Hot News
for your iPhone
for your iPad
Go to our forums to discuss this news
DATE News (chronologically)
Rahal and Letterman to receive Baby Borgs Rahal and Letterman to receive Baby BorgsBuddy Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner, is finally realizing that he has won the world’s biggest auto race after special presentations in the last week.  Rice, the 28-year-old racer from Phoenix, saw his image displayed on the famed Borg-Warner Trophy for the first time last Wednesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum in a media unveiling.  In addition, the driver of the No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda Panoz Indy car was presented with the Indy 500-winning champion’s ring.  Now, in tonight’s Borg-Warner presentation at the Automotive News World Congress Dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn, Rice will receive a “one of a kind” replica of the Borg-Warner Indianapolis 500 Trophy.  Rice will test his Rahal Letterman Racing Honda-powered car during the day at the Homestead Miami Speedway before flying to Detroit Wednesday for the special event that wraps up a memorable Indy 500 champions tour that included a White House appearance to meet President George W. Bush, closing the New York Stock Exchange, throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium and piloting at Bradley Fighting Vehicle at Ft. Carson in Colorado.
AAA limited Roush sponsor AAA limited Roush sponsorRoush Racing announced today that the AAA Auto Club Group (ACG) will be carried as the primary sponsor on the #99 Roush Racing Ford of Carl Edwards for three races in 2005. In addition to being the primary sponsor for both Michigan races and the Brickyard 400, AAA will also be a major associate at Chicago and an associate for the remainder of the races in 2005. The Auto Club Group, based in Dearborn, Michigan, is the largest AAA affiliate in the Midwest and includes the Auto Club Insurance Association as well as six AAA clubs: AAA Chicago, AAA Michigan, AAA Minnesota/Iowa, AAA Nebraska, AAA North Dakota and AAA Wisconsin, which serve approximately 4.1 million members in eight states. ACG is the first AAA affiliate to sponsor a car in the Nextel Cup Series. An endeavor that AAA is looking forward to embarking on. “Carl Edwards is definitely one of the rising stars in NASCAR racing,” said Charles H. Podowski, president/CEO of ACG. “The Auto Club Group is extremely pleased that we will be the primary sponsor of his car #99 in three Nextel Cup Series races this year, and that his car and racing gear will carry the AAA logo as a sponsor in each of the other 35 races in which he is scheduled to compete. Sponsorship of a car and driver on the hugely popular NASCAR racing circuit will help raise AAA’s profile with the many fans of this major spectator sport. The sponsorship ties very nicely into AAA’s century-long commitment to supporting continued improvement in vehicle safety.” Podowski continued, “Many of the safety features we take for granted on today’s passenger vehicles, such as lap-and-shoulder safety belts and hydraulic brakes, were introduced and perfected in racecars. NASCAR races will continue to be the proving ground for new safety equipment, and the AAA clubs that comprise The Auto Club Group are pleased and proud to help support that progress.” Roush Racing PR
Elliott To Run for Dodge Rival Ganassi Elliott To Run for Dodge Rival GanassiUPDATE Coors Brewing Company will take a trip down memory lane during the Shootout at Daytona International Speedway when Bill Elliott makes a one-race appearance behind the wheel of a retro Coors Dodge. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will field a second entry in the Shootout for Elliott who was partnered with the team's current sponsor Coors Brewing Company from 1984-1991. Elliott's Dodge will sport the paint scheme that he earned the coveted Winston Million during the 1985 NASCAR Winston Cup season. "I am really looking forward to partnering back up with Coors Light," Elliott said. "I think that this is a great opportunity and I really like running that race. I think it is also going to be fun to work with my brother Ernie. Ernie worked on my motors when I was just starting out. Now I get a chance to have him build my engines again and it is something I will thoroughly enjoy." "I think this is a great way to honor Coors Brewing Company's history in racing," team owner Chip Ganassi said. "Coors had a long and successful affiliation with Bill and has been a sponsor with Felix and I since 1995. This is a great way to partner the company's past and present for one night under the lights at Daytona. We look forward to having Bill in one of our cars and giving Coors this opportunity to celebrate the start of its 21st year in NASCAR." "We here at Coors Brewing Company are very excited about having Bill in the car and partnered up with us again for this one race," said Steve Saunders, Director of Event Marketing for Coors Brewing Company. "He had an impressive eight seasons with Coors and won a championship while he was sponsored by us. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to run our two brands of beer Coors and Coors Light at Daytona International Speedway. First we have Elliott in the Coors car and Marlin in the Coors Light Dodge." The Shootout is scheduled for Saturday, February 12th at Daytona International Speedway. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR 01/18/05 Team owner Ray Evernham has given semi-retired veteran driver Bill Elliott permission to run the Feb. 12 Budweiser Shootout all-star race for a rival NASCAR Nextel Cup team, Chip Ganassi Racing. The Ganassi team had no official comment but has scheduled a news conference for today at Daytona International Speedway, where NASCAR teams are testing in preparation for the Feb. 20 Daytona 500. Evernham said Elliott's decision to drive for another team doesn't signal any sort of rift between the veteran driver and Evernham Motorsports. Evernham hired Elliott after leaving his job as Jeff Gordon's crew chief to field his own team and prepare for Dodge's return to NASCAR during the 2001 season. Elliott is scheduled to run between 10 and 12 races in a third Evernham car this season, with sponsorship from Stanley Tools. USA Today
Petty names new Crew Chief Petty names new Crew ChiefPaul Andrews has been named crew chief for Kyle Petty's No. 45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge. Andrews, 47, served as crew chief for the No. 38 Akins Motorsports Ford in the NASCAR Busch Series last year. He won the NASCAR Cup championship with Alan Kulwicki in 1992, and also has worked with drivers Geoff Bodine, Jeremy Mayfield, Steve Park and Jeff Burton. "We're very excited to have a person of Paul's caliber join our team," Petty said. "His past speaks for itself. He's a proven winner and can help accelerate this team into top form. The addition of Evernham Engines was huge. Adding Paul is another big step forward as we prepare for 2005 and beyond." Andrews successes in the sport are impressive. A champion crew chief in 1992, Andrews has accumulated 12 wins, more than 75 top-five finishes and 150 top-10 finishes. "I just like the way Petty Enterprise is heading," Andrews said. "Adding Evernham Engines this season was a tremendously positive move. They are striving hard and taking steps to win. I want, and am ready, to make a difference. They are going in the right direction, and I think I can help offer some good input. I'm excited to start working with Kyle and the Georgia-Pacific/Brawny team." Petty Enterprise PR
Industry News
GM to launch new Chevys in China GM to launch new Chevys in ChinaBoosting its lineup in an increasingly competitive market, General Motors Corp. announced Tuesday that it will launch a new series of made-in-China Chevrolets next month.  The new small- and midsize models will roll out in late February and will be sold through a network of 100 dealerships to be set up across China that will sell and service the vehicles, the world's largest automaker said.  GM has invested more than $2 billion in China since 1998 in joint ventures that make Chinese brands as well as Buick sedans, Chevrolet Blazers, minivans and other models. It claims about an 8-percent share of China's vehicle market.  GM China expanded its import lineup in 2004 to meet strong demand for premium and luxury vehicles. It introduced the Saab brand in May and Cadillac a month later.

The automaker now hopes to expand its presence there by targeting the fast-growing small- and midsize market segments which account for 70 percent of all auto sales in China, said Joseph Liu, executive director of vehicle sales, service and marketing for General Motors China Group.

"We identified the need to develop Chevrolet into another popular domestic brand alongside Buick," Liu said in a statement. "As China's rapidly growing number of vehicle buyers become increasingly diverse, they require brands and products that offer different value propositions to meet their individual needs." Liu said the new Chevrolet lineup would be tailored to meet local customer requirements with the expectation that most buyers would be young professionals aged up to 40 buying a car for personal use. AP Story

Sharp confirmed at Fernandez Racing Sharp confirmed at Fernandez RacingAfter weeks of speculations, IRL veteran Scott Sharp finally confirmed his switch to Adrian Fernandez’s team, following the demise of his former squad, Kelley Racing. Sharp’s longtime backer Delphi Corporation will embark on its eight straight year in the IndyCar series, sponsoring Fernandez Racing’s No.8 Honda-powered Panoz G-Force in the 2005 season. Delphi will also return as sponsor of the IRL’s Safety Team.

Fernandez co-owner Tom Anderson displayed confidence at the announcement: “We feel we have a winning combination here, one strengthened by the veteran capability of Scott Sharp.” Sharp is the all-time IRL starts leader, with 98 contested races.  “I’m ecstatic about the opportunity,” confessed Sharp, an eight-time IndyCar winner. “I’ve never driven a Panoz or a Honda, and I’m working with a brand new team. It’s a lot to get used to, but that’s why we have a few days down here [at Homestead],” admitted the 1996 series co-champion.

Sharp is Fernandez’s second confirmed driver - Kosuke Matsuura will continue to drive the team’s No.55 Panasonic-backed entry. Team founder Adrian Fernandez is still scrambling for sponsorship to go on as the IRL’s only owner/driver - the popular Mexican lost longtime supporters Tecate and Telmex for the upcoming season. SPEEDTV.com

Industry News
GM profits tumble in 4th Qtr. GM profits tumble in 4th Qtr.General Motors Corp. saw its profits tumble by more than one-third in the last three months of 2004 amid rising health-care costs in the United States, continued losses in Europe and slowing sales in China.  As has been the case for about two years, the vast majority of GM’s profits came from financing unit GMAC. 

GM made $630 million, or $1.11 a share, in the October-December period compared with $1 billion, or $2.13 a share, in the fourth quarter of 2003. GMAC posted quarterly earnings of $611 million - or about 96 percent of GM’s profits in the fourth quarter.  Revenue for the last three months of the year rose 4.7 percent to $51.2 billion from $48.8 billion a year earlier.

For all of 2004, GM earned $3.7 billion, or $6.51 a share, down from $3.8 billion, or $7.14 a share, in 2003. Excluding special items, GM’s 2004 earnings amounted to $3.6 billion, or $6.40 a share - in line with the company’s guidance and above the Wall Street consensus of $6.31 a share.  In North America, GM made $1.1.7 billion, up slightly from $1.15 billion in 2003. This profit means GM's 119,000 hourly UAW workers in the United States will receive an average profit-sharing check of $195.

North American profitability was held back by slowing sales, especially of GM cars in the United States. It also hurts GM that its full-size truck lineup, such as the Chevy Silverado, Chevy Suburban and Cadillac Escalade, are in the last years before a re-design, which historically means falling sales or greater rebates.  GM also blamed rising health-care costs for its so-so profitability in the United States. GM’s health-care tab in 2004 grew by $400 million.  “North America in particular is a tough target,” said GM’s vice chairman and chief financial officer John Devine. “The story is about health-care costs.” Detroit Free Press

Villeneuve happy despite high winds Villeneuve happy despite high windsThe Swiss based Sauber Petronas team kicked off their scheduled three-day testing program at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo on Wednesday with Jacques Villeneuve taking to the Spanish track in chassis C24-01.

The French Canadian completed a total of 92 laps to complete a best overall time of 1:12.225 and despite the windy weather, he was happier with the way the team’s new 2005 contender was performing, even if there is still room for improvement.

"Today was a good and long work day, and much better than my last test,” he said. “In the morning the handling of the car was a bit difficult, particularly because of the very windy weather conditions, but at the end it was much better. However, we still have to work on it. The long-runs we did were consistent and comparative, but the one-lap pace still leaves room for improvements."

"The strong wind today made it quite difficult and was affecting the test, but apart from this we had a trouble-free day and covered a lot of laps. This was particularly important as we are still in the stage of getting to know the car and to check its functions and systems in order to gather further information on its reliability,” added Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Race Engineer. “We basically worked on the set-up of the C24 and did some Michelin tire comparisons to get used to the tires according to the new regulations. If everything goes in line with the plan we will start with more in-depth Michelin work with Felipe on Friday. I think it was a good and productive day. At the beginning it was a bit difficult to get up to pace, but this is normal at the beginning of a new season."

Practice quotes from Homestead Practice quotes from HomesteadPost-Practice Press Conference (Herta and Briscoe) Transcript

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 33 Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone): "We're off to a great start. We had a lot of preparation back in Indianapolis, going through what we needed to run today, and I'm feeling comfortable in the car. It's a good track to be driving around. It seems like the speed is there, so we'll keep going."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm very happy to be back in the car. With this being the first day of the test, most of your time is spent trying to get comfortable with the placement of the pedals and the car in general. Team 7-Eleven has a good car. We had the basic first-day troubles, but nothing serious. I didn't get to run as many laps as I would have liked, but if I'd had my way I would have run all day."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The cars are very fun to drive; I mean the brakes are phenomenal. I drove a sports car about a week ago and the brakes are about a million times better than that. So, for me it was very enjoyable to be back in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam car. I haven't been in the car since Texas and it's fantastic to be back. The boys (at the shop) have had a long winter and are very excited to be getting back to testing. They did an excellent job of getting everything sorted out for this test. We're under a little bit of transition because we've lost somebody that I respect very highly in Tony Cotman, but Eddie Jones has done a great job stepping in for him in an interim basis. I had a lot of fun, but I'm still learning. This is my first time in an IndyCar (Series) on a road course, so I still have stuff to learn, but it was a good day."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The car feels a bit different today (then it did the last time I was here.) We tried a couple of different things today on the car, a couple of which aren't much to my liking. I think Firestone has changed a few things as well, so we've had to change the car a bit to get the car close to a better setup. We're got better and better as the day went on. We're making progress. It's good to be back on a road course and have some competition. The main purpose of the next couple of days is to find out what the car does and how to make it faster."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone): "We've been focusing on things that we won't be able to do on the race weekend, so it's great that we have three cars. Ryan (Briscoe) has been up to speed straight away, so it's good to try three different things. This circuit doesn't really compare to the three road and street circuits during the year, so we're not terribly worried about out and out speed, but we've shown we have some speed so far."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "I am very happy with today. We made a lot of progress after the morning session and gained twice as much ground as the other teams, cutting our time behind the leader from 1.5 seconds to .8.  Everyone aims for first place, so we still have to work, work, work, but I know Red Bull Cheever Racing can do it."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're happy. It was a good day in the Pennzoil car overall. I think a lot of other guys tested here before and it took us a minute to get everything in place. We found a good baseline and a good foundation going into tomorrow. It's fun to get back out here and I'm excited about what Chevrolet is bringing us this season. I think we're just going to get stronger and stronger every day that we're out here."

Bourdais first Champ Car invite since 1997 Bourdais first Champ Car invite since 1997It was announced today that reigning Champ Car World Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais will compete in the 2005 Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) Series. Bourdais earned the invitation to be among the field of 12 by virtue of his 2004 championship title that saw him drive his McDonald’s® Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone Champ Car to seven wins, eight poles and 10 top-three finishes in 14 events.  

"I am very honored that I was chosen to compete in the IROC series,” said Bourdais, 25.  “It will be a great opportunity to discover something new; new tracks, different cars and a different form of racing.  I am looking forward to the experience and I will try to represent the Champ Car World Series as best I can."

Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) is auto racing’s All-Star Game.  It is an invitational racing series that matches 12 drivers from different disciplines of auto racing in equally prepared cars. The Series consists of four 100-mile races with points awarded for finishing positions. At the end of the fourth race, points are tallied and a champion of champions is named and presented with the $1 million purse. Following the season-opener at Daytona (February 18), the series will compete at Texas Motor Speedway (April 15), followed by Richmond International Raceway (September 8) and conclude at the Atlanta Motor Speedway (October 29).  The events will be televised on SPEED TV.

Bourdais’ entry will mark the first time since 1997 that the defending series champion has competed in the invitational event.  Jimmy Vasser was the last CART or Champ Car World Series champion to compete in IROC as the reigning champion after having earned four wins and four poles en route to his first Champ car title in 1996.  It will be only the second time that a Newman/Haas Racing driver has participated in the IROC series.  Mario Andretti competed in the series twice (1987 & 1988) while with the team and six times overall (1976, 1978, 1979, 1980) as well as earned the title in 1979.  Mario’s son Michael Andretti ran in the IROC series in 1987 prior to joining the team in 1989. 

Bourdais will be one of seven total reigning champions in the field.  Those drivers include Kurt Busch (NASCAR Nextel Cup), Bobby Hamilton (NASCAR Craftsman truck), Steve Kinser (World of Outlaws), Max Papis and Scott Pruett (Grand Am co-champions) and Martin Truex Jr. (NASCAR Busch).  Other competitors include Matt Kenseth (2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup and IROC champion), Mark Martin (4-time IROC champion), Helio Castroneves and Buddy Rice (both winners of the Indy 500) and Danny Lasoski (2001 World of Outlaws champion).

“We are proud to announce this elite group of drivers who will compete in the 2005 Crown Royal IROC Series,” said Jay Signore, IROC President. “With seven reigning series champions and numerous individual victories among the remainder of the field, the driver who wins this year’s championship will have certainly earned it.”

Newman/Haas Racing, owned by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas, is the most successful team competing in the Champ Car World Series. The team will begin their 23rd season in Champ Car competition in 2005 and will attempt to score their sixth overall title after winning 82 races and 86 pole positions. Current drivers Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais were preceded at the team by Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta.  For more information log on to www.newman-haas.com, www.brunojunqueira.com, www.sebastien-bourdais.com or www.champcarworldseries.com.

Briscoe fastest at Homestead Briscoe fastest at HomesteadRookie Ryan Briscoe saved his best lap for last on the opening day of the IRL IndyCar® Series Open Test on Homestead-Miami Speedway.   The 23-year-old Australian, who was officially introduced as a Chip Ganassi Racing driver on Jan. 17, topped the speed chart in his No. 33 Toyota-powered Panoz with a lap of 1 minute, 10.4423 seconds, 112.944 mph, on the 2.21-mile road course.  Defending IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan was second fastest at 1:10.8136, 112.351 mph, in his No. 11 Honda-powered Dallara. Kanaan's Andretti Green Racing teammate, Dario Franchitti was third with a lap of 1:10.9647 in the No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone.   
Rank Car Driver C/E/T Time Speed Best Lap
1 33 Briscoe, Ryan P/T/F 112.944 87 88 01 10.4423 :
2 11 Kanaan, Tony D/H/F 112.351 32 40 01 10.8136 :
3 27 Franchitti, Dario D/H/F 112.117 48 51 01 10.9617 :
4 26 Wheldon, Dan D/H/F 112.109 40 64 01 10.9669 :
5 10 Manning, Darren P/T/F 111.847 77 79 01 11.1329 :
6 83 Carpentier, Patrick D/T/F 111.740 73 76 01 11.2009 :
7 7 Herta, Bryan D/H/F 111.310 24 30 01 11.4763 :
8 3 Castroneves, Helio D/T/F 111.286 51 67 01 11.4914 :
9 17 Meira, Vitor P/H/F 111.234 38 51 01 11.5246 :
10 4 Scheckter, Tomas D/C/F 111.193 32 46 01 11.5514 :
11 2 Enge, Tomas D/C/F 111.128 32 57 01 11.5928 :
12 15 Rice, Buddy P/H/F 110.987 50 56 01 11.6840 :
13 6 Hornish Jr, Sam D/T/F 110.984 76 87 01 11.6861 :
14 9 Dixon, Scott P/T/F 110.948 51 55 01 11.7091 :
15 16 Patrick, Danica P/H/F 110.531 38 70 01 11.9796 :
16 55 Matsuura, Kosuke P/H/F 110.505 24 36 01 11.9968 :
17 10* Dixon, Scott P/T/F 110.232 3 5 01 12.1748 :
18 8 Sharp, Scott P/H/F 110.222 67 89 01 12.1814 :
19 9* Manning, Darren P/T/F 110.127 7 8 01 12.2440 :
20 51 Barron, Alex D/T/F 108.874 23 25 01 13.0752 :
21 24 Yasukawa, Roger D/H/F 108.859 48 48 01 13.0854 :
Ex-USAC President dies Ex-USAC President diesCharles T. "Charlie" Brockman, former president of the United States Auto Club and longtime Indianapolis radio and television broadcaster, died Jan. 18. He was 77.  A graduate of Speedway High School and later of Purdue's engineering school, Brockman held a variety of posts with USAC almost from its inception until the current time.

After serving, straight out of college, as a sportscaster at Indianapolis radio station WXLW and later at radio station WIRE, he became sports director at WLWI-TV (now WTHR) in Indianapolis, holding that position throughout the mid-1960s. He also was the anchor for the entire run of the MCA closed-circuit telecasts of the Indianapolis 500 from 1964-70 and was one of the original announcers on ABC's "Wide World of Sports" program, covering such events as the 24-Hours of Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix, and numerous non-motorsports events.

During his radio days, Brockman was a member of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network team, working in the booth with anchor Sid Collins. Brockman also conducted the winner's interview from 1954-59.

It was Brockman who was placed in the unenviable position of fielding Bob Sweikert's emotional "Who got hurt, who got hurt?" questions in 1955, diplomatically avoiding the fact that Sweikert's friend Bill Vukovich had died in a multi-car accident. And Brockman shed tears along with Sam Hanks when Hanks announced his retirement in Victory Lane in 1957.

Brockman served as master of ceremonies for several Indianapolis 500 Victory Banquets in the late 1950s and was "emcee" for every USAC banquet from the inaugural in May 1957 until he was elected USAC president in January 1969.

Named director of publicity for USAC in 1958, Brockman already had been helping USAC with publicity for some time on an unofficial basis. Brockman became the secretary to the board of directors in 1963 and then chairman of the USAC rules committee upon the death of Rhiman Rotz in a private plane crash in September 1967.

After serving as USAC president from 1969-72, Brockman continued to be involved with a variety of committees and was still an ex-officio board member and director emeritus at the time of his death.

Brockman was one of the half-dozen or so founding members of the American Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association in 1955 and was one of the original partners in the building of Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1960-61.

Visitation will be from 4-6 p.m. (Indianapolis time) Jan. 22 at Conkle Funeral Home, 4925 W. 16th St., Speedway, IN 46224, to be followed by a memorial service at 6 p.m.

Marco Andretti to test Toyota Atlantic car Marco Andretti to test Toyota Atlantic carThe Andretti family has a had a rich tradition of racing in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama and another generation will get an opportunity to show what he can do behind the wheel of a 240 HP Atlantic machine at the end of this month when Marco Andretti will test at California’s Buttonwillow Raceway road course, January 26-27.

The 17-year-old son of 1991 Champ Car Champion Michael Andretti and grandson of legendary racer Mario Andretti earned the two-day Atlantic test session after capturing the 2004 Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER. The test is made possible through an agreement with the RuSPORT racing team and the Skip Barber Racing School, which was announced in 2003. RuSPORT joined the Toyota Atlantic Championship with a two-car program in ’03 and won the series title that season with rookie A.J. Allmendinger. Showing its desire to help the continued development of top young open-wheel drivers, RuSPORT pledged to give a two-day test to the Skip Barber National champ through the 2005 season.

Both Allmendinger and RuSPORT moved up to the Champ Car World Series in 2004 and the Colorado-based team was able to continue its success as Allmendinger captured series Rookie of the Year honors. RuSPORT will work with the Sierra Sierra Enterprises team to host next week’s test. Marco Andretti will pilot one of the Toyota-powered Swift 014.a Atlantic cars with Yokohama ADVAN Racing Slicks that the Sierra Sierra team guided to a second- and fourth-place finish in last season’s championship with drivers Ryan Dalziel and Andrew Ranger, respectively.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to drive a Toyota Atlantic car,” said Marco Andretti. “This test is one of the great things that comes with being the 2004 Skip Barber National Champion and I’m really looking forward to learning about the car and working with the engineers. I want to thank Skip Barber, RuSPORT and the Sierra Sierra team and if everything my dad tells me is true about driving an Atlantic car, I’m going to have a lot of fun over the two days of the test.”

Marco Andretti won’t have to look far to get some advice on taming the Atlantic beast. Both his father and his uncle have experienced their share of success in the Toyota Atlantic series, beginning its 32nd year of competition in 2005. Michael Andretti captured the 1983 Atlantic crown while his younger brother Jeff Andretti finished sixth in the series in 1989.

“The year that I spent driving in the Atlantic series was honestly one of my most enjoyable seasons ever in racing,” said Michael Andretti. “The competition package from the power to the drivability to the tires is tremendous in the Atlantic cars and we’re really looking forward to Marco’s test. It should be a real challenge for him at this stage of his career.”

“We’re certainly excited to have another generation of Andretti run in a Toyota Atlantic car,” said Vicki O’Connor, Managing Director of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. “We were fortunate enough to have both Michael and Jeff run with our series as they were developing their racing careers and Mario has always been a big supporter of the Toyota Atlantic Championship. We want to thank RuSPORT for continuing this important testing program with Skip Barber and we know Marco will be in good hands with the Sierra Sierra team. We wish him the best of luck.”

RuSPORT compiled seven victories, nine poles and 12 podium finishes in its lone season of Atlantic competition. In its rookie Champ Car season in 2004, the team earned four podium results.

“RuSPORT is really pleased to continue being a part of this testing program with Skip Barber and the Toyota Atlantic Championship,” said RuSPORT Team President Jeremy Dale. “These steps clearly helped A.J. and RuSPORT to develop and gain experience to compete at the highest level of motorsport in Champ Cars. I think Marco is going to have a great experience and do well in his Toyota Atlantic debut.”

In addition to winning the 2004 Skip Barber National Championship, Marco Andretti won the 2003-2004 Skip Barber Southern Series title, captured the 2003 Skip Barber Eastern Series crown and won the 2002 Snap-On Stars of Karting National Championship. In 2005, Andretti will compete for the championship in the North American Star Mazda Series.

The Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. The championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve.

Honda Unveils Stout Lineup to Defend IRL Titles Honda Unveils Stout Lineup to Defend IRL TitlesTen drivers and four teams - the largest effort yet fielded by Honda in premier open-wheel competition - will take to the track in the 2005 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series as the manufacturer seeks to defend its "Triple Crown" of IRL titles won last year. In just its second season of Indy Racing League competition, Honda drivers and teams swept the competition in the 2004 IndyCar Series, winning 14 of 16 races and claiming three major IRL titles: the Manufacturers' Championship, Drivers' Championship and Rookie of the Year Award. It was an incredible season for Honda and its Honda Performance Development subsidiary, but the company is determined to defend all three titles with an expanded lineup, a continuation of the successful technical partnership with Ilmor Engineering, Inc., of Plymouth, Michigan, and the opening of HPD's new, state-of-the-art headquarters in Santa Clarita, California.

The results speak for themselves: Honda won 14 consecutive races in 2004, including the final two events run under the "old" 3.5-liter engine formula (at Phoenix and Honda-owned Twin Ring Motegi, Japan); the Indianapolis 500 (first race run with the new 3.0-liter engines) and the next 11 IndyCar Series races, continuing through the California Indy 400 in October.  Honda 2005 IndyCar Series Lineup:

Andretti Green Racing        
Bryan Herta             # 7 XM Radio Dallara Honda        
Tony Kanaan           #11 7-Eleven Dallara Honda        
Dan Wheldon           #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara Honda        
Dario Franchitti        #27 Arca/Ex Dallara Honda

Rahal Letterman Racing        
Buddy Rice              #15 Pioneer/Argent Panoz Honda        
Vitor Meira             #16 Menards Panoz Honda        
Danica Patrick         #17 Argent/Pioneer Panoz Honda

Delphi Fernandez Racing        
Scott Sharp             # 8 Delphi/AT&T Panoz Honda
Super Aguri Fernandez Racing        
Kosuke Matsuura         #55 Pioneer/Autobacs/ARTA Panoz Honda

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing        
Roger Yasukawa          #24 Aventis/Racing for Kids Dallara Honda

McMurray on TV tonight McMurray on TV tonightNASCAR driver Jamie McMurray will appear on NBC’s “West Wing” at 9:00pm ET.
Another Open Wheel sponsor to NASCAR Another Open Wheel sponsor to NASCAR[Editor's Note: Yet another Open Wheel sponsors has made their way to NASCAR.  Once they get a taste, they eventually leave.  It may cost more to do a deal in NASCAR, but the exposure is far greater.  Now that the sport of Indy Car Racing is divided....and conquered, they are having a hard time convincing sponsors to come onboard....or to stay.  That is the challenge facing open wheel racing in the coming years.]  Jim Beam Brands today signed a deal with Robby Gordon Motorsports (RGM) to serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 7 Chevy, driven by Robby Gordon, for a select number of races during the ’05 NASCAR Nextel Cup season, including the Daytona 500. RGM also inked a nine-race primary sponsorship deal with Fruit of the Loom, one of four nine-race primary sponsorship deals for the No. 7 car. THE DAILY
NASCAR VP named to Nets NASCAR VP named to NetsThe AP reports that Nets Sports & Entertainment today officially named NASCAR VP/Corporate Sponsorships Brett Yormark CEO. Yormark will oversee the business and marketing operations of the Nets’ parent company, including corporate sponsorships, marketing partnerships and ticket sales. Nets President Rod Thorn will remain in charge of the team’s basketball operations AP Story
Justin Wilson on Champ Car Justin Wilson on Champ CarAutosport caught up with Champ Car driver Justin Wilson at the Autosport International show and asked these questions about the upcoming season:

Q: Do you think you can close the gap to Newman/Haas in 2005?
Justin Wilson: Newman/Haas still has the edge, but it's our job to close that down as quickly as we can. We're not expecting to run away with it and the whole thing to be about me and AJ, but I do think we are going to be in there now. I expect it to be tough. RuSPORT has made great strides forward for this season but again, that's not job done, it is the beginning of our development.

Q: Where have these great strides come from?
JW: There's a lot we are working on in the off-season. Lots of technical adjustments that the team was working on towards the end of last season that they never got to use and we are now going to try them out.

Q: Now you've begun to settle in to RuSPORT, what is your impression of the team?
JW: The team seems to have more engineers than mechanics! It's not as big as an F1 team but we have people to cover every area. But what the team has is a real family feel. Everybody pulls together and everybody relies on everybody else. There is an extremely good feel about the team.

It's fantastic to be heading into a season with a team that I can expect to be competitive from the off. They have money, but it's not spent frivolously, the workshop is not as big as some others. The money is spent in the right places.
Q: Do you think you are ready to fight for the Champ Car title or is there still more to come from you?
JW: There is definitely still more to come from me. We are developing the car and as we do that, I can learn more and develop more. But I have a year's experience now in Champ Cars and I have to say that I am ready to race at the front and win races and titles. I am ready and I am up to the challenge.

Q: It is essentially AJ Allmendinger's team, and you're the new boy coming in. Can you beat him?
JW: Lots of people in the paddock came up to me and warned that RuSPORT was AJ's team. But the bottom line is that Carl wants it to be a successful two-car team and he will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

I think it will be very close between me and AJ. He is very quick. He understands what racing at this level is all about and he knows the team very well. He is also very confident in his ability and he's fun to race against. We get on very well and we see eye to eye on how to make the car go faster.

Any good team works well when their drivers are fighting together to beat each other on the track, because then they push the team forward and that is what I expect from us. On top of that because we work well together we will be able to work fast to develop the team.

Q: It can get physical on-track in Champ Cars. With the two of you so close in terms of pace, are you worried about clashing?
JW: I'm not worried about the on-track rivalry. We were both involved in contact with drivers during the season but never with one another and we raced closely together quite a lot. At Portland I think we were fighting for fourth and for three laps we were side-by-side, maybe for five corners at a time and it was great. We got out of the cars and laughed about it.

Q: Does it concern you that the Champ Car series is moving away from some of the more challenging, traditional road courses?
JW: The main reason we aren't going to tracks like Road America and Laguna Seca is simply because Champ Car has targeted places where there are lots of fans to race in front of. Put quite simply we are taking the racing to the fans. Perhaps as Champ Car begins to re-establish itself to where it once was, we will be able to return and have the reputation to draw the fans back to those great tracks.

Q: Do you still have Formula 1 aspirations?
JW: My focus is on the Champ Car World Series now. As AJ puts it, if you spend 15 years winning races and titles in the States, then you would have to be pretty happy with the achievements in your career. That's how I see it. I haven't ruled out F1, but why would I want to go back unless the situation was right? My goal is now to win the Champ Car World Series, then in the future, if I was invited back to race for a good team in F1, then maybe I would do it. Autosport.com

Observations from IRL testing at Homestead Observations from IRL testing at HomesteadSome observations of the IRL cars at Homestead this morning......The IRL cars are slow through the tight turns at HMS. They appear to bog down....But they do seem to accelerate faster than a Champ Car - no turbo lag.......Through the fastest corner on the track (Turn 1) they appear very squirrelly. In fact a few cars went off-course exiting the turn and approaching Turn 2.......The Road-Course front wing set-up is Huge! Bigger than a Champ Car's and with large flaps to generate downforce (entertainment is more important than driver skill in the IRL - 100% throttle racing on ovals says it all).......The G-Force's End-Plates are much bigger than that of the Dallara's (see photo).......The rear wing is like a sail in the wind with the top element almost perpendicular to the track (too funny).......How easy is it to drive an IRL car? Rookie Tomas Enge set the fastest time in the AM with just a few minutes to go before the end. Another rookie, Ryan Briscoe was 2nd fast......Not bad for Enge in a Chevy on a rapidly heating track.......The IRL and HMS PR guys were gushing about how great Danica Patrick is doing. What did you expect going from Toyota Atlantic down to the IRL cars? Down in terms of difficulty to drive. In reality, the Toyota Atlantic Series has produced many great drivers over the years. Too bad Toyota will abandon it after 2005.

(L to R) Red Bull Cheever car, Large Front Wings, Danica Patrick
(L to R) Ganassi rear sail, er.....we mean wing, Scott Sharp

Turkey to host LMES finale Turkey to host LMES finaleLeMans Endurance Series organizers have now announced that an event in Istanbul will be the final round of the 2005 LMES season and is due to be held on 15/16 October. “Istanbul is an exciting new addition to the 2005 LMES calendar,” John Ingram, driver for the LMP2 team Tracsport said following the announcement. “Dudley Wood, our team manager, and I are very much looking forward to the challenge. This opportunity gives Tracsport some very interesting new avenues to explore.” The race is subject to the approval of the FIA World Council.
2005 LMES Calendar
16-17 April: 1000 km Spa
9-10 July: 1000 km Monza
12-13 August: 1000 km Silverstone
3-4 September: 1000 km Nürburgring
15-16 October: 1000 km Istanbul
Panther Racing likes being lone Chevy team Panther Racing likes being lone Chevy teamPanther Racing likes being the lone Chevy IRL team in 2005. Team boss John Barnes said, "You don't have to wait for them to build additional parts for the other teams. When they get a new camshaft or new piston or new intake system or whatever, it immediately goes on our cars so we don't have to allocate it to five or six other cars. So it's a tremendous advantage. It gives them the ability to react very quickly to new parts and pieces."

"We feel it's an opportunity for us. GM has done a tremendous amount of work in the last really seven months on this program, getting us to where we're at. We'll all have a better idea come Saturday when we run on the oval," Barnes said.

"So far we've done two tests down here at Homestead. One was a Firestone test. We were very quick there, and everything looked very good. And then we ran a couple driver tests after that. I mean, we're looking forward to it.

"I think GM has done just a tremendous job, and continue to. They're working around the clock. The power train skunk works division is really thrashing this thing. They've come up with tremendous improvements since Indianapolis last year," Barnes said.

"I think also one thing that we're proud of, we're racing in an American series and we've got a great company like Chevrolet behind us," Tomas Scheckter said. "Hopefully the hard work they've put in the off-season can pay off, and we can give them what they want."

"Representing an American brand and an American company against these Japanese engine companies is a big honor. I will do everything for representing them as best as possible," Tomas Enge said.

Montoya tops testing in Valencia Montoya tops testing in ValenciaWednesday test times from Valencia:
Pos Driver Team-Engine Tires Time Laps
 1. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:11.336 97
 2. Montagny Renault (M) 1:11.418 118
 3. Button BAR-Honda (M) 1:12.209 78
 4. Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas (M) 1:12.212 92
 5. Sato BAR-Honda (M) 1:12.355 84
Williams 1-2 in Barcelona Williams 1-2 in BarcelonaWednesday test times from Barcelona:
1. Mark Webber - Williams BMW - 1'16"627 - 34 laps
2. Nick Heidfeld - Williams BMW - 1'16"987 - 34 laps
3. Michael Schumacher - Ferrari - 1'17"026 - 125 laps
4. Jarno Trulli - Toyota - 1'17"664 - 82 laps
5. Vitantonio Liuzzi - Red Bull - 1'18"035 - 39 laps
6. David Coulthard - Red Bull - 1'18"210 - 57 laps
7. Christian Klien - Red Bull - 1'18"320 - 33 laps
8. Ralf Schumacher - Toyota - 1'20"338 - 22 laps
Midland makes two key appointments Midland makes two key appointmentsMidland F1, the Russian-backed team who hope to join the Formula One grid in time for the 2006 season, have announced appointments for two key management positions. Dr Colin Colles is to be managing director, while Christian Geistdoerfer has accepted the post of marketing director. Prior to joining Midland, Dr Kolles was the driving force behind Kolles Racing and TME Racing, two successful contenders in the ultra-competitive Formula 3 Euro Series. Following a brilliant racing career that spanned 15 years and earned him two World Rally Championships (1980, 1982), Geistdoerfer went on to establish two international sports marketing agencies, Prodrive and P&W Consulting GmbH.

Of the appointments Alex Shnaider, co-founder and chairman of the Midland Group, said: “Midland is very pleased to welcome Dr Colin Kolles and Christian Geistdoerfer to key positions in our organization. Both possess the expertise and character necessary to achieve success at the pinnacle of motorsport. We believe their leadership skills will be a perfect fit for a young team that strives for excellence in every aspect of its operation.”

On his new position, Dr Kolles commented: “Following our first meeting I immediately felt that we shared the same philosophies toward hard work, professionalism and commitment. I am well aware of the challenges involved in bringing a Formula 1 team to the grid and I would have never accepted Mr Shnaider’s offer to run his team if I wasn’t sure that we will be successful.”

Joining Midland, Geistdoerfer declared: “After 15 years of professional rally racing and yet another 15 years heading event management agencies in motorsport, I was ready for a new personal challenge. I am honored by the trust that Mr Shnaider has placed in me and look forward to utilizing my expert knowledge for the benefit of Midland F1.” The appointments follow December’s announcement that Midland have signed up Boris Yeltsin Junior, grandson of Russia’s first president, as their Russian marketing director.

Bernie outmaneuvers GPWC with new Concorde Agreement Bernie outmaneuvers GPWC with new Concorde AgreementUPDATE Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said: “It is important and also pleasing that the FIA, which is the governing body and FOM, which represents those who have organized Formula 1 in these past years and Ferrari, which is the only team to have taken part in the World Championship, without a break, since its inception, have put out a strong message of stability for the future of Formula 1. This agreement is in line with what Ferrari had hoped for, for a long time.” FIA president Max Mosley said: “We are very pleased to have reached this agreement with Formula 1's commercial rights holder and the oldest team in the championship. The agreement is significant because it will ensure the future development of the FIA's most important championship.” 01/19/05 [Editor's Note: We often said, Bernie Ecclestone will prevail over the GPWC because collectively the manufacturers don't have the brainpower to outsmart him. With this news that Ferrari is in Bernie's camp, it's safe to say the GPWC has one foot in the grave and they are backfilling the hole. Ron Dennis, one of the chief architects behind the GPWC must be having a bad day.] The FIA, Ferrari and Formula One Management have announced that they have reached an agreement to prolong the Concorde Agreement from 2008 to 2012. It is not clear what the details of the agreement are but it is certain that the deal will upset Ferrari's supposed partners in the GPWC. Ferrari has previously said that it was committed to the GPWC and wanted a better deal for all the participants in FIA Formula 1 World Championship. This is clearly not the case and Ferrari will no doubt suffer in the months ahead as there will be bitterness against the team for having, in effect, sold out the other GPWC members. What is certain is that Ferrari will get a better deal than previously was the case. Grandprix.com
Nicky Pastorelli gets F1 drive in torrential rain Nicky Pastorelli gets F1 drive in torrential rainSuperfund Euro 3000 Champion Nicky Pastorelli took his prize of a Formula One test today joining the Minardi team at the Autodromo Santamonica, Misano. In torrential rain, Pastorelli took to the wheel of the Minardi PS04B at the start of the afternoon session to complete 12 laps of the wet Misano circuit. In spite of the adverse conditions, the Dutch-Italian driver made no mistakes, to gain an understanding and explore the potential of the F1 car.

Nicky Pastorelli: “Driving the Minardi has been a fantastic experience and although the conditions were far from perfect I was able to get a real feel for the power of Formula One. The car is very different from what I am used to and all the reactions were much greater than I expected. The braking power was particularly impressive and although I didn’t get a chance to use the rev limiter because of the rain, I could feel how powerful the engine can be. I’d like to thank Superfund and Minardi for giving me this amazing opportunity – hopefully I’ll be behind the wheel of a F1 car again very soon!”

Paul Stoddart, Minardi Team Principal: "We have had an interesting day, even if the weather made it very difficult. Nicky did a very good job, acclimatizing to the car quickly and adapting well to the tricky surface conditions. We now look forward to tomorrow, and hopefully, some better weather to conclude the test."

Manfredi Ravetto, Marketing Manager, Team Draco: “We are delighted Nicky won the opportunity to test drive the Minardi F1 at this crucial stage in his career. We had the worst possible conditions today to conduct a F1 test but Nicky adapted well to the car and was able to get twelve laps under his belt. Today’s test confirms our feeling at Draco that Nicky’s future lies in Formula One.”

Bourdais gets IROC nod Bourdais gets IROC nod[Editor's Note:  This must irk Paul Tracy who was shunned by the IROC series even though he was the 2004 Champ Car champion] Winning the 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford championship has opened doors for Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), but the Frenchman is finding that doors and fenders are now open to him as he will get a chance to compete in this year’s Crown Royal International Race of Champions Series.

Bourdais will be the first Champ Car driver since 2001 to compete in the all-star competition, which brings drivers from a number of different series together for four races to be conducted in identically-prepared sports cars. Bourdais earned the invitation after a dominant 2004 campaign that saw him win seven races and eight poles en route to his first Champ Car title.

“I am very honored that I was chosen to compete in the IROC series,” Bourdais said. “It will be a great opportunity to discover something new; new tracks, different cars and a different form of racing.  I am looking forward to the experience and I will try to represent the Champ Car World Series as best I can.”

Champ Car luminaries such as Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby and Al Unser, Gordon Johncock, Bobby Rahal, A.J. Foyt, Danny Sullivan and Al Unser Jr. have all captured race wins in the all-star series. Unser Jr. is the last open-wheel driver to win an IROC championship, taking the title in 1988, and is tied with the late Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin as the all-time leaders in IROC race wins with 11. Kenny Brack is the last Champ Car driver to represent the series in IROC competition, finishing third in the 2001 championship.

“We are very pleased that the organizers of the IROC series have invited our champion to compete this year,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “Champ Car has a long and successful history in IROC and we expect Sebastien will do everything he can to carry on the legacy.”

The IROC series has been a proving ground for Champ Car stars ever since its inception in 1973 when Champ Car and road-racing star Mark Donohue won the first IROC race. The series will begin its season February 18 at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Raceway, followed by events April 15 at Texas, September 8 at Richmond and October 29 in Atlanta. Champ Car broadcast partner SPEED Channel will air the IROC events on a tape-delayed basis.

He will be matched against 11 other drivers from U.S.-based series including series champions from NASCAR Nextel Cup (Kurt Busch), NASCAR Busch Series (Martin Truex Jr.), NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (Bobby Hamilton), Rolex Grand American Series (Max Papis and Scott Pruett) and the World of Outlaws (Steve Kinser). NASCAR drivers Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth, Indy Racing League drivers Buddy Rice and Helio Castroneves and World of Outlaws driver Danny Lasoski will round out the star-studded field.

Bourdais competed in a similar event in December, participating in the Michelin Race Of Champions in Paris. The 16-man event saw Bourdais matched against the world’s top drivers including stars from Formula 1, the World Rally Championship and NASCAR.

SPEED to air Rolex 24 SPEED to air Rolex 24SPEED Channel will open the 2005 Grand American Road Racing season with 14.5 hours of live coverage from the 43rd running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, beginning Feb. 5 at noon ET.

Bob Varsha and Leigh Diffey will provide play-by-play for SPEED Channel, with David Hobbs and Dorsey Schroeder offering analysis. Calvin Fish, Brian Till and Chris Neville will handle pit reporting. Grand Marshal Derek Bell, a three-time Rolex 24 at Daytona winner, also will spend time in the SPEED Channel booth.

        SPEED Channel's broadcast schedule for the Rolex 24:

·       Feb. 5 - Noon to 7 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET (Live)
·       Feb. 6 - 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET (Live)

In addition to the live race coverage, SPEED Channel cameras are following several top teams for a behind-the-scenes special entitled Champions' Quest, scheduled to debut Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. ET. The special will follow some of the top names in American racing, including Paul Tracy, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice and 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Kurt Busch as they compete in the historic event on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course

Several other drivers are scheduled to be part of the special, including Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Terry & Bobby Labonte and Matt Kenseth.

SPEED Channel's Web site -- www.SPEEDTV.com -- also will be home to a post-event Pontiac micro-site, offering visitors exclusive in-car highlights and editorial content from the Pontiac racing entries.

Martin hopes to screw things up royally Martin hopes to screw things up royallyMark Martin has plans for his last year of Nextel Cup Racing in 2005; he hopes to really mess things up in the NASCAR community. Martin, speaking to a room full of reporters during lunch at Tuesdays Daytona testing session, said he hoped to wreak some havoc on the racing world in 2005.

I think the No. 6 team will be better prepared than they were a year ago and I think that we stand a chance of really messing this whole deal up, and that would be if we could win the championship, said Martin.

That would be pretty strange to not have the champion come back and do the tour. Its my hope right now that I can screw it up royally, added Martin with a slight grin.

Martin will kick off his final bid for the Nextel Cup title in next months famed Daytona 500. The team will look to get off to a strong start to the season, before heading to California, Las Vegas and Atlanta all strong beds for Martins racing. The team enjoyed one of its most successful Speedweeks last season, posting one of the strongest cars, before suffering a disappointing setback in the 500, after losing the engine just eight laps into the race. Martin started the year in last place, but rebounded to make the top-10 in time for the Chase for the Cup, before eventually moving on to a fourth place finish in the final standings.

My hope is to go out with a season that is as good as or better than 2004, said Martin. I really believe that we can hope for a season that is better than 2004, based on what I know about Pat Tryson and the Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) team and the support we have.

I have to mention here and its very important that I acknowledge the guys that work that car because a number of them had good job opportunities that were for better conditions and more money than what they stayed to give me my last shot at a championship.

Its an honor to me, added Martin. Because I asked them to do that. I asked them to stay and it was an honor to me that they did every one of them stayed. That’s very special to me and Id like to acknowledge that and we are going to go after this thing. Nothing is going to step in front of the commitment that we have this season.

Industry News
Johnstone now a Honda dealer Johnstone now a Honda dealerParker Johnstone is one of professional racing’s most popular and winning drivers with seven championships and fifty-four wins. Johnstone is now a successful television commentator featured on professional race broadcasts.  Now teamed with Honda, auto dealer Bruce Titus, and investors John and J.B. Dimmer, Johnstone adds automobile dealer to his resume.  Project management services were provided through Mountain’s development consulting affiliate, Madison Street Consulting in collaboration with Northwest Investment Properties, Inc.  The project presented complex planning and design challenges to reconcile extraordinary city requirements with Honda criteria. For example, a 1.35 acre enclosed vehicle storage area addresses City code prohibiting outside display of retail goods - including automobiles.  Necessary permits have been obtained and construction is underway targeting opening in 2005. Mountain Construction
Junqueira in Brazil race Junqueira in Brazil raceBruno Junqueira is slated to be one of many big names due to contest next week’s 1000 Miles of Brazil. The Newman/Haas racer will drive a Chevrolet-powered ZF prototype in the sportscar event on January 25. Also due to compete in the event at Interlagos are sometime Formula 1 driver Luciano Burti and ex-Formula 3000 racer Ricardo Maurício in Porsche 911 GT3s. Reigning FIA GT Champion Fabrizio Gollin drives a Chrysler Viper and Briton Jamie Campbell-Walter shares a Lister Storm. Autosport Magazine
Brands Hatch upgrade means Champ Car can return Brands Hatch upgrade means Champ Car can returnWhen Champ Car raced at Brands Hatch in 2003 it was on the Mickey Mouse 1.2-mile circuit. The race was doomed for failure before it got started. Autosport Magazine reports that the Brands Hatch Grand Prix "long" circuit is to be revamped to international standard following its deal to host the opening round of the new A1 Grand Prix series on September 18. MotorSport Vision chief executive Jonathan Palmer – who bought the venue along with Cadwell Park, Oulton Park and Snetterton last year – revealed the plan to use the full 2.6-mile circuit for the innovative 500bhp single-seater series at Autosport International last Thursday. He said that MSV is already “well down the line” towards modernizing the circuit to satisfy the FIA’s Grade 2 licensing criteria.

“We certainly intend that the race will take place on the Grand Prix circuit,” said Palmer. “I’m very eager that the circuit, which is a fantastic track that drivers continue to wax lyrical about, isn’t allowed to slip away as it has for the last few years. We are working very hard at the moment with the MSA, and indirectly with the FIA, to make the considerable modifications we need to bring the circuit up to modern safety standards. “Assuming we do that – and we’re confident that we have the necessary effort and resources to achieve it – this will be the fastest race to be held at Brands Hatch since the last grand prix almost 20 years ago. We will really put on a good show with some great support races.”

Brands Hatch’s 1.2-mile Indy circuit already possesses a valid Grade 2 license following its Champ Car World Series race in 2003. Dingle Dell corner, now renamed as Sheene’s Curve, was reprofiled for ’03 (see image right) to satisfy the organizers of the World Superbike Championship. Westfield Bend will similarly be changed, with the apex of the corner tightened and the track moved further towards the inside of the GP loop to allow a larger run-off area. Work on that will commence in April, with minor changes to Hawthorn Bend bringing the overall cost of the changes to a six-figure sum.

IRL Homestead test schedule IRL Homestead test scheduleThis week's Homestead Test Schedule:
Today: 9 a.m. - Testing on the road course; Noon - Lunch break; 1 p.m. Testing on the road course resumes; 4:30 p.m. - Testing ends.
Thursday: 9 a.m. - Testing on the road course; Noon - Lunch break; 1 p.m. - Testing on the road course resumes; 4:30 p.m. - Testing ends.
Friday: Media day. Saturday: 9 a.m. - Testing on the oval; Noon - Lunch break; 1 p.m. - Testing on the oval resumes; 4 p.m. - Testing ends.
NASCAR out to thwart crooks NASCAR out to thwart crooksNASCAR has announced plans to put tags with holograms on officially licensed products in a program designed to thwart those who sell counterfeit goods. The program will require all companies producing NASCAR-licensed merchandise to attach the holograms. "With the increasing popularity of NASCAR and the expansion of our licensing business, knock-off goods are a growing problem in our sport," said Mark Dye, vice president of licensing for NASCAR. An advertising campaign using print publications and radio shows to spread the word about the program is scheduled to start this month. NASCAR says 150 licensees have signed on for the program so far. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
Still No Word on Daytona 500 Qualifying Format Still No Word on Daytona 500 Qualifying FormatWhen NASCAR announced its new qualifying procedures for 2005 last week, questions surrounded the Daytona 500, which has a unique qualifying format, which in the past has included Bud Pole Qualifying, two qualifying races, qualifying speeds and provisional starting positions. With the exception of the so-called "Champion's Provisional," the provisional system has been done away with. The qualifying races have been extended to 150 miles each, from 125 in the past. The only sure thing at this point, according to NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo, is that the top 35 team owners from the 2004 Nextel Cup owners' standings are guaranteed starting positions in the race. Beyond that, Zizzo said, the qualifying format is "still being tweaked," with the details expected when the race's entry blank is available. NASCAR.com
Andretti goes to bat for Bourdais Andretti goes to bat for BourdaisWhen Mario calls, people listen. At least, they should. After reading comments attributed to Frank Williams saying, in effect, now that the Champ Car World Series is a shadow of its former self, Sebastien Bourdais is an unknown quantity and therefore not a candidate for a test with Williams-BMW, Mario Andretti phoned Williams to “give him a piece of my mind.”

“He (Williams) said, ‘Let me ask you this: How would (Bourdais) stack up against (Juan Pablo) Montoya?’” said Andretti. “And I said, ‘All day. Anywhere. And as a matter of fact, I’m a Montoya fan. I think this guy (Bourdais) has got more smarts than Montoya. He’s got more control, more technical.  ‘Montoya is just flat out,’ I said, ‘and sometimes I don’t think he knows why. This guy is technical. You guys are missing the boat.’” SPEEDTV

Kirk Russell finds job in the IRL Kirk Russell finds job in the IRLLongtime CART competition boss J. Kirk Russell found a role in the Indy Racing League. That time is apparently now, as “Captain Kirk” is working as a consultant to former Champ Car team owner Barry Green in putting together the IRL’s inaugural street race event at St. Petersburg. SPEEDTV
Briatore NY bound Briatore NY boundThe New York Post reports that Renault F1 team boss Flavio Briatore recently bought an $11 million New York apartment near Bloomingdale’s to go along with his apartments in London, Paris, Athens and his estate in Kenya.
Latest F1 News in Brief Latest F1 News in Brief
Schu's back in dominant mood
Albers guns for F1 license
'BAR should've dumped Button'
Sauber to tackle Ferrari?
Ferrari to launch near HQ
New Finance man at Grove
Warning for David Coulthard
Enge to IRL
Honda axed BAR principal
Bothersome bumps at Barcelona
GPWC would be F1 'disaster'
Mika Hakkinen warned
Industry News
More upgrades for Infineon More upgrades for InfineonConstruction crews have begun work at Infineon Raceway on track enhancements to the road course that will be in place for the 2005 Big O Tires Racing Season.   The four projects will be particularly beneficial to the Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). The IRL will make history at Infineon Raceway in 2005 with its first-ever permanent road-course race in the 10-year history of the series, Aug. 26-28.

Infineon Raceway has spent more than $60 million over the last five years on a comprehensive modernization project that has transformed the facility into one of the premier motor sports and entertainment venues in the country. Many of the added amenities over the last five years have been designed for competitors, including increased runoff at virtually every turn, removal of old, wooden bridges, creation of a safer Turn 9-9a for the AMA, repositioning of the Turn 1 bridge and an enlarged pit road that accommodates 43 race cars.

The theme continues in 2005. Ninety-percent of a grading project at Turn 2 is complete, making the runoff area level with the racetrack. A new storm drain system has also been installed at Turns 1-2, which should aid rain runoff.

Specific for the IRL race in August, a wall will be constructed on driver's right from Turns 1-2, followed by tire-pack that will span Turns 2-4. Finally, three Musco light poles, which are currently at the exit of the Carousel (Turn 6), will be moved back 40 feet onto a slope. The wall and tire-pack at Turns 1-4 will exist ONLY for the IRL race. Raceway officials will also pave small areas of runoff at AMA and IRL Turn 9a, and the exit of the Carousel (Turn 6).  All work will be completed for the 2005 road-racing season, which begins with the Kawasaki AMA Superbike Showdown, presented by Supercuts, May 13-15.

Daytona testing: Jarrett still fastest Daytona testing: Jarrett still fastestCumulative results of NASCAR Nextel Cup single car testing at Daytona International Speedway, through Tuesday afternoon:

1. Dale Jarrett, No. 88 Ford, 48.269 seconds, 186.455 mph
2. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet, 48.456, 185.736
3. Randy LaJoie, No. 98 Chevrolet, 48.588, 185.231
4. Boris Said, No. 36 Chevrolet, 48.601, 185.181
5. Scott Riggs, No. 10 Chevrolet, 48.620, 185.109
6. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, 48.624, 185.094
7. Jeremy Mayfield, No. 19 Dodge, 48.656, 184.972
8. Elliott Sadler, No. 38 Ford, 48.668, 184.926
9. Mike Bliss, No. 0 Chevrolet, 48.691, 184.839
10. Joe Nemechek, No. 01 Chevrolet, 48.697, 184.816
11. Kurt Busch, No. 97 Ford, 48.773, 184.528
12. Mike McLaughlin, No. 20 Chevrolet, 48.787, 184.475
13. Jeff Green, No. 43 Dodge, 48.801, 184.422
14. Ricky Rudd, No. 21 Ford, 48.818, 184.358
15. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, 48.844, 184.260
16. Michael Waltrip, No. 15 Chevrolet, 48.865, 184.181
17. Kenny Wallace, No. 00 Chevrolet, 48.890, 184.087
18. Mark Martin, No. 6 Ford, 48.923, 183.963
19. Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge, 48.934, 183.921
20. Bobby Labonte, No. 18 Chevrolet, 48.956, 183.839
21. Kyle Petty, No. 45 Dodge, 48.957, 183.835
22. Jason Leffler, No. 11 Chevrolet, 48.967, 183.797
23. Mike Wallace, No. 4 Chevrolet, 48.987, 183.722
24. Ryan Newman, No. 12 Dodge, 49.008, 183.643
25. Morgan Shepherd, No. 89 Dodge, 49.039, 183.527
26. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Ford, 49.070, 183.411
27. Travis Kvapil, No. 77 Dodge, 49.074, 183.397
28. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Ford, 49.087, 183.348
29. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Chevrolet, 49.092, 183.329
30. Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Chevrolet, 49.097, 183.311
31. Kyle Busch, No. 5 Chevrolet, 49.100, 183.299
32. Eric McClure, No. 73 Chevrolet, 49.108, 183.270
33. Dave Blaney, No. 07 Chevrolet, 49.145, 183.132
34. Jamie McMurray, No. 42 Dodge, 49.156, 183.091
35. Kerry Earnhardt, No. 33 Chevrolet, 49.281, 182.626
36. Rusty Wallace, No. 2 Dodge, 49.283, 182.619
37. Johnny Sauter, No. 09 Dodge, 49.329, 182.448
38. Kerry Earnhardt, No. 29 Chevrolet, 49.338, 182.415
39. John Andretti, No. 14 Ford, 49.343, 182.397
40. Sterling Marlin, No. 40 Dodge, 49.345, 182.389
41. Scott Wimmer, No. 22 Dodge, 49.394, 182.208
42. Casey Mears, No. 41 Dodge, 49.399, 182.190
43. Brian Vickers, No. 25 Chevrolet, 49.421, 182.109
44. Mike Skinner, No. 23 Dodge, 49.423, 182.101
45. David Stremme, No. 39 Dodge, 49.433, 182.065
46. Bobby Hamilton Jr., No. 32 Chevrolet, 49.438, 182.046
47. Derrike Cope, No. 55 Chevrolet, 49.454, 181.987
48. Robby Gordon, No. 7 Chevrolet, 49.693, 181.112
49. Jeff Fuller, No. 92 Chevrolet, 49.818, 180.658
50. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Chevrolet, 49.885, 180.415
51. Hermie Sadler, No. 66 Ford, 49.902, 180.353
52. Kevin Lepage, No. 37 Dodge, 49.934, 180.238
53. Kirk Shelmerdine, No. 27 Ford, 50.369, 178.681

Nemechek has Surgery Nemechek has Surgery MB2 Motorsports driver Joe Nemechek is looking a little gimpy getting around the Daytona garage, but it isn't putting a crimp in his driving style, as the No. 01 Chevrolet was second on the morning time sheet and at the top of the afternoon's list. Nemechek had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee late last month to repair a torn cartilage. Nemechek said the knee was injured when he crashed in the early stages of August's Sharpie 500 at Bristol. "When I hit the wall at Bristol the knee was a little sore," Nemechek said. "It gradually got worse and started to lock up. "When we had the team's Christmas party (Dec. 17) our trainer, Lance Munksgard, advised me to have it checked out. I had an MRI the same day and had surgery the following week. "There's still a little swelling, but it's getting better. It doesn't affect my driving." NASCAR PR
Americans are marketing majors, Europeans drivers Americans are marketing majors, Europeans driversAmerican F1 hopeful Scott Speed, who has met with great success racing in Europe, was asked by Road and Track Magazine - Is the competition in Europe tougher than in the USA? "I think drivers are here (Europe) because of their talent, because they've found their way through the ladder, and I think that a lot of drivers in the States are there because they are marketing majors. Here, I can just be myself and work as hard as I can to be fast on the track. That's how everyone is over here. In America, it's not like that. So, I think that breeds more competition over here because everyone is much more cutthroat."
A Formula 1 road car A Formula 1 road carMB Roadcars is a company established last year by Michael Blaize, a Formula 1 aerodynamicist who worked in the missile business prior to his involvement in the sport. The 31-year-old Frenchman has now produced a dramatic road car called the EOS (which stands for Exigence Of Speed) at his workshops in Brackley. Blaize has been assisted in his work by other F1 engineers, including composite expert Ian Thomson. The intention was to design and build a road car which would be engineered in the same way as a Formula 1 car, using state-of-the-art design techniques and advanced materials. Blaize says that the three-seater sports car "brings together the very best of motorsport and aerospace technologies into a distinctive and elegant concept". Powered by a V8 engine the car is designed to do zero to 60mph in 3.5secs and will get to a top speed of 200mph. The intention is to put the car into production - with a limit of 20 cars a year. These will retail at something in the region of $600,000. The first prototype will be ready by the end of 2006. Grandprix.com
PKV buys enough Lolas for 3rd car PKV buys enough Lolas for 3rd carPKV Racing has bought all of Fernandez Racing's Lolas giving them enough cars to run a third car if they choose to.
Formula BMW
2005 Formula BMW USA schedule 2005 Formula BMW USA scheduleFormula BMW USA announced today an impressive schedule for the 2005 Formula BMW USA Championship. In only its second season, Formula BMW USA has put together a dream season for the aspiring open wheel driver. This season's 14-round Championship will visit three new circuits allowing Formula BMW USA drivers to compete in front of every major North American road racing series, in addition to both North American Formula One Grand Prix races.

In 2005, Formula BMW USA drivers will race in support of Formula One, the American Le Mans Series, the Champ Car World Series, the Grand American Road Racing Association and the Indy Racing League. The season will begin at Laguna Seca Raceway on April 29 - May 1 with Rounds 1 and 2 in support of Grand American and the U.S. Sports Car Invitational. Rounds 3 and 4 will support The American Le Mans Series at Mid-Ohio on May 20-22. Anchoring the schedule, as in 2004, Rounds 5 through 8 will be run in support of the Canadian and United States Grands Prix on June 11-12 and June 17-19. On July 29-31 the Championship will visit picturesque Barber Motorsports Park for the first time, again with Grand American, for Rounds 9 and 10. The Championship fight will be taken to the streets with Rounds 11 and 12 at the Grand Prix of Denver with Champ Car. The final two Rounds of the 2005 Formula BMW USA Championship will be held at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 26-28 with the IRL.

"One of the goals of the Formula BMW USA Championship is to build a racing schedule that offers a variety of challenging race tracks for the drivers, as well as providing them exposure to several major racing series with a large number of fans," said Alex Schmuck, Formula BMW USA Manager. "There is no other racing series in North America that provides this caliber of schedule combined with an education and coaching program, hospitality, and technical support. We are excited about 2005 and have worked very hard to make this season even better than our first."

The 2005 season test ban will go into effect on March 15. Four official testing sessions have been scheduled at Road Atlanta on March 21-22, at Virginia International Raceway on April 9-10, at Carolina Motorsports Park on April 16- 17 and at Putnam Park on July 12-13.

2004 was Formula BMW USA's inaugural season. 20-year old Andreas Wirth won the Overall Championship and BMW Junior driver James Hinchcliffe won the Rookie Championship.

Background: @Formula BMW is the world's leading entry-level class in Formula racing. In 2005 the series will be held in Germany, Britain, Asia and the USA. Up-and-coming drivers as young as 15 years of age are given the opportunity of entering motor racing with the high-tech, standard FB2 race car.

Since 2002, this racecar has been seen on the grid and has set standards particularly on the safety technology front. A single-seater propelled by a 140 bhp BMW motorcycle engine up to 140 miles per hour, it exceeds by far the safety requirements for its class. BMW Motorsport has developed the FORS Formula Rescue Seat especially for Formula BMW, and the HANS safety system is also mandatory.

In 2005, Formula BMW will be a support race at five different Formula One race weekends worldwide. Formula BMW offers a multifaceted Education and Coaching Program, as well as sponsorship for promising racing talents via the Junior Program. The best-known alumni of Formula BMW are Formula One drivers Ralf Schumacher, Christian Klien and Timo Glock.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "Formula BMW offers talented young drivers more than just a car. In the Education and Coaching Program we have designed specially for them, they learn everything they need to know to hold their own in the big wide world of motor racing. Formula BMW has shot out of the blocks to become the top entry-level class for Formula racing worldwide."

2005 Formula BMW USA Schedule
Official Test               Road Atlanta                       March 21-22
Official Test               Virginia Int'l Raceway             April 9-10
Official Test               Carolina Motorsports Park          April 16-17
Round 1 and 2               Laguna Seca Raceway                April 29-May 1
Round 3 and 4               Mid-Ohio Sports Car                May 20-22
Round 5 and 6               Canadian Grand Prix                June11-12
Round 7 and 8               United States Grand Prix           June 17-19
Official Test               Putnam Park                        July 12-13
Round 9 and 10              Barber Motorsports Park            July 29 - 31
Round 11 and 12             Grand Prix of Denver               Aug. 12-14
Round 13 and 14             Infineon Raceway                   Aug. 26 - 28

Jim McGee bullish on Champ Car, rejected the IRL Jim McGee bullish on Champ Car, rejected the IRLAfter interludes at Rahal and Newman/Haas from 1992-'94, Jim McGee rejoined Patrick Racing in 1995 and was unhappy to see the demise of Patrick's team at the end of 2003. "I was really disappointed with the way Patrick Racing came to an end," McGee says. "We had a great team in 2003. We had assembled a great bunch of people and we were very competitive. Then it came to an end kind of abruptly. I wasn't interested in the direction that Patrick Racing was going so Mr. Patrick and I parted company." McGee didn't see anything that interested him and he took most of 2004 off. He ran Carl Haas's Indy 500 program for Bruno Junqueira and went to Elkhart Lake to see what was going on in Champ Car.

"I did the deal for Carl at Indianapolis because he was in a little bit of a bind after Peter Gibbons left," McGee comments. "After we did the Indy program Carl asked me if I was interested in doing an IRL program for him and I told him I wasn't interested in doing a season there. So I sat back a little bit, kept talking to Vasser, went to a couple of races and looked at what PKV was doing."

While many others deserted McGee has remained a staunch supporter of the Champ Car World Series. He watched the birth of the new Champ Car group and started talking to Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven and Dan Pettit about 2005 and beyond.

McGee believes Champ Car will quickly build momentum over the next few months. "Let's not forget these guys have only been in business for ten months," he observes. "It didn't get off the ground until March last year and they've made some huge gains in that time. They've announced the television package, which is a big step forward. The television package we've all been waiting for has arrived and certainly that's a huge shot in the arm for everyone involved.

"I think Dick Eidswick has done a great job. When you look at what he's had to do, it's a huge task. He took over a pretty fragmented group and, bit by bit, he's putting this thing together. We're all trying to support his decisions and help him in the decision-making. We're all trying to do what we think is best for the sport. We all want to see it turn the corner and certainly it's a lot better off this year than it was last year.

"They were digging the grave last year but this year we've got a TV package, we've got a good schedule and more to come, and there's a lot of interest from drivers and teams. I think the series will gather momentum over the next few months and once it does there will be people wanting to jump aboard. It's going to take sponsors and companies a while to recognize what's happening with Champ Car but I think in the short period of time they've had to put this thing back together they've done a great job."

McGee says key elements in building that confidence and momentum will be getting the right technical boss and chief steward in place at Champ Car. "I know a few of the candidates and they've got a couple of very strong candidates for those jobs," McGee comments. "Right now there's a reorganization going on but once they get the right key people in there everything will fall into place. I think you'll see some announcements of new hirings, hopefully in the next week or two, and I think they're going to be the right people. Racing is a small circle and there are people who are available and have the credentials. It's just a case of picking the right people. It's like putting together a race team. You have to have the right chemistry and the right group."

McGee says Kalkhoven and Forsythe's purchases of Cosworth and Pi Research provide a powerful business platform. "Through fortunate circumstances these companies became available and these people are businessmen. They're venture capitalists and they're surrounding themselves with solid people and growing their businesses. I've always said in racing, or any other business, you've got to be at the right place at the right time and I think their timing in buying Champ Car and then Cosworth and Pi was perfect. They're well on their way to putting together a package that's going to have some staying power.
"Steve Krisiloff is one example of a guy who is over the moon about this whole deal," McGee adds. "He sees positive things happening. He sees them moving forward and making gains. They've got a plan and they've given us the confidence that they're going to weather the storms and continue forward. When you see them making acquisitions like Cosworth and Pi that gives you confidence that they're looking to the future."

The old pro remains as enthusiastic as ever. "Here we go again!" McGee grins. "I still enjoy it and I think there is a future to look forward to. I'd love to see it blossom again and I believe it will. I'm excited about it." Champ Car
PKV to test Dalziel and Wirdheim again PKV to test Dalziel and Wirdheim againPKV Racing successfully tested Bjorn Wirdheim and Ryan Dalziel two months ago and both young drivers will test again for the team for two days in company with Vasser at Sebring on February 4-6. "We'll run Jimmy for a couple of days down there and run the other two guys also. We'll have two cars running down there.". "We're close to making a decision. We're going to run both Ryan and Wirdheim again at Sebring and see how things develop over the next couple of weeks. But we have to make a decision by the first couple of weeks of February. In fact, we'd like to make it before then.". Champ Car
Snow, fog hamper Minardi test Snow, fog hamper Minardi testFoggy conditions accompanied by occasional snow flurries greeted Minardi Cosworth team members as they arrived at the Autodromo Santamonica for the opening day of a scheduled three-day test. As a result, there was little opportunity for any meaningful running during the morning, but with conditions improving in the afternoon, drivers Christijan Albers and Nicky Pastorelli remained hopeful of completing their respective programs.

Albers was first out, at the wheel of a Minardi Cosworth PS04B chassis. He completed a total of 57 laps before a hydraulic problem with the car brought his session to a premature conclusion.

“The big change for me at this test compared with my last time here at Misano, in November, is that now I know I am going to be a Minardi race driver in 2005, and it feels great. I also know the team a lot better, as I have been spending a lot of time in Faenza training and preparing myself physically and mentally for the season ahead,” Christijan said. “Today we did some useful work and we have discovered a little bit more about the car. We struggled a little with the initial set-up, but the track and weather conditions were not great. I’m confident we’ll make good progress as the test goes on. As usual, the team has done a great job today and the guys have put in maximum effort. The atmosphere is really good, and I feel right at home.”

With light fading rapidly, Minardi technical staff were unable to complete the necessary repairs in the time available, and the team therefore decided to postpone Pastorelli’s test until Wednesday morning. Israeli driver, Chanoch Nissany, will join Albers and Pastorelli at the Misano circuit tomorrow.

“We lost time this morning because of the adverse weather conditions, but even so, once Christijan took to the track, he quickly demonstrated his speed and consistency. It’s also clear the training he has been doing since the last test, in November, is paying off and we are very pleased with his physical condition,” explained Massimo Rivola, Sporting Director and Team Manager. “Unfortunately, a hydraulic problem with the car this afternoon meant we were not able to cover the scheduled distance, but all being well, Christijan should easily complete the remaining kilometers required to qualify for his Super license tomorrow. Regrettably, we didn’t have the opportunity to run Nicky this afternoon as planned, but he will be the first driver in the car in the morning. Finally, our sincere thanks to the Bridgestone personnel, who are once again supporting us strongly at this test. We were able to collect considerable useful data today regarding the 2005 car and tires, and the initial results are certainly very interesting.”

Drifting event added to Long Beach schedule Drifting event added to Long Beach schedule“Drifting,” the hottest new addition to the world motorsports scene since stadium racing, will be scorching the streets of Long Beach April 8-10 during the 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  The Inaugural Long Beach Drifting Challenge, conducted in conjunction with Champ Car and Formula Drift, will be the first time Drifting has ever appeared (legally!) on city streets and the first Drifting demonstration to take place around the entire length of a race circuit.

The sport, which originated in the mountains of Japan, is the art of controlling a car sliding sideways and as close to out-of-control as possible, with drivers judged on style and showmanship, rather than speed.  During a drift, the goal is not to maximize traction, but instead have the car behave as though racing on ice or snow.  It’s a total snub to the logic that says cars are designed, engineered and intended NOT to go sideways.  And, the resultant orgy of billowing smoke and screaming tires is attracting millions of racing fans worldwide.  “It’s a huge, historic step for Drifting to be part of such a major motorsports event, and we’re looking forward to putting on a great show,” said internationally known Drifter Alex Pfeiffer. “Those who don’t know about Drifting are in for a wild new experience!”

Experienced Drifters prefer rear-wheel-drive cars that are lightweight, balanced and handle well, such as the AE86 Toyota Corolla and Toyota Supra Twin Turbo.

The current race weekend schedule (subject to change) includes half-hour sessions of the Inaugural Long Beach Drifting Challenge over the entire 1.97-mile, 11-turn race circuit on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, they will hit the track prior to the 1 p.m. start of the 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Champ Car race.  “I believe this will be an exciting new addition to our race weekend that will not only be the first-ever full-course Drifting competition, but will also attract a whole new audience to our event,” said Jim Michaelian, President/CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.  “And, it will also legitimize what some of us have been secretly doing on these downtown Long Beach streets for many years!”

Tickets for the 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will run April 8-10, 2005, are on sale now. The Champ Car World Series will again be the headline racing event. Tickets can be ordered via credit card by using the toll-free ticket hotline,  (888) 82-SPEED. Tickets can also be purchased on-line at longbeachgp.com, in person at the Grand Prix ticket office (3000 Pacific Ave., Long Beach, Calif. 90806).

 Ticket prices range from $32 for a Friday/Saturday-only general admission ticket to $114 for a three-day ticket, which includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seating on upper levels of the grandstands. Limited pre-paid parking packages are available and can be purchased when ordering tickets. Handicapped seating, Bosch Champ Car Garage passes, hospitality club packages and super photo tickets are also available for purchase.

 For up-to-date ticket information, descriptions of the various club ticket packages, or for announcements of special Grand Prix event activities, visit the official Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Web site at longbeachgp.com.

New Sauber front wing not so new New Sauber front wing not so newThe front wing of the new Sauber (Below, left) includes a forward third element similar to that which was employed by Prost during the 2001 Hungarian Grand Prix.  Interestingly the Prost front wing was the work of the now current Williams Chief of Aerodynamics, Loïc Bigois (who incidentally worked at Sauber for a year before joining Prost).


Joe Chrnelich to Speak at Sports Business Forum in Portland Joe Chrnelich to Speak at Sports Business Forum in PortlandChamp Car Executive Vice President of Development, Government Affairs & Planning Joe Chrnelich will be among the panelists speaking at the Sports Business Forum put on by the Portland Business Alliance on January 19.   Portland is the nation’s largest city with only one major traditional sport franchise, however, it is a city that has and continues to attract major sporting events.  The Champ Car World Series has long been a part of the sports scene in Portland recording the first official Champ Car race in the record books taking place in 1909 and has conducted races since 1984 at Portland International Raceway.  Chrnelich will join representatives from the NBA's Portland Trailblazers, the minor-league Portland Beavers franchise and the Tournament Golf Foundation in a forum discussion on the benefits of holding major sporting events in Portland.
Tomas Enge joins Panther Racing Tomas Enge joins Panther RacingTomas Enge will join Tomas Scheckter at Panther Racing for the 17-race IndyCar Series season. Enge, who competed in the final two 2004 events with Patrick Racing, will make his debut in the No. 2 Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone on Jan. 19 on the 2.21-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway road course during an Open Test. The opening race of the IndyCar Series' 10th anniversary season is March 6 at the facility's 1.5-mile oval.  More.....
The first fifteen entries for the 2005 Le Mans 24 Hours The first fifteen entries for the 2005 Le Mans 24 HoursThe year has hardly begun and already the distant thunder of the 2005 Le Mans 24 Hours can be heard. Fifteen entrants from the list of teams automatically selected according to their results in 2004 * have confirmed their presence at the greatest endurance race in the world on 18th and 19th June.

Out of these fifteen teams nine are from the USA, which highlights the motivation of the American Le Mans Series entrants.  What is striking is the number of LMP 2s, six in all, that have confirmed their participation promising a no-holds-barred battle between Courage and Lola with WR and Pilbeam waiting in the wings.

Also confirmed are several GT 1s, the new designation of the former GTS Category. Five of the seven automatic entries will be in the Sarthe in June including the new Corvette C6-Rs so another thrilling round in their battle with the Ferrari 550 Maranellos from BMS Scuderia Italia and Larbre Competition looks on the cards. Saleen will also be back in this category with Acemo Motorsports. This year sees the eagerly awaited return of Aston Martin to the Le Mans 24 Hours. The Selection Committee will see the DBR9s racing for the first time on 19th March in the Sebring 12 Hours.

The Selection Committee will meet twice, one in February to draw up a preliminary list based on the entries it has received by 19th January. Another meeting will be held at the end of March after it has seen the cars entered for the Sebring event, the opening round of the ALMS.

Thrilling duels in each category anticipated

Entrants who have not yet confirmed their participation have until 19th January to do so. The focal point of interest concerns names that are not on the above list: Prodrive Racing and Barron Connor in GT 1, Choroq Racing Team, Alex Job Racing and JMB Racing in GT 2 and above all Dyson Racing in LMP 1. The absence of the 2004 winner and runner up Audi Sport Japan Team Goh and Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx is not a surprise as they have already announced their withdrawal from the 2005 event.

"The various contacts I’ve had with the entrants leads me to believe that the 2005 field will be a very varied one and also of very high quality,’ smiled Daniel Poissenot, the A.C.O Sports Manager. “It could give a very promising indication as to the involvement of certain manufacturers."

The above list provides a foretaste of this. The presence of a superb field and the promise of thrilling duels in each category should be confirmed at the end of March.

* The first two in each of the four categories in the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Le Mans Endurance Series ; the first one in the American Le Mans Series, the Petit Le Mans and the FIA GT Championship.

What Hunter-Reay had to say in the UK What Hunter-Reay had to say in the UKRyan Hunter-Reay was in the UK last weekend for the Autosport Show at the NEC in Birmingham. For those of you who missed the show here’s what Ryan had to say…

…about his F1 ambitions
“F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing in the world and that’s where I want to be. I’m not doing it for recognition in the States; if I was looking for fame I would do NASCAR but my heart isn’t in going around in circles. I want to be where it is most challenging. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I get a shot at F1 I’ll do it right, I’ll do it to its fullest and I’ll be over here working hard!”

…about being the next American in F1
“It would be fantastic for F1 to have an American driver and I hope that driver will be me. The driver who gets it will have to deserve it though; he can’t just be there because of his nationality. I’m one of only a very few Americans who are on the radar screen for an F1 test so I want to do everything I can to make sure I am on the top of that list when the moment comes.”

…about Champ Car
“My first year in Champ Car was great. I had a win with American Spirit in an old Reynard which was a good thing. I then went over to Herdez Competition last year and had a win from pole position at Milwaukee which was great but I’m now looking for the next step up.”

“One of the great things about Champ Car now is that we have the recent F3000 Champions in the Series so it makes it the logical step before Formula One. That’s why I’m there. I’m hoping to announce who I’ll be driving for in 2005 in the next few weeks but I’d like to say it’s an excellent series and a great place for me to be to prove myself.”

“We run on many tracks that have been the same since the 60s and the 70s. One of the things that really drives me is the feeling you get driving a Champ Car at places like Road America. It’s doing things like that make me want to stay away from Nascar and come to Formula One.”

…about Champ Car being a great driver’s series
“We go from road courses to street circuits to ovals; it really keeps the drivers on their toes. We don’t have all the driver gizmos so it comes down to the driver’s skill. It’s hard to learn to look after your tires; the only way to do it is to go through the pain of losing a couple of spots because you didn’t save your tires and you soon learn not to do it again.”

And finally…
Ryan took some time out of his busy schedule to have a go at beating the lap record on one of the racing simulator games at the show. He soon set the fastest time on the game, racing around the Monza track. Before leaving the show he returned to the stand to check his time was still the fastest and came across AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson trying to beat the time. Once they discovered it was Ryan’s time they issued the challenge of a race-off between the three Champ Car stars. The final result…?

1. Ryan Hunter-Reay
2. Justin Wilson
3. AJ Allmendinger

Fast facts on Ryan

  • First American Rookie in over 20 years to win a Champ Car race. (Surfers 2003)
  • RHR holds the record for most laps lead in a single race at Milwaukee in 2004. (Ryan broke Nigel Mansell's record of most consistent laps lead (207 in 1993) with his posting of 250 laps at Milwaukee).
  • Of the current drivers, Ryan is the youngest driver to win a Champ Car Race.
  • Ryan is the second youngest driver to ever win a Champ Car street race. (Surfers 2003)
  • He is the youngest American to ever win a Champ Car Oval Race. (23yrs / 5 months / 19 days) Press release
Scott Dixon investors liquidate company Scott Dixon investors liquidate companyThe New Zealand investors who gave racing driver Scott Dixon a jump-start in his career say his American backers do not want them in the business.  Scott Dixon Motorsport, a company registered in 1998, has been put into voluntary liquidation and Dixon is paying back shareholders.

About 30 shareholders — including car industry magnate Colin Giltrap and businessman Sir Roger Bhatnagar — voted unanimously to let Dixon go, said company chairman Peter Johnston.  The shareholders had put up cash to put Dixon behind the wheel in the Formula Holden Series in Australia. They continued to support him with wages while he raced.   Dixon became the 2003 IndyCar series champion and has been trying to get a place in a Formula One team.

Shareholders had little choice but to cut their ties with Dixon but they were rewarded for their initial investment.  Ganassi Racing, which signed Dixon in 2002, did not want the driver's New Zealand management team along for the ride, said shareholder Nelson Marshall.

"If we had kept on with Scott Dixon we were restricting his further progress because no big race company would want somebody that's got a management company run by a committee on the other side of the world telling them whether or not he could race," he said.   "(Ganassi) just said if you want to drive we'll give you a drive, but we don't want all your management."

Marshall said Dixon always had the option of paying out his investors. He said the shareholders' aims had been to get Dixon into Australia and then to America — which they had achieved.  "He's now paying us back (the investment). We all doubled our money, if not more."

Marshall said there were a number of meetings before shareholders unanimously decided to wind up the company.  "I never saw it as an investment. I saw it as a way of getting Scott into the higher levels of motorsport, which he could never have done with the financial backing he had."

Dixon's mother Glenys said the investors enabled her son to keep racing when the family could no longer afford to keep financing the sport.   "(The investors) say Scott out-grew them — as far as he was overseas — and it was just too hard to manage from back here in New Zealand. It was just too difficult for the (American) teams to be able to negotiate things. They suggested it would be a better idea if he was on his own with a manager."  Scott Dixon Motorsport had no creditors, said liquidator Glenn Nightingale. – NZPA

Schuey fastest in Spain Schuey fastest in SpainFirst day back from winter break for World Champion Michael Schumacher and he shoots right to the top of the charts in testing.
1. Michael Schumacher - Ferrari - 1'15"461 - 103 laps
2. Mark Webber - Williams BMW - 1'17"137 - 92 laps
3. Antonio Pizzonia - Williams BMW - 1'17"357 - 92 laps
4. Jarno Trulli - Toyota - 1'18"392 - 54 laps
5. David Coulthard - Red Bull - 1'18"449 - 62 laps
6. Vitantonio Liuzzi - Red Bull - 1'19"544 - 58 laps
7. Ralf Schumacher - Toyota - 1'19"961 - 47 laps
Pastorelli to test Minardi Pastorelli to test MinardiUPDATE The Nicky Pastorelli test drive with Minardi has been postponed until tomorrow. 01/17/05 Champ Car hopeful and SUPERFUND Euro 3000 Champion Nicky Pastorelli will take to the wheel of a Formula One car for the first time tomorrow as part of his prize for winning the 2004 series.  The Dutch-Italian driver will join the Minardi F1 team at the Autodromo Santamonica in Misano, Italy.  Pastorelli won the 2004 SUPERFUND Euro 3000 title for the Draco Junior team by a single point after clinching the final race of the season at the Nurburgring in October.
Webber fastest Tuesday morning in Spain Webber fastest Tuesday morning in SpainFour teams and seven drivers were in action this morning at Circuit de Catalunya. In cold and sunny conditions Mark Webber led the way for WilliamsF1 with a best time of 1:18.692s, just under four tenths of a second faster than Antonio Pizzonia in the second BMW Williams.
1. Mark Webber - Williams BMW - 1'18"692 - 34 laps
2. Antonio Pizzonia - Williams BMW - 1'19"069 - 34 laps
3. David Coulthard - Red Bull - 1'20"673 - 20 laps
4. Vitantonio Liuzzi - Red Bull - 1'20"861 - 24 laps
5. Michael Schumacher - Ferrari - 1'23"019 - 29 laps
6. Ralf Schumacher - Toyota - 1'23"330 - 16 laps
7. Jarno Trulli - Toyota - 1'25"366 - 16 laps.
Williams appoints new money man Williams appoints new money manWilliamsF1 today confirmed the appointment of Chris Chapple as WilliamsF1 Head of Finance, commencing on January 25, 2005. By virtue of his ten years of corporate finance experience, Chapple will bring a great depth of experience to the complexities of Formula One finances at an important juncture in the sport’s future.

Chapple was educated at Lancing College & Oxford University and spent seven years in the Commando Units of the Royal Marines, seeing active service in Iraq, before crossing to civilian employment in London’s Square Mile with Goldman Sachs.

In a five year period at Goldman Sachs, Chapple worked across a broad range of remits, including M&As, de-mergers, IPOs, financing and advisory projects. In 2001, he joined Marconi Plc, to lead a £500m disposal program and assist in the company’s financial restructuring. In 2003, Chapple joined SUAL, one of Russia’s largest companies, as Chief Development Officer, taking responsibility for preparing the company for listing on the LSE, and headed the group’s $200m investment program.

Frank Williams, Managing Director of WilliamsF1 said, “I would like to welcome Chris to WilliamsF1. In the next few years, the future of Formula One will be mapped out into the medium term, and Chris will play an important role in representing the financial interests of the company in these important decisions.” WilliamsF1

2005 IRL driver lineup 2005 IRL driver lineupHere are the 20 drivers and their car numbers slated to race in the IRL in 2005
No. Driver Chassis/Engine Entrant
2 Tomas Enge D/C Panther Racing
3 Helio Castroneves D/T Marlboro Team Penske
4 Tomas Scheckter D/C Panther Racing
6 Sam Hornish Jr. D/T Marlboro Team Penske
7 Bryan Herta D/H Andretti Green Racing
8 Scott Sharp* P/H Fernandez Racing
9 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing P/T Target Chip Ganassi Racing
10 Darren Manning Target Chip Ganassi Racing P/T Target Chip Ganassi Racing
11 Tony Kanaan D/H Andretti Green Racing
14 A.J. Foyt IV D/T A.J. Foyt Enterprises
15 Buddy Rice P/H Rahal Letterman Racing
16 Danica Patrick P/H Rahal Letterman Racing
17 Vitor Meira P/H Rahal Letterman Racing
24 Roger Yasukawa D/H Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
26 Dan Wheldon D/H Andretti Green Racing
27 Dario Franchitti D/H Andretti Green Racing
33 Ryan Briscoe P/T Chip Ganassi Racing
51 Alex Barron D/T Red Bull Cheever Racing
55 Kosuke Matsuura P/H Super Aguri Fernandez Racing
83 Patrick Carpentier D/T Red Bull Cheever Racing
Champ Car sets up new licensing agreement with Speedgear Champ Car sets up new licensing agreement with SpeedgearThe Champ Car World Series today announced an exclusive licensing and merchandising partnership for 2005 with Speedgear, the leading open wheel merchandise company in North America.
The agreement makes Speedgear the exclusive licensing agency for Champ Car and includes the rights to use the properties of every team and driver in the series. The agreement also includes exclusive trackside rights at every round of the Bridgestone Presents Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Speedgear will have their 50-foot state-of-the-art Featherlite trailer plus a paddock tent location at every race weekend. The merchandise collection will include products including hats, tees, polos, jackets and diecast with the series logo plus products for the top teams and drivers that will participate in the series this year.
“We are pleased to be able to offer high-quality Champ Car merchandise to our fans through this partnership with Speedgear,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “We have worked with Speedgear for 12 years and hope to be able to do so for many years to come.”
All products will also be available at the Champ Car Stuff online store at the official website of the series, www.ChampCarWorldSeries.com, as well as through links on every team and driver website and finally at Speedgear.com.
Gary Low, Speedgear President and Director of Licensing and Merchandising for Champ says “I am very optimistic about Champ Car’s future and this expanded relation between Speedgear and Champ Car, should help us grow our distribution in North America and worldwide”.
Industry News
Beijing set to break all records Beijing set to break all recordsUnderscoring the importance of the emerging China marketplace in the sports sponsorship world, the Beijing Summer Olympic Games in 2008 look set to smash all sponsorship records with corporate sponsorship worth $1 billion. GamesBids.com reports that there are already confirmed agreements with six sponsors including Volkswagen, Bank of China and China Mobile to the tune of $600million, with large corporations keen to promote their brands in China. Gerhard Heiberg, chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) marketing commission, is reported to have said Beijing will reach the $1 billion figure. The Beijing domestic sponsorship figure excludes amounts raised by the IOC’s TOP worldwide sponsorship program for multinational companies.
Button should have been demoted Button should have been demotedJohn Surtees says that BAR should have demoted Jenson Button to test driver following his attempted defection to Williams.   He says BAR should have promoted Anthony Davidson into Button’s place as punishment.

Surtees told the February edition of F1 Racing magazine: “Frankly, I don’t understand why Honda didn’t relegate him to the test team and stick Davidson in.  Knowing the Japanese, they would have had to swallow very, very hard over that because – and it’s a great shame – the momentum of his career was gathering such nice pace.”

Surtees knows Honda well, having given the company its first F1 victory back in 1967. He is also more than familiar with Button, having helped fix up the Brit’s first Williams test five years ago.  He added: “I gave him a very long letter when he first joined Williams with various bits of advice, but I don’t think he took any notice.  One of them was that when you enter any new field, the biggest thing you have to watch out for is other people – I would say he’s perhaps still learning to.  He’s got to build bridges if he’s to stay at Honda, and he’s got to build them in such a way that they reach all the way back to Japan.”

NASCAR Viewership Increased in 2004 NASCAR Viewership Increased in 2004NASCAR said today that all three of its national series drew more television viewers in 2004 than in 2003. Nielsen Media Research figures show that 196 million households tuned in to watch Nextel Cup events in 2004, a 2 percent increase over 2003. The Busch Series drew 52 million households, up 8 percent from 2003, while the Craftsman Truck Series drew 10.5 million households, a 22 percent increase over 2003. NASCAR also said today that an unprecedented 38 races from all three series will be aired during television's prime-time evening hours this year. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
FOX to air Mexico City Busch Series Race FOX to air Mexico City Busch Series RaceNASCAR said that the Fox network will broadcast the March 6 Mexico 200 Busch Series race, the sport's first points race to be run outside the United States. The race is scheduled to air at 3 p.m. Eastern time. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Barcelona action to resume
BMW man 'amazed'
Ferrari men visit Vatican
BAR proposed 30-day limit
Briscoe snubbed F1 shot
Jordan to lose paint job
'Minardi pay Ferrari'
Brit GP set for sellout
Ant's not in a bad mood

Williams lose top man
BAR turn to UK military
F1 support for JV ski event
Schu 'air bag' for F1 safety
Ferrari may 'damage' F1
Webber 'knows' F1 teammate
The 'monkey' on BAR's back
'My goal is F1' - American
'No grudge' with Sir Frank
F1's 'most sophisticated'
Did Grove axe 'twin keel'?
Dakar Rally
Frenchmen win Dakar Rally Frenchmen win Dakar RallyStephane Peterhansel wrapped up his second successive Dakar Rally title overnight. And compatriot Cyril Despres made it a double French celebration by taking the motorcycle honors in the grueling event. Peterhansel, 39, driving a Mitsubishi, finished 27min 14sec ahead of countryman and former world skiing champion Luc Alphand, also in a Mitsubishi, with ex-champion Jutta Kleinschmidt third in a Volkswagen,3hr 22min behind. Peterhansel, who won four of the 16 stages on this 27the edition of the marathon race, has now added his two car wins to the six motorcycle crowns he picked-up in 1991, '92, '93, '95, '97 and '98. "I was very nervous this morning," said the champion. The stage was short (31km) but it wasn't easy. This is a great victory for me. The race was tougher than last year and the margin of victory was slimmer than 2004. This showed what a great race it was until the end."
F1 Minnows pay Ferrari F1 Minnows pay FerrariSpeaking to F1 Racing magazine recently, Minardi boss Paul Stoddart said that the other nine teams were all required to pay the mighty Ferrari team in a clause appearing in the current Concorde Agreement, but when the British magazine asked if he was under the impression that the team from Maranello had the FIA under their thumb, he was sarcastic in his reply. “No, I just think... Ferrari are special,” he said. “Why do all the other teams pay money, real checkbook-out money, to Ferrari every year, under the Concorde Agreement? Why on earth, with our tight finances, do Minardi, for example, have to pay money to Ferrari every year? There’s no good reason for it. The answer we’re given is that it’s ‘in recognition of their historical contribution to the sport’.”
Silverstone heading for 100,000 sellout Silverstone heading for 100,000 selloutDespite late confirmation, organizers of the British Grand Prix say they are expecting another 100,000 sellout crowd at Silverstone on 10th July. The British Racing Drivers' Club and Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone were finally able to agree a contract last month after lengthy and problematic discussions. Fans are continuing to show their support for the race however, with Silverstone's MD Richard Phillips commenting: "The support for this year's British Grand Prix has been fantastic. "Ticket sales are up compared to this time in 2004, and some grandstands are already sold out - including sections of Copse, Luffield and Club. "The signs are looking positive for another sell-out crowd - and with just two weeks remaining of our early booking offer, we strongly recommend that spectators book their tickets as early as possible. That will enable them to take advantage of three days for the price of a race day ticket offer."
New home for Peak Performance Team New home for Peak Performance TeamThe Peak Performance Motorsports Team has moved into its new race shop at 2668 Peachtree Road, Statesville, NC 28625.  The #66 Peak Fitness Ford Taurus powered by Roush-Yates engines is now housed in the 35,000 sq ft race shop facility located at Travis Carter Enterprises.  Crew Chief James Ince says the move to the new facility will expedite preparations for the 2005 season. "I feel like we're in pretty good shape all things considering," Ince said. "For a two-and-a-half week old race team, you hear that and most people are horrified by that. "But the reality of it is we went from having no racecars and no people to having 10 people working in the shop and five racecars in stages of being completed.  "We're definitely growing. All of these things, coupled with the Roush-Yates engine package and the things Ford Motor Company is providing us, we're able to skip over a lot of hurdles that would have taken me at least six months to go out and gather up." "All of the parts and pieces are laying there. Some of it isn't necessarily a perfect world, but at the same time, it's a whole lot more than I had a week ago (and) that gets me going."  "My focus is to assemble the people and worry about race cars right now. Our focus is on the team and on the cars and being as good as we can be right off the get-go. "For the latest news and information visit the new and updated Peak Fitness websites at www.peakfitnessclubs.com and www.peakfitnessracing.com
Industry News
Lola awarded 2004 MIA Business award Lola awarded 2004 MIA Business awardLola Cars International Ltd were recognized as the 2004 Business of the Year at the annual Motorsport Industry Association awards held at the Autosport International Racing Car Show last Thursday.

Leading figures from the UK Motorsport Industry gathered at the NEC to reward the efforts of business achievements during 2004. With MIA members nominating in all seven-award categories, the winners gain the respect and support of their peers within the industry, making the awards a highlight of the business year.

On hand to receive the Business of The Year Award last week was Lola Managing Director - Rupert Manwaring who was delighted to accept the award after a fruitful year that saw success in Formula 3, the production of an all-new LMP2 sportscar and the partnership with A1 Grand Prix.

Lola MD - Rupert Manwaring receives the MIA Business of the Year award from Xtrac's Peter Digby

Manwaring said: "It is an honor for the company to be presented with such an award especially as the voting system means that fellow businesses have recognized our achievements. 2004 was a tremendous year for Lola in an ultra competitive marketplace and the recent finalization of the A1 Grand Prix contract was not only the largest ever for Lola but I also feel the most significant in terms of future global business potential in new territories."

The A1 Grand Prix organization announced in December that Lola had been commissioned to construct 50 of the spectacular single seater cars for the series that begins at Brands Hatch on September 18. Lola have already produced several test cars for the project, one of which was in action over the weekend with ex Jordan F1 driver Ralph Firman at the wheel.

On announcing Lola's partnership with A1 Grand Prix, Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum said, "We chose Lola because they had the resources and expertise to build just what we wanted: a truly distinctive one-make chassis. The working relationship has been quite exceptional - racing can be a very tough business, so when you find someone you can trust it really does make a difference."

Martin Birrane, chairman and owner of the Lola group was justifiably delighted by the receipt of the award and said. " This is the second time during my ownership of Lola that the MIA have seen fit to honor us with a major award (Lola won the 2002 Export Achievement Award). We have weathered the economic storms of the past three and a half years and are now looking forward to the future with great optimism, as Lola is again firing on all cylinders in its non core and core businesses. I am deeply grateful to the MIA for their recognition of Lola's success in 2004." Lola Cars

Carpentier recovers stolen truck Carpentier recovers stolen truckAccording to a Canadian Press report, Patrick Carpentier's truck was recently stolen during a visit to Joliette (north of Montreal in Quebec). Fortunately for the star driver, even thieves have certain moral lines they won't cross. Carpentier said, "It's funny. They took it and then someone called and said 'Sorry, we stole it. If you want it back, it's at this place.' I picked it up but I guess they had already started taking it apart. It was damaged a bit, but at least I got it back."
Formula BMW
2005 Formula BMW UK calendar announced 2005 Formula BMW UK calendar announced2005 Formula BMW UK Championship Calendar:
9-10 April: Donington Park, Derbyshire
30 April/1May: Thruxton, Hampshire
21-22 May: Rockingham, Northamptonshire
4-5 June: Brands Hatch, Kent
18-19 June: Oulton Park, Kent
16-17 July: Croft, North Yorkshire
23-24 July: Mondello Park, Southern Ireland
27-28 August: Knockhill, Scotland
17-18 September: Silverstone, Northamptonshire
1-2 October Brands Hatch, Kent
Webber happy with the car’s reliability Webber happy with the car’s reliabilityDuring the winter tests completed so far, the WilliamsF1 BMW FW26c has impressed Mark Webber, the Australian being particularly happy with the car’s reliability.   Between November and January, Mark Webber has covered a total of 3,930 kilometres behind the interim WilliamsF1 BMW FW26c, and has successfully adapted to his new environment. So far, the tests have turned out to be highly successful.

The 28-year old BMW WilliamsF1 Team driver isn’t prepared to make any predictions regarding the 2005 season, however. “Until the new car comes out we are just getting the miles on the FW26,” said Mark. “That is all we can do at the moment, and it is getting better.”

From Webber’s point of view, the WilliamsF1 BMW FW26c’s reliability is truly impressive; particularly as the car’s current spec is already equipped with numerous development components for the 2005 FIA Formula One World Championship season.  “Obviously once we get the new car we will have some new bits that we have to test,” added Mark, who is looking forward to the FW27’s launch, which is scheduled for 31st January, “But we are just waiting for the FW27 to arrive and so far, as far as reliability is concerned, it has been good.”

F1 looks to make big USA inroads F1 looks to make big USA inroadsThis Grandprix.com article gives some insight into the new F1 TV deal in the USA. It's much more than just 4 races on CBS. The new deal between CBS and the Grand Prix Entertainment (GPE) to show Formula 1 racing on a national network is a huge step forward for Formula 1 and part of a much bigger deal which sees Grand Prix Entertainment now controlling the TV rights to F1 in the US. The aim now is for GPE to conduct "a full-scale Formula 1 brand launch in the United States".

Grand Prix Entertainment is a new company which is a joint venture between DIC Entertainment and the Wasserman Media Group. DIC is a media company which develops, produces, distributes, markets and merchandises animated content for children and families worldwide. It owns around 1500 hours of programming which includes Inspector Gadget, Dennis the Menace, Super Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog and The Wizard of Oz. DIC says that its programs are watched by 25m children each week in the US and it recently launched its own network. It also has distribution deals for more than 100 different international broadcasters and sells to 150 countries worldwide.

DIC Entertainment was founded in Paris in 1971 and was acquired by Andy Heyward in 1986. Seven years later it was bought by ABC and became a subsidiary of Disney in 1995 but in 2000 was repurchased by Heywood.

The Wasserman Media Group owns the Los Angeles Avengers football team, which businessman Casey Wasserman acquired at the age of 24. He is a member of the AFL's executive committee and negotiated the ground-breaking national TV partnership with NBC and a collective bargaining agreement with the players. Wasserman Media also controls Envision, a company which specializes in naming rights and corporate consulting. Since 1997 Envision has secured more than a dozen major naming-rights deals including a deal to name the Arsenal soccer team's new stadium in the UK. The consulting business has ongoing relationships with T-Mobile, Nestle, Perrier, Heinz and The Sports Authority.

Wasserman also runs The Familie, a management firm for action sports athletes which represents a number of stars including Travis Pastrana and others. In addition the business includes 411 Productions which develops and publishes video magazines for action sports, including skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing and BMX. Wasserman also controls DC Music, a music management company which represents Coldplay, Rancid and Eisley.

Recently WMG represented the largest sponsorship in Europe when they closed the $180m naming rights deal between Arsenal and the Emirates Airlines. WMG was also recently selected to handle the high profile naming rights and shirt sponsorship sales for the Juventus soccer team.

Grand Prix Entertainment will develop strategies to expand the F1 television audience beyond its current domestic fan base, aiming for a younger and more progressive audience. The program will be supported by PR initiatives, on-air promos, print, outdoor and broadcast advertising which will be coordinated by Seth Berman, GPE's director of marketing.

"Andy and I have been talking for a while about the possibility of working together, and I am delighted that we have finalized the deal," says Bernie Ecclestone. "This is an important step forward in our strategy to promote Formula 1 in the U.S. and to reach a wider audience over the coming years. Formula 1 is the pinnacle of world motor sport, combining speed and cutting-edge technology with glamour and excitement. I am confident that with the expertise and credibility of DIC Entertainment and WMG combined with the wide audience reach on CBS, Formula 1 will build its popularity and a tremendous fan base in the U.S." [Editor's Note: If F1 comes on strong in the USA, it will further erode the already fragmented IRL and Champ Car fan base. It will be interesting to see how Champ Car (and the IRL) will respond with its own PR initiatives, on-air promos, print, outdoor and broadcast advertising. Last year we saw very little of that, but Champ Car was just coming out of bankruptcy. One would expect this year to see a major campaign to raise brand awareness and actually promote the series. As we saw last year, doing it by osmosis doesn't work.]

A new communications manager at the A.C.O A new communications manager at the A.C.OPatrick Chaillou has been appointed the new A.C.O Communications Manager following in the footsteps of Fabrice Bourrigaud (now in the marketing management department) and Francis Reste (KDLG Communications).

He is a local lad and sums up his mission as follows: “My aim is to provide on-going communication about the magic of the world of endurance, help prepare the A.C.O’s centenary in 2006, keep my finger on the pulse of an association that unites professionals and volunteers and bring alive the intensity of the 24-Hour car race which looks like it’s going to be better than ever. Then experience the thrill of the Suzuki-Yamaha duel in the greatest endurance race for motor bikes and transmit the philosophy and viewpoint of a Club that has 100,000 drivers. It’s a challenge that is both varied and exciting. Living the day-to-day existence of a club, which is a pioneer in the history of the motor car, while expressing just how modern it is like marrying Marilyn Monroe when you love the American cinema!”

Patrick is forty-one years old and was a sports journalist for seventeen years (three with the regional press, and fourteen with magazines). He was also a consultant for the Eurosport and Pathé TV channels. For the past six years he was the client manager in the Belouga Communications Agency. In 2003, the year of Bentley’s triumphant return to the Sarthe he wrote the book “24 Hours, the longest lap.”

Ganassi confirms Briscoe Ganassi confirms BriscoeAs long rumored, Chip Ganassi Racing welcomes another talented driver to its arsenal with the addition of Australian Ryan Briscoe to the team’s IndyCar racing program. One of racing's brightest young stars will take the helm of the no.33 Chip Ganassi Racing entry, a third Toyota Panoz G Force, to compliment the no.9 Target car of Scott Dixon, 2003 IndyCar Series Champion and the no.10 Target car of Darren Manning. More....
SPEED to air all Trans-Am races SPEED to air all Trans-Am racesSPEED Channel will air all 10 Trans-Am Series races during the 2005 season. The 2005 Trans-Am campaign, the Series' 40th consecutive season, will air in one-hour time slots on a tape-delayed basis. Airdates and times will be announced soon.

SPEED Channel had broadcast Trans-Am Series racing from the network's inception until 2003. SPEED is the premier motorsports network in the United States, reaching 68 million households across the nation.

"The Trans-Am Series is pleased to return to SPEED Channel, North America's leading source for motorsports programming," said Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett. "SPEED has been an ideal fit for the Trans-Am Series since the network's launch. During that time, SPEED has grown from a niche-oriented, enthusiast network to the powerhouse it is today. We're excited to return North America's oldest and greatest sports car racing series to this country's preeminent motorsports television network." "The Trans-Am Series has a storied history and some of the best road racers in the country," said SPEED Channel President Jim Liberatore. "SPEED Channel viewers have an incredible passion for road racing, so having Trans-Am included in the SPEED Channel 2005 motor sports lineup is wonderful news."
NASCAR breaking from deep south roots NASCAR breaking from deep south rootsMario Andretti was the first non-southern bred driver to break the south's domination of NASCAR when he won the 1967 Daytona 500. AJ Foyt later did the deed in 1972. However, for the most part drivers from the southeast dominated NASCAR. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have since come in to shake things up, but did you know that drivers NOT from the south won 4 of the 6 major NASCAR titles in 2004? Las Vegas native Kurt Busch won the Nextel Cup while his younger brother, Kyle, won the Busch Series Rookie of the Year title. Kasey Kahne, a native of Enumclaw, Wash., was Nextel Cup's top rookie. Tennessee's Bobby Hamilton, Florida's David Reutimann and New Jersey's Martin Truex Jr won the other awards: Craftsman Truck Series championship, trucks rookie and Busch Series title respectively.
Daytona longs for NASCAR hall Daytona longs for NASCAR hallThis Daytona Beach News-Journal article talks about Daytona's desire to land the NASCAR Hall of Fame against major cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Kansas City.  Even though it makes a lot of sense to build the Hall of Fame near Daytona International Speedway, the "Center of Speed," can this small town compete against the deep pockets of those larger cities?
NASCAR business model reaches south into Mexico NASCAR business model reaches south into MexicoNASCAR's business model the past decade has followed the Field of Dreams plan: If you build it, they will come.  With an unwavering company line of "Grow the Sport," NASCAR has reached out to untapped major American markets in Fort Worth/Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago. Seattle is next, perhaps followed by New York, all in an attempt to lure more fans and sponsorship dollars into the NASCAR Nation.

But before engines are fired in the Pacific Northwest and on Staten Island, NASCAR will make inroads south of the border beginning this year. And attracting a Hispanic fan base could be as important to NASCAR as taking a bite out of the Big Apple.

"There's a big Hispanic population, and it's the fastest- growing demographic," NASCAR chairman Brian France said Thursday during Media Tour 2005 at Texas Motor Speedway. "So when you talk about diversity and reaching out, being relevant in their home country and having a Mexican driver or two will be helpful to this market and Miami and all of the rest."

The Busch Series will give NASCAR its first taste of Mexico on two fronts -- a road-course event in Mexico City on March 6, with native son Michel Jourdain Jr. piloting one of the 43 cars in the field.

A veteran of the Champ Car World Series, Jourdain joined Ford and ppc Racing earlier this month, signing on for the 2005 season and becoming the first Hispanic driver to run a full Busch schedule. While he's learning the many differences between a 1,500-pound open-wheel rocket and a 3,400-pound stock car, Jourdain will also be carrying the banner of his homeland.

"I think this is the biggest deal in NASCAR for a Hispanic driver, so far," said Jourdain, 28. "I think with the series going to Mexico, even if I wasn't here, it was going to open up [NASCAR] to Mexico."

The chance to compete in Mexico helped persuade Jourdain to leave the former CART series, which races twice in Mexico each season. He is also looking forward to a chance to compete in Fort Worth in the O'Reilly 300 on April 16 and the O'Reilly Challenge on Nov. 5.

His father, former open-wheel driver Michel Jourdain Sr., lives in San Antonio, and Jourdain Jr. remembers the enthusiasm of Mexican fans during the aborted Firestone Firehawk 600 weekend at TMS in April 2001, when the scheduled CART race had to be canceled because drivers were going too fast to be safe. According to a 2003 estimate from the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, 29.8 percent of the city's population is Hispanic.

"This race is going to be, for sure, a big one in the year because it's close to Mexico, a lot of friends and family will come, and I'll finally get to race here," he said. "It was very sad that [CART] didn't run the racetrack. I always have had this thing about this track. Being Mexican, this race is almost going to be like [it's] local because there are so many Mexicans." Star Telegram  [Editor's Note:  As we saw in Michigan, Pocono, Fontana, Phoenix, New Hampshire, etc. - every time NASCAR follows Champ Car/Indy Car into a market that they once ruled, NASCAR takes over the market and Champ Car/Indy Car loses it.  If history repeats itself, and if Champ Car doesn't react quickly,  Champ Car can kiss Mexico goodbye in a few short years.  Already we are seeing the Mexican sponsorship market dry up for Champ Car and NASCAR hasn't even held its first race yet.  Why? Because NASCAR opened an office in Mexico and is 24x7 soliciting Mexican companies for sponsorship.  Champ Car has no such office, no one looking after their interests in Mexico 24x7.  Hence they will eventually lose that market.  NASCAR is simply too smart, too strong, too dominating for a small organization like Champ Car, that runs on a shoestring budget to overcome.  As we stated previously, Champ Car needs a marketing and business development budget of $100+ million per year to grow their business, and with no strong manufacturer support/money, the budget is probably less than 10% of that.] 

Honda to NASCAR? Honda to NASCAR?With the debut of the Honda Ridgeline truck at the Los Angeles Auto Show earlier this month, speculation heated up that the Japanese automaker soon will follow Toyota's lead into the Craftsman Truck Series. Au contraire, says T.E. McHale, manager of motorsports public relations for Honda. "In the three years I've been here, I have heard no discussions in these hallways about getting into the NASCAR series," McHale says. "Honda is in racing to further its technology, and I'm not sure that NASCAR provides the right platform for us." McHale says Honda's emphasis is on winning its second Indy Racing League title. FoxSports/Sporting News [Editor's Note: Like the IRL's rev-limited restrictive rules does provide Honda the right platform to further its technology? Honda doesn't announce anything until they are ready, and if rumors are to be believed, and Honda and Toyota are pushing NASCAR to switch to an overhead cam engine like used in the IRL, this may be Honda's party line right now. We shall see....]
Team bows out of Rolex 24 Team bows out of Rolex 24Regrettably Graham Nash Motorsports will not participate in this year's Rolex Daytona 24 Hours. The decision was made at the latest possible moment.  "We were looking for ways to make the deal possible but the rules to run Porsches in the race have changed so much that it becomes an unprofitable deal for the team and drivers" commented Team Principal Graham Nash.  "Our plan was to run 2 Supercup Porsche GT3's on a lease from another team. It's a shame because we wanted to start the year at Daytona. We will instead concentrate on preparing our 2 Saleen's and Porsche GT3RS for the coming FIA GT and LMES series."  GNM
Industry News
An alternative to Formula 1 An alternative to Formula 1Automobile manufacturers like to spend money in Formula 1 in order to spread the word about their cars and prove their technology. The association, however, is as much to do with the perceived glamour of Grand Prix racing as it is to do with what the regulations say. It is interesting, therefore, to note that Volkswagen has decided to pursue the same goals by a rather different route and has signed a global marketing alliance with film company NBC Universal.

Universal will incorporate Volkswagen's products and brand, in its film, DVD, worldwide theme parks, and other entertainment properties while Volkswagen will support media and entertainment-related properties of NBC Universal through international marketing and promotional efforts. The aim is for a little Hollywood glamour to rub off on the German car manufacturer.

"This will represent one of the largest and most comprehensive alliances in the entertainment industry and prepares the ground for new ways of reaching consumers on a global scale," says Bernd Pischetsrieder, the head of Volkswagen. Grandprix.com

Fisichella targets win with Renault Fisichella targets win with RenaultGiancarlo Fisichella knows that at 32 years of age, he is probably closer to the end of his Formula One career than the start of his career. In 2005, the Italian gets his chance to show that he has the pace to be a regular contender for race victories.

“It is important for a driver to be in a top team,” explained the Italian. “I have always dreamed of being able to fight for race wins, and now I will have that opportunity. Sure, there will be more pressure, but I have coped with that in the past and been quick. There is fantastic potential here at Renault, and we are all determined fight for race wins.”

Fisichella spent Friday evening celebrating his 32nd birthday with a group of friends and associates at the Caffe Renault in Rome’s city centre, while Renault fired up the new R25 for the first time last week and will hit the track with the new car later in the month. Renault

Bellm calls for Jackie Stewart ouster Bellm calls for Jackie Stewart ousterUPDATE Sports Minister Richard Caborn has come to the aid of Bellm.  Speaking to The Times, Caborn said: “Ray Bellm is a visionary. The implementation of that vision to create a world-class motor racing industry could be put in doubt without a man of his ability.  Ray was the main architect of what was probably a deal beyond people's wildest expectations.” 01/16/05 Ray Bellm, the former chairman of the British Racing Drivers' Club [BRDC] is calling for Sir Jackie Stewart to resign from his position as president of the club. He told British newspaper The News of the World: "I was forced out by Jackie, chief executive Alex Hooton and a few wets on the board. But I am no quitter. I am not going to run away from this. I've had lots of calls from other BRDC members who are unhappy at what's happened. It's up to them to galvanize themselves into a revolution. If Jackie does not respond to the pressure and stand down, then we could get an emergency meeting within the next 14 days. I do not believe that Jackie is the right person to lead the club after this. He should leave the negotiations to the chairman or chief executive. I have already spoken to Bernie and he has said he is happy if the BRDC want to rip up the contract [for the British GP to be held at Silverstone], but if they do there will not be another one."

Stewart however is said to be confident he does have what it takes to run the club. "We have a five-year deal which is a legal document and we're locked into it," he stated. "I'm confident I can deliver what is necessary for the prosperity of the club."

Industry News
Kanaan wins Jerry Titus Award Kanaan wins Jerry Titus AwardTony Kanaan has won the Jerry Titus Memorial Award, emblematic of his election as the top vote-getter in the 35th Annual Auto Racing All America voting by members of the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association. Kanaan accepted his award this evening at the annual banquet at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum and Sheraton Fairplex.

Kanaan was present to accept his award, as were At Large drivers Bill Auberlen and Thiago Medeiros, drag racer John Force, road racers Ron Fellows and Max Papis. Scott Pruett, originally scheduled to appear, was snowed in, in Oregon. Racers Bobby Hamilton and Martin Truex, Jr. were testing in Daytona, Tony Schumacher was on a mission for the U.S. Army and Steve Kinser was racing in Australia. Sebastien Bourdais was in France and Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson had other commitments.

Kenny Bernstein was honored as a "Pioneer in Racing."

Before more than 250 members of the media, racers and fans, AARWBA also named the 12 nominees for the "Newsmaker of the Half-Century Award," in honor of the Association's 50th Anniversary. The nominees are Mario Andretti, Kenny Bernstein, Dale Earnhardt, John Force, A.J. Foyt Jr., The France family, Jeff Gordon, Dan Gurney, The Hulman-George family, Wally Parks, Roger Penske and Richard Petty. The membership will vote and the winner will be announced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the days leading up to the Indy 500.

Present to accept their nominations were Force, Parks and Bernstein, who were interviewed by Associated Press motorsports writer Mike Harris, the AARWBA Southern Vice-President.

Ford Motor Company announced the Sweepstakes contest for news media, awarding a $1,000 prize annually for the next three years for the best story, broadcast or photograph involving a Ford driver, product or program. All journalist members of the Association are eligible for the award, which is in addition to the Association's Indianapolis Motor Speedway-sponsored writing, broadcasting, photography, online and book awards.

The Auto Racing All America Team is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2005 as part of the Association's 50th Anniversary celebration. Michael Knight is the 50th Anniversary chairman. The banquet program and presentation was created by Racing Information Systems. Michael F. Hollander is the Western Vice-President of AARWBA and the Editor of Racing Information Systems.

Industry News
12 Newsmakers of the Half-Century Nominees Announced by AARWBA 12 Newsmakers of the Half-Century Nominees Announced by AARWBATwelve of the greatest names in U.S. motorsports history were announced Saturday night as nominees for the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association’s Newsmaker of the Half-Century Award, the most important event of AARWBA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.

The dozen nominees (in alphabetical order) are: Mario Andretti, Kenny Bernstein, Dale Earnhardt, John Force, A.J. Foyt, the France family, Jeff Gordon, Dan Gurney, the Hulman-George family, Wally Parks, Roger Penske and Richard Petty.

The announcement was made at AARWBA’s annual All-America Team dinner at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel by AARWBA President Dusty Brandel and 50th Anniversary Celebration Chairman Michael Knight. AARWBA is the country’s oldest and largest organization of motorsports media professionals.

The nominees were selected by AARWBA’s Board of Directors from an original list of 50 newsmakers. The full AARWBA membership will now vote for one of the 12 as Newsmaker of the Half-Century and their choice will be revealed at a public ceremony this May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the days leading up to the 89th Indy 500. The winner will receive a specially commissioned painting and AARWBA will make a donation to the recipient’s favorite charity.

“It is difficult to imagine a more impressive and prestigious list of names than the 12 nominees for AARWBA’s Newsmaker of the Half-Century Award,” said Brandel. “It was very difficult to choose just 12 from the original roster of 50 top newsmakers and it will be even more difficult for AARWBA members to select one as THE Newsmaker. However, our members have written about, broadcast and photographed the most memorable racing people and events since 1955, and are the best qualified to make such a judgment. Congratulations to the nominees, and I can’t wait to find out who wins.”

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Hakk 'could've returned'
BAR launch '007'
Ferrari don't want to boycott
Jordan admit 'Midland' talk
'It's too early' - Trulli
Quick Nick still smiling
Barcelona test called off
May debut for new Ferrari
Not '100% happy' - JB
Another Dutchman for Minardi
Minardi aim to beat Jordan
'Schu will be beaten'
Ferrari impose own test cap
Sauber 'roll out' C24
Schu set for F1 return
BAR land new F1 deals
12-lap quali 'best' - Todt
F1 tire rule 'dangerous'?
F1 put Malaysia 'on map'
'I don't miss F1' - DR
Brief Bits - Jan.17
Why don't BAR do-a-Ferrari?
Rossi would 'need time'
Brit GP in trouble again?
BAR to run tobacco livery
Honda to break F1 pact
Fisi had early birthday gift
Yet another accident mars truck testing Yet another accident mars truck testingRegan Smith, driver of the Sundance Motorsports Silverado, was involved in a single truck incident with just 15 minutes to go in day one of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series testing tonight.  As a result of the extent of the damage to the No. 19, the team is loading the transporter to return to team headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina.   Smith was uninjured in the incident.

On accident during Daytona Testing: – “I was running side by side with another truck off the tri-oval through turns one and two and were doing ok.  It was a little loose but not as bad as I thought it might be but then we came out of two and it really pulled the air off me and it around I went. I feel terrible for the guys on my crew, it was just a rough day for our teams.”

On damage to the No. 19 Silverado:  “The damage to the front of the truck is substantial. We won’t know how bad until we take it back to the shop.  The guys are just cleaning it up enough to get it in the trailer and will tear it down tomorrow.

On not having a backup truck to continue testing at Daytona: “We brought just one truck for me and one for Jack (Sprague) because we just brought one hauler down for this test.”

On how testing was going up to the point of the accident: “Our Silverado was getting better, we kept working on it and Jack jumped in to really help us get the feel for it.  I haven’t had many laps in a truck and none at a big track where you have to draft so it was great that he did that to help me know where I was and if I was feeling the right things.  I feel real bad that I wrecked it and now our guys have so much work to do before we come down here to race in just a few weeks.”

Hunter-Reay, Wilson and Allmendinger go head-to-head Hunter-Reay, Wilson and Allmendinger go head-to-headUPDATE The track was Monza, the cars Ferrari Challenge Cars....The results RHR / Wilson / Allmendinger:  None of them beat RHR's fast time posted earlier in the day....The three Champ Car drivers were at the Autosport International Show. Each participated in several onstage public interviews each day and drummed up a lot of interest in the Champ Car World Series which will be shown live in many European Countries.

01/15/05 Champ Car young guns Ryan Hunter-Reay, Justin Wilson, & AJ Allmendinger went head-to-head today in Europe..... just the three of them.

Who came out on top, what track was it....?

Hunter-Reay had posted the fast time early in the day and Wilson and Allmendinger repeatedly tried to best it without success. Allmendinger said at the Autosport show how much he hates to lose and so RuSPORT’s Public Relations director Tara Ragan suggested the three of them should go at it together at the same time to really decide who was the best. The three Champ Car Young Guns immediately accepted.

It had been a contest of motor skills as well as hand and eye coordination however pitting them together introduced an element of stress as they are all so competitive and understandably didn't want to lose to one another. AutoRacing1.com will post the results as soon as we get them.
Multi-Truck accident mars truck testing Multi-Truck accident mars truck testingJack Sprague, driver of the Chevy Trucks Silverado, was involved in a multi-truck incident just three hours into Craftsman Truck Series testing tonight  at Daytona.  As a result of the extent of the damage to the No. 16, the team is loading the transporter to return to team headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina.   None of the three drivers were injured in the incident.

On accident during Daytona Testing involving himself, Ted Musgrave and Terry Cook. – “I was drafting with Hornaday and we headed into the tri-oval and his truck got loose, so I checked up so as to not hit him and started to ease up the track to give him room to gather his truck back up.  The next thing I knew I was turning around and headed for a wreck in the wall.  If there was someone beside me on the right, I didn’t know he was there, no one said anything about it to me on the radio.”

On damage to the No. 16 Chevy Trucks Silverado:  “The damage to the right side of the truck is substantial. We won’t know the extent until we get back to the shop and start tearing it down but it looks like the front clip, the right side frame rail, all the right side suspension parts plus obviously all the body damage.”

On viewing the incident on SPEED TV video tape:  “I tried to be careful in my comments prior to have the opportunity to look at the tape because at the speeds we are running out there, it is hard to know exactly what did happen but I was able to get a look at SPEED TV video and the thing pretty much came down as I thought except that once I got lined up directly behind Hornaday again, Terry (Cook) and Ted (Musgrave) were coming with a full head of steam. Terry tried to pull to the outside of me but just clipped me a little bit and away we all went.  It was unfortunate for all of us and I know that Ted is upset but when the guy in front has to slow down and there are so many of us in a row, it is hard to get to everyone’s truck settled back down without having a problem like this.”

On not having a backup truck to continue testing at Daytona: “We brought just one truck for me and one for my teammate Regan (Smith) because we just brought one hauler down so after Regan gets the full night in tonight, we will load up and head back to the shop.  We did test quite a bit at Talladega so missing tomorrow won’t hurt us too bad.  Wrecking the truck does so we need to go get started on fixing it.”

On how testing was going up to the point of the accident: “The Chevy Trucks Silverado was the best it had been so far today on that run we were in when we wrecked.  We all started drafting practice pretty much from the minute we hit the track today and we were fighting a loose truck.  We were making progress on it and I was pretty happy with how we were running behind Hornaday.  There seems to be something with the way the new B-post is positioned because now as I have talked to other drivers, everyone is really loose.  We do know what we need for a good starting point when we come down here in February.”

Technical problems slow Villeneuve Technical problems slow VilleneuveSauber Petronas completed its three-day Valencia test today. Jacques Villeneuve took over the driving duties from Felipe Massa. However it was a far from trouble free final day of running as mechanical problems restricted Villeneuve to just 23 laps in the C24-01. Villeneuve recorded a best time of 1:14.239s, some way off Massa's 1:12.060s recorded on Saturday.


Willy Rampf, Technical Director "After two almost trouble-free days we lost a lot of valuable running time today due to a few minor technical problems with the electric and the hydraulic system. However, to find out such difficulties in an early stage is the reason why we have roll-outs. For the forthcoming test, which we will conduct here in Valencia instead of Barcelona, we will have solved these problems and start with the set-up work. Overall we are quite happy with the results of these test days. On Friday we successfully completed the roll-out of the C24, and we were able to confirm that all major systems such as cooling and brakes are working properly."

Jacques Villeneuve "At the first day you always have to expect problems. Although Felipe had two good days, my day today wasn't very useful. However, concerning the car itself I can say that I feel comfortable in it, but because I couldn't do a lot of test work I cannot tell a lot. I'll see more on next Wednesday. But you can feel that the car is more nervous now. The reasons for this are mainly the different end of braking and turning into the corner. I now look forward to the next test where we will start to work on the car's balance."

Sauber Petronas resume testing in Valencia on Wednesday. Sauber

NASCAR stars to highlight Detroit Auto Show NASCAR stars to highlight Detroit Auto ShowNASCAR will take center stage when NBC Sports broadcasts its two-hour, live coverage of the "International Auto Show" on Sunday, Jan. 23 at 1 p.m. ET from the COBO Center in Detroit. As the sport prepares for the Great American Race, the Daytona 500, on February 20, NASCAR drivers, NASCAR cars, and the NASCAR on NBC announce team will give NBC's broadcast a taste of NASCAR to help get fans ready for the 2005 season. The NBC telecast will introduce scores of production and concept cars to the national viewing audience with features, live political convention-type coverage from the exhibit floor and test drives of selected vehicles by NASCAR stars including four-time champion Jeff Gordon and reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Kurt Busch. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Burton, and Brian Vickers will introduce the '06 Monte Carlo.  Chevy Teammate Jeff Gordon will go "top down" in the new Corvette convertible. Ford drivers Kurt Busch and Elliott Sadler will test the new Ford Mustang. NASCAR PR
V8 Supercars
Jason Bright signs with Prodrive and Ford Jason Bright signs with Prodrive and FordFord Performance Racing (FPR) confirms that former Holden V8 Supercar Series driver Jason Bright has signed with the Prodrive owned Australian V8 team to lead their V8 Supercar Championship challenge in 2005.

This highly anticipated and widely speculated driver move resembles a home-coming for the 1998 Bathurst 1000 Champion, as Bright returns to head Ford's major V8 Supercar team after making his blue oval V8 Supercar Championship debut seven years ago.

A title contender throughout his V8 Supercar career, 31 year old Bright raced to third in the 2004 V8 Supercar Championship after having led the title fight until the closing stages of the highly competitive season. The new CAT FPR Falcon driver boasts a remarkable 141 top ten finishes from his 192 V8 Supercar starts to date, including 65 podium places.

According to FPR Managing Director David Flint, "The team is looking forward to working with Jason Bright - a driver who we all know is an outstanding talent. I am confident that combined with Greg Ritter, we have as strong a driving combination that we could have hoped for in 2005, taking FPR another step towards winning the Championship."

Grand-Am Year in Review tonight Grand-Am Year in Review tonightReminder: Grand-Am 2004 Year in Racing...tonight at 9pm EST on SPEED Channel.
NASCAR Driver Tunes Up with Skip Barber NASCAR Driver Tunes Up with Skip BarberNASCAR Busch Series driver Ashton Lewis, Jr., drove his #25 Marines Ford Taurus to a fifth- and a third-place finish in the Skip Barber Southern Race Series event at Road Atlanta. Okay, it wasn't his Busch car, it was a Formula Dodge R/T 2000, but he's confident that by going back to his roots -- he was the 1990 Skip Barber Race Series Midwest Region champion in 1991 -- he'll be more prepared than his NASCAR Busch Series competitors when that series visits Mexico and Watkins Glen this year. Those are the two road course races on the 2005 Busch schedule. ''Great stuff, I started to get most of it back,'' Lewis said. ''In Saturday's race I was dicing for second but the guy in front of me missed the braking point for Three. And I did too! See, those are the kinds of things I wanted to work on, why I came back to Skip Barber; you know, look in front of the cars you need to get around, set people up, time the drafts, that sort of thing.'' Lewis  (Right: NASCAR's Ashton Lewis, Jr., with ''tires on fire'' going into Turn 10 at Road Atlanta in Sunday's race) finished fifth in that race, then today got on the podium, behind winner Lucas McConnell and Tim Traver. ''It took a bit of time to get used to the sequential gearbox, then I was right at home, but I wish I had come earlier in the week to get more testing in!'' After winning the Skip Barber Midwest title in 1991 at age 19, he went on to the Barber Saab Pro Series, winning twice in 1992 on his way to second in the championship. 
Jerez Day 7: Kimi fastest Jerez Day 7: Kimi fastestJust two drivers tested at the Jerez circuit today, McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen and Toyota’s Ricardo Zonta, both doing wet weather testing for Michelin. It was a trouble free day for both men as Michelin artificially watered the Spanish circuit.
1: K. Raikkonen – McLaren – 1:25.237 – 76 laps
2: R. Zonta – Toyota – 1:27.244 – 99 laps
Industry News
Carmakers cut prices in China Carmakers cut prices in ChinaThe outlook for China's once sizzling auto market has cooled, prompting foreign and domestic automakers to scramble to undercut competitors by slashing prices up to 20 percent.  Production and sales of vehicles in China are forecast to rise about 10 percent in 2005 to about 5.6 million units, government-run media reported Friday, citing the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.  The association reported that China's total vehicle output climbed 14 percent over a year earlier to 5 million units, with passenger car production rising 12 percent to 2.3 million units. Total vehicle sales were up 15 percent, also at 5 million units, the official Xinhua news agency reported.  The growth and profitability of the Chinese auto market is crucial to Detroit, particularly General Motors Corp. GM counts on profits from China and other parts of Asia to boost earnings in North America and help the company pay for its burgeoning health care and pension liabilities.  Though still robust by international standards, that growth outlook in China is anemic compared with the 75-percent jump in passenger car sales in 2003. AP Story
Dakar Rally
Gordon's bad luck continues Gordon's bad luck continuesRobby Gordon (USA), 7th place (leg) / 12th position overall: "There was no chance starting from 63rd – you could see nothing in the dust. After six kilometres we destroyed a wheel rim on a boulder. The wheel got stuck briefly when we were changing it, and we lost about four minutes as a result. After 50 kilometres we bounced off a tree. At the finish we were only 4.55 minutes shy of the stage victory.” Robbygordon.com  French driver Stephane Peterhansel closed in on victory at the Dakar Rally on Saturday with a fifth-place finish in the next-to-last stage. South Africa's Giniel de Villiers won the 15th stage, covering 140 miles through savanna from Tambacounda to Dakar in 2 hours, 21 minutes, 15 seconds. France's Bruno Saby was 57 seconds back and Portugal's Carlos Sousa was a minute behind. The 5,566-mile race from Barcelona, Spain, to Dakar ends Sunday with a 23-mile run to Lac Rose, outside the Senegalese capital. ESPN.com
NASCAR like a Black Hole NASCAR like a Black HoleA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, It is clear to me that NASCAR is like a black hole, sucking up just about all the sponsors in the USA and now Mexico. I am particularly worried about my favorite series, Champ Car. Is there any stopping this monopoly? Kirk Pound, Dallas, TX. Dear Kirk, Your observation is spot on. Like F1 in Europe, the USA has become a NASCAR-only nation. Open Wheel Racing once ruled America, but since the creation of the IRL and the destruction of Indy Car racing, that sport is now reduced to a shadow of its former self like all the rest. Unless NASCAR is broken up under the Sherman Antitrust Act, or until such time as major sponsors and manufacturers get 'solidly' behind these other series, they will pretty much be niche sports. Champ Car's only chance to make it big is to become a major international player. However, right now we do not see the kind of money being invested that is necessary to market the series. Upwards of $100 million in cumulative marketing is needed per year for Champ Car to raise its awareness and OWRS is not about to spend that kind of money. Whereas NASCAR sponsors do a lot of 'free' marketing for the series, one hardly sees Champ Car sponsors do the same. Champ Car needs major manufacturer support and they need it badly. Mark C.
Avaya partners with BAR Honda Avaya partners with BAR HondaAvaya Inc. (NYSE:AV), a leading global provider of business communications software, systems and services, has today become the latest Team Technical Partner to join Lucky Strike B·A·R Honda. The new partnership for 2005 and beyond will migrate the team to IP telephony and improve mobile communication for engineering and operational staff who support participation at the races. Completed in partnership with Avaya business partner STL, the refit will enable the team to turn its IT and communication infrastructure into a competitive advantage on the track, keeping it at the forefront of Formula One racing. The converged communication network has been installed at the Team Operations Centre in Brackley, UK and will also be used by the test and race teams. The installation of IP telephony enables the five buildings on the 86,000 sqm site to be viewed as a single, multiple-site operation - with centralized administration. This set-up increases the efficiency and speed of employee communication. Also, it will deliver significant time savings as well as a reduction of 30% of communication costs incurred locally in the foreign country.
Showa partners with BAR Honda Showa partners with BAR HondaThe Showa Corporation has today become a Team Technical Partner of Lucky Strike B·A·R Honda. The company will supply suspension dampers to the team and feature on the livery of the new B·A·R Honda 007.
The company manufactures and markets high-precision components for motor vehicles including shock absorbers, steering systems and drive train products for automobiles and motorcycles, as well as components for outboard marine engines. Showa Corporation is one of the leading manufacturers of shock absorbers for automobiles and motorcycles in the world today.

Established in 1938 and headquartered in Saitama, Japan, Showa operates five manufacturing plants and three research and development facilities within Japan. The company's global business operation, a network of 30 manufacturing facilities, spreads over 15 nations including Japan.

Masahide Matsushima, President of Showa Corporation said, "Showa Corporation's business activities revolve around customer satisfaction.  Furthermore, we strive to maintain our forward-looking stance and continue to encourage technological, operational and administrative innovation. Showa has participated in numerous motorsport races in the past, moreover, we believe our participation in Formula One racing will bring about increases in Showa's brand value and cultivate challenging spirits through vigorous activities to accomplish set goals under intense environment of Formula One."

NTN partners with BAR Honda NTN partners with BAR HondaLucky Strike B·A·R Honda today announced NTN Corporation as the latest Team Partner to join its growing portfolio. The multi-year deal, which commences at the team's 2005 car launch, will see NTN become a further on-car sponsor.  NTN is a leading global manufacturer of bearings and constant velocity joints with total annual sales exceeding $3.5 billion.  Since the company was established in 1918, NTN has supplied many industries with products and technologies that have been essential to their development.  NTN is also aggressively proceeding with the development of various precision equipment for cutting-edge technology fields.

Headquartered in Osaka, Japan, NTN employs more than 12,000 employees working in 19 countries with a sales and production network encompassing Japan, the Americas, Europe, Asia, and China.  The company is already an active sponsor of drivers, teams and Championships in the motorsport world including the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, CASCAR and the WSA/CSRA Snowcross Circuits. NTN racecars convey the company's key values of competitiveness and innovativeness, while providing NTN with a testing ground for modern bearing technology.

Kenji Okada, Director and Corporate General Manager, NTN Corporation said, "High-tech, precision, speed - these are all values of Formula One racing. NTN Corporation shares and stands for these values in product development, customer services and human relations. The additional NTN brand visibility on each B·A·R Honda car is considered to be a great platform to increase the affinity for the NTN brand and the commitment of our people and partners to provide F1-technology products and services on a global basis.

"The B·A·R Honda team is known for its continuous challenge for the Championship, a target also inherent in NTN Corporation. NTN and its employees are proud to become a Team Partner with B·A·R Honda."  Honda is one of NTN's major automotive customers. The company will therefore not only be a Team Partner to B·A·R Honda, but is looking at the potential of developing and providing new state-of-the-art products for the team's cars in the future.   Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer, B·A·R Honda added, "We are proud to announce a further Team Partnership with NTN Corporation, a leading player in their field and a major supplier to Honda."

BAR Honda stikes deal with Seiko BAR Honda stikes deal with SeikoLucky Strike B·A·R Honda today confirmed the SEIKO Watch Corporation, a brand synonymous with precision time-keeping, as official Team Watch Partner. The three-year partnership will initially see the Seiko company logo positioned on the race suits of drivers Jenson Button, Takuma Sato, third driver Anthony Davidson and test driver Enrique Bernoldi.

Since being established in 1881, Seiko has been the innovator of several revolutionary time pieces commencing with the production of Japan's first wristwatch in 1913 and including the creation of the world's first quartz watch in 1969. Seiko has also been the official timekeeper at many international sporting events since the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games including those of track and field, swimming, the Winter Olympic Games and is now entering Formula One for the first time.

The partnership with the B·A·R Honda team will enable the SEIKO Watch Corporation, an independent division of the Seiko company with President and CEO Shinji Hattori, to develop a marketing campaign created from its strategy of 'innovation and refinement'. Utilizing a variety of images of the team, the global execution will also feature driver Takuma Sato, with whom the company has a personal endorsement in Japan.

B·A·R Honda Chief Executive Officer Nick Fry said, "I am delighted to begin the New Year with the announcement that Seiko has joined B·A·R Honda as Team Watch Partner. We are extremely proud to be associated with such a technologically innovative company and especially pleased that this association has been borne out of our successful relationship with Seiko's sister company, Epson, with whom we entered into an agreement for the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix. These are exciting times for our Team Partners as we embark on a new era for B·A·R Honda and seek to build on the significant performance step achieved last season. We look forward to assisting Seiko in their exciting product development and marketing programs over the next three years."

Stoddart aims to beat Jordan Stoddart aims to beat JordanMinardi team boss Paul Stoddart was asked some key questions by Autosport at their annual show in Birmingham, England  "What's the target for 2005," Stoddart was asked. "To beat Jordan," Stoddart responded immediately. "We have a new car which I have seen the first results of now the first chassis is built. We are going to be late introducing it because of the regulations coming in late, it will be the fourth race, the first of the so-called European races at Imola. The early signs are that it is radically better than last years car."

"Nobody will mistake the two cars believe you me it is completely unlike any Minardi you've ever seen before." Stoddart continued. "With the tremendous support we are now getting from Cosworth, I think we could be dangerous - in our own little way - in the second half of the year.”

Team USA
Miller's bad luck continues Miller's bad luck continuesRapidly changing weather conditions characterized today's New Zealand Grand Prix race meeting at Teretonga Park Raceway. Unfortunately, the one thing that didn't change was Slade Miller's luck.  The 18-year-old from Edmond, Oklahoma, never had a chance to display his true worth, as his first race this morning ended after just six laps due to engine troubles, and then his hopes of a solid result in the 40-lap New Zealand Grand Prix were halted just after the halfway mark when he was unable to avoid a rival who had spun directly in front of his Team USA Scholarship/Doug Mockett & Company Stealth/Van Diemen.

"There's not much I can say," said a bitterly disappointed Miller, after retiring with a broken right-front suspension. "Gary (Lovie) spun in front of me, and in the wet conditions, I had nowhere to go. I tried to find a way past on the outside but once I hit the wet grass, there was no saving it."  (Right, Slade Miller's Team USA Scholarship/Doug Mockett & Company Stealth/Van Diemen taken during today's New Zealand Grand Prix Formula Ford race at Teretonga Park, Invercargill, New Zealand.  Graham Blow Photography)

Former New Zealand Formula Ford Champion John Crawford's Motorsports Solutions team had worked hard on Saturday evening to try to solve the engine woes that had plagued Miller's car. Various electrical components were changed, but to no avail. The engine was still drastically short on power in Sunday morning's race (which was held on a damp but drying track and was red-flagged following an incident on the first lap), and Miller pulled into the pits after six laps with some ominous noises emanating from the rear of the car.

A broken starter motor lead and mounting was found to be the cause, and crew chief Richard Box again set to work on effecting repairs in time for the main event, the New Zealand Grand Prix. Once more, though, Miller found himself slipping down the order as soon as the lights went green. After starting 16th, he fell as low as 21st but had made up four places by the time the first 20-lap portion was completed.

The engine again refused to perform properly, but Miller's hopes were raised just a little during the brief intermission (to allow the cars to be refueled) when rain began to fall. A good start and a couple of incidents in front of him saw Miller rise to 12th on the opening lap. However, next time through The Loop -- the fast, left-hander that follows the long front straightaway -- Lovie lost control directly in front of Miller and his day was done.

"Of course, it's not the way we wanted it to end," said Miller. "The racing has been a struggle but overall this has been a good experience. I've met a lot of great people and I've been able to run against some good competition. I'm very grateful to have been given this opportunity. I really want to thank Doug Mockett and all the former winners of the Team USA Scholarship who have made this happen for me-- Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice, Memo Gidley, A.J. Allmendinger and Bryan Sellers -- and all the other supporters. For them to put all this effort behind me means a great deal, and I hope I can somehow pay them back in the future."

The New Zealand Grand Prix was first held in 1950 and boasts an illustrious list of winners including Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, John Surtees, Bruce McLaren, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and Keke Rosberg. Formula Ford veteran Simon Gamble, from Auckland, finally added his name to that list by passing the similar Australian-built Spectrum of fellow New Zealander Jason Liefting three laps from the finish to score a popular victory.

Piquet returns to driving at 52 Piquet returns to driving at 52After hinting last July that he could join his son Nelson Piquet Jr in the upcoming GP2 season this year, three-time F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet, 52, has apparently dealt with persistent attacks from his racing bug in an even more surprising way. Pedro Muffatto, one of Brazil’s most experienced racers, has revealed that Piquet Sr will be his teammate in Formula Truck this season, a very popular championship in Brazil that mimics the European Super Trucks series.
Staters Bros. remains Busch sponsor thru '09 Staters Bros. remains Busch sponsor thru '09The t's have not been crossed, nor the i's dotted, but it appears as though Staters Bros. Supermarkets will continue its association with California Speedway through 2009 as sponsor of the NASCAR Busch Series race. The Staters Bros. 300 is scheduled for Feb.26 as part of the NASCAR tripleheader at the speedway that weekend. It will be preceded Friday night by the Craftsman Truck Series American Racing Wheels 200 and followed on Sunday by the Nextel Cup Auto Club 500.  It will mark the second such motorsports sponsorship for Staters Bros., which put its name on the Busch race in April 2004. Additionally, the Southern California market chain sponsored the Dodge of Jeremy Mayfield in that race.
Bernoldi leads wet testing at Jerez Bernoldi leads wet testing at JerezBAR test driver Enrique Bernoldi topped the timesheets at Jerez Saturday, posting a 1:25.660 on a track which had been artificially soaked to allow four Michelin-shod teams to conduct wet weather tire evaluations.

Bernoldi's time was just over 0.9s quicker than that of McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya (second), with Toyota's Ricardo Zonta completing the most laps of any driver over the course of the session - a total of 114 en-route to his eventual third place. Renault tester Franck Montagny ended the day fourth, just under three seconds off Bernoldi's leading pace.

Times: Day 6 (Saturday)
1. BERNOLDI B·A·R 1:25.660
2. MONTOYA McLaren 1:26.585
3. ZONTA Toyota 1:28.154
4. MONTAGNY Renault 1:28.315

Shell signs on as sponsor of Roush truck Shell signs on as sponsor of Roush truckRoush Racing announced today that Shell ROTELLA® T will be the primary sponsor for the No 50. Ford F-150 entry with Todd Kluever in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for 10 races this season.  Shell ROTELLA® T will begin their sponsorship with the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.  Combined with sponsorship from the World Financial Group, Kluever will have primary sponsorship for all 25 Craftsman Truck Series races in 2005.

"This is such a great opportunity for this team," Kluever said.  "With Shell ROTELLA® T coming on board we will have sponsorship for every race.  Although I may be a rookie, I intend to have the Shell ROTELLA® T truck up front.  They have given us great support and our whole team is anxious to give them something to cheer about."

"We are thrilled to be a sponsor and are proud to work with the team at Roush Racing," stated Peter Bukaty, brand manager for Shell ROTELLA®.   "We're especially looking forward to putting Todd's racing skills to the test.  We know he'll be tough competition and look forward to celebrating his first victory."

Shell ROTELLA® T brand products are manufactured by Shell Lubricants..  Shell Lubricants collectively refers to the companies of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group engaged in the lubricants business.

Earnhardt to test for Harvick Earnhardt to test for HarvickKerry Earnhardt is assigned to test Harvick's #29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet next week during the second round of Nextel Cup Series Preseason Thunder. Earnhardt has a busy testing schedule. Earlier this week, he tested RCR's #33 Chevrolet that he'll try to qualify for the Daytona 500. He is also scheduled to test his full-time 2005 ride -- owner Billy Ballew's #15 Chevrolet truck, this weekend. NASCAR.com
Goodyear tire test update Goodyear tire test updateGoodyear Tire testing continued Wednesday at Atlanta Motor Speedway as Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson ran an array of tire compounds in preparation for the March 18-20 Golden Corral 500. Mark Keto, lead engineer for Goodyear's stock car tire development group, said the second day of testing really helped to narrow the field of potential tire compounds for the upcoming Atlanta race weekend. "Today went really well," Keto said, "There are four new tires we've been working with, plus several from yesterday that are giving the drivers some extra grip and confidence." Engineers also found that even with the new NASCAR rule changes, such as the reduced spoiler height, Kahne and Johnson were running speeds comparable to last fall's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500. Goodyear Tire experts will analyze data from the two-day test before finalizing which compound drivers will run during the Golden Corral 500. AMS PR
Coulthard on the new F1 tire regulations Coulthard on the new F1 tire regulationsSpeaking at Autosport International, F1 veteran David Coulthard had this to say about the new 1-tire per race rule: "There are some things to say about safety issues," he said. "When you get a flat-spot on a tire, whereas in the past you could come in early for a pit-stop, now you will get a penalty which may force a driver to stay out there and try to live with it. Only if you have driven a grand prix car at 200mph with a flat-spot do you know what it is like - your vision is blurred and the car is difficult to control. You can argue that if it is dangerous you should stop, but your competitive side comes out - like on the rugby field when people take some really bruising tackles and play on because their focus is absolute. There are some real arguments to say that it could be more difficult, but let's wait and see. I have raced in formulas where you have one set of tires and you just have to manage in a different way. Last year there were races where the tire wear was fine to do a whole GP distance so it is not quite the technical challenge some might think - but of course lap time wise we will not be as quick over a whole grand prix distance with one set of tires."
Button looks to take fight to Ferrari Button looks to take fight to FerrariSpeaking via a live satellite link from the Circuit de Catalunya to visitors to the Autosport International show on Saturday, Jenson Button has admitted that he is very excited about his new BAR 007, due to be unveiled Sunday.  "I'm very excited," he said. "Someone needs to take the fight to Ferrari and I am really looking forward for it. We cannot wait to get out there on the circuit.  What do we expect? I think it is a big step forward from last season and the rule changes have changed the appearance of the car - the front wing being a lot higher and the rear wing a lot deeper.  It is a very important year for Honda," he said. "Having engines last for two race meetings is a big step, but we have done a lot of testing and it has been very good. It has been very reliable and we have done a lot of laps each day.  We are going in the right direction; we have still got work to do on power, weight and reliability but we are getting there."
Justin Wilson eyes Champ Car victory Justin Wilson eyes Champ Car victory[Editor's Note:  Look for RuSPORT to push Newman/Haas hard this year.  Carl Russo and Jeremy Dale have assembled an excellent team and with the addition of Justin Wilson and Engineer David Brown, look out.]  British Champ Car World Series star Justin Wilson has warned his rivals he is ready to start winning for RuSport in the US-based series, after appearing on the stage of the Autosport International Racing Car Show on Saturday.  Wilson, who switched from Formula 1 to Champ Cars for 2004 and drove for the underfunded Conquest outfit, believes that the RuSport team which beat him to the Rookie of the year title with AJ Allmendinger is capable of challenging Newman/Haas Racing this season.

"Newman/Haas still has the edge, but it's our job to close that job as quickly as we can," he said. "Me and AJ are not expecting to run away with it, but neither do I think anyone else will either. I do think we are going to be in there now. I expect it to be tough though.  RuSport has made great strides forward for this season, but that's not the job done, that is the beginning of our development plan. There's a lot we are working on in the off-season. Lots of technical adjustments that the team were working on towards the end of last season that they never got to use we are now going to try out.

"The team seems to have more engineers than mechanics!  It's not as big as an F1 team but we have people to cover every area. But what the team has is a real family feel.  Everybody pulls together and everybody relies on everybody else. There is an extremely good feel about the team."

Wilson also reckons that he is developing as a driver and signing for RuSport will allow him to fight at the front more consistently.

"There is definitely still more to come from me," he said. "At Conquest, the team is run a little like an F3000 squad, and that meant that we kind of just turned up and drove because there was a very small budget. Now we are developing the car and I can learn more and develop more.  But I have a year's experience now in Champ Cars and I have to say that I am ready to race at the front and win races and titles. I am ready and I am up to the challenge." Autosport

Industry News
Rio track to be torn down Rio track to be torn downUPDATE Here are some images of the reduced Rio track, a mere shadow of its former self.

Proposed track (Left and Center). Existing track (Right)

01/11/05 The local motorsports community fought hard, but apparently in vain: Rio de Janeiro’s Jacarepagua track, host of Formula 1 in the ‘80s, Champ Car in the late ‘90s and MotoGP nowadays will be partially demolished in favor of a complex for the upcoming 2007 Pan-American Games in Brazil’s most famous city.  The original Jacarepagua road course, used by F1 and MotoGP, will be reduced from its current 3.08-mile layout to just 1.67 miles. The road course, dubbed Nelson Piquet Raceway, was the favorite track design of many Brazilian standout drivers, such as Bruno Junqueira.  The Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway’s fortunes are even worse. Champ Car’s only “roval” - thus defined by Rick Mears for being an oval with road course characteristics - will cease to exist, making a return of Champ Car racing to Rio a virtual impossibility.  To top it off, the circuit’s remnants will stay close to racing altogether for 10 months in 2006, while the construction of the watersports park and indoor sports arena that will mutilate the northern portion of the track takes place.  Rio’s mayor Cesar Maia claims he consulted Bernie Ecclestone - for reasons certainly known only to him - before giving the project the green light. If the City Council approves Maia’s project, Jacarepagua as we know it will be officially dead.  See revised track at SPEED TV.com 
Dominguez turns down Busch offer Dominguez turns down Busch offerMario Dominguez had an offer to run in the March 6th Busch Series race in Mexico City but he turned it down. He confirmed that he will drive for HVM Racing in 2005. The unofficial time given for the fastest lap by Jeff Burton was 1:31 min. in the test he did at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. The track was modified for the NASCAR cars. The Champ Car configuration would be too hard on the brakes of the heavier Busch cars. The test met with protestors complaining because at the beginning of the reconstruction of the track more than three years ago about 2,500 trees were taken down. In the next week or so about 600 new trees will be planted to appease the environmentalists. Hector Serrano reporting from Mexico
Mexican rookie to test for HVM Mexican rookie to test for HVMMexican David Martinez will test for HVM Racing at Sebring in early February.  Reports out of Mexico say HVM would like to have a 2nd Mexican alongside Mario Dominguez, which seems to indicate the team may be fully sponsored by Mexican companies.  Mexican oil giant Pemex was rumored.  Martinez had a meeting with team boss Keith Wiggins this past Thursday and they talked with the directors of some companies and the owners of the team.  Martinez who is 22 years old, comes from the European Formula Renault V6 series where he ran in 2004.  Martinez thinks he can land the ride with HVM in 2005 if he does a "good job" at Sebring the first week of February.  Martinez says the team is still looking for sponsorship indicating the Pemex deal did not happen yet, or may not happen. Hector Serrano reporting from Mexico
Todt: ‘I work for Ferrari’s continued success’ Todt: ‘I work for Ferrari’s continued success’At the end of Wroom 2005, the event at Madonna di Campiglio that traditionally sees the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro enjoying the last few days of relaxation before the new season kicks in, Ferrari’s Direttore General Jean Todt yesterday met journalists for a press conference.

Todt focused on the 2004 season and spoke about the upcoming one, revealing that he was pleased to find himself at Wroom for the twelfth consecutive year on the eve of a very important season. ‘Compared to last year’, began Todt, ‘what has changed is my role. Since the first of June it has been that of Ferrari’s Direttore Generale. This is a role that has allowed me a 360° view of the company. Seeing things from this perspective I can say that 2004 was a record year: we produced and sold almost five thousand cars. We also presented two new models: the 612 Scaglietti and the F430, which we expect to attain the same levels of success as the 360 Modena. We have further created a new Brand Development & Partners division which deals with licensing and merchandising.

With regard to races, Ferrari won the Constructors’ title and Michael took his fifth consecutive Drivers’ crown. Rubens placed second and in total we scored 15 victories in 18 eighteen races. As concerns the production of GT cars, in 2005 we presented the 575 Superamerica in Detroit, the fastest convertible in the world. With its transparent roof it has already earned widespread praise.’

‘On the sporting side of things the next appointment will be the presentation of the new Formula 1 single seater. This will take place at the end of February. We will begin the championship with the F2004B, the version from 2004 modified in line with the regulation changes that come into force in 2005. We plan to use the car in the first four Grand Prix races of the season. As regards the Team, I can say that there is stability and continuity given that since 1997 the set up has remained the same. Obviously we have introduced new resources to prepare for the future. We would like this unrepeatable cycle to last as long as possible and my job is to assure that Ferrari continues to be as successful in the future as it is today’.

What are the ingredients for such a long period of success? ‘There are at least three elements. The stability of the team that I spoke about earlier; the selection of the right partner, a fundamental element, and the importance of giving members of the team the chance to grow professionally. The most striking example is the case of Costa’.

This year the championship will be particularly long. What will be the most important aspects in the running of a squad facing such a tough test? ‘A competitive and reliable car will be fundamental as the gap between one race and another will be very short. This means that there will be very little time to modify the cars. The crucial factor will be to have a competitive package from the off’.

What type of championship is expected in the light of the new regulations? ‘Compared to last year we have to take three parameters into account: the fact that the engine has to last for two Grand Prixs, that there is to be only one set of tires for qualifying and the race and the overall package of the car as the new aerodynamic guidelines generate less grip’. Related to the regulations changes, next season the second qualifying session will be held on the Sunday morning.

Do you consider this a disadvantage or not for the watching public? ‘I don’t think it is a disadvantage. Many complained that the weekend’s program was not gripping enough, that the Sunday morning did not see any cars on the track. This is the main reason for the changes. However, as ever, it is difficult to satisfy everybody. Now we will have a starting grid decided on the sum of the times but I personally believe that the best method is to have the qualifying session on the Saturday afternoon with a cap of twelve laps per car. The change was brought in to try to penalize Ferrari but, in the end, this solution was found. I repeat: I prefer the old system’.

Doesn’t it seem that Ferrari is ever more isolated from the other teams? ‘From one point of view Ferrari always has been but this is not a problem. Over the past few years we have probably made life a little more difficult for our adversaries and so it is more evident. When Ferrari was not as competitive as it is now, the sense of isolation was not as strong’.

What did it mean meeting the Pope? ‘I think that it is an extremely gratifying event; for believers or considering that the Pope is a unique institution on the planet. He is a man of the highest morals with a unique courage and the fact that we were received by him is considered by us all to have been a truly exceptional experience’.

In the ‘post-Michael’ era, which driver would you like to see in the team: Kimi Raikkonen or Fernando Alonso? ‘At the moment the two drivers are under contract and working for other teams. We at Ferrari always try to track down the best and, when the time is right, we will bring in best drivers’. Ferrari

Toyota drivers happy with Jerez test Toyota drivers happy with Jerez testIt was a busy week of testing for Toyota at Jerez as the German- based squad completed almost 2,400km of testing. Ricardo Zonta handled the bulk of the work as the Brazilian test driver completed 263 laps in the TF104B chassis with a best time of 1:16.672. Both Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher ran the new TF105 with Trulli completing 170 laps with a best time of 1:18.048s and Ralf Schumacher completing 109 laps with a best of 1:18.242s. The new TF105 is the work of chassis Technical Director Mike Gascoyne who joins the three drivers in answering questions about the week’s testing.

Jarno Trulli

Jarno, what have you been working on over your two days of running?
"I have spent my two days here in Jerez learning about the new TF105. It is not only a new car but one that is completely different because the rules have been changed to make the cars slower. The car is not yet in the definitive aerodynamic specification for the first race, but it is good to be able to try it out so early to iron out any teething problems. That means that by the time we get to Melbourne we will already have completed a lot of mileage on important parts like the engine and gearbox.”
What progress can you already see from the TF104B to the TF105?
"The fact that I know both the TF104B and the new TF105 has helped me compare the two. So far I would say that the new car is stiffer and much more balanced overall. But it is still too early to say more – especially because of the influence of the regulation changes for 2005, which have made this car so different from last year's.”

What area do you think needs most attention?
"So far, the new rules mean that the grip level is lower than what I'm used to, but I'm sure we will recuperate that before and during the season. Apart from that I would prefer to keep testing and trying different things to know the car better. To date things are going reasonably well. Now we have to keep discovering and resolving all the problems that you always get with a new car, but I am optimistic because the team and the car are working well.”

Ralf Schumacher

Ralf, what has your program been for this week's Jerez test?
"The program for the week has just been about doing baseline work and making sure we sort out all the little problems that occur when you run a car for the first time. I must say it's all been very positive, so a big compliment to the team. They've done a really good job on the mechanical side of the car, addressing the problems we had with the TF104B.”

How productive has the test been?
"We did very well this week. As the TF105 is the first 2005-spec car to run it is difficult to compare times because most of the others have been running their 2004 packages. We put in fewer laps than we hoped on the first day because of some minor problems with an electrical box overheating. That is a typical issue when you run a new car and it was resolved by Wednesday, which was a trouble-free day on which we made significant improvements.”

What are your initial impressions of the TF105?
"We are happy with what we've seen so far on the TF105, and I think it is a competitive package. It handles well and it is one of the few cars which I have thought was a very good car from the start – even if the new rules make it slightly slower. We still need to carry out work to find out more about it but the baseline is really good, so I am really pleased with the job the team has done.”

Ricardo Zonta

What is your main area of work for this week?
"I have been working almost exclusively on tires this week. Thursday was the first time since the end of the season that I have completed a performance tire test, which is always enjoyable. It was a positive day and we were able to pick out a few sets to do some longer runs on Friday to check degradation and long-distance performance. That is probably even more important because this year's tires have to be strong from the first lap of a race until the last.”

Ricardo, what are the benefits of running with the TF104B?
"When it comes to tires, it doesn't matter which car you are running. The information can be correlated directly from one car to the other. But of course we have changed some of the parameters on the TF104B – like the downforce settings – to bring them closer to the 2005 car."

You will also be testing on Saturday and Sunday – what is the plan?
"This weekend we are doing a wet tire test which works in the same way as the dry one. On Saturday I will do some short runs to pick out tires to test over longer distances on Sunday. The track dries during those long runs, much as it would do in a race as the racing line dries, so again it is useful for checking degradation." Toyota

Challenge on the ice at Madonna di Campiglio Challenge on the ice at Madonna di CampiglioIt was a challenge on the ice between the champions of two and four wheels at Madonna di Campiglio. Despite the sub-zero temperature almost five thousand people thronged to the Ice Karting arena at Madonna di Campiglio to take in an exhibition including Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Luca Badoer, Loris Capirossi and Carlos Checa.

The organizers of Wroom, the traditional Ferrari meeting dedicated to the specialist press on the snow at Campiglio, is now in its 15th year. This year, the spectators were lucky enough to see the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro stars line up against the Ducati Marlboro Team. After a few warm up laps the F1 and Moto GP champions put on a breathtaking show, concluding the 20 lap event with a joint finish, a conclusion that both the Wroom organizers and the competitors had deemed suitable.


The race was dedicated to the tsunami hit populations of South East Asia and the funds collected will be donated to the Fondazione Terres des Hommes in Italy. Ferrari

Gascoyne pleased so far with TF105 Gascoyne pleased so far with TF105Toyota gave their 2005 Formula One challenger, the TF105, its track debut last week and after running back-to-back comparisons with the TF104, technical director Mike Gascoyne is reported to be delighted with the initial results, saying that it surpassed their expectations.

Mike, are you pleased with the debut of the TF105?
"Up to now, we're happy with the debut of the TF105. There has been a positive feeling from the drivers about the new car's handling, especially in relation to the rear end. All the feedback was in the direction we expected, confirming the data we had gathered in the wind tunnel.

"In terms of reliability this car gives a very good feeling too. As for performance, there is still a lot to come as we get used to how the new regulations affect how the car runs. But it's been a pretty good start."

How would you summarize the week's work?
"This Jerez test has effectively been a week-long shakedown, doing basic systems checks on all the different areas of the car. The job here has really been to get all those checks out of the way so that we can understand better how the car works. Only after that can we begin more detailed work on setting up the car.

"Although we have done some work on balancing the car, we still have much to learn. With the TF104B if we have a balance problem we know how to change it because we have done it in all kinds of conditions, but with the TF105 we don't yet have all that information. That is work you need to do in a controlled way, step by step."

Testing moves to Barcelona next week – what will the program be?
"In Barcelona we will have our second new TF105 chassis available and our race drivers are scheduled to run for four days each in the new package from next Tuesday (18 January). That is when we can start the detailed work on set-up, fine-tuning the balance and looking to extract performance.

"A typical program would be that one car would look at a front camber scan while the other does a rear camber scan. Then, one would run stiffer on roll bars while the other goes stiffer on springs, or one might move the weight distribution forward, the other rearward. That way we can start to build up the big picture." Toyota

Todt has no plans to retire Todt has no plans to retireAfter six straight constructors' titles and five consecutive drivers titles, Ferrari general director Jean Todt (right, courtesy of Ferrari) says he sees no early retirement in either his future or that of Michael Schumacher.  Speaking at the team's annual Media gathering, Todt described Ferrari as "fantastic team with formidable motivations." "However Ferrari imports new blood from outside every year in order to prepare its future," he said. 
Brawn urges radical changes to F1 cars Brawn urges radical changes to F1 carsSpeaking at the Autosport International show, Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn has urged his fellow car designers to seize the chance to make a radically better Formula 1 within the next few years when the Concorde Agreement expires. "I think F1 has an opportunity at the moment to really set the reference points for 2008," said Brawn. "The Concorde Agreement finishes at the end of 2007 and we are therefore able to define what sort of F1 car we want in 2008 without the need to get every team to agree. The FIA has now started a discussion to think about what sort of car we should have in 2008 and I think, because it is so far ahead, the teams won't take a selfish view on their own competitive position today. I think one of the things that we have got to think seriously about is dramatically reducing downforce. The problem at the moment is that the cars cannot follow each other. As soon as you start to follow a preceding car you lose downforce when you go through a corner, so to improve the racing you need a dramatic reduction in downforce. It could be an important consideration, so I think in future years you will see us go in that direction." Autosport
Team USA
Electrical woes plague Miller Electrical woes plague MillerInvercargill, New Zealand -- The misfortune that has dogged Team USA Scholarship driver Slade Miller's trip to New Zealand continued today, leaving him well down the grid in qualifying and then forcing him into the pits just four laps into the first of the weekend's three Formula Ford races at Teretonga Park.  "It's been a tough day," said Miller. "Nothing has gone right and we have our work cut out for us tomorrow. The good news is that the car seems to be handling well, so I'm sure we can move up if we get the problems sorted."

The weekend's one and only qualifying session took place in extremely blustery conditions this afternoon, and ended with Miller posting a best lap of 1m 03.499s, placing him 16th among the impressive field of 33 cars.

"There was a crosswind of more than 20mph on the front straightway which made getting around the corners a bit tricky," related Miller. "The handling would change in the middle of the corner, depending on how hard the wind was gusting at that point in time. Then the car developed a slight misfire, which got worse and worse. The only reason I went as fast as I did was I got a good tow from Jayant Singh."

Today's 12-lap race started at around 4.30 pm, and was red-flagged after just two laps following a multi-car incident in The Loop -- a fast, left-hand sweeper which follows the long front straightaway. One of the cars involved was Miller's Team USA Scholarship/Doug Mockett & Company Stealth/Van Diemen.  "I was on the outside, trying to make a pass into Turn One, and three cars got together just ahead and started spinning," said Miller. "My only option was to try and go around the outside, but I ended up sliding into the gravel."

The 18-year-old from Edmond, Oklahoma, was lucky. His car was undamaged and he was able to regain his original position for the restarted race. Unfortunately, however, the engine refused to run cleanly, and he dropped back through the field before retiring to the pits after just four laps.  "The plan going into the race was to go for a good lap time, because that would move me up on the grid for tomorrow's race [the grid for which would be determined by a combination of lap times established both in qualifying and the opening race]," said Miller, "but the engine started misfiring right away and just got worse."

The team worked long into the evening, changing as many of the electrical components as possible prior to Sunday's schedule, which will comprise another 12-lap race in the morning followed by the prestigious New Zealand Grand Prix which will be run over 40 laps, with a brief break for refueling at half-distance.

Today, in Miller's absence, four cars enacted a thrilling battle for the lead before Auckland veteran Jason Liefting emerged to take the checkered flag narrowly ahead of pole-sitter Andy Knight, from Christchurch, who out-braked Australian Shannon O'Brien into the final corner. Queenstown's Marc Doran finished a very close fourth.

Sauber goes radical with front wing Sauber goes radical with front wingSauber showed a radical new front wing during testing at Valencia in Spain on Friday - an extra wing element to the front of its brand new C24.  The new wing is designed to try and get back some of the downforce lost by the new Formula 1 technical regulations introduced this year.


"The fact that the team gave me the chance to do the baptism of our new car shows me that they put a lot of confidence and trust in me, which fills me with pride and makes me very happy," Felipe Massa said. "I concentrated on giving as many comments on the car as possible to allow us to improve on the set-up, which we did quite a bit over the day. I think the C24 is really reliable, which will be an even more important issue this season. Running nearly 70 laps without major problems gives me an optimistic and positive feeling about the car. I believe we had a good start, although we will only see in Melbourne where we are."

"The scheduled functionality and system tests such as cooling and electronics checks went well and we were able to get initial impressions of the car balance after the first set-up changes", Technical Director Willy Rampf said. "The only problem we experienced was an overheating of the bodywork around the exhausts, but this was solved pretty quickly and we could continue to work according to plan. Overall things went well and I’m quite happy with the roll-out of the C24."  Felipe Massa will continue today before Jacques Villeneuve takes over to complete the test on Sunday. 

Gelles Racing joins Renault PanAm Racing bandwagon Gelles Racing joins Renault PanAm Racing bandwagonGelles Racing, the defending Formula Renault 2004 champion, will take part in the PanAm Racing series that will start this spring, starring open wheel series in FR2000 and the new Renault V6. Renault Sport announced today at the Birmingham Autosport International Show at the NEC in Great Britain that the series will be moving to the Americas with events taking place in Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada and the United States. Team owner Bob Gelles will receive three V6 cars, being the first in line for purchase and is searching for experienced drivers with available funding to fill the FR 2000 and V6 seats.

“We are extremely excited to continue in the Renault series, said team owner Bob Gelles. The past three years have seen very competitive races with international grids. Gelles Racing purchased the first FR2000 car to land in North America in 2002.  Further, I am proud to have generated the greatest entries in the past three seasons competing with the FR2000 cars, it is only fitting that Gelles Racing continue in the new FRV6.  Formula Renault is already staged in 14 countries and one of the most respected ladder series around the world. Formula V6 is the racing machine closest to Formula 1, a 7/8-scale representation of the pinnacle of Motorsport. Head turning quota will be very high for the V6 and spectators will appreciate every lap. As far as Gelles is concerned, we will offer the perfect ladder series: from Formula BMW USA to FR2000 and finally the Renault V6, drivers will nurse their careers all the way to the top.” 

The spectacular V6
Last February, a few lucky drivers – three of them from Gelles Racing – had the chance to test the Renault V6 at Homestead Miami Speedway and all were very impressed with the car: Carbon fiber monocoque, carbon bodywork, 475 hp, 6-speed transmission sequentially controlled from the steering wheel, carbon brakes, in-board controls and Michelin racing slicks are the main features of this thoroughbred.  All cars entering the 2005 series have been stripped, tested and refurbished with a new kit that will make them even faster.

Renault V6 car

The reliable FR2000
Renault V6 is big sister to the ultra-reliable FR2000, one of the most popular series around the world. “Our team has entered at least three cars in every race in the last three seasons, even in the Winter series, add Mr. Gelles. We have won our share of races, pole positions and fast race laps. Last year, Juan Martin Ponte was driving one of our cars when he won the title; Michael Yager was Best Rookie and we earned the best team award. We are glad Renault Sport is getting involved this year by offering a full V6 season to the FR2000 champion. We have a number of drivers on our testing list that will not miss this opportunity.”   

Doubleheader weekends
Each series will have two races per weekend. V6 will have one race with F1 standing starts and one mandatory pit stop. The other race will be Indy style rolling starts. A minimum of 18 cars will be entered with drivers coming from many countries. A schedule can be viewed at www.panamracing.com/panamv6/calendar.html  Gelles is sponsored by Western Union, BMW of Sterling, Tenfore, Care Centric, Revelos Group and USA TODAY.

Testing schedule can be seen on Gelles Racing web site at www.gellesracing.com . Gelles Racing is the reigning 2004 Formula Renault Champion Team. Renault Sport web site is www.renault-sport.com and the PanAm series web site is www.panamracing.com

Carpentier-Mecachrome Press Conference Carpentier-Mecachrome Press ConferencePhotos from the Cheever Racing/Patrick Carpentier Mecachrome press conference at the Montreal Auto Show.

Photos by Muriel Brousseau for Mecachrome International

Hot News Archives
2000 2001 2002 2003

Search Hot News
Search Help
AutoRacing1 Inc. BBB Business Review