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Q and A with McLaren's Jonathan Neale Q and A with McLaren's Jonathan NealeDuring the build-up to the 2006 Formula One season, Team McLaren Mercedes will be providing updates on the activities of the team and the development process of MP4-21. In addition to information from the tests and the Team McLaren Mercedes drivers, this will include Q&A's from members of the McLaren Racing technical team.

To start the series, Jonathan Neale, Managing Director of McLaren Racing, discusses the overall development program of the MP4-21.

What is your specific role within the MP4-21 project?
As Managing Director, I am ultimately responsible for the performance of McLaren Racing; I have to make sure we deliver. My specific role with MP4-21 is to make sure we have a clear set of targets and goals for the car; this doesn’t mean that I can write the specification for the car but that I make sure one is created within the McLaren Racing chief engineers system, which we all believe is competitive.

I'm also in charge of making sure the resource is applied correctly and the program is in place to achieve the technical specification. We need to be goal driven in terms of timescale, when do the critical decisions have to be made, on what basis we are going to make them and who makes those decisions.

What is the current focus of the program for MP4-21?
MP4-21 Chassis 1 was being machined and then put into car build during the week commencing 19th December. We also plan to be taking our FIA Crash Test with the reference chassis within the next couple of weeks. zzzz

How has on track testing been progressing?
On track testing at this time of year is very important to us. We have an interim car running currently, which is the 2005 chassis fitted with a version of the Mercedes-Benz V8 engine. Our key focus has been engine development and cooling systems work, alongside significant tire evaluation with Michelin, with reference the change back from tires that run a race distance to tires that operate for a series of short sprints. The program is progressing well, however it is early days, and the specification of the chassis and the engine is changing a lot at the moment as we gather more intelligence.

Looking more specifically at on-track work, the test that began on Tuesday 13th December in Jerez, there were a number of suspension items, body work and R&D concepts that we were working on with the interim car, which are very relevant to the baseline specification for MP4-21.

After the Jerez test, work continued apace at the McLaren Technology Centre, with Manufacturing and Car Assembly teams having just 1½ days off over the Christmas holiday, along with members of the design team and senior management. Track testing will recommence next Wednesday, 11th January in Jerez.

When did the team first start testing components for MP4-21?
The reality is that because we are developing and testing general concepts, and specific components, on a continuous basis it is not possible to state a definitive date. The key milestone in the testing would be in September when we debuted the V8 engine at Silverstone."

When do you expect MP4-21 to debut on track?
Presently, MP4-21 is scheduled to go on track mid-late January, however as always this is subject to change as we finalize the baseline specification.

What is the overall schedule for the testing program in the build-up to Bahrain?
Following the pre-Christmas tests, we are currently planning to test every available week in the run-up to the Bahrain Grand Prix starting in week two in Jerez. Once the new car has been released, our primary focus will be durability testing, proving the software, the systems and the 11,500 car components, 90% of which have changed from MP4-20. Then we will start to look at phasing in upgrade packages onto the car. For example the aerodynamic specification was set in late October / early November time and since then the aero team has been working on a series of performance upgrades to bring on line and this will take place before the cars leave for the first Grand Prix in Bahrain and then continue throughout the season. McLaren

Gerhard Berger reflects on his funniest moments in F1 Gerhard Berger reflects on his funniest moments in F1I had some really bad ones, actually. I was fighting for pole position at Silverstone once. I had it in the bag basically, but I knew that on the lap that counted I made a small mistake. I was quite sure I could go 0.2-0.3 seconds quicker so I decided to go out again. The pit lane exit was quite narrow and I touched the front wheel on the wall and bent my suspension. That was the end of my pole position. The idea of going out of the pits and ruining your last chance….it was very embarrassing.

One of the funniest times was when I rolled Jean Todt’s road car with Jean Alesi in the passenger seat. I pulled the handbrake up and we flipped it on to the roof. We slid along on the roof, stopping just two meters before another car. Mr. Todt was not happy!

Another funny time was went scuba diving with McLaren team boss Ron Dennis. He went underneath me and I put my hand down and closed his air bottle. We were about five or six meters under the water. He didn’t realize that I’d closed it and suddenly there were a lot of bubbles! It wasn’t often I could have the last laugh with the team boss, but Ron has a great sense of humor and will almost certainly have got me back! Gerhard Berger

Fry says FIA could reign in V10 quickly Fry says FIA could reign in V10 quicklyHonda Racing’s CEO Nick Fry says the FIA could change the technical specification of V10 engines at short notice if the current ‘equivalency formula’ proves to be unfair.

Fry (pictured right) claims the FIA has given assurances that it will take further action to equalize performance if necessary.

“We have to wait and see if the equivalency formula is fair,” he told autosport.com.

“At the moment, those running V8s feel that the restriction is a bit too generous, so we need to find out what is the exact figure.

“I know there are tests being done and we’re just leaving it to the FIA to determine what is fair.

“[FIA president] Max Mosley and [FIA technical delegate] Charlie Whiting made it clear that they would adjust the equivalency formula if necessary at 24 hours’ notice. They always said the figure may change, because they want to make it fair. So at this stage we’ll just leave it and see what happens.”

Several teams are working with the governing body to help establish the appropriate equivalency formula, although Fry confirmed that Honda opted not to take part.

“Toyota volunteered to do tests; we could have done it too, but we chose not to, and we’re comfortable with that,” Fry said.

“Midland did the test at various levels and already presented the data to the FIA. The FIA will now make a decision. Hopefully it will come out fair – fair to everybody. That is all we ask.”

Circuit to relocate Palm trees Circuit to relocate Palm treesSixteen of San Jose's signature palm trees will be moved off the Park Avenue medians closest to Plaza de Cesar Chavez because organizers of this summer's San Jose Grand Prix are widening that segment of their course through downtown streets.

Both the city and race organizers emphasize that the towering California fan palms are being relocated, not cut down. Current plans call for 11 to be replanted on adjacent sidewalks; the other five will fill in gaps downtown where other palms have died.

City arborist Ralph Mize says the trees -- 16 of more than 250 planted along Park Avenue and Almaden Boulevard over the past two decades as part of the city's redevelopment effort -- should survive the move.

``It's not the easiest thing in the world, but it can be done,'' Mize said. ``Palms are one of the unusual species in that you can successfully transplant large trees. Primarily that's because the palm is structured so that it has a lot of water stored in the trunk and it has roots that are able to regenerate.''

Borden said all the changes along Park Avenue are expected to cost organizers $505,000. The other work includes narrowing the medians and removing a light and island on the northeast corner of Park and Almaden.

Drivers on the 1.4-mile course turn left onto Park after heading south on Almaden. Several drivers failed to successfully navigate that turn last July and crashed into barriers that had been constructed there.

To remedy the situation, organizers moved the race from the eastbound lane of Park to the westbound lane. Initially, the street is wide enough from the curb to the existing median, but the median expands later in the block, making the course too narrow.

That's where the trees will be removed. Six will be relocated near the Bank of America and five near the Tech Museum, according to Borden. Mercury News

Petty slams fellow drivers Petty slams fellow driversUPDATE Photos from Petty's Car of Tomorrow Test:

Kyle Petty (gray car) and NASCAR's Brett Bodine test their cars during Car of Tomorrow testing at Daytona International Speedway.  Right, Kyle Petty shares his thoughts with NASCAR and team engineers during Car of Tomorrow testing at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: NASCAR/Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images)

01/21/06 Kyle Petty, who was the only driver to join NASCAR's prototype in his own version of the "car of tomorrow" at Daytona on Thursday, said other teams should have been there.  "To move the ball forward faster and develop the car in a timely manner so we...can put on a show that the guy...in the grandstand deserves, you need more teams here," Petty said.  "Somebody needs to get off their rear ends and help develop this car instead of sitting on their couch complaining about it." ThatsRacin.com
Forsythe: 24+ cars for 2007 Forsythe: 24+ cars for 2007Series Co-owner Gerald Forsythe believes the explosive growth that Formula Atlantic will enjoy this year will move into Champ Car in '07.

"The next step is to get Champ Car to the same level," Forsythe observed. "But you've got to walk before you can run. It just doesn't make economic sense for new teams to come in for this year. But with the new car for 2007 I'm sure you'll see more cars and teams coming in.

"This year will be another building year for Champ Car, but '07 will be the year where Champ Car will step out. We've had a lot of people expressing interest but without the availability of cars for this year, it makes it difficult. But people are planning now for 2007. There's light at the end of the tunnel. I believe there will be twenty-four plus Champ cars next year. I think the interest we have now in the Atlantic series will carry over to Champ Car in 2007." ChampCar.ws

Button must beat Barrichello Button must beat BarrichelloF1 legend, Murray Walker has said that 2006 will be a 'crunch year' for Jenson Button.  Speaking to British tabloid newspaper The People, Walker said "This is a crunch year for Jenson because, if he can't beat Barrichello, it's debatable whether he can become world champion," confirmed Walker.
MF1 Racing feeling good MF1 Racing feeling goodThe MF1 Racing team are feeling good following a four-day test at British racing circuit, Silverstone. The team were able to test various new aspects of their car and both, Sporting Director, Adrian Burgess, and driver, Tiago Monteiro, said they were happy after seeing the tests results.

The team were running their Toyota-V8 engine as well as using their new 2006 gearbox, electronics and rear suspension.

"We have had a very productive week at Silverstone, despite the wintry damp conditions, managing to accumulate over 1200km with Tiago and Christijan.”

“We ran the EJ15b with the V8 engine and introduced our 2006 gearbox, rear suspension package and new electronics components due for the M16.”

“This has given us a good insight to the major parts of the M16 car and the reliability has given us confidence for the package as a whole." Said Burgess.

Monteiro said it felt good to be back after his holiday break and that he was looking forward to the arrival of the teams 2006 racing car.

"It was good to be back in the car after a month off, the team had four days testing which were productive as we were trying a few new parts for the new car.”

”Despite the weather, we were able to test a lot of reliability issues in the rain and luckily the dry. Overall giving us a general idea of the direction we're going. Now I'm looking forward to the launch of the new car early February."

The Midland ’06 racing car is to be launched on February 3rd.
Best lap times:
Christijan Albers: 1.34.33 - wet conditions
Tiago Monteiro: 1.26.71 - Dry Conditions

Wilson to get support Wilson to get supportLook for the Union Jack flag at some Champ Car races this year. Some people are predicting that Justin Wilson is a definite favorite to take the Champ Car title in 2006.

Justin Wilson investors are organizing a series of trips from the UK to a selection of Champ Car events in 2006: Long Beach, Portland, Toronto, Edmonton, Denver, Montreal, Elkhart Lake and - possibly - Mexico City. The supporters package include flights, hotel accommodation, team hospitality, race tickets, an opportunity to meet with Justin, team merchandise and an event program.
PRN's "Fast Talk Live from Daytona Beach" PRN's "Fast Talk Live from Daytona Beach"For the 15th consecutive year, Performance Racing Network (PRN) will kickoff its broadcast season with "Fast Talk Live from Daytona Beach" and the roster of scheduled guests includes defending NEXTEL Cup champion Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Elliott Sadler. Co-hosted by 1973 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Benny Parsons and Mark Garrow, host of "PRN's Garage Pass," the popular radio program will air Feb. 12-16 from the Volusia Mall, located directly across from Daytona International Speedway on International Speedway Blvd. in Daytona Beach, Fla. The shows are open to the public and there is no admission charge. "Fast Talk Live from Daytona Beach" will debut Sunday, Feb. 12, from 4pm to 5pm and a two-hour edition airs Monday, Feb. 13, from 6pm to 8pm The final three shows will each be one-hour in length, airing from 6pm to 7pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 14-16. "Fast Talk Live from Daytona Beach" can be heard on over 100 radio stations across the nation, on XM Satellite Radio's channel 144 and at www.nascar.com. A listing of drivers scheduled to appear on each of the five "Fast Talk Live from Daytona Beach" programs can be obtained by visiting www.goprn.com
Testing at the Catalunya circuit resumes tomorrow Testing at the Catalunya circuit resumes tomorrowThe F1 Championship comes back to the Spanish Grand Prix track from January 23rd to 27th. The teams will start testing for a new season plenty of changes: new regulation with V8 engines, limited aerodynamics, new agreements between teams and motorists, etc. Moreover, for the first time a Spanish driver –Fernando Alonso– will take number 1 as last year’s World Champion.

Eight teams will be testing at Catalunya. On Monday 23rd McLaren-Mercedes and BMW-Sauber will start. On Tuesday 24th Ferrari, Honda and Red Bull Racing will join them. Renault will arrive on Wednesday 25th, as well as Toyota. Toro Rosso will test only on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th.

Spectators can buy their tickets (5 euros/day) at the ticket office no. 2 (gate 2). PA3 parking is free. Spectators can access to the Main Grandstand as well as Grandstands E, F, J and K (east area – main straight); and Grandstands G, C and H (north area – stadium area). The restaurant and Circuit’s shop behind the Main Grandstand will be open. The access is free for the Circuit’s members.

Tickets still available
There is a comprehensive offer of places –grandstand and pelouse– for spectators who want to buy tickets for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix. There are still tickets available for most of the grandstands, especially grandstands A, M, C and J, apart from the pelouse.

The second presale period, with 5% discounts, finishes on March 16th. Press release Circuit de Catalunya

Red Bull drivers go to the mountains Red Bull drivers go to the mountainsIt has come to our attention that there’s a sport which makes Formula 1 seem quite logical. It involves putting on a suit that means you look like a rubber fetishist, strapping two planks of wood to your feet and sliding down a snow-covered mountain with a walking stick in each hand.

No seriously, it really is a very popular sport, it’s called skiing and the biggest event of the year takes place this weekend in Kitzbuhel, Austria, as the world’s best skiers tackle the world’s scariest downhill race, the Hahnenkamm.

This famous event is the Monaco GP of the ski world and all the “beautiful people” turn up to see and be seen. It seems that being beautiful is not compulsory as all six of our drivers from Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso will be attending, before resuming testing next week. For all of them barring “DC” and Christian, it’s their first visit to the Downhill race. zzzz

Thursday the F1 boys headed up into the Kitzbuhel mountains for a few hours of skidoo riding in the area called Bichlalm, although in true Italian style, Tonio Liuzzi (pictured right) managed to delay proceedings by turning up hours late. On the way there, they passed the famous Hahnenkamm race course and the drivers could not believe how steep and dangerous it looked.

With around 30 centimeters of fresh snow falling in the past couple of days, soft crash landings were very much the order of the day, as none of our crew had much previous skidoo experience. But a racer is a racer, so after a couple of cautious laps of the 1.2 km course, life got a bit extreme. This was a major headache for our photographer who struggled to find a moment when more than one machine had a driver in the saddle, rather than flat on his face in the snow.

The skidoo puts out around 125 horsepower and can reach speeds of 160 km/h, so this was serious stuff. Eventually, they got round to staging a race and Scott Speed ran out the winner ahead of Christian Klien. Considering he comes from the flattest, lowest country in Europe, where a road speed bump counts as a mountain, Robert Doornbos did well to finish third. Source Red Bull Racing

Gronholm delivers victory for Ford Gronholm delivers victory for FordDouble champion and new Ford signing Marcus Gronholm kicked off his 2006 title campaign and his career with the Blue Oval in the best possible way, with a dominant victory in the season-opening Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo.

The Finn (pictured left, all photos courtesy of Ford) defied the tricky conditions on the mountain asphalt roads above the Principality, with much more snow and ice on the stages than in previous years, to record his first win on a sealed-surface event and the first victory for the all-new, 2006-spec Focus WRC and kick start the season with a healthy maximum 10 points. As ever, it was a savvy performance from Gronholm, mixing consistent speed and maturity in equal measure.

But, it has to be said, the man of the rally was once again defending double champion Sebastien Loeb, who finished second. Although he missed out on a fourth successive win in Monte Carlo, the Frenchman proved he's lost none of his speed or enthusiasm with the off-season switch from a works Citroen Xsara WRC to a car run by the factory-blessed Kronos Total Citroen outfit, and took a healthy 10 wins from the 17 completed stages.

The fact that Loeb finished just 1m01sec behind Gronholm is particularly incredible when you consider that he was forced to take a five-minute penalty on Friday night for crashing on the final stage and missing the road section back to the final service halt of the day. A one-minute lead turned into a four-minute deficit, but Loeb clawed three minutes of that back with a clean sweep of stage wins on Saturday and some astounding driving. On Sunday he was back into the top three and took second on the final stage. Who said his commitment would wane this year? zzzz

Ousted Ford driver Toni Gardemeister's run to third place in an independently-run Peugeot 307 WRC was astounding considering his limited time in the car, due to the off-season switch. He was a consistent podium challenger and spent much of Saturday battling for second - and we mean battling, which is a hard thing to do in such tricky and unpredictable conditions. After finishing second here in Monte Carlo last year in a works car, he can truly claim to have mastered one of the trickiest events on the calendar and it will be interesting to see what he can do with the 307 WRC on gravel.

Manfred Stohl, the top privateer of 2005, once again proved his class at the start of his first full season of World Rally Championship competition. The OMV-backed Austrian was in the thick of the battle for second in his Bozian Racing-run Peugeot 307 WRC, but dropped down the order today as Loeb rose up. Still, it's another impressively solid drive from Stohl in what looks set to be an intriguing year for him and his team.

French asphalt ace Stephane Sarrazin was top Subaru driver, picking up points for the team with fifth place in the all-new Impreza WRC after 2003 title winner Petter Solberg's retirement with an oil leak on Friday night. Young Australian Chris Atkinson defied his lack of Monte Carlo and asphalt experience by running in the top three early on, but his lack of knowledge meant he dropped back down the order. To be fair, sixth place is as good as he ever should have expected on his Monte debut, and he's proved once more his inherent skill at the wheel.

Returning works Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen finished seventh in the second factory Focus WRC, after suffering the sort of technical teething problems that car designer Christian Loriaux and team boss Malcolm Wilson feared would emerge eventually. Reigning Junior WRC title winner Dani Sordo took eighth place in a third Kronos-run Xsara WRC ahead of team regular Xavier Pons.

French asphalt ace Gilles Panizzi and rising rookie Andreas Aigner garnered points for Red Bull Skoda on the team's debut with 10th and 13th, although the team showed even more promise with its ex-factory Fabia WRCs with Panizzi running comfortable near the front of the field early on before dropping down the order on Saturday. Belgian Peter Tsjoen and rising Brit Matthew Wilson failed to secure manufacturers' points for the Stobart VK Ford team with 14th and 15th, but gained valuable Monte Carlo experience that - as indicated by their results - they were sorely lacking. WRC

Final results:

Pos No. Driver Car Time Behind Leader 
1. 3 M. Gronholm Ford Focus RS WRC 06 4:11:43.9 
2. 1 S. Loeb Citroen Xsara WRC 4:12:45.7 1:01.8
3. 16 T. Gardemeister Peugeot 307 WRC 4:13:07.0 1:23.1
4. 7 M. Stohl Peugeot 307 WRC 4:13:26.2 1:42.3
5. 6 S. Sarrazin Subaru Impreza WRC 2006 4:15:04.1 3:20.2
6. 18 C. Atkinson Subaru Impreza WRC 05 4:16:46.3 5:02.4
7. 4 M. Hirvonen Ford Focus RS WRC 06 4:18:03.4 6:19.5
8. 26 D. Sordo Citroen Xsara WRC 4:18:59.1 7:15.2
9. 2 X. Pons Citroen Xsara WRC 4:19:26.8 7:42.9
10. 11 G. Panizzi Skoda Fabia WRC 4:21:13.7 9:29.8
11. 62 J. Kopecky Skoda Fabia WRC 4:24:03.0 12:19.1
12. 63 O. Burri Peugeot 307 WRC 4:25:56.7 14:12.8
13. 12 A. Aigner Skoda Fabia WRC 4:29:30.0 17:46.1
14. 10 P. Tsjoen Ford Focus RS WRC 04 4:32:01.9 20:18.0
15. 9 M. Wilson Ford Focus RS WRC 04 4:32:45.2 21:01.3
16. 64 G. Mac Ford Focus WRC 4:34:31.4 22:47.5
17. 33 F. Nutahara Mitsubishi Lancer Evo Ix 4:37:59.1 26:15.2
18. 67 A. Machale Ford Focus WRC 4:38:10.4 26:26.5
19. 65 P. Roux Peugeot 206 WRC 4:41:22.6 29:38.7
20. 76 M. Prokop Citroen C2 S1600 4:41:47.2 30:03.3
21. 44 D. Higgins Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII 4:44:30.9 32:47.0
22. 84 T. Cserhalmi Mitsubishi Lancer 4:45:00.5 33:16.6
23. 83 P. Heintz Subaru Impreza STI 4:45:56.7 34:12.8
24. 89 A. Jereb Subaru Impreza STI 4:47:45.5 36:01.6
25. 68 E. Boland Ford Focus WRC 4:47:48.3 36:04.4
26. 91 J. Sebalj Subaru Impreza WRX STI 4:49:39.9 37:56.0
27. 39 N. Al-attiyah Subaru Impreza 4:55:13.2 43:29.3
28. 86 M. Chvojka Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII 5:05:54.9 54:11.0
29. 66 R. Errani Skoda Octavia 5:06:54.2 55:10.3
30. 40 S. Marrini Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII 5:08:59.1 57:15.2
31. 37 J. Latvala Subaru Impreza WRX STI 5:12:08.5 1:00:24.6
32. 82 A. Burkart Citroen Saxo S1600 5:41:20.2 1:29:36.3

Maxwell and Jeannette for Multimatic Panoz ALMS assault Maxwell and Jeannette for Multimatic Panoz ALMS assaultMultimatic Motorsports Team Panoz – the new factory squad formed to campaign the Panoz Esperante GTLM in this year’s American Le Mans Series – has confirmed Scott Maxwell and Gunnar Jeannette for its 2006 Championship driver line-up.

Both Maxwell (right) and Jeannette are familiar names to Panoz fans – they have previously raced the GTLM for Panoz Motor Sports as well as the Panoz LMP-01 in the P1 class. The experienced Canadian and young American star were team-mates on the JML Team Panoz roster in 2003.

The duo enters 2006 coming off race winning seasons aboard Multimatic Motorsports’ Ford Mustang FR500C entries in Grand-Am Cup competition. Multimatic won the team, driver’s and manufacturer’s championships with the in-house built Fords.

Jeannette and Maxwell both contributed race wins and pole position points to the effort with the latter finishing second in the driver’s championship.

Maxwell in particular has played a key role in Multimatic’s on-track successes – leading all of the organization’s competition vehicle development and winning multiple championships, the P2 class at the 2000 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as the Daytona Prototype class at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2003.  zzzz

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our organization because we have been so heavily involved in the Esperante’s development and I feel that with Sean Mason and his team running the program there is a high probability of success,” Maxwell said.

“I’m really looking forward to the battle in GT2 this year. With new cars coming in from BMW and Lexus as well as the always strong Porsche effort, the level of competition has really stepped up a notch.

“The Esperante GTLM proved last year that it is extremely competitive but our main aim is to try and make the car more consistent in 2006. It was fast at some tracks in 2005, and not so good at others.”

Both Maxwell and Jeannette (right) will begin testing duties for Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz at Sebring next week from January 23-25.

“I’ve probably done more than a dozen races in the Esperante GTLM but this will be the first year that I have done a full season,” Jeannette said.

“I’m really excited about the possibilities that Multimatic Motorsports bring to the table in this new partnership and I fully expect we will be able to challenge the Porsche runners very strongly.

“I really think the GT2 class is going to be the one to watch in 2006 and I am sure the Panoz is going to be challenging for wins.”

The remainder of the Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz driver squad will be announced in the near future.

Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz will make its competition debut next March at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Multimatic is a privately held Canadian corporation supplying components, systems and services to the global automotive industry. The company is headquartered in Markham, Ontario, Canada, and has operating divisions in North America and Europe with partners in Asia, South America and Australia.

Multimatic specializes in the manufacture of stampings, welded assemblies, mechanisms, and suspension components, as well as the design and development of automotive body and chassis systems. Multimatic uses advanced technologies to achieve outstanding product quality, delivery and functional performance.

The Panoz Esperante is a high performance handcrafted limited production sports car built in Braselton, Georgia by Panoz Auto Development Company (PADC).

The racing version of the car, known as the GTLM, has been developed for FIA/ACO GT2 competition by Elan Motorsports Technologies with chassis engineering and manufacturing support from Multimatic.

Tyler Claims Silver Crown Pole at Phoenix Tyler Claims Silver Crown Pole at Phoenix[Editor's Note:  Only 12 cars will start this race tomorrow, down from 48 cars last year.   We doubt fans will be interested enough to buy many tickets to this fiasco.  NASCAR's influence on open wheel racing is a disaster.] 

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Brian Tyler of Parma, Mich. opened the new era of Silver Crown racing Saturday with his third career pole, which came at Phoenix International Raceway.

Tyler, driving one of the four C&R chassis, whipped around the one-mile oval at 27.518 seconds (130.823 mph), pitting four different manufactured cars in the qualifying results for the “Copper World Classic” 50-lapper, deemed the “Fast Signs 50.”

“The more we get out there and run laps, the better off the car is,” Tyler said. “We haven’t run that many laps, but (chassis builder) Chris Paulsen keeps getting it closer to where it needs to be. Chris and his guys put together a good racecar, and it feels very safe.

“I’m definitely looking forward to running tomorrow,” Tyler continued. “I wish it was still 100 laps, because it usually takes about 50 laps to really get into the groove, but we should be fine.”

Floridian Wayne Reutimann Jr. will start his Stealth alongside Tyler. Aaron Pierce, a native of Muncie, Ind. driving a Riley, will start third, while four-time reigning event champion Dave Steele will start fourth.

Bud Kaeding, who had the session’s second quick time in a DRC, will start sixth. Drivers who qualified three spots outside their original qualifying time could start at best sixth for the feature.

Starting Grid
1 Brian Tyler 27.518
2 Bud Kaeding 27.705
3 Wayne Reutimann Jr 27.708
4 Aaron Pierce 27.815
5 Dave Steele 27.828
6 Jerry Coons 28.025
7 Pablo Donoso 28.247
8 Dave Darland 28.307
9 Greg Furlong 29.154
10 Tim Barber 29.861
11 Rodney Weesner 31.205
12 Bryn Gohn NT

Gronholm content to be in front Gronholm content to be in frontRallye Automobile Monte Carlo leader Marcus Gronholm has said he's still just focused on surviving this weekend's season-opener, but admitted that he was enjoying leading a rally on his first outing for the works Ford team.

The double champion started Saturday's second leg of the event with a 1m34sec lead over Peugeot privateer Toni Gardemeister, following the retirement of Subaru's Petter Solberg and a five minute penalty for reigning champion Sebastien Loeb, who missed the final stage and road section after crashing out.

Gronholm - who has never won on asphalt - has now extended his advantage over Gardemeister to a full 2m05sec, however, and is just six stages away from a remarkable debut result in the all-new, 2006-spec Focus WRC.

"I'm happy to have widened my lead this morning but conditions have been very difficult again," said Gronholm. "It's very slippery. I've got no trust in the road conditions, and I didn't drive very well, but it has turned out okay.

"The last stage [on the morning loop] was extremely slippery and it's hard to judge what is a good pace. I'm enjoying leading, but I'm not enjoying the mixed conditions. It's more a case of surviving than driving at maximum speed - but I'm surviving quite well!"

Leader board after Leg Two:

Pos Driver Make Time
 1. Gronholm Ford 2h 36:10.2
 2. Gardemeister Peugeot + 2:05.9
 3. Stohl Peugeot + 2:08.8
 4. Loeb Citroen + 2:41.6
 5. Sarrazin Subaru + 3:03.4
 6. Atkinson Subaru + 4:42.8
 7. Sordo Citroen + 5:01.6
 8. Panizzi Skoda + 5:20.0
 9. Hirvonen Ford + 5:27.3
10. Pons Citroen + 6:22.9

Things that make you say "Ouch" Things that make you say "Ouch" 




Toyota cries foul over Toro Rosso Toyota cries foul over Toro RossoToyota's Mike Gascoyne is the latest technical director to slam Scuderia Toro Rosso's decision to exploit a rule in the F1 technical regulations, designed to help under-funded outfits, which will allow the second Red Bull-owned team to race with a rev-limited V10 engine, rather than a V8, this season.

"I don't think it's good that only one team is using a V10 engine," Gascoyne said. "The rule was there for teams like Minardi who didn't have the finances to get a competitive V8.

"I'm not so sure that's the position now for Toro Rosso and I think it would just be better for everyone if all were using V8 engines and you had no arguments about restrictions and everything."

"The only V10 engine that is going to be used as far as we know is the Cosworth engine and they (the FIA) have adopted the equivalency formula put forward by Cosworth," said Gascoyne.

"I think several of the manufacturers have expressed surprise about that because if we take that equivalency formula and put it in our (V10) engine, it performs significantly better than a V8 is going to.

"We've raised that question with the FIA, they say they are satisfied with what Cosworth has put forward, we have question marks about it."

And it's not just Toro Rosso's choice of engine that Gascoyne believes is unfair: the team are currently using last year's Red Bull RB1 chassis.

"They (Toro Rosso) shouldn't be using last year's Red Bull chassis," he said. "Under the Concorde Agreement it is quite clear that each team has to be a constructor... if one guy owns two teams, that's still two separate teams. They are entered under a different name, they've got to be two different teams."

IRL cuts engine costs, increases crash damage IRL cuts engine costs, increases crash damageCompeting in the Indianapolis 500 got significantly cheaper Friday when the event's chief steward confirmed price reductions for engine leases.
Indy Racing League president Brian Barnhart said Honda Performance Development has agreed to provide V8 powerplants at a rate that increases the likelihood of a full field.

One-month leases will cost $250,000, half of what teams paid last year. If a team wants to start practicing after the first weekend of qualifying, the rate will be $115,000, down from above $200,000 last year.
"Based on that alone I feel a whole lot better about our ability to get at least 33 (cars) in the month of May, better than I've felt the past two or three years," Barnhart said.

Honda became the sole supplier of IRL engines when Chevrolet and Toyota withdrew at the end of last season. Barnhart said the lack of competition among manufacturers keeps the costs down.

The engine lease for the IRL's 2006 season is $1.3 million. Robert Clarke of HPD already has announced the '07 program will cost less than $1 million. It was $1.8 million in 2005.

As for Indy, Barnhart said he counts more than 40 people who own IRL cars, a function of the league using the same chassis for the fourth consecutive year.

"Certainly the engines are getting cheaper and more equitable, but it's still a struggle to find sponsorship," said Greg Beck, who has fielded Indy-only teams the past three years. "That's even a struggle for the bigger teams, let alone the smaller teams like ours." Indy Star

[Editor's Note: These guys just don't get it do they?  With high speed artificially created 'pack' racing there are going to be lots of huge crashes and cars are going to get pulverized against the wall.  That is what drives the costs so high in the league.  And now with everyone having the same engine and the cars slower to get more miles from the engines, the packs will be tighter and the crashes more numerous.  So they think they are saving money on the engines, but they will more than make up for it in crash damage.  Get your checkbooks ready fellas.]

Williams getting used to Bridgestone tires Williams getting used to Bridgestone tiresFollowing its switch from Michelin to Bridgestone, the WilliamsF1 team has spent a major part of its winter testing programme getting to grips with the new rubber. The team finished the final day of testing in Jerez this week on the top of the timing sheets. It was also the team's final test before the new FW28 is launched next week. "We managed to have a productive afternoon testing various tire options with Bridgestone to further improve our understanding of the compound and construction requirements," technical director Sam Michael said at the end of testing. "Our Bridgestone engineers have responded exceptionally well to the direction taken from the November and December tests and we are seeing the results of that already. We also verified several new mechanical components for reliability. WilliamsF1
10-race IMSA Lites schedule 10-race IMSA Lites scheduleTen races at five venues in 2006 make up the inaugural season of IMSA Lites, the new sports racer series sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association. The schedule, announced today by IMSA COO Tim Mayer, includes stops at a selection of North America's finest, most historic venues.

"There is a great history of sports racers in the United States and North America. But unfortunately there haven't been many chances for those drivers to compete on a professional level," Mayer said. "IMSA Lites presents that opportunity to grow and groom the next wave of sports car - specifically prototype -competitors."

IMSA Lites will feature two classes of open-top sports racer prototypes - Lites 1 and Lites 2. IMSA Lites offers a step up for those racers who would like to advance beyond the club racing level or in preparation for a career in a world-class organization like the American Le Mans Series.

"One of the things missing in our lineup of series was a place where people who were interested in racing prototype-style cars could race with us in a professional environment and in front of the kinds of crowds we attract with the American Le Mans Series," Mayer said. "One of our missions is to develop future drivers, teams and fans for the American Le Mans Series."

The series will be managed by Formula Motorsports' Jon Baytos, who also is responsible for the highly successful Formula Ford 2000 series.  zzzz

IMSA Lites reaffirms our leadership in organizing affordable racing series," said Baytos from his Florida headquarters. "Our entire organization is focused on making this inaugural season of the IMSA Lites as strong as any series in America."

After debuting at Road Atlanta as part of the Drift Atlanta weekend May 12-13, IMSA Lites will join the American Le Mans Series four times - at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lime Rock Park, Road America and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta - for the balance of its inaugural season.

"Our first schedule is one that allows us to introduce the IMSA Lites platform all throughout North America, as well as plant the seeds for its growth," Baytos said. "We fully expect the series to be extremely popular with future drivers and fans, which will add to the growing interest to sports car racing, IMSA and the American Le Mans Series."

Like the American Le Mans Series, IMSA Lites will feature multi-class racing. It presents a dimension of competition as drivers must be aware of the class' distinctly different speeds as they navigate the race tracks. It is the same challenge American Le Mans Series drivers face.

Elan VanDiemen will supply Lites 1 chassis for IMSA Lites. The DP02 Sports Racer features a carbon-fiber monocoque, race-designed suspension and uprights, a six-speed sequential gearbox, and a full aerodynamic package that features a front splitter, diffuser and rear wing. The DP02 will be powered by 2.3-liter, four-cylinder Mazda MPZ engine that will be sealed by Elan Power Products.

 "We are proud to be able to offer such a remarkable product at such an affordable price," said Elan Motorsports Technologies CEO David Bowes. "Elan has become the world leader in the production of formula cars and that has allowed us to design this car with world class engineering talent, but at a production based price. Customers will find that we have given them a great value."

Radical also will be providing a Lites 1 chassis featuring a 1500cc Powertec engine. In addition, Elan VanDiemen, West Race Cars and Radical all will provide chassis for Lites 2. The cars will be smaller and lighter (about 200 pounds) and will be equipped with 1,000-cc Suzuki GSXR engines.

The affordability of the series is further enhanced by requiring all competitors to use the highly successful Cooper Tires UHP Cooper Zeon Radial. Sunoco will be the spec fuel for the race series.


May 12-13, Drift Atlanta, Road Atlanta, Braselton, Ga.
May 19-21, American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio
June 29-July 1, New England Grand Prix, Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Conn.
August 18-20, Generac 500 at Road America, Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Sept. 27-30, Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, Braselton, Ga.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday
'The Betsy'  (1978)
12:00 a.m.-3:00 a.m. ET, SPEED
Portugal to Dakar
2:00 a.m.-3:00 a.m. ET, OLN - Episode 2
5:00 a.m.-6:00 a.m. ET (R) Discovery HD Theater
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (R) Discovery HD Theater
Detroit  (1/14/06 - 1/22/06)
1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET, NBC
Special One Hour Show  (Details)
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (R) SPEED
Daytona International Speedway
7:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. ET (SDD) SPEED
7:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET SPEED
Daytona International Speedway
8:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m. ET (R) SPEED (1/16/06)
8:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m. ET (R) SPEED (1/17/06)
9:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. ET (R) SPEED (1/18/06)
Daytona International Speedway
9:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m. ET (R) SPEED
   The Rock the Boat crew builds a
   NASCAR-themed boat and will sell it
   online to benefit the Victory Junction Gang.
11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. ET (R) OLN

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

NASCAR partners with Sunoco and EPA NASCAR partners with Sunoco and EPAThe National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) today announced that a special unleaded fuel has been developed and will be used by the start of the 2008 season as a result of its partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its fuel supplier, Sunoco.

“We’ve been back and forth to the drawing board for several years to find an unleaded fuel that is compatible with NASCAR engines.  NASCAR congratulates Sunoco and is proud of the progress it made on developing a fuel that works in NASCAR engines,” said Gary Nelson, NASCAR’s vice president of research and development.

NASCAR tested a number of possible alternative fuels in recent years, but none that didn’t cause engine problems.  NASCAR tested an unleaded product in its NASCAR Busch Series in the late 1990s.  However, the tests were unsatisfactory and required the sanctioning body to conduct further research. Other fuel solutions were incompatible and led to engine failure.

NASCAR began testing the current unleaded fuel, Sunoco 260 GTX, last fall at its Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C.  The fuel will be used in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Paul Tracy holds own in Busch testing at Daytona Paul Tracy holds own in Busch testing at DaytonaIn his first ever official Busch Series practice session, Champ Car driver Paul Tracy turned the 15th fastest lap out of 55 on Friday afternoon at Daytona. Aaron Fike led the way followed by Mike Wallace and Jon Wood. (Pictured right - Tracy walks with Aaron Fike right, courtesy of NASCAR)
Pos No Driver Make Time Speed
1 43 Aaron Fike Dge 48.060 187.266
2 90b Mike Wallace Frd 48.136 186.970
3 47b Jon Wood Frd 48.189 186.765
4 47a Jon Wood Frd 48.229 186.610
5 5b Kyle Busch Chv 48.265 186.471
6 9a Larry Foyt Dge 48.269 186.455
7 11a Paul Menard Chv 48.273 186.440
8 1a Jason Keller Dge 48.274 186.436
9 33 Ron Hornaday Chv 48.275 186.432
10 22a Kenny Wallace Frd 48.300 186.335
11 57 Justin Labonte Chv 48.300 186.335
12 20b Denny Hamlin Chv 48.323 186.247
13 60a Carl Edwards Frd 48.336 186.197
14 27a David Green Frd 48.338 186.189
15 34 Paul Tracy Chv 48.392 185.981
16 32b Jason Leffler Chv 48.419 185.877
17 32a Jason Leffler Chv 48.423 185.862
18 8b Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chv 48.428 185.843
19 41t Reed Sorenson Dge 48.433 185.824
20 77a Burney Lamar Chv 48.434 185.820 zzzz
21 8a Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chv 48.446 185.774
22 64b Jamie McMurray Dge 48.475 185.663
23 1b Jason Keller Dge 48.588 185.231
24 5a Kyle Busch Chv 49.404 182.171
25 19 Aric Almirola Chv 49.597 181.463
26 11b Paul Menard Chv 49.609 181.419
27 50 Danny O'Quinn Frd 49.656 181.247
28 16a David Ragan Frd 49.762 180.861
29 05b Justin Ashburn Chv 49.771 180.828
30 05a Justin Ashburn Chv 49.775 180.814
31 00m Johnny Sauter Chv 49.818 180.658
32 20a Denny Hamlin Chv 49.903 180.350
33 38a A.J. Foyt IV Dge 49.908 180.332 (Pictured right)
34 18 J.J. Yeley Chv 49.920 180.288
35 87b Joe Nemechek Chv 49.979 180.076
36 06a Todd Kluever Frd 50.012 179.957
37 87a Joe Nemechek Chv 50.119 179.573
38 56b Kevin Lepage Chv 50.131 179.530
39 9b Larry Foyt Dge 50.132 179.526
40 66a Andy Hillenburg Frd 50.177 179.365
41 2a Clint Bowyer Chv 50.196 179.297
42 88a Mark McFarland Chv 50.202 179.276
43 36a Tim Sauter Chv 50.202 179.276
44 29a Brandon Miller Chv 50.240 179.140
45 66b Andy Hillenburg Frd 50.301 178.923
46 25a Ashton Lewis Jr. Frd 50.310 178.891
47 21a Jeff Burton Chv 50.380 178.642
48 59 Stacy Compton Frd 50.405 178.554
49 95 Steadman Marlin Dge 50.452 178.387
50 01a Jay Sauter Chv 50.481 178.285
51 10 John Andretti Frd 50.554 178.027
52 63a Jeff Spraker Chv 50.678 177.592
53 4a Mark Green Dge 50.691 177.546
54 35a Regan Smith Frd 50.852 176.984
55 01b Jay Sauter Chv 735.197 12.242
Busy times in F1 world Busy times in F1 world(GMMf1NET)  Ferrari had a busy Friday, not only giving Felipe Massa his first try of the 2006 car at Fiorano, but announcing a new three-year sponsor deal with 'Acer'.

Grove-based Williams also unveiled a new deal, but the 'Randstad' logo will only appear on the team's trucks and in the pit garage this season.

The new season for Honda is set to shift up a gear on Wednesday, when the 'RA106' runs on track for the very first time at Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona, scene of the week's major F1 test action.

Also in Spain, at Jerez on Friday, heavy fog held up proceedings because the medical helicopter could not get clearance to take off.  Eventually, Nico Rosberg (Williams) set the best time, while Rubens Barrichello took a turn beating new Honda teammate Jenson Button, as the 'concept' '05 Honda car was run for the last time.

Elsewhere in the racing world, Nelson Piquet and his son overcame their troubles at Sao Paulo, locating the Aston Martin DBR9's engine in preparation for the popular Brazilian 'Mil Milhas' race.

Cosworth continues to hold own against mighty factories Cosworth continues to hold own against mighty factoriesDespite being up against some big factory teams, Cosworth is proving they are prepared to be the 'David' in this David and Goliath story by turning the fastest lap of the week in testing at Jerez at the hands of Nico Rosberg in a Williams.

“Cosworth experienced no significant engine problems on the CA2006 in Jerez this week. We were able to continue with the validation of updated engine components, while we also made good progress refining engine control strategies. Back in Northampton, we are flat out preparing engines for the new FW28 car builds. Engineering progress and dyno test results continue to be good and we will deliver a further engine performance gain when the CA2006 is installed in the new chassis.” Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth

Fastest V8 times for the week at Jerez
Pos Driver Team Best Time Date
1 N Rosberg WilliamsF1 (B) 1:18.309 20.01.06
2 J Button Honda (M) 1:18.406 18.01.06
3 R Barrichello Honda (M) 1:18.633 20.01.06
4 J Trulli Toyota (B) 1:18.656 18.01.06
5 A Davidson Honda (M) 1:18.675 18.01.06
6 A Wurz WilliamsF1 (B) 1:18.831 20.01.06

Roush adds new Busch Series driver Roush adds new Busch Series driverWorld Financial Group, Inc. and Stonebridge Life Insurance Company, member companies of the AEGON Group, and Roush Racing announced today a partnership that will put Roush Racing: Driver X standout Danny O’Quinn Jr. in a NASCAR Busch Series ride in 2006. O’Quinn will pilot the No. 50 Ford Fusion for the full NASCAR Busch Series season. The team will make its first start in the Hershey’s Kissables 300 at Daytona International Speedway in February.

"World Financial Group and Stonebridge Life Insurance are proud to be sponsoring such an exciting new talent,” said Tim Stonehocker, CEO, World Financial Group, Inc. “Danny O’Quinn, Jr. is the latest example of Roush Racing’s legendary ability to identify promising new drivers and grow them into future champions.  We are proud to be associated once again with this world-class organization.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Roush Racing again this season and are proud to sponsor Danny O’Quinn, Jr.,” said Laurie Renko, Senior Vice President, Stonebridge Life Insurance. “This is Danny’s first season racing for Roush in the NASCAR Busch series and we’re confident his talent and commitment will take him far. He shares Stonebridge Life’s commitment to winning in a fast-paced world through integrity, dedication and endurance, and we’re glad to be a part of his team. We look forward to an exciting 2006 season!”

Kevin Lacroix completes testing with Mi-Jack Conquest Kevin Lacroix completes testing with Mi-Jack ConquestButtonwillow, California – Young driver from St-Eustache, Quebec, Kevin Lacroix completed two days of testing with Mi-Jack Conquest, the Champ Car team that will enter two cars in the new Champ Car Formula Atlantic series in 2006. Testing occurred at Buttonwillow in California and the Formula BMW USA vice-champion worked with veteran engineer Lee Dykstra who worked previously with many famous drivers. No decision has been reached as to whether Lacroix will drive with Mi-Jack this year in this very promising series, but it is almost certain that the French-Canadian driver who will turn 17 in March will be on the starting grid for the maiden race in Long Beach in April.

‘Those two days were very profitable, said Lacroix. I took control of the Swift 0,14 on the first day and raced for more than 150 laps on the second even in cold weather. Mister Dykstra worked with famous drivers like Emmo Fittipaldi, Rob Gordon and Guerrero and communications with him were excellent. I know that Graham Rahal, a friend and competitor for some years in karting, will drive for Mi-Jack this year, and teaming up would be fun. But we have other propositions to consider and more testing to do before we reach a decision. We will leave no stone unreturned.’

More testing will take place before the new Atlantic car is revealed on February 14th. Kevin Lacroix will most probably join the new Champ Car Formula Atlantic series in 2006 with the renewed sponsorship from Uni-Select, SKF MotorSports, Raybestos, Tenneco, Pennzoil and Auto Parts Plus. His web site may be reached at www.kevinlacroix.com

Waltrip and Jasper form company Waltrip and Jasper form companyPresident and CEO of Michael Waltrip Racing, Inc., Michael Waltrip and President of JASPER, Doug Bawel, announced today they have formed Waltrip-Jasper Racing Company, LLC. Waltrip-Jasper Racing will field the #55 NAPA AUTO PARTS NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Dodge in 2006, driven by Waltrip. Bawel has been in racing for over 15 years, previously as an owner of Penske-Jasper Racing Company’s #77 Kodak Dodge. Bawel will serve on the Board of Directors and will be active in business management and sanctioning body relationships for the new company.

“I have been in the sport as a driver for 22 years and the logical progression for me was ownership at the highest level, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series,” Waltrip said. “This is such a big step, that I wanted to partner with someone who has intimate knowledge about ownership at this level. Doug Bawel and I have been friends for a number of years and I have always respected the way he handled himself in the garage and with NASCAR.” “I learned quickly that Michael is a goal oriented person,” Bawel stated. “

When we began talking about the possibilities of teaming up, he started dialing the phone and making things happen immediately. He is a talented driver and a proven NASCAR Busch Series car owner, but most importantly as he moves into NASCAR’s premier series, he is a man with a vision that likes to take ideas from paper to reality. I am delighted to lend my experience and management support to Waltrip-Jasper Racing.” zzzz

Waltrip-Jasper Racing has contracted Bill Davis Racing to be the source of cars, engines and personnel. Additionally, Waltrip-Jasper Racing has created their own team of people.

The foundation of Waltrip-Jasper Racing is sculpted with experienced people vested in NASCAR. Ty Norris, former EVP of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. will serve as the general manager overseeing the operation. Waltrip’s long-time confidant, Bobby Kennedy will serve as the Competition Director and Larry Carter, a veteran crew chief, has also been contracted by Waltrip-Jasper Racing to be a part of the team.

“I know how intense this business is and I am prepared for the challenge,” Waltrip said. “I am committed to being successful as an owner and I think the industry will recognize that when they see the caliber of personnel and sponsors I am bringing into this organization. But, there are a lot of days when I anticipate I will need my sense of humor, so I believe I will keep it.”

Brad Parrott leaves Roush Brad Parrott leaves RoushUPDATE Roush Racing has named Pierre Kuettel as the crew chief for the No.60 Ameriquest/Henkel Busch Series team this morning.  Kuettel previously held the position of car chief for Carl Edwards No.99 Nextel Cup team.  Kuettel has been employed at Roush Racing for eight years having proven himself to be a dedicated member of the Roush family and a driven leader. 

"Pierre will be a great asset for Carl and the No. 60 Ameriquest/Henkel team," said Jack Roush.  "He has been with our organization since 1998 and has proven his talent and dedication.  I believe he is the right choice to lead this team and help Carl achieve the Busch championship he deserves."

“I am really excited for this opportunity to not only work with a high-caliber driver like Carl Edwards, but also to work with such a great group of guys.  I think this is going to be a really exciting year” said Kuettel.

Brad Parrott has left Roush Racing to pursue other opportunities.

01/20/06 Brad Parrott, who led NASCAR Busch Series rookie Carl Edwards to five wins and a third-place finish in points last season, has been released by Roush Racing, the Observer has learned.  Parrott did not travel with the No. 60 Busch team Friday morning for its scheduled test at Daytona International Speedway, several team officials confirmed.
Spirit of Daytona driver lineup Spirit of Daytona driver lineupSpirit of Daytona is pleased to announce its complete driver line up for the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. The 09 Pontiac-powered Crawford will be driven by co-owner/ team driver, Doug Goad, 2000 NASCAR NEXTEL CUP Champion, Bobby Labonte, European standout, Harold Primat, and Sportscar Champion, Larry Oberto.

This will be Spirit of Daytona's 10 th Rolex 24 Hours and will include one of the best driver lineups the team has ever compiled. Even though all four drivers have various racing backgrounds they all have endurance racing experience. Both Doug Goad and Bobby Labonte competed in the 2005 Rolex 24.   Labonte competed with his brother Terry and placed 9th overall in the 24 Hours. "Last year in Kevin's car (Ford Doran) I had an awesome time. It was a very valuable experience," said Labonte. Labonte saw an opportunity to race with Goad and Troy Flis, team-owner/manger, for 2006 and decided to go for it. " I know I joined with the team late in the schedule (referring to testing the DP for the first time on Friday, January 20) but hopefully this will be for a better season." Labonte competed in three other races during the 2005 Grand American season, but this will be the first time he gets behind the wheel of a Pontiac-Crawford.

This will be Goad's third 24 Hour race in the 09 Daytona Prototype (DP). He has raced in the event numerous times and won the Rolex 24 Hours in the AGT Class in 2001. This will be Goad's second time racing with a NASCAR driver. In 2004 NASCAR star, Robby Gordon raced for the Spirit of Daytona with Doug Goad, Stephan Gregoire and Milka Duno.   Goad is looking for a top-10 finish this year to carry the team into a successful 2006 season. Goad commented on the 2006 event, " Right now everything is going great, considering less than two weeks ago our team was not even sure what our 2006 plans were. The driver line up is great and I am happy to have Bobby, Harold and Larry come on board with our team."

Rahal Letterman adds Gehl sponsorship Rahal Letterman adds Gehl sponsorshipGehl Company will be an associate sponsor of Rahal Letterman Racing in selected IndyCar Series events in 2006. The Wisconsin-based manufacturer of compact equipment for use in construction and agriculture, will be displayed on the team's cars at Indianapolis, St. Petersburg and Milwaukee. "We pride ourselves at Rahal Letterman Racing on partnering with like-minded companies that are leaders in their respective fields," said Bobby Rahal, co owner of Rahal Letterman Racing. "The Gehl Company motorsports program has been in existence nearly 20 years. They were looking at opportunities to expand their motorsports program, and the opportunity to be involved as an RLR partner at Indianapolis, St. Petersburg and Milwaukee proved to be the right mix."
Changes will improve performance for 2006 Indy Pro Series Changes will improve performance for 2006 Indy Pro SeriesThe Indy Pro Series will introduce a dual-shock front setup for its cars in 2006 and will turn to Speedway Engine Development, Inc., to rebuild its engines. The changes are intended to make the cars more similar to IndyCar Series cars and to enhance the reliability and customer service of the engine rebuilds.

A single shock absorber has been used in the front of the Dallara chassis since the formation of the Indy Pro Series in 2002. The dual shock setup will include a cockpit adjustable front anti-roll bar.  "We want the Indy Pro Series car to be as close in feel as possible to an IndyCar Series car,"  technical director Butch Meyer said. "As a training ground for future drivers in the IndyCar Series, this new system will allow the driver to make adjustments just as their counterparts in the bigger cars do."

"As we prepare for the growth of the series in conjunction with our new $3 million prize structure, this development will also level the playing field for new teams entering the series," said Roger Bailey, executive director of the Indy Pro Series. "All of the setup data that teams acquired in the past will have to be reassessed."

League officials also are excited about working with Speedway Engines and its owner, Rick Long. "Rick has been around racing for a long time and is one of the top engine builders out there," Meyer said. "We anticipate a high level of reliability and customer service."  zzzz

Long and Herb Porter founded the company in August of 1996 and have worked exclusively on IRL engines since. After opening with three employees, the company has grown to 15 employees working on more than 150 engines per year. The company did all of the engine work for IndyCar Series champions Buddy Lazier (2000) and Sam Hornish Jr. (2001 and 2002).

"We're excited about the opportunity to work on the Indy Pro Series engines," Long said. "Our goal is to make as consistent of an engine for the entrants as we can. If we have 40 engines, we want them all to be within five horsepower of each other."

The 420-hp engines used in all Indy Pro Series cars are designed to run 1,600 miles between rebuilds. The rebuilding process includes disassembly, inspection of every part, replacement of worn parts, re-assembly and a performance test on the "dyno."

Speedway Engine also will support the series with a minimum of two people at the racetrack for every event.

Andretti gets oval experience at Texas Andretti gets oval experience at TexasBombardier Rookie of the Year candidate Marco Andretti got his first extensive oval test in an IndyCar Series machine during a private rookie test at Texas Motor Speedway on Jan. 20.

Andretti, the third generation driver from one of racing's most storied families, turned laps in teammate Tony Kanaan's Honda-powered Dallara prepared by his Andretti Green Racing team.

"It was pretty interesting the first couple of laps," Andretti said. "We were moving pretty quickly for me. But, after you get settled in the car everything slows down and you get settled in." Andretti's previous oval experience consists of two races in the IRL Indy Pro Series and a race in the Star Mazda Series. He also tested an IndyCar Series machine at Michigan International Speedway last August.

"It is definitely going to be a lot of fun, but this is all new to me," Andretti said. "I ran Michigan which is obviously half a mile longer and less banking. So, you get a lot more of a feel at this track."

Andretti's teammate Bryan Herta was on hand to help the young driver as he acclimated himself to the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval.

"I can't stress enough how my three teammates benefit me in my learning curve and just helping make it that much easier for me," Andretti said. "I don't have the oval experience, but if I am able to compare to these guys (teammates) and beat them, then I will be able to win races. It is the best to be able to compare to them. It is going to be a fun year."

IndyCar Series teams ready for Phoenix test IndyCar Series teams ready for Phoenix testAt least 15 IRL IndyCar® Series teams are expected to participate in the first test of the 2006 season scheduled for Jan. 24-25 at Phoenix International Raceway.

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

One such team is Target Chip Ganassi Racing, which will debut its new Dallara/Honda/Firestone package with drivers Scott Dixon and reigning IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon. zzzz

"I like to be in the car all the time, so I'm looking forward to getting in the car Tuesday and Wednesday at Phoenix," Wheldon said. "It will be the first time that I'm driving in Target colors, and that will be pretty special to be out there driving for Chip's team. We're working hard to speed up our learning curve, because we're obviously new to each other. There is some groundwork we have to establish, because you don't get much testing in the series right now. It's going to be nice to come back as defending champion of the IndyCar Series and defending Indianapolis 500 champion."
Marlboro Team Penske will also debut its new Honda-powered Dallaras at the test.

"The start of a season always marks a new beginning with a fresh slate," said Castroneves. "We'll be using Honda power this year, so I'm definitely optimistic about the fact that we should be very competitive. There are so many good drivers in this Series, so it won't be easy, but I think if Marlboro Team Penske works hard all year we'll be in good shape for the championship."

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

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

The test is not open to the public.

Paul Tracy Inks 5-Race NASCAR Busch Series Deal Paul Tracy Inks 5-Race NASCAR Busch Series DealUPDATE Photos below from Tracy's press conference this morning in Daytona.

Photos courtesy of NASCAR

01/20/06 Daytona Beach, Fla. – After over a year of speculation as to whether or not Paul Tracy would make his way into NASCAR, it is official.  He has inked a 5-race deal that will see him behind the wheel of a stock car in the NASCAR Busch Series.  Frank Cicci Racing with Jim Kelly will be fielding the #34 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Tracy’s 5-race NASCAR debut. 

Tracy will make his debut at Daytona and then follow up with appearances in Mexico City on March 5th, Las Vegas on March 11th, Indianapolis on August 5th, and Fontana on September 2nd.  Sport Clips (All*Star Haircuts for Men & Boys) will be the primary sponsor at Daytona International Speedway, Indianapolis Raceway Park, and California Speedway, with American Crew (Quality Grooming Products for Men) taking over as a co-primary sponsor with Sport Clips at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  American Crew will appear as an associate sponsor on all of Tracy’s races.  Frank Cicci’s #34 car does not have a sponsor for Mexico City, but with former Mexico City Champ Car winner Paul Tracy in the car, it should make the sponsorship search considerably easier. 

“I’m very excited about my first opportunity to race in NASCAR, especially in the biggest race of the year at Daytona.  Then moving on to race at Las Vegas, which is my former home, and then on to Mexico City, where I am a former winner in the Champ Car Series,” Tracy said.  “I am thankful to Sport Clips and American Crew for believing in me and making this work.  I also want to thank Frank Cicci and Jim Kelly for putting me in quality equipment and supporting me.  I would especially like to thank Doug Barnette for finding the sponsors and bringing the parties together and making this happen.”  zzzz

Sport Clips CEO and Founder, Gordon Logan, was equally excited about the relationship:  “We are extremely pleased and excited about partnering with Paul Tracy for his NASCAR debut in the Busch Series.  Paul brings an excitement and passion to the sport that will greatly expand the fan base for the Busch Series, resulting in an increased awareness of Sport Clips in all of our markets.  Our sponsorship with Paul gives us great geographical coverage with races in Daytona, Las Vegas, Indianapolis and Southern California.  Sport Clips is now in 28 states, with an almost-perfect overlay with the NASCAR Busch Series races.”  He continued, “We are particularly pleased that American Crew is coming on board with us on Paul's car.  We have a great relationship with American Crew, a leading edge product line specifically formulated for men and boys - our clients!”

American Crew Vice-President of Sales, John Mulgrew, stated,  “American Crew is extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with an American institution like NASCAR, combined with the ability to have a respected and recognized driver like Paul Tracy at the helm of our car.  This takes the recognition of our brand and the recognition that Paul creates for us to an exciting new level.”

Earnhardt tops Friday AM Busch testing at Daytona Earnhardt tops Friday AM Busch testing at Daytona
Pos No Driver Make Time Speed
1 8b Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chv 48.947 183.872
2 8a Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chv 49.328 182.452
3 05b Chad Chaffin Chv 49.340 182.408
4 32a Jason Leffler Chv 49.417 182.124
5 5a Kyle Busch Chv 49.473 181.917
6 00m Johnny Sauter Chv 49.543 181.660
7 11b Paul Menard Chv 49.602 181.444
8 19 Aric Almirola Chv 49.621 181.375
9 00x Johnny Sauter Chv 49.693 181.112
10 77a Burney Lamar Chv 49.703 181.076
11 87b Joe Nemechek Chv 49.717 181.025
12 2b Clint Bowyer Chv 49.720 181.014
13 20a Denny Hamlin Chv 49.736 180.955
14 16a David Regan Frd 49.773 180.821
15 32b Jason Leffler Chv 49.776 180.810
16 57 Justin Labonte Chv 49.785 180.777
17 90b Mike Wallace Frd 49.801 180.719
18 9a Larry Foyt Dge 49.820 180.650
19 5b Kyle Busch Chv 49.854 180.527
20 43 Aaron Fike Dge 49.855 180.524 zzzz
21 33 Ron Hornaday Chv 49.858 180.513
22 50 Danny O'Quinn Frd 49.886 180.411
23 56b Kevin Lepage Chv 49.934 180.238
24 1b Jason Keller Dge 49.949 180.184
25 11a Paul Menard Chv 49.950 180.180
26 1a Jason Keller Dge 49.959 180.148
27 06a Todd Kluever Frd 49.963 180.133
28 90a Mike Wallace Frd 49.966 180.122
29 87a Joe Nemechek Chv 49.982 180.065
30 47a Jon Wood Frd 50.004 179.986
31 9b Larry Foyt Dge 50.044 179.842
32 38a A.J. Foyt IV Dge 50.069 179.752
33 41t Reed Sorenson Dge 50.079 179.716
34 18 J.J. Yeley Chv 50.083 179.702
35 22a Kenny Wallace Frd 50.087 179.687
36 66a Andy Hillenburg Dge 50.103 179.630
37 16b David Ragan Frd 50.104 179.626
38 60a Carl Edwards Frd 50.106 179.619
39 25a Ashton Lewis Jr. Frd 50.160 179.426
40 29a Brandon Miller Chv 50.178 179.361
41 56a Kevin Lepage Chv 50.181 179.351
42 29b Brandon Miller Chv 50.183 179.344
43 64b Jamie McMurray Dge 50.188 179.326
44 88a Mark McFarland Chv 50.260 179.069
45 27a David Green Frd 50.260 179.069
46 21a Jeff Burton Chv 50.283 178.987
47 2a Clint Bowyer Chv 50.292 178.955
48 99 Michael Waltrip Dge 50.310 178.891
49 36a Tim Sauter Chv 50.339 178.788
50 59 Stacy Compton Frd 50.357 178.724
51 21b Jeff Burton Chv 50.367 178.688
52 95 Steadman Marlin Dge 50.368 178.685
53 72a Donnie Nuenberger Chv 50.368 178.685
54 4b Mark Green Dge 50.398 178.579
55 47b Jon Wood Frd 50.437 178.440
56 10 John Andretti Chv 50.512 178.175
57 60b Carl Edwards Frd 50.517 178.158
58 38b A.J. Foyt IV Dge 50.615 177.813
59 06b Todd Kluever Frd 50.628 177.767
Matos lands LMP2 ride Matos lands LMP2 rideRaphael Matos made the most out of his test session with B-K Motorsports. The 24-year-old will join Guy Cosmo and Jamie Bach in the team's No. 8 Mazda-powered Courage C65 for the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the opening race of the 2006 American Le Mans Series.

Matos was awarded the seat in the LMP2 entry after testing with the team in October, an opportunity he received for winning the 2005 Star Mazda Championship. Team officials said Matos "did a terrific job with the car" during the test at California's Buttonwillow Raceway.

Cosmo and Bach, 2005 American Le Mans Series Rookies of the Year, are both former Star Mazda competitors; Cosmo won the 2002 championship. All three will take part in the American Le Mans Series Winter Test on Jan. 23-25 at Sebring International Raceway.

"I am very much looking forward to being teammates with Guy and Jamie," Matos said. "I am so thankful to Mazda and B-K for this opportunity. It really helps broaden our careers, as graduates of the Star Mazda Championship, when these programs are organized for us. Mazda has a great history in these long endurance races thanks to the rotary engine and we will do our very best to be around at the finish."

The opportunity for a top 2005 Star Mazda Championship driver to test with B-K Motorsports was announced in May at the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio race weekend. Coincidentally Matos won the Star Mazda race at Mid-Ohio, the third of four straight wins to open the season.

"We are glad Raphael will be joining us at Sebring and it is great that there is the tie-in with the Star Mazda program," said Pat Kestner, co-owner of B-K Motorsports. "With Guy, Jamie and Raphael all being products of that series, it speaks volumes about Mazda's commitment to growing all racers through their careers in open wheel and closed wheel racing."

Rosberg puts Williams Cosworth on top at Jerez Rosberg puts Williams Cosworth on top at JerezWilliams driver Nico Rosberg completed a last-minute flying lap to edge Rubens Barrichello to the top of the times on the final day of this week's testing at Jerez. Rosberg's time was 4/10ths sec. faster than Button's top lap yesterday, so it's clear the Williams is right there in regard to performance.
Pos Driver Team Tires Time Laps
 1. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:18.321 52
 2. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:18.547 102
 3. Button Honda (M) 1:18.549 120
 4. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:18.833 28

All Timing Unofficial

Acer joins Ferrari as a sponsor Acer joins Ferrari as a sponsorFerrari is delighted to announce that it has broadened the scope of its technical and commercial collaboration agreement with Acer, the world's leading information technology company.

Although an Official Partner of the Scuderia Ferrari since 2003, Acer today came aboard as a Sponsor when it signed a three-year sponsorship deal that will continue until the end of 2008.

Racing News
Former Indy 500 technical director Beckley dies at 87 Former Indy 500 technical director Beckley dies at 87Jack Beckley, the former Indianapolis 500 technical director and one of racing's most respected chief mechanics, died Jan. 19 in Glendale, Ariz. He was 87.

Beckley prepared front-running cars at Indianapolis for more than 25 years before turning to officiating, at the United States Auto Club (USAC), in May 1976. He spent two years there as assistant to Technical Chairman Frank DelRoy until DelRoy, along with seven other USAC officials, perished in a private aircraft accident while returning home from the Trenton 200 on April 23, 1978.

With the Indianapolis Motor Speedway due to open for practice only a few days later, Beckley immediately assumed DelRoy's role. He retired in July 1991 but continued to return as a consultant in May for many years thereafter.

Beckley was the winning chief mechanic in 12 National Championship events (four under AAA sanction and eight under USAC) between 1950-68, with drivers Jim Rathmann, Jack McGrath, Roger McCluskey, Tony Bettenhausen, Bobby Marshman and George Amick. His second- and third-place finishes were numerous, including a pair of seconds, plus a couple of pole positions with A. J. Foyt during the summer of 1962.

While Beckley never was able to win the Indianapolis 500 as chief mechanic, he was on the winning crew twice, as engine man for Bill Vukovich (1954) and Gordon Johncock (1973). His best Indy finish as a chief mechanic was second with Rathmann in 1957 and 1959. zzzz

Cars prepared by Beckley started from the front row seven times and led segments of the "500" in 1951 and 1952 with McGrath, 1956, 1957 and 1959 with Rathmann, 1964 with Marshman and 1969 with Wally Dallenbach.

Always congenial, easygoing and helpful, Beckley was an icon of Championship auto racing for more than half a century. Beckley, a native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, served on a variety of committees over the years and was a past president of the Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Association.

Beckley is survived by his wife of 62 years, Harriet; daughter, Linda; and son, Patrick.

No services are planned. Contributions can be made in Beckley's memory to the Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Club.

Petty joins COT test at Daytona Petty joins COT test at DaytonaThe NASCAR Car of Tomorrow had company Thursday at Daytona International Speedway as NASCAR Research and Development officials put their prototype through its paces for a second consecutive week. This time, Petty Enterprises’ Kyle Petty (#45 Wells Fargo Dodge) joined NASCAR Director of Cost Research Brett Bodine on the track, guiding his gray prototype alongside the black, white and yellow NASCAR prototype. Thursday’s test followed the second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series session of NASCAR Jackson Hewitt Preseason Thunder at Daytona, the annual preseason tests at Daytona, and Petty’s fresh experiences in his current car lent valuable perspective to the Car of Tomorrow test. “It’s different the way it sucks up in the draft,” Petty said. “It’s different the way it feels around other cars. The nuance of the car is just a lot different.”

Last week, Bodine and the NASCAR Research and Development team led by NASCAR Vice President of Research and Development Gary Nelson conducted the first Car of Tomorrow test at Daytona, spending time on solo runs, and gathering baseline information for the second test. “We’re just here to do multi-car runs, try to evaluate its effect on the second car,” Bodine said. “All the aero configurations that we worked on last week, we’re letting Kyle do all the analysis. He was just here (Wednesday) with his current car, so he’s got a good feel for the differences between the two.” Both Daytona tests were open to any teams that wished to test their prototypes. Bodine said the fact that only Petty Enterprises brought its prototype wasn’t a hindrance to either test’s success. Petty is one of several drivers who tested his team’s prototype last October at Talladega Superspeedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“We can learn a good bit with two cars,” said Bodine, a former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competitor. “Kyle’s been working with us since the beginning with this project. He’s been to Atlanta and Talladega, and now here at Daytona with us. We’ve had a really good working relationship, and just the fact that there’s only two cars, we can still learn a good bit about them. We already have.”
In the final stages of a five-year project, the Car of Tomorrow represents NASCAR’s next major step in safety and performance innovations, and cost reduction. The redesigned chassis is boxier, with an open front bumper that catches air and creates drag – one of numerous features aimed at minimizing aerodynamic dependence. Current tests are targeting on-track handling and balance, testing the effects of both a redesigned spoiler, and a wing similar to what is employed in the sports car series. Both are bolt-on pieces that could help teams tune cars more efficiently at more tracks, thus reducing fleet costs.

Many Thursday morning runs saw Petty following Bodine in a drafting mode, with the NASCAR prototype utilizing the spoiler, then the wing for comparison. During the afternoon, Bodine planned to follow Petty in the draft, with the wing and spoiler bolted on the Petty Enterprises prototype, to gather data and observations on the trailing car. “We’re trying the wing, we’re trying the spoilers,” Petty said. “You’re trying a lot of different stuff and I think you’re still in that stage of development. I think that’s a big thing. I think everybody jumps to conclusions – ‘oh my god, the Car of Tomorrow, it’s going to change racing, it’s going to do this.’ How do you know until you come up with the end product? And we don’t have the end product. I think every time you take it to a race track, you get closer and closer.” NASCAR PR

Randstad to partner with WilliamsF1 Randstad to partner with WilliamsF1Oxford, UK. WilliamsF1 today announced that the Randstad Group, one of the largest temporary and contract staffing organizations in the world, has concluded a contract to partner the team into the medium term.

Randstad’s core business is in the provision and development of human capital, the lifeblood of any successful organization. Success in Formula One demands the very best people performing at their optimum, consistent with Randstad’s unparalleled ability to attract, coach and retain talented people for its global client base.

As an official supplier, the Randstad brand will feature within the team environment, including the trucks and garage wallboards. Importantly, Randstad will be using its association with WilliamsF1 to communicate its competencies to an international audience and emphasize the fundamental role that talented people make to organizational success.

The fast-growing Randstad Group, which generated revenues of € 5.8 billion in 2004, with a net income of € 199.6 million, showed net growth year-on-year of 15% in the third quarter of 2005. Currently, almost a quarter of a million people are placed in employment by Randstad every day, managed and coordinated by Randstad’s 2,410 global branches. The company is a market leader in territories including Belgium, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and in the south-eastern regions of the United States. zzzz

On the confirmation of the partnership, WilliamsF1’s Team Principal, Frank Williams said, “We have long acknowledged that our achievements over the past three decades have been born out of the commitment and tenacity of our remarkable workforce. We are delighted therefore to form this important association with Randstad and assist them in the communication of the message that people are the core to success.”

Randstad's CEO, Ben Noteboom, commented: "We are delighted to be able to announce this partnership with the WilliamsF1 Team. With a long history of innovation and success, and its status as one of the few remaining independent teams in F1, the Williams ethos dovetails well with our strategy to bring people further, and to strive for perfection. Because we are active worldwide, the partnership will offer a unique platform to highlight Randstad’s brand position as human, yet competitive. We are really looking forward to working with WilliamsF1."

For more information about Randstad, visit www.randstad.com

Ilmor expands in NASCAR Ilmor expands in NASCARIlmor Engineering is expanding its activities in NASCAR with the announcement that it has signed a deal to build Dodge engines for Biagi Brothers Racing in the Busch Series. The team will be running cars for driver Mark Green. Back in 2004 Ilmor built Ford engines for the team.

Contrary to popular belief, Ilmor Engineering no longer builds Formula 1 engines for Mercedes-Benz. Last summer Ilmor changed its name to Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines Ltd. Soon afterwards Ilmor founder Mario Illien started a new company called Ilmor with members of the original Ilmor's special project group.

Ilmor is building up business with Honda in the IRL and in 2007 hopes to enter the MotoGP series. There may also be Formula 1 projects again in the future. Grandprix.com

Q and A with Gary Paffett Q and A with Gary PaffettTeam McLaren Mercedes newest recruit, test driver Gary Paffett, spent time at the McLaren Technology Centre prior to his first official test at Jerez last week where, in addition to his seat-fitting for the MP4-21, having his ear plugs molded and being measured for team kit, he took some time to answer some questions for the team’s official website....

Congratulations on your wedding on 17th December, did you spend Christmas on honeymoon?
Thank you, following the wedding Lisa and I went to Dubai for a week on honeymoon. We came back to the UK on Christmas Eve to spend Christmas with our son Harvey and the rest of the family. It was the first Christmas he really understood, so it was great fun. We then all went to Portugal for New Year, to stay will some friends in Faro, so it has been a busy couple of weeks following the announcement of my test role at Team McLaren Mercedes!

How will it feel to be testing as an official Team McLaren Mercedes test driver?
It is great, I have been really looking forward to it. Whilst I have been testing with Team McLaren Mercedes to date, I have also been trying to prove my abilities as a driver, I guess you could say it has been like a job interview at the same time. So now my sole focus will be working with the team on developing the MP4-21, which is fantastic.

How have you settled in with the team and your fellow drivers?
Really well, I've been sporadically testing for the team on and off for the past five years since I won the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award, so I know a lot of the team already. Also, because I have been with Mercedes-Benz in the DTM for three years, I have been at events with Kimi, Juan Pablo and Pedro, and we get on really well and I am looking forward to working with them.

What is your program up until the Bahrain Grand Prix?
Working on the development program for MP4-21 with the rest of the team, with a definite focus on engine and Michelin tire work, now we have the Mercedes-Benz V8 and tire changes during pit stops.

What are the main differences between driving a Formula One car and a DTM?
The Mercedes-Benz DTM car I was driving last year is effectively a single seater with a body on, so the handling of the car is not too different. The biggest difference is the weight of the car, the Team McLaren Mercedes Formula One car is nearly half the weight of the DTM. Also its design creates more downforce in corners, which means you can carry a lot more speed. You of course have the roof on the DTM, and a windscreen so you don't have a visor on your helmet, which you definitely have to adjust back to when you get in a Formula One car! McLaren
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
JV likes new BMW racer
McLaren to debut 2006 racer
Mansell returns to Silverstone in '06
Imola to revise F1 layout
Herbert on Midland and Monteiro
Ferrari not in strife - Todt
Bernie meets with Hockenheim boss
F1 run was 'unique' event - Biaggi
Alonso buys Swiss mansion
F1 stars race skidoos in Austria
Schu wives hit the headlines
Gascoyne questions STR's actions
Ron Dennis won't quit - Richards
Malaysian GP targets crowd of 120,000
New Champ Car hits Wind Tunnel (First Photos) New Champ Car hits Wind Tunnel (First Photos)UPDATE #2 Another reader asks, Dear Autoracing1.com, I noticed it says the new Champ Car will be 165 pounds lighter than the existing one. Where did they remove the weight and how will this car perform compared to a F1 car? Terry Wright, Detroit, MI.

Dear Terry, In making the new Champ Car a little shorter and narrower they have brought it closer to the size of an F1 car, though an F1 car is still narrower. The current car is over 400 pounds heavier than an F1 car (both with driver), hence the F1 car will still be considerably lighter. However, the Champ Car will have a bit more HP than an F1 car in 2007 and a vast amount of underbody downforce compared to an F1 car that is flat bottom. Of course the F1 car is still far more expensive and sophisticated, but with harder spec tires in 2007 for F1, it might be interesting to compare lap times on a fast road course where a Champ Car will be generating huge amounts of ground effects downforce.

We don't think Bernie would want to see that comparison, at say, Monza. It might be embarrassingly close given the cost of an F1 car compared to a Champ Car.

F1 Specifications
Engine: 2.4 L V8 normally aspirated
Horsepower: 750+/-
Wheelbase: 120 in.
Overall Length: 184 in.
Overall Width: 71in.
Overall Height: 37in.
Minimum Weight: 1334 lb (with driver, water and lubricants)
Cost 2 Car team: >$300 million per year

New Champ Car Specifications
Engine: 2.65 L V8 turbocharged
Horsepower: 775 (850 with P2P)
Wheelbase: 122in. +/- *
Overall Length: 190in. +/-* 
Overall Width: 73in.*
Overall Height: 38in. *
Minimum Weight: 1535lb (with 150 pound driver, water and lubricants)*
Cost 2 Car team: < $10 million per year

* (Est. based on statements made)

01/18/06 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com,  I just wanted to write in and say that the simple and sleek changes that have been made to the 1/2 scale model Champ Car compared to the original drawings, make this car a true winner, at least in terms of aesthetic value. This is a wonderful looking machine and underscores just how bad other people from other series can mess up the look, performance and safety of a car. Obviously much more testing will be done on the new Champ Car, but with Champ Car's past record for safety and performance, I am not too worried. The changes to the look of the model are very pleasing to the eye. A job well done Champ Car.
P.S. Could you please post the pictures of the original drawings beside the model pictures to show the slick changes that have improved this car. Thanks! Deke McTeer, MI

Dear Deke, Yes, everyone likes the new car, and Champ Car and Panoz have done a fine job.  However, there is some concern about available sponsor logo space, or lack thereof. The new sidepods are shorter (see model images below), which takes away bodywork that the teams had before.  Every square foot is a potential revenue stream.  We would make the slight change below in red and add a fin of some sort behind the driver to add bodywork for a sponsor logo.  We don't believe it will take too much away from the look of the car. Mark C.


01/17/06 As the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season continues to sneak closer, officials from Élan Motorsports Technologies (EMT) and Champ Car have their eyes even further down the road as EMT put a scale model of the 2007 DP01 chassis in the wind tunnel for the first time.

EMT engineers and officials from Champ Car were on hand at the Penske Technology Group wind tunnel for the debut of the half-scale model of the Panoz DP01 chassis.  The group put the model through  its introductory tests and were pleased with the results they achieved.  

“We are still in the early stages of developing the new car,” said Champ Car Technology Director Scot Elkins. “We did everything we wanted to do during this first test and the results are outstanding.  This first test is where we are creating a baseline set of data for the model.  We concentrated on creating aerodynamic balance throughout the car the so we could then start the detailed development we are planning.”

The new Panoz DP01 takes much of its look from the current Champ Car chassis, keeping alive the style that has made the series a favorite of racing fans around the globe. But the cutting-edge technology designed into the package incorporates many new aerodynamic features that make this car better suited to the urban race tracks which host Champ Car's highly successful three-day festivals of speed. The design will also lead to more competitive racing on the permanent road courses and ovals that mark the Champ Car World Series as the most diverse racing series in the world. The Panoz DP01 is smaller than the current Champ Car in both length and width and weighs 165 pounds less than the current machine, providing a more nimble and quicker machine that will put driver skills at a premium.  The aerodynamic changes on the new chassis will allow for more passing via smaller wings and bigger tunnels which will create less turbulence for cars in traffic.

Champ Car announced in October the Panoz DP01 would replace the current Lola chassis at the beginning of the 2007 season.  Engineers at Élan Motorsports Technologies will continue development of the Panoz DP01 chassis with the first prototype expected to hit the track in July. Champ Car

Formula BMW
Lee is highest-finishing American at Formula BMW World Final Lee is highest-finishing American at Formula BMW World FinalSYOSSET, N.Y., - Bahrain is more than 6,000 miles from Matt Lee's home in Syosset, N.Y., but the 16-year-old says that competing in the first annual Formula BMW World Final there recently was well worth the trip.

Lee was one of only three American drivers from the Formula BMW USA series and the only driver from the Northeast to compete in the World Final, which pitted drivers from 15 different countries in a head-to-head, $60,000 event. After advancing through a series of preliminary races Lee started 11th out of 35 drivers in the final race and finished 14th, the highest finish by an American.

With a test drive in a BMW Formula One car up for grabs the competition was a wild and wooly affair, and two crashes cost Lee a better position. One in the third heat sent him from fifth position to 17th. Then, in the final restart of the last race, he was struck from the rear and pushed back to 27th, but he still was able to work his way back up to 14th at the checkered.

The driver who crossed the finish line first in the final was later penalized and ended up third, and another driver in the top five lodged a protest about another matter, so the event was not without drama. Despite the rough action, Lee feels he is richer from the experience of competing against drivers from around the world.

"I picked up so much stuff that you can't pick up racing in America, because our rules are so tight," he said. "There were tons of crashes at the World Final. About eight people crashed out of the race; it was an accomplishment just to finish.

"The biggest difference was how the drivers from other countries block," he elaborated. "Passing is easier in America. But at the World Final you had to use your brain for every single move. Mistakes could really kill you."

It was a totally new environment both on and off the track. Although Lee didn't have much free time to sightsee, he said Bahrain is "pretty westernized." zzzz

He was especially impressed with the circuit, a new, state-of-the-art facility built to host Formula One events.

"It was the nicest racetrack I've ever seen," he said. "Everything was perfect. The maintenance, the layout, just everything about the facility was amazing."

Prior to going to Bahrain Lee had wondered if dust blowing across the desert would affect the track surface. "It was clean all race weekend, but two days later when we were testing there it was like driving in a sandstorm, so we were lucky it didn't affect the races," he said.

"BMW put on a good race," he concluded. "Everything was good. We could have used more fans, but this was the first year for the World Final, so hopefully it will build from here."

Now Lee will look forward to testing in preparation for the 2006 Formula BMW USA season opener. He and Twin tooth Racing teammate Robert Thorne of Sherman, Conn. will drive for the 2005 championship-winning team, the Autotecnica Group, this year.

The series' first official test is March 27-28 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. The series will consist of 14 races run as seven double-race weekends from May through September. The first two races will be held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio May 19-21. The highlights of the season are support races for both the United States Grand Prix and the Canadian Grand Prix.

For more information see the team's Web sites at twintooth.com and autotecnicagroup.com, as well as the series' Web site at formulabmwusa.com.

The 2006 Formula BMW USA schedule, which includes two races per event and is subject to change, follows:

May 19-21 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio
May 26-29 Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Conn.
June 23-25 Gilles Villeneuve Circuit, Montreal, Quebec (Canadian Grand Prix)
June 30-July 2 Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, Ind. (U.S. Grand Prix)
July 28-30 San Jose Grand Prix, San Jose, Calif.
Aug. 11-13 Grand Prix of Denver, Denver, Colo.
Sept. 1-3 Mosport Int'l Raceway, Mosport, Ontario

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
2:30 a.m.-3:00 a.m. ET (Replay) SPEED
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (Replay) Discovery HD Theater
Portugal to Dakar
7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET, OLN, Episode #1
8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. ET, OLN, Episode #2
11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. ET, OLN, Episode #2

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

Formula BMW
Walker and Haberfeld form new team Walker and Haberfeld form new teamUPDATE A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, What happens to Derrick Walker's Team Australia now that this team was formed? Joe Ramone, Brooklyn, NY   Dear Joe, This team is in addition to Team Australia, though if there is a Team Australia Formula BMW driver this year, he will probably run as the third car for the Haberfeld & Walker Racing team.  Business appears to be robust at the Walker shops these days. Mark C.

01/19/06 Champ Car team Walker Racing has formed a racing partnership between Brazilian driver Mario Haberfeld, Derrick Walker Racing, and Alabama businessman Markus Bischof. The new venture, Haberfeld & Walker Racing, will be based at the Walker Racing workshop in Indianapolis.

The Haberfeld (Mario Haberfeld pictured right) & Walker Racing partnership’s first race program will be to field a three-car entry in the 2006 Formula BMW USA series. Two young talented drivers: David Rangel from Mexico and Marco Santos from Brazil will pilot the cars.

“This is the beginning of a wonderful dream for me”, said Rangel. “This opportunity in the BMW series with this team will help me make my way to victory”.

Santos added, “I will be driving in one of the best teams in the series. Mario is an excellent coach and has a lot of experience as a driver, and the Walker team will help me to improve my skills and grow towards a successful career”.

Both drivers enter Formula BMW for their first season this year. The team is currently working on signing another driver for the third-car entry.

“In the formation of this new venture”, says owner of Walker Racing, Derrick Walker, “we have a strong program for BMW and some long-range plans to expand. We are off to a great start with Marco and David and are all looking forward to having a great season”.

Durban, SA street circuit taking shape Durban, SA street circuit taking shapeUPDATE The all-new Durban street circuit that has been built especially for the seventh round of the inaugural A1 Grand Prix series centered on Durban's elegant ocean frontage looks set to provide drama aplenty at the first corner.

The 3.2 kilometer layout has its start/finish line opposite Natal Command in Snell Parade, lying between Natal Command and the beach. Running in a clockwise direction, the circuit offers a blast down to a very tight first corner. This is a right-hand hairpin out of which the cars will then accelerate flat-out back up Snell Parade and then snap left into Argyle Road with a left/right chicane breaking its westward flow.

[Note: to the left is the Champ Car circuit that was proposed in the same general area back in 2003, but the race never happened.]

A faster right-hand corner feeds the cars onto what is normally NMR Avenue for the longest straight on the course. This kinks to the right just before its conclusion, then the track turns sharp right and thus east onto Battery Beach Road, ducking under the M4 freeway. Another right follows, with the track then entering a long, arcing left past the Suncoast Casino, complete with a chicane just before it starts to arc. Finally, the lap is completed with an openish right onto the start/finish straight on Snell Parade.

Much like at the world famous Monaco street circuit, the amount of space available around Durban's temporary street circuit is limited by the downtown landscape, but still the organizers have fitted in temporary grandstand seating for 22,000.

01/18/06 There will be no need to tell the race organizers of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Durban, KwaZulu Natal that their race on 29 January is fast approaching, as every hour between now and then will be used to capacity to ready this brand new street circuit on the waterfront for its inauguration. Indeed, street circuits are always a nightmare for those involved as their very essence means that they can’t be ready until the 11th hour. The Durban street circuit has come from the planning stage to nearing completion in just a few months. Yet, for all of the preparation, it will only be when the required section of Durban’s sea front has been closed to traffic on the Thursday night before the event that the final work can be completed.  zzzz

In other words, as with all street circuits, it’s never done until it’s done. When it is, though, the organizers are confident that it will be a source of great pride to the city for an event to which tens of thousands are expected to attend, with temporary grandstand seating for 22,500 of them.

“We’re delighted at the prospect of Durban and KwaZulu Natal hosting A1GP,” enthuses Dana Cooper, CEO of A1 Team South Africa. “The motor racing public of the province have waited long enough for racing of this caliber.” Indeed, KwaZulu Natal hasn’t hosted a motorsport event of international standing since it last held the three-hour sportscar race at the Roy Hesketh Circuit near Pietermaritzburg in the early 1980s.

“I’m excited at the prospect of South Africans turning out in their thousands in Durban for A1GP’s only street race,” continued Dana. “We’re going to put on a typically South African show, that’s to say representative of all of our varied communities, colorful, vibrant and as good as the best we’ve seen in the six countries that A1GP has visited so far. We want the A1GP family to remember South Africa with pleasure and to come back again to visit our beautiful and unique, city, province and country.”

In order to attract as many sport fans as possible, as well as the died-in-the-wool motorsport fans, the race organizers have set the ticket prices low, at 85 Rand (£5.50) for general admission and 515 Rand for a grandstand seat. Stephen Simpson’s run to third place for A1 Team South Africa’s best result last time out in the feature race at Dubai will have given the crowd a boost too, such is the perpetual desire for South Africans to see their representatives shine on any sporting stage.

Track News
Imola pit renovation to expand Imola pit renovation to expandUPDATE Part of the planned project, which is scheduled to get underway in October, is a new larger pit building to accommodate the teams, however in doing so the Variante Bassa chicane will be remodeled, more than likely into a one kilometer long straight incorporating the second Rivazza curve and the Tamburello chicane.

"I want to point out that Imola's current pits are not crumbling or unsafe, just narrow. If we want our circuit to have a future we must get in line with what Bernie indicates to us, otherwise there's the risk that in two year's time there won't be a GP here anymore,” said Sagis President, Federico Bendinelli in Autosprint.

“Getting rid of Variante Bassa is an old idea of ours. Back in 1994, having made the Tamburello section safer following Senna's accident, the circuit became substantially slower and we thought of eliminating Variante Bassa. But we didn't do it because we made the chicane a little faster. Now we can reset the right parameters."

Mayor of Imola, Massimo Marchignoli, is hoping to get approval for the new work by the end of March at the latest because “F1 is an important economic resource for us, it is an incredible worldwide promotional tool and losing it would be inexcusable."

01/11/06 Imola, scene of the annual San Marino grand prix in Italy, will enjoy a much-needed new pit and paddock complex.

Work is to begin on the $12 million project at 'Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari', located in the country's central north, after the running of this year's formula one race in April.

Imola has endured plenty of criticism in recent years, not only due to the outdated circuit facilities, but because Italy also hosts a grand prix at Monza.

Even so, the San Marino grand prix is safe at least until 2009, after a new five year contract with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was penned in 2004.

Mountain Dew becomes associate sponsor for Vickers Mountain Dew becomes associate sponsor for VickersMountain Dew will be an associate sponsor of Brian Vickers' #25 GMAC Chevy throughout the 2006 NEXTEL Cup Series season announcing a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Hendrick Motorsports. The season will mark the 20th anniversary of the #25 Hendrick Motorsports team, which has 29 pole positions and 15 wins since 1986. Vickers will also pilot #57 Mountain Dew Chevys in three Busch Series races in 2006: Feb. 25 at California, May 12 at Darlington, and Aug. 19 at Michigan. Vickers will be featured in Mountain Dew advertising and on in-store display materials. He joins teammate #24-Jeff Gordon as part of the Pepsi-Cola racing team. Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew's parent company, has been involved with stock car racing for more than five decades. Today, Pepsi serves its products at 15 of the 22 NEXTEL Cup tracks and is the title sponsor of the Pepsi 400, which is held annually at Daytona International Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports PR
Tracy announces move to NASCAR, ’06 last year in Champ Car Tracy announces move to NASCAR, ’06 last year in Champ Car
Three Rolex drivers invited to IROC Three Rolex drivers invited to IROCUPDATE A reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, How much longer are we gonna have to endure this insult to our intelligence with yet another year of the IROC? I thought last year we were finally rid of it and then Crown Royal had to come in at the last minute and salvage this pathetic joke! No ALMS drivers I'm not counting Max Papis because he was chosen because of the Grand-Am. No F-1 drivers and once again no Champ Car drivers. Now they have added ARCA drivers! Maybe next year they can throw in some drivers from NASCAR West and a couple from the Indy Pro Series. Somebody needs to put this sick series out of its misery! Doug Ferguson, Florida 01/19/06 Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) officials have announced the driver field and race event schedule for the 2006 IROC Series, a field that includes defending Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype champions Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli, as well as 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Papis.

The four-race invitational all-star series, which matches drivers from different disciplines of auto racing in equally prepared cars, will open its historic 30th season on February 17 at Daytona International Speedway. A total of five IROC Series competitors are also scheduled to compete in the opening round of the 2006 Rolex Series schedule—the Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 28-29.

Angelelli and Taylor, fresh off a five-win 2005 Rolex Series campaign, become the first duo to compete in the IROC Series as a single entry as each driver will compete in two races. The defending Rolex 24 At Daytona champions will again be joined by Emmanuel Collard—with whom they co-drove to Rolex 24 At Daytona overall victory in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley a year ago—as well as Ryan Briscoe for this year’s twice-around-the-clock classic. zzzz

“It’s a great honor to be invited to compete in IROC,” said Taylor.  “They take the champions from every series and I’m looking forward to getting to drive around and just watch everybody else. I’ve never driven a front-engine car, so this will be a real challenge for me.”

“Being able to compete in the IROC Series is very special to me,” said Angelelli. “To be matched with Wayne as one team, competing against the best drivers in the world, is wonderful.”

Papis drove to the 2004 Daytona Prototype crown with Scott Pruett, and both drivers competed in the IROC Series in 2005. The duo will be reunited in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, as Papis will share the cockpit of the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with regulars Pruett and Luis Diaz.  Pruett and Diaz tied for third in the final Daytona Prototype standings last year.

“I’m extremely honored to be asked back to the IROC Series,” said Papis. “Last year was a big learning curve for me in the stock car. In the first race at Daytona, I started on the second row, and by the end of the first lap, I was in last. In the third race at Texas, I began to feel more comfortable in the car, and helped Mark Martin get to the front of the pack.”

“Driving a stock car on the Daytona road course will be great for me,” continued Papis. “Bringing all of the best drivers in the world in equal cars on a road course—which I’m familiar with—will help me greatly.  These drivers are the champions of champions, and I hope I can show to everyone that I belong.”

Defending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Tony Stewart is in the IROC field, and he will also co-drive the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford for Howard-Boss Motorsports in the Rolex 24 with Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace. Additionally, 1996 Indy Racing League co-champion Scott Sharp—who will share the No. 12 Lowe’s Pontiac Riley with Adrian Fernandez and Mario Haberfeld for the Rolex 24 At Daytona—will compete in the IROC Series.

Also in the field is 2003 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Matt Kenseth, who co-drove with Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and Scott Maxwell to a 15th-place class finish in last year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona. The IROC field will also include: NEXTEL Cup stars Mark Martin and Carl Edwards, two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr., sprint car superstar Steve Kinser, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ted Musgrave, ARCA Series champion Frank Kimmel and two-time IRL IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. A championship purse of $1 million goes to the series-winning driver.

Valentine's unveiling for new Atlantic car Valentine's unveiling for new Atlantic carValentine’s Day should be spent with the one you love and for many members of the Atlantic championship racing community this February 14 will be reserved for the special beauty that they plan on wooing during the course of the 2006 racing season.

The new generation, All-American Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama race car, featuring a Swift 016.a chassis design, powered by a 2.3-liter, 300-horsepower Cosworth engine, will be unveiled in a special ceremony on Tuesday evening, February 14 at the exclusive Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Atlantic 2006 teams and drivers, series sponsors and suppliers, members of the media and select graduates from the 32-year history of North America’s top open-wheel development series will all be in attendance at the invitation-only Valentine’s Day grand unveiling, scheduled from 6-10 p.m. Pacific Time.

“We’re very excited to celebrate the official launch of the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship race car,” said Vicki O’Connor, Managing Director for the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. “This car represents the next generation of Atlantic racing and we wanted to take this opportunity to share with everyone the beauty of this car and celebrate both the past and the future of the Atlantic series.” zzzz

"The Champ Car Atlantic Championship is much more than just a support series - it is a very competitive major open-wheel proving ground that helps build and develop the future stars and champions of Champ Car,” said Steve Johnson, Champ Car President. “We're proud of the tradition of Atlantics and we welcome in the future of the series at this unprecedented event in the rich history of the Atlantic Championship."

Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven will also be on hand for the unveiling along with several celebrity guests. Several significant announcements relating to both the Atlantic series and the Champ Car World Series are also expected during the course of the evening.

“This promises to be a fun and exciting evening as we officially launch the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship,” said Kalkhoven. “There’s been a tremendous amount of interest in the new Atlantic series with the affordability of the cars, the new racing formula and the unprecedented two million dollar champion’s bonus from Champ Car. We’re all looking forward to the unveiling of the new All-American Atlantic racing machine on February 14th.”

Designed and manufactured entirely in the USA, the new Atlantic racing machine will get its first road test later that week. The car will be transported immediately after its unveiling to a West Coast test track where American driver and 2002 and 2004 Atlantic series champion Jon Fogarty will put the car through its paces during a two-day closed test session in mid February.

Officials from Swift Engineering, located in San Clemente, California, are entering the final phase of production for the new Atlantic cars. All 40 of the machines previously ordered by Atlantic teams will be delivered to their owners by March 8. Teams will then have a couple of weeks to prep their cars before getting their first on-track experience with the new Atlantics March 21-22 at the California Speedway road circuit during an open test session. The 12-race 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship season officially gets underway April 7-9 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Jeff Gordon to co-host show live Jeff Gordon to co-host show liveUPDATE Reminder this show airs tomorrow morning. 01/05/06 On January 20, Jeff Gordon is scheduled to make his eighth appearance as co-host on the popular daytime talk show “Live with Regis and Kelly.” The four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet will fill in for host Regis Philbin. “Live with Regis and Kelly” is in its 18th year of national syndication and continues to wake up millions of Americans each day. “Live with Regis and Kelly" is executive produced by Michael Gelman and has been distributed in national syndication by Buena Vista Television since 1988. Produced by WABC-TV in New York, Live with Regis and Kelly" airs in over 200 markets across the country. Check local listings for time and channel.
Winter test kicks off ALMS season Winter test kicks off ALMS seasonBRASELTON, Ga. – Several hundred representatives of the media, teams, manufacturers and corporate sponsors will convene at Sebring International Raceway on January 23-25 for the second annual American Le Mans Series Winter Test, marking the unofficial opening of the Series’ 2006 season.

This year’s Winter Test features 14 teams, including the long-awaited American debut of the innovative diesel-powered Audi R10 prototype. A year ago, the Audi R8 stalwart, under the auspices of Champion Racing, captured the Series championship as well as key titles in the world’s most difficult endurance races – the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans and the storied 24 Hours of Le Mans. Now, great anticipation reigns for Audi’s next generation race car, the R10, two of which are expected at the Winter Test.

Audi is not the only team with a new race car. Dyson Racing brings its new Lola B06/10-AER to Sebring for the first time, hoping to challenge Audi and make a run at the 2006 overall championship. Dyson Racing captured six poles and podium spots at every race last year, winning at Mid-Ohio and Mosport. The other LMP1 prototype at Sebring will be the new Highcroft Racing team, which will be testing in a Lola EX257-AER.

Penske Racing heads the LMP2 class at the Winter Test. The Porsche RS Spyder made a spectacular debut with a victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the Series’ finale last year. Although Penske Racing will field two Porsche teams this year, it will only test one car next week. All six Porsche drivers – Sascha Maassen, Lucas Luhr, Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard, Patrick Long and Emmanuel Collard – are expected to test in the car. Long and Collard have been signed for the endurance races at Sebring and Petit Le Mans (Road Atlanta) and will have other assignments during the season. zzzz

Other LMP2 teams testing will be class champion Interport Racing (Lola B05/40-AER) with Clint Field, Jon Field and Liz Halliday; B-K Motorsports with its Courage C65-Mazda featuring last year’s Rookies of the Year Guy Cosmo and Jamie Bach; and 2004 class champion Miracle Motorsports, which sports a Courage C65-AER.

The GT classes are highlighted by the return of BMW and the introduction of Lexus to GT2. BMW will bring two M3s to the Test operated by BMW of North America’s Team PTG. Lexus will not have a car at the Winter Test but is expected to have representatives on site in preparation for its debut at the 12-hour race in March. Both BMW and Lexus will compete for points in GT2; however, they will be entered as GT2S, a classification created to encourage racing for high performance luxury coupes and sedans.

Other GT2 race cars at the Winter Test include two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs from Flying Lizard Motorsports and two Panoz Esperante GTLMs, one from Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz and the other from England’s Team LNT. Multimatic Motorsports, long involved with the Panoz factory effort, was handed control of the Panoz effort during the off-season with the goal of improving upon last season’s sole win at the Grand Prix of Atlanta.

Track hours for the Sebring Winter Test will be 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. American Le Mans Series cars will be on the track for three daily intervals – 9-10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; and 3-6 p.m.

Villeneuve likes new BMW Sauber Villeneuve likes new BMW Sauber
Technical Director Chassis Willy Rampf: "After a total of 692 kilometers with the BMW Sauber F1.06 in three days we are happy with the results we achieved. The main focus during the roll-out was to check functionality and to concentrate on reliability issues. On the whole, we experienced very few minor technical problems, and this allows us for the forthcoming track tests to focus mainly on set-up work, the introduction of test components and the continuation of the Michelin tire development program."

Jacques Villeneuve: "The BMW Sauber F1.06 felt really good. After the first day in a new car you can tell if it will be competitive or not; this one felt fast and I think there is more potential in it than in the C24 last year. That's very positive. "Overall, I think these three days went well. Normally with a new car you expect quite a few problems, but this test went pretty well, so I'm happy."

Button leads Barrichello at Jerez Button leads Barrichello at JerezJenson Button led the way once again today at Jerez with a best time of 1:18.795s from new teammate Rubens Barrichello who was just under half a second shy in the sister machine.
1 . J. Button - Honda V8 - 1:18.795 (+ 0.000 ) - 92 laps
2 . R. Barrichello - Honda V8 - 1:19.288 (+ 0.493 ) - 61 laps
3 . R. Schumacher - Toyota TF106 V8 - 1:19.373 (+ 0.578 ) - 60 laps
4 . A. Wurz - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1:20.187 (+ 1.392 ) - 77 laps
5 . N. Rosberg - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1:20.323 (+ 1.528 ) - 49 laps
6 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF106 V8 - 1:20.333 (+ 1.538 ) - 75 laps.

* Times courtesy of Circuito de Jerez

Track News
Red Bull to energize Long Beach Red Bull to energize Long BeachThe April 7-9, 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will get a boost of adrenaline on race weekend thanks to the addition of entertainment provided by energy drink pioneer Red Bull.

A major supporter of international motorsports across all disciplines, including support of RuSPORT Champ Car driver A.J. Allmendinger, Red Bull is also known for delivering crowd-pleasing event experiences.

The Red Bull Edge aerobatic plane, piloted by five-time U.S. Aerobatic Champion Kirby Chambliss, will dazzle onlookers with two aerial performances on Saturday and Sunday, while the Red Bull Air Force skydiving crew will drop from the sky and land at breathtaking speed as part of the pre-race activities on Sunday.

In addition, the Red Bull TNT Freestyle Motocross show, featuring X-Games Gold Medalist Tommy "Tomcat" Clowers, will perform aerial tricks during three daily performances on race weekend.

"Red Bull's close ties to motorsports make it a natural fit for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and Champ Car Racing," said Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach (GPALB). "We're absolutely delighted to add them to our event family, and we're certain our fans are going to thoroughly enjoy the wide variety of entertainment Red Bull will bring, not only inside the circuit, but ABOVE the circuit as well."

Tickets for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, featuring six racing events including the opening round of the 2006 Champ Car World Series, can be purchased from the Grand Prix ticket office by calling the toll-free ticket hotline at (888) 82-SPEED. A handy ticket brochure - which includes circuit map, grandstand and parking locations, ticket prices and order form - can be obtained by calling the ticket hotline. Tickets are also available online at longbeachgp.com or ticketmaster.com.

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

Lewis Hamilton confirmed for GP2 Lewis Hamilton confirmed for GP2The ART Grand Prix team today confirmed the signing of McLaren protégé and 2005 F3 Euroseries champion, Lewis Hamilton to their 2006 driver line up.  The 21-year old British racer, who competed for the ASM F3 team last year, will contest the coming season alongside Alexandre Premat as they fight to secure the team’s second successive GP2 title.

Lewis Hamilton  "I’m really excited about 2006! It is a great opportunity to be able to be a part of ART. I’m looking forward to it after the fantastic season we had last year and I’m sure the team will do a fantastic job this year. My goal is to win races and maybe the championship, if I can. I have to work hard and make sure we maximize the time we have to develop car."

Nicolas Todt  ART GP's first season was exceptional in terms of results, and we are now able to continue our charge in the series with the same dynamics by ensuring we have a pair of exceptional drivers, such as the combination of Premat and Hamilton. Lewis has proven in all the lower formulas in which he competed that he has a natural talent for driving and has displayed great professionalism. We are thrilled to be able to count on his pure speed and maturity when it comes to defending both our drivers and constructors crowns."

Frederic Vasseur  "It is a great pleasure to sign Lewis, a logical continuation for us after his title in the F3 Euroseries last year and his potential already displayed during testing in the GP2 car. Lewis is integrated very well into the team and I am happy and proud to be able to count on him as one of our drivers."

Jim Beam renews sponsorship of Robby Gordon Jim Beam renews sponsorship of Robby GordonJim Beam announced that it will continue its relationship with Robby Gordon Motorsports (RGM) as a primary sponsor of the #7 Chevy driven by team owner and veteran driver Robby Gordon for a designated number of races (11) during the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup season. "Jim Beam is committed to motorsports and to supporting the only team owner/driver in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series today," said Brian Gallagher, manager of Jim Beam Racing. "We admire Robby's passion for racing and his determination to succeed as both a driver and a team owner. We look forward to continuing our sponsorship of Robby Gordon Motorsports in 2006."

"RGM has the experience, people and capabilities to put a competitive car on the track," said Gordon. "Over the last several months our team has grown significantly, and our second season of competition will look much different than the first given the experience we have gained. We look forward to a successful 2006 season with Jim Beam."

Similar to 2005, Jim Beam will utilize its sponsorship of Gordon and the #7 Chevy to activate the Jim Beam Racing drink smart initiative. In 2005, Gordon donated $100,000 from a fund provided by Jim Beam to colleges and universities to fund alcohol education programs such as Alcohol 101 Plus from The Century Council (www.centurycouncil.org), an organization dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking. The 2006 Jim Beam Racing drink smart program will be announced at a later date. In addition to sponsoring the #7 Chevy, Jim Beam helped make history as a sponsor of Gordon and Team Dakar USA, the first and only American team to compete in the Dakar Rally. For more information on Jim Beam Brands, and the Company's sales and distribution partners, please visit www.jimbeambrands.com or www.drinksmart.com. Ketchum PR

Rain hampers Biaggi test Rain hampers Biaggi testUPDATE Some photos from Max Biaggi's rain spoiled first F1 test courtesy of MidlandF1.



01/18/06 MotoGP star Max Biaggi tested a Midland-MF1 Toyota Formula 1 car at a rain-drenched Silverstone today. The 34-year-old Italian completed nine trouble-free laps of the 3.1-mile British Grand Prix venue.

"It was an amazing experience," declared Max afterwards. "The weather made it quite difficult and I had one moment on opposite lock when I put down the power too early, but the overall grip and power of the car was very impressive."

Max's test was split into three segments: an installation lap, followed by runs of three laps and five laps. Between the second and third runs he was given a new set of Bridgestone wet weather tires.

"The car is a big toy," said Max. "It's like a big go kart. I didn't get anywhere near its limit today, but I went fast enough to appreciate what level of performance can be reached."

Max, known as the "Roman Emperor" in bike circles, wouldn't make any comparisons between MotoGP and F1. "I love both," he said. "You can't compare them because on a bike I am free, it's like I am dancing on it to make it go fast. In an F1 car you are strapped in very tight, which is a weird sensation for me."

Biaggi has no further tests planned with MF1 Racing, but he made his intentions clear to the team. "I would love another test, preferably when it's dry!"

Q and A with Leo Maia Q and A with Leo MaiaLeo Maia is 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series champion, won six races and seven poles that year and went on to what was then called the Infiniti Pro Series in '04, ran a couple of Atlantic races in '05 and spent much of the last year pounding the pavement in the Atlantic Champ Car paddock trying to ensure his future.

LEONARDO MAIA:  I couldn't be happier.  You look at the history of Forsythe Racing, and to be a part of it, it builds your confidence as a driver, makes you feel comfortable.  You know that they're going to do whatever they can to help you out and to win.  They're totally dedicated to winning.  Really it's a situation that's really new to me where they just said you drive the car and we'll do everything in our power to make sure you win. I mean, you can't ask for anything more than that.

Q:  You drove the Atlantic car a little bit last year, drove a couple of events at Cleveland but now you attack the season with an entire new team and an entirely new racecar.  Talk about the challenges and coming into a new situation with a brand new racecar.

LEONARDO MAIA:  It's going to be tough but it's going to be tough for everybody.  There's not going to be really any advantages other than track knowledge from the guys that raced last year.  I don't know how many are coming back.  Andreas will definitely have an advantage over some of the guys there.

Having a new car is great, especially on our team.  We have a four-car team, we can do a lot of testing between the four of us and really get it dialed in.  We're at a great advantage with that new car.  So far everything is looking good with it.  I'm really happy and anxious to get going.

Q:  I imagine that it helps your confidence a little bit that you've got knowledge of the Champ Car tracks from 2003 when you had some success in the Barber Dodge Pro Series so you know a little bit about what you're getting into.

LEONARDO MAIA:  Believe it or not, the tracks kind of change when you jump into a new car.  Things happen a little bit quicker so your sight picture is a little bit different.  It's definitely tough.  I did the Atlantic race in Cleveland, and that was a lot tougher than I was expecting it to be.

I mean, it's the same track but it's almost new because you're in a completely different car that's got so much more downforce than a Barber Dodge, more horsepower and a big step up in every respect.  To be driving a new car like that on a track that you've driven before, it may sound -- I know it's the same track and car, but it actually sort of changes the track and how you drive it.  It's definitely challenging, but at least I know where to turn left and right.  That's the one advantage I do have. zzzz

Q.  Could tell us a little bit about the end of last season going into the fall and winter and what your goals were.  Were you focused on getting rides in Atlantic, did you have other options, were there other series you were looking at?  What was your approach and how did this thing come together from that point of view?

LEONARDO MAIA:  Well, at the end of last year I wasn't really racing.  I was looking really to drive anything.  But I was focused on Atlantic because I went to every single Atlantic race.  I had been talking to all of the teams, sort of really focusing on the whole Champ Car organization, like the Champ Car World Series and the Atlantic then.  Really I just did everything to get on an Atlantic team.  I knew with the new car coming that everyone would sort of start on the same page.

I talked to John (Brunner), who's the manager for the Atlantic team here at Forsythe, and we just started talking about each of us and about next year, and that's when I knew I pretty much had to be on this team.  I had to be in Atlantic next year.  The $2 million driver incentive is something huge and something I don't think motor sports has really seen before.  It's just something that definitely closed the deal, to focus on Atlantic, and I just really have to say thank you to Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven and all the people that really got behind the series and really made it possible to sort of bring back the lower formula in open wheel in the U.S. because I think that has been struggling for a long time. Other than that, that's about it.

Q.  Ambitious I don't think is too strong a word to use, an ambitious effort.   The last few years have really kind of been -- I think as you are sort of living proof, a difficult car for young drivers in America, what with the sort of the demise of Indy Lights and obviously the Infiniti Pro Series hasn't really taken off in any meaningful way, and as we saw in the last couple years, the Atlantic series was sort of in decline, at least in terms of numbers, just in terms of the costs and everything, a lot of reasons behind that.

But can you talk about the new Atlantic series just seems -- certainly in your case and probably in a lot of other guys like you, it really seems to be the right series at the right time, does it not?

LEONARDO MAIA:  That's exactly right.  It's just perfect timing.  In my case, I was able to -- I don't want to say luck into it, but it's just everything sort of fell right in the right spot, and I had been having such bad luck the last couple of years that I was sort of on the verge of giving up.  One thing happened and then another thing happened and then the dominos started to fall.  Now I'm sitting here talking to you, which really is what I was dreaming for since the beginning.

Q.  Could you maybe talk a little bit about how difficult it was and maybe what some of the obstacles were to getting a full program together the last couple of years?

LEONARDO MAIA:  It's been really, really tough, to be honest.  To make a long story short, about a year ago, I was in the middle of downtown Torino in Italy and ended up handcuffed to the side of a car, and now I'm sitting here talking to you.  Things change in a hurry.  I just want to say don't give up; if you have something you want, chase after it.  I'm proof that it can happen.  You'll get there.

Q.  Do you feel that a multi-car team is more of a hindrance, or would you prefer to be on like a one-car team?

LEONARDO MAIA:  To be honest, it depends on the situation.  With this situation here at Forsythe and with the new car and with the Atlantic program, it's a huge program to have more cars just because the testing is so restricted in the series that any extra time or any extra data you can gather is going to be an advantage.  There aren't too many situations where it's a disadvantage.  There's no downside to it.  It's just more for the team, more data, more everything.

USA team takes 3rd in F1 competition USA team takes 3rd in F1 competitionA team of students from Bloomsburg Area High School, Pennsylvania - ‘Team Turbo’, celebrated taking third place in the F1 in Schools World Championship at the Autosport International show in the UK on Sunday. This unique student challenge in which schoolchildren aged 11 to 18 use CAD/CAM software to design, build and test a model CO2-powered balsa wood F1 car of the future, takes place in 18 countries, with an estimated 2 million children competing for the title, which brings with it coveted Automotive Engineering scholarships at The City University, London for each winning student, worth a total of over $500,000.

Launched in Britain in 2000, F1 in Schools now covers the world. In November 2005, it received the backing of Bernie Ecclestone’s The Formula One Group which granted a world-wide protected trademark and logo. Engineers and technical directors from some of the leading F1 race teams are also involved as Patrons of the initiative.  F1 in Schools is acknowledged as highlighting some of the finest design and engineering minds of the teen generation, including potential future Formula One design stars.

Andrew Denford, Founder and Chairman of F1 in Schools, says, ‘With Brazil, Canada, Germany, Spain and Portugal set to join F1 in Schools this year taking the number of competing countries up to 23, this challenge has finally arrived on a global platform. The excitement and enthusiasm generated over the last few days will last a lifetime and will continue to change the lives of these children, their teachers and parents.’

Earnhardt teams with SPEED Earnhardt teams with SPEEDNASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series star Dale Earnhardt Jr. is putting his newly formed production company to work, as Hammerhead Entertainment has reached a deal with SPEED to deliver up to 13 30-minute episodes of Back in the Day, a modern adaptation of the vintage race program Car and Track with Bud Lindemann.

Back in the Day will make a Prime Time premiere during Daytona Speedweeks on Feb. 13 at 9:30 p.m. ET.  Car and Track, a collection of American racing footage from the 1960s and early 1970s, ran in replays on SPEED from 1996-2000.

Earnhardt Jr., a longtime fan of the series, will host the updated version, which will revisit NASCAR in its infancy, touching on not only what was going on at the race track, but what was going on in America.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Car and Track,” Earnhardt said. “Bud Lindemann had the vision to bring auto racing to television over 30 years ago.  I watched every episode as a kid and still watch them today.  We’re going to show everyone the grassroots of our sport and bring the past to the present in a fun and entertaining way.”

“What makes this program not just historically relevant but also immensely entertaining are the personal reflections and pop culture content that will be key components of Back in the Day,” said Robert Ecker, SPEED VP of Programming. “Central to the concept and what really makes this stand out is the decidedly modern approach to the vintage footage.  In filtering the storied past of the sport through the prism of the high-tech present, two key elements clearly emerge - Dale Jr.’s unabashed enthusiasm and respect for this era; and the sheer magnitude of the changes that have occurred over time.”

Another sprint car series emerges Another sprint car series emergesUPDATE #2 This Indy Star article talks about Steve Kinser and the National Sprint Tour Series. As we wrote - as it has with IRL/Champ Car and ALMS/Grand-Am - the breakaway from the World of Outlaws and the formation of this new series will, for all intents and purposes, destroy winged Sprint Car Racing. 12/30/05 See the real story behind why the NST was formed after the NSL failed in the new feature story by AutoRacing1.com President Mark Cipolloni on our Home Page. 12/28/05 [Editor's Note: First the National Sprintcar League, now this.  Who is behind the divide and conquer strategy prevalent in open wheel racing to ensure its destruction?] Brownfield Promotions, Inc. is pleased and excited to announce the formation of the National Sprint Tour with plans to promote dirt track Sprint Car racing nationally starting with the 2006 season.

The new National Sprint Tour will feature many of the best sprint car drivers and teams in the world and bring the best in 410 winged Sprint Car racing to tracks throughout the country.

Teams and drivers committed to racing with the National Sprint Tour in 2006 include Danny Lasoski (Roth Motorsports), Jason Meyers (Elite Racing), Brian Paulus (P and P Motorsports), Woodward Racing’s Volcano Joe’s #2, Steve Kinser (Steve Kinser Racing), Shane Stewart (Rudeen Racing), Tim Shaffer (Parsons Motorsports), Brandon Wimmer (Two Winners Racing), Jason Solwold (Lon Carnahan Motorsports), Jason Sides (Sides Motorsports) and Lucas Wolfe (David Helm/Selma Shell Racing).

When asked his opinion on the formation of the National Sprint Tour, race team representative attorney John Deckard commented, “These dozen or so teams and drivers represent the majority of the very best the sport has to offer. Some of them are like ‘fine wine’; others are young Turks ready to explode. The real winners are going to be the fans. The race program itself will be much more exciting, and of course, they’ll get to see the likes of The Dude, Jason Meyers, Shane, The King, Brian, Jason, Tim and all the rest that stand on 800 horsepower of dynamite to get to the front. I can’t wait. You wanted the best; here they are!”  zzzz

“I’m excited that something’s finally going to happen here,” commented Steve “The King” Kinser. “I’ve had lots of ups and downs over what’s happened here this winter,” continued the Bloomington, IN driver, “and I feel very fortunate to be a part of starting the series although it is going to be a tough thing. But, I think overall it is the best for what is happening and we are going to make it work.”

“On behalf of myself and Dennis Roth Motorsports we’re really excited to take on this endeavor with this new series to come out,” said Danny “The Dude” Lasoski of Dover, MO. “I feel we are racing the best of the best in the United States and I’m sure we gotta crawl before we walk. I think all the fans out there are going to understand that we are trying to make this sport bigger and better and I support it wholeheartedly.”

"I think this will be good for the whole sport in getting Fred Brownfield behind the new group" commented Jason Sides of Bartlett, TN. “Everyone knows that Fred promotes good racing and we believe it will succeed. I’m really looking forward to the new season.”

Bixby, OK driver Shane Stewart commented, “Working with Fred has always been a privilege, and once they get the National Sprint Tour introduced to the tracks and fans everything should be fine. Maybe the Pettys dropping out of the other group was a good thing as it allows the Brownfield involvement. I know Rudeen Racing and myself are ready for a change and we are looking forward to what we think will be a success.”

“I think this is a really neat and pretty exciting deal,” said Tim Shaffer from Aliquippa, PA. “As a successful businessman, promoter and former driver, Fred has a great background to bring this new deal to the racers. Having been on both sides of the fence, he can understand the wants and desires of both the tracks and the drivers. I also think it is great the way the drivers and everyone is working together to make this a success.”

“There has obviously been a need for a change in the world of Sprint Car racing for the last couple of years,” said Brian Paulus of Mechanicsburg, PA. “Something needed to change. We needed somebody that had the passion about this that wanted to be as instrumental about it as the teams themselves. For Fred to get involved and step up to the plate at this stage of the game is pretty important to all of us teams. He is someone we all trust and respect and I think his rapport with the tracks and promoters will be a step in the right direction. One thing I hope the fans get out of this in the long run is that none of our teams, including Kinser and Lasoski, did this for the money. Look at our teams and all the time and effort we are putting in to this to make it successful; we’ve all pretty much laid our careers on the line with this when we all could have just signed on the line and gone back to race where we came from. We are all willing to do this to race for less money, less tow money and probably fewer dates. We are willing to do this to make the sport better in the long run and it might not be in the next year or two but if the tracks and fans support us in five or six years it could be huge.”

“I think it’s going to cause a lot of grief but is going to be good in the end,” stated Burlington, WA driver Jason Solwold. “We have the right man for the right job and I think that Fred can make something happen out of this and better our sport. There is a lot of work to be done; I can't even imagine doing it myself. On the other hand I think Fred can do it and that he has been in worse situations before. He is probably in a positive position now to better his racing program with this new National Sprint Tour. I'm excited and I think everybody was waiting around after the other guys left. Everyone was confused a little bit there. I talked to Fred a few weeks ago and suggested to him that he was the right man to do it and I guess that he agreed.”

“We have always enjoyed the integrity and excitement that the Brownfield group brings to their shows”, stated Jason Meyers of Clovis, CA. “Fred has a good business head and a very big heart, something I always look for in a person, and the racing team is happy that we’ve found a home that we’ve been welcomed into and we are looking forward to the 2006 season.”

Based in Snohomish, WA, Brownfield Promotions was formed in 1994 and currently manages and promotes Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, WA and the Northern Sprint Tour, a 360 Sprint group that has raced at tracks in Washington, Oregon, Montana and Alberta, Canada. Brownfield Promotions has also promoted the “Wild Wild Northwest Tour” since 1994.

If you are a fan and would like to see the National Sprint Tour race at your favorite track, let your promoter know.

If you are a track interested in an opportunity to have the National Sprint Tour at your facility, or a team interested in joining the National Sprint Tour, further information may be had by contacting the Brownfield Promotions office by sending an email to promotions@brownfieldent.com.

Weight penalty slows Corvettes Weight penalty slows CorvettesAfter the recent Sebring shakedown of the 2006 spec C6Rs. Ron Fellows says that ALMS/ACO has really slowed down his GT1 Corvette.

"Testing went very well but our lap times were slow in comparison to last year because of the new weight penalties (about 175 pounds) imposed on our Corvettes!"

Jarrett wants to see smaller engine Jarrett wants to see smaller engineDale Jarrett said that what he really would like to see is something that would result in more competition, more side-by-side racing. "So I think we seriously have to consider downsizing these engines," he said. "I've said this a number of times, and NASCAR has talked to me over the last couple of years. "When I started this business full-time in 1987, a good engine had somewhere between 620 and 640 horsepower. Since that time, we've got better tires; Goodyear does a tremendous job there. We have more downforce than we've ever had with these cars. And those two things alone should allow us to run side-by-side better and longer. Winston Salem-Journal
Industry News
NC family reaches settlement with Ford over limo deaths NC family reaches settlement with Ford over limo deathsA family has settled its lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. stemming from a rear-end collision where a limousine erupted into flames, killing the wife of a former NASCAR crew chief and her two sisters, lawyers for both sides said Wednesday. Neither side would disclose terms ending a wrongful-death lawsuit over the safety of the fuel-tank system in Lincoln Town Car limousines, which are manufactured by Ford. The three women were stopped in traffic on Interstate 40 in Greensboro on Sept. 10, 2003, after attending a concert. A pickup truck driven by Jeffrey Niles McFayden rammed into the back of their limousine, which exploded almost immediately and trapped them inside. Tara Howell Parker, 29, her stepsister Mysti Howell Poplin, 24, and her half sister Megan Elizabeth Howell, 16, died of smoke inhalation and burns suffered in the fire. Parker was the wife of NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett's former crew chief Shawn Parker. Brenda and Ricky Howell, the women's parents, alleged in their lawsuit that the Lincoln Town Car was defective because the fuel tank was behind the rear axle, which increased the risk of fire in rear-end collisions. They said Ford could have fixed the problem by distributing a safety shield to protect the fuel tank. McFayden was convicted in May of three counts of involuntary manslaughter. Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes blamed the deaths on the driver, who collided with the limo at 60 mph. "Unfortunately, there is no vehicle on the road that can adequately protect people in such collisions," Vokes said. "We do not believe any other comparable vehicles' fuel tanks could have survived the severity of this impact." Sporting News/AP
A1 Grand Prix
Patrick Carpentier to run two races Patrick Carpentier to run two racesA1 Team Canada has confirmed that former Champ Car and IndyCar racer Patrick Carpentier is to join the team at the Monterrey and Laguna Seca rounds of the championship.

"I'm really excited to be representing Canada in the A1 Grand Prix series," Carpentier stated. "I won my last race at Laguna Seca in Champ Cars in 2004, I love the track and I know some of the other quick guys from the IRL are going to be representing their countries that weekend. It's going to be a lot of fun."

"I raced a couple of times at Fundidora Park in Mexico as well so again I know the track and can take time to get used to the A1GP car."

A1 Team Canada franchise holder Wade Cherwayko is equally pleased to have Carpentier represent Canada when the series heads across the Atlantic for the first time next month.
"My objective from the very start was to bring together both the present and the future of Canadian Motorsport," said Cherwayko. "Patrick represents the present and I'm delighted that he shares our vision for the team along with Sean McIntosh, one of Canada's leading young talents."

"Patrick brings an exceptional amount of talent and experience to our driver line-up, he's a proven race winner at the top-level of open wheel competition and more importantly he's a great ambassador for Canada having competed internationally against some of the world's finest drivers."

France currently leads the A1GP series courtesy of nine wins while Canada is currently tenth in the standings. The Mexican round takes place on February 26th with the Californian round following two weeks later. Source A1 Canada

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Briatore questions Alonso's wisdom
BMW to keep 'Sauber' name
Biaggi's F1 switch unlikely
Birthday boy Button on form
'Quick Nick' still on his bike
Ralf would welcome German GP switch
Zanardi carries Olympic flame
F1 teams ink sponsor deals
BMW duo vow to get along
F1 grandson makes the grade
Red Bull plays down new car flaw
Heidfeld is BMW's 'no.1' - Stuck
Villeneuve's not done with F1 yet
Schu sidesteps 'Schumi-Ring' talk
Piquet to drive with Piquet Piquet to drive with PiquetUPDATE Former world champion Nelson Piquet, and his son of the same name, will no longer team up for the 'Mil Milhas' race in Brazil this weekend.

It is understood that while their Aston Martin DBR9 sports car has arrived at the Interlagos grand prix track in Sao Paulo, the engines and other equipment have gone missing en route from Europe.

The missing cargo is valued at around $200,000.

Piquet, 52, and his GP2 and A1-racing son, were set to line up with former Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and France's Christophe Bouchut.

01/17/06 GP2 and A1GP race winner Nelson Piquet Jr will join forces this weekend with his father, the three-time Formula One World Champion, Nelson Piquet, to compete in the Mil Milhas Brasil 2006 - the 1000 miles - which will be held at the 4.309km Interlagos circuit in São Paulo, Brazil. The pair will make up a team together with Cristophe Bouchut and Hélio Castro Neves to drive a Cirtek-run Aston Martin DB9R in the GTP1 category.

The 50th anniversary of the race will run from 18-21 January 2006, and as well as Nelson and his father, has picked up entries from the likes of Pedro Lamy and Tony Kanaan.

The event format sees the pole position established on Wednesday, with the rest of the grid forming after Thursday’s qualifying. Saturday’s race will see teams needing to complete 374 laps to reach the finish line, and there will be an overall winner as well as a winner in each of the four categories (GTP1, GT2, P2, STC).

Nelson Piquet Jr
"I think it will be a very challenging race because there are some fantastic cars and a lot of very good drivers. I have a great team; my father doesn't need to be introduced, Cristophe won the FIA GT world championship and Helinho is twice champion of the 500 miles of Indianapolis. I am sure we have a good chance of winning and we are all looking forward to the race."

Nelson Piquet Sr
"It is going to be very good racing alongside Nelsinho and also Hélio and Cristophe, all great drivers. The Mil Milhas (Thousand Miles) is a very traditional race in Brazilian motorsport and I'm sure it is going to be a great party. I hope next year the race is part of the FIA GT calendar." Source Piquetsports

Grand Prix Masters announces 2006 calendar Grand Prix Masters announces 2006 calendar(LONDON): Following on from the spectacular success of the inaugural Grand Prix Masters race in Kyalami (South Africa) just over eight weeks ago, the series organizers are today delighted to announce the 2006 race calendar. The series will kick-off at the Losail International Raceway Circuit in Qatar - the first time ever a racing car event has ever been held in the country! Hosting the Grand Prix Masters series alongside the state-of-the-art Losail circuit are a collection of motor racing's more traditional and classic circuits including Monza (Italy), Silverstone (UK), Kyalami (South Africa) plus a fifth venue which will be announced very shortly.

Scott Poulter (CEO, Grand Prix Masters)
 "Following the success of our inaugural event in South Africa last November, the public demand for 'more' has been simply fantastic! This is testament to the tireless efforts of everyone involved in the series and it gives us all great pleasure today in announcing a calendar which will see the series visit some spectacular racing venues across the world. With the exception of the recently-opened Losail International Raceway in Qatar, the other circuits have provided the setting for so many of Grand Prix racing's historic moments and with the likes of Nigel Mansell, Emerson Fittipaldi and many other legends, re-creating that magic is what Grand Prix Masters is all about. Our ambition for this year is to build upon the success of our debut event and to ensure the highest level of satisfaction for both trackside and TV viewing race fans."

Nigel Mansell O.B.E.
"To add more chapters to the history we made at our sell-out event in South Africa is sensational news and I for one cannot wait to get back into action! For me personally, the special one will of course be Silverstone. Racing a thoroughbred grand prix car in-front of a home crowd at Silverstone will be a surreal and mighty experience. My last grand prix race there was back in 1992 and was one of many victories that season that culminated in both the Drivers' and Constructors' World Championship. Racing in front of the Italian 'tifosi' will also be very special for me and if we can deliver anything like the spectacle we succeeded in doing in South Africa, the fan's will absolutely love it."

Losail, (Qatar) 29th April
Monza, (Italy) 18th June
Silverstone, (UK) 13th August
To be announced 1st October
Kyalami (South Africa) 12th November

With the exception of Qatar, all other dates are subject to finalization

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