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Briatore: “Mosley is reaping what he sowed”  UPDATE Correction, Briatore's girlfriend is expecting his 2nd child not first.  Model Heidi Klum dated Flavio Briatore starting in 2002. In the autumn of 2003, Klum announced she was pregnant by Briatore. The same day she made this announcement, Briatore was photographed kissing Fiona Swarovski, a jewelry heiress. Klum and Briatore split shortly thereafter.

Klum gave birth to her first child, Helene "Leni" Boshoven Klum (now Samuel) on May 4, 2004 in New York City, New York. According to Klum, Briatore, Leni's biological father, is not involved in the child's life; she has stated emphatically that "Seal is Leni's father."

In early 2004, while still pregnant, Klum began a relationship with musician Seal. Klum and Seal married on May 10, 2005, on a beach in Mexico. They have three biological children together: sons Henry Gunther Ademola Dashtu Samuel (born September 15, 2005) and Johan Riley Fyodor Taiwo Samuel (born November 22, 2006) and daughter Lou Sulola Samuel (born October 9, 2009). In 2009, Seal officially adopted Leni, and her last name was changed to Samuel.

Flavio Briatore says he was not involved in cheating scandal
01/06/10 Flavio Briatore has been hitting the airwaves in a limited way over the last 24 hours, after his victory over the FIA in the Tribunale de Grande Instance in Paris, which overturned the lifetime ban imposed by the FIA World Motor Sport Council last September. He spoke about his feelings on former FIA president Max Mosley’s role in his ban and he said point blank that he was not involved in the crash fixing scandal which rocked the sport last season.

In a telephone interview on Italian TV station RAI, he spoke more openly about Max Mosley than he has so far elsewhere,

“Will I come back to F1? At the moment I’m only interested in Formula Bambino (his first child, a boy, is due in three months),” he said.

“I’m much more tranquil now, the harm that the decision of the FIA did to me was great, the harm Mosley did very great indeed.” More ...

Kia Unveils Seven Advanced Automotive Technologies at 2010 CES   Kia Motors showcased seven new and advanced infotainment technologies, including the all-new 'UVO' system co-developed with Microsoft at the International Consumer Electronics Show. The all-new UVO (short for 'Your Voice') system that will appear in future Kia vehicles provides voice and hand-activated experiences for simple management of music files and hands-free communications. Kia's new breakthrough TV technology will enable live digital television channels to be watched on in-car entertainment systems for the first time.  See video on our home page for more details.
Sorenson gets Nationwide seat  Braun Racing announced the 2010 driver line-up for the #32 Dollar General Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Brian Vickers and Reed Sorenson will share time at the helm of the #32 Dollar General Toyota. Crew chief Trent Owens will return for his sixth year at Braun Racing to lead the Dollar General team. Vickers, 26, returns to Braun Racing for his fourth consecutive season. Sorenson joined Braun Racing in 2009, driving the #32 Dollar General entry at Gateway. His stellar performance earned his return to the seat at Phoenix International Raceway, in addition to three starts in the #10 Braun Racing Camry. Vickers will run at least 10 races and Sorenson will run 23, with two races (Montreal and Road America) to be determined. Braun Racing PR
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing ready for Roar Before The 24  Two-time reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and drivers Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Jimmy Vasser will kick off their 2010 racing season this weekend at the Roar Before The Rolex 24 Test Days At Daytona International Speedway, Jan. 8 – 10, in full preparation for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona at the end of this month.

GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty won the 2009 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championships and the team now has its sights set firmly on a victory in America’s premier endurance race.  GAINSCO has won two of the last three GRAND-AM Rolex Series Championships but is still looking for its first Rolex 24 victory after coming close in recent years. The 48th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona will be held Jan. 30 – 31 with the majority of the day-long race on the 3.65-mile Daytona International Speedway road course airing live on SPEED. More ...
British F3
British F3 2010 Calendar  Twin visits to the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit and races at the European Grand Prix tracks of Magny-Cours, Hockenheim and Spa-Francorchamps, as well as a return to Britain's fastest track, Thruxton, are among the highlights of the provisional calendar for the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series, announced today.

The schedule for Britain's premier single-seater championship - which in 2010 expands to 30 races, with three races planned for each of its 10 meetings - is set to underline its status as the world's leading training ground for the Grand Prix stars of the future.

"The proposed calendar is the best that the championship has ever enjoyed," said Bernadette Fitzsimons, General Manager SRO Motorsports Group. "We are particularly pleased that both our visits to Silverstone will be on the Grand Prix circuit and that 50 per cent of the races will take place on full Grand Prix circuits. It's great also to be returning to Thruxton after a year's absence - it's a favorite for teams and drivers, as well as for spectators." More ...

A $290,000 speeding ticket  The man was reportedly caught driving a red Ferrari Testarossa at 137km/h (85mph) through a village.

The penalty was calculated based on the unnamed motorist's wealth - assessed by the court as $22.7m (£14.1m) - and because he was a repeat offender.

It is more than double Switzerland's previous record speeding fine - handed to a Porsche driver in Zurich in 2008.

In the latest case, the motorist was clocked speeding 57km/h (35mph) faster than the limit, according to a statement on the website of the cantonal court in St Gallen, in eastern Switzerland. BBC

"The accused ignored elementary traffic rules with a powerful vehicle out of a pure desire for speed," the court said in its judgment.

Swiss media reported that the man owns a villa with five luxury cars, including the Ferrari.

IZOD IndyCars get a reverse gear  The IZOD IndyCar Series is moving forward by shifting into reverse.

A reverse gear supplied by promotional partner Xtrac will be incorporated in cars for the nine road and street course races this season, which kicks off March 14 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and be available to drivers in need through the paddle shift system.

So say Dario Franchitti is challenging for position and goes into Turn 1 on the St. Petersburg (Fla.) circuit too hot and spins. Now he potentially could back up a bit and be on his way without losing much time to the field.

"I think it's a great idea," said the reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion, who has joined Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe at chilly Homestead-Miami Speedway for two days of Firestone Racing tire testing. "Hopefully, it will cut down on full-course yellows and it will take some pressure off the safety team, too."

Drivers will retain six forward gears. The kit won't be applied for the eight oval events.

"We've been making updates every year (changing gear size, adding the paddle shift system) and it just happened to be the right time to put the gear in the car," said Kevin Blanch, the IZOD IndyCar Series technical director. "It doesn't make any of the parts obsolete; you just add the new kit. It's on the drop gear side, so when the crew is making gear changes it doesn't interfere. It just stays in the car the whole time. indycar.com

NASCAR Angels fans says Carl Edwards - in the closet?  Debra Yocum's 1997 Dodge van sat in front of her mobile home about a year ago, not running, and storing items for the volunteer group she operates...Then the "NASCAR Angels" came to town.

Officials with the syndicated TV show pledged to replace the engine, spruce up the interior, throw on new tires and fix assorted problems to get the van back on the road. A year later, the van is sitting in front her mobile home, not running, and storing items for the volunteer group.

''But it has some really cool tires," she said. More ...

Manning to run Rolex 24  
Darren Manning
Izod IndyCar Series veteran Darren Manning joins an already talented and diverse driver lineup as Spirit of Daytona Racing heads back out on their home track at Daytona International Speedway for this weekend's Roar Before the Rolex 24. The team is confident about its chances for a
victory in this year's Jan. 30-31 Rolex 24 endurance classic.

While all four of the Spirit of Daytona drivers come from different backgrounds and racing series, all do have one thing in common - their proven success on the racetrack. 2010's full-time drivers, Buddy Rice and Antonio Garcia, were brought on board with Spirit of Daytona mid-season in 2009, following their unforgettable Rolex 24 victory with Brumos Racing last January. The duo has compiled an impressive list of other victories, with Rice's Indy 500 win and Garcia's 24 Hour of Le Mans back-to-back wins topping that list. More ...
Volvo Rolls out another all electric ride  Volvo is bringing another battery-powered electric C30 to the Detroit auto show in January.

This one grabs the baton from an earlier prototype shown at the Frankfurt show in September, which was drivable. The Detroit show car, however, adds a full interior with instrumentation and enhanced battery packaging.

Volvo says it plans to make a test fleet of 50 battery-powered C30s for a two-year trial starting in 2011.

The electric C30 will seat four, just as the conventional car does, and the biggest change is in the interior. The instrument panel shows only the road speed and energy consumption, and there's a new gauge for the status of the battery charge.

The car has no gears, and full power is available immediately. The lithium-ion batteries can be charged in a household socket or at roadside station; a full charge takes eight hours.

Top speed is about 81 mph with a fully charged battery pack, and acceleration to 60 mph is accomplished in 10.5 seconds. The range is 93 miles, which Volvo says covers the daily driving for 90 percent of European motorists. The batteries weigh 617 pounds.  A picture of electric Volvo C30Volvo The electric Volvo C30 requires eight hours for a full charge.

“The first prototype helped us identify the main technological challenges, such as battery packaging and safety issues,” Lennart Stegland, Volvo special vehicles director, said in a statement.

“We have addressed these challenges without compromising the C30's personality. I am very happy with the result. The electric C30 in Detroit is a much more complete product.” autoweek.com

Brawn sure of Michael's pace  
Ross Brawn
Ross Brawn has no doubt whether Michael Schumacher will be at the front of the grid even after returning to Formula 1 after three years of retirement. After Schumacher clinched his first win for Benetton at the 1992 Belgian Grand Prix, Technical Director Brawn followed in the footsteps of the then double Champion by joining Ferrari at the end of 1996, and knows Schumacher as well as anyone, and is confident that he is still at the top of the sport's list of the best.

"I have no doubts that the talent and the ability are still there...You see little flashes of it when he takes part in competitions like the Race of Champions and karting races; they are not an absolute measure but always the same guys win in them that win in F1. The guys that Schumacher beat in those events says a lot."

"We saw last year, when he had the opportunity to drive for Ferrari, that it re-lit the passion; I asked him whether he really wanted to do it and he said that he did."

Coons top Midget Driver of the Decade 2000-09  The decade of 2000-09, saw many memorable events take place for midget auto racing, as 2,058 feature races were held during the ten-year period. Since the 1999 season, The National Midget Driver of the Year Championship has determined the sport's top driver, scoring all events nationwide.

Jerry Coons Jr. accumulated the most NMDOTY points and feature victories during the decade to receive the honor as the sport's top driver of the decade. Coons, started 282 features during the decade winning 56 times for a winning percentage of nearly 20%. Coon's also captured major victories in the Belleville Midget Nationals (twice), Knoxville Midget Nationals, and Pepsi-Fireman's Nationals. Coons also won the 2007 NMDOTY Championship and the 2006 & '07 USAC National Midget Crown. More ...

Q&A with HPD Technical Division Manager, Roger Griffiths  
1. What is Honda's preferred engine direction in the new IndyCar specifications? What horsepower levels?

We will design a V-6 engine and horsepower is difficult to say, but we are targeting a 225 mph average lap speed at Indianapolis. With the information we have been given, we will require somewhere around 575 hp. We hope to have more hp available for road-course racing, subject, of course, to IZOD IndyCar Series approval.

2. Did the IndyCar muffler contribute to the instability of cars in traffic? Any thoughts of removing it next season?

We have no plans to remove it. We have not received any reports from race teams regarding any instability in traffic. Our initial testing of the muffler in 2008 showed very little change to the aerodynamic performance of the car.

3. If the fuel-mixture switch has, say, six settings, why not make #4 the max the engine can do, and then have P2P (push-to-pass) be the equivalent of #6?

Anything is possible. Right now, we are in discussion with the IZOD IndyCar Series to remove the fuel-mixture switch from the car completely. This would make the driver responsible for controlling the amount of fuel consumed with his or her right foot. If we do that, we will adjust the standard engine setting to make the P2P more effective.
NASCAR Recognizes Senior Management Team  NASCAR announced promotions of key members of its executive team. The following were elevated to Senior Vice President: Steve Phelps, Steve O'Donnell, Gary Crotty and Todd Wilson. "These promotions are the reflection of a management team that prepared NASCAR to successfully anticipate and meet challenges in recent years and position it for the future," said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. "I am extremely proud of what this team has accomplished in these times and I'm confident we are in a strong position to succeed as an industry going forward." Phelps, O'Donnell, Crotty and Wilson along with Senior Vice President Paul Brooks, who also serves as President of NASCAR Media Group, and NASCAR President Mike Helton make up NASCAR's key management team overseeing every aspect of the business reporting to France.  More ...
V8s pull out of Queensland Raceway round  V8 Supercars Australia will not race at the Queensland Raceway this year after negotiations with the track's management broke down. V8 Supercars say the administrators of the facility at Ipswich just south of Brisbane had made "unfeasible demands" for the hire of the track. Among the issues relating to the breakdown in talks was an apparent "near record" hire fee for the venue and the track management wanting V8 Supercars to obtain the costly CAMS license to host an event. More ...
Irvine: Button 'will get murdered' by Hamilton in 2010  
Consensus seems to be that Button won't be able to challenge Hamilton
Jenson Button's decision to jump ship from the safe and familiar surroundings in which he swept to F1 World Championship glory in 2009 to join compatriot and title-winning predecessor Lewis Hamilton at McLaren-Mercedes this year is one he will come to regret, reckons Michael Schumacher's former team-mate Eddie Irvine.

“Jenson has entered the lion's den,” mused the Irishman – who triumphed in four grands prix himself for Ferrari in 1999 – speaking to ESPN. “It was madness of him to move. He thinks he's going to be able to eat his steak, and that's not going to be the case – I think he's going to get murdered! More ...

FAZZT team to unveil livery  Racecar driver Alex Tagliani, Team Principals André Azzi and Jim Freudenberg, of the new IndyCar Series FAZZT Race Team will unveil Alex Tagliani's 2010 car livery Thursday, January 14, 2010 at the Montreal International Auto Show
Robby & Team Hummer in 4th at Dakar  Team Hummer carried the momentum from yesterday’s stage win into today’s performance. Robby Gordon finished fourth, just 4 minutes and 48 seconds behind the winner Mark Miller. Gordon jumps to fourth place overall, only trailing Carlos Sainz by 59 minutes and 55 seconds. As Gordon suspected, most competitors struggled during Stage 5 from Copiapo to Antofagasta, one of the longest stages during the 2010 Dakar Rally. Despite the tough terrain and length of the stage, Gordon proved once again that his Monster Energy / Toyo Tires Hummer is reliable and fast across the Chilean desert. “We had an interesting day today. Since we were the first car on the road due to yesterday’s stage win, we made the trail. Unfortunately, we got stuck once in a ditch as we were making our way, costing us about six minutes. Things were going along good and then we had an overheating issue near the end of the special. Stopping to replace the belt cost us about couple of minutes. Had it not been for these errors, I think that we could have won the special by about four minutes. Regardless, we had a good day and are now within the hour mark and have our sights set on Carlos. Unfortunately, we messed up on the third day by missing a check point. It has been a good rally for us and the Monster Energy / Toyo Tires Hummer. There is still a long way to go both in the Rally and competing for the overall win,” commented Robby Gordon. For Stage 6, the teams will head north up the Chilean coast to Iquique from Antofagasta. There will be a 90km liaison with a special featuring 483km and finally another 97km liaison back to the bivouac in Iquique, Chile. RGM PR
track news
Donington owner vows to revive circuit  UPDATE See related story.

01/06/10 (GMM)  The son of the late Tom Wheatcroft has vowed to get Donington Park back up and running.

The track became unusable when works to get it ready to host the 2010 British grand prix stopped when the leaseholder and promoter Simon Gillett's company failed to secure sufficient funding.

Gillett's company has now collapsed, with the operation of the circuit returning to the Wheatcroft family.  Tom Wheatcroft died at the end of October.

"I can reassure people we are doing everything we can to get things back to normal at Donington Park," Kevin Wheatcroft, Tom Wheatcroft's son, told the Derby Telegraph.

He explained that some parts of the circuit have already been reopened, including the museum, cafe and race control office. More ...

Tony Dowe joins Godstone Ranch team  Godstone Ranch Motorsports and the Texas Heart Institute took another big step today in preparation for its attack on the 48th Rolex 24 by signing racing icon Tony Dowe as engineer and strategist for the team’s #07 Godstone Ranch Motorsports / Team MBR / LRPG / Corvette C6.R.  Dowe’s addition to the team solidifies the group’s already world-class lineup and is just one more reason why it has quickly become an industry and fan favorite for the victory this January 30 – 31st. 

Considered by many to be one of the most brilliants minds in racing, Dowe brings a wealth of motorsports experience to the team and several 24 hour victories under his belt.  Among many other career highlights, Dowe led the Newman-Haas Racing team and Mario Andretti to an IndyCar championship in 1984 as a Team Manager. He has won the GTP class in the Rolex 24 three times including two overall victories. Godstone Ranch Motorsport’s driver Davy Jones was on the winning overall lineup in 1990 and won in GTP in 1992. Dowe’s Jaguar also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1990. He become the Operations Director for the Ligier F1 in 1994 and then moved on to Arrows F1 as the Operations Manager. He has led and developed various additional motorsports projects in North America and will now lead Jones, Paul Edwards, Scott Russell and John McCutchen as they compete for victory in their brand new 2010 Corvette C6.R.  More ...

World's press considers defeat of crashgate bans  (GMM)  The Italian press saw Flavio Briatore's victory in the French courts this week as a shot at the heart of the FIA.

"The governing mechanisms of the FIA have been de-facto suspended, and Mosley's revenge strategy recognized," wrote the authoritative sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Tuttosport, another sports newspaper, said the verdict to overturn Briatore's lifetime ban for the so-called crashgate scandal "proves" that "Mosley wanted revenge".

"He (Briatore) has regained his dignity," it added.  "Briatore is no longer a man impacted by a devastating verdict as a result of perverse accusations." More ...

ALMS gets a new slogan and logo  
The American Le Mans Series was green before green was cool, so it has decided to make it official. In 2010, the world’s leading sports car series will use its Global Leader Green Racing mark as its primary logo. Style and usage guidelines were developed and issued to teams and corporate partners over the holidays. The image is available in this email.

The Series, known worldwide for its on-track innovation and technology transfers to consumer vehicles, became the first motorsports series in the world to switch to multiple, consumer-relevant alternative fuels in 2007. A year earlier, Audi provided the impetus with the launch of its R10 TDI diesel-powered race car that won the Series’ LMP1 championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans each season from 2006-08. In 2007, the Series introduced an E10 ethanol blend and a year later, an E85 fuel blended with second-generation, non food chain-based cellulosic ethanol. The 2009 season saw the introduction of Corsa Motorsports’ Ginetta-Zytek E10 -electric hybrid powertrain as well as Mazda’s test of bio-butanol on a non-classified race entry for Dyson Racing. More ...

Fisher invites Ellen to Indianapolis 500  Sarah Fisher wants day-time talk show host Ellen DeGeneres to be her guest at the Indianapolis 500 and is taking a unique approach to invite her, via the social networking site Twitter.

Fisher, the only female owner/driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series, has started a twitter account, @ellen2Indy500, and invited race fans to support her grassroots campaign to get DeGeneres to come to the 2010 Indianapolis 500. More ...

Wheldon takes on bobsleds  IZOD IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon will be among the racing stars attending the Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge - an annual event hosted by the former NASCAR star to raise money for the USA Olympic Bobsled team.

While there are no scheduled plans for the 2005 IZOD IndyCar Series champion to race a bobsled, the thought is that his natural competitive fire combined with some good ole fashioned peer pressure from his friend in the National Guard could sway the Panther Racing driver into making a run in a sled.

"I'm really excited about it," Wheldon said. "It's certainly a form of racing that I'm not terribly familiar with, but I'm sure we're going to learn a lot this weekend with our friends from the National Guard." More ...

Howard gets back on the track  Jay Howard, the 2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion who will compete in four IZOD IndyCar Series races this season for Sarah Fisher Racing with backing from Tire Kingdom, will be back in a go-kart for the CKI Florida Cup at the circuit adjacent to Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Round 1 of the Florida Cup is scheduled for Jan. 29-31. The others are in February and March. He'll compete in the Rotax Senior Division at the Florida Cup in addition to select WSK North American Series events. More ...

Firestone test at Homestead-Miami signals start of  2010  The sounds of IZOD IndyCar Series cars returned to South Florida as Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske participated in the first day of the first Firestone tire test of the 2010 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The two-day test features reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti and Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe. Though it was 40 degrees cooler than it was the last time the drivers toured the Homestead-Miami Speedway 's 1.5 oval, everyone seemed excited to get back on track and get to work.

Franchitti said he's enjoyed the off-season (only two visits to the shop in Indianapolis), which included the wedding of his brother, Marino, to Holly Mason (daughter of Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason). More ...

Sainz takes overall lead in Dakar Rally  Carlos Sainz took the overall lead in the Dakar Rally as Volkswagen swept the podium in the fifth stage on Wednesday.  American Mark Miller won the grueling stretch across the Atacama Desert from Copiapo north to Antofagasta, Sainz finished 2 minutes, 10 seconds behind, and Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah was third.

Sainz leads Al-Attiyah by 4:37 overall, and Miller is 9:39 off the pace in third.  Stephane Peterhansel, the overall leader going into the stage, stalled at least twice and finished 2 hours, 14:35 minutes behind Miller.

In motorbikes, Chilean Contardo Lopez won the stage and Cyril Despres was 1:30 behind, allowing the Frenchman to extend his overall lead to 37:37 on Lopez.

Alex Job Racing to attack to Rolex 24  Alex Job Racing is set for the 48th running of the Grand-Am Rolex Series 24 Hours At Daytona.  The 1999 Rolex 24 Hour winning team will field the No. 23 Foametix/Battery Tender/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 997 GT3 Cup racer for drivers Mitch Pagerey, Claudio Burtin, Jack Baldwin, Dominik Farnbacher and Martin Ragginger.

The team from nearby Tavares, just north of Orlando, considers the Daytona International Speedway road course home turf.  The red-white-and-blue crew will field their classic No. 23 in the quest to win their fourth 24 Hour title.  Alex Job Racing has 15 Daytona 24 hour races to their credit.  Their 24 hour wins include two at Le Mans in GT (2003, 2005) as well as the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona in GT3 in 1999.

This year's driver line-up features a mix of driver resumes that promise to have the team competitive come the January 30th, 3:30 p.m. drop of the green flag.

Mitch Pagerey (Deerfield, FL) will make his first Rolex 24 Hour start.  Pagerey ran last season in the Patr¢n GT3 Challenge in an Alex Job Racing prepared Porsche GT3 Cup car.  The Floridian finished third in the Patr¢n series in 2009 on the strength of a win at Mosport, complimented by seven podiums and 11 top five finishes.

Claudio Burtin (Atlanta, GA) has been racing sports cars since 1982.  In 1998 Claudio was the SCCA South East GT Champion.  He has 35 starts in the SCCA Trans-Am series with a fourth-place finish in Long Beach driving a 2000 Ford Mustang.  Burtin has also been driving for Woodhouse Racing Viper in the SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge GT Series.

Jack Baldwin (Marietta, GA) is a seasoned road racing veteran and 1992 Trans-Am champion.  Baldwin brings a strong endurance background to the team.  Not only is Baldwin a veteran of 20 Rolex 24 hour races, but also spent time on the high-banks in an IROC car in 1993 and 1994.

Dominik Farnbacher (Ansbach, Germany) brings a wealth of Porsche seat time and a Rolex 24 Hour win to the team.  The young German won the GT Class in 2005 behind the wheel of a Porsche.  Farnbacher returns to Alex Job Racing where he once raced with the team at Petit Le Mans in the American Le Mans Series.  For the past three years Farnbacher has raced in the GT2 class of the American Le Mans Series.

Martin Ragginger (Stuttgart, Germany) is a Porsche factory driver who has spent the last three years racing in the ultra-competitive Porsche Cup Series in Germany.  In that series Ragginger has two wins, seven podiums and four pole positions.  In his second Rolex 24 Hour start last year he was partnered with Burtin and Baldwin.

"The Rolex 24 Hour holds a special place in my racing heart," Alex Job, team owner said.  "I have been coming here since 1976, in those days I was a driver and then as a team owner.  We have had our good runs and our not so good runs, but the challenge is what keeps us coming back."

"Our driver line-up this year is a great mix of a newcomer, veterans and young guns.  We will use this weekend's test to get the guys acclimated to the car, our system and the competition.  This will be an opportunity to get them as much track time as possible.  When the race weekend comes, track time is usually pretty scarce with the increased grid size and preparation for the race.  We are glad to be back and will be ready to have a great month."

The team will take to the track this weekend for the Roar Before the 24 in preparation for the January 30-31 running of the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona.

Formed in 1988, Alex Job Racing is considered one of the top teams in sports car racing.  AJR has captured four driver's championships and three team championships in their 20 year history. (press release)
Reaction to Briatore 'win' mixed  ESPNF1 spoke to F1 expert and former team manager Tony Jardine, former driver Eddie Irvine and renowned F1 author Alan Henry about their views on Flavio Briatore's court appeal win over his FIA ban for crashgate.

"The ruling is not what I expected and I am very disappointed," said Jardine. "I was hoping we had seen the back of this. I think it's alarming that a civil court has set a precedent of interfering in what is purely a sporting matter."

Eddie Irvine takes the opposite view, "I'm actually glad the court has overturned Flavio's ban, because I thought a lifetime ban from the sport was over the top. Max Mosley is a clever guy and he was running F1 like it was his private property. I think it was much more of a personal issue than people think." More ...

Sainz take the lead in Dakar Rally  Stephane Peterhansel was delayed on stage five, passing the lead to Carlos Sainz took the lead today in the Dakar Rally.

Peterhansel, with nine wins in the Dakar, led for the last two days, but had to stop twice during today’s' leg with mechanical issues on his X-raid BMW.

With his trademark consistency, Sainz to moved up to first in the overall standings, trailing his VW teammate Miller, who won the stage going away, though Sainz was managing to close the gap for a time.

Sainz, Petehansel and Miller hold the top three positions with VW the commanding manufacturer.

Robby Gordon is making a solid challenge as well, after a slow start to the rally, and really seems to be finding his speed now, which should make for an exciting class finish.

Toyota Set To Field Star-Studded Line-Up for Chili Bowl Nationals  A pair of previous Chili Bowl winners and five USAC champions headline a powerful 14-car Toyota line-up for the 24th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Raceway, January 12-16.

Leading the way are two recent Chili Bowl title holders in 2006 champion Tim McCreadie and 2005 winner Tracy Hines, each of who will be part of a power-house four-car entry from Wilke-Pak Racing.  They will be joined by a pair of USAC Triple Crown winners, Jerry Coons, Jr. and Dave Darland.  Coons became the first-ever Toyota-powered driver to win a USAC series championship when he won the Silver Crown title in 2008 and he won both the 2006 and 2007 USAC Midget Series titles.  Darland joins Coons as one of just five Triple Crown winners and earned Toyota’s best-ever Chili Bowl finish with a second in the 2008 event. More ...
IRL Cars and Tracks to Be Part of Gran Turismo 5  Sony’s long awaited flagship driving title for the Playstation 3, Gran Turismo 5 is reportedly going to have Dallaras and IndyCar tracks. This goes along with the WRC and NASCAR sanctions that are already signed up to be part of this behemoth title when it comes out.

This news comes from VirtualR.net, a website devoted to sim racing. Their report claims that the next issue of Playstation Magazine has a huge feature on GT5, including the ‘revelation’ about IndyCar being included in the game.

This continues an interesting relationship that Polyphony Digital (GT5’s developer) started with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when they announced that IMS would be playable in their title, but at the time they trumpeted only NASCAR. Last month, GT5 released a demo of their game including a couple of cars and the original road course layout for IMS. Along with the demo they started a competition which will see the person setting the fastest lap time awarded with an all expense paid VIP experience at the 2010 Indy 500. More ...

Declining NASCAR rents out space to bring in some bucks  [Editor's Note: NASCAR's declining popularity is now forcing them to rent out space in one of their facilities to try to bring in some cash...]

The NASCAR Media Group is developing previously untapped sources of revenue from its new $43 million facility within the downtown Charlotte NASCAR Plaza.

NASCAR Media Group, NASCAR's production arm that creates all forms of content and manages broadcast agreements, has four floors of studio and production space and an almost limitless supply of digital archive capabilities in its part of the new building, which also houses the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Only a fraction of the studio and production space is being used as NASCAR Media Group settles in, so it's beginning to market those ancillary services to potential clients, in and out of motorsports. More ...

Wallace plans on hold  Nationwide Series competitor Kenny Wallace says the NASCAR offseason goes one of two ways for drivers. If a driver is in the middle of a contract, it’s vacation time.

But if a driver’s future is uncertain, it can be a stressful time. And this year, Wallace is facing the stress. His Jay Robinson Racing team has yet to secure sponsorship for 2010, leaving Wallace’s driving future up in the air.

“For the times in my career where I’ve had two- or three-year contracts signed, it’s just lovely,” Wallace said recently. “The wintertime is just like Christmas vacation. Now, when you don’t have things signed, you spend the winter trying to gear up for next year, trying to find sponsorship, trying to figure out what’s going to happen, it’s a really long winter.”

Wallace is in St. Louis this week, visiting family and friends like he’s done for many years. It’s been a busy offseason for him, juggling time searching for sponsorship with time spent opening Christmas presents.

He said he’s spent more than $2,000 of his own money on marketing materials to try to get sponsors.

“I am not lying, I am not exaggerating, I’ve always got my own sponsors,” Wallace said, “and this is the hardest time I’ve ever had in my career.”

But to know Wallace is to know that he doesn’t spend time crying over his future. His offseason included a cruise with about 100 of his family and friends, a tradition he’s had for 18 years.

Wallace and his family, wife Kim and daughters Brooke, Brandy and Brittany, began cruising with older brother Rusty many years ago. It developed into a “Kenny Cruise” that now includes a handful of fans, too.

This year’s cruise, Dec. 6 to Dec. 12, included stops in Belize and Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico. Wallace said the cruise is mostly for Kim, but he clearly enjoys it, too.

“When you go on the cruise, it feels like the year 2009,” Wallace said. “When you get off the cruise, it feels like a new year because you’ve been gone for a while.”

The “new year” also includes Christmas, which starts on Christmas Eve at his parents’ house. But that’s just the start.

Once he’s at home, Wallace carries on a different take of Santa Claus. And he’s been doing it for 23 years.

“I take the cover for the fireplace, and I put it on the carpet like Santa Claus knocked it over,” Wallace said. “Then I have the wrought-iron gate where we put logs, and scatter them all around. Then I grab some red felt like Santa Claus ripped his suit. Then I take some milk and cookies and I make it look like it’s all been eaten.

“Then on Christmas morning, the girls are hollering, ‘Come on, Dad.’ And every Christmas morning I go, ‘Oh, my God. What did Santa do?’”

His three girls, now all over 18, still love it. And Wallace and his wife love being the glue of the entire Wallace clan.

“Our house is kind of like the Waltons,” Wallace said. “We’re the ones who try to keep the Wallace family together. We hold Thanksgiving, we’re the ones who has the double oven and the big refrigerator. I’m kind of a sensitive guy: I like for everybody to love everybody.”

He’d like to have some sponsorship, too, to make it a truly happy New Year.
Front Row Motorsports announces 2010 plans  Front Row Motorsports announced today it will continue its growth by adding an additional full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup program in 2010.  The teams will be the newest members of Ford Racing and receive engines from Roush/Yates Racing Engines and technical support from Ford Racing.

"We're pleased to have Front Row Motorsports switching to Ford for the 2010 season," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford North America Motorsports.  "We have said all along that we wanted to add additional teams to our program, and are pleased Front Row will transition to Ford cars, engines and technology support in 2010.  We welcome Front Row to the Ford family and will do all we can to assist them, and look forward to a long and mutually-beneficial relationship."

The team also confirmed that Travis Kvapil will pilot the Long John Silver's Ford and Kevin Conway, who will compete for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors, will drive a second full-time entry in the Sprint Cup Series with sponsorship to be announced in the coming weeks.  Both teams will make their debut at the Daytona 500 in February. More ...
F2 car undergoing significant 2010 upgrades  As the 2010 season approaches the Williams JPH1 F2 car is undergoing significant upgrades in order to enhance performance, reliability and overtaking. The car will be designated the JPH1B and these advances are highlighted below. The official F2 website is set to focus on each update in more detail over the coming weeks...

Williams F1 is currently undertaking an aerodynamic development program, using CFD technology, with the objective of improving aerodynamic efficiency by 15% and being able to generate 20% more downforce. The aerodynamic upgrades will focus too on increasing the ability of the F2 cars to follow closely, promoting overtaking.

The 2010 aerodynamic package will provide F2 drivers and engineers with a broader range of downforce levels to work with, facilitating greater set up optimization across the nine circuits F2 will visit. More ...

Ford signs Ken Block for variety of racing events  
Ken Block
Ford Motor Company announced today that it is teaming up with Ken Block, the California-based action sports icon-turned-rally driver, for future global motorsports opportunities.

Block, the 2005 Rally America Rookie of the Year and a three-time medalist at X Games, has cultivated a tremendous following with his Gymkhana videos on YouTube.  In 2010, Block will campaign a Ford Focus in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and a Ford Fiesta in Rally America and X Games.

"I am stoked to be rallying in a Ford. They are an impressive force in the sport," said Ken Block. "From the days of the 1970s Escorts to the Group B RS200 to the modern-day Focus and now the Fiesta, Ford just does an excellent job at rally and I couldn't be happier to now be part of this amazing heritage. Not to mention my dad would be proud. He was a dedicated Ford guy." More ...
Dakar Stage 5: Copiapo - Antofagasta  668 km are on the menu of stage 5, of which 483 km against the clock, i.e. the second longest special stage of this 32nd edition of the Dakar. On the agenda are the foothills of the Atacama Desert that will offer contenders a varied route alternating between fast sections and boulder sections with e.g. the crossing of two very "rocky" off-road sections and the discovery of the Chilean fesh-fesh - a particularly soft terrain that feels almost like flour. Riders and drivers are in for a long day and their main aim will be to spare themselves and their machines in this first "truly long" endurance-focused special stage of the 32nd Dakar. More ...
Dakar Day 4: Video Highlights  
Gordon wins Dakar Rally fourth stage cars category  American Robby Gordon captured the fourth stage in cars category at the Dakar Rally on Tuesday.

Gordon completed the 163km stage from Fiambala in northern Argentina to Copiapo in Chile in his hummer in one hour 40 minutes and 21 seconds. BMW's Stephane Peterhansel of France came second one second behind but stands atop the overall standings.

Qatari ace Nasser Al-Attiyah was third at 2:25.

KTM rider Marc Coma won the fourth stage of the motorcycling category after coming in 2:04 ahead of Frenchman David Casteu of Sherco.

Another Frenchman, Cyril Despres of KTM, who was third on the day 3:14 off the pace, retained his overall lead.

Sauber launch date set  On January 31st, the Sunday before the official start of testing for the Formula One season 2010, the BMW Sauber team will present their new F1 car Valencia, Spain. Team principal Peter Sauber, Technical Director Willy Rampf and will be in attendance. 

By then, a teammate for Kamui Kobayashi will be confirmed and available for interviews with the media at the permanent Ricardo Tormo circuit.
Mercedes in no hurry to sign reserve driver - Haug  (GMM)  Mercedes GP is not in a rush to appoint a test and reserve driver for the forthcoming 2010 season, the marque's competition director Norbert Haug insists.

It has been reported that German veteran Nick Heidfeld, albeit still an outside chance for the Renault race seat, has been offered the Mercedes reserve role.

Haug told the SID news agency that while the Stuttgart marque has retained contact with Heidfeld throughout his ten-year grand prix career, "no agreements" for 2010 have been penned.

But he admitted that he has "rated Nick and his abilities" throughout the 32-year-old's racing career, dating back to before his F3000 championship, Le Mans, and McLaren test driving duties (all 1999), and all with Mercedes backing.

Haug, however, took issue with German reports that suggest Mercedes is looking to appoint a potential "substitute" for the 41-year-old Schumacher.

"Like every other formula one team, we want a test and reserve driver," he insisted.  "We do not feel under any time pressure to make a decision." (See related rumor)

Briatore 'welcome' to return to F1 - Ecclestone  
Flavio Briatore
(GMM)  Flavio Briatore is welcome to return to the F1 paddock after winning his French court action against the FIA's imposition of a lifetime motor racing ban, Bernie Ecclestone has said.

The F1 chief executive, a personal friend and business partner of the 59-year-old Italian, was speaking after Paris' Tribunal de Grande Instance ruled on Tuesday that there had been "irregularities" in the imposition of Briatore and Pat Symonds' crashgate penalties.

"I said at the time that even murderers don't get life sentences these days and the court seems to agree," Ecclestone is quoted as saying by the UK newspaper Express.

"He is welcome to come back to the paddock.  He was a great character in F1 but I am not sure if that is what he wants to do now.

"I think he will move on from that.  It's good for him but it is not good for the FIA when you read the verdict," Ecclestone added.

In the Sun, the 79-year-old Briton said in relation to Briatore: "He's happy he's won, of course.  But I don't think he wants to be back.  It's difficult for somebody who's been punished for doing something wrong to get back." More ...

Video: Chevy Volt update  
Video: Viper at 2010 LA Auto Show  Dodge Car President and CEO Ralph Gilles talks about what's new for the 2010 Dodge Viper and the special Viper area of the Dodge stand at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show.

Chevrolet and OnStar Announce Wireless Smartphone App for Volt  
This is really the 2nd such App.  Mercedes already had an iPhone App for it's customers
Chevrolet and OnStar unveiled the auto industry’s first working smartphone application that will allow Chevrolet Volt owners 24/7 connection and control of vehicle functions and OnStar features remotely.

OnStar’s Mobile Application allows drivers to communicate with their Volt from Droid by Motorola, Apple iPhone and Blackberry Storm smartphones. It uses a real-time data connection to perform tasks from setting the charge time to unlocking the doors.

The Chevrolet Volt OnStar smartphone application is designed to enhance the overall Volt ownership experience with interaction and control never offered before on any electric vehicle. The application:

  • displays charge status – plugged in or not, and voltage (120V or 240V)
  • provides flexibility to “Charge Now” or schedule charge timing
  • displays percentage of battery charge level, electric and total ranges
  • allows owner to manually set grid-friendly charge mode for off-peak times when electricity rates are lowest
  • sends text or email notifications for charge reminders, interruptions and full charge
  • displays miles per gallon, electric only miles, and odometer readings
  • shows miles per gallon, EV miles and miles driven for last trip and lifetime
  • remotely start the vehicle to pre-condition the interior temperature

Home screen showing status User and car Data Status of commands sent to car Charge Mode screen Email notification screen

“The Chevrolet Volt ushers in a new era of automotive technology and calls for a new level of connectivity and control,” said Walt Dorfstatter, president, OnStar. “Nearly 6 million vehicles on the road today use OnStar to stay connected, and our new smartphone app will make that even easier for Volt drivers.” More ...

Stewart has a blast down under  Stewart has a blast Down Under: American Donny Schatz has reigned supreme in the Scott Darley $50,000 to win presented by Coca Cola at Sydney's Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway in Australia. Schatz won the 40-lap feature race aboard a car owned by Australian speedway legend Garry Rush ahead of fellow American Tim Shaffer and three-time Australian Champion Brooke Tatnell. It is the eighth time in ten years that Schatz has claimed the $50,000 winner's check, taking his tally to $400,000 from the event.

Schatz fought hard for tonight's victory after starting from eighth spot, due to the inversion for the top eight seeded drivers in the event. After a three-way battle for the minor spots with his team-mate Tony Stewart and fellow American Tim Shaffer in the early part of the race, Schatz took the lead from Danny Smith with 17 laps remaining by using a sensational outside pass. Shaffer and Tatnell were both the big movers late in the race to claim the minor positions ahead of Americans Jason Johnson and Smith. Rounding out the top 10 was the Madsen brothers, Ian and Kerry, Ryan Farrell, Robbie Farr and Max Dumesny. More ...

Ford, Toyota Show Gain in Stabilizing U.S. Market as GM Slides  Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. took U.S. market share in December from General Motors Co. as the government-controlled automaker couldn’t take advantage of improving consumer demand.

GM reported a 5.7 percent drop in light-vehicle deliveries, worse than analysts anticipated, while Chrysler Group LLC’s 3.7 percent decline exceeded estimates. Ford sales soared 33 percent, and Toyota jumped 32 percent.

“People are waking up and realizing the world didn’t end and are starting to return to showrooms,” said Aaron Bragman, a forecaster at IHS Global Insight in Troy, Michigan. “It’s way too early to say the trend is pointing north, but if it continues this quarter, it’s a positive sign.” More ...

Honda Tops Chrysler in U.S. Sales  Honda Motor Co. passed Chrysler Group LLC in U.S. sales last year and may have built more cars and trucks at North American plants than its rival for the first time as a slump in purchases reshapes the industry.

The Japanese automaker sold 1.15 million vehicles in the U.S. in 2009, moving into fourth place ahead of Chrysler’s 931,402, according to company reports today. Honda produced 1.03 million autos in the U.S., Canada and Mexico last year, spokesman Ed Miller said in an interview today. Automotive News estimates that Chrysler’s regional output was 932,962.

“Chrysler’s output was cut drastically throughout the year, so in that sense it’s not surprising,” said Ed Kim, an analyst at AutoPacific Inc. in Tustin, California. “But it is a reflection of Honda’s very long-term investment in America. It’s 28 years since they started building cars here.”

Ford and Toyota show gains as GM continues to slide  Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. took U.S. market share in December from General Motors Co. as the government-controlled automaker couldn’t take advantage of improving consumer demand.
GM reported a 5.7 percent drop in light-vehicle deliveries, worse than analysts anticipated, while Chrysler Group LLC’s 3.7 percent decline exceeded estimates. Ford sales soared 33 percent, and Toyota jumped 32 percent.

“People are waking up and realizing the world didn’t end and are starting to return to showrooms,” said Aaron Bragman, a forecaster at IHS Global Insight in Troy, Michigan. “It’s way too early to say the trend is pointing north, but if it continues this quarter, it’s a positive sign.”

A 15 percent increase in December industrywide sales capped automakers’ first quarterly improvement since the last three months of 2006, after October and November totals were little changed. The recession and bankruptcies at the predecessors of Detroit-based GM and Chrysler ravaged 2009 sales.

Honda Motor Co. said U.S. deliveries increased 24 percent, and Nissan Motor Co. rose 18 percent. The results reshuffled the industry rankings in the U.S., with Honda climbing past Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler and into fourth place for the first time in full-year sales.

Industrywide light-vehicle sales improved to 1.03 million, according to industry researcher Autodata Corp. That equated with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 11.3 million vehicles, Autodata said. The year-earlier rate was 10.3 million.

GM’s Decline

GM said its December decline was driven chiefly by a 33 percent drop in deliveries to fleet customers and a 55 percent decrease among the Hummer, Pontiac, Saturn and Saab brands that are being shut or sold. Sales rose 2.2 percent for the Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick models that GM is keeping.

The biggest U.S. automaker emerged in July from a 40-day, $50 billion, government-backed bankruptcy that gave taxpayers an ownership stake of about 61 percent. GM began repaying some of the $6.7 billion in outstanding government loans last month.

For the year, GM’s U.S. market share fell to 19.9 percent from 22.3 percent as Ford rose to 16.1 percent from 15 percent and Toyota climbed to 17 percent from 16.7 percent, according to Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based Autodata.

‘Acceptable Buy’

“Ford is suddenly becoming an acceptable buy for people who it wasn’t before,” said John Wolkonowicz, an IHS Global Insight analyst in Lexington, Massachusetts. “Ford is a cool purchase now, which it didn’t used to be. And that is huge.”

Ford, the only U.S.-based automaker to decline a federal bailout, cited an 83 percent gain for the Fusion and a doubling of Taurus sales.

The shares of the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker rose 68 cents, or 6.6 percent, to $10.96 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. That was the highest closing price since July 2005.

Industry sales for last year fell 21 percent to 10.4 million units, the fewest since 1982, Autodata said. U.S. sales were 13.2 million in 2008, according to Autodata, after averaging 16.8 million this decade through 2007.

Sales estimates for the U.S.-based automakers represented the average of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, and the projections for Japan’s Toyota, Honda and Nissan were issued by Edmunds.com.

The estimates are based on daily selling rates. December had 28 selling days, 2 more than in 2008. Sales comparisons would be about 8 percentage points higher without the adjustment. For example, GM’s adjusted sales decline was 12.4 percent, bigger than the 10.6 percent drop projected by the analysts. Ford’s tally includes the Volvo brand, which the automaker plans to sell.

Asia-based brands topped domestic automakers with 47.4 percent of U.S. market share, compared with 44.2 percent for GM, Ford and Chrysler.

2010 Outlook

Industry sales in 2010 may rise 19 percent to 12.4 million because of the need for new vehicles and improving availability of consumer credit, said Sean McAlinden, chief economist for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“For 2010, I’m leaving my seat belt on because I think volatility is still an element of the new norm,” Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing sales and service, said on a conference call.

Al Castignetti, Nissan’s vice president of U.S. sales, wouldn’t give a forecast for industry sales growth this year beyond saying that his “personal view is we’re not going to see 10 percent or 15 percent increase.”

“I’m fairly optimistic,” Castignetti said. “The market will get better, credit will get better.”

Chrysler Incentives

Chrysler announced new incentives of no-interest, five-year financing or $3,000 in cash rebates on virtually of its 2010 model-year vehicles. Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne has said repeatedly he wants to move away from incentives because they undermine the value of the brands.

Surging unemployment and tight credit depressed 2009 sales, especially in the first half, when the annual rate didn’t exceed 10 million.

Sales rose in August, spurred by government incentives to turn in older models. Fourth-quarter industry results were little changed heading into December, after a drop of 104 units in October and a gain of 139 in November, according to Autodata.

Automaker Totals

GM said light-vehicle sales in December fell to 207,538 units, while Ford’s deliveries increased to 184,655. Nissan’s sales totaled 73,404, and Honda’s U.S. deliveries were 107,143. Chrysler’s tally was 86,523. Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota said sales were 187,860.

Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea’s largest automaker, said sales rose 41 percent in December to 33,797.

The full-year results showed the toll on the industry from the deepest U.S. economic slump since the Great Depression.

Light-vehicle sales at GM fell 30 percent to 2,071,749, the fewest since 1952, according to data compiled by the trade publication Automotive News. Ford’s 2009 sales fell 15 percent to 1.68 million, while Chrysler tumbled 36 percent, to 931,402. That marked the automaker’s first annual total of fewer than 1 million units since 1963, according to Automotive News.

Toyota said annual sales fell 20 percent 1,770,149. Nissan sales decreased 19 percent for the year, to 770,103 cars and trucks. Honda also declined 19 percent to 1,150,784. Seoul-based Hyundai said U.S. sales rose 8.3 percent to 435,064. bloomberg.com

NASCAR sets new tire test rules  NASCAR announced the addition of a verification tire test for the NASCAR Nationwide Series new car on, May 18-19 at Daytona International Speedway, in addition to some key rule changes for the 2010 season. The test will verify the type of tire Goodyear will provide for the Nationwide Series new car for its first race, set for July 2 at Daytona. That will be the first of four events for the new car this season. Others include Aug. 14 at Michigan International Speedway, Sept. 10 at Richmond International Raceway and Oct. 23 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The new car is targeted for full integration into the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2011. "Since this is an open test, there will be plenty of opportunities for the teams to get the information necessary to dial their cars in for the upcoming new car events," said Joe Balash, director of the NASCAR Nationwide Series. "This also will be a final verification of our shock, spring and engine packages for the new car." The new car previously has tested at Talladega Superspeedway, Richmond and Charlotte. A rain date, if necessary, will be May 20. The tire lease program will remain the same in 2010 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series with these new options available to teams: Tires will continue to be transferred between events with the same D-codes as recommended by Goodyear; The transfer of tires between the different national series at combination events with the same D-codes will be permitted; At track, Goodyear will provide surplus tires. Goodyear will notify teams weeks in advance of availability.

NASCAR announced that beginning with the 2010 season-opening race at Daytona on Feb. 13, the NASCAR Nationwide Series will institute crew member limits similar to the program the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series utilized last season. Teams will be limited to 15 crew members for each event, including the driver, crew chief, spotter and seven over-the-wall team members each race weekend throughout the season. Teams also will not be required to provide a scorer. "The crew limits are a direct result of the continuing dialogue we have with our series owners to reduce at-track costs," Balash said. "The program was successful in the truck series and we anticipate that same result." Another change involves the sealed-engine rule. This year, a team will run no more than two consecutive races without using an engine previously sealed by NASCAR officials. This excludes events at Daytona and Talladega. Last year, teams were to run no more than three consecutive races without using a sealed engine.(NASCAR PR)

Corvette Racing's Doug Fehan talks green  
GT2 Corvette
When it comes to preaching the gospel of GM and green racing, there’s no better messenger than Doug Fehan. Corvette Racing’s immensely popular program manager will be on his way to Daytona Beach, Fla., for a Thursday night address to participants in the EcoCAR Challenge. The program is a three-year collegiate advanced vehicle technology engineering competition established by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM), and is being managed by Argonne National Laboratory.

“The plan is to talk to them about what GM’s initiatives are and what we do at Corvette Racing – our association with E85 and the MICHELIN GREEN X Challenge,” said Fehan, who oversaw Corvette’s 2009 effort that netted the Green Challenge GT championship as well as American Le Mans Series victories in both GT1 and GT2. “From a pure racing standpoint, we’ll be looking at things like our use of E85 in the C6.R, aerodynamic advancements, ceramic wheel bearings, zero viscosity lubricants and working with Michelin on rolling resistance in tires.”

The competition challenges 17 universities across North America to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles by minimizing the vehicle’s fuel consumption and reducing its emissions while retaining the vehicle’s performance, safety and consumer appeal. Students use a real-world engineering process to design and integrate their advanced technology solutions into a GM-donated vehicle. More ...

GRAND-AM Sets Roar Before The Rolex 24 Test Days  At least five multi-car teams are scheduled to announce their driver lineups for the 48th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona during the Jan. 8-10 Roar Before The Rolex 24 test days at Daytona International Speedway, the opening event on the 2010 GRAND-AM Road Racing schedule.

Both the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will participate in the test. Sessions run from 9 a.m. - 5:15 p.m. ET Friday, Jan. 8; 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. ET Saturday, Jan. 9; and 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Jan. 10. Spectators are welcome for all three days of racing, with Fan Forums scheduled from noon - 1 p.m. ET on Saturday. The Rolex 24 will be held Jan. 30-31.

TELMEX/Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is scheduled to announce its star-studded driver lineup and a new engine manufacturer, Dempsey Racing will unveil its lineup and affiliation with Seattle Children's Hospital, with Michael Shank Racing, Supercar Life Racing and Stevenson Motorsports will also reveal their driver rosters. More ...

Briatore wins appeal against crashgate ban  UPDATE Press statement from Briatore:

“I would like to express my great joy with the decision handed down by the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance. I believe it important for FIA to play the active role it deserves in automobile competition. As a sports person and one passionately involved in car racing for more than 20 years, the decision to apply to the civil courts to contest a decision of the FIA was a difficult one for me to take. The fact that the World Automobile Sport Council had been utilized to deal with a personal agenda aimed at pushing me out of the world of competition left me no other choice.

“The decision handed down today restores to me the dignity and freedom that certain people had arbitrarily attempted to deprive me of. The Court recognized that all the criticisms I had formulated against the decision of the World Council were founded, by finding that the FIA had:
- rendered a decision that it was not competent to pronounce
- infringed its own articles of association
- totally failed to respect my right to a fair defense
- finally, entrusted the tasks of investigation, prosecution and judgment to a principle [sic] player known by all to be hostile to me.

“I believe that justice has been done today.”

The press release added the following quote about whether he would be returning to F1.

“Let me take a little time to enjoy this moment of happiness after this difficult period. As concerns my possible return to F1, there is plenty of time to talk about this. I would like first of all to thank the people who remained faithful to me during these difficult moments and who showed me their trust and friendship.”

01/05/10 (GMM)  Flavio Briatore has won his bid to overturn a lifetime ban from motor racing over the 'crashgate' affair, the Reuters and Associated Press wire services are reporting on Tuesday afternoon.

The former Renault boss' similarly ousted engineering director Pat Symonds was also expelled from F1 by the FIA, for a lesser period of five years, after the race-fixing scandal emerged last year.

Briatore, backed in his French legal bid by Symonds, challenged the governing body's decision in Paris' Tribunal de Grande Instance in November, including a push for a million euros in damages.

BMW sales up  The BMW Group in the U.S. (BMW and MINI combined) reported December sales of 23,617 vehicles, an increase of 9.2 percent from the 21,626 vehicles sold in the same month a year ago.  For 2009, the BMW Group also reported a total sales volume of 241,727 vehicles, down 20.3 percent compared to 303,190 vehicles sold in 2008.
ESPN launching 3D network  ESPN is committing to the 3D network through June 2011. "We're going to assess the viability of this as we did with all our businesses," says Sean Bratches, an ESPN executive vice president for sales and marketing. He's confident that sports fans will immerse themselves in the technology.

To do that, you'll need a more expensive 3D-capable television such as those that industry heavyweights will show off this week in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Viewers also must don special 3D glasses.

Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro says the ESPN 3D announcement parallels where HDTV was six years ago. "This is a turning point for 3D," he says.

Paul Liao, CEO of the CableLabs consortium of cable operators, says that while 3D movies are paramount to the success of 3D in the home, live sports "will engage the consumer to a degree that has been unprecedented."

There are challenges. You may need a new set-top box to watch 3D. It's unclear if you'll have to pay a premium. ESPN says it expects deals with distributors will be in place prior to launch.

Broadcasting live events in 3D comes at an extra cost. Locations where cameras are placed to capture a regular high-definition sporting event don't necessarily translate to a 3D broadcast. If simultaneously broadcasting in regular HD, ESPN needs to employ a second production crew, and different announcers, for the 3D telecast.

ESPN, which is part of Disney, has been testing 3D for more than two years.

In September, it produced the University of Southern California vs. Ohio State football game in 3D, shown on the USC campus and in theaters in Ohio, Texas and Connecticut. In surveys afterward, most viewers said they were "wowed." But some said quick camera changes "were a little hard on the eyes." And the research suggested that willingness to pay for 3D was "extremely dependent on (the) matchup."

"We don't have all the answers," says Chuck Pagano, ESPN's executive vice president for technology. "We asked the same questions back in the HD days. Is this going to be better? Is this going to be worse?"

ESPN likely won't have the 3D stage to itself. The HD Guru3D website reports that DirecTV will launch a 3D channel at CES. Robert Mercer, a spokesman for the satellite provider, wouldn't confirm that. But he says "3D is something we are very interested in." usatoday.com

AIM Autosport Drivers Join Michael Shank Racing For Rolex 24  Michael Shank Racing announced today that AIM Autosport Rolex Sports Car Series drivers Mark Wilkins and Burt Frisselle will join the team for the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona as part of Michael Shank Racing’s two-car Daytona Prototype entry. Wilkins and Frisselle will join John Pew and Ozz Negri to pilot the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford-powered Riley machine as the duo look to get the 2010 season off to a fast start. 

The collaboration marks the continuation of a long-held working relationship between AIM Autosport principal Ian Wills and Michael Shank Racing, going back to Willis having worked with the team as an engineer in Formula Atlantic competition.

The Rolex 24 effort will see Wilkins and Frisselle piloting some familiar machinery, as the Ford-Riley combination is one that saw AIM Autosport break through for race wins in 2008. More ...

AIM announces 2010 Grand-Am plans  AIM Autosport is happy to announce their plans to compete in eleven of twelve events in the 2010 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16. The team will be on track with Mark Wilkins and Burt Frisselle at the wheel of the No. 61 Ford Riley starting with the Miami Grand Prix at Homestead in March.

Since the last race of 2009, AIM had two key points in the agenda to prepare for the coming season. First, rebuild Riley chassis 001 from the ground up to update components and reduce weight. Second, work diligently to secure funding for the 2010 season.

While the No. 61 Ford Riley is sleek, slim and ready to go, it was a bit more difficult to obtain funding for the entire season. Consequently, AIM has decided to forego the Rolex 24 at Daytona and ensure their presence through the rest of the races. More ...

Krohn Racing Kicks Off 2010 with Daytona Test  
Krohn Racing Lola
The Krohn Racing team is headed to Daytona International Speedway this week for the official Grand-Am Test Days in preparation for the Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance race. The 48th running of the twice-around-the-clock enduro will be held on January 30-31, 2010.

One Krohn Racing Proto-Auto Lola is entered with a stellar driver line-up, including team owner/driver Tracy Krohn, Krohn Racing regular Nic Jönsson, former Formula One racer Ricardo Zonta and NASCAR Nationwide Series competitor Colin Braun, in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Ford Lola. The formidable team is once again spearheaded by Krohn Racing Team Manager David Brown.

TRACY W. KROHN, Team Owner/Driver No. 75 Krohn Racing Ford Lola:

Krohn Racing is returning to Daytona for the 2010 running of the Rolex 24 in January with one car and an impressive driver line-up including you, Nic Jönsson, Ricardo Zonta and Colin Braun. Please share your thoughts about how this line-up came together and why you selected these talented drivers. More ...

SCCA World Challenge moves from Speed TV to Versus  The SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge will no longer be associated with Speed TV, the series said Monday. It is moving to the Comcast-owned Versus network.

WC Vision, the series promoter and marketer, said the move is due to better TV coverage and time slots offered by Versus. Some telecasts will air around Versus broadcasts of the Izod IndyCar Series, which joined the network last year.

"We are thrilled that our 2010 events will air on Versus," WC Vision vice president of marketing and communications Dave Drimmie said. "The series returns to a weekend time slot, and this year our fans will have a longer and more in-depth program. We're also looking at a syndication package that would enable World Challenge to reach a total of 160 million households."

Erik Arneson, vice president of Speed TV's media relations, told AutoWeek: "Our schedule is just getting more and more crowded," so Speed did not object when the SCCA said that Versus was able to supply better time slots, closer to the actual races. "There was nothing negative about the split at all, and we wish them the best," Arneson said.

Q & A with Renault's new Team Principal Eric Boullier  Q. In what frame of mind was the team when you arrived?

Eric Boullier: When I started in the job it quickly became clear that the staff's morale had been affected by the end of the 2009 season and that the last few weeks had been quite challenging. However, the team is now very motivated thanks to the new philosophy that the Renault F1 Team wants to implement and, when it was presented at the factory shortly before Christmas, it was welcomed with applause. Everyone is now refreshed and ready for action.

Q. What will be your day-to-day responsibilities?

EB: I will concentrate solely on the sporting and performance aspects. Bob Bell will oversee the Design Office, Production and the technical development of the car. We have already had a lot of discussions and we think in the same way. I think that we will work well together.

Q. Are you a representative of the new strategic partners of the team?

EB: I have been appointed by Renault F1 Team who stays in charge of all operational aspects of its F1 activity. Of course, representatives of Genii Capital were consulted, but it would be wrong to think of Renault as a two-headed structure that will have two decision-making hubs. This is one team with one structure. More ...

Tom Kristensen is “Sportsman of the Decade”  
Tom Kristensen (Center)
The year 2010 could hardly have started any better for Audi "factory" driver Tom Kristensen: The Dane was voted "Sportsman of the Decade" as many as two times in his native Denmark. The TV channel "TV2" as well as the major daily newspaper "Berlingske Tidende" awarded the prestigious title to the record Le Mans winner.

"I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me and helped me receive these two awards," said the Audi driver. "Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have even dreamed of being so successful some day. But back then I had the great fortune of joining Audi. It’s a big privilege to have been a member of one of the world’s best race teams for as much as a decade now."

The eight-time Le Mans winner clearly prevailed against such popular athletes as tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki, bicycle racer Michael Rasmussen and U.S. football star Morten Andersen in the votings.  More ...
Renault appoints Eric Boullier as Team Principal  (GMM)  Eric Boullier was on Tuesday confirmed as Renault's new team principal.

The 36-year-old Frenchman is the former boss of the GP2 team DAMS and France's A1 team, and the CEO of the Gravity Sport driver management company, with links to Enstone based Renault's new main owner Genii Capital.

Bob Bell, who took over the team principal role after Flavio Briatore was ousted for the crashgate scandal last year, will return to his former post as technical director.

Boullier's appointment, first reported before Christmas, sparked speculation that Robert Kubica's 2010 teammate will come from the Gravity stable, such as Ho-Pin Tung or Jerome d'Ambrosio.

"It might be a Gravity driver or not, but I can guarantee that it will be even more difficult for a Gravity driver to be selected as they really will have to prove their worth to be chosen as Renault's second driver," he said.

Dakar Day 4: Fiambala to Copiapo  With 629 km on the menu for the 4th stage, the competitors will cross the Andes Mountains and the border between Argentina and Chile at an altitude of more than 4000 m, before heading towards the Atacama Desert to dispute a 203-km long special stage… All the competitors will be confronted with a short but technical timed section including a quick first part followed by more than 100 km of sand and dunes. This could lead to some big gaps amongst the professional riders. It will also be the last opportunity for most of the competitors to adjust their settings for sand before really getting to grips with the most arid desert in the world. More ...
Dakar Day 3: Peterhansel grabs stage win, lead  
Tifosi will 'worship' Schu again - Berger  
Berger predicts the Italians will continue their love affair with Schumacher
(GMM)  Gerhard Berger has played down the significance of many Ferrari supporters' denouncement of Michael Schumacher as a "traitor".

With the famous Maranello based marque's champion of 2000-2004 returning to the F1 grid this year with Mercedes, the 41-year-old recently sent an open letter to the Italian press following local criticism of his defection.

"They (the Tifosi) talk like that now, because they don't have to look him in the eye," Berger, who drove for Ferrari in the late 80s and again in the mid 90s, said in an interview with Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Still referring to Ferrari's ardent supporters, the 50-year-old Austrian added: "When he (Schumacher) stands before them, they will fall to their knees and worship him." More ...

Rosberg to drive on opening day of tests  
Nico Rosberg
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg is the latest F1 driver to confirm he will test on the opening day of the 2010 pre-season.

Most teams are expected to attend the group test at Valencia's Ricardo Tormo circuit, and it has emerged that major players including McLaren, Ferrari and Rosberg's teammate Michael Schumacher will be among those in action.

Asked during an interview with Salzburger Nachrichten when he will take his winter preparation to a F1 circuit, 24-year-old German Rosberg answered: "The first of February."

He also said he is in a fighting mood, despite many experts predicting Schumacher will play the dominant role at Mercedes GP this season.

"Of course I want to beat any teammate, that's the direct confrontation, the driver has the same equipment.  A little egotism is involved here," he told Monday's edition of the German daily. More ...

Glock knew at Suzuka his Toyota tenure was over  
Timo Glock
(GMM)  Timo Glock has admitted he knew three months ago that his future in formula one would not be at the wheel of a Toyota.

The German, who crashed during qualifying for early October's Japanese grand prix and was replaced for the last three races by reserve Kamui Kobayashi, has been signed for 2010 by the new Virgin team.

It was rumored after Glock's Suzuka crash and in the weeks that followed that his absence in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, while ostensibly due to minor back and leg injuries, had a political element.

And although Toyota's decision to quit F1 was not made until after the season had concluded, Glock told F1's official website that he "realized early on" that his time with the Cologne based team was up.

"We started to negotiate with Virgin shortly after the Japanese grand prix," said the 27-year-old. More ...

Domenicali: Put Briatore, Piquet and Ralf to pasture  
Flavio Briatore
Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali says that Ralf Schumacher, Nelsinho Piquet and Flavio Briatore should remain figures of the past rather than the present or future.

“I prefer to look to the future and find new talent,” he told Italian newspaper La Stampa. “F1 should not reduce itself to a world of nostalgia. It's not right that Piquet should be allowed to return after what he did, and Briatore will not be back in the same role; people don't like re-heated soup – he will have to find another opportunity.”

“My role requires me to remain rational,” Domenicali reasoned. “If for just one second I had considered myself to be the cause of the problems, I would have acted accordingly. We mustn't forget that in 2005 – which isn't a century ago – Ferrari had won five consecutive world championships, and I was amongst the group that achieved that.

“Fernando was last here in mid-December, and since then he has called every day to see if the car is showing the same performance in the simulations as we had expected. That's how it should be; a world champion should have a competitive car at his disposal, otherwise he will not be able to show his full potential. His arrival has really inspired the workforce. More ...

Todd Bodine marries  NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Todd Bodine married Janet Paczkowski in a New Year's Eve ceremony in Florida.

Bodine, a 23-year veteran of NASCAR racing who now competes for Germain Racing in the Truck series, was wed on Marco Island, Fla., in a sunset ceremony on the beach at the Marriott Resort and Spa.

Johnson fathers first child  Four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and his wife, Chandra, are expecting their first child in July, spokesman Kristine Curley confirmed Monday.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver and Chandra recently celebrated their five-year wedding anniversary.

NASCAR Souvenir and Collectable industry a bust  The dictionary defines a collectible as any item saved for a hobby, display, or as an investment whose value may appreciate. If you are a race fan with a large collection of NASCAR diecast, clothing or other related items, you’d better forget the appreciable investment part of this definition.

Like those who have lost significant personal housing and retirement wealth with the recent economic downturn, NASCAR memorabilia collectors have taken a direct financial hit. Thanks to an overproduced, massive glut of inventory, overinflated prices and now a soft economy, the NASCAR collectible market is a bust.

The latest indication of that fact came last week when Motorsports Authentics – the top producer of NASCAR team diecast and clothing in the sport - filed an extension with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.  Jointly owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. and  International Speedway Corporation (NASCAR’s parent), Motorsports Authentics is on the verge of bankruptcy losing more than $20 million in the final nine months of 2009. More ...

Jay Howard new karting venture  The Championship Karting International (CKI) Series is pleased to announce that Sarah Fisher Racing driver, IZOD IndyCar® Series competitor Jay Howard, will contest the first annual CKI Florida Cup program in 2010. With a series that is giving away more than $130,000 in cash and prizes including a brand new Mazda 3, Howard will be present at all three series events.

“Having professionals in the world of motorsports come and compete in our series is something that we are working towards,” expressed CKI Director of Operations Kevin Williams. “Most of the pro drivers look to compete in karting action on off weekends, months or just to stay in shape. Having a driver with the results like Jay and his fierce competitive attitude, I am happy that he is supporting our program.” More ...

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