in the world, the Monster Hummer team was given the green light to race in the 2007 Dakar Rally. The day of scrutineering included almost five hours of activities that included GPS training, document processing, photos, Iritrack installation and finally technical inspection.

Gordon’s Toyo Hummer which caused a sensation last year was equally well received. The all black race truck was the last vehicle to complete the technical inspection process but the crowd was still thick with anticipation to see what has quickly become a fan favorite. Billboards throughout the Lisbon area feature the H3 Hummer – including a 40ft high billboard cascading the side of the Cultural Centre.

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01/06/07
nascar

Wood Brothers/JTG Racing sign development driver
17-year old Georgia native John Wes Townley has signed a developmental driver contract with the Wood Brothers/JTG Racing Organization. Townley will continue his late model campaign in 2007 with backing from long-time sponsor Zaxby's, as well as BB&T Bank, Coca-Cola and Lang Signs. He intends to run the entire 2007 ASA Late Model South schedule in addition to five selected USAR Hooters Pro Cup events. Currently, Townley is enrolled in the Future Stars in Racing Training and Development Academy, where he is working on his skills outside the race car. Wood Brothers/JTG Racing PR

Comment
01/06/07
nascar
irl

Wheldon would like to race NASCAR...someday
Former Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon told Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway that he expects to make a run at NASCAR one day, but not until he wins another 500, and hopefully, another Indy Racing League title. "I came to Chip Ganassi Racing to win another Indy 500, and another IRL championship. I owe that to him, but if I can accomplish those things, I will take a very serious look at NASCAR. In fact, I'm sure you'll see me test a NASCAR car in the not-too-distant future."

Comment
01/06/07
a1gp

Black Beauty to traverse Auckland Harbour Bridge
An A1GP motor racing car will be fired up and driven in New Zealand for the first time tomorrow morning when Black Beauty zips over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

The rare opportunity to drive on the famous landmark is to promote the sixth Round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport taking place in Taupo from January 19-21.

Transit New Zealand agreed to the request to drive the single-seater car on the Bridge because the two south-bound ‘clip-on’ lanes have been closed over the holiday period for re-sealing.

The remedial work is nearing completion and the lanes will open again for all traffic on Monday morning.

New Zealand driver Jonny Reid, double winner at the most recent A1GP meeting at Sentul, Indonesia in early December, is excited by the prospect of driving Black Beauty on such a unique slab of concrete.

“Having the opportunity to drive over such a famous landmark will be an experience I’ll never forget,” Reid said.

“While I won’t be able to put my foot down, it will be an impressive sight even at 100 kilometres per hour. The toughest part for me will be keeping my eyes on the road and not taking in the spectacular views!”

The Bridge drive was originally mooted by the Auckland Car Club – which counts A1 Team.NZL’s foundation drivers, Reid and Matt Halliday, as members – as a way to launch their 75th Anniversary celebrations. A1GP 

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01/05/07
f1

Q and A with Tonio Liuzzi
Toro Rosso driver Tonio Liuzzi is confident he will remain with the team in 2007....

Q: Why is Toro Rosso waiting so long to announce their drivers?
TL: Only Gerhard (Berger) knows why, I think. I'm pretty sure I'll stay in the team, but I don't know why they still don't want to confirm. But after all, the team is theirs, so this kind of decisions is up to them.

Q: So you feel sure. Do you think Scott Speed will stay, too?
TL: I think there won't be any changes. However, Formula One can always surprise you, as we know. But I'm not worried for my seat.

Q: Let's go back to your famous quotes about Sebastien Bourdais' test. They led to a fuss and somebody wrote you are big headed. Can you explain what you meant?
TL: First of all, the quotes we read aren't the ones I stated during the interview. Somebody exaggerated what I said. I always said Bourdais is a good and fast driver, but he didn't do any miracle when he took part in this test, even if reading the newspapers you could think the opposite. I saw what I saw. Then again, we know most journalists are used to exaggerating in order to lead to a quarrel, but I sincerely don't mind what they wrote. Surely Bourdais is a good driver, otherwise he wouldn't have won three Champ Car titles. But if he is not in Formula 1, there must be a reason.

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01/05/07
alms
cc

ALMS and Champ Car to share Sebring for tests
The American Le Mans Series' annual Sebring Winter Test begins Monday, January 22 and runs through Wednesday, January 24. Currently 16 teams have indicated they will participate: Autocon Motorsports, Lowe's Fernandez Racing, Dyson Racing, Andretti Green Racing, Intersport Racing, Penske Racing (2), Highcroft Racing, Panoz Team PTG (2), Flying Lizard Motorsports (2), Robertson Racing, Risi Competizione and Tafel Racing (2).

Champ Car will also hold their first open test for the new Panoz DP01.  All teams are expected to attend.

Monday January 22, 2007
7:30 am: Mandatory Briefing for American Le Mans Series Team Managers at the base of Race Control
8:00 am-12:00 pm: American Le Mans Series-All Classes (Full Course)
12:00 pm-1:00 pm: Lunch
1:00 pm-5:00 pm: American Le Mans Series-All Classes (Full Course)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007
8:00 am-10:30 am: American Le Mans Series-All Classes (Full Course)
10:15 am: Mandatory Briefing for SUPPORT SERIES Team Managers at the base of Race Control
10:45 am-1:45 pm: Champ Car World Series (Short Course)
10:45 am-11:45 am: SUPPORT SERIES (School Short Course)
10:45 am-1:45 pm: AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES MEDIA DAY (includes media rides from 11:45 am - 12:45 pm on School Short Course)
11:00 am-11:30 am: Press Briefing (Acura)
11:45 am-12:15 pm: Press Briefing (GT2)
12:30 pm-1:00 pm: Press Briefing (Penske, Dyson, Intersport)
1:00 pm-1:45 pm: Pit Row Photo Session (Cars, Teams, Drivers)
2:00 pm-2:45 pm: Media luncheon with Scott Atherton & Tim Mayer
12:45 pm-1:45 pm: SUPPORT SERIES (School Short Course)
2:00 pm-4:00 pm: American Le Mans Series-All Classes (Full Course)
4:15 pm-5:30 pm: Champ Car World Series (Short Course)
4:15 pm-5:30 pm: SUPPORT SERIES (School Short Course)

Read more & Comment...
01/05/07
ga

Tony George crashes in race return UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Appropriately Anton George was driving the double zero Vision Racing car, not single zero mind you, double zero.  George climbed aboard the No. 00 machine during the second of the day's three sessions this afternoon and completed just three laps before running off-course in the Turn 1/Turn 2 complex coming off the superspeedway portion of the track and into the infield. He made contact with the guardrail, doing considerable damage to the front and right rear of the race car, and earning himself a quick trip to the infield care center.  He should stick to starting racing series and destroying the sport.  He excels at that.  Mordichai Rosen, LA, CA.

01/05/07 Tony George's return to driving race cars was met with an accident today at Daytona International Speedway. George, the 47-year-old chief executive officer of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, crashed his Daytona Prototype sports car at about 3:15 p.m. while testing for this month's Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. He was not injured. George, who raced extensively in his younger days, said he hasn't driven a race car since 2001. He doesn't think he's been in a road race since 1993. Indy Star

[Editor's Note: Tony never was any good when he ran in the CART Indy Lights series. He found road racing too hard so he broke off from CART, created the easier 100% throttle all-oval IRL series, which ironically eventually morphed back into a CART look-alike. On this day perhaps he forgot to turn right.]

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01/05/07
ga

Daytona Test Days Roundup Day 2
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A defending Rolex 24 At Daytona race winner was quick at Daytona Motor Speedway once again on Friday as No. 02 Target/TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley pilot Scott Dixon logged a lap time of 1:43. 997 (123.234 mph) Friday to lead the second day of testing at Daytona International Speedway for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve.

Dixon's lap came during the first of three practices, and the 2003 IndyCar Series champion topped Lucas Luhr's 2006 polesitting time of 1:44.009 (123.220 mph) and was the fastest lap thus far during the three-day Daytona Test Days. Dixon is looking to defend his Rolex 24 crown alongside his IRL teammate, Dan Wheldon, as well as rising Mexican star Memo Rojas.

"The more you run here, the better off you are," said Dixon. "Just knowing how the race is run, driver changes, and all those little things that sometimes you might forget. The competition [in the race] is like nothing else. I'm happy to be back."

Defending Rolex Series GT class co-champion Andy Lally posted the fastest class lap time Friday in the No. 66 TRG Porsche GT3, completing the 3.56-mile, 14-turn Daytona circuit in 1:52.791 (113.626 mph). Rolex Series drivers also had the opportunity to get used to the lights at the "World Center of Racing," as the day's final practice was run at night. 

Read more & Comment...
01/05/07
f1

Williams, Honda, reveal 2007 launch dates
(GMM)  Two more formula one teams have revealed dates for the launch of their cars for 2007.

Williams' newly Toyota-powered FW29 will be unveiled at the Grove based team's English factory on 2 February, before it is tested for the first time on the same day at Jerez in Spain.

The new 'RA107' Honda, meanwhile, will make its track debut on 24-25 January at Barcelona, but a new livery will not be revealed until a separate event in February.

Comment
01/05/07
f1

Nurburgring not losing F1 - boss
(GMM)  The boss of the Nurburgring has played down speculation that recent multi million dollar losses could spell an end to the German circuit's appearance on the F1 calendar.

Managing director Walter Kafitz admitted concern at declining spectator figures and the retirement of Michael Schumacher, but insisted that "our lights are not going out".

"We have a contract until 2011," the news agency 'sid' quoted him as saying, "and in the interest of the region we want to keep F1 here.

"Our problems are no different to those of any other (grand prix) circuit -- we all make losses."

Starting this year, the track will share Germany's annual GP with Hockenheim, meaning that the Nurburgring will host just three races before the end of its current contract.

Kafitz admitted that Bernie Ecclestone's annual race-fee increase of 10 per cent is also hurting the Nurburgring, as will the retirement of local hero Schumacher.

He continued: "But there is also a set of new young German drivers, and who knows: maybe one of them will become a 'new Schumi'."

Comment
01/05/07
dakar

Portugal wants to keep Dakar Rally beyond '08
The Portuguese government said it would work to ensure that the annual Dakar Rally continues to start from Portugal after 2008 when its current three-year agreement expires.

"It is in the nation's interests that the Dakar Rally start in Portugal and it will continue to be so after the next edition," said Secretary of State for Youth and Sport, Pedro Silva Pereira.

"We are willing to keep supporting this event in the future. You have to understand that others would like Dakar to start from their countries because of the media attention it brings," he added.

This year's 15-stage race is scheduled to start in Lisbon on Saturday and it will trek over 7,000 kilometres (4,000 miles) through Morocco, Mauritania and Mali after crossing the Mediterranean from southern Spain before finishing in the Senegalese capital Dakar on January 21.

Comment
01/05/07
industry news

Chevy Camaro Convertible Concept Debuts at NAIAS 2007 UPDATE More photos of the Camaro Convertible added below:

01/05/07 The Chevrolet Camaro concept was one of the stars of NAIAS 2006. For NAIAS 2007, Chevy unveils the convertible version of the Camaro concept.

The Camaro convertible concept, wrapped in Hugger Orange pearl tri-coat paint with twin gunmetal gray sport stripes, is based on the original Camaro concept, with only minor changes required to accommodate the convertible body style.

Chevrolet already has announced production plans for the Camaro, which will go on sale in 2009. A production convertible model will be added later that year.

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01/05/07
f1

Honda F1 launch date
The Honda Formula 1 team will present their 2007 contender to the media on the 25th of January at Circuit de Catalunya, Spain. A day earlier the car will make its official debut at the track near Barcelona Honda F1 team boss Nick Fry revealed to Formula1.com: "We have a marketing plan which will surprise a lot of people and get them interested by our approach. You will not see a car covered in Honda logos - it will be something very different."

Comment
01/05/07
ga

Allmendinger and Tracy Join Michael Shank for Rolex 24
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Team owner Mike Shank announced today that Paul Tracy and A.J. Allmendinger will co-drive the Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley with full-season drivers Henri Zogaib and Ian James in the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Both drivers have made Rolex Series starts with Michael Shank Racing, but the 2007 Rolex event will mark the first time the two former Champ Car teammates have co-driven together. Tracy stormed to the lead in the early stages of the 2006 event with MSR before driveline issues sidelined the effort, while Allmendinger finished second in the sister MSR entry.

"We're really excited to have Paul and AJ back with us this year," said Shank. "They've both done a great job for us every time they've run with us, and we obviously think that having drivers who have already been teammates is a big asset for a race like the 24. We did well here last year, and if we don't win this year, we are definitely going down fighting."

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01/05/07
ga

Milka Duno gets Rolex 24 ride with CITGO money
Female driver Milka Duno, one of the slowest drivers to ever get behind the wheel of a race car, will challenge the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona with CITGO Racing for their fourth consecutive year together - and their second year with CITGO Racing by SAMAX Motorsport. Open wheel stars Patrick Carpentier, Darren Manning and Ryan Dalziel will join Duno in the #11 CITGO Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype for the 45th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona at Daytona International Speedway this January 27 & 28, 2007.

In CITGO Racing's Rolex 24 effort last year, Duno and SAMAX Motorsport earned an 8th place finish after 24 grueling hours of competition. Duno's 8th-place overall finish was the highest finish for a female driver in the Rolex Series era. Duno also joined an elite list of only five women to finish in the top-ten overall in the event's 44-year history.

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01/05/07
Track News

50th anniversary Mazda Raceway tickets on sale
Race fans should mark Monday, January 8, on their calendars. That’s the date tickets go on sale for two sports car and a Superbike race during the 50th Anniversary season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey.

Tickets for the U.S. Sports Car Invitational featuring the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series May 18-20, the AMA Superbike Series September 15-16, and the Monterey Sports Car Championships featuring the American Le Mans Series will go on sale at 8:00 a.m. (PST) on-line at www.laguna-seca.com/tickets. Premier and Reserved Camping for these events will only be available by calling the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca ticket office at 800-327-SECA (7322).

The U.S. Sports Car Invitational is headlined by the large fields of Daytona Prototypes and GT cars of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The Daytona Prototypes and GT cars will do battle in a 250-mile race (with a two-hour, 45-minute time limit) on Sunday, May 20.  The Rolex Sports Car Series will be joined by the Grand-Am Koni Cup for high-performance sports cars along with the SCCA MX-5 Cup.

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01/05/07
Track News

Single event Nashville tickets available
Don't worry about losing the Best Seat at the Track! Click and save with a Season Ticket at the Nashville Superspeedway!

The Season Ticket Package includes these exclusive features:
* NEW - Season Ticket Holder Parking Lot*
* Exclusive Autograph Sessions *
* Season Ticket Holder Party *
* Nashville Superspeedway Season Ticket Holder T-Shirt *
* Fan Walk Access for the NASCAR Events *
* Cold Pit Pass for IndyCar Event *

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01/05/07
irl

IRL to back Dodge in Chili Bowl
The IndyCar® Series and Indy Pro Series have teamed with Lehmann Racing to field a midget for Indy Pro Series veteran Geoff Dodge in the 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals Jan. 10-13 in Tulsa, Okla. Dodge, winner of the Knoxville Nationals "Fast Track to Indy" Rookie of the Year in 2005, will drive a Maxim-Gaerte for longtime short-track racer Donnie Lehmann.

"It's an honor to have the IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series come on board for the Chili Bowl," Dodge said. "The opportunity that I had last season in the Indy Pro Series was a huge step in my career and to have their support again for an event like this is great. I look forward to representing the Indy Racing League at the Chili Bowl and can't wait to show the sprint and midget racing fans and teams what we're all about."

Lehmann Racing has fielded entries in the Chili Bowl in 18 of the previous 20 years, most of any team to participate in the event.

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01/05/07
nascar

Another NASCAR team bites the dust
The Biagi DenBeste Racing NASCAR Busch Series team has shut down, sources told NASCAR Scene.

The team, which was to field Toyotas for Auggie Vidovich in 2007, laid off all its employees Thursday, a team source said.

During the final race weekend of 2006, Biagi DenBeste announced a multibrand sponsorship package for a number of races this season from Kibbles 'N Bits, but the team was unable to secure enough backing for the other races, forcing the shutdown, a source said.

Comment
01/05/07
f1

Last hurrah for Gascoyne
Spyker F1's new designer Mike Gascoyne has revealed it will be he last adventure in Formula One. After splitting up with Toyota early in 2006 he joined the Spyker Formula 1 team in December. I don't want to do this forever, that's one thing I definitely know," Gascoyne told Autosport. "I saw coming back here as an opportunity to have some fun and help this team with what I've made a career out of: turning places around.

"For us to get a podium would probably be bigger than Toyota getting a win, so there's very clearly something for us to aim at. But this will probably be my last job in F1. If I'm here for three years that will take me to 46 and I'll have worked in F1 for 20 years and I think by then maybe it'll be time to go off and sail around the world."

Comment
01/05/07
nascar

Nextel's bond with NASCAR strong
It’s been two years since it was announced that telecommunication companies Sprint and Nextel would merge.

It’s been about that long that rumors have persisted that the merger would scuttle the relationship of the company with NASCAR.

In a recent chat with The Star, Sprint Nextel Corp. chairman, resident and chief executive officer Gary Forsee firmly waved off those rumors.

Forsee said that over the last two years, his company’s title sponsorship of NASCAR’s premier series warrants strengthening, not weakening. He said that the NASCAR-Sprint Nextel relationship has become a prime component of his company’s business plan.

“It’s been incredible to watch, first, the whole NASCAR experience unfold,” Forsee said. “But, most importantly, what Nextel had done with the branding and the sponsorship opportunity.”

“I’ve been around a while and I had never seen anything like that taken to this level in terms of a sponsorship, conveyance of the brand, the technology that’s gone on for customers and fans of NASCAR and how that conveys back into the company. It’s dramatically overexceeded my expectations.”  More at Kansas City Star

Comment
01/05/07
ga

Ganassi team announces Rolex lineup
Defending Grand American Team Champions and Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced today a two-car effort for the Rolex Sports Car Series’ 45th running of the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona, featuring six drivers representing some of the best talent the motor racing world has to offer. Scott Pruett, Juan Pablo Montoya and Salvador Duran will unite for the twice-round-the-clock classic to form the driver lineup in the No.01 TELMEX/Target Daytona Prototype, while the team’s IndyCar pilots Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon join Pruett’s new fulltime series teammate Memo Rojas in the No.02 Target/TELMEX Daytona Prototype.

“I think what you have is a lineup representative of what this team strives for each year, in each series– and that is contending for championships,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi of his Rolex Series entries. “Last year’s Daytona win was a big one for this team, and we think we have another great opportunity to duplicate that feat this year. We have, in the past, utilized drivers from other series to expand our Rolex 24 program, and Juan Pablo, Scott [Dixon], Dan and Salvador will complement our roster and provide us with another excellent chance of winning this race.”

The Ganassi roster is an impressive group of international motor racing championship talent representing two Indianapolis 500 titles (Montoya-2000 and Wheldon-2005), three open wheel Championships (Montoya-1999, Dixon-2003 and Wheldon-2005), and two Daytona Prototype Championships (Pruett-2004 and 2006).

Read more & Comment...
01/05/07
TV News

USA TV reminders for Saturday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

A1GP Netherlands
3:00am-5:00am (R) SPEED
NASCAR Angels
1:30pm-2:00pm ABC
Bodine Bobsled Challenge -NASCAR Drivers Lake Placid
2:00pm-4:00pm SPEED
Dakar Rally Highlights Lisbon to Dakar
3:00pm-3:30pm Versus
AMA Supercross Anaheim, CA
10:00pm-1:30am (L) SPEED

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

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01/05/07
nascar

BDR hires Andrew Randolph
Bill Davis Racing (BDR) announced today that Dr. Andrew L. Randolph has joined the organization to serve as the Engine Technical Director for BDR. Formerly a part of Hendrick Motorsports, Randolph will lead a development team that defines the engine architecture for the Toyota engines used in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

“Hendrick Motorsports is a great organization with talented people that will continue to compete for the series championship yearly.  However, joining Bill Davis Racing offers a unique and exciting opportunity to partner with a new manufacture (Toyota) and grow a championship-contending team,” stated Randolph.

Dr. Randolph received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University in 1985.  During a 22-year career at General Motors and in NASCAR, Dr. Randolph’s work has ranged from fundamental engine research to mass-production engine development and from Wankel rotaries to Pro Stock drag engines.  In the process he has become one of the world’s foremost authorities on combustion analysis.  He has contributed to five NASCAR Cup championships with three different teams. Dr. Randolph most recently served as Director of Engine Development for Hendrick Motorsports.

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01/05/07
nascar

Carter Crew Chief for No. 26
Roush Racing announced today Larry Carter will serve as the crew chief for Jamie McMurray and the No. 26 Crown Royal / IRWIN Industrial Tools team.  Carter, who has more than 12 years in the NASCAR industry, will lead the No. 26 team in the upcoming Nextel Cup season.

"It was a great opportunity when I first got the call from Jamie (McMurray)," Carter said.  "I know last year the No. 26 team had their struggles, but I think with the team we have assembled for next year, we'll have everything in place to have a good season.

"I'm looking forward to starting this season with Jamie.  Not only will I be working with Jamie, but with the other four crew chiefs here at Roush.  Being able to put five heads together is what makes Roush such a great team."

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01/05/07
a1gp

Business recognition for A1 Team China
A1 Team China’s seat holder, Mr. Liu Yu has been named one of the top 10 most influential businessmen in China by the country’s Smart Fortune magazine.

The award was presented in recognition of Mr. Liu’s significant contribution to developing the motorsport industry in China through his work with A1GP World Cup of Motorsport and close cooperation with the Federation of Automobile Sports of China (FASC). His investment in A1 Team China and the two Chinese A1GP events in Beijing and Shanghai has led to substantial growth in support for A1GP and motorsport in China.

Major Chinese corporations including Sinopec, Air China, Citic Bank and Huatai Insurance have seized the opportunity to support both team and event, using the opportunity to build brand awareness on a global stage. The recent A1GP Beijing, China was the city’s first street race and the support it received from fans and sponsors clearly demonstrated the appetite for A1GP in the world’s fastest growing market.

A1 Team China is the country’s first national motorsport team and gives China its first opportunity to be represented within international motorsport. In recognition, the FASC named A1 Team China ‘The Best Performing Racing Team in China, 2006’ and nominated Mr. Liu as Deputy Chairman of the organization.

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01/05/07
f1

Upcoming F1 test dates
January 16-19 Jerez Renault, Williams
January 17-19 Valencia BMW Sauber
January 30-February 1 Valencia Renault, BMW Sauber, RBR, Williams
February 6-8 Jerez Renault, BMW Sauber, RBR, Williams
February 12-14 Barcelona Renault, BMW Sauber, RBR, Williams
February 20-22 Valencia Williams
February 22-24 Bahrain Renault
February 27-March 1 Bahrain Renault
February 27-March 1 Barcelona Williams

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01/05/07
nascar

Penske drivers test
Penske Racing Team Drivers #12-Ryan Newman and #2-Kurt Busch tested Thursday at the Nashville Superspeedway. The 1.33-mile "D"-shaped concrete oval was used for testing Newman's #12 Dodge Cup Car and Busch's #2 Dodge Cup Car. The test was rained out at approximately 3:15. Testing will not resume tomorrow. The test was closed to all media and fans. Nashville Superspeedway PR

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01/05/07
arca

Dan Shaver dies
Dan Shaver, 56, ARCA/Busch Series driver and team owner, died Tuesday Jan. 2 at his home after a battle with cancer. A lifelong resident of Charlotte, he was a graduate of South Mecklenburg High School, attended Central Piedmont Community College and served in the US Army Reserve. An exceptionally successful entrepreneur, he left a Texaco distributor in 1979 to start his own petroleum wholesale firm, Carolina Petroleum Distributors. Shaver established Shaver Motorsports in 1992, and drove in the IMSA, SCCA, ARCA RE/MAX Series and NASCAR Dash and Busch Series. In SCCA and IMSA competition, Shaver recorded 23 victories. In 17 ARCA RE/MAX Series starts his best finish was 9th at Michigan. Shaver also made two Busch Series starts in 2002 for Jay Robinson with a best finish of 38th at Chicago. Shaver Motorsports also formed divisions focusing on engine building and driver development. As a team owner, Shaver´s drivers included Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Todd Bodine, Justin Marks, Jeff Buice and Ron Cox. Dan Shaver is survived by his wife Donna and two children. On-line memorials and tributes may be made at www.mem.com. In honoring Dan's wishes, funeral services will be private. Contributions can be made to the Dan Shaver Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 240606, Charlotte NC 28224 or to Hospice and Palliative Care, Charlotte Region, 1420 E 7th St., Charlotte NC 28204. ARCARacing.com

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01/05/07
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
'Paradise awaits' for Kimi - Jean Alesi
Renault release new logo for F1 team
BMW opt against second wind tunnel
Briatore denies Italian football club bid
Theissen warns against sale of customer cars
Todt given new French honor
Verstappen drives Tyrrell in Holland
Toro Rosso's Berger denies pay-driver plan
Alonso spends a week with his new team
Schu chose 'perfect moment' to quit - Alesi

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