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Lesa France Kennedy talks about new markets for NASCAR Lesa France Kennedy talks about new markets for NASCARNASCAR is continuing its plans for expansion into new markets, with International Speedway Corp. negotiating a deal for a track in the New York City area as well as looking for opportunities in the Pacific Northwest, but NASCAR board member Lesa France Kennedy says NASCAR has no plans to expand to Canada.

“We are currently in the permitting process (with the New York track), which is expected to take a few years, but we don’t expect to have a track built before the end of the decade,” Kennedy said. “We’re still very active in the Northwest, and we still feel that’s a very viable option and we have a number of sites we’ve explored (for potential track sites), but we’re going to focus on expansion in the United States.”

This season, the NASCAR Busch Series will race in Mexico for the first time, giving NASCAR a foothold in the Hispanic demographic.

“Our number one reason for going to Mexico is we’re getting awareness from the whole country,” France said. “The Hispanic market is the fastest growing emerging market in the country, and in order to be relevant to our Hispanic fans, we have to be relevant in their home country. We have to take our events where our fans are.”

France said NASCAR was pleased with the current Chase for the Nextel Cup points system and the system would remain for 2005.

“We feel like we have a pretty good system, we had five guys going into the final race with a chance to win,” France said. “On balance, we’re pretty happy with where we’re at (with the points), we’ll go through another cycle and take another look at it, but we’re set for ’05.”

NASCAR has once again realigned the schedule this season, giving second race dates to Phoenix Int’l Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway, with the Texas race taking place during the ten-race Chase for the Nextel Cup.  France admits future realignment is always “on the table”, but the sanctioning body is happy with the current lineup.  “We’re very comfortable with the diverse tracks we have on the circuit,” France said, “we feel we have a nice mix of tracks in the final ten races.” Pete McCole

Brian France sets ’05 goals for NASCAR Brian France sets ’05 goals for NASCARThe 22nd annual NASCAR Nextel Cup Media Tour hosted by Lowe’s Motor Speedway kicked off Monday in Concord, N.C., bringing together journalists from all over the country for a weeklong tour of interviews, shop tours and press conferences as the teams gear up for the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup season.

At the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France was joined by seven-time champion Richard Petty, three-time champion and TV commentator Darrell Waltrip, drivers Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, 2004 Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year Kasey Kahne and 2004 Nextel Cup Champion Kurt Busch to reflect on the past season as well as the future of NASCAR.

Among the goals for 2005 will be to build on the momentum from 2004, to keep costs down for teams, and the “car of tomorrow”, a new stock car design targeted for 2006.  One of the biggest goals will be the renewal of the all-important TV contracts with broadcast partners FOX and NBC.

“We think we’re in a great position (for renegotiating) and that we’ve created more value for our TV partners, and we’ve got to help them be more profitable with NASCAR, and we can benefit from there,” France said. “My goal is to renew with the current lineup, because I think they get NASCAR well and we need to try and build on what they’ve done.”

“Our goal is – I’m confident we’re going to get it done with our current partners. If we have to go with someone else – that would really hurt our momentum. It wouldn’t be our first preference, but if you have to do what you have to do to sign with a partner long-term, that’s what you have to do.”

One cost cutting measure in place for 2005 will be a new qualifying procedure NASCAR will be implementing for 2005.

At select events, cars will be impounded immediately following qualifying until the start of the race, requiring teams to qualify in race trim and effectively eliminating any final practice session. The new procedure is also expected to help weed out “field fillers” and allow more full-time teams to make the field. Pete McCole

IPS gets another foreign driver IPS gets another foreign driverBrazilian Jaime Camara, 24, a South American Formula 3 graduate, has secured a seat to race the 2005 Menards Infiniti Pro Series with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, the 2004 Championship winning team. Camara is backed by CELG, a power and energy company from his native state in Brazil.

To date, he is the only Brazilian signed for the series, having previously tested with the team last October at Kentucky Motorspeedway.  “The opportunity to race with Sam (Schmidt) and the team this season is fantastic,” said Camara.  “For me, it will be a year of learning, from oval racing to my first experience living away from home in Brazil, but we have a good structure set up and I expect to get acclimated quickly in every sense. I look forward to working with the whole team, everybody wants to win and I already like the atmosphere there”

“We are very pleased to have Jaime joining our team this season,” said team owner Sam Schmidt.  “He showed great potential when we tested him a few months ago and was immediately on the pace last week in Homestead.  We believe his substantial experience on road courses in cars with similar horsepower and tire packages, will greatly benefit the team as a whole.  With the addition of Jaime, we are confident we have a driver line up that should be competing for the Championship from the beginning”.

Camara joins previously announced drivers Travis Gregg, who raced three MIPS races last year with the team, and Chris Festa, coming from Toyota Atlantics. Jaime believes that diversity will be a huge benefit to the team.  “Theoretically, with three drivers,” said Camara, “we will have access to a lot of information at each track which should help us quite a bit.  We also have engineers and crew members who have won the last two series championships. With the other drivers on the team, I expect a healthy competition.”

Camara tested briefly on the road course at Homestead last week.  “The car surprised me a little bit as it brakes well and the 450hp on the Infiniti motor really pull. I can’t wait to drive it again!”  He also completed 187 laps on the oval on Friday with a best lap of 28.45, fastest on the day.

For Ava Sports’ Fernando Avallone, Jaime’s manager, “All three drivers in the team have different backgrounds, but none less important, and their experiences complement each other. The engineers are simply best in class, and so is the crew. We are very, very happy to be joining such a talented group of people”.

F1 still good sponsor value F1 still good sponsor valueSponsors involved in Formula One are considered global and market leaders according to annual research conducted by leading sports market research company Sports Marketing Surveys. Despite less favorable results in the latter part of the season, the excitement of Formula One is still uppermost in followers’ minds and those companies involved are believed to be trustworthy. Repetitive results continues to be a threat to the levels of TV viewing with the number of races watched by fans dropping by 8% over the year. These results come from a worldwide annual survey on all aspects of image and awareness of Formula One conducted by Sports Marketing Surveys. Sports Marketing Surveys
SPEED Live Coverage of Rolex 24 SPEED Live Coverage of Rolex 24With one of the most prolific driver lineups in the 43-event history of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, SPEED Channel has announced that it will provide 14-and-a-half hours of live television coverage for the twice-around-the-clock event at Daytona International Speedway on February 5-6.

SPEED begins its coverage at 12:00 Noon on February 5 and will carry all of the action through the first seven hours of the race. After a one-hour break, the telecast resumes at 8:00 p.m., with coverage continuing until 11:00 p.m. ET. The third and final segment of the telecast hits the airwaves at 8:00 a.m., running through the race’s conclusion and including the post-race victory celebrations.

Providing play-by-play commentary will be Bob Varsha and Leigh Diffey, with David Hobbs and Dorsey Schroeder handling analyst duties. In the pits will be Calvin Fish, Brian Till and Chris Neville. Derek Bell, a three-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner and grand marshal of this year’s event, will also spend time in the broadcast booth.

In addition to the live coverage, SPEED Channel will also be following several top teams for a behind-the-scenes special entitled “Champions’ Quest,” which is scheduled to air on February 17 at 9:00 p.m. ET. Among the drivers SPEED will follow are 2003 Champ Car champion Paul Tracy, 2002 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson, 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, and 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Kurt Busch as they compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

The official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com, will supplement the SPEED Channel coverage with live timing & scoring information from throughout the weekend, as well as live audio.

Panther Racing to compete in Copper World Classic Panther Racing to compete in Copper World ClassicPanther Racing team members will be in Phoenix this week, but not because they’re heading to the IndyCar Series’ Phoenix Open Test.

Instead, Panther’s USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown team will field a car for Tyler Walker in the Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway on Jan. 29-30.

“I’m really excited to work with Panther Racing and Davey Jones,” Walker said. “They are such an amazing organization, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”

Walker, a 23-year-old from Los Angeles, Calif., recently signed with Akins Motorsports for the 2005 NASCAR Busch Series. Walker will share duties with NASCAR Nextel Cup standout Kasey Kahne, who Walker drove for in selected USAC events.

“I’m really, really excited about running Tyler this weekend,” said chief mechanic Davey Jones, who also serves as a mechanic on the No. 2 Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone entry driven by Tomas Enge in the IndyCar Series. “He and I go way back, and Tyler’s as good as any driver out there in a Silver Crown car. The first time he ran with me in a Sprint Car was back in the late 1990s at Eldora and we finished fourth, so we know we’re working with a helluva driver. We’re both looking forward to some good things at Phoenix this weekend.”
Back to court - Bernie vs. The Banks Back to court - Bernie vs. The BanksFormula One's shareholder banks will return to court on May 10 in the next step of their campaign to wrest control of the sport's commercial matters from Bernie Ecclestone.  The 10-day hearing will pit Formula One Holdings, now controlled by the banks after legal action last year, against Ecclestone's Formula One Administration.   The banks -- Bayerische Landesbank, JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers -- own 75 percent of Formula One holding company SLEC but want their stake translated into influence over Ecclestone's operating companies.   FOA has three board members, one of them Ecclestone and another his lawyer Stephen Mullens.   The banks' acquired their shares, representing a billion dollar investment, as a result of the failure of Germany's Kirch media empire. Reuters
Remembering Johnny Carson's laps in Indy Car Remembering Johnny Carson's laps in Indy CarAs the legendary host of "The Tonight Show," Johnny Carson was renowned for being quick with a witty one-liner either in his monologues or while interviewing guests.  Less well-known was that Carson also was pretty quick in a race car around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Carson, who became an American icon as host of "The Tonight Show" from 1962-92, died Jan. 23 at age 79. Among the many celebrities whose careers he helped launch included comedian Dave Letterman, who has gone on to similar fame as a late-night talk show host and co-owns the car that Buddy Rice drove to victory in the 2004 Indianapolis 500.

In 1967, STP President and Indianapolis 500 team owner Andy Granatelli invited Carson to the Speedway to drive the famed turbine-powered "whooshmobile" race car. STP was a major sponsor of "The Tonight Show" at the time, and Granatelli said he was a guest on the show "seven or eight times."

Granatelli and famed drivers Mario Andretti, Parnelli Jones and Rodger Ward welcomed Carson to the track. The drivers showed Carson the racing line in a few trips around the historic 2.5-mile oval in a passenger car.

Andretti asked Carson during the laps, "Now, you see where those tire skid marks go up into the wall?"  "Yes," Carson replied.  "That's NOT the groove!" Andretti then told Carson, in a story that Carson shared with his "Tonight Show" viewers during an ensuing monologue.

Then it was time to let Carson loose on the track in the STP Turbine that Jones drove to sixth in the Indianapolis 500 that year, leading 171 of the 200 laps before a bearing failed.  Carson then drove three or four laps around the oval, with a top lap speed of 138 mph, Granatelli said.

"He adapted very well," said Donald Davidson, Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian. "That doesn't seem that fast now, but it took 162 mph to make the race those days."  The slowest qualifying speed among the 33 starters in 1967 was 162.543 mph.  Carson's speedy hot laps didn't surprise Granatelli.  "That car was so good and easy to drive," Granatelli said. "All you had to do was point and steer."  Granatelli said he stayed in touch with Carson until only a few months before his death.  "He was a cool guy," Granatelli said.

Ferrari claims no betrayal of rivals Ferrari claims no betrayal of rivalsFerrari insist they have not gone behind their rivals' backs in signing a deal with Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone.  The world champions earlier this month agreed to sign an extension to the Concorde Agreement, which governs the sport but is due to expire before the 2008 season.

As an incentive to sign the new agreement, Ecclestone had offered teams a total of £270million over the next three years.  Ferrari are the only team so far to have agreed and they issued a statement on Monday claiming they will be receiving the extra cash from this season, even if their rivals do not sign up.

A team statement read: "As a result of what was established in the agreement announced on the 19th of this month, the new version of the Concorde Agreement will come into effect from 2005 on the revenues owed to the signatories thereof."

Earlier on Monday, McLaren chief Ron Dennis expressed his belief that Ecclestone was offering no incentive to agree to a new Concorde Agreement.  He said: "At the moment none of the proposals have any relevance at all to the period between now and the end of 2007 so there's no incentive to rush into any new agreement."

Ferrari were at pains to point out they did not betray their rivals by negotiating with Ecclestone.   Ferrari insist their fellow GPWC members were fully aware of their talks with Ecclestone's Formula One Management company.

The statement added: "Back in the end of July 2004, Ferrari had informed in writing the other members of the GPWC that, as from August 1 of that same year, it would not be bound exclusively to the GPWC, while nevertheless remaining part of it.  "It intended examining the possibility of an agreement with the FIA and FOM regarding the long-term future of the FIA Formula One World Championship." Sporting Life

Champ Car tabs Cotman to replace Lopes Champ Car tabs Cotman to replace LopesThe Champ Car World Series today tabbed veteran team manager Tony Cotman to lead the Champ Car Operations Department.

Cotman takes over as Vice President of Operations after serving most recently as Team Manager at Andretti Green Racing. In the past two years, Cotman was instrumental in leading the team to 10 race wins and the 2004 Indy Racing League Championship.

"I'm very excited to join the Champ Car staff," said Cotman, a native of New Zealand. "I'm looking forward to being part of the team at Champ Car that continues to build the series into a success. I truly believe that the Champ Car World Series is some of the best racing not only in America but worldwide."

Cotman will oversee the Operations Department which includes Trans-Am Executive Director John Clagett, Toyota Atlantic Managing Director Vicki O'Connor, Operations Director John Anderson, Logistics Director Billy Kamphausen, Safety Director Lon Bromley and Medical Director Dr. Chris Pinderski.

"I firmly believe that Tony is well equipped to provide Champ Car with the experience, energy and knowledge necessary to achieve the goals of our Operations Department," said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. "I am very excited knowing that Tony will be part of our team as we continue to build Champ Car."
Hendrick announces new GM Hendrick announces new GMNASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick today introduced Marshall Carlson as general manager of Hendrick Motorsports.  The 32-year-old will oversee day-to-day operations of the company, which fields five full-time stock-car teams and employs more than 500 people.

"I can't think of a more appropriate or capable person to serve our 500 employees and their families," Hendrick said.  "Marshall has been with our racing and automotive operations for years and has experience in many different areas of this business.

"From working in a team shop to overseeing millions of dollars in new construction, he's always played a key role and will certainly continue to do so for a long time."

A native of Charlotte, N.C., Carlson most recently managed more than $200 million in real estate projects as vice president of corporate financial management with the Hendrick Automotive Group, a company owned by Hendrick that operates more than 60 automotive retail locations across the United States.

"I'm honored by the opportunity to come back home (to Hendrick Motorsports)," Carlson said.  "It's been a tough few months for all of us, but we have a deep team of dedicated and talented people who have all stepped up to meet an extremely difficult challenge.

"Our primary goal is to continue the Hendrick traditions of teamwork, dedication and success, both on the race track and in our communities.  I look forward to being a small part of that."

Carlson started with Hendrick Motorsports literally at the ground level, sweeping floors in the chassis shop as part of a college summer internship.  After earning a degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1996, Carlson served as team engineer for the organization's fledgling NASCAR SuperTruck Series (now Craftsman Truck Series) entry.  Under the direction of crew chief Dennis Connor, the group earned the organization's first of three circuit championships in 1997.

Following the 1998 season, Carlson was reassigned to work under longtime Hendrick Motorsports executive Dan Lohwasser, who oversaw the team's sponsorship and marketing efforts.  As director of marketing services, Carlson worked with sponsors, managed the team's show-car business and launched Hendrick's first e-commerce Internet site.

In 2000, Carlson started as project manager on a $10 million facilities effort at the Hendrick Motorsports campus, which included the design and construction of race-shop space now housing the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams of drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.  The role prepared Carlson well for his 2002 assignment to lead Hendrick Automotive Group's real estate initiative.

Serving as a spotter and crew member, Carlson was also an early influence on the racing career of his late brother-in-law Ricky Hendrick, who in 1998 began NASCAR Late Model and USAR Pro Cup competition throughout the southeastern United States and later enjoyed driving success in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and NASCAR Busch Series.

Carlson, who lives in Charlotte with wife Lynn and daughter Kate, will continue the work of former Hendrick Motorsports vice president and general manager Jeff Turner, who was lost in an aircraft accident Oct. 24.  Turner assumed the role in March 2002 after nearly two decades in various management roles with Rick Hendrick's companies.

Alex Job Racing to defend titles Alex Job Racing to defend titlesAlex Job Racing is preparing to defend their 2004 American Le Mans Series GT class driver’s and team titles as the Porsche factory supported team.  The team will also be going after their seventh Sebring 12-Hour GT class victory and possible second Le Mans win.

The team will return with their familiar number 23 Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for reigning 2004 American Le Mans Series GT driver’s champion Timo Bernhard.  Romain Dumas will be coming over from the number 24 car to partner the defending champ. 

In 2004 Bernhard posted victories at Sebring, Infineon Raceway, Mosport, Road America and Road Atlanta.  Dumas posted victories at Portland and Laguna Seca, while driving his AJR Porsche to four pole positions in as many attempts at Lime Rock, Infineon Raceway, Portland and Road Atlanta.

“We are looking forward to having Timo and Romain back in the factory entry; they will be a tough pair to beat,” said Alex Job, owner Alex Job Racing.  “It will be our goal to have them be co-champions of the GT2 class this year.  We are close to having the budget in place to run two drivers in the number 24 car for the full season as a private entry.  The team has spent the off season replacing the tub on one car and refreshing both cars.  We are hopeful to have everything in place by the test at Sebring February 1st.  Once again the GT2 class will be the most competitive on the track and each of the Porsche teams have improved their driver lineup and cars for this year.”

Since winning the GT class in 2003 at Le Mans with Peterson Motorsport, Alex Job has always planned to return to Le Sarthe.  “Le Mans is the Super Bowl of our sport.  It is always a budgeted item for us, but we just haven’t been able to put it together.  We are as close as we ever have been to going back to Le Mans, this time as our own effort.

“I am glad that I will be staying with Alex Job for the 2005 season,” said Timo Bernhard.  “We have a solid base in the team, this will be my fourth full season with the guys and I am looking forward to the challenge of defending the championship.   Although the GT2 class will be quite strong in 2005, I think we have a pretty good chance of winning it again.  I met Romain in 2003 at Petit Le Mans and we won the first time we drove together. Last year he was in the number 24 car and has a full ALMS season with the team and knowledge of all the tracks.  So I think we will be a very strong pairing.  Our goal is clear - win the ALMS GT2 championship again!”

 “I am very happy to drive with Timo for the 2005 ALMS season,” said Romain Dumas.  “Every driver wants to win races and this situation puts us in a very good position to repeat as champions.  Last year I had to learn the tracks and get to know the team.  This year we will be able to tune the car for maximum performance and go to each track with a lot of knowledge and then we just have to win.  Alex Job and the crew always have a car that is fast and dependable.  I am looking forward to Sebring and to try to win one of the most famous events in endurance racing.”

Porsche racing stalwart Sascha Maassen will rejoin the team as the third driver at Sebring.  Maassen remains the winningest driver in ALMS history and will try and lead the team to an unprecedented seventh Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring victory on March 19th.

Alex Job Racing will take to the 3.7-mile 17-turn Sebring International Raceway to shake down the Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs on February 1st.

Raikkonen comments on new McLaren Raikkonen comments on new McLaren"A lot of time, effort and work has been invested in the new car, with the engineers working more for us than ever before," said Raikkonen. "My first impression after these few laps is a good one, however, the work for me and my driver colleagues starts only now." The Finn will continue to drive MP4-20 until Thursday, when former Williams driver Montoya will take the wheel.

"From the looks of the car it's unbelievable," said Montoya, who will not drive the MP4-20 until Thursday. "I think McLaren did an amazing job with this car and we have to wait and see what really happens from now on. "There's a lot of work been done by Mercedes on the engine part as well. "We've done an installation lap and didn't have any issues. It came back in one piece," he added.

"Today’s unveiling is the first tangible demonstration of the teams preparations for the 2005 season, a year that has the potential to be exciting and positive for all the teams," McLaren Mercedes Team Principal Ron Dennis said. "There is feverish work taking place across the team to achieve the best possible result for the this year."

Road America added to Toyota Atlantic sked Road America added to Toyota Atlantic skedToyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama officials today announced that the series will return to race at Road America next season, completing the 12-race Atlantic championship schedule for 2005.

The Toyota Atlantic cars will join the American Le Mans Series at the classic 4.048-mile Road America road circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for Round 11 of 12 on the Atlantic schedule, August 19-21. Atlantic officials first unveiled the 2005 season schedule in early November with a vacant date for a 12th event. With today's announcement, Road America will now serve as the penultimate round of competition in '05 with the season finale slated for August 28 in Montreal (full season schedule listed below).

"It seems only fitting that the top open-wheel development series in North America will return to race at one of the top road courses in the world," said Vicki O'Connor, Managing Director of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. "The Atlantic cars have staged some memorable races at Road America over the years and we're looking forward to returning this season. Road America is always one of the most popular venues among the teams, drivers and fans in our series so we're very excited to be back in 2005."

This will mark the 21st Atlantic race run at the Road America circuit and the ninth time in the past 10 years that the 240 HP Atlantic machines have competed at the storied venue.

The August race also represents the first time that the Toyota Atlantic Championship will run with the ALMS cars since the 2003 Atlantic season finale in Miami. All of the other events on the '05 Atlantic calendar will be run in conjunction with the Champ Car World Series. SPEED Channel will once again air all of this season's races with a full broadcast schedule expected to be released in the next few weeks.
ADT team announces '05 lineup ADT team announces '05 lineupAudi Sport North America, five-time American Le Mans Series Manufacturer Champion, and Florida-based Champion Racing, last year’s American Le Mans Series LMP1 Champion, return to the American Le Mans Series with not one but two Audi R8 LMP1 cars. Reigning ALMS Driver Champion’s JJ Lehto and Marco Werner will pilot the #1 Audi R8. Past ALMS Driver Champion’s Frank Biela (2003) and Emanuele Pirro (2001) return as teammates for the #2 car.

Assisting Team ADT Champion Racing in their quest for victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring and the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans will be six-time Le Mans Champion Tom Kristensen (ALMS Driver Champion in 2002) and 1998 Le Mans Champion Allan McNish (ALMS Driver Champion in 2000). All drivers apart from JJ Lehto are members of the 2005 Audi works driver’s squad, a fact that underlines the importance of the American Le Mans Series for Audi of America. Lehto meanwhile is no stranger to the company and to Team ADT Champion Racing as 2005 marks Lehto’s 3rd year competing for Audi of America and Team ADT Champion Racing.

JJ Lehto (38), born in Espoo, Finland but now resides in Monaco, spent a number of years contesting the Formula One Series before coming to the United States to compete in sports car racing. Since 1999, Lehto has been competing in the American Le Mans Series driving for BMW, Cadillac, and most recently Audi. In last year’s American Le Mans nine-race season, Lehto earned nine podium finishes, six first place finishes, one pole position and a third place podium finish at Le Mans. Lehto also earned his first American Le Mans Series Driver’s Championship.

Marco Werner (38), born in Dortmund, Germany but now resides in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, started racing in 1984 and his career has included success in Formula 3000, touring cars, and GT racing. Werner has two third place podium finishes at Le Mans, the first with the factory Audi team in 2002 and his second with Champion Racing in 2004. Last year in the American Le Mans Series, Werner earned his second consecutive ALMS Driver Championship by achieving one pole position, nine podium finishes, and six first place finishes.

Emanuele Pirro (42), born in Rome, Italy currently residing in Monaco, returns to the American Le Mans Series after a two-year hiatus. Pirro, ALMS Driver Champion in 2001, was the winner of the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2000 and has three consecutive Le Mans victories: 2000, 2001 and 2002. Pirro has teamed up with Champion Racing the last two years for both the 12 Hours of Sebring (two, 2nd place finishes) and Le Mans (two, 3rd place finishes) and spent last year competing for Audi in DTM, the German Touring Car Masters series. This year marks his first season driving for Team ADT Champion Racing in the American Le Mans Series.

Frank Biela (40), born in Neuss, Germany currently residing in Monaco, also returns to the American Le Mans Series after a year in Europe competing for Audi in DTM series. Biela, earned his ALMS Driver Championship in 2003. Past successes include three victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring (2000, 2003, 2004) and three consecutive wins at Le Mans in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Allan McNish (36), born in Dumfries, Great Britain now residing in Monaco, most recently drove for Audi Sport UK in the Le Mans Endurance Series achieving first place finishes at the 1000 km race at Silverstone and at the 1000 km race at Nürburgring. McNish also scored a victory for Audi UK at last year’s 12 Hours of Sebring Race. In McNish’s first and only year of competing in the American Le Mans Series, McNish won the Driver’s Championship in 2000 and also helped Audi to win its first Manufacturer’s Championship. McNish’s illustrious career also includes eight years as an F1 test driver, an F1 driver for Toyota in their inaugural year (2002), and a first place finish at Le Mans in 1998.

Tom Kristensen (37), born in Hobro, Denmark currently residing in Monaco, is a six-time Le Mans winner. His first victory came in 1997 and from 2000 to 2004 Kristensen earned another five wins, four with Audi driving the Audi R8 and one with Bentley in 2003. Kristensen was the American Le Mans Series Driver’s Champion in 2002 and scored a first place finish twice at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1999 and 2000. Last year, Kristensen finished 4th in the DTM Championship.

“Audi of America is very proud to be working again with Champion Racing in 2005,” commented Rod Bymaster, Manager, Audi Sport North America. “The Champion Racing Team has developed into one of the best teams in the world and this year running two Audi R8 cars, they will be even more competitive. We are also fortunate to have a great driver lineup for the ALMS, all are present or past ALMS Champions and they have seven Le Mans wins combined. As for Le Mans, Champion has proven to be very competitive with two third place finishes. However, there is unfinished business and this year we are hoping for a win. The Le Mans trophy has been out of the US for too long."

Audi increases its involvement in ALMS Audi increases its involvement in ALMSTeam ADT Champion Racing, which had already contested the final two races of the 2004 season with two cars, enters two Audi R8 prototypes in all ten races of the North American sports car series this year. Dave Maraj’s team also lines up at the start with two R8 prototypes at the Le Mans 24-hour race on 18/19 June.
AUDI AG once again assists the importers’ commitment to sports car prototypes with the loan of their works drivers. Frank Biela (Germany), Emanuele Pirro (Italy) and Marco Werner (Germany) contest the 2005 ALMS. The defending ALMS champion will again team up with Finn JJ Lehto. Lehto/Werner won six of the nine ALMS races last season. Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, one of the ALMS championship’s most successful driver pairs, return to the series: Biela/Pirro celebrated a total of nine ALMS victories together between 2000 and 2002 with the Audi R8.
At the season’s opener at Sebring on 19 March and at Le Mans, Audi strengthens the team with two extra works drivers, who are mainly competing in the DTM this year with the Audi A4 DTM: Allan McNish (Great Britain) and Tom Kristensen (Denmark). Furthermore, the team’s entry at Sebring and Le Mans will be supported by the British Audi importer.
With Biela, Kristensen, Lehto, McNish, Pirro and Werner, Team ADT Champion Racing has a driver squad available that could hardly be of higher caliber: All six Audi drivers have won the Le Mans 24 Hours, the 12-hour race at Sebring or the American Le Mans Series at least once.
The Audi R8 enters its sixth and final season in 2005, before new sports car prototype regulations come into force. It is already the most successful Le Mans prototype of all time with 52 wins from 62 race starts. The R8 remains unbeaten to date in the 12-hour race at Sebring. Audi won the ALMS title five times in succession with the R8, and the Le Mans 24 Hours four times. With its Turbo FSI engine the Audi R8 is again considered the sports car to beat in the forthcoming 2005 season.
Jordan and Midland deal finally signed Jordan and Midland deal finally signedUPDATE “I am very pleased with this development as it will give us a season of learning, and after the take-over has been completed, the chance to be competitive faster at the pinnacle of motorsport," said Shnaider, who indicated that his plans to introduce Dallara chassis remain undiminished. "Our plan to build up a team from scratch has only been altered insignificantly as the establishment of the Midland F1 Team will continue according to schedule.”

Jordan confirmed that he will continue to play a significant role in the team, and it is expected that he will take on the role of commercial director, while Shnaider will become team principal. "I will remain involved with the team throughout the 2005 season and will be working with Jordan in a variety of capacities as we move forward,” he said.

“I have devoted 35 years of my life to motor racing and have had some really fantastic times. The last fourteen years when I have been lucky enough to be involved in Formula 1 have been a highlight, naturally, and winning our first grand prix in 1998, which broke the grip that the top teams of the time had on the sport, is for me a personal triumph.

"I have to thank Bernie Ecclestone for making the introduction to Alex Shnaider of Midland as I wholeheartedly believe that Midland joining with Jordan will make the team stronger. As we look to the future, we will see this team return to the competitiveness we have proved we are capable of."

01/23/05 Midland F1 owner Alex Shnaider has finally signed an agreement to buy into Eddie Jordan's Formula 1 team following a frantic week of negotiations, as autosport.com exclusively predicted.   Although the two parties had agreed to do a deal last week, there were several minor issues that needed to be sorted out before contracts could be signed off. Sources close to the talks claim terms were only finally reached in the early hours of Saturday morning.  Although it is understood that the original plan had been for an announcement to be made today (Sunday), it is now expected that the team will wait until later this week to confirm its plans - although an announcement may come as early as Monday. Autosport
NASCAR security review NASCAR security reviewThe second annual NASCAR security summit took place last week in Orlando. Representatives from all Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck tracks attended. Tim Christine, NASCAR's director of security, headed up the two-day meetings and briefed the officials on potential threats facing the tracks. Fox Sports/Sporting News
New regs governed McLaren design New regs governed McLaren designThe design of the MP4-20 has been heavily influenced by significant revisions to both the sporting and technical regulations that govern Formula One in four key areas: engine lifespan, limitations on tire use, aerodynamics and race weekend format particularly for qualifying. A Formula One car is a fully integrated machine," commented Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, McLaren Mercedes. "As a consequence, regulation changes to the extent we have seen ahead of the 2005 season, have had a major impact on the configuration of the entire package. The revisions created an interesting challenge for our design team under Adrian Newey, Mike Coughlan and Neil Oatley, and the result is a car that looks quite different from last year. Mercedes-Ilmor on the engine side has to cope with similar technical and timescale challenges."

The aerodynamic modifications have led to the most visible differences on the car, to the design of the chassis, which has been exclusively developed in the design office and wind tunnel facilities at the McLaren Technology Centre. These include the raising of the front wing by 50mm, restricting the height of the diffuser to 125mm and bringing the rear wing package forward by 150mm.

McLaren Racing's Technical Director Adrian Newey added, "With the regulations, particularly on the aerodynamic side, being set comparatively late resulting in even harder and more dedicated work from all members of the team to get MP4-20 on track today. This has seen positive collaboration with all our Technology Partners, particularly Michelin in adapting to the extended use requirements of tires for the coming season, when they have to last the entire race distance. The spec for MP4-20 was set in May 2004 and this saw the start of wind tunnel work at the McLaren Technology Centre. The timescales have been challenging but that is all part of the excitement of Formula One." Full Story

No McMurray in the No. 2 in 2006 No McMurray in the No. 2 in 2006Rusty Wallace admits he'd love to see McMurray replace him in the #2 Miller Lite Dodge in the Nextel Cup series next season. But he knows that's not happening. "I would love to see Jamie drive the 2 car, but Felix Sabates and ( Chip) Ganassi have a contract with him," said Wallace, 48, who is retiring. "If they didn't, I would love to have him drive for me. (But) those two are some of my best friends and there's nothing I could ever do with it." Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates invoked a one-year team option to retain McMurray, the 2003 rookie of the year, this season and reportedly can do so again in 2006 and 2007. Ganassi indicated with a no-dice smile that he doesn't plan to let McMurray get away. "Fortunately, I value our friendship as well," he said. St Petersburg Times
Monterey Historics
Chaparral highlighted at Monterey Historics Chaparral highlighted at Monterey HistoricsChaparral will be the featured Marque as part of a tribute to "Great American Specials" at the 32nd annual Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races Presented by Chrysler August 19-21, Steve Earle, founder of the premier vintage event in the U.S., announced yesterday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  "Jim Hall and his Chaparral cars certainly set the standard in racing during their time," Earle said. "And that was around the world, not just in the United States. Their innovative design, preparation and presentation caught the imagination of race fans across the country that grew into a true fan club. They certainly represent the ultimate in American specials."

While the major manufacturers have long been the dominant force in automobile racing, individual efforts in the American tradition of championing the underdog have produced special cars to challenge the "big guns" over the years. Perhaps, no one represented the ingenuity of this industry more than Jim Hall and Chaparral Cars.

Hall, along with fellow racer Hap Sharp, started a small racing team in 1962 in Midland, Texas, naming the team Chaparral, the Spanish word for road runner, a common bird in West Texas. They designed, built and tested a series of innovative and powerful race cars on a private two-mile test track behind their garages named Rattlesnake Raceway.

"It is a bold statement, but nonetheless true, to say that Hall revolutionized the sport of auto racing in the 1960s," Earle said. "He introduced the first movable wing in 1965 and his work with aerodynamic wings, ground effects and lightweight construction materials transformed auto racing.

"At a time when many of the great race cars were designed and built in Europe, their success gave American race fans a team to cheer for. While Chaparral Cars enjoyed many victories all over the world, maybe the most prestigious win came when Johnny Rutherford drove a Chaparral 2K to victory in the 1980 Indianapolis 500."

Most of the original Chaparral cars are currently on display in a special Chaparral Wing of the Petroleum Museum in Midland and will be appearing at the event August 19-21 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Hall is also expected to be at the Monterey Historics as the guest of honor. Featured displays will include the Rolex Moments in Time, presenting eight significant cars representing important moments in racing history, including the Chaparral. The Chrysler Heritage and Product Displays will include racing cars from its past as well as concept cars of the future. And, other manufacturers will again make their presence felt with unique presentations in the paddock.

Four hundred racing cars from the early 1900s to the 1980s are expected to take part in the weekend's activities. The entries will be divided into 14 racing groups, with seven groups competing on Saturday and seven on Sunday, creating a different show each day.

"The concept of the Rolex Monterey Historics is to focus on the history of motor racing by encouraging the preservation of racing cars and putting them on display in an appropriate manner and setting for enthusiasts of present and future generations to see and enjoy," Earle said. "From its inception, fans have been treated to a steady presentation of the most famous racing cars in history along with the personalities who designed, built and drove them. Year after year, through the 'Featured Marque' and 'Special Tributes' programs, the celebration leaves spectators and participants with a lasting, positive impression."

Tickets for the Monterey Historic Races are available by calling 1-800-327-SECA (7322) or logging on to laguna-seca.com or ticketmaster.com.

Whitmarsh discusses '05 regulation changes Whitmarsh discusses '05 regulation changesFormula 1 has undergone a raft of changes the 2005 season. These will affect aerodynamics, engines and tires, as well as the format of the grand prix weekend itself. During the winter period, Team McLaren Mercedes has to take into account rule changes for the upcoming season as the MP4-20 has been designed and built at the McLaren Technology Centre. The package for 2005 is perhaps the most significant for many years, and the team’s engineers have several challenges to face. At the start of the first test of the MP4-20 in Barcelona this week, Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes, discusses the changes. More....
Red Bull Racing feeling upbeat Red Bull Racing feeling upbeatThe countdown for the 2005 season has begun, and the drivers at Red Bull Racing are already shifting into high gear. The youngest team in Formula One has put in a persuasive performance in Barcelona.  David Coulthard even set the fastest time on Thursday (1:16,134). It was the first time ever that a Red Bull Racing driver finished at the top of the time sheets but Coulthard doesn't get carried away: "It’s good, but it doesn’t say much. They were tests – no more and no less."

The Scotsman sees something else as more important than his test performance: "The jolt it’s given the entire team. We’re working in a highly professional and concentrated manner." Another reason for that: the new management team of Christian Horner and Günther Steiner, who were in charge of the racing team for the first time at the Barcelona track.

Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi also put in outstanding performances. Klien reacted in a flash to sudden brake failure, steering his car out of danger with complete professionalism: "Brake failure is no fun, of course; it’s every racing driver’s nightmare. Fortunately no one was hurt, but we’re going to take a very close look at the problem."  Red Bull Racing starts testing again on January 25 in Valencia.  Red Bull

Australian GP organize an auction Australian GP organize an auctionA chance-of-a-lifetime drive in the BMW Celebrity Challenge is being auctioned at the upcoming Australian Grand Prix on March 3-6 to aid the tsunami relief appeal. The Celebrity Challenge drive is an opportunity that money could rarely buy and kicks off with four days of intensive driver training with the celebrities ahead of the Grand Prix.

The theme for this year’s Celebrity Challenge is “Best of the Best”, drawing mainly on stars who have excelled in the event in the past – including reigning winner, Olympic rowing icon James Tomkins. The Australian Grand Prix Corporation and BMW Group Australia decided to offer the spot in the BMW Celebrity Challenge as the latest contribution to relief efforts following the tragic Boxing Day tsunami in Asia.

Network Ten, the host broadcaster of Formula One in Australia and the “Home of Motorsport”, will support the auction – on eBay ( www.ebay.com.au) starting on January 23, and running until Friday, January 28.

As a benchmark, Melbourne businessman Danny Wallis paid $60,000 (Australian Dollars) at a charity event organized by Australia’s Formula One driver – and new BMW-Williams star – Mark Webber for a drive in the 2004 BMW Celebrity Challenge.

Additional bonuses for the buyer will be 10 corporate hospitality tickets for all four days of the Grand Prix and two tickets to the glittering Grand Prix Ball, the annual highlight of Melbourne’s social calendar. Proceeds from the auction will to go to Oxfam, one of the agencies coordinating tsunami relief aid. Foster's Australian Grand Prix

New McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 tests in Barcelona New McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 tests in BarcelonaThe West McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 Formula One car took to the track for the first time today at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, with Kimi Raikkonen at the wheel. The track debut of the team's 2005 challenger marks the start of an intensive five-day test session, which will see Kimi joined by team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya later this week.

"A lot of time, effort and work has been invested in the new car, with the engineers working more for us than ever before," said Kimi. "My first impression after these few laps is a good one, however, the work for me and my driver colleagues starts only now." The Finn will continue to drive the MP4-20 until Thursday, when Juan Pablo will take the wheel. More.....

Latest F1 News in Brief Latest F1 News in Brief
Jordan sale 'signed'
No Zsolt in Minardi frame
Ralf's off to the dentist
GPWC fight back
New Renault set for debut

Minardi's 'not for sale'
Test 'not meaningful' - JT
Button's BAR boosted
Want to race in Melbourne?
Tire war 'off the agenda'
Kimi in trouble, again
DC, Red Bull and '06
No VW for F1 - Sauber
Yoong may race in A1
Catalunya defend Circuit
F1's 'more tiring' - Button
Unwell Bernoldi sent home
RDS to televise IRL races RDS to televise IRL racesUPDATE A reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Just a note, RDS has been showing most IRL races since 2002. However, they have never shown any of the races live, but usually on replay during the following week. It remains to be seen whether they'll begin to show them live. On a more personal note, I'm curious to see if Carpentier's departure to the IRL will keep interest up after the Indy 500. Most racing fans in Quebec are not oval racing fans. Alex Melikian, Montreal, Quebec, Canada 01/23/05 The IRL already is seeing the benefit of having a popular Canadian in its lineup. Patrick Carpentier's move to the IRL from Champ Cars has led to RDS (Canada's French version of ESPN) signing a deal to televise IRL races.
Driver of Year
Formula BMW
Two TV shows to catch Two TV shows to catchTwo TV programs to be shown on Monday night, January 24,  that we thought you might not want to miss: 
 1.  The Driver of the Year will be announced on the SPEED channel at 8:00 P.M. EST, January 24, 2005.   
 2.  Formula BMW - The Formula BMW program that was first shown on December 26 will be rebroadcast early Tuesday morning, January 25, at 4:30 A.M. EST on SPEED (late Monday night).  It is an excellent overview of the Formula BMW series.   Since it was originally shown on December 26, many people probably missed it because of the holidays.
Kelley loses driver, sponsor, and team Kelley loses driver, sponsor, and teamThis Gazette Journal article says, Rumors of Kelley Racing ceasing operations for the 2005 Indy Racing League season hit full throttle toward reality this week when it was announced that veteran Kelley driver Scott Sharp has left the team after seven seasons to take a ride with Fernandez Racing.

Maybe more indicative of the future of Kelley Racing than Sharp’s departure is the fact that Kelley’s primary sponsor, Delphi, went with Sharp. Sharp, 36, announced his new partnership this week and began testing with his new team Thursday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in preparation for the season-opening race there March 6. He will join Kosuke Matsuura in a two-car operation under team owner Adrian Fernandez. Sharp said that leaving Kelley Racing owner Tom Kelley after a long and successful run wasn’t difficult given the circumstances surrounding the breakup. “What made it very amicable for everybody was the fact that Tom said he wanted to sell the team and he wanted to get out,” Sharp said Friday in a phone interview from Florida. “Everyone wanted to be more competitive than we were last year and then when (Kelley) decided he wanted to get out, it made it quite easy. For me, it’s a whole breath of fresh air.” Longtime Kelley Racing associate sponsors, Futuba and Bryant also went with Sharp, leaving Kelley with no existing sponsors and no driver just six weeks before the start of the 2005 season. Full-time teams typically secure their drivers and sponsorships weeks before preseason testing begins. Without solid sponsorship, teams rarely survive in today’s IRL.

Kelley did not immediately return phone messages inquiring about the future of his team, but Kelley Racing is no longer listed on the IRL Web site. Kelley Racing might be the latest victim in a growing list of teams unable to survive because of escalating costs and the success of multimillion-dollar operations entering North America’s premier open-wheel circuit. When Kelley launched his team out of Fort Wayne in 1998, the cost of running his operation was about $1 million for the 10-race season. With the schedule up to 16 races and the cost of engines, chassis, research and development increasing annually, most estimates list just the operational costs of racing the IRL full time at more than $8 million a season. “And that’s got nothing to do with testing and trying to be more competitive,” Kelley said in a 2003 interview about escalating costs. A representative with Kelley Racing answered the office phone Friday and said Kelley is in Florida. When asked this summer about published reports and persistent rumors of the sale of Kelley Racing, Kelley dismissed those reports and said he was confident he would be back for 2005 in some form, whether that meant merging the team with another or continuing as a one-car operation. “Whatever we are going to do, we are going to improve and compete in ’05,” Kelley said in August. “I don’t exactly know what that is going to be at this point, but I do not have a For Sale sign on the team.”
Pruett gets IROC invite Pruett gets IROC inviteScott Pruett is no stranger to the Crown Royal IROC Series with 28 career appearances under his belt (1987-’96) and having represented the likes of IMSA, SCCA and CART. But the California native will once again have a shot at the best of the best (and the $1,000,000 prize) in a four-race shout-out spanning the high banks of Daytona International Speedway to the flat-out tri-oval in Atlanta. Pruett gets his eighth IROC nod after winning the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Championship with 2004 teammate Max Papis for CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.

Pruett, an IROC Series staple, has two career wins to his credit after taking the checkers at Riverside International Raceway in 1988 and pacing the 1991 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. After an eight-year hiatus, Pruett will join 11 others looking to dethrone defending IROC champion Matt Kenseth of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series ranks.

“It's obviously a great honor for me to be invited back to the IROC Series,” said Pruett, who will defend his Rolex Series championship this season with teammate Luis Diaz. “I've had some luck in the past with the series and won a couple races at Riverside and Daytona, so I'm very much looking forward to competing again this year. I'll do my best to represent the Rolex Series as the Daytona Prototype champion, along with CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing. It should be fun.”

The invitational series will feature 12 drivers from different forms of auto racing in equally prepared cars. The 2005 driver field will consist of seven drivers who captured their respective series championship in 2004, with the series kicking off its 29th season February 18th at DIS.

In addition to his two IROC wins, Pruett has one pole at Talladega (1992), eight top-three finishes, 15 top-fives, four front-row starts and 51 laps led. In 28 IROC starts, his average starting and finishing position is sixth, and he’s collected 305 total points and earned $347,600 in prize money.

Toyota Tsunami relief efforts Toyota Tsunami relief effortsToyota Motorsport has today thrown open the doors of its Formula 1 factory in Cologne to the public for the first time to raise money for the victims of the recent Tsunami in Asia.

Working together with the German Red Cross, Toyota's initiative has raised in excess of $250,000, which will be directly used to aid relief efforts in the affected countries. Over 5,500 people attended the unique event, which offered members of the public an unprecedented view behind the scenes of the Toyota F1 team and a chance to get closer to the F1 action.

The team's race drivers Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher were both present at the factory to support today's event.

Jarno Trulli said of the event: "Today's event was a fantastic opportunity for everyone to come and see inside a Formula 1 factory. Toyota as a manufacturer has already done a lot to support the catastrophe in south-east Asia and the Open Doors event was our chance to offer something special. From what I know, this is the first time that an F1 factory has been opened to the public and it is a good way to give something unique to the public, whilst raising money to those who have been affected by the tsunami."

Ralf Schumacher added: "The Toyota Motorsport Open Doors event was a really excellent idea to raise money for the victims of the Asian tsunami. At the same time, we have been able to offer the public a rare glimpse into the workings of the Toyota F1 team to see first-hand how the entire race car is built under one roof. I was impressed by the number of people who turned up at the factory to show their support to this worthwhile cause."

Toyota Motorsport would like to thank all the companies who supported this event, as well as the local Cologne authorities and the German Red Cross for making the Open Doors day the huge success that it was.  Toyota

Trulli not happy with new Barcelona surface Trulli not happy with new Barcelona surfaceJarno Trulli has become the latest F1 driver to criticize the quality of the new surface at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.  The Renault driver was testing at the track this past week.  "The Barcelona circuit has changed a lot since they resurfaced the tarmac and at the start of the week we had a lot of problems getting used to the new asphalt," the Italian moaned.  The grip level was very low, making it very slippery, and those problems continued for most of the week.  In the end, the times people were able to record weren't as bad as some had feared, but it was still slower than before.  The conditions didn't improve enough during the week to make it possible to do much meaningful work on the performance of the TF105," he added.  "In the cold mornings it is especially slippery, then as the sun comes out and the track cleans up the wind gets up too. Instead we concentrated on getting mileage under our belts, working on the reliability side of the new car. From that point of view things have gone pretty well."
NASCAR SimRacing demo premieres NASCAR SimRacing demo premieresA sample of EA's new PC stock-car-circuit simulator is now available for download; demo features 10 drivers and two tracks.  Long before Electronic Arts was acquiring the rights to the National Football League, Arena Football League, and ESPN, the software giant acquired one of sport's most popular licenses, NASCAR. The deal is good through 2009, and the newest NASCAR title from EA's Tiburon Studios (home of the Madden franchise) is NASCAR SimRacing for the PC, which will cross the production finish line February 15.   Friday EA released the demo of NASCAR SimRacing, now premiering on GameSpot DLX. The 161MB download lets drivers race in the "race now" mode on two tracks: the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Kansas Speedway. Gamers can also choose between 10 drivers, including Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NASCAR SimRacing runs slightly differently than the past NASCAR offerings from EA. This title, which is exclusively for the PC, is aimed at fans of hardcore NASCAR simulations, as opposed to the fan-friendly NASCAR 2000 series that appeared on both consoles and the PC.  The full retail version will feature a career mode that challenges drivers to make their way up to the bright lights of the Daytona 500 from humble beginnings as a NASCAR Craftsman Trucks Series driver. NASCAR SimRacing will also support 43 online racers and voice chat for some serious paint swapping and trash talking. Other tracks that will be included are the Bristol Motor Speedway, the Milwaukee Mile, and three EA Sports fantasy tracks. Gamespot

Monterey press bitter over loss of Champ Car Monterey press bitter over loss of Champ CarThis Monterey Herald article says, At last, Champ Car has gotten off its collective posterior and made a definitive statement regarding Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  After stringing the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) and the Laguna Seca fan base along for months, the Champ Car World Series has officially dropped the Grand Prix of Monterey from its 2005 schedule.

"Many of the legends of open-wheel racing have made their names with victories at Laguna Seca, and we regret having to exclude the track from our 2005 schedule due to issues of date conflicts and economic issues," read a statement from Champ Car, probably put together by Joe Chrnelich, Champ Car's executive vice-president of development, governmental affairs and planning. "It was a very difficult business decision that we had to make for the future health of the series.

"The fans have always been supportive of the Champ Car World Series at Laguna Seca, and the fact that the track is not part of the 2005 series, does not mean that we are closed to the idea of returning to the venue in the future. General Manager Gill Campbell and her staff, as well as the people of SCRAMP, are quality promoters and have been a good partner. Champ Car will continue to work with Laguna Seca in the future to explore the prospects of a future return."

I enjoy the Champ Car World Series, it's probably my favorite. I like the people, the cars, the racing and the venues and I will continue to cover the series. However, what a crock some of the foregoing is -- a bunch of corporate-speak. Throughout the process to date, there have been broken promises and missed deadlines while the series continued to hedge its bets pending landing a race in Argentina to take Laguna Seca's place on the schedule in September.

I am not privy to conversations between the series and Campbell, but I can speak to things I was told by Champ Car ownership, Chrnelich and other staff members directly. It's not the way I would do business. SCRAMP has, in my opinion, remained all too patient. I'd have been inclined to tell Champ Car to take a flying leap a while ago.

The door was left open for Champ Car to return in 2006 and Campbell has indicated they would certainly welcome the series back.  In all probability, a statement will be forthcoming soon that Road America is also gone. The storied road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis. is also not listed on the Champ Car schedule and "negotiations" have allegedly continued to possibly schedule a race there. It's not going to happen.  That leaves no U.S. road courses on the Champ Car World Series schedule in 2005. What a shame.

A by-product of Champ Car stringing Laguna Seca along for such a long period of time is that it may well be too late to place a fifth event on the calendar (the track is limited to five major race events per year by its concession agreement with Monterey County).  Campbell said, "We are exploring our options and will make a decision next week."

German DTM
2005 DTM schedule released 2005 DTM schedule releasedThe 10-race 2005 DTM Championship Calendar has been released.
April 17 Hockenheimring Germany
May 1 EuroSpeedway Lausitz Germany
May 15 Spa Francorchamps Belgium
June 6 Motopark Oschersleben Germany
June 26 Moscow Russia
July 17 Norisring Germany
August 7 Nurburgring Germany
August 28 Circuit Park Zandvoort Holland
October 2 Istanbul Turkey
October 23 Hockenheimring Germany
Klien suffered brake failure Klien suffered brake failureChristian Klien had the first big crash of the year in testing at Barcelona last week when his Red Bull car pitched into the tire barriers under braking. I had a full day in the car on Thursday and everything seemed to run according to plan," Klien said. "Until I had a crash, when suddenly my brakes stopped working while I was traveling at 300km/h."

"I was forced to twist the car around into the tire barriers along the track to prevent an even bigger crash," he added.

"Fortunately nothing serious happened to me and we immediately analyzed the event with the engineers. I am confident we won't have such a problem again," Klien continued. "Despite some pain in the neck for the next couple of days the crash is already forgotten," he concluded.
Carpentier upbeat about IRL team Carpentier upbeat about IRL teamPatrick Carpentier was upbeat about his chances for success in the Indy Racing League on Friday after two days of testing on the road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  Carpentier, the Joliette, Que., driver who left the Champ Car series to sign with Red Bull Cheever Racing in October, posted the sixth-quickest lap two days in a row against the full field of IRL cars on Wednesday and Thursday.

''It's important for us to run at the front and we did that the last couple of days,'' Carpentier said in a telephone interview from Homestead, Fla. ''You have to be up at the front with the fast guys if you want to win.''

Most encouraging was the car ran significantly faster and with fewer mechanical problems than at testing last month in Sebring, Fla., although Carpentier's teammate Alex Barron had some car trouble and placed 14th. ''I was surprised at how much we improved,'' Carpentier said. ''It shows we have the engineering staff to bring the car up.''  He is still getting the feel of the IndyCar, which he said had a smaller engine and ''feels lighter'' than a Champ car.  "It sounds good, too,'' he said. ''It has a high-pitched sound, a bit like a Formula One car.'' Canadian Press

Aero testing at Variano for Ferrari Aero testing at Variano for FerrariFifth day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, Saturday working at Vairano. Andrea Bertolini carried out aerodynamic testing down the straight, at the wheel of an F2004 M. He covered a total of 287 kilometres.  Bertolini continues testing at this track Sunday.


Bourdais to drive Ferrari Bourdais to drive FerrariThe Larbre team will kick off 2005 at Sebring with a Ferrari 550. Fabrizio Gollin has confirmed Saturday that he will be one of the drivers, sharing the seat with Champ Car defending champion Sebastien Bourdais and a third yet-to-be-named driver.
DIS needs personnel for NEXTEL Tribute DIS needs personnel for NEXTEL TributeIf you want to be a part of a world-class entertainment production that will be broadcast to millions, has Daytona International Speedway (DIS) got an offer for you!  The World Center of Racing is looking for thousands of locals (ages 13-45) to be in the national spotlight, taking part in the heart-pumping pre-race revelry leading up to "The Great American Race" - the prestigious Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, 2005. The high-energy NEXTEL Tribute To America, featuring national music entertainers (to be announced at a later date) and a world-class, pre-race show at Daytona International Speedway, will be televised live on Fox Television and produced by Q&A Entertainment. The NEXTEL Tribute To America pre-race extravaganza is the culmination of events leading up to NASCAR's most prestigious race. To participate in the event, visit www.jmbcasting.com or call 407-224-6621 for more information. DIS PR
Gaughan keeps door open for NEXTEL plans Gaughan keeps door open for NEXTEL plansBrendan Gaughan would neither confirm nor deny a published report that he is close to signing a deal that would have him running the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season in a second PPI Motorsports Chevrolet. PPI, which is owned by Cal Wells, fields the No. 32 Chevy for Bobby Hamilton Jr. Gaughan, a Las Vegas native, only said that he is committed to running 18 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races -- including all that are companion events on Nextel Cup weekends -- in the No. 77 Orleans Racing Dodge. Steve Park will return to the Las Vegas-based team this season and drive the No. 62 Dodge in all 25 races. Gaughan reiterated last weekend during truck testing at Daytona International Speedway that he had not ruled out the possibility of also competing in the Nextel Cup Series this season. Las Vegas Sun
Bristol hires Triplett Bristol hires TriplettBristol Motor Speedway has announced the hiring of former NASCAR official Kevin Triplett as vice president of public affairs. Triplett was NASCAR's managing director of business operations before making an unsuccessful run the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia last year.
Fox's Hammond makes Pro Wrestling debut Fox's Hammond makes Pro Wrestling debutJeff Hammond, a NASCAR TV commentator for Fox Sports, will make his professional wrestling debut with TNA Wrestling during the organization's Feb. 13 "Against All Odds" pay-per-view event.  Hammond, 48, joined TNA in 2004 as a special broadcast analyst and debuted the "Six Points of Impact" for TNA, a regular interview segment with the group's wrestling stars. During the 8 p.m. Eastern Feb. 13 wrestling card, Hammond and wrestler BG James will face Michael Shane and Kazarian.  One of the best jackmen in NASCAR, Hammond served on Cale Yarborough's three then-Winston Cup (now Nextel Cup) championship seasons. When Darrell Waltrip took over for Yarborough in 1981, the team won another championship. ThatsRacin
Positive week for Bridgestone Positive week for BridgestoneBridgestone Motorsport concluded its week of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya where Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello completed two days of running apiece. After initial concerns that the recent resurfacing of the track would hinder the test program, it became clear that once the surface had been washed and cars had put rubber down on the surface, conditions would steadily improve, enabling the team to go ahead as planned.

Commenting on the new track surface Bridgestone Motorsport Technical Manager Hisao Suganuma said: “Initially, the track was very slippery as there was a lot of dust resulting in very low grip. But the circuit washed the surface overnight on Monday, improving the grip considerably and by Tuesday afternoon we were confident that we could proceed with the test. The surface characteristics have changed, however, as a result of the new tarmac. Barcelona was previously renowned for having quite an abrasive surface but it is now relatively smooth so we may reconsider our compound choice for this circuit.”

Bridgestone brought approximately 1,000 tires comprising of 15 different dry weather specifications to the Spanish circuit outside Barcelona this week, where both Schumacher and Barrichello methodically worked their way through the set tire programs. Concentrating on construction and compound performance, Bridgestone’s aim was to take its initial findings from the pre-Christmas tests one step further.
“During the course of the previous tests last November and December, we established a good basis of understanding about the strength and durability characteristics that would be required from our tires this year following the regulation changes. This week we were able to test the tires which had been manufactured as a result of those tests. Concentrating on finding a high performing, durable tire, we completed several long runs this week and have been pleased with the data we have gathered,” concluded Suganuma. Bridgestone Motorsport continues its test program next week (28-30 Jan) with the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team at the Circuit de Catalunya, Spain. Bridgestone Motorsport

Webber: New tire will bring excitment Webber: New tire will bring excitmentIn 2005, teams will be limited to two sets of tires per GP weekend. According to BMW WilliamsF1 Team driver Mark Webber, this will increase excitement. Webber believes that the drivers will have to get used to the totally new conditions posed by the tire rule. "It is going to need a different type of mentality from the drivers - both in terms of how you approach qualifying and the race," said the Australian, "Now there will be lots of pressure all the way through." Tire compounds will be harder in 2005 compared to previous years, and grip will decrease accordingly. This could well lead to drivers making mistakes at decisive stages of a race. An increase in overtaking action is therefore highly likely. Furthermore, Mark is convinced that drivers will focus more on a reasonable race strategy rather than pushing all the way throughout the full Grand Prix distance. "You are going to have to use a bit of ‘grey matter’ and the races this year will not be over, until they are over," concluded the Williams driver. BMW WilliamsF1 Team
An interview with Willy Rampf An interview with Willy RampfThe new C24 has become the first car to have been entirely designed at the Sauber team's wind tunnel site in Hinwil. This posed a considerable challenge to Technical Director Willy Rampf and his team, especially as the regulations that apply in the forthcoming season had changed significantly.

The following is an interview conducted with the Swiss based squad’s major sponsor, Credit Suisse....

Are expectations regarding the car higher because of the new wind tunnel?
Definitely. Especially as we had already made considerable improvements to the old car last season thanks to the wind tunnel. The rollout last weekend showed promising results. But we'll only know how the car measures up against its rivals after the first Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Is there now greater pressure on the team to succeed?
From the outside we don't really feel any greater pressure. We generate this pressure ourselves. There's a healthy tension in the team – everyone is doing their utmost to carry the progress achieved last year over to the new season.

How has the new wind tunnel affected the way you work?
The largest single benefit is no doubt geographical. Our aerodynamics engineers no longer have to travel to Emmen in canton Lucerne, the site of our old wind tunnel. Now they can just go downstairs one floor to work on the model. Moreover, the wind tunnel yields very precise results, which is important in a field where small changes can have a large effect.

The new regulations have a huge impact on the cars' aerodynamics. What is going to change?
The front wing is raised by 50 millimeters, the rear wing is moved forward by 150 millimeters, and the height of the diffuser is now limited to 125 millimeters. Besides, the auxiliary wings in front of the rear wheels will look different in future.

To what extent will these new regulations slow down the cars?
The measures will lower the downforce by 25 to 30 percent. This will reduce speed especially in bends and during braking, and should result in a loss of 2.5 to 3 seconds per lap. So we'll have to see how we can regain a part of the lost downforce.

Could the new regulations change the established order in Formula One racing?
They could well lead to greater shifts in team standings than in the past.

So Sauber Petronas could make a leap forward?
This is no doubt possible. Our aim must be to continue with the progress we have been making. This won't be easy, since we'll have to beat at least one of the five major works teams and at the same time keep the heavily funded Toyota team in check.

Like last year, you will be receiving the latest version of the Ferrari engine. Nevertheless, Sauber will hardly manage to draw level with the Italians. Doesn't the engine play such a big role in Formula One racing?
It does, but the aerodynamics and the tires are far more important.

Assuming the impossible happened and you suddenly found yourself at a par with Ferrari. How would they react in Maranello?
They'd be surprised, for sure... But it would have no influence on our cooperation. Ferrari is a highly trustworthy partner and would continue to supply us with flawless engines.

Formula One is a tough scene. You are now about to embark on your ninth season. What keeps you going personally?
I love the competition, which is carried out not just between 20 drivers, but also between 1,000 engineers. After each race I know exactly whether I've done a good job or not. This immediacy is incredibly stimulating.

Industry News
Delphi announces more loses Delphi announces more losesA combination of higher steel, oil and health-care costs with lower sales and production at General Motors Corp. pushed auto supplier Delphi Corp. to lose money the last three months of 2004 and for the full year.

This marks the second year in a row Delphi has lost money and reflects a growing sense of dismay among the Detroit automotive community, which is bracing for slowdowns at automaker and supplier plants across the country.

Those same factors of rising commodity costs and declining production at U.S. auto-assembly plants have already prompted GM, Ford Motor Co. and suppliers like Delphi to offer bleak assessments for the first half of 2005. Delphi, the world's largest auto supplier and a maker of such products as steering equipment and electronic parts, already predicts it will lose $200 million in 2005, more than it lost in 2003 and 2004 combined.

"There are a lot of challenges out there for the auto industry this coming year, especially in the first half. This looks like it will be a tough year for a number of the suppliers, especially those that get a lot of business from the big two of GM and Ford," said Martin King, auto-supplier analyst for Standard & Poor's, a New York credit-rating agency.

"It got tough when this last summer the automakers didn't sell as many trucks as they expected. That caused inventories to get built up, and now these production cuts, which hurts both automakers and suppliers," said King, who late last year downgraded Delphi's credit rating to junk-bond status.  More at Detroit Free Press

Industry News
Ozarks Area Racers Reunion Ozarks Area Racers ReunionThe official start to racing in the Midwest begins next weekend at the 18th annual Ozarks Area Racers Reunion in Springfield, Missouri at the Shrine Mosque. 8 new selected inductees will be honored for their outstanding achievements in area auto racing in the Legends and Pioneer divisions. Their special recognition will come before a crowd of their own peers and fellow racers from area race tracks.

Also recognized for the evening will be the champions of the Springfield Raceway, Wheatland Raceway, Dallas County Speedway, I-44 Speedway, Bolivar Speedway and Monett Speedway in our "Salute to the Champions". Making a return visit as the special guest is former Missourian and NASCAR racer Carl Edwards. His visit last year was talked about all year long by those that had the chance of meeting and hearing him. He is one of the most focused talents on the NASCAR circuit today, NASCAR has compared him to a young Jeff Gordon and there has also been early predictions of him being the one to watch in the Daytona 500.

This year receiving top honors for the night will be Dale Roper, Lloyd Tabor, Charlie Johnson, Earl Muilenburg, Jack Drussa, Grover Stottlemyre, Roy Thomas, and Milt Thompson. They will become the newest inductees on the "Wall of Fame" a permanent monument at the former Fairgrounds Speedway. Their roles in area racing is what has kept and made stock car racing the sport it is today.

For the last four decades 2 of this years inductees refused to lose, and refused to quit. Dale Roper of Fair Grove, Mo. and Earl Muilenburg of Sparta continued wheeling lap after lap behind their Modifieds, chasing the checkers and leading the pack. Roper picked up his last championship 3 years ago at the age of 65. While he calls himself retired from racing he still carries a helmet bag almost everywhere he goes. Muilenburg also in his 60's can still be found with his foot on the racing pedal, and heading to the front in the number 39 Modified.

This year also sees two open wheel racers with many nominating votes. The late Jack Drussa of Springfield, Mo and the late Roy Thomas also of Springfield. Drussa had a special touch with 4 cylinder Midgets, what was once considered the premier class of racing, years ago. Thomas was also a racer of tight cockpits and short wheelbases as he made several laps himself but in a much larger Sprint Car, opting to be more of an owner than a driver in the latter years. His recognition in his sport got one of the largest sponsors names on his equipment after watching his abilities. It was none other than STP. Charlie Johnson of Miller, Mo. and Lloyd Tabor made laps many nights at the Speedways. Johnson picked up his first championship in 1992 it was a long awaited championship as Johnson had been the runner up for championship titles 9 other times in his life. Tabor had the love for racing himself picking up countless wins in his 34 years of racing, sadly his life would be cut short after competing in a race at the Lake of the Ozarks Speedway in 1982.

Two of the best car owners to come from around here included Milt Thompson of Springfield and Grover Stottlemyre of Bolivar. Thompson wanted only the best, to drive the best and his association of John Kindig and Willie Crane got the job done numerous times. Stottlemyre considered Bolivar his home track since his business was at the entry of the Speedway. Many a night fans would watch the celebrations for the Truck Harbor / Foremost cars of Grover Stottlemyre's.

Along with the awards activities will be 1000's of pictures of racing from the past. New Race Cars for the 2005 season and Various Vendor booths. The Doors open at 4:00 p.m. for the public with an autograph session planned at 5:00 p.m. The awards ceremonies is planned for 7:00 p.m. Food will be served downstairs. Advance Tickets can be purchased at all area O'Reilly Auto Parts, Kaleidoscope, Greene County Freight and Food Sales and the Shrine Mosque $15.00 in advance for adults, $20.00 at the event, Under 12 $8.00

Both Fernandez and Rice to marry Both Fernandez and Rice to marryUPDATE Buddy Rice will marry on November 5th, after the 2005 IRL season is over. 01/12/05 Adrian Fernandez plans to marry Catarina Maya in her native Colombia March 11th.
IRL newspaper ads wasted money IRL newspaper ads wasted moneyThere were half page ads in a local entertainment paper in Florida touting IRL testing at Homestead Miami Speedway and the free Fan Fest.  The Open House/Fan Fest was sparsely attended.  We would estimate there were about 200 people there at noon for the "Free" event.
Schuey called a Tax Dodger Schuey called a Tax DodgerMichael Schumacher has come under fire from German politicians for donating millions to the tsunami disaster fund instead of paying taxes at home.  Franz Muentefering, head of the Social Democrats, said: "I don’t like it when someone who donates €7.5m (£5.2m) doesn’t pay taxes."  Speaking on TV station N24, the politician said he prefers it when people "who clearly have very little" decide to donate "50 cents or €2" - but still pay their taxes.  But the racing driver denied he was a tax dodger. "It isn’t correct that I don’t pay taxes in Germany. But everyone has the right to express their opinions," he said.
PanAmerican Series names Chief Steward PanAmerican Series names Chief StewardThe New PanAm Racing Championship continues to gain momentum, as it accelerates toward the commencement of the 2005 Season. PanAm2000 will be one of the support races at the Canadian Grand Prix with Formula 1. Mr. Erasmos Saliti has been appointed Chief Steward of the PanAm Formula Renault Series.
Monteiro is Autosport’s driver of the year Monteiro is Autosport’s driver of the yearFor the second time in his career Tiago Monteiro has received the prize for driver of the year from the Portuguese weekly magazine Autosport. After winning the award in 2002, the driver from Porto once again was elected this year, and picked up the prize last night in Lisbon in the event to commemorate the car of the year and the launch of the new Autosport newspaper, now with a new look. This prize is awarded by the magazine’s readers and by fans of the sport, as it is the public which votes, so this again shows the enormous prestige that Tiago Monteiro enjoys amongst motor racing lovers and the recognition that the public has of his career, which has taken him through such a variety of races such as the Formula 3, Formula 3000, Indy Car, World Series by Nissan, to only mention the most recent.

Behind this victory are the excellent results Tiago Monteiro has achieved in his début season in the World Series by Nissan, where he managed to win five races besides another four podium appearances, as well as the results of the tests he made with the Minardi F1 Team, where the Portuguese driver’s performance were widely praised. At a stage when he is looking to get the backing which will allow him to enter the Formula 1 through Jordan, this prize may provide an extra boost and help him to achieve his goals to enter the “Great Circus”.

“I am very grateful to the people who voted for me, so that I could come here today to receive Autosport magazine’s Prize for Driver of the Year for the second time, an award which bears great prestige and which I am very honored to receive. This is also a recognition of my work in 2004,” stated Tiago Monteiro happily.

Hubbert urges teams not to sign with Ecclestone Hubbert urges teams not to sign with EcclestoneJurgen Hubbert, the boss of the Grand Prix World Championship, the automobile makers' alliance designed to get a better deal in Formula 1 racing, has urged the Formula 1 teams not to sign the deal being offered to them by Bernie Ecclestone until they have heard what the GPWC has to offer. A meeting is planned for the end of February to show the teams the figures that the GPWC is going to be offering and Hubbert says it will be a better deal than that on offer from Bernie Ecclestone. Ferrari is believed to have been offered a $100m payment to sign up with Ecclestone and (probably) a percentage of the profits after that. The other teams will not be offered anything like that kind of a deal but will be forced to accept the situation unless they unite and are willing to stand up against Ecclestone, Ferrari and the FIA.

"Ferrari's wish to extend the agreement until 2012 has no impact on the current commercial arrangements," Hubbert said. "I am confident that GPWC can demonstrate that it can create an environment of fairness for our sport, different from that which appears to result from Ferrari's unilateral decision to enter into a private agreement with the commercial rights holder and the FIA."

The idea of a breakaway series without Ferrari is hard to imagine because everyone knows that this would create a split that would do the sport enormous damage. They have only to look to America to see the destruction of open-wheeler racing since the CART-IRL split in 1997 which has allowed NASCAR to become the dominant force in motor sport in the United States.

If the other nine teams do stick together and go for a deal with the GPWC it would force Ecclestone, Ferrari and the FIA to either look again at the arrangements or to try to start building up other teams to take the place of the names like Williams and McLaren in 2008. Unfortunately, this policy is unlikely to be very successful as the World Championship would have ! little credibility if all the best teams bar Ferrari were racing elsewhere.

The other thing which must be taken into account is the fact that Bernie Ecclestone has still got to hold on to his control of the Formula One group of companies in the face of a concerted legal attack by three banks which hold 75% of the shares of the Formula One Holdings company and are demanding voting power in line with that level of ownership. The banks and the GPWC could still get together and form an alliance aimed at getting Ecclestone out of the Formula One group by agreeing a long-term financing scheme which would pay the banks the money they want from the sport and at the same time ensure that there is no split in F1. The outcome of this strategy is dependent on the law courts in England and while these are slow there will come a point at which Ecclestone must prove his case or accept that the banks have a right to call the shots. Thus far the courts have ruled in favor of the banks. Grandprix.com
Homestead oval test quotes Homestead oval test quotesPOST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I wasn't surprised by the car's performance. We were on the pole here last year, but we have a new engineer in Tim Reiter on my team. Tim is very experienced and has been the technical director for the team for several years. I like working with him. We were able to go through a lot of things on the chassis and setups. I'm pleased with today's running and I know we learned a lot about the new Panoz. It feels good. We have some work to do on the road course settings, but I'm anxious to get to Phoenix to test the short-oval chassis. We were good on the 1.5-mile to 2.5-mile ovals last year, but I want to get that kind of confidence in our short-oval setup too. It feels good to start the year with a solid program and knowing that we'll have the proper backing and equipment to chase the championship. Last year, I wasn't sure how long I would drive with Kenny's injuries, and now with the long-term contract, I am excited."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "It was fun. We had a good day. I knew getting back on the oval that this kind of car would be strong. I got comfortable right away and we worked through some setup issues and saved some tires for the end there. In traffic, we could go wherever we want. It's just a testament to Fernandez team."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I thought the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car was pretty good today. This race will be won in traffic, so we worked a lot in those conditions. We definitely have to keep working. I enjoyed driving on the road course and the oval here at Homestead. We just need to find a little bit more speed, but overall it was a very productive test."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "The car in the morning was good, but in the afternoon, I think we had engine trouble. My teammate Scott (Sharp) did very good and both cars are in the top five, so I think it's a good sign for the first race. I think we have a good chance here."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I knew it was going to be fast on the oval. We have a fast car. I am inexperienced at running in the pack and with pit stops. That will hold us back right now. The day went really well for our crew. I wanted to get up to speed and learn the different grooves. I know I have a lot to learn with the IndyCar (Series car), but Rahal Letterman team is a great organization and work well together. On the oval, a half tenth of a second is a lot in this series, and then you get into traffic and lose a second or two. It is a rhythm thing a lot of time. Overall, it was a very good start for me with the team. I have been with the operation for several years and that helps me in knowing the crews. Now, we will go back to the shop and look over all of the data. Then we'll get ready for the test in Phoenix. I hope the next test goes as well as today."

Buddy Rice fastest on Homestead oval Buddy Rice fastest on Homestead ovalDefending Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice topped the speed chart on the final day of the IRL IndyCar® Series Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Rice, who claimed the MBNA Pole Award for the 2004 Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, recorded a lap of 24.9165 seconds, 214.539 mph, in his No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda-powered Panoz. Scott Sharp posted the second-fastest lap of the day in the No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone at 24.9528 seconds, 214.244 mph. Dan Wheldon was third-fastest in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone with a lap of 24.9814 seconds, 213.998 mph. Sharp’s teammate, Kosuke Matsuura, was fourth on the chart at 213.920 mph in the No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz/Honda/Firestone.

Twenty car/driver combinations turned 3,099 incident-free laps on the variably banked 1.5-mile oval before rain ended the session early. The next Indy Racing League event is an Open Test at Phoenix International Raceway on Feb. 8-10. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series will test on the 1-mile oval on Feb. 8. The IndyCar Series will test on Feb. 9-10.

Rahal Letterman Racing’s Danica Patrick was impressive (fifth on the chart in the afternoon session at 213.880 mph) in her first exposure to running in groups in an IndyCar Series car.

“I have faith in the car, but I need to make sure that I’m comfortable in it,” said Patrick, who topped the list of first-year competitors. “It’s just a building process. This is the first time I’ve run on a big oval with cars so I’m fairly pleased with how I’m adapting. I know the car will be fast, the team is good and it has fast cars, and it’s up to me to learn for when the race comes.

“When you’re looking for hundredths of a second out there, it doesn’t mean too much when you lift and lose two seconds.”

Best laps for the other newcomers: Ryan Briscoe (Chip Ganassi Racing, 212.576); Tomas Enge (Panther Racing; 212.033) and Patrick Carpentier (Red Bull Cheever Racing; 212.206).

Pos No Driver Name Best Time Best Speed Best Lap Total Laps
1 15 Buddy Rice 24.9185 214.539 64 114
2 8 Scott Sharp 24.9528 214.244 169 173
3 26 Dan Wheldon 24.9816 213.998 151 168
4 55 Kosuke Matsuura 24.9906 213.920 60 203
5 16 Danica Patrick 24.9953 213.880 98 190
6 11 Tony Kanaan 25.0325 213.562 76 142
7 4 Tomas Scheckter 25.0341 213.549 81 137
8 7 Bryan Herta 25.0360 213.533 71 140
9 17 Vitor Meira 25.0487 213.424 41 110
10 3 Helio Castroneves 25.1016 212.974 127 189
11 27 Dario Franchitti 25.1149 212.862 41 118
12 6 Sam Hornish Jr. 25.1182 212.834 48 145
13 33 Ryan Briscoe 25.1486 212.576 51 208
14 83 Patrick Carpentier 25.1925 212.206 101 152
15 2 Tomas Enge 25.2131 212.033 103 165
16 9 Scott Dixon 25.2272 211.914 88 194
17 10 Darren Manning 25.2883 211.402 54 128
18 24 Roger Yasukawa 25.3219 211.122 86 144
19 51 Alex Barron 25.4398 210.143 56 127
20 14 A.J. Foyt IV 25.4934 209.701 146 152

Fans won't recognize the place Fans won't recognize the placeA reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com,  When fans visit Daytona International Speedway for any of the upcoming 2005 events, they are going to have a hard time recognizing the historic infield of the "World Center of Racing". Below are sketches of the new infield. Many new infield additions including waterfront parking with docks and a boardwalk, new garage areas for the racing teams, uniquely designed FanZone that offers entertainment for all ages, a new Gatorade Victory Lane that includes "The Daytona 500 Club" buffet and bar area, and a new state of the art tunnel for easy access to the infield by team transports and guest specialty vehicles. Rod, Orlando, FL.


No. 98 switches to No. 34 No. 98 switches to No. 34Denver, NC based MACH 1, Inc announced today that they have officially changed their car number for the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup season. MACH 1 ran the #98 in 2004, they will display #34 as their car number in 2005. The team was issued #98 last year by NASCAR. The team ran into logistical issues when the owner of the #98, Winston Cup Champion Bill Elliott competed in Cup races where MACH 1 was also entered. MACH 1 ran the #96 at races where Elliott entered his car. "The change between #98 and #96 confused a lot of folks last year. I received questions from friends, sponsors and even officials when we had to switch numbers. I'm glad we don't have to deal with that issue this year. NASCAR has already transferred my owner points from last year over to #34," stated team owner Chris Edwards. MACH 1 remained in the top 10 on the speed chart at the conclusion of NASCAR Preseason Thunder test for the Cup teams at Daytona. Randy LaJoie posted a lap of 48.588 seconds, for 185.231 mph securing the seventh best time out of the 54 teams who tested. Chris Edwards commented "We made a number of changes during the off season in an effort to improve our program. I'm encouraged with the results I have seen, especially around our test session at Daytona". MACH 1 PR
GPWC blowing more smoke GPWC blowing more smokeMercedes Benz's Jurgen Hubbert, the boss of the Grand Prix World Championship (GPWC), has urged the other 9 Formula 1 teams not to sign the deal being offered to them by Bernie Ecclestone until they have heard what the GPWC has to offer. "Ferrari's wish to extend the agreement until 2012 has no impact on the current commercial arrangements," Hubbert said. "I am confident that GPWC can demonstrate that it can create an environment of fairness for our sport, different from that which appears to result from Ferrari's unilateral decision to enter into a private agreement with the commercial rights holder and the FIA."

As we said, it is Mercedes, Ron Dennis and a few other of their cohorts that are behind this GPWC.  They still don't realize they lost.  Without Ferrari, F1 is nothing.  They can try their breakaway series, but it will fail.  Bernie Ecclestone now has Ferrari in their back pocket.  It's over, end of story.

According to a report in The Times newspaper on Friday, Ecclestone is demanding that the other teams extend the agreement by the end of February or forfeit their share of a $500 million sweetener.   Team bosses and Ecclestone, whose Formula One companies are embroiled in legal action with shareholder banks, are due to meet in London next Tuesday before more talks with FIA president Max Mosley on Friday.

Why did Ferrari sign up and betray the remaining 9 teams?  Because they betrayed Ferrari when they met in private regarding testing limitations and came to an agreement.  They excluded Ferrari.  Ferrari felt slighted and they were.  By signing the agreement with Ecclestone, in effect, Ferrari got 1) all the revenge they needed, and 2) a far better commercial deal from Bernie than all the other 9 teams will get.  As they say, he who laughs last, laughs loudest.

Schuey back in action at Barcelona, but where? Schuey back in action at Barcelona, but where?UPDATE #2 Fidel Sust, General Manager of the Circuit de Catalunya, is “happy about the four test days on the Circuit’s new tarmac. The lap times achieved by both Bridgestone and Michelin users, the lack of incidents and the amount of kilometres done by the teams at Catalunya confirm the quality and adequate grip of the new tarmac."  "The teams confirmed their satisfaction and made us some suggestions to complete the delicate and demanding task of re-asphalting the track. From Monday on, McLaren will do some private tests with their new single-seater, Ferrari and Sauber will start testing on January 28th and almost all the teams will test from the 15th until the 18th February, just before the F1 championship starts in Melbourne.” 01/17/05 Although it appeared last night that Williams, Ferrari and Toyota would also be abandoning the test, there now appears to be a change of heart. The teams are likely to see how running at Barcelona goes on Tuesday before making a decision about the rest of the week. A Toyota spokesman said: “Although the recent resurfacing of the track has greatly reduced grip levels we will have to race there for the Spanish GP in May and the track will rubber in over time. We believe it is better to get on with our work as early as possible. We will however reassess the situation once we see how things are progressing.” The newly laid asphalt at the Circuit de Catalunya has oil seeping through the surface on Saturday. The surface was so bad that, with lap-times almost 20 seconds off the ideal, BAR decided to switch its effort to Valencia after its car launch on Sunday, while Sauber abandoned its switch from Valencia to Barcelona. Renault has moved to Valencia.  No word on what Red Bull will do.  In part from Autosport.com  01/16/05 Ferrari's seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher was scheduled to return to the track Tuesday for his first Formula One test since the end of last season.  However, that test has been cancelled due to track problems.  Champions Ferrari said the 36-year-old, now the oldest driver in Formula One, would report for work at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya after an extended winter break following the October 24 season-ender in Brazil.  “Every winter I notice how much I love racing and how much I miss it,” the German said this week. “It's time to finally start again.”  Ferrari is now trying to find an alternate test venue, with Fiorano always being a possibility.
How to annoy a Formula 1 banker How to annoy a Formula 1 bankerBernie Ecclestone has tried to sidestep the three banks which control Formula One Holdings, the parent company of the Formula One group. According to The Economist magazine, two weeks after the High Court decided in favor of the banks in December, Formula One Administration increased its share capital and gave Ecclestone 50% of the voting shares in the company. This cost Ecclestone £1 ($1.90).

The share issue reduced FOH's holding in FOA to 50% and so wiped out the power which had been won in the High Court. The Economist says that the aim of the move was to undermine the banks' case that the articles of association of Bambino Holdings be changed so that the company could not limit the number of directors of FOA, a maneuver which gave Ecclestone control of the business in 2002, despite the fact that the banks held 75% of the shares of the business.

If the articles of association were changed, the banks could then take control of FOA but the new share issue would seem to override this case. However, it looks as though the banks have launched another lawsuit to stop the FOA share issue, which The Economist described as being "highly questionable". A new legal action began on January 5 and we believe that this is what came to court earlier this week, although details remain secret at the moment.

These complex dealings are certainly not designed to win any friends in the banking circles and one would expect that if anything it will stiffen the resolve of the financial men to get Ecclestone out of the business and get control of the empire. That may take time but Bernie is now going to have to do a lot of talking to stop the banks going for his throat.

The disputes leave open the possibility that the banks will decide that they do not want Ecclestone running the business and would therefore be happy to give the GPWC a role in the running of the business once they win control of the business. Grandprix.com
HVM announces plans for 2-car 2005 team HVM announces plans for 2-car 2005 teamWith a new name and a new look, HVM will return fielding a two-car entry in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.  HVM Co-Owner and Managing Director Keith Wiggins commented on the 2005 plans, “as a race team we are the same group, continuing to develop and improve, but for the first time since we began in 2001, we have the advantage of technical continuity going into a second year.”  He continued, “From a business perspective it will be a change of identity for the first time since 2001, with new sponsors joining the development of the company.  This is an exciting period going forward.”

Mario Dominguez, who finished fifth in the 2004 Championship will return for his fourth year in the series as the driver of the #55 Ford/Cosworth/Lola.  “I am really excited for the 2005 season.  We made several technical changes within the team before the 2004 season.  With a year of continuity, I look forward to continuing our rise in the Championship and racing for the title. I’ve been training hard in the off-season, especially with my shifter kart and I’ve got all of the tools, a dedicated, energetic team along with a very strong technical program, I am looking forward to this season more than ever.”

The team is currently organizing a test involving several drivers for the #4 car.   Led by Team Manager Vince Kremer and Technical Director Tom Brown, the traditional arduous work ethic of the HVM team remains the same.  Engineers Will Phillips (car 4) and Michael Cannon (car 55) will continue, as will Crew Chiefs Mark Mason (4) and Darryl Fox (55).  HVM is finalizing its sponsorship group and will announce further details as they become available.

Molson lands Champ Car TV producer deal Molson lands Champ Car TV producer dealUPDATE We should note that this deal is yet another big shot in the arm for Champ Car, as Molson Sports and Entertainment does sports right. 01/21/05 The Champ Car World Series will turn to one of the most experienced sports production companies in all of North America to produce the broadcasts of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford in 2005, naming Molson Sports & Entertainment Inc. to produce the television package for the 2005 Champ Car World Series season. Molson Sports & Entertainment has produced the world feed for the Champ Car World Series events in Canada in recent seasons, providing the world with all of the turbocharged racing action from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

"I'm delighted that Molson Sports & Entertainment and Champ Car have agreed to extend our motorsport partnership to include the broadcast of the series," stated Jo Ann McArthur, President, Molson Sports & Entertainment Inc. "Our team will utilize years of live broadcast experience to bring the Champ Car television viewer closer to the racing action."

Along with providing first-rate coverage of Champ Car action, Molson Sports & Entertainment live broadcasts have included National Hockey League season games, Stanley Cup Championship Series, World Championship Boxing, Major League Baseball, Triple A Baseball, National Lacrosse League, CFL Football, Arena Football, North American Soccer League, CPGA Golf, Men's and Women's Professional Tennis, Major Junior Hockey League, Offshore Powerboat Racing and Equestrian events.

"Our primary concern heading into the 2005 season was to find a way to improve the scope and quality of our television broadcasts," said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. "Our new agreement with Molson Sports & Entertainment will provide our fans around the world with first-class coverage of Champ Car racing at every event. Combining Molson Sports & Entertainment's production with our new multi-year network deals with NBC and CBS, as well as live European coverage with Eurosport and Eurosport 2, we believe we are giving our fans one of the strongest television packages available."

Molson Sports & Entertainment's Champ Car program will be headed by Director of Broadcast Operations Claude Briere, who will work closely with Senior Manager of Broadcast Operations Jim Wilkes.

"We take great pride in being selected by Champ Car to produce the live broadcasts for the series," said Briere. "We are confident in taking this challenge based on our experience and expertise in live television coverage of major sporting events. Just like in racing, the key to success in live television is hard work and a dedicated team."

The 2005 Champ Car World Series season gets underway April 10 with the 22nd running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, an event that will be covered live on NBC.
IRL implements cost-saving measures IRL implements cost-saving measuresThere is some give and take with the IRL IndyCar® Series' foray into non-oval racing in 2005 with the goal of containing update kit costs for participants.  “The Indy Racing League was founded on the operating principles of equipment availability, cost controls, and equipment specifications designed for close, competitive racing,” IRL president and CEO Brian Barnhart said. “This update kit reflects a continuation of those founding philosophies.”

The bulk of the costs associated with the update kit are needed to complete the program that will allow the current generation of IndyCar Series chassis to run on road courses.  Chassis manufacturers Dallara and Panoz each submitted a list of spec parts needed to complete the program. Among the elements which include updated parts are the suspension, brakes, steering, oil system and front wing. The cost associated for those parts has been capped at $65,000.

Cars will race on all ovals in the same configuration introduced at the 88th Indianapolis 500 last May with minimal aerodynamic changes. The changes, limited to specified areas of the underwing and sidepods, will be made to Dallara and Panoz chassis to compensate for the modifications made before Indianapolis. The costs associated with those changes are capped at $10,500.

In addition, cost-reducing changes have been made to the transmission of the IndyCar Series car. The IRL has increased the number of spec parts in the transmission, which will allow teams to eliminate a number of lightweight parts which had to be purchased on receipt of a new transmission assembly.

In addition, a spec differential will also be produced for the road courses. The cost associated with transmission parts has been capped at $11,000.  The elements for the brake package, which include aluminum brake calipers and steel brake rotors and pads, have been capped at $4,500.  “The update kit completes the project of making our cars road-course ready for 2005 and 2006,” Barnhart said. “We may change wing angles or make other minor changes as it is deemed appropriate, but right now, we don’t anticipate that.”

Dollar General to sponsor LaJoie Dollar General to sponsor LaJoieDollar General today signed a deal to serve as the primary sponsor for Frank Cicci Racing with Jim Kelly’s No. 34 Busch Series Chevy, driven by Randy LaJoie. The sponsorship is the first major sports sponsorship for the retailer, and the No. 34 car also has sponsorship deals with several of Dollar General’s vendors like Polaroid Alkaline Batteries, Clorox, Unilever and Gillette Dollar General
NASCAR presence on NBC Auto Show telecast NASCAR presence on NBC Auto Show telecastNBC will broadcast live coverage of the Int’l Auto Show Sunday at 1:00pm ET, and NASCAR’s presence in the telecast will be heavy. “NASCAR on NBC” broadcast team Allen Bestwick, Benny Parsons and Bill Weber will host the coverage, while pit reporters Dave Burns and Marty Snider will cover the showroom floor. NBC's broadcast will be the first time live coverage of the Auto Show has aired on U.S. network TV.

NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton will help unveil the ’06 Chevy Monte Carlo. Gordon also will test drive the new Corvette. Ford NASCAR drivers Kurt Busch and Elliott Sadler will test drive the new Mustang, and Richard Petty will join Kasey Kahne and Jeremy Mayfield in unveiling the new Dodge Charger, which will return to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series this year.

MEDIAWEEK reports that automotive sponsors of the broadcast include General Motors, Chrysler, Ford and Porsche, but other non-automotive advertisers have bought in. Each car sponsor “will receive billboard mentions throughout the show, three or four 30-second spots, and on-air promos” MEDIAWEEK

IRL road course qualifying rules IRL road course qualifying rulesA unique and entertaining road course qualifying procedure, which essentially begins when cars hit the track, highlights several IRL IndyCar® Series rule changes announced by Indy Racing League officials. Unlike the 14 oval events, each practice will play a key role in determining the starting field at the three road and street course events on the 2005 schedule.  All entered cars will participate in the initial practice session of the race weekend with times determining the two groups that will be used in the remaining pre-qualifying sessions.

Friday practice times will also determine the event qualifying order, with the driver posting the fastest combined time from the first day of practice having the option of driving first or last in single-lap qualifying.  At the conclusion of single-lap qualifying, the fastest six cars will participate in a 10-minute, European-style session to determine the first three rows.

"We're excited about this unique qualifying format for our road course events in 2005," said Brian Barnhart, president of the Indy Racing League. "The format will allow our drivers to showcase the speed, drama and all-out competition of the IndyCar Series."

In addition to the qualifying procedure, several other rules apply only at the road/street races.

The mandatory minimum weight of cars will be 1,600 pounds, 75 pounds heavier than the oval minimum weight. The additional weight is attributed to the brake system, which will consist of an aluminum brake caliper, steel rotor and pad as specified by the IRL, as well as the limited slip differential in the gearbox.

Several technical changes have been made in an effort to further contain costs, level the playing field and increase the safety of IndyCar® Series cars. The changes include:

  • A mandated switch to the single-point re-fueling systems used by some teams in 2004. The IRL has only approved one type of fueling probe and buckeye, and these only work as a single-point system. In the approved system, two hoses coming from the storage tank will combine at the fueling mechanism handled by the fueler. The crew member previously responsible for the operation of the vent and jack is now free to operate only the jack.
  • Cars will race on all ovals in the same configuration introduced at the 88th Indianapolis 500 in May 2004 with minimal aerodynamic changes. The changes will be limited to specified areas of the underwing and sidepods. The IRL will require teams to use the same engine cover as last year without modification.
  • Teams will be allowed to change engines prior to qualifying without penalty at the following events, which are scheduled to be three-day events: Homestead, St. Petersburg, Motegi, Texas, Milwaukee, Infineon, Watkins Glen and California.
  • The amount of methanol teams may have in their trackside tanks has been changed. Teams are allowed to carry 85 gallons for 187.5-mile races, 90 gallons for 200-mile events, 100 gallons for 225-mile events, 125 gallons for 260-mile races, 135 gallons for 300-mile events, 175 gallons for 400-mile events and 225 gallons for 500-mile events.
Sauber wants a manufacturer Sauber wants a manufacturerPeter Sauber has conceded that his team will need the backing of a major manufacturer if they are to make a real impact in F1.  "Today in F1 we have a battle between the biggest car manufacturers worldwide," he told Autosport magazine. "It's normal that the budget goes up and, although that's not good for F1, there's no way to stop it.  They have the money and they spend it. It's our goal [to improve] but it's very difficult.  For many years I've spoken with different manufacturers - those already in F1 and outside.  Sooner or later we'll have to get together with a manufacturer." 
Wurz fastest in Valencia, Honda blows up again Wurz fastest in Valencia, Honda blows up againThe third and final day of testing at the Valencia circuit ended like the previous ones: a McLaren driver was the fastest once again. For the second time this week, Alex Wurz set the pace today. The Austrian finished in front of Fernando Alonso and Franck Montagny.  Lucky Strike BAR Honda continued testing the new BAR 007 at Valencia today, with Anthony Davidson taking his turn behind the wheel.   Despite reassurances that the Honda RA005E engine powering the car is both powerful and reliable, Davidson suffered an engine failure, as did Jenson Button earlier in the week.
1. Alex Wurz - McLaren Mercedes - 1'09"906 - 123 laps
2. Fernando Alonso - Renault - 1'10"688 - 109 laps
3. Franck Montagny - Renault - 1'11"186 - 82 laps
4. Felipe Massa - Sauber Petronas - 1'11"217 - 110 laps
5. Anthony Davidson - BAR Honda - 1'11"501 - 115 laps
6. Enrique Bernoldi - BAR Honda - 1'11"729 - 32 laps
Champ Car statement on Laguna Seca Champ Car statement on Laguna SecaWhat follows is a statement from the Champ Car World Series concerning today’s announcement that the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will not be running at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the 2005 season.  If used in print, the statement should be attributed to Champ Car Executive Vice-President of Development, Governmental Affairs and Planning Joe Chrnelich.

“Champ Car is very disappointed about not being able to continue our long history with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this season. Many of the legends of open-wheel racing have made their names with victories at Laguna Seca, and we regret having to exclude the track from our 2005 schedule due to issues of date conflicts and economic issues. It was a very difficult business decision that we had to make for the future health of the series.”

“The fans have always been supportive of the Champ Car World Series at Laguna Seca, and the fact that the track is not part of the 2005 series, does not mean that we are closed to the idea of returning to the venue in the future. General Manager Gill Campbell and her staff, as well as the people of SCRAMP, are quality promoters and have been a good partner. Champ Car will continue to work with Laguna Seca in the future to explore the prospects of a future return.”

Barrichello tops Friday times Barrichello tops Friday timesRubens Barrichello set the pace on the final day of testing this week at Barcelona. The Brazilian finished ahead of three Toyota drivers in action today. Barrichello completed 87 laps, his best in 1m16.131s. was a warm and sunny day at the circuit with air temperature reaching nineteen degrees Centigrade and the track around seventeen degrees. Toyota's race drivers, Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher were in action and finished third and fourth fastest in the new car while former race driver Olivier Panis was back behind the wheel managing 78 laps for the day's second fastest time.
Toyota test quotes from Barcelona Toyota test quotes from BarcelonaJarno, how have you found the conditions at Barcelona this week?
"The Barcelona circuit has changed a lot since they resurfaced the tarmac and at the start of the week we had a lot of problems getting used to the new asphalt. The grip level was very low, making it very slippery, and those problems continued for most of the week. In the end, the times people were able to record weren't as bad as some had feared, but it was still slower than before."

How productive has the test been?
"The conditions didn't improve enough during the week to make it possible to do much meaningful work on the performance of the TF105. In the cold mornings it is especially slippery, then as the sun comes out and the track cleans up the wind gets up too. Instead we concentrated on getting mileage under our belts, working on the reliability side of the new car. From that point of view things have gone pretty well."

Ralf, some teams decided not to test at Barcelona this week citing problems with the new tarmac. Why did Toyota stay on?
"The Circuit de Catalunya was very slippery to start with, and some teams made a decision not to test here as a result. But we thought it was better to stay here in order to get some running time at the circuit and find out about any problems we might encounter at the Spanish Grand Prix here in May. As it turned out, with quite a few cars running on the track, by about Thursday afternoon more rubber had gone down and the conditions became more reasonable."

How much progress has been made with the TF105 this week?
"We have not been able to make much progress with the TF105 because of the track conditions. However, we made good use of our time here to put mileage on the car, before a bit of tire testing on the last day. The most productive thing about the week was that we had some small reliability issues on my car, which we were able to find and cure early. That actually made the test very useful for us."

Olivier, you've been working on tires here at Barcelona. How has the new asphalt affected the way the tires work?
"It's been difficult to pick the best Michelin tires from our tire testing in Barcelona this week. Normally the track here is very aggressive from the point of view of graining, so you need hard tires. But this week because it has been very slippery we haven't had any graining and the track has suited softer tires more than usual. That in turn has made it difficult to find the right way to develop, but we still managed to find some good tires, which is positive."

You will also be testing here on Saturday - what is the plan?
"We have a wet tire test planned tomorrow, although I think the conditions here in the wet could make it very hard. It is already difficult to run in the dry here, so I expect it will be extremely difficult in the wet."

Rusty Wallace To Take One Last Crack at Daytona 500 Rusty Wallace To Take One Last Crack at Daytona 500Rusty Wallace has spent the last three days of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing preparing for his 23rd and final start in 47th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 20. The 48-year-old Wallace, who wheels the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske-South Racing and is competing in his final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season, desperately wants to put a victory in NASCAR's biggest, richest and most prestigious race on his resume. "I haven't won the Daytona 500. I got close many, many times," Wallace said during Thursday's lunch break. "I love to go into my final year knowing I've got a 500 under my belt. That would be a special feeling. What would be my ultimate thing this year would be to win the 500 and win the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That would be pretty hot if I could pull it off." Wallace, whose best finish in "The Great American Race" was a third-place run in 2001, is looking at every aspect of his car during this week's test session. "I can't think of anything we left unturned in two and a half days now," Wallace said. "We've worked harder these last two and a half days, just really getting down and trying to hunt for things. There have many things in the past, and I've said there's no speed there. We've turned over everything." Speedway PR
Pit Road Speeds to be electronically timed Pit Road Speeds to be electronically timedNextel Cup Series director John Darby says hardware for the pit road speeding system is being installed at racetracks and NASCAR hopes to have software perfected in time to use it at the Feb. 20 Daytona 500. NASCAR enforces speed limits on pit road to help protect crewmembers from being hit by cars. Teams have complained that the old monitoring system, which involved officials timing cars by hand with stopwatches, led to inconsistent and inaccurate enforcement. Darby says there wasn't anything wrong with the old system but NASCAR is changing at the teams' request. Under the old system, Darby says, officials had discretion to not penalize drivers who might have sped on pit road, for example, to avoid an accident. But with electronic monitoring, Darby says, officials have no choice but to make speeding penalties black and white, regardless of the circumstances. USA Today
Childress Team Member Leaves Childress Team Member LeavesNASCAR's controversial decision to allow liquor sponsorships has caused a popular personality in the garages to quit because of his religious convictions. David Smith, a former crew chief for the late Dale Earnhardt and team manager and pit crew coach for Richard Childress Racing, told Childress during the off-season that he couldn't work on a car backed by a liquor company. Last season, Childress teams were sponsored by AOL, Cingular and Goodwrench. When AOL dropped out, Jack Daniel's took the spot. "The absolute hardest part of this deal was to tell Richard that I was leaving after 25 years," said Smith, who in four decades has been a six-time all-pro jackman. I had a great job, the best anybody could ask for. I may never have a job as great as that again, but I'll have peace of mind from knowing that what I did was the right thing to do. That's worth more than money." Liquor sponsors Jack Daniel's, Jim Beam and Crown Royal will be prominent throughout the sport this season. Smith said his decision actually was made years ago when he gave up his wayward ways to become a Christian. "I trusted the Lord with my life, and He changed it around for me," Smith said. "I went to work for Richard in 1979 and told him when I went there that I'd work for him as long as he didn't have an alcohol or dirty magazine or gambling sponsorship on his car. And he was OK with that." Dave Blaney, who drives the #07sponsored by Jack Daniel's, said he's not much of a drinker, but he's proud to be associated with his sponsor. Childress said that although he and Smith are on different sides of the liquor issue he still respects him highly. "I've admired David Smith for years," Childress said. "I've always said I wish I could have been as strong a man as he was many, many years ago." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Homestead post-practice press conference Homestead post-practice press conferenceAn Interview With Scott Roembke, Vitor Meira and Dario Franchitti - Transcript
Williams Barcelona test summary Williams Barcelona test summaryThe BMW WilliamsF1 Team completed a three day test program at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona today. The team had three drivers on duty for the test, including Mark Webber, Nick Heidfeld and Antonio Pizzonia. In preparation for the season opener in Melbourne on 6th March, the team concentrated on the evaluation and development of components using the interim FW26C chassis. Despite various set-backs, the team recorded the fastest time of the day on Wednesday and covered over 1,560 kilometres over the three day period.

Tim Newton, Test Team Manager - “We experienced a couple of hindrances during the test this week in Barcelona. On the first day, Mark and Antonio had to get used to the new track surface, but both drivers still recorded some good mileage on the interim chassis while testing new parts for the FW27. On Wednesday, we suffered a technical problem with the suspension. Running was therefore put on hold while the problem was identified and until we had received some new parts from the factory. As a result, we had restricted running until Thursday afternoon when we were able to do some tire testing and carry out practice starts. We are now heading to Valencia for a three day test next week, starting on Tuesday with Nick and Antonio. In the meantime, everyone’s hard work, both at the track and at the factory, to solve the problem with the suspension quickly and effectively should be recognized.”

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director - "We didn’t have any problems with the engine during the Barcelona test this week. The team worked on the start set-up and traction control system with the drivers, we also practiced some working processes of a race weekend. In addition, we completed endurance testing of the engine. Our goal is to put the running time required for two Grand Prix weekends on as many engines as possible.“ BMW WilliamsF1 Team

Renault test summary Renault test summaryTesting continued at Valencia Thursday for the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team, with Fernando Alonso joining Franck Montagny for the Spaniard’s first test of 2005. Overall, the team had a successful day, although Alonso’s running was limited by technical difficulties. Fernando’s program focused on allowing him to acclimatize to the 2005 tires and downforce levels following his winter break. In spite of several stoppages, he was able to begin learning about the changes and will complete a more substantial program tomorrow to continue this work. Franck continued tire testing from yesterday, running a number of sets of tires to mileage on endurance runs of approximately thirty laps.

Christian Silk, Chief Test Engineer - “We had another very solid day of testing, in spite of the problems Fernando encountered. He was excited to be back in an F1 car, and has begun adapting to the revised characteristics of the car. As for Franck, he completed a marathon day on our tire testing program, and has once again found some very promising results to carry forward to our next test.” Renault

Haug blowing smoke Haug blowing smokeNorbert Haug fired off a warning to those heralding Ferrari's 2008-2012 'Concorde' deal with Bernie Ecclestone as the death knell for GPWC. Mercedes' sporting director said the Maranello-FOM-FIA accord 'changed nothing' in the mind of the other GPWC manufacturers, also including BMW and Renault. ''The GPWC will still work together with all other teams,'' said the German, ''on the future of F1 and the fairer distribution of the (sport's) income.'' BMW and Renault declined to comment. [Editor's Note: Haug, Dennis and the rest of the McLaren Mercedes crew were the chieftains behind the GPWC. They will go down kicking and screaming, but they will go down and Bernie will prevail. He always does.]
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Superstar to attend Oz GP
F1 doc to pull into slow lane
McLaren set for 2005 launch
Red Bull star in Spain
Ferrari debut Melbourne car
GP pest no longer a priest
Kiesa in surprise Minardi run
Michelin don't stand a chance
Barcelona's 'smoother'
'Honda's up to new task'
2005 Champ Car Rule Book 2005 Champ Car Rule BookUPDATE As we thought we heard was going to happen, section 9.9.1 of the 2005 rule book regarding Shock Absorbers reads - All systems in their entirety must be commercially available to all competitors.  There are no provisions in the new rule book for standing starts, so once again the fans, the paying customers, are cheated. Mark C. 01/20/05 Champ Car has published their 2005 Rule Book on their website. We have yet to review it but we heard a rumor that some changes might be forthcoming with regard to shock packages, whereby any shocks used must be available to all teams. Newman/Haas was said to have an advantage in this area in the past.
Industry News
Motorsports Hall of Fame Announces 2005 Inductees Motorsports Hall of Fame Announces 2005 InducteesNASCAR Champion Benny Parsons, Indianapolis 500 winner Tom Sneva and LeMans 24-Hour king Hurley Haywood will lead a group of nine racing greats into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America when the organization stages its annual induction ceremony on Thursday, August 18, 2005 at the State Theatre in Detroit.  Parsons, Sneva and Haywood will be enshrined along with drag racer Tommy Ivo, motorcyclist Jay Springsteen, powerboat racer Danny Foster, car owners/builders John Holman and Ralph Moody and 1952 Indy 500 winner Troy Ruttman.  The Class of 2005 will join the 126 racers already enshrined in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Connor fastest in IPS test Connor fastest in IPS testAmerican road racer Larry Connor of Centerville, Ohio drove a Menards Infiniti Pro Series car for the first time Tuesday and proceeded to record the fastest lap of the day for that series in a private test at Homestead-Miami Speedway here.  The Menards Infiniti Pro Series sessions were held as part of an Indy Racing League IndyCar Series open test.  Connor was invited to participate in the test, held on the facility's 2.21-mile road course, by Genoa Racing's owner, Angelo Ferro, and its engineer, Tom Knapp.  Both the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series and the Menards Infiniti Pro Series will race on road courses for the first time this year, and Connor's road-racing expertise was very helpful to the team.  "They invited me to shake down the car and see what it was like to drive on a road course," Connor said.  "I did about 130 miles.  The cars were better than what I thought they'd be.  The handling was reasonably good, and it has a good powerplant. I had a real favorable impression, and I may do some selected road course events in that series later this year."  Of the 14 events on the Menards Infiniti Pro Series schedule for 2005, three will be held on road courses and one is slated for a street course.  The road course events will be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in June during the United States Grand Prix weekend; at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. on Aug. 28; and at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. on Sept. 25.  The street-course event is slated for St. Petersburg, Fla. on April 3. Before he has any more open-wheel action Connor will drive in the most prestigious endurance sports car race in North America, the Rolex 24, on Feb. 5-6 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.  He'll share the Mears Motor Coach Riley Pontiac No. 6 fielded by Michael Shank Racing with co-drivers Duncan Dayton, Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr. in that event.  The team competes in the top class, Daytona Prototype.
Tomas Enge to race in Europe too Tomas Enge to race in Europe tooIRL rookie driver Tomas Enge will be doing more than just drive in the IRL series this year. The young, ambitious Czech MENX team, led by Robert Pergl and Ivo Horn, will be racing in the 2005 Le Mans Endurance Series with a Care Racing owned Ferrari 550. Since lawyer and businessman Robert Pergl first raced the car at the Spa round of the LMES last year, under the guidance of Larbre Competition, he was determined to find a way to race the car under his own banner. He, together with his fellow countryman, Tomas Enge, finished that race in 2nd place [GTS].

Pergl will compete in each round of the LMES and will be partnered for 3 rounds by Enge who brings to the team three years’ intimate knowledge of the Prodrive-engined 6 liter V12 race winner – including GTS victories at the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans. A replacement for Enge, who is unable to be at Silverstone in August due to a clash in his racing schedule, will be announced in due course.

Dominique Flue of Care Racing Development expressed his delight at the deal. “We are very pleased to have reached agreement with Robert and MENX. The team already has experience of racing a Ferrari in the FIA GT series [an F360 in 2003] and we are certain that their hunger for success, together with their great drivers, will mean they achieve that in the LMES.”

Robert Pergl, driver: “I am looking forward very much to the season because the Ferrari 550 Maranello has proved it is really the top car of the GT1 class. Of course, I will have to learn a lot of new things but I am happy that we have Tomas in the team because he knows the car like second to none. I drove the car at Spa last year and it was a real pleasure, but I am well aware that I need to do a lot of kilometers to better understand the car. There is very hard competition in our class this year but I think that with Tomas we can aim for podiums.”

Tomas Enge, driver: “The idea of the Czech team in a series like LMES is a great way of pushing forward Czech motorsport, especially with a car like the Prodrive built Ferrari 550 Maranello. I have never hidden that I really love this car. I would like to help Robert and the team to make progress and quickly adapt to new series and car, which is a proper racing car.”

The Ferrari 550 Maranello’s track record speaks for itself. Since its racing debut in 2001, the car has recorded 32 victories in the GTS or GT categories of international sportscar races (ACO or FIA regulated series accordingly), a remarkable achievement for a privately funded program.

New qualifying procedures outlined New qualifying procedures outlinedNASCAR will institute a new procedure for setting the starting lineups for the Gatorade Duel at Daytona scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR officials announced.  The two qualifying races that establish the starting line-up for the Feb. 20 Daytona 500 will feature changes to the procedure of assigning cars to the respective qualifiers, which have been extended from 125 to 150 miles beginning this season. Details...
Truex prospects looking up Truex prospects looking upThursday’s fastest driver … Martin Truex Jr.’s prospects for his first Daytona 500 are looking up. Truex was the fastest driver overall during the Jan. 20 test session at Daytona. In the final afternoon session, Truex paced the 2.5-mile track in 47.670 seconds (188.798 mph).
Trying something different Trying something differentAt NASCAR Preseason Thunder, each team is equipped with two race cars, often labeled as “A” and “B”. Naturally, the different cars provide each team an opportunity to try different chassis setups to test new ways of improving speed and power when championship points or qualifying positions aren’t on the line. Looking at the speed charts, it’s clear which ideas have worked – and which didn’t. In Thursday morning’s session, for example, Kasey Kahne (No. 9 UAW/Dodge Dealers Dodge) topped the charts with a lap time of 47.850 seconds (188.088 mph) in his No. 9B Dodge. In the 9A, Kahne was 26th fastest, at 48.716 seconds (184.744 mph). Jeff Burton was fourth fastest in the morning in No. 31, with a fast lap of 48.021 seconds (187.418 mph). In No. 31A, Burton was 34th fastest out of 36 cars, at 49.200 seconds (182.927 mph).
Sophomore Streak? Brian Vickers better prepared Sophomore Streak? Brian Vickers better preparedAfter winning the 2003 NASCAR Busch Series championship, Brian Vickers (No. 25 GMAC/ditech.com Chevrolet) arrived at Daytona with high hopes – and left with a disappointing 39th-place finish in the 2004 Daytona 500. This season, Vickers says he’s more prepared for the challenge that Daytona and the complete NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule represents.

“It’s completely different this year,” Vickers told media at Daytona. “You learn so much after a year. Last year, there were a lot of unknowns. I thought it wouldn’t be that much different than the NASCAR Busch Series. But, there were a lot of differences. I’ve approached this year in so many different ways, on how to do my schedule and how I spend my off-season. I already don’t feel as tired going in to Daytona as I did last year. Last year I felt wore out already because I wasn’t as prepared for certain things, but now I am. I’m really excited and looking forward to 2005 after having one year under my belt.”

Thursday PM Speeds at Daytona Thursday PM Speeds at DaytonaResults of Thursday afternoon's Nextel Cup combined single car and drafting laps during testing at Daytona International Speedway:

1. Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Chevrolet, 47.670 seconds, 188.798 mph
2. Jeff Green, No. 43 Dodge, 47.859, 188.052
3. Rusty Wallace, No. 2 Dodge, 47.890, 187.931
4. Brian Vickers, No. 25 Chevrolet, 47.897, 187.903
5. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, 47.922, 187.805
6. Joe Nemechek, No. 01 Chevrolet, 47.941, 187.731
7. Scott Riggs, No. 10 Chevrolet, 47.947, 187.707
8. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Ford, 47.954, 187.680
9. Scott Wimmer, No. 22 Dodge, 47.963, 187.645
10. Sterling Marlin, No. 40 Dodge, 47.964, 187.641
11. Bobby Hamilton Jr., No. 32 Chevrolet, 47.968, 187.625
12. Dave Blaney, No. 07 Chevrolet, 47.996, 187.516
13. Mark Martin, No. 6 Ford, 47.998, 187.508
14. Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge, 48.010, 187.461
15. John Andretti, No. 14 Ford, 48.022, 187.414
16. Derrike Cope, No. 55 Chevrolet, 48.035, 187.363
17. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Chevrolet, 48.083, 187.176
18. Bill Elliott, No. 39 Dodge, 48.147, 186.928
19. Mike Wallace, No. 4 Chevrolet, 48.186, 186.776
20. Eric McClure, No. 73 Chevrolet, 48.338, 186.189
21. Greg Sacks, No. 13 Dodge, 48.374, 186.050
22. Bobby Labonte, No. 18 Chevrolet, 48.429, 185.839
23. Johnny Sauter, No. 09 Dodge, 48.449, 185.762
24. Kevin Lepage, No. 37 Dodge, 48.911, 184.008
25. Kerry Earnhardt, No. 29 Chevrolet, 49.202, 182.919
26. Kirk Shelmerdine, No. 27 Ford, NT, NS

Thursday AM Speeds at Daytona Thursday AM Speeds at DaytonaResults of Thursday morning's Nextel Cup combined single car and drafting laps during testing at Daytona International Speedway:

1. Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge, 47.850 seconds, 188.088 mph
2. Jeff Green, No. 43 Dodge, 47.966, 187.633
3. Bill Elliott, No. 39 Dodge, 48.001, 187.496
4. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Chevrolet, 48.021, 187.418
5. Bobby Hamilton Jr., No. 32 Chevrolet, 48.056, 187.282
6. Sterling Marlin, No. 40 Dodge, 48.097, 187.122
7. Derrike Cope, No. 55 Chevrolet, 48.187, 186.772
8. Mike Wallace, No. 4 Chevrolet, 48.192, 186.753
9. Mark Martin, No. 6 Ford, 48.197, 186.734
10. Johnny Sauter, No. 09 Dodge, 48.213, 186.672
11. John Andretti, No. 14 Ford, 48.235, 186.587
12. Joe Nemechek, No. 01 Chevrolet, 48.282, 186.405
13. Scott Riggs, No. 10 Chevrolet, 48.332, 186.212
14. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Ford, 48.404, 185.935
15. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, 48.463, 185.709
16. Rusty Wallace, No. 2 Dodge, 48.557, 185.349
17. Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Chevrolet, 48.645, 185.014
18. Bobby Labonte, No. 18 Chevrolet, 48.669, 184.923
19. Eric McClure, No. 73 Chevrolet, 48.705, 184.786
20. Kevin Lepage, No. 37 Dodge, 48.913, 184.000
21. Dave Blaney, No. 07 Chevrolet, 48.949, 183.865
22. Scott Wimmer, No. 22 Dodge, 49.021, 183.595
tie Brian Vickers, No. 25 Chevrolet, 49.021, 183.595
24. Kerry Earnhardt, No. 29 Chevrolet, 49.153, 183.102
25. Kirk Shelmerdine, No. 27 Ford, 50.100, 179.641
26. Greg Sacks, No. 13 Dodge, no time, no speed

Kasey Kahne the Car Owner Kasey Kahne the Car OwnerKasey Kahne will be a full-time car owner in 2005, but not in NASCAR. Kasey Kahne Racing will field USAC Silver Crown cars for Kraig Kinser full-time, while Erin Crocker will drive Kahne's cars in five Silver Crown events.  Kahne also has a USAC Sprint Car and Midget that he will dabble in this season.  "It doesn't really take much of my time," Kahne said. "It's a lot of fun to go race it or go watch."  Kahne's cousin, Willie Kahne, runs the USAC teams for Kasey.
G-Force name dropped by Panoz G-Force name dropped by PanozUPDATE The official announcement - To simplify its nomenclature and to better brand the chassis that has won the two most recent Indianapolis 500 Mile Races, Elan Motorsports Technologies have announced a new name for their IRL chassis.  “We have decided we will use the name Panoz,” declared CEO David Bowes.

The IRL chassis is named for the company’s owner, Don Panoz.  “We needed to have a new branding strategy going forward that makes sense with our growth and which promotes the images and names as we want,” Bowes stated. 

The Panoz (nee G Force) chassis was an initial member of the Indy Racing League family in 1997 as the IRL began to use specific equipment.  When Bowes joined the company to the end of 2002, G Force was in the UK.  “We moved manufacturing to the US in the winter of 2002 and did all of our bodywork in-house.  At that time tubs were still being built in the UK.

“A year later we moved the entire enterprise to our headquarters in Braselton, Georgia including our purchasing functions, design office and aerodynamics.  As there is no part of G Force remaining any longer in the UK, we feel justified in making this change,” he said.

The company is utilizing two names – Panoz and Elan.  Panoz is the name of “the products we produce and sell ourselves” while the Elan name refers to the side of the company that performs engineering and manufacturing exercises for other companies.

If Elan Motorsports Technologies performs work for another manufacturer, the product is called “Elan”.  “When we are manufacturing products for ourselves that we are selling from our headquarters, it is called a Panoz,” Bowes explained. 

“Because we are growing and developing new business in aerospace and military/defense markets, we felt the need to differentiate and simplify.  “We are now an All American race car company,” Bowes said.  “On those components where we are free to choose suppliers, more than 80 percent of the pieces involved come from American companies.”

01/20/05 Dan Panoz, who purchased the G-Force and renamed it the Panoz G-Force in 2004 now has totally dropped the G-Force name from the company.  There has yet to be an official announcement about the name change but the entry list for the Homestead test refers to the two chassis as D (Dallara) and P (Panoz).
IRL team for sale - cheap IRL team for sale - cheapWant to buy an IRL team?  It won't cost you much.  One can be had for under $500K - see ad
Homestead practice quotes Homestead practice quotesDAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew has done a very good job testing on the road course.  Everybody has chipped in and we had a really productive first IndyCar Series test.  It's really good to be part of the league that is now running on road courses.  I think they're great fun."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We made a lot improvements from yesterday, so it was a good day. I can sum up the road course test like this. It's not the best day, but it's not the worst day. We're definitely heading in the right direction."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The XM Satellite Radio team had a pretty productive day.  We definitely learned some things at this test that we will be able to make some improvements on for when we go to St. Petersburg.  It felt great to be on a road course again.  I was probably looking forward to this as much as anyone in the series."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Although we wanted to get farther ahead today we made some great strides. Later in the day, the track kept getting hotter and greasier, leaving us with some uncertainty about how far we could push the car. Overall this test was really great. I am getting used the car and each test is getting better and better. Red Bull Cheever Racing plans on giving everyone a great run towards the winner's circle." (About completing first IRL Open Test): "I really enjoyed racing with the other drivers. They were well behaved on the track today. But I will like it even better when I beat them."

TOMAS ENGE (No. 2 Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We are pretty happy with the way the day went, and 90 percent of our job went according to the plan. It's a big shame that I couldn't have done more testing before Christmas while our competitors were testing at that time, but on the other hand we have only three road course races, so my main focus has to be on ovals anyway. I'm looking forward to Saturday's first outing on the oval."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 33 Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm having a great time. It's great working with the team. It's our first test of the year, and we've been changing the car a lot over the last couple of days. It's been great getting track time in an IndyCar (Series) car." (About driving an IndyCar Series car): "These cars are good. They're a good car to drive. For a car that's never raced on a road course, I'm surprised at how good it is. There is a really good balance around the track with these cars."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic/Autobacs/ARTA Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "This was our first road course test, and this was my first time to drive since last year. I think the team did a great job over these two days. We added Simon Hodgson as team manager, and he is working out very well and I feel very good with him. The first day, we had a few problems to fix, but the second day we did a lot of runs and I was seventh in the afternoon session. I am not worried about the time right now. The car feels much better than yesterday and we have a lot of data. This will be helpful for the first race, and I have a lot of confidence to race on the road courses."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "This was a very positive test for us; Team 7-Eleven accomplished a lot of things. We made big changes; changes that take a long time to make happen, but we ended up making the right decisions. I think all four Andretti Green Racing cars were in the top six today and that's a very good accomplishment. So, I'm very happy.  We don't race on the road course at Homestead, but we are here to learn. It was just a great job from all the guys at Team 7-Eleven and they have been simply unbelievable. It's a very good start to the season."

Franchitti tops Thursday timesheets Franchitti tops Thursday timesheetsDario Franchitti led a dominating performance by Andretti Green Racing as IRL IndyCar Series teams wrapped up two days of road course testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Franchitti recorded a lap of 1 minute, 10.1748 seconds, 113.374 mph, on the 2.21-mile road course in his No. 27 ArcaEx Honda-powered Dallara, slightly faster than teammate Dan Wheldon (1:10.4223, 112.976 mph). Marlboro Team Penske's Helio Castroneves was third (1:10.4905, 112.866 mph). Two other AGR drivers rounded out the top five. Reigning IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan (1:10.5745, 112.732 mph) and Bryan Herta (1:10.5829, 112.719) were fourth and fifth respectively. Teams switch to the variably banked 1.5-mile oval on Jan. 22.
Pos No Driver Name Best Time Best Speed Best Lap Total Laps
1 27 Dario Franchitti 70.1748 113.374 52 55
2 26 Dan Wheldon 70.4223 112.976 9 39
3 3 Helio Castroneves 70.4905 112.866 64 88
4 11 Tony Kanaan 70.5745 112.732 33 43
5 7 Bryan Herta 70.5829 112.719 42 55
6 83 Patrick Carpentier 70.6949 112.540 37 91
7 55 Kosuke Matsuura 70.7506 112.451 87 106
8 33 Ryan Briscoe 70.8464 112.299 44 51
9 2 Tomas Enge 70.8539 112.287 55 73
10 17 Vitor Meira 70.8598 112.278 62 75
11 8 Scott Sharp 70.9817 112.085 55 88
12 4 Tomas Scheckter 71.0054 112.048 49 73
13 9 Scott Dixon 71.0180 112.028 69 100
14 51 Alex Barron 71.1234 111.862 23 86
15 15 Buddy Rice 71.1830 111.768 45 69
16 16 Danica Patrick 71.2194 111.711 55 83
17 6 Sam Hornish Jr. 71.2561 111.654 49 74
18 10 Darren Manning 71.6257 111.077 18 56
19 24 Roger Yasukawa 71.8892 110.670 28 63
Tecate re-ups for Long Beach race Tecate re-ups for Long Beach raceThe Grand Prix Association of Long Beach today announced that Cerveza Tecate has renewed its Official Beer partnership of the 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.   With the agreement, Tecate will once again be the featured beer brand at concession stands around the track, and will have a major sponsorship presence at the crown jewel of the Champ Car World Series.

In addition, Tecate will be the title sponsor of the Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach pageant for the second consecutive year. At the 2004 race, the Tecate Miss Toyota Grand Prix pageant was held Saturday evening following the Rock-N-Roar Concert, the first time the pageant winners had ever been selected during race weekend. The Tecate Fiesta Friday concert will once again showcase the best in regional Latino music after Friday's racing activities have concluded.

Tecate will kick off its Grand Prix activities as sponsor of the Tecate Thursday Thunder on Pine event, taking place Thursday evening, April 7, on Pine Ave. between Broadway and 4th Street in downtown Long Beach. The event will feature Champ Car pit stop competitions, a car show, driver autograph sessions and concerts concluding with a ticketed performance by a major act at Vault350.

"Once again we are very pleased to be part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach as it has brought Tecate close to its consumers and dramatically increased the interaction of Hispanics with the Grand Prix festivities," said Federico Lemmen, Western Region Director for Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma, brewer of Tecate.

"Tecate is a very important partner of the Grand Prix," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. "They bring tremendous support and enthusiasm to our event and have energized many of our ancillary activities including the exciting Tecate Thursday Thunder on Pine. Thanks to Tecate, we've been able to continue offering additional value to our fans and building a bigger and better event. Tecate has also played an extremely important role in promoting the Grand Prix to the Southern California Hispanic community."

Tickets for the 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will run April 8-10, 2005, are on sale now. The Champ Car World Series will again be the featured racing event. Tickets can be ordered via credit card by using the toll-free ticket hotline, (888) 82-SPEED. Tickets can also be purchased on-line at longbeachgp.com, in person at the Grand Prix ticket office (3000 Pacific Ave., Long Beach, Calif., 90806).
Industry News
Ford swings to profit Ford swings to profitFord Motor Co. said Thursday it swung to a profit of $104 million in the fourth quarter from a loss of $793 million a year ago, when it incurred heavy charges for restructuring in Europe and a new agreement with its top supplier hurt the bottom line.  Record earnings at Ford's financial services sector and improved automotive profits helped lift full-year earnings.   Fourth-quarter results for the nation's second-largest automaker amounted to 6 cents a share, compared with a loss of 43 cents a share in the October-December period a year ago.  Similar to comparable results from its rival General Motors Corp., Ford said its finance arm contributed the bulk of its income while its automotive business lost money in the quarter.  Excluding special items, Ford earned $555 million in the fourth quarter, down 7 percent from a year ago but ahead of Wall Street forecasts.
Andretti Green to top of charts at Homestead Andretti Green to top of charts at HomesteadSo what's new? The four Andretti Green Racing drivers are at the top of the speed chart.  With 19 drivers strapped into their sun-kissed IRL IndyCar® Series cars for the second and final day of testing on the 2.21-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway road course, Dan Wheldon had the quickest time of the morning session (112.976 mph; 1 minute, 10.4223 seconds) in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone.  He was followed by teammate Dario Franchitti (112.712), Tony Kanaan (112.566) and Bryan Herta (112.543). Patrick Carpentier, driving the No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, was fifth quick at 112.540 mph. Wheldon's speed -- with temperatures in the mid-60s -- topped the first day's best time posted by rookie Ryan Briscoe (112.944 mph) in the No. 33 Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone.  After a day for teams to switch aero, brake and transmission packages, drivers will have six hours on the 1.5-mile oval on Jan. 22. They’re scheduled to be joined by A.J. Foyt IV in the No. 14 Toyota-powered Dallara. IndyCar.com
Wurz and McLaren fastest in Valencia Wurz and McLaren fastest in ValenciaAlex Wurz was quickest on the second day of testing at Valencia today [Thursday], as a McLaren again topped the times.  Testing continues tomorrow [Friday].
1. Alexander Wurz McLaren-Mercedes 1m 09.506s 142 laps
2. Frank Montagny Renault-Renault 1m 11.178s 157 laps
3. Jenson Button BAR-Honda 1m 11.267s 125 laps *
4. Takuma Sato BAR-Honda 1m 11.396s 131 laps
5. Fernando Alonso Renault-Renault 1m 11.463s 55 laps
6. Jacques Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas 1m 12.298s 107 laps*
Coulthard fastest at Barcelona Coulthard fastest at BarcelonaDavid Coulthard set the quickest time on the third day of F1 testing [Thursday] at Barcelona. The Red Bull driver set an impressive fastest lap-time of 1m 16.130s. Behind DC, Antonio Pizzonia and Nick Heidfeld completed a three day test for Williams by finishing second and third – although the problems encountered by the team on Wednesday again affected the drivers time on track, with the duo restricting running until the afternoon where they focused on tire testing and practice starts. As on the previous two days, Ralf Schumacher was the slowest runner on track, although his lap time of 1m 17.402s was his quickest of the week. Testing continues tomorrow [Friday].

1. David Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth 1m 16.130s 64 laps
2. Antonio Pizzonia Williams-BMW 1m 16.230s 45 laps
3. Nick Heidfeld Williams-BMW 1m 16.951s 43 laps
4. Olivier Panis Toyota Toyota 1m 17.010s 103 laps
5. Christian Klien Red Bull-Cosworth 1m 17.035s 77 laps
6. Jarno Trulli Toyota Toyota 1m 17.321s 78 laps
7. Rubens Barrichello Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 17.402s 57 laps
8. Ralf Schumacher Toyota-Toyota 1m 17.890

Industry News
Atlanta expanding Camp Grounds Atlanta expanding Camp GroundsWhen Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark was planning the new Mid-State RV Family Campground last fall, he decided to make it bigger than necessary for the first race, assuming the crowd would grow into the size.   Imagine his surprise, then, when all 500-plus RV and tent spaces were sold for the fall Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500.  “It was such a huge success during the first race that we already had a waiting list when we came back from race weekend,” Clark said. “Our fans spoke to us loud and clear, and we’re responding by accommodating them with additional camping areas.”

Which Clark and his staff are currently doing, adding 72 spaces to the Mid-State RV Family Campground. But they’re not stopping there: AMS is also adding a brand new unreserved camping lot north of Speedway Boulevard, on previously unused land.  “Camping is probably the No. 1 area of growth for us right now, and we’re working fast to try to keep up with the demand,” Clark said. “Both the new unreserved campground and the expanded family campground should help us meet the demand that’s already out there, but I’m sure that’s not the last camping expansion you’ll see here.”  The Mid-State RV Center Family Campground presented by Coachmen and Sports Coach is located north of the speedway’s front entrance, adjacent to Hwy 19/41 and nearby the spacious new bathroom/shower facility. Spaces are on sale for the March 18-20 Golden Corral 500, with RV spaces selling for $125 per race and tent pop-up spaces for $100 per race. A waiting list is available for the expansion spaces, which will be available in time for the March 20 Golden Corral 500.

Campers in the family-designated area have a secured entrance and round-the-clock security. The new Mid-State RV Family Campground also has strictly enforced quiet time from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. The family campground is sponsored by Mid-State RV Center in Byron, Ga., a longtime sponsor of AMS and supporter of Speedway Children’s Charities.

The unreserved campground, which will be completed in time for the Oct. 30 Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, will be located just east of Tara Field Airport on Speedway Blvd., the north perimeter road at the speedway.  For more information or to purchase camping spaces, call the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211.

Formula BMW
Formula BMW scholarships Formula BMW scholarshipsBMW of North America, LLC is pleased to announce the winners of the six 2005 Formula BMW USA  Junior scholarships.  The  winners  are  Adrien  Herberts,  15,  of  Coquitlam,  British Columbia, Canada; Wade Van Hooser, 15, of Tulane, Calif.; Kevin LaCroix, 15, of St-Eustache, Quebec, Canada; Justin Moon, 16, of Shingle Springs, Calif.; Richard Philippe, 15, of Key Biscayne, Fla. and Reed Stevens, 19, of Palo Alto, Calif.

The six winners proved to be the cream of the crop of seventeen young drivers invited  from  two  previous  Formula  BMW  licensing  schools  to  the  2005 scholarship  "shoot-out".  Held  at  the  Formula  BMW  Racing  Center  at  the "Circuit de la Communitat" in Valencia, Spain on January 12th and 13th the two- day   program   began   with   instruction   and   exercises.   During   free   practice sessions  instructors  continued  to  provide  feedback  to  the  drivers  to  help improve their skill set.  The course culminated with two sessions of evaluations where  all  drivers  were  scored  by  the  BMW  Motorsport  instructors,  which included BMW Touring Car works drivers Dirk Mueller and Joerg Mueller. The six 2005 Juniors will be awarded $40,000 each towards participation in the 2005 Formula BMW USA Championship and automatic enrollment in Formula BMW's Education and Coaching Program. "The   Formula   BMW   Junior   program   is   one   more   indicator   of   BMW's commitment to supporting young drivers," said Alex Schmuck, Formula BMW USA  Manager.  "In  addition  to  the  money  each  of  these  young  drivers  will receive, the skills they learn as part of Formula BMW's Education and Coaching Program will serve them well as they progress in their careers."
ALMS gets ready for test ALMS gets ready for testThree reigning American Le Mans Series championship teams roll into Sebring International Raceway Jan. 31-Feb. 3 for the first ever "Wheels Down Winter Test" (WDWT) in preparation for the series prestigious inaugural race – the historic Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 19. In addition, the WDWT will feature the long anticipated debut of the Aston Martin DBR9, expected to challenge GT1 front-runner Corvette Racing and the Saleen S7R as the 2005 season unfolds.

Headlining the field is Champion Audi, last year's overall champion and winner of the LMP1 championship. Drivers JJ Lehto and Marco Werner won seven of nine races a year ago for that team behind the wheel of the No. 38 Audi R8. A bit of mystique surrounds Champion Audi this season with its announcement at the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit that it will enter and compete with not one but two teams in the ALMS this year. Audi has yet to announce its driver lineup for either team, however.

"These couple of days at Sebring are a perfect test for all the preparation we've done during the off-season," said Champion Audi team owner Dave Maraj. "Although we expect tremendous competition, we feel that we are ready to compete for another ALMS championship beginning at Sebring.

Audi North America's Rod Bymaster indicated that drivers for both teams would likely be announced prior to the "Wheels Down Winter Test". Champion Audi is not the only championship team that enters the tests with an air of mystery. GT2 champion Alex Job Racing has also yet to announce his drivers for his two-team foray this season. Last year, Job's Porsche 911 GT3 RSR won that class with drivers Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister leading the charge with five wins in his two-car challenge. Bernhard won the GT drivers' championship last season. Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb drove the second car winning twice and making four other podium appearances. Sascha Maassen, Lucas Luhr and Wolf Henzler contributed as the third drivers at the endurance races of Sebring and Road Atlanta's Chevy presents Petit Le Mans. Job will have a unique structure this year as he heads one factory team and fields a second privateer team.

"We'll have a little bit different structure this year," said Job, "We're running one factory team and another second car as a privateer team, but I feel good about our chances to be very competitive for another title with both."

Job is expected to announce drivers prior to the Sebring test.   The third championship team at the WDWT is John Macaluso's Miracle Motorsports which won the LMP2 class championship a year ago in the Courage C65. Macaluso has changed his lineup for the upcoming season, putting Chris McMurry and Jeff Bucknum in charge of defending the championship.

"Chris and Jeff are the perfect combination to help us try to defend our title," said Macaluso. " We're really looking forward to our test at Sebring as we think we've got a real contender again this year." Much of the excitement, however, at the "Wheels Down Winter Test" is over the long anticipated debut of the Aston Martin DBR9. Many are calling the Aston Martin one of the finest looking and best prepared race cars to emerge in years. Competing in the GT1 class, the Aston Martin could prove a formidable foe to the newly announced Corvette Racing team's C6-R driven by champions Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell again this year. Aston Martin's challenge will be mounted by Aston Martin Racing's joint venture of Prodrive and manufacturer Aston Martin Lagonda. Prodrive was the same entity that brought the Ferrari 550 Maranello to the ALMS GTS class in 2002 and 2003, winning the last four races of the 2003 season and falling a mere one point short of Corvette Racing for the manufacturers' title. Aston Martin is expected to enter two cars for the inaugural race at Sebring.

Hermie Sadler interview Hermie Sadler interviewHermie Sadler, driver of the No. 66 Peak Fitness Taurus, did not participate in today's final testing session.  He explained why late Wednesday afternoon as the team was packing up.

HERMIE SADLER - No. 66 Peak Fitness Taurus - ARE YOU PINCHING YOURSELF ABOUT THE FACT YOU'RE ACTUALLY HERE TESTING IN THE CUP SERIES?  "Yeah, the test really couldn't have been any better for us.  We certainly want to come here and be competitive right off the bat, but the reality is we're about six months behind most of these guys.  We gained a second today (Wednesday).  We picked up a whole second on stuff that we know we can go and work on even more and, hopefully, come back and be competitive.  We're not at the top of the speed chart, so we're not fully content, but with the progress we've made, it really makes me feel good about the guys I have and the determination to work.  We'll get this Ford Taurus where it needs to be when I come back.  I feel really good about the potential and that's the main thing."  YOUR THOUGHTS ON NOT STAYING FOR THE FINAL DAY?  "Our main focus is that anything can happen in those qualifying races.  Our main goal first is to be able to come in here and knock off a good qualifying run and have something to fall back on.  Our plan is to go home and do some work, do a little cutting and grinding, and go to Talladega for a couple days - work on some more stuff - and then come back here.  Anything can happen in those qualifying races.  Anything can happen drafting in practice here and it would be devastating to us to damage our car.  That would put us really far behind, so we made a lot of progress and we want to continue to build on that.   "We're all going to Talladega next week to work on some more things and come back.  We've got all week during Speedweeks to work on our drafting stuff when everybody is here and there are 40 cars out there and the temperature is more like what it will be when we come back, but I'm tickled to death.  We're happy to be in a Ford.  We're happy to have Peak Fitness on board and I'm really ecstatic about the progress we've made."  YOU HAVE FOUR GUYS WORKING ON YOUR CAR WHILE SOME OF THESE TEAMS HAVE MANY MORE.  "Right now, even though we're in the Nextel Cup Series, we're just a medium-sized Busch team right now.  We know we've got to walk before we can run.  I brought some of my guys from Virginia down so we could leave some of the guys in our shop back at home to continue to work on our stuff for California and Vegas.  We can't forget that there are other races after Daytona, so we're trying to use our resources the best we can to do everything we need to do.  If you asked me last night, I was a little bit frustrated about the way things were going because, regardless, when you get here you forget the obstacles you have to face.  You get on the race track and you want to do the same as everybody else, but, again, there is potential in our car.  We've only been working on it for about 10 days and only had a day and a half of testing on it, so it's got a lot of potential.  We're excited about that."

John Andretti interview John Andretti interviewJohn Andretti, driver of the No. 14 VB/APlus at Sunoco Taurus, will be starting his first full season with ppc Racing after the team qualified for four races late last year. Andretti spoke about preparations for 2005 during testing for next month's Daytona 500.

JOHN ANDRETTI - No. 14 VB/APlus at Sunoco Taurus - HOW HAS TESTING GONE SO FAR? "I think we've had a good test. We started moving in the right direction on Tuesday and yesterday we crept forward, but so did everybody else so we probably lost ground than we gained as opposed to the competition, although we did go quicker. We need to step it up today." ARE THE FIRST FIVE RACES A CONCERN AS FAR AS QUALIFYING GOES? "Yeah. The races we did last year as a new team we got sent home once or twice because of the weather. It's the first five races and anything can happen and one is the Daytona 500. It's not always easy to just go fast here at Daytona in qualifying because you're wide open. Everybody does the same thing driver wise, so that's my big fear, but we knew the hill we were trying to climb. When it comes to Nextel Cup it's not a hill anymore, it's the biggest mountain there is, but we'll get through it. We haven't got there yet, but we've got a few days left for us to work on it." HOW MUCH DID HAVING FOUR RACES WITH THIS TEAM LAST YEAR HELP IN PREPARATIONS FOR THIS SEASON? "I think it helped a lot. We got the shop sort of going. We got people hired. We got a lot of things rolling and we got to work together in race conditions, which is totally different than coming to test. Testing should be a little more relaxed. It never is with me, especially when I come to Daytona I get pretty worked up. That's important, just to see each other and do things like pit stops because then we can see places where we can be stronger and work on those." WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THIS SEASON? "I'm a race car driver and my realistic hopes are to win a race. I think if we get to the right track and all of the right circumstances that we can do that. Do I think that we can be there week in and week out? No, we're a new team and we've got a lot to do and a lot to prove. These teams here are incredibly strong, so we just have to quietly go about our business and, who knows, maybe we'll go in and steal one from them. You never know.

Villeneuve completes long run tests Villeneuve completes long run testsSauber Petronas started its three-day test at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo on Wednesday. Jacques Villeneuve in chassis C24-01 ran 92 laps with a best time of 1:12.225s which was the fourth fastest time of the day led by Juan Pablo Montoya in the McLaren Mercedes on a 1:11.307s.

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

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

New McLaren to launch Monday New McLaren to launch MondayMcLaren has confirmed that it will launch its new MP4-20 at the Circuit du Catalunya in Spain on Monday
Industry News
China factoid China factoidUPDATE A reader writes, The European Union is already ahead, or nearly even with the U.S. in GDP, but they still cannot compare with the U.S. on a per-capita basis. So while China may even surpass the EU, it is unlikely that they will come close to the EU on a per-capita basis, and even more unlikely that they will come close to the U.S.   According to Eurostat, the European Union in 2003 — when it was the EU-15 — showed per-capita GDP of $23,360 with 380 million people. The addition of an additional 10 nations from the poorer eastern part of the continent pushed the number of nations to 25 and the population to around 450 million. But the GDP/capita number is, I would suspect at best, unchanged.

By comparison, the US, had 290 million people and per-capita GDP of $39,025. These numbers are also from Eurostat.  China had 1.3 billion people and per-capita GDP of $5,000, according to the CIA World Factbook. Likewise, from the same source, India had GDP/capita of $2,900 with just more than 1 billion people.

And for your information, the nation with the highest GDP per capita is none other than Luxembourg. Its GDP per capita, according to the CIA, was $55,100. Of course, they only have 460,000 residents and bank secrecy laws that bring lots of money into the county, I mean country. And if you think that bank secrecy laws might put Switzerland ahead of everyone, no. Its GDP/per capita is $32,000. So while China is growing and could, on a nominal basis, one day top the U.S., they will continue to lag the U.S. where it really counts. James C. Allen

01/19/05 Did you know that if the Chinese were to eventually have the same number of cars per person as the USA has today, China would burn 24.8 million barrels of oil every day - about what OPEC now produces?  True, and many predict that China's GNP will eventually surpass that of the USA, thereby making it the #1 economic powerhouse in the world. Mark C.
Another foreigner to the IPS Another foreigner to the IPSBrazilian driver Jaime Camara announced today his plans to contest the 2005 Infiniti Pro Series season with Sam Schmidt Motorsports team. 23-year-old Camara, who finished ninth in last year’s South American F3 championship, has already tested twice with his new team, at Kentucky last year and in Homestead’s oval and road courses earlier this month.  “We’re very happy to sign Jaime for the upcoming season,” said team owner Sam Schmidt. “He’s shown a lot of potential in the tests we did, and so I’m positive he will be contending for the championship from the early races of the season.”
Panis tops Thursday AM times in Spain Panis tops Thursday AM times in SpainOlivier Panis, who has retired from race activities to concentrate on testing with Toyota, completed 48 laps with a best time of 1:17.019s and while relatively fast on the day, the time is some 1.5 seconds off Michael Schumacher’s best lap recorded earlier this week..  Morning times from Barcelona:
1. Olivier Panis - Toyota – 1:17.019 - 48 laps
2. David Coulthard - Red Bull – 1:17.089 - 36 laps
3. Jarno Trulli - Toyota – 1:17.335 - 43 laps
4. Rubens Barrichello - Ferrari – 1:18.083 - 30 laps
5. Nick Heidfeld - Williams BMW – 1:18.145 - 9 laps
6. Christian Klien - Red Bull – 1:18.208 - 47 laps
7. Ralf Schumacher - Toyota – 1:18.804 - 25 laps
Sadler and Stewart test in Texas Sadler and Stewart test in TexasElliott Sadler and Tony Stewart completed two days of Goodyear tire testing preparing for the Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Sadler is the defending champion of the race. "This is one of my favorite tracks," said Sadler. "It is like an old jacket you put on, it just feels comfortable when you come here, drive up on pit road to go out on the track."  The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will make its first of two 2005 appearances at Texas in the Samsung/RadioShack 500. Tickets are still available at the speedway ticket office, by calling (817) 215-8500, online at www.texasmotorspeedway.com and at Ticketmaster locations. TMS PR
Roush looking for Martin replacement Roush looking for Martin replacementSince Mark Martin's sponsorship contract with Pfizer's Viagra is up at the end of this season, Roush and team president Geoff Smith are looking for both a new driver and a new sponsor. Carl Edwards was slated for that [#6 Ford] ride, but Edwards wound up in another Roush car when Jeff Burton left last summer to join Richard Childress. "We're hoping to get some of our associate sponsors to step up to a full car sponsorship," Smith said. Winston Salem Journal
TSN (Canada) to Broadcast 20 Nextel Cup Races TSN (Canada) to Broadcast 20 Nextel Cup RacesCanadians will be able to see every 2005 Nextel Cup event via TSN, FOX or NBC – and every Craftsman Truck Event via SPEED Channel. The Sports Network (TSN), Canada's premier cable sports broadcaster, has released its 2005 schedule of NASCAR Nextel Cup event broadcasts. TSN will air 20 Nextel Cup race events this year. Their schedule will include some of the major races like the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte, the Pepsi 400 from Daytona, the Brickyard 400 from Indianapolis, the Sharpie 500 night race from Bristol, the UAW-GM Quality 500 from Charlotte, and the Ford 400 season finale from Homestead. More importantly, TSN will air every Nextel cup event which will be shown on the FX or TNT cable services in the U.S. Hence, with TSN filling in the gaps in the US network schedule, every 2005 Nextel Cup race, including the all three non-points events, will be available to Canadian cable or satellite subscribers. In addition, NASCAR has announced that the SPEED channel, which is available in Canada via cable or satellite service, will again provide broadcast coverage of every NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.  When it comes to the NASCAR Busch Series, things are not so rosy for Canadians. Of the 36 Busch Series races scheduled for 2005, only ten will be available via US-based networks. There will be five Busch Series races on each of FOX and NBC through the 2005 season. The remaining 26 races are scheduled to be aired on the cable-only FX and TNT services which are not available to Canadian residents. In 2004, the Rogers Sportsnet, a Canadian regional cable sports service, carried 18 Busch Series races, reducing the number of Busch Series races not seen in Canada to eight. Rogers Sportsnet has not yet announced its plans for the 2005 NASCAR season. Race Fan TV
Renault V6 cars coming to the Americas Renault V6 cars coming to the AmericasUPDATE The PanAm Racing Championship has just confirmed the Canada Grand Prix with Formula 1, now racing at (3) events in Canada, (1) event at Barber Motorsports Park and (1) event in Mexico City for North America in addition to the (4) South American events.
round date track location
1 10-12 June Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve Montreal, Canada
Supporting Canadian Grand Prix
2 17-19 June Mosport Toronto, Canada
3 & 4 1-3 July Barber Birmingham, AL
5 & 6 5-7 Aug Trois Rivieres Canada
7 & 8 Aug Mexico City Mexico
9 & 10 22-25 Sept San Jose Costa Rica
11 & 12 Oct Curitiba Brazil
13 & 14 Oct Buenos Aires Argentina
15 & 16 Nov Cordova Argentina
*Dates and locations subject to change 01/03/05 Gelles Racing is pleased to be the first to announce that it will secure two Formula Renault V6 cars to add to its already existing fleet of Formula Renault 2000 cars with updated 2005 body kits.

Press Release: Renault Sport Technologies has just concluded a partnership agreement with British investor John Jakes, who has economic interests in the USA, for the organization of a twin Pan-American championship based on the Formula Renault V6 and Formula Renault 2.0 race cars. From 2005, in compliance with the terms of this agreement, John Jakes will ensure the promotion, commercialization and organization of the two championships, both of which will feature eight rounds that will visit the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica. The first event is scheduled for May 2005.

For the championship based on the Formula Renault V6, John Jakes has acquired the fleet of single-seaters that competed in the Renault Sport-organized Eurocup FRV6 European Championship in 2003 and 2004. Renault Sport is currently in the process of completely reconditioning these cars (chassis, engine, gearbox, shock absorbers) prior to their shipment to the USA in February 2005. Detailed information concerning these new Pan-American championships will be released shortly. Renault Sport [Editor's Note:  Champ Car could have acquired these cars to replace the Toyota Atlantic cars when Toyota leaves after 2005. However, OWRS has other plans for its ladder series. AutoRacing1.com has learned that the winner of the 2005 championship will get a fully paid ride (paid for by Renault) in the 2006 World Series by Renault. Two races will be run per event, one with a standing start. Pit stops are still being discussed. 16 races total will be run.  The 2000 winner will get a fully paid ride in the Renault V6 series.  We hear Nissan's new North American President Carlos Ghosn is also behind this and are helping their partner Renault to re-enter the USA car market around 2008.]

Sid Watkins to retire Sid Watkins to retireAfter 26 years in the role, Professor Sid Watkins is standing down as the FIA Formula One Medical Delegate the FIA announced today. Gary Hartstein MD, associate Professor of Anaesthesiology and Emergency Medicine, has been appointed as the new Medical Delegate. Dr Hartstein has assisted Professor Watkins at Formula One events since 1997.

“Professor Watkins has made a unique contribution to improving the standards of safety and medical intervention in Formula One and indeed internationally throughout motor sport," FIA President Max Mosley said.

"We very much look forward to the continuation of this contribution in his new role as the first President of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety. The newly established Institute is based in Paris and brings together all the expertise in motor sport safety that exists within the FIA, its membership, and the wider automotive world.”

“Under Professor Watkins’ guidance I am convinced that the FIA Institute will become a centre of excellence and world leader in the fields of motor sport safety research and training.”

The announcement brings a close to an era. One man who knows the benefits that Sid Watkins brought to the sport probably better than most is Niki Lauda.

"Bernie has the foresight to recruit him to the position of Formula One Surgeon in 1978," Lauda said in the book Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One. "Sid Watkins has brought a totally new dimension to the business of medical treatment and security in one of the worlds most high profile international sports."

Latest F1 News in Brief Latest F1 News in Brief
'GPWC is dead!'
Sauber snub 'third' option
Schu pledge slammed
Midland reveal F1 principal
Rossi sick of F1 gossip
New BAR in Spanish action
Honda to own BAR
Midland not F1 sponsor

A Bulgarian grand prix
Gascoyne's tire loophole
Rule to rob F1 'spirit' - MW
Bernie bought breakaway bomb
Button, Richards, awarded
Want Trulli's Jordan?
Toyota may drive out of F1
Wilson content out of F1

'Old' car will do for Schu
Grove duo to go head-to-head
Dutchman won F1 superlicense
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