Hot News
for your iPhone
for your iPad
Go to our forums to discuss this news
DATE News (chronologically)
Waltrip announces 2007 Cup team with Toyota Waltrip announces 2007 Cup team with ToyotaMichael Waltrip announced today that Michael Waltrip Racing will field multiple Toyota Camry entries in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series when the green flag waves for the 2007 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
"Toyota is a leader in the automotive industry and has quickly become a consistent winner in the NASCAR Truck Series," Waltrip said.  "The logical step is for them to come into the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and I am honored to be a part of their entrance into the sport."

Driving the No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry, Waltrip has support from all of his sponsors and he has the resources in place to chase the coveted NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship. In addition to NAPA supporting Waltrip's efforts, Best Western, Klaussner (Sofa Express and More) and Coca-Cola will be heavily involved in his racing endeavors during Toyota's inaugural year in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
"Toyota's standards are high and their approach into the sport is well thought out," said Waltrip. "Michael Waltrip Racing's sponsors have also taken their own methodical steps into the NASCAR industry and I am grateful that they are making this march with me and that they share my eagerness in today's announcement.  As my new NASCAR NEXTEL CUP organization is formally born today, it's interesting to note that there is already a strong connection with my new partner.  Both Toyota and I have Kentucky roots -- I was born in Owensboro, Kentucky and the Camry is assembled in Toyota's plant in Georgetown, Kentucky." zzzz
"We are pleased about being a part of Toyota's entry into the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series," said NAPA President Bob Susor. "NAPA shares Toyota's enthusiasm for motor sports and through our sponsorship we want to be one of the first to welcome them into the top level of the sport.  This partnership is an excellent match for NAPA.  We are equally excited about our new partnership with Michael Waltrip Racing.  Michael has been synonymous with the NAPA brand since 2001 and we could not be more pleased to have a person of Michael's qualities representing our brand."
 "We are an established leader in providing quality aftermarket automotive parts and service," continued Susor. "NAPA AUTO PARTS has coverage and availability of over 300,000 part numbers to service the North American market needs of both domestic and imported name plate vehicles."
To prepare for the future of Michael Waltrip Racing, Waltrip devised a plan to achieve his goal of becoming a successful owner in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Setting the stage in August of 2005, Waltrip announced his plans to design and create Waltrip Racing World, an interactive high-tech race shop designed for the ultimate fan experience. 
"Since 1996, we have operated Michael Waltrip Racing out of our backyard," Michael Waltrip explained. "I have always dreamed of constructing the perfect building for a race team. Waltrip Racing World will be just that. NASCAR is a family sport and this, in our opinion, is the definitive family destination. We see the fans packing up their cars and motorhomes and setting out to experience Waltrip Racing World and the area that surrounds it. The value of letting the fans touch, hear and smell the workings of our NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Toyota teams seven days a week not only benefits the fans, but gives our sponsors and manufacturer more exposure. We believe the fans will come during the week to watch our Toyota teams prepare for the races and on the weekends to watch NASCAR action on one of the giant movie screens as part of the experience." Michael Waltrip Racing

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for Friday
8:30 a.m.-9:00 a.m. ET, SPEED
9:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m. ET, SPEED
'A Man and a Woman'
12:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. ET, SPEED
'The Betsy'
2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. ET, SPEED
Atlanta Motor Speedway
7:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. ET, SPEED
'Black Moon Rising'
8:00 p.m.-10:30 p.m. ET, SPEED
'The Making of the Movie LeMans'
Host: Chad McQueen
10:30 p.m.-11:00 p.m. ET, SPEED
11:30 p.m.-12:00 a.m. ET, SPEED

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

Stolen IndyCar Series show car recovered Stolen IndyCar Series show car recoveredA trailer and IndyCar Series show car stolen from Sinden Racing Services' shop on Jan. 21 were recovered in Indianapolis on Jan. 25.

The show car, a retired race car owned by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, and trailer, owned by Sinden Racing, were not damaged by the thieves. Police believe that thieves targeted the new unmarked trailer, unaware of its valuable cargo. The car is utilized for sponsorship appearances across the country, and primarily is used each weekend to visit children's hospitals wherever the Indy Racing League competes.

"On behalf of the team, we'd like to extend our thanks to the Marion County Sheriff's department for their quick recovery efforts," said team owner Dennis Reinbold. "We'd also like to thank Scott Jasek at Sinden and the local media for their great job in getting the story out and alerting the public."

Co-owner Robbie Buhl, former driver of the stolen car, was ecstatic with the return of the vehicle. Buhl is the national spokesperson for the "Racing for Kids" charity, and has accompanied the car visiting thousands of young hospital patients.

"To the thieves: Thanks-you did the right thing," Buhl said. "You've made a lot of sick kids very happy by returning their race car. Our mission with Racing for Kids can continue to do good things and brighten their days at children's hospitals across the country."

Andretti takes to Phoenix oval for refresher test Andretti takes to Phoenix oval for refresher testMichael Andretti, who will race in the 90th Indianapolis 500 in May, will test an Andretti Green Racing Honda-powered Dallara at Phoenix International Raceway on Jan. 26 as part of an IRL refresher test.

Andretti, who made four starts in the 2003 season before retiring to focus on team ownership, last drove an IndyCar Series machine at the 2003 Indianapolis 500.

"I'm excited for sure," Andretti said. "It'll be interesting to see how long it takes to get up to speed. Three years is a long time, but we'll find out. Marco is starting to go pretty quick now. I'm starting to get a little nervous that he's going to be quicker than me. That's not good. I just want to get comfortable again and hopefully get on pace. That's all I want to do is be on pace and get my feel back."

Scheckter tests for Vision Racing Scheckter tests for Vision RacingIRL IndyCar® Series veteran Tomas Scheckter shared Vision Racing's Honda-powered Dallara with Ed Carpenter during the second day of the IndyCar Series' two-day test at Phoenix International Raceway Jan. 25.
Scheckter, who claimed his second IndyCar Series win last season at Texas Motor Speedway, recorded 71 laps with a best lap of 175.277 mph, while Carpenter turned 56 laps with a top lap of 175.073 mph.

"It's only a half a day test, and obviously the team is limited with tires," Scheckter said. "We just want to run some laps and see how it goes."

Though the team has not announced plans to field a second car in the IndyCar Series, Scheckter said he was hopeful the test would lead to more with Vision Racing. zzzz

"I've talked to (engineer) David (Cripps) and (team manager) Larry (Curry) and obviously (team co-owner) Tony (George) about adding me to the team," he said. "They want to add a second car, and they want to go about it the right way. They want to win races, so hopefully we can work something out."

Scheckter, the son of former Formula One champion Jody Scheckter, added he targeted a ride with Vision because of his desire to stay in the IndyCar Series.

"This is where I want to be," he said. "It's a great racing series, and I've put four years of my career into this. I want to see the series succeed, and I want to do a good job for whoever I'm driving for."

Formula BMW
The Canadian factor! The Canadian factor!Canadian race car drivers have made an impact on the world of motorsport. Not only famous names as Jacques Villeneuve with the BMW Sauber F1 Team are competing in the top leagues of racing, but also the next generation of young Canadian racers continues to succeed in one the world's leading entry-level classes in Formula racing, the Formula BMW USA championship.

Formula BMW USA can look back on two sensational seasons in which talented young Canadians made a substantial contribution to the success of the championship.

In its first season Junior driver James Hinchcliffe (18) of Oakville, Ontario won the 2004 Formula BMW USA Rookie of the Year title. "Being a Canadian racing in Formula BMW USA was fantastic," Hinchcliffe stated. "Obviously there are far more Americans in the series so it was nice to be one of the few to represent Canada and bring some success." In 2005 the youngster raced in the Star Mazda Series finishing third in the Overall Championship.

The Champ Car Atlantic Championship is all new for Hinchcliffe in 2006 and he takes stock of his previous successes, "Formula BMW USA was such a good springboard into professional motorsport because we were put in front of the right people to be noticed. Considering Canada's relatively small population, it produces a very high number of racing talents. Every year another driver from Canada finds success. I am glad that I was one of them and look forward to seeing what Canadians can do in the motorsport scene in the coming years."

In its second year, the Formula BMW USA championship announced three Canadian scholarship recipients out of six: Kevin Lacroix (16) of Saint-Eustache, Quebec; Robert Wickens (16) of Toronto, Ontario; and Adrien Herberts (16) of Coquitlam, British Columbia. The young Canadian guns competed very successfully in 2005: Lacroix won the runner-up title, followed by Wickens finishing third in the Overall and Rookie point standings.

Additionally, Robert Wickens won the invitational Formula BMW race at the Race of Champions in Paris, France and competed in the inaugural Formula BMW World Final in Bahrain. At the Bahrain International Circuit the youngster showed impressive speed in four days of competition. Despite having to start from the back of the field, he passed 21 competitors in the World Final race to finish sixth.

Afterwards he was offered the chance to become the first Canadian ever to join the Red Bull Junior Team. "Being the first Canadian to be a part of the Red Bull Junior Team really means a lot to me," stated Robert. "Canada has a lot of really talented up-and-coming drivers and for me to be chosen is a real honor. I hope to make Canada proud!"

Wickens will return to the Formula BMW USA championship in 2006 as a Formula BMW Scholarship recipient and member of the Red Bull Junior Team. "I think that Formula BMW is the best development series for young racers coming out of karting," said Wickens. "With its Education and Coaching Program it is the only series in the world that actually helps to develop the best racers possible. I'm sure I will use what I have learned from this program for many years to come."

With the decision to sign Canadian Jacques Villeneuve to the new BMW Sauber F1 Team, BMW selected one of the truly eminent representatives in the world of motorsport. The reasons why Canada produces such good open-wheel race car drivers is difficult to explain for the passionate Formula One pilot, "I am not sure, but perhaps it's because of growing up always doing motocross, skiing and that stuff. Since I was five years old I was racing cars, and then I had no other choice, but to make sure I would be good enough to be successful."

Regarding the success of the Canadians in the Formula BMW USA championship Villeneuve stated, "I don't know them personally, but it's good that there is a series that can allow younger people to start racing, to get out of go-karts and to move to the next level. There is not just one road to success. There are many different roads and you have to take the opportunities where they are."

The road many young Canadian racers are taking is Formula BMW USA and they are finding that their natural talent combined with one of the world's most unique entry-level open wheel racing championships is fast making them hot properties as they climb the world motorsports ladder. Formula BMW

Rolex 24 Tidbits from GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Rolex 24 Tidbits from GAINSCO/Blackhawk RacingDaytona Legacy:  The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona began in 1962, originally as a three-hour event.  The winner?  American racing legend Dan Gurney.  He won the first event in the Lotus 19 Ford.  In 1966 the race changed to its current 24 hour format.

44 Years Later:  Alex Gurney, son of Dan, will make his Rolex 24 debut; 44 years after his father won the inaugural event.  Alex has a great shot; he opened the recent series test at Daytona fastest!

Rocky Repeat?  Rocky Moran Jr. will also try to repeat his father’s success in America’s longest professional race.  His father, Rocky Sr. won the event in 1993 while driving for Dan Gurney in the Toyota Eagle. This race will be Rocky Jr.’s first Grand American event.

Another Victory for Vasser?  While the 2006 Rolex 24 will be Vasser’s first time competing in the event in this century, he has enjoyed success there in the past.  Vasser won the 1992 IMSA Lights class while driving for Comptech, and finished third at the historic event in 1999, when he drove the Ferrari 333P.  zzzz

A Late Start but a Very Quick Learner:  GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing owner and driver Bob Stallings took a nontraditional approach to his racing career; he started it only six years ago!  After attending the three-day course at the Bondurant School of Racing in Phoenix (a gift from his wife, Linda), Bob realized he had passion and a lot of talent on the racetrack.   Earning his first title just four years later, Stallings won the 2004 SCCA National Atlantic Championship, setting records in the 240 hp open wheel machine.

GAINSCO Auto Insurance and Blackhawk Racing – The Common Factor: Auto racing and auto insurance have common synergy; they are both regulated, yet people’s individual excellence, whether its drivers, insurance agents, or a crew-member determines their success.  Therefore, they both differentiate and succeed the same way, through the excellence of their people.

Driven for Success in 2006: GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing made their Grand American debut in 2005 and enjoyed immediate success. The Dallas based team earned two poles, a podium finish and led dozens of laps in just nine races.  With the experience and success of their rookie season under their belts, the team is prepared for success at all 15 events on the 2006 Grand American series schedule.

Endurance Statistics – GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing – We Are Driven!
What it takes:

Distance: 700 laps or 2470 miles in a 24 hour period.
Equivalent to driving from Los Angeles to New York City in 24 hours at an average speed of 120 mph.

Pitstops: 30
The Blackhawk Racing crew will remain in place for 24 hours, prepared to change tires, fuel or make repairs on a moments notice.  This is an endurance race for the cars, drivers and the team.

Tires: 27 sets of Hoosier Tires

Fuel: 500 gallons of race fuel

Gearbox: There are 22 shifts per lap, that’s 15,400 shifts in the 24 hour period.
That’s tough on the Xtrac gearbox; the drivers must take care of the equipment in order to make it to the end.

Turns: They’ll turn 9,100 times over 24 hours.
Based on 13 turns per lap.

Speed: The top speed is 185 mph.  The race lap average is 120 mph.
Caution periods and pitstops will take the average to approximately 103 mph.

Braking: 3500 hard braking zones

The prize: $100,000.00, a custom-designed Rolex watch for each driver and pure gratification.

*Statistics courtesy of GAINSC/Blackhawk Engineering.

Q and A with Wood Brothers /JTG Racing team Q and A with Wood Brothers /JTG Racing teamThe Lowe’s Motor Speedway media tour continued on Wednesday with a stop at the new Wood Brothers/JTG Racing shop, where the team’s driver-crew chief lineup was present.  The newly formed organization will run one full-time Nextel Cup Series team, two full-time Busch Series teams, and two full-time Craftsman Truck Series teams.   A transcript of formal remarks, in addition to a brief Q&A session, follows. More....
Carpentier to make his 2006 Racing debut Carpentier to make his 2006 Racing debutCanadian driver Patrick Carpentier will make his 2006 racing debut this weekend with Cheever Racing at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The Canadian driver joined Cheever Racing last December to drive in the opening round of the 2006 Grand Am Rolex Series at Daytona. Carpentier will share the No. 39 Cheever Racing Lexus Crawford with team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. and Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi. Fittipaldi made the transition to Grand Am a few years ago following a career in Formula One and Champ Car. As for Cheever, he also raced in Formula One, Champ Car and IRL before becoming a team owner in both IRL and the Rolex Grand Am Series.

 "I like this type of car," said Patrick who drove for Cheever Racing's IndyCar Series team in 2005. "There are still a lot things for me to learn about the car, but a 24-hour race is almost half a season of single-seater racing. We are only one of two teams to run the Crawford chassis with a Lexus engine, so there are still things to improve before the car becomes very competitive. Lexus has worked extensively on the engine package to give us more top-end speed, something we lacked during our last test session in early January. We want to be competitive and win this race, but this is a 24-hour race. Anything can happen."

"Official testing begins Thursday morning and Christian (Fittipaldi) should qualify the car during the afternoon only session. Eddie (Cheever) knows that Christian has the most experience with this type of cars and he is the most qualified to do the work." zzzz

Carpentier will add a new chapter to his racing history by participating in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, North America's premier endurance race. Carpentier will be testing the 3.56-mile Daytona International Raceway road circuit for the third time on Thursday.

The 44th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona is run Jan. 26-29 at Daytona International Raceway. Drivers will be on track on Thursday morning for two sessions. Qualifying for the Daytona 24 Hours will start Thursday at 3:45 p.m.

Synergy Racing drivers start Rolex 24 with visit to Speediatrics Synergy Racing drivers start Rolex 24 with visit to SpeediatricsDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Three Synergy Racing drivers kicked off their trip to the Rolex 24 At Daytona with a visit to the Speediatrics unit at Halifax Memorial Hospital in Daytona Beach. Burt and Brian Frisselle, of Kihei, Hawaii, and Leh Keen, of Dublin, Ga., visited with patients and their families in the racing-themed pediatric unit, signing autographs, posing for photos and talking about this weekend's 24-hour race.

Both of the Frisselle brothers had previously visited Speediatrics during prior visits to Daytona Beach for races, but today marked Keen's first visit to the unit.

Pictured right, Synergy Racing drivers Brian Frisselle (left), Leh Keen (center) and Burt Frisselle (right) visit with a young patient in the Speediatrics unit at Halifax Memorial Hospital located near Daytona International Speedway.

Located not far from the fourth turn at Daytona International Speedway, Speediatrics is the NASCAR-themed, 31-bed pediatric unit at Halifax Medical Center.  In surroundings designed by Betty Jane France, with modern equipment and experienced staff, children literally race to the finish line of recovery in a fun-filled facility often visited by top NASCAR and sports car drivers. The Speediatrics theme has been expanded to include the Pediatric Emergency room at Halifax Medical Clinic and several areas of Halifax Behavioral Services. zzzz

The Frisselle brothers will pilot the No. 8 Rx.com Porsche Doran Daytona Prototype with Patrick Huisman in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, while Keen teams with David Murry and Craig Stanton in the No. 80 SHOES FOR CREWS® Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.

Practice for the Rolex 24 At Daytona will begin on Thursday morning, with first-round qualifying taking place on Thursday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. Additional practice sessions and second-round qualifying will take place on Friday. The Rolex 24 will start at noon on Saturday and conclude 24 hours later at noon on Sunday. More than 13 hours of the race, including the start and finish, will be broadcast live on SPEED. 

For additional information visit daytonainternationalspeedway.com or grandamerican.com.

Audi R10 already almost as quick as the Audi R8 Audi R10 already almost as quick as the Audi R8Testing at Sebring (Florida), the new Audi R10 proved that the ambitious target of AUDI AG to fight for the overall victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours with a diesel-powered sports car is not unrealistic. Dindo Capello and Frank Biela, driving the two R10 prototypes, set the fastest times at the official "Winter Test” of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) on the last of the three days – helped also by the lower ambient temperature compared to the two previous days.
With his best time of 1m 47.308s, Dindo Capello beat the track record which was set in 2002, and was less than a second slower than the fastest lap time of the car’s successful predecessor, the R8 set during tire testing last winter. Frank Biela achieved a personal best of 1m 48.284s after completing a different test program. zzzz
"I felt at home in the R10 after two laps,” said Capello who drove the new diesel sports car for the first time at Sebring. "The R10 has the typical DNA of Audi. After the bad season in the DTM, it was important for me to show that I’m still fast and hungry. I know, however, that the conditions were perfect today. The track had a lot of grip and temperatures were low. At Sebring, conditions keep changing all the time. Therefore, the results are difficult to judge – especially as our strongest competitors did not run anymore on the last day.”
Lap times were anyway less important for Audi Sport’s development team compared to the fact that the infant diesel sports car showed no serious weak points also during its third test. Despite this, the Audi drivers were not able to turn as many laps as hoped for during the first two days: On Monday, a minor modification to the suspension of the R10 was necessary. Following a puncture on Dindo Capello´s car, both new Audis remained in the pits on Tuesday afternoon. A damaged electronic cable cost Frank Biela almost the entire Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, however, the two Audi R10 cars ran almost trouble-free and completed 262 of the total of 400 test laps (2,380 kilometres).
"We had a few small problems which cost us time,” said Frank Biela who, in spite of this, was still positive about the test: "We worked through a lot of the things we wanted to. Therefore we can be satisfied. We came to Sebring in order to uncover teething troubles with the R10. That’s exactly what we did.” Audi
Audi R10 smashes Sebring record again Audi R10 smashes Sebring record againIf Wednesday is any indication, the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring could make more history than we thought. For starters, Rinaldo Capello went 0.7 seconds under the track qualifying record in his Audi R10, a tremendous prospect for the R10’s debut race next month. Capello’s lap of 1:47.308 best teammate Frank Biela’s qualifying pass of 1:48.029, set in 2002.

That was just one highlight on what was a pretty quiet day at Sebring International Raceway.

The other interesting development saw all seven GT2 cars break Timo Bernhard’s class qualifying record of 2:04.804 from 2004. Leading the way was Scott Maxwell in Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz’s No. 50 Panoz Esperante GTLM with an astounding 2:02.585. Imagine what the Esperante will be lapping with another month-and-a-half of development.

The second best time of the day in GT2 came from Joey Hand in the No. 21 BMW Team PTG BMW3 at 2:03.335, a lap that still was 1.5 seconds better than the record. Next was the other Panoz Esperante, this one the No. 80 Team LNT entry driven by Tom Kimber-Smith. The youngster did himself proud with a 2:03.448 around the 3.7-mile, 17-turn road course.

The other big mover of the day was Jon Field in the No. 37 Intersport Racing Lola B05/40-AER. After jumping in the car with about 20 minutes left in the final session, he turned 1:51.094. Looks like it’s going to be a pretty good battle come March.

AROUND THE PADDOCK: Dyson Racing’s new Lola B06/10-AER turned one lap during Wednesday morning’s session due to a water pump problem. The team chalked that up to “teething problems” with the new car. … As expected, Graham Rahal got behind the wheel of one of BMW Team PTG’s BMW M3s Wednesday morning. The 17-year-old’s best time was a 2:07.28 on his 20th lap. It wasn’t a bad time considering his tires had 60 laps on them. Team officials are considering adding Rahal as a driver for 2006.

The American Le Mans Series begins its 2006 season with the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The 12-hour endurance classic is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. EST on March 18 at Sebring International Raceway and will be televised on SPEED Channel. American Le Mans Series Radio will have flag-to-flag coverage available at www.americanlemans.com, along with IMSA Live Timing & Scoring. ALMS

Auto Show visitors can win Houston GP tickets Auto Show visitors can win Houston GP ticketsAutomotive enthusiasts attending the 2006 Houston Auto Show will have a lot to be excited about this year, and that excitement will stem from more than the usual array of spectacular concept cars and the latest automotive products. That's because fans are welcoming back world-class motorsports to Space City with the 2006 Grand Prix of Houston, and the Grand Prix will host a booth at the Auto Show to give visitors an in-depth preview of all of the exciting action. Best of all, by stopping by the booth at the Auto Show fans will have a chance to win tickets to the highly anticipated Grand Prix, which will take place May 11 - 13 at Reliant Park.

One lucky Auto Show visitor will be selected each day to win a pair of "Super Tickets", which include three-day reserved Grandstand seating and three days of Paddock Passes for the Grand Prix of Houston. Fans can register simply by filling out an entry form at the Grand Prix display, and a daily winner will be randomly selected from all entries received.

In addition to the ticket giveaway, the Grand Prix of Houston's display at the Auto Show will include a Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team show car - an exotic, open-wheel racecar much like the 750 horsepower Champ Cars that will roar around Reliant Park in May. Visitors will also have the opportunity to admire a large diagram of the course layout for the Grand Prix of Houston, a 1.7 mile temporary street track with fast straightaways and hair-pin turns that will optimize the experience for the fans and drivers alike. Representatives from the Grand Prix will be on hand to educate fans about the upcoming event and provide information about ticket and hospitality packages, which are now available through Ticketmaster, Reliant Park, and the Grand Prix of Houston office.

The Houston Auto Show will take place Jan. 28 through Feb. 5 at Reliant Park. Auto Show hours are: Saturdays 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sundays noon to 7:00 p.m., Mon. - Thurs. noon to 9:30 p.m., and Fri. noon to 10:00 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and kids 12 and under get in free when accompanied by an adult. For more information about the Houston Auto Show, please visit www.houstonautoshow.com. For more information about the Grand Prix of Houston, please visit http://www.grandprixofhouston.com.

Rusty Wallace to become lead ABC/ESPN racing analyst Rusty Wallace to become lead ABC/ESPN racing analystESPN announced today that recently-retired NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace will become the lead auto racing analyst for ESPN/ABC Sports when the nets return to televising NASCAR in ’07.  Wallace, who this season will report from at least 20 NASCAR races for “SportsCenter,” will debut with on-site coverage for the show from the Daytona 500.  He will also be an analyst for the ’06 IRL season, including the Indy 500, and will serve as analyst for ESPN2’s upcoming daily motor sports series. ESPN
Things looking good for BMW Team PTG Things looking good for BMW Team PTGSo far, BMW Team PTG’s return to the American Le Mans Series has gone well. Actually, make that very well – so well in fact that team owner Tom Milner has been genuinely surprised.

“Yes, I’m a little surprised at how well it’s going so far,” Milner admitted Wednesday, the final day of the American Le Mans Series Winter Test. “It speaks well for Yokohama as a product and BMW as a product. Yes, we haven’t raced for a couple of years, but it feels like nothing has changed.”

So begins the first full season in the Series for BMW since 2001, when the prestigious German marque won the GT class championship. Things have started well for BMW Team PTG, as evidenced by Joey Hand’s fast lap in Wednesday morning’s practice session. He turned a 2:03. 355, the best GT2 lap of the week, that was about 1.5 seconds better than the class qualifying record (2:04.804 by Timo Bernhard). Not bad for a car that has been sitting in the team shop for a year-and-a-half, Milner said.

He credited not just the team, but also long-standing tire partner Yokohama, which has been working on creating new compounds and tire constructions for BMW Team PTG’s return to the Series. zzzz

“I was well aware with the past relationship, and from the day I walked in the door it was going to be a top priority,” said Robert Dole, Yokohama’s product promotions manager. “ We’re very committed to the American Le Mans Series in general, but to be specifically involved with BMW Team PTG was something we wanted to rekindle.

“Over the last few years, we’ve made improvements,” he added. “We started with some basic setup things we had during the last race (2003 Petit Le Mans). We made some estimates with where we want to go.”

For the most part they’ve been dead-on, said Bill Auberlen. A driver for Panoz Motor Sports in 2005 and 2002, Auberlen is back with BMW for 2006. There’s definitely a comfort level there, as some of Auberlen’s best moments came with Milner and BMW in the early years of the American Le Mans Series.

“As a driver, it’s fantastic,” Auberlen said. “To come back into the American Le Mans Series with the BMW M3 is the best thing you can do in racing. I had so much success with Tom and PTG. Then to reincarnate that relationship with Yokohama is a tremendous positive. This thing is going to be a winning program.”

How long that will take is what everyone wants to know. Auberlen knows all too well how good the class is, having won in the Panoz Esperante last year. And Milner knows the strengths of Porsche and the Esperante efforts from Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz.

“This is just a test, but from the reports I’ve gotten and have seen, and for the first time out with the tire situation, I’m pretty happy,” Milner said. “We’re very happy to be back in the American Le Mans Series, and we realize that life won’t be very easy.

“We haven’t raced in the Series for four years,” he added. “To say we’re going to come to Sebring and say we are going to win wouldn’t be fair. We believe that during the course of the year we can be competitive.”

The American Le Mans Series begins its 2006 season with the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The 12-hour endurance classic is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. EST on March 18 at Sebring International Raceway and will be televised on SPEED Channel. American Le Mans Series Radio will have flag-to-flag coverage available at www.americanlemans.com, along with IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.

BDR and CAT to field Camry in 07 BDR and CAT to field Camry in 07The lineup for the 2007 Toyota Camry NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams was announced late Tuesday evening at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Included in the lineup were three team owners and multiple sponsors, including Bill Davis Racing (BDR) and Caterpillar. Tuesday evening’s rollout follows Monday’s announcement by NASCAR and Toyota, confirming the manufacturer will increase its involvement in the sport by stepping up to the NEXTEL Cup competition in 2007.

“This is obviously huge for Bill Davis Racing and our sponsors,” said Bill Davis, BDR Team Owner and President. “It is a great honor and opportunity to be able to continue to build on what we have already accomplished with Toyota as a partner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and carry that alignment over to our NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series program.” Toyota first appeared on the NASCAR scene in 2004, bringing its Toyota Tundra to the Craftsman Truck Series. In its first year of NASCAR competition, Toyota teams tallied four wins, five poles and 25 top-five finishes. This past year proved to be just as successful, as Toyota expanded to five teams and nine drivers in truck series competition, including three of the drivers and Tundras being housed at BDR. By the end of the season, Toyota added nine wins and 13 poles to its stats.

BDR driver Mike Skinner delivered two of the wins and seven of the poles, and his fellow BDR teammate Bill Lester added two more poles to Toyota’s credit. Skinner went on to finish fifth in the championship standings with his other teammate, Johnny Benson, finishing 10th. “Across the board, Toyota has a wealth of resources and has had great success in all of its motorsports endeavors,” Davis said. "They are dedicated to racing excellence.” Caterpillar, a long-time supporter of NASCAR and BDR, is also pleased with the announcement of Toyota’s plans for the 2007 NEXTEL Cup season.

"Caterpillar is excited to be part of Toyota Motorsports' 2007 NASCAR program,” said Caterpillar Group President, Gerry Shaheen. “Toyota has a well-known record of accomplishments in racing around the world. Caterpillar is a firm believer in competition and recognizes that it brings the best out in people and organizations.”

“Toyota's entry into the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will allow new owners and two-car teams like Bill Davis Racing to become more competitive. This is the essence of what NASCAR is all about. Caterpillar is pleased to be part of this next step in Toyota's program, which will help bring a better parity of racing back to NASCAR." Bill Davis Racing
What it takes Mad Max to complete the Rolex 25 What it takes Mad Max to complete the Rolex 25Max Papis is looking forward this weekend to participate in the prestigious Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 10th of his career! This race will also mark the 10-year anniversary of the likeable “Mad Max” nickname, when his American racing history and dream began. Since then, Max has a bag full of 24 hours endurance races, including four appearances at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and an impressive nine times the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

With an excellent chance of winning the race, this year Max re-joins Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, driving the #01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley, looking to duplicate his overall win in 2002 and SR class win in 2000 at Daytona International Speedway.

What it takes for Mad Max to complete the race (Stats by GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing/Pontiac-Riley):
Distance: 700 laps or 2470 miles in a 24 hour period. Equivalent to driving from Los Angeles to New York City in 24 hours at an average speed of 120 mph.
Pitstops: 30
The 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing crew will remain in place for 24 hours, prepared to change tires, fuel or make repairs on any moments notice. This is an endurance race for the cars, drivers and the team.
Tires: 27 sets of Hoosier Tires
Fuel: 500 gallons of race fuel
Gearbox: There are 22 shifts per lap, that's 15,400 shifts in the 24 hour period.
That's tough on the gearbox; the drivers must take care of the equipment in order to make it to the end.
Turns: They'll turn 9,100 times over 24 hours. Based on 13 turns per lap.
Speed: The top speed is 185 mph. The race lap average is 120 mph.
Caution periods and pitstops will take the average to approximately 103 mph.
Braking: 3500 hard braking zones

Cheever Racing announces IndyPro team Cheever Racing announces IndyPro teamCheever Racing today announced a comprehensive driver development program with the goal of bringing its own new talent to the Indy Racing League’s IndyCar Series.  Formtek and CareCentric, Inc. will partner with veteran Indy Racing League team to field an Indy Pro Series entry for American driver Chris Festa this season. 

“The Indy Pro Series, now well established in its fifth season, offers Cheever Racing an opportunity to take a young gun like Chris and build him up with the final expectation of racing at the Indianapolis 500,” owner Eddie Cheever, Jr. said. “Our entire group is looking forward to working with Chris on this objective.” 

This will be the second year of competition in the Indy Pro Series for the 20-year-old from Atlanta, Ga. Festa finished sixth in the series standings in 2005 with a season-best result of second place at Phoenix International Raceway, and five other top-five finishes. zzzz

“I am excited to be joining Cheever Racing, it is a great opportunity,” Festa said. “I have great respect for Eddie as a driver and owner.  I have met the team of engineers and mechanics I will be working with, and together I believe we will be a serious contender in the Pro Series will be a bridge to the IndyCar Series and even some Grand-Am races.” 

Festa, a current marketing major at Florida State University, has one focus in racing: to compete at the top levels of open-wheel competition. He has followed a racing career path that started with racing karts from ages 13 to 18, to racing Toyota Atlantics in 2004 and now the Indy Pro Series. 

The No. 51 Formtek/CareCentric Cheever Racing entry will be the first Indy Pro Series team for Cheever Racing, one of the original teams of the Indy Racing League’s IndyCar Series. 

“With two events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and a good combination of oval and road course races, the Indy Pro Series is a good place for America’s future open-wheel racers to be driving and learning,” Cheever said. 

The 2006 Indy Pro Series championship begins March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The highlights of the 12-race series includes the Freedom 100 on May 26 at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, and the Liberty Challenge during the United States Grand Prix weekend at Indy on July 1.

SPEED to televise all '06 Atlantic races SPEED to televise all '06 Atlantic racesThere will be many new and exciting facets to the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama in 2006, but the series will rely on experienced and trusted broadcast partners to bring all of the exciting on-track Atlantic action to television viewers this season. All 12 Champ Car Atlantic Championship events in ’06 will be broadcast on the SPEED network, available through cable and satellite television providers in the United States, Canada and Mexico. This marks the fifth consecutive year that television’s top motorsports network will carry all of the racing from North America’s premier open-wheel development series.

With an infusion of youth and talent driven by the lure of racing the new generation Atlantic Swift 016.a powered by a 300-horsepower Cosworth engine, the competition promises to be fierce this season. The experienced team of the Mullin Production Group will capture all of the dramatic images from the 2006 campaign, returning for its 13th consecutive year of producing Atlantic events. The Los Angeles-based group has also expanded its efforts to produce all Champ Car World Series telecasts in 2006.

“We expect to see one of the most competitive seasons in the 33-year history of Atlantics this season and we’re so happy that both SPEED and the Mullin Production Group are back with us to showcase all of the action,” said Vicki O’Connor, Managing Director of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. “Nobody knows how to bring Atlantic racing to life like these guys.”  zzzz

With the competitors fighting for the ultimate prize – the Atlantic title and the unprecedented $2 million Champ Car champion’s bonus – SPEED will provide flag-to-flag coverage, airing one hour-long, tape-delayed race broadcasts typically on the Saturday or Sunday afternoons following all 12 rounds of competition. The 2006 schedule, detailed below, features six Saturday and six Sunday original race broadcasts. All events are scheduled to be re-broadcast on SPEED on the Wednesday afternoon following the original telecast.

“SPEED gives viewers a full taste of motorsports,” said Rick Miner, SPEED SVP of Programming and Production. “Whether it’s covering the current stars of the various series or offering fans a glimpse of the future through coverage of such events as the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, SPEED is the total motorsports package. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Champ Car, with an ever-present eye on developing more projects to share with their fans and our viewers.”
The ’06 schedule gets off to a roaring start when the new generation Atlantic series takes the green flag at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. SPEED’s coverage of the season-opening race will air on Sunday, April 16 at 1 p.m. EDT. From there, the Atlantics return to Houston for the first time since the 2001 season, this time racing on the streets around Reliant Park. The Houston event marks the first Saturday broadcast with the race set to air on May 20 at 1 p.m. EDT. Other schedule highlights include a full two-hour block of Atlantic action on Sunday, July 2 as SPEED will broadcast both races from the doubleheader weekend at Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport in the 11 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT time slot. The race for the series championship and the 2006 season will conclude at one of North America’s top road circuits, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, with the finale to premier on Sunday, October 8 at 3 p.m. EDT on SPEED.

In addition to the outstanding season-long coverage on SPEED, 2006 Atlantic series will once again air on the American Forces Radio & Television Service (AFRTS), reaching U.S. servicemen and women in 77 countries throughout the world.

The Champ Car Atlantic Championship continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. Beginning its 33rd season in 2006, the championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. 2005 Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer are also established Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger. Competing in newly-designed Swift 016.a chassis powered by a 2.3-liter Cosworth engine riding on Yokohama ADVAN Racing Slicks, 2006 competitors will fight for the 12-race championship and the unique $2 million Champ Car series champion’s bonus. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.champcaratlantic.com.

Massa puts Ferrari on top in Barcelona Massa puts Ferrari on top in BarcelonaFelipe Massa set the fastest time in his Ferrari today in Barcelona.  Honda drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello had the opportunity to test the new RA106 introduced earlier today at the team’s official launch of the car.

Newcomer Robert Kubica was slowest as expected, but he was still elated to be in an F1 car.

"Today a dream became true for me. Everything is new and exciting, I'm really happy to drive for the BMW Sauber F1 Team. I took it easy today, it's just the beginning, and I have a lot to learn. It's fun to drive in a Formula One car on the Barcelona track with its fast corners where you can really feel the G forces."

In total thirteen drivers were in action today, including Scott Speed with Scuderia Toro Rosso, the first of a two-day testing program for the Faenza-based team this week.

1 . F. Massa - Ferrari F2004M V8 - 1:15.664 (+ 0.000 ) - 67 laps
2 . F. Alonso - Renault R26 - 1:16.200 (+ 0.536 ) - 94 laps
3 . J. Button - Honda RA106 - 1:16.578 (+ 0.914 ) - 72 laps
4 . G. Fisichella - Renault R26 - 1:16.728 (+ 1.064 ) - 84 laps
5 . R. Barrichello - Honda RA106 - 1:16.737 (+ 1.073 ) - 52 laps
6 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF106 - 1:17.068 (+ 1.404 ) - 61 laps
7 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber F1.06 - 1:17.076 (+ 1.412 ) - 109 laps
8 . O. Panis - Toyota TF106 - 1:17.422 (+ 1.758 ) - 91 laps
9 . J. P. Montoya - McLaren Mercedes MP4-21 - 1:17.481 (+ 1.817 ) - 80 laps
10 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Ferrari RB2 - 1:17.582 (+ 1.918 ) - 76 laps
11 . S. Speed - Scuderia Toro Rosso RB1 V10 - 1:18.092 (+ 2.428 ) - 86 laps
12 . G. Paffett - McLaren Mercedes MP4-20B V10 - 1:18.247 (+ 2.583 ) - 68 laps
13 . R. Kubica - BMW Sauber C24B - 1:20.016 (+ 4.352 ) - 61 laps.

MB2 only has partial-year funding MB2 only has partial-year fundingMB2 Motorsports CEO Jay Frye said Tuesday that the team right now has sponsorship commitments for only 14 of 36 races this season for Sterling Marlin’s #14 Chevy.  Frye said he expected to have another partial sponsor signed by week’s end to take 12 additional races and has some good candidates to sponsor the car in the remaining 10 dates. As for the team’s part-time #36 third car, which will be driven at Daytona by Bill Elliott, it only has sponsorship for two races at the moment. Frye said if he can find funding for it, Elliott, Boris Said or both could do some additional races behind the wheel. Speed Channel
Did IRL fix loophole in their rules yet? Did IRL fix loophole in their rules yet?A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Has the IRL fixed the loophole in their rules yet whereby a lightweight driver like Danica Patrick has a distinct advantage? I have not see a press release on it. Isn't this really the same thing as one team cheating with a car that is 50 pounds underweight? Jeff Morton, Sacramento Dear Jeff, Whereas NASCAR, Champ Car and F1 ballast their cars to take away any weight advantage a lightweight driver may have, we are not aware that the IRL has done so yet. In fact we doubt they will. It benefits the IRL PR-wise to have Danica winning races, and if this loophole helps her do that, we simply don't see them changing the rule. Is it cheating? Technically, no, morally, yes! AutoRacing1.com Staff
Audi R10 beats last year’s Sebring pole time already Audi R10 beats last year’s Sebring pole time alreadyThe new Audi R10 grabbed the headlines once again on second day of the American Le Mans Series’ (ALMS) "Winter Test” in Sebring. Audi driver Dindo Capello gave the first glimpse of the new diesel sportscar’s potential: With his fastest lap of 1m 48.816s, the Audi driver dipped under last year’s pole position time by almost one second. Ulrich Baretzky, Head of Engine Technology at Audi Sport, talks about the 650 hp V12 TDI engine’s course of development and the Audi R10 test at Sebring.
What does the lap time set by Dindo Capello mean?
Ulrich Baretzky: "Not a great deal. It wasn’t our target to set a competitive lap time at any cost here. For us it is a question of gathering data and to sort out the car. The time obviously shows that we are heading down the right path with the R10 concept. You have to take into account that this is only our third test with a completely new car. There’s a long way to go before Le Mans, it’s not just about doing one fast lap there, but reliability is of far more importance.”
It would appear to be a surprise for many people that the V12 TDI engine in the R10 is not only very quiet, but that it produces absolutely no smoke…
Baretzky: "From the very beginning it was our target that our diesel was unrecognizable, in much the same way as our production cars, as a diesel – particularly not by a cloud of smoke, but in fact through its low noise level, by its low consumption and its performance. Our goal was to develop a low emission diesel engine and we chose to go without one or two horsepower for the benefit of smoke free running. We are also using new particle filters here at Sebring for the first time, which have proven to be extremely effective till now. My colleagues from the chassis side aren’t quite as fond of them as they are actually fairly big. However, you come away with clean fingers even if you rub the tail pipe after 20 laps. This is exactly what we wanted to achieve. Our TDI engine is powerful and clean.”
The V12 TDI engine powering the R10 already appears to be extremely reliable. Was this to be expected?
Baretzky: "Nothing can be taken for granted. The R10 project is very ambitious, particularly as we have broken completely new ground, there were a lot of unanswered questions and there still are. In contrast to the development of the R8 we had the added advantage that we had gathered experience on the dynamometer, which we didn’t posses seven years ago. Here at the track, we can concentrate on things that could not be simulated on the dynamometer – including bumpy circuits and heat.”
The R10 was tested under very hot conditions at Sebring for the first time. What were the results?
Baretzky: "There were quite a few surprises – however, all mainly of a positive nature. The cooler configuration and the entire diesel fuel-system number among the things that can not be simulated on the test bench. You can’t simulate an engine cover or a headwind, a pit lane or the track temperature. You simply can’t simulate everything under a laboratory environment. You also need the track tests.”
Problems arose in Sebring which had previously not been encountered at the two European tests.
Baretzky: "That’s exactly why we are here. We want to sort out the teething problems, and the Sebring circuit is perfectly suited for this. I would have been worried if nothing had happened. The earlier we find the weak points the sooner we can solve them. After all we don’t want a trouble free run during testing, but in fact during the race in Le Mans.”
Rocketsports owner Gentilozzi honored Rocketsports owner Gentilozzi honoredRocketsports Racing team owner Paul Gentilozzi has been awarded many honors throughout his 37 years of involvement in the auto racing industry, both on-track and off-track. Most recently, Gentilozzi was named as one of the fourteen inductees into the Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the 2006 class.

The award is given to individuals that graduated in the Greater Lansing Area High School and are being honored for their exemplary service and Championship status. From the driver’s seat to the timing stand, firesuit to business suit, the Everett High School and Michigan State University grad has mastered many roles in the auto-racing industry. With each new undertaking, he has landed on his feet, ready for the next challenge. Whether it’s a test of his driving skills, the execution of a strategic sponsorship plan or the creation of innovative concept cars, Gentilozzi demands and delivers high standards of quality and performance in all of his endeavors.

“Motorsports is a different category for us, one that we have never acknowledged one of our own locals for,” said Bob Every, Chairman of the Selection Committee Members and Administration of the Physical Fitness and Wellness Department of Lansing Community College. “Paul Gentilozzi has done so many things in motorsports, which I believe is one of the biggest spectator sports in the world. From drag racing to his most recent involvement in open-wheel racing, he has revolutionized the sport in the Mid-West.

Gentilozzi began his racing career in 1969 driving an A-modified production 427 Camaro to kick off his thirteen-year NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) career. In 1982, the Lansing, Michigan resident expanded his career with a move from drag-racing to road-racing. What started as an engine-design idea, turned into a car-building project and resulted in a 24-year driving career, with races from Trans-Am in New Zealand to the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans in France. zzzz

Taking the Trans-Am Road Racing Series by storm in 1998, 1999, 2001, and 2004, Gentilozzi’s racing pedigree lead to four Championship Titles in the series. On July 9, 2005, Gentilozzi, at the age of 55, achieved the highest accomplishment possible in the series by breaking a 36-year standing record of 29 wins (held by Mark Donohue) when he took the checkered flag for his 30th Trans-Am victory on the streets of downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

“His career, both on-track and off, needs to be recognized,” continued Every on Gentilozzi’s induction. “It is something that is very unique to our area; he has been popular in his sporting arena, and achieved many great accomplished in his sport. He is a true champion.”

In the midst of Gentilozzi’s racing career, he formed East Lansing-based Rocketsports Racing in 1985. Leaders in engine and chassis design and construction, Rocketsports is one of the most diverse and accomplished companies of its kind in North America. Gentilozzi has kept the focus of Rocketsports on building fast cars and racing to win in both the Trans-Am Series and the Champ Car World Series. To this end, Rocketsports has claimed 65 professional victories as a team and thirteen championship titles, including Manufacture’s Championships for Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Ford and Jaguar.

In addition to his role of team owner, Gentilozzi owns and manages one of the largest commercial real estate portfolios in Mid-Michigan. The culmination of his experiences in and around race cars, circuits and successful businesses led Gentilozzi to the forefront of the Champ Car World Series. With Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS) partners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe, Gentilozzi played an instrumental role in securing the Champ Car World Series and preserving open-wheel racing in America and worldwide.

“It is definitely an honor to be recognized by the area that I call home,” stated Gentilozzi on his recent induction. “There are a lot of great people that should be recognized in the Greater Lansing Area, and I do not want to outshine any of them. What I do, is completely different then what most people would do in this area, in terms of the racing. It has always been a passion of mine and I have been lucky enough to find the support from family, friends, and sponsors to get me through all the good and bad times.”

A ceremony to honor the new class of inductees will be held on June 22 at the Lansing Community College campus.

Inaugurated on July 4, 1976, The Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame, which is founded by the Sports and Recreation Committee of the Lansing Bicentennial Commission, stands as a tribute to the nation’s legacy of athletic achievement in the Mid-Michigan Area. The first induction ceremonies took place on the campus of Lansing Community College. Ten individuals and three teams were inducted in the bicentennial year with the purpose of giving lasting recognition. Rocketsports

London GP is off - mayor London GP is off - mayor(GMMf1NET ) London will not host a grand prix any time soon, city mayor Ken Livingstone has admitted.

He told the 'Bloomberg' news agency that a much better value option to promote the British capital is hosting the opening stage of the famous 'Tour de France' bicycle race next year (2007).

The privilege will cost London $2.7m, in contrast to up to $100m to welcome Bernie Ecclestone's grand prix circus.

''It's dramatically less (money),'' Livingstone confirmed, but he refused to rule out ever reconsidering F1.

He added: ''If (Ecclestone) came back and said we could do it without a huge subsidy from the council tax payer, we would consider it.''

[Editor's Note: News of the proposed Champ Car race in Manchester, England died when Bernie started to make noises about an F1 race in London. In our view a race in London was never going to happen, and it was suspected that Bernie simply did not want Champ Car in his backyard until the new Concorde Agreement was settled as it would have only caused more competition in an already volatile situation. Now that things are settled down in F1 and the British GP appears to be on more sound footing, we wonder if Bernie will give the political nod for Champ Car to have a go at Manchester.]

NASCAR and Roush agree on downsizing NASCAR and Roush agree on downsizingFive-Team Owner Jack Roush said he and NASCAR have agreed on the basics of how to get his Nextel Cup team down to four cars, which was mandated by the sanctioning body late last season. “We will go back to four teams, but it’s not immediate,” Roush said. “There is a cap of four Cup teams.  I will comply with that when I’m past my commitments I have with drivers and sponsors. We’ve finally got an understanding of what is possible and what we can do.” Roush would not speculate on when his team might go back to four cars, but said his existing commitments expire between 2009 and 2011. Ford Racing
NASCAR to maintain purse money payout NASCAR to maintain purse money payoutNASCAR will attempt to keep race purses in 2007 at the same level as 2006 even though the television contract will be worth approximately $70 million to $100 million less. The new $4.48 billion contract eventually will increase the annual revenues, but the first year of the eight-year deal is less than the final year of the six-year deal signed in 2001. About 25% of the contract goes to the purse. The 2006 deal is worth approximately $575 million, while the 2007 deal is worth $470 million to $500 million, according to International Speedway Corp. estimates. "We're working on that to make sure that there is a smooth bridge," France said Jan. 23. "It is not uncommon - the NFL's deal has the same issue that we had. These contracts sometimes are back loaded. Even though the total amount is higher in the new contract, it could be a slight decrease from one year to the next. "But we'll work on that and to make sure we keep the purses going to the right direction." NASCAR could require tracks to put more money into the purses, NASCAR could put more money into the purse or NASCAR could increase the plan and contingency money to increase the purse. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
Nearly 50% of NASCAR fans against Toyota entry Nearly 50% of NASCAR fans against Toyota entryToyota will have their work cut out to convince NASCAR fans that their presence in the sport is a good according to an online survey by NASCAR.com.

The Japanese manufacturer announced on Monday that it will become the first foreign manufacturer to enter the sport since Jaguar in the 1950s, when it fields six cars in the series in 2007.

What do you think of Toyota's decision to go Nextel Cup racing in 2007?
I like it  34,549 31%
I don't like it  50,989 46%
Don't care either way  25,903 23%
TOTAL 111,441 Votes (as of 8:15 AM ET Wednesday) 

Willis confident Honda has fixed deficiencies Willis confident Honda has fixed deficienciesHonda Racing’s technical director Geoff Willis is confident the team has addressed the weaknesses that made it an also-ran in the 2005 world championship.

Speaking at the car's launch in Barcelona, Willis said the initial indications from the wind tunnel and track testing with the concept car have been positive.

“One of our key areas of focus has been aerodynamics, the design considerations for which were two-fold – the aero problem that we faced in 2005 and achieving a significant improvement in aerodynamic efficiency to meet the requirements of the new, smaller V8 engine and its implications on chassis design.

“We are pleased with the progress we have made in the wind tunnel over the winter and our data shows that we have made a good step forward.”

“The new car is the product of four years of steady evolution,” Willis said.

“During this time, the team has developed a high level of technical capability which now sees it designing, manufacturing and operating at the highest level on the grid.

“The emphasis now is on integration and combining our design concepts and expertise to achieve a car capable of challenging for race wins.

“Mechanically, in keeping with the evolutionary theme we have refined various concepts including our third-generation carbon composite gearbox.”

Two New Silver Crown Cars Sold Two New Silver Crown Cars SoldINDIANAPOLIS -- Stealth Motorsports has announced the purchase of two more new-generation Silver Crown cars for the 2006 season. RW Motorsports and Maverick Motorsports have committed to full-time stints in the series, with Mat Neely and Rich Tobias expected to be behind the wheel.

A reader adds, It has been a long time since I have seen a race car as ugly as the new USAC pavement car. It needs a rod sticking up with a tin flap on it like the bumper cars have. Dick Walsh, Beloit, Wis.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Ferrari axe Mugello plans
Schu content with number five
Rossi could test at Valencia - Todt
'Schu has two more years in him'
Byrne signs to stay at Ferrari
Montoya says he's on the market
'MF1' promises big test program
McLaren wants Ferrari sponsor in '06
Fisichella keeps driver's license
Fiat does not fund Ferrari - president
BMW had V8 vibration problem
Ferrari will let me win - Massa
Schu's new rearward view
Honda launch 'RA106' in Spain Honda launch 'RA106' in Spain(GMMf1NET )  Two of the first fully works 'Honda' F1 cars since 1968 were unveiled to the world's media at Circuit de Catalunya, in Spain, early Wednesday morning.

The 'RA106' cars - sporting unique scooped winglets at the front of the side pods - were taken to the track near Barcelona simultaneously by 2006 driver line-up Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello.

''Our target in 2006 is to challenge for race wins,' said team principal Nick Fry amidst the backdrop of the mostly evolutionary grand prix car, ''and we will do our utmost to achieve that objective.  Full report soon.

Tony Stewart meets George W. Tony Stewart meets George W.Tony Stewart (right) presents President Bush with a No. 20 Home Depot uniform during a visit at the White House on Tuesday. Looking on, left to right, are NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, crew chief Greg Zipadelli, Home Depot Chairman Bod Nardelli, and team owner Joe Gibbs. (Photo Credit: NASCAR/Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Durban expects R100m from A1 Grand Prix Durban expects R100m from A1 Grand PrixAlready a city with a huge market for customized cars and drag racing, Durban is gearing up to position itself as the hub of African motor racing. In a move towards this goal, the city will host the A1 Grand Prix for the first time on Sunday.

City management expects to draw in R100 million ($16.5 million) annually from the three-year contract to host the A1 Grand Prix. Tourism KwaZulu-Natal has projected that the event will boost the provincial economy by an estimated R110 million.

It is expected that the Grand Prix will attract about 100,000 people, 55 percent of whom will be local, 40 percent from out of town and 5 percent international tourists.

Julie-May Ellingson, the head of Durban's strategic projects unit, said the event was part of a broader strategy to position the city globally as a motor sports arena.

"We are not looking just at South Africa but want Durban to become the motor sports city for the continent," she said. The city has contributed R12.5 million towards preparation for the race. Its plan ties in neatly with the local passion for customized cars and motor sports.zzzz

Kas Moodley, the chairman of KwaZulu-Natal Motor Racing, said the local drag racing club was one of the largest in the country, with more than 450 members.

"The market in South Africa for motor racing is huge and our local legal drag races attract crowds of 10,000 to 12,000."

The huge interest in motor sports in Durban is borne out by the large numbers of motorists who spend thousands of rands customizing their cars. Craig Viriah, the manager of Slik Cars, which specializes in car accessories, said his average client spent up to R5,000.

However, this could go up to expenditure of R60,000 on extras including boot spoilers, headlight grills and nitrous oxide to boost a car's performance. Russell Curtis, the key clients general manager at the Durban Investment and Promotion Agency, said 25 countries would compete, with up to three cars each.

"Expenditure is anticipated from drivers, support teams, pit teams and a huge global automotive press following."

John van Rooyen, the director of operations KwaZulu-Natal for Southern Sun, said initial booking figures in and around Durban looked great.

"There are already high occupancy rates for the weekend of the A1 Grand Prix and we are expecting significant expenditure in the accommodation industry," he said. BusinessReport
Carpentier returns to Laguna Seca Carpentier returns to Laguna SecaA1 Team Canada announced last week that open-wheel racing standout Patrick Carpentier will represent Canada in the A1 Grand Prix of Nations in Round 9 of the inaugural “World Cup of Motorsport” at Fundidora Park, Monterrey, Mexico (February 24-26) and again in Round 10 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (March 10-12).

Carpentier, 34, from Joliette, Québec, is one of Canada’s most accomplished active motorsport talents with a professional career spanning eight seasons in the Champ Car World Series, where he scored five victories among 22 podium finishes and the 1997 Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year honors. In a full season in the Indy Racing League in 2005, he finished on the podium twice and led the League in laps completed.

His Champ Car victories included two consecutive wins in his last appearances at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. In 2003, the personable French Canadian dominated from the pole en route to his victory at Laguna Seca. He successfully defended his race championship in 2004 after starting on the front row next to pole-winner Sebastien Bourdais.

“I’m really excited to be representing Canada in the A1 Grand Prix Series,” Carpentier said. “I’m grateful to Wade Cherwayko for the offer to join the Canadian team and to Mecachrome for allowing me to compete in Mexico and the USA.  I won my last race at Laguna Seca in Champ Cars in 2004; I love the track and I know some of the other quick guys from the IRL are going to be representing their countries that weekend – it’s going to be a lot of fun!

“I’ve raced a couple of times at Fundidora Park in Mexico as well so, again, I know the track and can take the time to get used to the A1GP car.  I have to say the A1 Team Canada car looks amazing and I can’t wait to start racing it next month.”

Matt Martin gets Coca-Cola backing Matt Martin gets Coca-Cola backingCoca-Cola, the official soft drink of NASCAR, will sponsor up-and-coming driver young Matt Martin (son of Mark Martin) for the 2006 racing season. After a successful year of racing against adults in the FASCAR Pro Truck Series in 2005, for 2006 Matt will compete in a limited schedule in the ASA Late Model Southern Series, as well as running in the FASCAR Pro Truck and Sportsman Series.

Throughout the season the 14-year-old driver from Daytona Beach, Fla. will pilot both the No. 66 Ford F-150 and his Ford Taurus sponsored by Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company and Mark Martin Ford Mercury.

Despite racing against drivers 10 to 20 years older, Martin's 2005 season got off to a great start. He won a FASCAR Truck Series event at New Smyrna Speedway on Jan. 8. Martin was a threat to win each weekend he piloted his No. 66 Ford F-150, and posted his second victory at New Smyrna in September.

Kanaan fastest on first IRL test day in Phoenix Kanaan fastest on first IRL test day in Phoenix
Wimmer to drive Brewco Motorsports No. 66 Wimmer to drive Brewco Motorsports No. 66Scott Wimmer has signed on to drive the #66 Duraflame Ford for Brewco Motorsports in the NASCAR Busch Series for 13 events in 2006.  Wimmer returns to Busch Series action after two years of full-time NEXTEL Cup racing.

“I am very excited to return to the Busch Series,” said Wimmer.  “Brewco Motorsports is a first class organization and I’m proud to be a part of it.  We have the support of a great sponsor in Duraflame and I’m looking forward to a successful year.” 

Wimmer has five Busch Series wins to his credit, four coming during the 2002 season in which he racked up a career best 11 top-fives and 17 top-10s en route to a third place finish in points.

Win a Cosworth Race weekend at Long Beach Win a Cosworth Race weekend at Long Beach
April 7-9, 2006
Start the race season with an April dream weekend at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Champ Car/Grand-Am race!

Win a three-day, expense paid trip for two that starts with an exclusive tour of the Cosworth engine development center in Torrance, California. Then it’s off to Long Beach for two days of the finest open wheel racing on the planet. Cosworth product engineers will host a behind the-scenes view of Cosworth’s high performance power plants competing on the track.

Grand Prize: Take a rare tour of the Cosworth engine development facility in Torrance, California and let Cosworth show you two days of sensational racing on the streets of Long Beach!

Prize includes round trip air fare to Los Angeles, double occupancy hotel PLUS $300 spending money.

Entries close March 20, 2006
Must be 18 years old or older and US or Canadian citizen to enter. Employees (and their family members) of Cosworth its subsidiaries and affiliates are not eligible. More....

SunTrust team looks to repeat at Daytona SunTrust team looks to repeat at DaytonaThe defending Rolex Series Daytona Prototype co-champions, Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor, also come into North America’s premier endurance race as defending race winners—combining with sports car great Emmanuel Collard to win the 2005 Rolex 24. The trio won last year’s event by an 11-lap margin, and Angelelli and Taylor had at least a share of the championship lead for the entire season. Logging five victories (Rolex 24 At Daytona, Grand Prix of Miami, Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant, CompUSA 200 at The Glen, Crown Royal 250 at The Glen) in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley—and competing all 2,050 laps during the season—the SunTrust teams opens the 2006 campaign as the team to beat in both the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the championship chase. Grand-Am
SCCA announces changes on heels of Mudd resignation SCCA announces changes on heels of Mudd resignationSports Car Club of America, Inc. and subsidiary SCCA Pro Racing Ltd. have announced several title and position changes in its operations, technical and marketing staffs. The announcements come on the heels of the resignation of Vice President of Marketing Garret Mudd, who has taken a position with Champ Car.

Effective immediately, three current staff members receive new titles, including Eric Prill (SCCA/SCCA Pro Racing Director of Marketing Communications), Lynda Randall (SCCA Pro Racing Director of Operations) and Harry Turner (SCCA Pro Racing Senior Technical and Race Operations Director).

“While it’s never good to lose a quality member from your staff, when someone is recruited away, it’s generally a sign that the individual has left your company in a better position than when they arrived,” SCCA Acting President Gary Pitts said. “Garret was SCCA’s first-ever marketing executive, and helped develop campaigns and marketing initiatives that were not only new to SCCA, but quite effective. He also had a major influence on SCCA Pro Racing and, in particular, SPEED World Challenge.

“We have extreme confidence in the abilities of the remaining staff to carry out the initiatives for 2006 as well as provide leadership for the future. We’re also confident that the remaining executive leadership positions for both SCCA and SCCA Pro Racing will be filled soon.”

Prill, (pictured right) the former Director of Communications, has accepted an expanded role, absorbing many of the marketing components overseen by Mudd. In addition to overseeing the Communications department, which handles public and media relations as well as electronic and print communications, he will now direct all marketing initiatives and advertising campaigns.

Prill joined the SCCA Pro Racing staff in late 1996, shortly after graduating from Miami University, and expanded his roles to include the parent company in 2002. zzzz

Randall joined the SCCA Pro Racing staff in late 2004 as the Pro Racing Manager. Her duties will expand as Director of Operations to oversee business operations of the company, its in-house and sanctioned series.

An active member in the automotive industry for more than 20 years, Randall (pictured left) came to the SCCA Pro Racing staff after a 10-year stint at Skip Barber Racing Schools, where she was the National Purchasing Manager.

Formerly SCCA Pro Racing’s Senior Technical Director, Turner (pictured right)will expand his role in event operations in 2006 to become the primary point of contact and liaison with event management and other sanctioning bodies at SCCA Pro Racing races. This new role assumes many of the duties performed on site by Mitch Wright, who was the company’s VP and General Manager through 2005. Turner will continue to oversee the SCCA Pro Racing Technical staff on a day-to-day basis.

A member of the SCCA Pro Racing staff since the beginning of the 2005 season, Turner previously worked at General Motors for more than 30 years. He received his Mechanical Engineering degree from Illinois and his MBA from Oakland University.

In the coming weeks, further announcements will be made regarding the executive leadership of both companies.

Industry News
USA automotive industry continues to reel USA automotive industry continues to reelHot on the heels of yesterday's Ford announcement of 30,000 job cuts comes news that DaimlerChrysler announced today a new "efficiency program" that will reduce its worldwide work force by about 6,000 in the next three years. The job cuts represent about 20 percent of the automaker's general and administrative staff, the company said in a press release.

We await a similar announcement by GM as it teeters on falling into bankruptcy.

Brabham, Pirelli join Multimatic/Panoz effort Brabham, Pirelli join Multimatic/Panoz effortSEBRING, Fla. -- Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz announced today that long-time Panoz pilot David Brabham will join the team for the entire 2006 American Le Mans Series season. Brabham will join Scott Maxwell in the team’s No. 50 Panoz Esperante GTLM during the 10-race schedule, starting at the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 18.

The team also confirmed that it will compete on Pirelli rubber for this season, continuing a two-year relationship that began in 2004 with Panoz Motor Sports. Using Pirelli last season, the Esperante won in GT2 at the Grand Prix of Atlanta, helping Pirelli finish second in the 2005 class tire manufacturers championship.

Multimatic Motorsports and Pirelli also have a long history together, highlighted by an LMP2 class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2000. Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz and Pirelli each are on hand this week at Sebring International Raceway for the American Le Mans Series Winter Test.

“This already has been a terrific week for us,” said Larry Holt, Multimatic vice president and team technical director. “We are pleased with how the car has performed over the first two days, thanks in large part to the support we are getting from Pirelli, who we’re thrilled to be working with again for 2006. zzzz

“Then adding a driver as talented as David gives us even more reason to be thoroughly optimistic for this season,” Holt added. “He has a long history of success with the Panoz LMP1 projects, and he’s no stranger to Multimatic and Scott, either.”

Brabham is one of the American Le Mans Series’ most successful drivers with 11 career victories. He has made 52 career starts (good for fifth in Series history), has 29 podiums, 40 top fives and 49 top 10s. Most of his success came with the Panoz factory team in the early days of the Series with its LMP1 offerings.

“It’s fantastic to be back in a Panoz car as some of my fondest racing memories are from the time I spent in the LMP car,” Brabham said.

“Having the cars run by Multimatic also is great as it is a world class team and I won a Rolex watch with them in 2003. I’ll be partnered with Scott again, who has become a good friend over the years. It should be a competitive and enjoyable year.”

Brabham also has driven for Prodrive in the American Le Mans Series on two different occasions. In 2003, he drove Prodrive’s Ferrari 550 in seven events and won three times. Last year he was the lead driver in Aston Martin’s return to sports car racing with its DBR9. Brabham was part of the winning team in GT1 at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and he also competed at Petit Le Mans and the Monterey Sports Car Championships to close the 2005 season.

“I always have taken great pleasure in competing in the American Le Mans Series,” Brabham said. “Returning full-time has been a goal of mine for a couple of years, and to do it with Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz is a great feeling.”

Multimatic also plans to finalize its driver lineup for the full season and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring by the end of this week.

Twin test for Ferrari Twin test for FerrariThis was a busy day for Ferrari, working at both Mugello and Barcelona. On the Tuscan circuit, the 248 F1, the car that will tackle this year’s Formula One World Championship, had its maiden outing in its official livery.

On a day characterized by very low temperatures, Michael Schumacher completed 44 laps, setting a best time of 1:21.904s.

Based on a weather forecast that predicts worsening conditions for the Apennines and Tuscan-Emilio region, the Scuderia has decided to change its development test program. Instead of continuing at Mugello, testing will resume on Thursday at Barcelona, again with Michael Schumacher at the wheel.

Today, at the Catalan circuit, Marc Gene was in action, with an F2004 powered by the new V8 engine at his disposal. The Spaniard completed a total of 88 laps, the quickest in a time of 1:16.581s. Felipe Massa takes over the F2004 tomorrow. Source Ferrari

Montoya encouraged with the new McLaren Montoya encouraged with the new McLarenJuan Pablo Montoya had his first run in the Team McLaren Mercedes MP4-21 at today's test in Barcelona, following its shakedown at the Circuit de Catalunya yesterday. Juan Pablo covered approximately 410kms over 87 laps in the MP4-21.

The Colombian took to the track for the first time at 09:00 for an installation lap and began his longer runs shortly after 10am, having allowed the track to warm up slightly. The cold weather of yesterday had continued, with the track only reaching 5 degrees Celsius by 12noon local time.

Montoya's quickest time of the day was a 1:17.636s, which was the third fastest time of the day. He put in a number of long runs, including a 21 lap stint shortly before lunchtime, followed by 16 and 19 lap runs in the afternoon.

"It was great to get my hands on the MP4-21 today in Barcelona," said Montoya. "Actually I was at the shakedown yesterday for a few hours. Having spent some time at the McLaren Technology Centre recently I have seen the MP4-21 being built and I couldn't wait until today to see the car on track."

"We have had an encouraging day, it feels very similar to last year's car but a little bit better, but it is very early stages," Montoya continued. "Our focus today was similar to yesterday with Pedro, just continuing to work through all the systems checks. We were able to cover over 400 kilometers, and continue getting valuable data for the team to work on." zzzz

Test driver Gary Paffett continued his program of Michelin tire work in the interim MP4-20. Paffett completed 50 laps of the Spanish track, covering over 230kms prior to an accident shortly before 14:00, which was as a result of the cold, low grip track. Paffett was uninjured, however his MP4-20 was badly damaged and the test team pushed hard during the afternoon to get him back out on track for the final 15 minutes of the session.

This time allowed Paffett to take his total kilometers for the day to 265. The Englishman's fastest time of 1:17.797s put him in fourth position on the timesheets. Source McLaren Mercedes

Ferrari on top again in Spain Ferrari on top again in SpainFerrari test driver Marc Gene kicked off the Italian team's Barcelona test by setting the pace in the V8-powered F2004M. Jacques Villeneuve was on the pace once again for the BMW Sauber team as he recorded the second fastest time of the day in the new F1.06

1 . M. Gene - Ferrari F2004M V8 - 1:16.583 (+ 0.000 ) - 88 laps
2 . J. Villeneuve - BMW Sauber F1.06 - 1:17.633 (+ 1.050 ) - 92 laps
3 . J. P. Montoya - McLaren Mercedes MP4-21 - 1:17.639 (+ 1.056 ) - 87 laps
4 . G. Paffett - McLaren Mercedes MP4-20B V10 - 1:17.798 (+ 1.215 ) - 55 laps
5 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber - 1:18.393 (+ 1.810 ) - 23 laps
6 . R. Doornbos - Red Bull Ferrari RB2 - 1:19.104 (+ 2.521 ) - 61 laps.

* Times courtesy of Circuit de Catalunya

Champ Car hires new VP of Marketing Champ Car hires new VP of MarketingFormer Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Executive Garret Mudd was announced today as the new Vice-President of Marketing for the Champ Car World Series.

Mudd, who comes to Champ Car after serving at the SCCA as its Vice-President of Marketing for the past four seasons covering the SCCA and its subsidiary SCCA Pro Racing, will report to Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Will Wilson. He took over as the Acting President of SCCA Pro Racing in November, overseeing the day-to-day operation of the sanctioning body which includes the SPEED World Challenge Championship.

“Garret is a great addition to our team,” said Champ Car Executive Vice President Will Wilson. “He brings tremendous experience and contacts within motor-sports marketing coupled with a strong drive to succeed.  He will have an immediate positive impact on our efforts.”

Before joining the SCCA staff, where he worked alongside current Champ Car President Steve Johnson, Mudd was the former General Manager of Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut and also served as the Executive Director of the Sprint PCS Grand Prix of Minnesota. A graduate of the University of Colorado, Mudd began his motorsports career with the original Denver Grand Prix.

“This is an exciting time to be joining Champ Car and I’m looking forward to working along side everyone that has helped generate such positive momentum,” Mudd said. “The Champ Car World Series and Atlantic Championship represent some of the most compelling open wheel racing anywhere in the world and have clearly connected with fans on many levels. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to help continue to build the Champ Car brand throughout the world and to introduce even more people to the Champ Car experience.”

“We’re very lucky to have someone of Garret’s vision and credentials to help steer Champ Car’s strategic marketing,” said Champ Car President Steve Johnson. “He has proven himself in every task he has taken on and will be a tremendous asset to the organization.” Champ Car

Racing News
Pyne leaves NASCAR for IMG Pyne leaves NASCAR for IMGUPDATE #2 Things that make you go hmm....NASCAR's George Pyne goes to IMG.  IMG (see story) is working to bring an NFL franchise to Los Angeles, which is where it was rumored Brian France was headed. Can we expect Brian France and Paul Brooks to follow at some point?  Is this how the France family links the NFL with NASCAR and eventually elevates NASCAR to NFL status through some interesting co-marketing, co-branding ploy?

Muhleman exits IMG to start new firm
Erik Spanberg
Senior Staff Writer
Locally based sports-marketing executive Max Muhleman has left IMG/Muhleman Marketing Inc. six years after selling his firm to IMG, opting to launch his own boutique consulting firm.
In a separate move, one of Muhleman's top deputies, Tamera Green, is also leaving the company. Green has accepted a job at Omnicom-owned agency GMR Marketing and will become a senior executive at the firm's Charlotte office later this month.

Muhleman, 69, is nationally known for his pioneering role in the sale of personal-seat licenses on behalf of major league sports franchises, most notably with the Carolina Panthers. He built a national practice after a string of successes as a team consultant, including successful bids to bring both NBA and NFL franchises to Charlotte.

"I'm not interested in starting another large sports practice, but I am interested in trying some new things and working on the projects that I find to be the most fun," Muhleman says. "And I thought this was a good time for me to give that a try."

Muhleman's new company is called Private Sports Consulting. He hasn't decided whether the firm will have a formal office in Charlotte. One of the company's first projects will be to continue work Muhleman had done at IMG as a consultant to the NFL on placing an expansion franchise in Los Angeles.

At IMG, spokeswoman Linda Dozoretz says the company has no plans to alter its strategy here. The 12-employee office at 201 S. Tryon St. will continue working with a number of sports-related clients, including Comcast and Coca-Cola.

Muhleman Marketing had 25 employees when IMG acquired the Charlotte firm in 1999. Dozoretz says Charlotte "remains a very important market to us. It always has been, and we don't see that changing." Cameron Hall will assume responsibility for IMG's Charlotte operations.

01/22/06 George Pyne, chief operating officer for NASCAR since 2002, will leave his post to become president of the International Management Group early next week, according to a high-ranking official in the racing organization. IMG, founded by the late Mark H. McCormack in 1960 on a handshake deal with golf legend Arnold Palmer, is considered one of the top sports marketing and representation firms in the world. "George got the kind of opportunity that you don’t say no to," said the NASCAR official. "His success at NASCAR in negotiating the big deals will easily translate into success at IMG. NASCAR wishes him well and hopes to do business with him in his next endeavor." Pyne could not be reached for comment last night. NASCAR is expected to announce Pyne’s resignation at a press conference on Monday. Boston Herald

01/21/06 George Pyne will leave his job as NASCAR's chief operating officer to become president of IMG, one of the world's most prominent sports management and marketing firms, The Charlotte Observer reports.  Pyne was named COO and appointed to NASCAR's board of directors in December 2002, capping his rise through the ranks after joining the company in 1995.

AJ and Justin take a 24 hour break AJ and Justin take a 24 hour breakWith A.J. Allmendinger scoring the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year honors in 2004, and Justin Wilson taking two wins on his way to third in the 2005 championship, RuSPORT teammates Wilson and Allmendinger have quickly made their presence felt in the Champ Car World Series. The two are looking to have a similarly large impact this weekend when they make their Rolex Sports Car Series debut in the Rolex 24 At Daytona co-driving the #60 Flight Options  Lexus-Riley combination with Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri for Michael Shank Racing.

(L-R) Justin Wilson, Mark Patterson, Oswaldo Negri, and AJ Allmendinger
In the often-cutthroat world of open-wheel racing, Wilson and Allmendinger are a unique pairing, and not just because one is 6’4” and the other is 5’ 7”. Under the watchful eyes of RuSPORT team owner Carl Russo and RuSPORT driver coach Barry Waddell, Allmendinger and Wilson have fused a positive relationship off the track that has helped to foster faster speeds on it.
“I wouldn’t want any other teammate right now,” says Allmendinger. “We get along great off the track and can hang out and have a good time-if we are trying to beat each other in mini-golf or whatever, and we have fun, and that helps a lot. But the other thing is that he makes me do things in the car that I never thought I’d get out of myself and so he helps me get faster, and that’s a great thing to have in a teammate.” 
The roles are a bit different for the RuSPORT teammates as they prepare for the Rolex event because while they normally share information and data to push each other to be faster in their respective Champ Cars, they are always ultimately trying to beat each other.  But for the 24, the two will be sharing the same car and collaborating, along with co-drivers Patterson and Negri, to try and beat everyone else in what is expected to be one of the most closely contested 24 hour events ever. zzzz
“It’s just different getting ready for the Rolex because its not just two drivers, there are four drivers working together,” said former Jaguar Racing Formula 1 pilot Wilson. “Everything is a bit different, and you are trying to understand between the four people what everyone is looking for, and ultimately how to make the car go quicker for everyone, rather than being focused on just yourself and your car like we tend to be in Champ Car.”
Wilson and Allmendinger are looking to get an early start to their 2006 Champ Car season by tuning up with the Rolex 24 effort-but make no mistake, both Wilson and Allmendinger are involved for only one reason.
“We are here to win-that’s why we are racing with Mark and Oswaldo for Mike Shank-because we feel like with these drivers, this car, and this team, we have a chance to win the race, and we’re really hungry to do it,” said Allmendinger. “This is more relaxing, more fun, something that’s out of the ordinary that I normally wouldn’t get to try, but we are still focused on doing as well as we can and getting a good start to 2006.”
Michael Shank Racing, which led early and went on to finish fourth in the first Rolex 24 At Daytona the team entered in 2004, knows that it will take a lot of things to go right to make it into victory circle, and team owner Mike Shank is pleased with what he has seen out of Wilson and Allmendinger in testing leading up to the race.
“We expected a lot out of them, but they have really exceeded our goals on just about every front,” said team owner Mike Shank. “Justin has some experience in these kinds of races, and A.J. is just a bulldog in the car, so they are a great addition for us. We were also impressed with how focused they are, and they have also done a really good job working with Oz and Mark not just on set-up, but also working together to sort out our driver changes and some of the other small details that can have a big effect during the race.”
The 44th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona will get underway beginning at 12:00 ET on January 28, with Speed Channel providing over thirteen hours of live coverage, commencing with the race start at noon.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Michael Shank Racing (MSR) was formed in 1989 when Michael Shank first began driving racing cars professionally. Shank retired from the cockpit in 1997 to focus his efforts on running the team, which quickly found success in the Champ Car Toyota Atlantic Championship. With several race wins under his belt, Shank was named as Team Owner of the Year twice in four years. MSR joined the Rolex ranks in 2004.  MSR has four Rolex Sports Car Series podiums, with Mike Borkowski, Paul Mears Jr., Kenny Wilden, Oswaldo Negri, Mark Patterson, and Burt Frisselle as drivers.

CARA turns 25 CARA turns 25CARA Charities, started by Betty Rutherford and a group of racing drivers' wives in 1981, has developed into a driving force in the racing community with more than 500  members and over $4 million donated to needy causes in its 25-year history

Children's health and safety issues have been a primary focus for CARA Charities and a variety of causes have benefited from the group's charitable work.  The  mission of CARA Charities since 1981 has been to serve the auto racing community and promote friendship throughout the motorsports family

CARA, with its special projects and fundraising activities, has raised and donated  funds to many organizations including children's hospitals, scholarship funds, ministries and research groups.    Popular projects such as "Bridgestone/Firestone Buckle Up Baby," "Soap Is Hope," CARA/Shirley Bettenhausen Children's Fund, Open Wheel  Ministries and the special "Drivers" Christmas Ornament have helped produce millions of dollars for charity.  The Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund was a big CARA project in 2005.  zzzz

"It is hard to believe that CARA Charities is 25 years old," said Rutherford, CARA founder and wife of three-time Indy 500 champion Johnny.  "CARA has expanded  tremendously from those first meetings in 1981 to the great fundraising events and activities we experience now.  CARA continues to further the mission of improving the lives of children as well as those members of the racing community.  It has been fun to  see the growth of CARA Charities and relationships that have been established.  I'm proud to have been a part of it since the inception. "

CARA Charities annually produces some of the biggest social events in racing with a variety of special activities including the Indy 500 Fashion Show, Raceway Rendezvous, shop tours, progressive dinners through the paddock areas, casino and  poker extravaganzas, online racing memorabilia auctions and even music CD promotions with drivers like Kenny Brack and his rock band

The popular CARA theme projects will continue during the 2006 open-wheel racing season with activities such as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Casino  Cruise, the 25th annual Indy 500 Fashion Show, special shop tours, the Taste of Champ Car dinner and racetrack walks. New events also have been scheduled this year

"The programs CARA Charities run are consistent with our corporate goals," said Al Speyer, motorsports director, Bridgestone/Firestone.  "We have found great value in  supporting CARA Charities and its many great events and projects." CARA Charities' growth and contributions in its 25 years has been nationally recognized with awards and tributes

In 2000, CARA was awarded the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Buckle Up America Champion's Award in recognition of the "Buckle Up Baby" children's car seat program.  Established in 1993, the Bridgestone/Firestone  "Buckle Up Baby" project has donated nearly $800,000 in car seats to needy families and services

In addition, the Baptist Health South Florida Foundation honored CARA Charities with the Benefactor's Award for its donations and dedications to children's safety issues

"Dreams are often difficult to promote and achieve," said Rutherford, who currently holds the position as CARA's Director Emeritus.  "And CARA's was no exception.  But I feel so proud that CARA Charities has endured and become an  important part of the racing landscape.  As we acknowledge the entire racing community's contribution to CARA's successes, I sincerely hope that everyone will share in the celebration knowing that their contributions have helped so many children. With  the leadership of (executive director) Mary Lou Bogner, dedicated board members, volunteers and sponsors, CARA will continue to grow in numbers, in events, and in charitable causes for the next 25 years." 

San Jose funding to get further review San Jose funding to get further reviewThese articles appear in today's San Jose Mercury News:




Edwards out, Newman in Edwards out, Newman inCrown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) officials announced a change in the 2006 driver roster. Ryan Newman will replace Carl Edwards representing the NEXTEL Cup Series. A scheduling conflict remains unresolved involving Crown Royal IROC Race Four at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Busch Series race in Memphis, both taking place on Saturday, October 28. Edwards will be competing full-time in the Busch Series in 2006. IROC Racing PR
Todt: "The 248 will be a great stimulus for us all" Todt: "The 248 will be a great stimulus for us all"Mugello - This year too, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's Direttore Generale appeared at the launch of the new F1 car. Jean Todt responded to the questions posed by the international media at the press conference to present the new 248 F1. "Seeing the new car", he began, "with the new sponsor logos and, above all, the numbers 5 and 6, is a return for us to a distant past. It will be a great incentive to improve.

The entire squad wants to get back to top spot". As to the performance of the new car, Todt was quite cagey. He stated that he was hopeful but, at the same time, waiting for the real test against the other teams. Responding to a question regarding his future with Ferrari after 2006, the Direttore Generale preferred to stay on theme and discussed the team's chances in the coming season.

Related to this, the detailed test program was shown to the press pack. Owing to the chilly conditions at Mugello, the official drivers could get behind the wheel tomorrow with Marc Genè in Barcelona and then Valencia, Bahrein and Jerez before the start of the season. These tests will see the 248 on track, a car that now only exists as a single example, flanking last year's model. Todt had some words of praise for Ferrari's new driver, Felipe Massa. It was revealed that he was a very fast learner, a humble person and who displayed a good work ethic in a team. Massa should be completely at ease with the squad in a short space of time. As to Valentino Rossi testing the new car at Valencia, Todt stated that this may be possible, but not 100% definite." Ferrari

Tickets on sale for GP of Houston Tickets on sale for GP of HoustonTickets for the 2006 Grand Prix of Houston, featuring the American Le Mans Series' Lone Star Grand Prix, now are on sale and available. The highly anticipated street race will take place on May 12 at Reliant Park and promises to be a hot ticket for hardcore racing enthusiasts and casual fans alike, with a thrilling schedule of three days and nights of speed and entertainment.

The 2006 Grand Prix of Houston will feature an unprecedented combination of racing and activities, highlighted by world-class events from American Le Mans Series and Champ Car. On Friday night, racing fans will welcome the all-new Lone Star Grand Prix, Round 2 of the American Le Mans Series.

In addition to the high-speed thrills of world-class racing, a wide variety of entertainment and activities is being scheduled for people of all ages. Live music and other entertainment will take place on multiple stages throughout the fan-friendly Reliant Park grounds, and the Grand Prix Kid Zone will have interactive games, rides, inflatables, and other attractions for children.

"The Grand Prix of Houston will be a three-day/three-night festival and truly is one of the ‘can't-miss' events of 2006. Houston should get ready for a high-octane party," said Robert Dale Morgan, Executive Director of the Grand Prix.

A full assortment of ticket options and packages are available, ranging from single-day general admission tickets starting at $10 to a 3-Day Reserved Grandstand SuperTicket for $129. Paddock Passes will also be available, giving fans access to Reliant Arena, which will house many of the race cars, large transporters, and garages for all of the race teams. Fans can rub elbows with drivers, mechanics, technicians and team owners and view the high-powered American Le Mans Series cars up close. The SuperTicket is expected to be a popular option, since it provides an economical way to purchase an all-inclusive package of three days of reserved seating and paddock access.

A variety of individual and corporate hospitality options also are available, including Pit Lane Suites, the Grand Prix Club and the Executive Chalet Village. The most unique hospitality offering is the Stadium Club, located in Reliant Stadium, which gives fans air-conditioned comfort and an excellent view of the cars racing around the Reliant Astrodome and toward the finish line.

Tickets for the inaugural Lone Star Grand Prix and the Grand Prix of Houston weekend are available through the official Web site of the American Le Mans Series. ALMS

MF1 Racing signs Markus Winkelhock MF1 Racing signs Markus WinkelhockMF1Racing, the Formula 1 team owned and operated by the Midland Group, is today pleased to announce that 25-year-old Markus Winkelhock will be one of the team's official test drivers in 2006.

Winkelhock, son of the late Formula 1 and sports car driver Manfred Winkelhock, tested for MF1 Racing in Jerez in December and impressed Managing Director Colin Kolles with his talent and determination: 'Markus showed true class in the test before Christmas. He was immediately at home in a Formula 1 car and he will be a big asset to our development program this year'.

As well as sharing testing duties with the team's race drivers, Stuttgart-based Markus will also participate in Midland's Grand Prix Friday driver line-up, the full details of which will be announced at a later date.

After finishing third in the 2005 World Series by Renault, Markus said his first F1 test was: 'an unforgettable experience. It gave me the hunger for more and this opportunity with Midland is fantastic for me. I know the team has a big development program for the new MF1-Toyota M16 and I look forward to being constructively involved with it.' MF1 Racing

Drive for Diversity Drivers Announced Drive for Diversity Drivers AnnouncedThe 2006 Drive for Diversity driver roster was announced by NASCAR Director of Diversity Tish Sheets. The program, which is managed by Access Marketing & Communications, will give eight ethnic and gender diverse drivers the opportunity to compete in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series. The drivers were chosen from a pool of over 300 applicants. The Drive for Diversity program was founded in 2004 to help develop diverse and female drivers and crew members and is endorsed as NASCAR's leading on-track diversity initiative. Nineteen applicants were chosen to participate in the Drive for Diversity Testing & Evaluation Combine last October. They were observed during various on-track test sessions and off-track interviews.

The following eight drivers were selected by their respective team owners to compete in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series this season: Chris Bristol, Brianne Cronrath, Allison Duncan, Marc Davis, Paul Harraka, Jessica Helberg, Jesus Hernandez and Peter Hernandez. Drive for Diversity PR

Three Inducted into NMHOF Three Inducted into NMHOFO. Bruton Smith, Paul Sawyer and Butch Lindley were inducted into the National Motorsports Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 21. Smith, whose Speedway Motorsports Inc. empire currently includes race tracks hosting Nextel Cup Series events in Charlotte, Atlanta, Bristol, Texas, Las Vegas and Sonoma, Calif., debuted in NASCAR in the late 1950s when he, along with driver Curtis Turner, built Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 1.5-mile track opened in 1960, one year after Daytona International Speedway. Although he later lost ownership the track because of financial difficulty, Smith eventually was able to regain control. Years later, it became one of the first to feature sponsor suites, condominiums overlooking the track and lights for night racing, something never before attempted on a 1.5-mile facility.

The late Sawyer founded Richmond International Raceway, developing it into a 3/4-mile short track that annually sells out two Nextel Cup night races. Sons Wayne and Billy Sawyer were on hand for their father's induction, with Wayne Sawyer recalling his father's well-known work ethic. "There was the right way, the wrong way and Paul's way," Sawyer said. "There was more than one occasion when I left his office after being told that, and no doubt times when I did so with his footprint on my backside."

The late Lindley's legacy includes Late Model Sportsman championships in 1977 and 1978, as well as points finishes of third or better in 1979, '80 and '81. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter

NMPA names Stewart DOT NMPA names Stewart DOTTony Stewart, winner of the 2005 Nextel Cup title, added another award to his five-win season Sunday when he was named the National Motorsports Press Association's Richard Petty Driver of the Year. Stewart is the 11th driver to win the award, established in 1969, more than once. He also won it after his first Cup championship in 2002. Stewart did not attend Sunday's luncheon in the NMPA's annual convention in Charlotte, where the award was announced. He accepted via a videotaped message, saying he had a commitment at a charity snowmobile ride hosted by his crew chief, Greg Zipadelli. Thatsracin
Allstate and Kahne in Nashville Allstate and Kahne in NashvilleOn Wednesday, January 25, from 5:30 pm - 8:00pm NASCAR driver and 2004 Rookie of the Year, Kasey Kahne will make a pit stop at the Opryland Mills Mall with Allstate to promote the importance of being prepared both on and off the track. The stop in Nashville will allow fans of all ages to meet one of NASCAR's top drivers and People Magazine's, America's Top 50 Bachelors, Kasey Kahne as he takes part in a NASCAR 101 driver session, Q&A and an autograph session. The first 125 fans will receive (at 5:00pm) an Allstate wristband to guarantee a place in line for the autograph session. Nashville Superspeedway PR
Cunningham wins karting event Cunningham wins karting eventReigning Indy Pro Series champion Wade Cunningham claimed an unprecedented third CIK Trophy of New Zealand championship in competition Jan. 21-22 in Hamilton, New Zealand.  Cunningham, 20, who won the World Karting Championship title in Italy in 2003, set the fourth fastest time in qualifying and won two of the three heats, the Pre-Final (the race that determines grid positions for the Final) and the Final.

In doing so, the Auckland, New Zealand native beat the cream of New Zealand's Formula 100 class as well as fellow kart-turned-car racing rising star Chris Vander Drift and highly rated Australian karter Jason Burns.
Cunningham won his first CIK Trophy of New Zealand in 2001 and his second in 2003, but he will not have much time to savor the pleasure of his latest win - on Jan. 24 he heads back to the United States to prepare to defend his 2005 Indy Pro Series title.

Incredibly, Cunningham has had little time behind the wheel of a kart since he moved to the United States to race cars, only doing one major meeting - the Granja Viana 500 in Sao Paulo, Brazil in November - before kitting up for the CIK Trophy of NZ presented by Karcher.

Despite that he was immediately competitive.  "I thought I qualified well, though the other guys (Vander Drift, Cameron and Simon Evans) went a little bit faster, but the difference I think was that I was able to hold that pace all day, even towards the end of the Final when the tires were well past their best," Cunningham said. IRL

Q and A with Raikkonen and Montoya Q and A with Raikkonen and MontoyaAs the Team McLaren Mercedes test program with the MP4-21 got underway today in Barcelona with Pedro de la Rosa at the wheel, race drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya discussed their test program prior to the start of the 2006 season in Bahrain.

Kimi Raikkonen

The Team McLaren Mercedes MP4-21 ran for the first time in Barcelona today, what are your feelings about the car?
"For sure it is too early for me to say, as I have not driven the car yet, but it is good that the team and Pedro had the first shakedown. There is a lot of work to be done before the start of the season, I think that we have just over 20 track days before the start of the season, and we are all totally focused on making the most of these days before Bahrain."

Are you looking forward to getting back to testing?
"I have not driven a Formula One car since 16th October in China, so for sure I can't wait to get back to it this week, where I will be in an MP4-21. I will be driving on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th, and I am looking forward to seeing what the team have done. I have been to the McLaren Technology Centre a few times recently to catch-up with the team and I saw the MP4-21 in car build, so I am really excited to be getting behind the wheel next week."

What is your scheduled test program leading into Bahrain?
"I think that the test team will be on track every week between the start of the year and Bahrain. I have two days in Barcelona next week, and then the same the week after that in Valencia in MP4-21, and I will also be testing in February. As always in pre-season tests, work is focused on developing the new car and also getting used to it. After the first days, we will start to look at set-ups for the first few races and also the various upgrade packages that the team has already planned to bring on line in the early part of the season."

What are your expectations for 2006?
"For sure it’s the same as every year, I want to win races and World Championships with Team McLaren Mercedes. We had a quick car last year, and I guess there is no reason why we will not have that again as we have the same strong design team. I can't sit here now and say that will happen, until we race for the first time it is not possible to say how competitive the different cars will be."

"Also this year, because of the new regulations for tires and engines, it will be even more difficult to say. I can sit here and say that everyone at Team McLaren Mercedes is fully focused and pushing hard to try to achieve it. Everyone in the media seems to think that it will be us, Renault and Ferrari again this year, with me, Juan Pablo, Fernando and Michael battling it out. For me that would be great and I hope so for the fans that it is another exciting year like 2005, although with a slightly different end result! But you know people are forgetting the Honda's, the Red Bull, the Toyotas and so on. There were a lot of teams really getting strong towards the end of the season, so I think that we will have to wait and see." zzzz

What do you think the main challenges will be?
"The two main challenges with the car will be the new V8 format with the engine and the tire changes at pit stops, but you know that is the same for everyone."

How is your knee following your minor post season surgery in the last week of October?
"It is fine, I recovered well and was back training at the end of November. It was a small operation to repair a minor rupture to the meniscus, so you know no big deal. The bulk of my main training and the time when the focus is to increase my fitness level, is between November and March, so I have been working hard over recent weeks with my trainer."

Juan Pablo Montoya

How did the first run of the car go today at the Circuit de Catalunya?
"It was good, there were a couple of minor issues, but you expect that with the new car, and you know this is why we go testing! I am in the new car tomorrow and Wednesday and I am really looking forward to driving it for the first time, it is always exciting you know to see what your office will be like for the next 12 months! Also it means that I can really start to have an input and work with the team on developing the new car. At the moment, I am scheduled for 11 days in the car before it leaves for Bahrain."

Because I will be driving MP4-21 for the first time, I will spend a few days with the team completing systems checks, getting used to the car, you know just generally breaking it in. Pedro will have completed some of the initial checks already today. As testing continues this week, Pedro and Gary will continue to work on the same areas in the MP4-20s alongside me and Kimi with their focus remaining on tires with Michelin and engines."

What are your thoughts on MP4-21?
"It's too early to say, as I have not even driven it yet. The work rate that has been taking place within McLaren Racing and Mercedes-Benz has been amazing and we learnt a lot of positive things from last year's car, so you know we hope that can be continued into MP4-21 and just have to wait until Bahrain to see!"

Have you spent any time at the McLaren Technology Centre since the end of the season working with engineering team?
"I like to try and go to the McLaren Technology Centre as often as I can, which is difficult because of my schedule, but it is good to catch up with the team and everything. Between the end of the season and Christmas, I spent four days at the facility working with the engineering team and having a look at the on-going development of MP4-21. On Tuesday 10th January I had my seat-fitting in the new car and my last visit was last Thursday and Friday."

What are your expectations for 2006?
"I want to be on the top step of the podium many more times than in 2005, and to be battling for the World Championships with Team McLaren Mercedes. I am a racer and I want to win and I am with the team that I can do that with. I think it has the potential to be another great year for the sport, things got really interesting last year and that will hopefully continue. Because of the changes to engines and tires, there might be some teams doing better than expected and some doing worse, but until we have raced rather than just being on the test track it is all speculation."

What do you think the main challenges will be?
"For everyone there are the two big changes I guess, to V8s and tires in pit stops. For me specifically, I am just looking forward to an exciting second season with Team McLaren Mercedes." McLaren Mercedes
A1GP - Tobacco giant to sponsor Indonesia leg A1GP - Tobacco giant to sponsor Indonesia legCigarette giant Gudang Garam will co-sponsor the Indonesian leg of the A1 Grand Prix motorsport championship next month, organizers said Tuesday, bucking a global trend toward restricting tobacco advertising.

Spokesman for A1 Team Indonesia, Indra Said, said Gurang Garam and local Bank NISP would sponsor the event, but he declined to reveal how much they would spend. "The most important thing is the event will be successful," Said told AFP.

Both companies would be allowed to put the A1 logo on their own billboards and advertisements, while their logos would adorn Team Indonesia, he said. Indonesia and Nepal are the only two countries in Asia that have not signed a UN convention on tobacco control, which among a slew of other measures, requires signatories to impose restrictions on tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion when it comes into force. AFP

Ferrari launch ’248 F1’ at Mugello Ferrari launch ’248 F1’ at Mugello(GMMf1NET) Breaking the recent five-year tradition, Ferrari has christened its new 2006 grand prix challenger the '248 F1'.

Since 2001, the scarlet single seater has followed the naming pattern 'F2001', and so on. The habit continued until last year, with the unsuccessful 'F2005' model.

At the 248's launch at Mugello (Italy) on Tuesday morning, moreover, Michael Schumacher appeared on track with his car bearing the number five, similarly ending a run since 2001 of showing off the world champion's number 1 honor.

For the record, the '248' designation is derived from F1's new engine formula -- '24' as in 2.4 liter capacity, and '8' meaning eight cylinders. 

Full story to follow on our Home page.

MF1 Racing Zooms Ahead with Zim as Official Sponsor MF1 Racing Zooms Ahead with Zim as Official SponsorMF1 Racing - the Formula One team owned and operated by Midland Group - is pleased to announce a partnership agreement with Zim Integrated Shipping Services, one of the world's largest container shipping companies. Zim's distinctive 'seven star' logo will appear on the Midland Toyota M16 throughout the 2006 World Championship season.

"Zim is a progressive, global company that we are proud to welcome as a team partner," said Colin Kolles, MF1 Racing's Managing Director. "Zim's core values - a commitment to excellence through quality, team work and efficiency, as well as their competitive orientation - parallel MF1 Racing's. This is a very good fit that will benefit both organizations." 

"Zim's vision is to be a leading competitive global shipping and logistics company, setting high-level standards in the industry - a company with goals and values our employees and partners can identify with," stated Doron Goder, President & CEO of Zim Integrated Shipping Industries. "In many ways, Formula One racing is a lot like shipping: it requires strategy, dedication and precision. For us, it is an excellent marketing platform. We believe that associating our company with a dynamic, motivated team such as MF1 Racing is a perfect way to raise Zim's brand profile globally."

Zim offers transportation services along most major international trading routes to customers throughout the world. Zim operates an intermodal system which combines sea, land, and air transportation, enabling the company to provide fast, reliable, frequent, and complete door-to-door services around the world. MF1 Racing

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
German lands MF1's 'Friday' job
Pedro admits McLaren race ride 'impossible'
Villeneuve tops new McLaren in Spain
Ferrari pen Martini deal
Aguri still waiting for green light
Stewart quits as Silverstone president
Kimi returns to F1 track
McLaren turn screw on Kimi
Schu's not my hero - Rosberg
Industry News
Ford announces profit, slashes 30,000 jobs Ford announces profit, slashes 30,000 jobsHours before detailing a Way Forward plan to cut 30,000 jobs and close plants, Ford Motor Co. announced Monday morning it made $124 million in the fourth quarter of 2005 to finish the year with a $2 billion, or $1.04 per share, profit.

In the key North American operations, Ford reported a loss of $1.6 billion for the year, a decline of $3 billion from 2004, though still reflecting its lower U.S. market share. For the year, North America’s sales totaled $81.4 billion, compared with $83 billion a year earlier.

In 2004, the company overall reported net income of $3.5 billion, or $1.73 per share.  In the fourth quarter, the company reported net income of $124 million, or 8 cents per share, beating analyst expectations of a penny a share.

Casey Neal Tests Pro Mazda Casey Neal Tests Pro MazdaAtlanta, GA   Red Bull sensation Casey Neal took his first laps in a Star Mazda at Roebling Road racetrack on January 21.  Racers Edge Motorsports provided the opportunity for the young 17 year-old High School Junior from Middletown, OH to commence his transition from karts to the opening rungs of professional motorsports.

"I really want to thank Racers Edge for this great opportunity," said Neal.  "They gave me more than 100 laps of flawless race car and I was able to totally concentrate on learning the performance capability of the Star Mazda.  It was a thrilling day for me."

Neal quickly got down to business as Jon Mirachi of Racers Edge guided Neal up to speed without incident other than an occasional spin.  Neal responded with continued faster pace until he consistently set very competitive lap-times late in the day.

"Casey clearly has an abundance of raw talent," said Mirachi.  "He was easily able to pick up on the changes to the car and exploit them.  He gave the team good feedback and responded well to coaching.  He is definitely ready to make the move up to cars and given the opportunity, will have a bright future in racing ahead of him."

Neal has created a stir in open wheel racing with his sensational performance to date.  With limited experience in race cars, Neal was able to win the U.S. Finals of the Red Bull Driver's Search by winning all eleven of eleven sprint race events conducted by Red Bull at Sebring last year.  As a result, he was chosen as one of two American drivers to represent the USA in the Red Bull World Finals at Estoril.  Now Neal looks to focus his attention on racing in the USA with the Star Mazda Series at the head of the list.

Penske Porsche fastest on first test day Penske Porsche fastest on first test dayPicking up where it left off at the 2005 season finale, Penske Racing's Porsche RS Spyder posted the fastest time on the first day of the American Le Mans Series Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway. Despite running just 12 laps Monday, the No. 6 car posted a lap of 1:49.93 with Lucas Luhr at the wheel.

Luhr's lap was 0.1 seconds off the pole-sitting time from last year's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, set by JJ Lehto in an Audi R8. Luhr and Sascha Maassen teamed to win the LMP2 class in the car's debut at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in October.

The Porsche prototype battled a couple of maladies during the day, including replacing an engine after Monday's first session and dealing with coolant issues in the afternoon. The team expects to have everything in order for Tuesday's three sessions.

Next was the No. 9 Highcroft Racing Lola EX257-AER of Duncan Dayton, Rick Knoop, Gregor Fisken and Andy Wallace at 1:50.747. It was a good showing for the team, which acquired the Lola from Dyson Racing in the off-season.

Intersport Racing's No. 37 Lola B05/40-AER of Clint and Jon Field, and Liz Halliday was third at 1:50.840. Jon Field posted the lap, and Halliday was the quickest of all drivers during the day's first session. zzzz

Dyson Racing debuted its new AER-powered Lola B06/10 during the final session. After sorting out a few engine interface troubles in the earlier test periods, James Weaver turned a fast lap of 1:51.545.

Audi Sport North America's two Audi R10s made their American debuts with encouraging results. Rinaldo Capello set the quickest time in the No. 2 R10 - 1:54.25. Frank Biela wasn't far behind at 1:54.547. He was followed by B-K Motorsports' No. 8 Mazda-powered Courage C65 at 1:57.304.

Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz marked its return to the American Le Mans Series in grand fashion as it turned in the quickest GT2 times in each session. The No. 50 Panoz Esperante of Scott Maxwell and Gunnar Jeannette posted its best lap in the late session, at 2:04.743.

About 0.6 seconds back was the No. 55 Farnbacher Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Pierre Ehret, Lars Nielsen and Dominik Farnbacher. It was about a half-second better than Team PTG's two BMW M3s, also making a return to the Series. Joey Hand and Justin Marks, in the No. 21 car, were slightly faster than their teammates in the No. 22 entry, Bill Auberlen and Tom Milner Jr. Rounding out the field was the No. 80 Team LNT Panoz Esperante of Lawrence Tomlinson, Tom Kimber-Smith and Warren Hughes at 2:06.901.

The American Le Mans Series Winter Test continues Tuesday with three sessions scheduled: 9 to 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 3 to 6 p.m.

The American Le Mans Series begins its 2006 season with the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The 12-hour endurance classic is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. EST March 18 at Sebring International Raceway and will be televised on SPEED Channel. American Le Mans Series Radio will have flag-to-flag coverage available at www.americanlemans.com, along with IMSA Live Timing & Scoring. ALMS

Only three days left for Long Beach GP bid Only three days left for Long Beach GP bidOnly three days remain - Thursday, Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. PST is the deadline! -  to bid for a spot on the starting grid in the 30th Anniversary Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, part of the April 7-9, 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach!

All proceeds from the auction will go to the Grand Prix Foundation of Long Beach, which, since its inception in 1991, has donated more than $1.8 million to Southern California charities.

If you're the high bidder, you'll find yourself behind the wheel of a new, race-ready Scion tC, hitting more than 100 mph in the 10-lap sprint over the legendary 1.97-mile, 11-turn Long Beach street circuit, running fender-to-fender with a group of to-be-announced celebrities from movies, TV and sports, as well as professional drivers.  Bidding starts at $50,000.

Past celebrities in the race have included George Lucas, Cameron Diaz, Gene Hackman, Patrick Dempsey, Jay Leno, John Elway and Ashley Judd, along with professionals Danica Patrick, Scott Pruett and Parnelli Jones.

The high bidder also receives, courtesy of Toyota:
· Four days of professional driver's training at Fast Lane Driving School, Rosamond,  CA,
· Pre-event Press Day prior to race weekend and other media activities,
· Custom-made driving gear, including suit, shoes,  gloves and helmet,
· First-class air fare and hotel accommodations for training, press day and race weekend, with ground transportation for race related events only,

· A $5,000 donation from Toyota in the high bidder's name to "Racing for Kids," a national program benefiting two children's hospitals in Southern California, and

· A VIP pass for 2 for a private celebrity event immediately following the race Saturday, April 8.  zzzz

"This is the first time we've provided this charity auction opportunity in an on-line format for one lucky bidder to compete in the 30th Anniversary Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race," said Les Unger, Toyota national motorsports manager.  "The winning bidder will have the experience of a lifetime."

High bidder must attend four days of driver training in March, either on two consecutive weekends (March 4-5 and March 11-12) or for four consecutive days, March 9-12.

The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race will take the green flag on Saturday, April 8, part of a weekend of racing that also includes the Champ Car World Series, a Drifting challenge, Champ Car Atlantics, SPEED World Challenge and the debut of the fast Daytona Prototypes of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series.

For further bidding information, log on  to www.ebay.com/toyotagrandprix.

Biela: It’s just like an Audi Biela: It’s just like an AudiFrank Biela was asked what he thought of the new Audi R10, a car that clearly has become near and dear to his heart. His answer was quite telling: “It’s just like an Audi.”

Given the German manufacturer’s long and sustained campaign of excellence in the American Le Mans Series, that’s a pretty hefty statement but one to which Biela can speak. And how can you argue against him and the fact that the Audi R8 has won 47 times in the Series since 2000?

“It’s always good to have a new toy,” said Biela, the 2005 LMP1 drivers’ co-champion. “We’re happy to be in the car to sort things out. We have to make sure it feels good and runs well. There are a lot of things to do to get ready for Sebring and for Le Mans. That’s why we’re here.”

Part of the program includes the American Le Mans Series Winter Test, which started Monday at Sebring International Raceway. Two R10s from Audi Sport North America that will enter the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring took their first laps around the storied 3.7-mile, 17-turn circuit. Biela was in the No. 1 car, Rinaldo Capello in the No. 2 R10.

The early reviews were stellar. zzzz

“What impressed me is that everything worked that should work,” Biela said. “When I got in the (R8) in 1998 for the first time, everything worked. We know how difficult it is to build a race car. And it was very impressive to me (with the R10).”

The aspect of the R10 that has gotten the most attention, of course, is its V12 diesel engine. It is a revolutionary venture in endurance racing, the most extreme test of motorsport in the world. The diesel is extremely quiet, letting out a smooth hum as it raced around the track. That’s what happens when you turn between 3,000 and 5,000 rpm. The R8, incidentally, normally would turn about 7,000 rpm.

“The engine behaves in a different way, kind of like a DTM car,” said Capello, a winner at Le Mans in 2003. “On the out lap, it was so quiet that you don’t hear it. That was very weird. When you have a loud engine, the sound can give you a feeling. It is quite strange.”

“We do have more power with the TDI engine,” Biela added. “That makes the drivability even better. You (get) the power quite easily, and that makes it more enjoyable. It’s easier if you have a little more torque. You don’t have to shift down as much. Here, it is maybe two or three shifts less than in the R8.”

Both drivers admitted the team isn’t after quick times this week. It’s more concerned with seeing what works at Sebring and mapping out all the scenarios that come with a 12- or 24-hour event.

“We are going for the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Biela said. “Performance and reliability have to work together. That’s why we’re here.”

Villeneuve tops the timesheets in the F1.06 Villeneuve tops the timesheets in the F1.06Testing resumed today at Circuit de Catalunya, home of the Spanish Grand Prix, with BMW Sauber and McLaren Mercedes on track.  Jacques Villeneuve led the way for BMW Sauber as the Canadian racked up 84-laps with a best time of 1:17.242s in the new F1.06 chassis
1 . J. Villeneuve - BMW Sauber F1.06 - 1:17.242 (+ 0.000 ) - 84 laps
2 . G. Paffett - McLaren Mercedes MP4-20B V10 - 1:18.066 (+ 0.824 ) - 74 laps
3 . P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes MP4-21 - 1:18.247 (+ 1.005 ) - 19 laps
4 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber C24B - 1:18.471 (+ 1.229 ) - 82 laps.

* Times courtesy of Circuit de Catalunya

Dana joins Rahal Letterman Racing Dana joins Rahal Letterman RacingRahal Letterman Racing will attempt to keep the Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award in house in 2006

The team, co-owned by 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and television personality David Letterman, announced Jan. 23 that it has signed a multi-year deal with Team Ethanol to sponsor a third RLR entry in the IRL IndyCar® Series.

Bombardier Rookie of the Year candidate Paul Dana will pilot the #17 Honda-powered Panoz as a teammate to 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and 2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick.

"Rahal Letterman Racing's performance history speaks for itself," said Dana, who made three starts for Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing in 2005 before suffering a season-ending injury during practice for the Indianapolis 500. "The opportunity to work in a multi-car team where I can learn from experienced teammates and compare their data is an amazing opportunity. This is a dream come true, and I intend to work as hard as possible to make the most of it. I'd like to thank everyone who has been involved in bringing the Team Ethanol program to where it is today for the work they did over the last three years." zzzz 

Ethanol is a high-octane, high-performance fuel that is clean burning, renewable and made in America. As a growing component of the United States gasoline supply, it delivers improved vehicle performance for all passenger cars and trucks while reducing emissions and improving air quality.

Dana's Team Ethanol effort is funded by the major ethanol design-build firms Fagen Inc., ICM Inc. and Broin Companies, who are the industry leaders in the 4 billion gallon ethanol market. Promotion of the sponsorship and cooperative efforts between Team Ethanol, the IndyCar Series, and RLR will be led by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC).

EPIC is an alliance of ethanol producers and industry leaders who have come together to spread the positive attributes about ethanol. Currently enjoying record growth, the ethanol industry will continue to play a larger role in meeting our nation's energy needs.

"Team Ethanol and its key sponsors have made a significant impact on the IRL IndyCar Series in the last few years," Rahal said. "The leaders of Broin, Fagen and ICM have a vision on how they can positively affect the availability of fuel with ethanol that is a renewable resource. Their involvement and the historic partnership they forged with the IRL to become the fuel of the IndyCar Series, is bringing them one step closer to bringing that vision to all Americans. Along the way, they are fundamentally changing not only the future of open-wheel racing, but also the way Americans' drive. This demonstrates to me that this is a group of companies that wants to have an impact on and off the track."

The on-track presence will be especially fitting in 2006 as the IRL IndyCar Series will become the first racing organization to run a mixture of ethanol and methanol as a spec racing fuel. The fuel mixture in 2006 will be a 10 percent ethanol 90 percent methanol blend. Next season the IRL IndyCar Series will run a 100 percent fuel grade ethanol. Consumers can purchase ethanol-enriched fuels at their local gas stations that are approved by all major auto manufacturers.

"The fact that the IndyCar Series, with its history of automotive innovation, sees the performance benefits of ethanol should encourage all mechanics and car enthusiasts to feel confident in using ethanol-enriched fuels in their cars," Tom Slunecka, executive director of EPIC, said.

Matsuura confirms return to Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Matsuura confirms return to Super Aguri Fernandez RacingTeam owners Aguri Suzuki and Adrián Fernández announced Jan. 23 Kosuke Matsuura will return to Super Aguri Fernández Racing to contest the 2006 IndyCar Series season. Matsuura will pilot the No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone entry in his third season of IndyCar Series competition.

"I am pleased to announce our continued participation in the IRL with Kosuke Matsuura as our driver," said Suzuki. "Kosuke has gained a lot of experience these past two seasons in his first years of oval track racing, and I believe that he will show us great performances in 2006. With the continued support of Panasonic and Autobacs, I look forward to an exciting season."

Matsuura, 26, of Aichi, Japan, joined Super Aguri Fernández Racing in 2004 after three successful years of European competition that saw Matsuura place second and third in the German Formula 3 and Formula Renault V6 Eurocup Championships respectively.

"I am excited to be a part of Super Aguri Fernández Racing again this year," said Matsuura. "I have learned a lot these past two years, even through the bad luck we had last season, and feel that we will be very strong in 2006. I want to thank Aguri and Adrián for their support and for giving me this opportunity. I am ready to challenge for not only race wins, but the championship as well." [Editor's Note:  This means Matsuura's bid for a Super Aguri F1 seat was rejected.]

Stewart fields cars for Cunningham, rookies Van Blankers, Dodge Stewart fields cars for Cunningham, rookies Van Blankers, DodgeFor the first time in the five-year history of the IRL Indy Pro Series, the reigning champion will be back to defend his title.

Brian Stewart Racing announced its driver lineup Jan. 23 for the 2006 season. Reigning champion Wade Cunningham will drive the No. 1 car, rookie Brett Van Blankers will drive the No. 3 entry and Knoxville Nationals Fast Track to Indy Rookie of the Year Geoff Dodge will drive the No. 33 car.

"I'm absolutely delighted Wade is coming back," said Brian Stewart, whose team claimed its first series title in 2005. "It's the first time the series has had a reigning champ back. We'll do the same good job for him, and now that he's got more experience, I expect him to win some more races."

Cunningham, the CIK-FIA World Karting champion in 2003, was new to oval racing in 2005 when the Indy Pro Series schedule featured 10 races on ovals and four races on road courses. The 21-year-old New Zealander quickly showed his driving prowess, recording 13 top-five finishes en route to winning the closest points battle in series history. zzzz

"I am very happy to be returning to my team," said Cunningham, who won the 2005 season finale at California Speedway. "We all performed well together, and I think we will work even better in 2006.
"For sure the goal now is to progress into the IndyCar Series championship for 2007, and so being in the Indy Pro Series for this year still seems to me to be the best way to get there. It will be even more competitive this year, and so defending the No. 1 plate will be difficult."
Joining Cunningham on the team are Van Blankers and Dodge. Pending additional sponsorship, Dodge's deal is only for the six oval races in 2006.

"Brett and Geoff come into this season as true rookies," Stewart said. "Brett has very little experience racing cars, so we'll look to develop him slowly and for him to learn as the year goes on. Having the champion as a teammate should be beneficial to him.

"This type of racing is also new to Geoff, but we tested him at Chicago last September, and we've gotten to know him a bit better over the last couple of weeks. We're looking forward to getting him going in the Indy Pro Series."

Van Blankers, an 18-year-old from New Westminster, British Columbia, competed in Formula Renault 1600 the past two seasons along with a handful of Formula Renault 2000 races.

"I'm excited about racing in the Indy Pro Series," Van Blankers said. "Brian Stewart is very well known, especially in Canada. He knows what he's talking about, knows what he's doing, and he has very qualified people working for him.

"I'm hoping to do well and get up there. I want to take a gradual approach and work my way up. Some top-five finishes would be nice. Working with Wade is going to be a big help."

Dodge, 22, competed in the American Sprint Car Series the past three seasons. At the prestigious Knoxville Nationals in August, Dodge was the highest-finishing rookie 18 years of age or older, earning him the opportunity to compete in the Indy Pro Series and pursue a lifelong dream of competing in the Indianapolis 500. He completed his Indy Pro Series rookie test with Brian Stewart Racing Sept. 12 at Chicagoland Speedway under the eyes of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears.

"Brian Stewart Racing is a first class operation," Dodge said. "Wade's championship last year speaks volumes for the team. Getting involved with that type of people, gives a guy like me a lot of confidence that we can be successful. Being associated with a team and a driver like Wade, who's been there, done that, can be nothing but advantageous."

Thieves steal IndyCar Series show car Thieves steal IndyCar Series show carA trailer containing an IndyCar Series showcar was stolen from Sinden Racing Services' Indianapolis-based headquarters on Jan. 22.  "It was taken from here at the shop over the weekend," said Scott Jasek, co-owner of Sinden Racing Services. "It's one of our newest trailers with the Racing for Kids showcar inside."  The white trailer was purchased about six months ago and is unmarked, but Jasek is hopeful the car can be recovered soon. The car is used by the Racing for Kids charity during hospital visits in each Indy Racing League market.   Anyone with information about the location of the car or trailer should call the Marion County (Ind.) Sheriff's Department at (317) 231-8200.
New McLaren timeline New McLaren timelineMcLaren Mercedes took to the track this morning to shake down the new MP4-21 - the car that the team hope will bring them championship success in 2006 in the hands of Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya.

MP4-21 Timeline

  • First engine design meeting: August 2004
  • Engine specification first issue: October 2004
  • Layout work started on MP4-21: April 2005
  • First design meeting: April 2005
  • Gearbox simulation: Mid April 2005
  • Car specification first issue: May 2005
  • First scheming of gearbox: May 2005
  • First dyno test for V8 engine: June 2005
  • Wind tunnel work commences: Early July 2005
  • First drawing for gearbox: July 2005
  • Datum sheet Issue, final dimensions: August 2005
  • First track test for V8 engine: September 2005
  • Gearbox production begun: September 2005
  • Chassis manufacturing begun: October 2005
  • Car mock-up ready: Chassis –November 2005
  • Initial engine –November 2005
  • Final engine – December 2005
  • First chassis ready for bonding: December 2005
  • FIA test on first chassis: December 2005
  • First car build started: December 2005
  • First car build finished: January 2006
  • First track test of MP4-21: 23rd January 2006
  • Cars depart McLaren Technology Centre for first race: Friday 3rd March 2006.

    MP4-21 in detail
  • Engine Type: Mercedes-Benz FO 108S
    No. of cylinders: 8
    Fuel: Mobil Unleaded
    Lubricants: Mobil 1 products
    Weight: 95kg
  • Transmission Gearbox Speeds: Seven forward and one reverse
    Semi-auto: Yes
    Driveshafts: McLaren
    Clutch: Hand-operated
  • Chassis: McLaren molded carbon fibre/aluminium honeycomb composite incorporating front and side impact structures. Contains integral safety fuel cell.
  • Front Suspension: Inboard torsion bar/damper system operated by pushrod and bell crank with a double wishbone arrangement.
  • Rear Suspension: Inboard torsion bar/damper system operated by pushrod and bell crank with a double wishbone arrangement.
  • Suspension dampers: McLaren.
  • Electronics: McLaren Electronic Systems control units incorporating electronics for chassis, engine and data acquisition. McLaren Electronic Systems also supplies the electronic dash board, alternator voltage control, sensors, data analysis and telemetry systems.
  • Bodywork Construction: One-piece sidepod and engine cover. Separate floor section, structural nose with integral front wing.
  • Tires: Michelin
  • Radios: Kenwood
  • Race Wheels: Enkei
  • Batteries: GS Yuasa Corporation
  • Steering: McLaren power-assisted
  • Instruments: McLaren Electronic Systems
  • Adhesives: Henkel Technologies.
    Source McLaren
  • 01/23/06
    Oil pressure problems halt new McLaren Oil pressure problems halt new McLarenMcLaren Mercedes conducted the first shakedown of its 2006 car, the MP4-21, at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona today. Pedro de la Rosa drove the new car, completing 19 laps of the Spanish circuit and covering 90KM in total. The MP4-21 was not meant to make its track debut until Tuesday but the team decided to undertake a short shakedown today.

    Work for de la Rosa and the test team focused on initial systems checks with MP4-21, which started the day's session at 09:15 local time. De la Rosa completed four single laps during the early part of the day, with the team running checks between each outing. Shortly after midday, Pedro completed one longer run of seven laps, which was followed by another of six.

    During the latter run, the Spaniard stopped on track as his MP4-21 had sustained a problem with the oil pressure. The team decided to undertake a full check-up following its initial shakedown and as a result the MP4-21 stayed in the garage for most of the afternoon. However early evening de la Rosa was able to take the MP4-21 for another run.

    The planned program with MP4-21 will continue for the duration of this week’s test in Barcelona, with Juan Pablo Montoya at the wheel tomorrow and Wednesday, with Kimi Raikkonen taking over for Thursday and Friday.

    Gary Paffett was also in attendance at Barcelona today, running alongside Pedro in the interim MP4-20. Paffett, who set the second fastest time, completed 76 laps and a total of 360KM with work continuing to focus on Michelin tire development. zzzz

    Pedro de la Rosa
    "Today’s first test session with the MP4-21 has provided us with some useful feedback. Unfortunately we had a problem with the oil pressure, which was why I stopped out on track shortly before lunchtime. However this is why we test, to work out any such problems and I think that considering it was a shakedown everything went well."

    Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Mercedes CEO
    "The shakedown of the MP4-21 at the Circuit de Catalunya today went well. Initially the track was cold and therefore had a lack of grip, however as it warmed up we were able to start proving the various systems. We have already started to receive meaningful technical feedback, and are now looking forward to continuing the development program over the next few days."

    "We had the issue with oil pressure before lunch with Pedro, and decided to give the car a thorough check and as a result finished running just before lunch. However both Pedro and the team have been able to gain an indication of the performance and potential of our package."

    Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz VP
    "Those were some promising first laps today, and I would like to say thank you to everybody in the team for making this possible on schedule. However the rest of the week will see an intensive program and will give us first indications of where we are compared to the other teams testing here." Source McLaren Mercedes

    Wallace, Patrick, McNish and Lammers to team Wallace, Patrick, McNish and Lammers to teamThough NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace “retired” at the end of the 2005 season, he hasn’t hung up his helmet just yet. Wallace, along with IRL Indy Car Series racing sensation Danica Patrick and sports car drivers Allan McNish and Jan Lammers will attempt the 44th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona starting on January 28.

    “I've never run a race like this," Wallace said.” I’ve told everybody I'm retired full time. I've been 25 years in NASCAR Cup racing and 33 years of racing totally. I'm done now, but I've told everybody going in that the one race that I've always wanted to run was the 24 Hours of Daytona. It was the race that the likes of Andretti and Foyt and the late Dale (Earnhardt) Sr. ran, and it's just a race I'd like to run."

    The foursome will be piloting the No. 2 Callaway Golf Pontiac Crawford for Howard-Boss Motorsports, a Denver, N.C. based company.

    “Everyone at Howard-Boss Motorsports is exceedingly excited about our driver lineup in the No. 2 Pontiac Crawford for the Rolex 24,” commented team owner Rick Howard. “The Rolex 24 At Daytona is the Super Bowl for the Grand American Rolex Series, and we certainly have a superb, multi-talented driver roster. This year, the Rolex 24 At Daytona looks to be the most competitive in the series history, and we’re proud to have such a unique blend of drivers representing various disciplines of motorsports.”

    The team was assembled by Howard-Boss Motorsports and Rusty Wallace, Inc. and has flourished due to the support of Callaway Golf. Callaway has an extensive relationship with Wallace, stemming from Wallace’s great passion for the game of golf. zzzz

    “The guys at Callaway have been extremely generous and willing to help get this idea going,” Wallace said. “George Fellows (President CEO and Director), Bob Penicka (SEVP, COO of Equipment, President of The Top-Flite Golf Company), Drew Isaacman (VP, Top-Flite & Ben Hogan Brand Management), Dan Bracken (Director, Merchandising & Creative Services) and Larry Dorman (SVP, Global Press and Public Relations), all the people there have been great and without their support and endorsement this would not have been possible. We're running the Rolex 24 for sure. I think we're going to have a good, winning team, and we feel like we're organized.”

    Through this sponsorship, Callaway is expanding their already prominent relationship with Wallace that started back in 2003. Supplying personal service, as well as support for Wallace’s No. 64 Top-Flite Dodge NASCAR Busch Series entry.

    “We are thrilled to be associated with a race car driving legend like Rusty and we’re really looking forward to seeing him and his team running in the Rolex 24 in the No. 2 Callaway Golf Pontiac Crawford,” Fellows said. “With Rusty, Danica Patrick, Allan McNish and Jan Lammers on the Callaway team, we feel like we have a great chance in the race.”

    The green flag is scheduled to wave Saturday, January 28 at 12:00 noon, EST, and will conclude on Sunday, January 29, 24 hours later. The race will be televised on SPEED Channel in three segments. Part 1 will air on Saturday, January 28 beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET; Part 2 will begin at 8:00 p.m. EST on the same day; and Part 3 can be seen beginning at 8:00 a.m. ET.

    Paul Newman team to test Atlantic hopefuls Paul Newman team to test Atlantic hopefulsWhen legendary actor and longtime Champ Car team owner Paul Newman formed the Newman/Wachs Racing Atlantic team with friend and fellow Can-Am racer Eddie Wachs back in November, their stated goal was to give talented young drivers a golden opportunity to compete and win with a first-class Atlantic team. That chance is waiting for several skilled up-and-coming racers as the Newman/Wachs team will spend three days testing at Moroso Motorsports Park in Jupiter, Florida, February 6-8

    “We’re basically going to have a shootout for two open seats with the team,” said Wachs, the team co-owner who’s also raced in Trans-Am, Super Vee and at the SCCA pro level in his career as a driver. “Both Paul and I have felt the same way in our approach this season – regardless if a driver brings some funding or not, we want to test and find the best drivers. We’re looking for drivers who are fast and hungry. We want to give them an opportunity and we want to go out and win this thing.”

    Working with experienced Atlantic veteran Ove Olsson, who serves as team manager, the Newman/Wachs team has spent the last few months preparing for an assault on the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. The squad has purchased and prepped a Swift 014.a Atlantic car and will test five series hopefuls in the machine at the upcoming test session. Tonis Kasemets (pictured right), the 2005 Atlantic series runner-up, will shake down the car before the young guns get a chance to show what they can do on the 2.25-mile Moroso road course.

    Two drivers who got a taste of Atlantic competition last season will test for Newman/Wachs in hopes of securing a full-time ride in ’06. American Phil Giebler (Pictured right), who made his series debut with a solid eighth-place finish for Condor Motorsports last July at San Jose, will be one of the first drivers to test for Newman/Wachs. Giebler, 25, has had extensive experience competing overseas in the German, British and Spanish F3 series as well as selected F3000 races. The former Infinity Pro Series race winner is also currently competing for Team USA in the A1 Grand Prix Series.

    Last season, 17-year-old racer Alan Sciuto became the youngest driver in the 32-year history of Atlantics to win a series pole position when he led both rounds of qualifying at Denver. The native Californian, who was ranked as North America’s top shifter kart driver in 2004, showed tremendous potential as he produced two top-five finishes in three series starts in ’05, including a podium result of second place in Denver. Considered one of the top rising stars in American open-wheel racing, Sciuto hopes to impress the team with his performance on track next month.  zzzz

    Hoping to follow the path of fellow Frenchman and Newman/Haas Racing Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais, Simon Pagenaud will also test for the Newman/Wachs Atlantic squad. After finishing second in the 2004 Formula Renault Eurocup Championship, the 21-year-old Pagenaud continued to impress last season earning three top-five results in the competitive World Series by Renault. The native of Montmorillon, France has already tested Atlantic cars for both the Condor Motorsports and US RaceTronics teams this off-season.

    After making five solid starts with the Olsson Engineering Atlantic team in 2004, American Tony Loniewski will get a chance to show what he can do at the test session as well. The 21-year-old from Michigan City, Indiana is a proven winner in the SCCA Formula Atlantic ranks and he finished second in the Toyota Atlantic C2 category in ’04.

    Brazilian racer Christiano “Tuka” Rocha will also participate in the shootout. The 23-year-old three-time Brazilian karting champion, who has been racing in Europe and is currently competing for Team Brazil in the A1 Grand Prix Series, is eager to showcase his talent in North America and is focusing on the Atlantic series and the Newman/Wachs team for 2006.

    After evaluating all of the data and driver feedback from the three-day test, Newman/Wachs Racing officials are hoping to finalize their driver lineup and announce the team’s plans at the Official 2006 Atlantic Unveiling to be held on Tuesday, February 14 at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Newman/Wachs, along with rest of the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic field, will take delivery of their new Swift 016.a/Cosworth/Yokohama cars on March 8. Champ Car Atlantic

    NASCAR/Toyota announcement NASCAR/Toyota announcementUPDATE DAVE ILLINGWORTH, Toyota Senior Vice President:  "Thank you, Brian [France].  Good afternoon everyone.  It's a great pleasure to be here today to announce Toyota's entry into the Nextel Cup and Busch series beginning in the 2007 season.  As Brian (France) noted, we will continue to compete in the Craftsman Truck Series.  
    "2007 will be a special year for Toyota in more ways than one.  Not only are we joining America's premier racing series, the company will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in the United States.

    "For the past two years in the Craftsman Truck Series, we have been trying to learn everything we can about NASCAR racing.  When we first entered the series, none of our teams had any experience in truck racing and several were all new to NASCAR.  So Toyota Racing Development built the Tundras from the ground up and then worked side by side with the teams.  That will change as we enter the Nextel Cup and Busch series.  Many of these experienced teams have their own advanced engines, chassis and body programs, and we expect they will continue with those programs.  So like other manufacturers, we will provide technical support that will vary depending on the needs of the individual teams.  Another change: There will be no Toyota branded or sponsored cars racing at a Nextel Cup or Busch Series.  The teams will bring their own sponsors to the starting grid." Full story on home page.

    01/23/06 The 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Media Tour is underway at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, NC.  Participants are Brian France, Mike Helton, Jim Hunter, Tish Sheets, and Toyota Sr. V.P. Dave Illingworth.  Subjects to be discussed are Toyota's entry into NASCAR Cup and Busch Series in 2007, the Car of Tomorrow and NASCAR's Diversity Program.  More to follow......

    New Audi turns first-ever laps on American soil New Audi turns first-ever laps on American soilFor three days at least, there’s a break in the doldrums of winter. We’re on the grounds at Sebring International Raceway and have gotten our first looks in person at the Audi R10 and the new Lola B06/10-AER of Dyson Racing, among others.

    Monday also saw another full-season entry to GT2 as Farnbacher Racing plans to compete in the Series with a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

    Both of the diesel-powered R10s (pictured right) turned a good number of laps at Sebring on Monday morning. Rinaldo Capello drove the No. 1 car, with Frank Biela in the No. 2 entry. It’s striking how quiet the R10s sound, although no one is surprised. That’s what running a diesel at around 5,000 revs will do. The fastest time came from Biela at 1:54.647. Biela, who won the LMP1 championship last year with Emanuele Pirro, turned 21 laps. Capello’s best time was a 1:55.119. Of course, no one expects that to be race pace.

    Leading the morning session, by the way, were two LMP2 entries. First was the No. 37 Intersport Racing Lola B05/40-AER of Clint and Jon Field, and Liz Halliday. The car turned 13 laps, the best a 1:52.879. About 0.6 seconds back was Penske Racing’s No. 6 Porsche RS Spyder. Running just four laps, the car’s fastest pass was 1:53.486.

    The other new entry that is garnering much attention is Dyson Racing’s new Lola B06/10-AER. It didn’t make the morning session though, as the team was reprogramming the software for its new twin-turbo, V8 powerplant. It is expected to make the 11:30 a.m. session, however.

    Also getting warmed up were Team PTG’s two BMW M3s (pictured right), the first of the GT2S entries in the American Le Mans Series. As expected, the color scheme on the No. 21 car is similar to PTG’s last Series entry at the 2003 Petit Le Mans. We also saw two Panoz Esperantes – one in orange Team LNT colors, the other entry from Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz in the 2005 Series livery from Panoz Motor Sports. The No. 50 Multimatic car of Gunnar Jeannette and Scott Maxwell turned a fast lap of 2:05.837, followed by both Team PTG entries.

    The Farnbacher Racing Porsche turned 13 laps. Pierre Ehret, Lars Nielsen and Dominik Farnbacher are scheduled to drive this week.

    We’ll have updated times and photos throughout the day. Also stay tuned as Biela and Capello will meet with the media this afternoon.

    McLaren to sell road cars again McLaren to sell road cars againIn an interview today when the new McLaren broke ground, McLaren managing-director Martin Whitmarsh said that McLaren is in the process of trying to revive its plans to produce a new road car to follow the current project with Mercedes-Benz.

    "The level of interest in McLaren from Mercedes-Benz is higher than it has ever been," Whitmarsh said. "There is a clear commitment to be in F1 in the long term and refreshed interest in road car activities. I think it is increasingly likely that there will be a range of sportscars designed in Woking in the future."

    Montoya's chances to win crown good - Whitmarsh Montoya's chances to win crown good - WhitmarshMcLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh said Juan Pablo Montoya's chances of challenging for the 2006 Formula 1 world championship are excellent.

    Speaking in a teleconference interview to coincide with the first run of the team's brand new MP4-21 challenger at Barcelona, Whitmarsh talked of the Colombian's winter preparations and mindset.

    Montoya's McLaren teammate Kimi Raikkonen has been linked to drives with Ferrari and Toyota in 2007, and while there is every chance that the Finn could stay at McLaren it appears that he is coming under pressure to commit to a decision.

    "They are both proud and competitive race drivers," said Whitmarsh when asked if he had seen a change of attitude in his drivers since the Alonso announcement.

    "I sense, although not as a result of the announcement, that Juan Pablo has got the bit between his teeth.

    "He has tried to take another step, he is raising his game and he is working like hell away from the car with his engineers and trainers."

    Whitmarsh pointed to the second half of the 2005 season, where Montoya outperformed his teammate on several occasions, as a barometer for the Colombian's competitive level.

    "I sensed that towards the end of last he was able to show form that was quicker than Kimi," he said.  "Juan Pablo's self belief and confidence is higher than ever. He believes he can beat Kimi."

    "I imagine that Kimi feels he can beat Juan Pablo too."

    When asked why McLaren had signed Alonso, Whitamarsh's answer appeared to back this up: "The opportunity arose and we saw someone who was willing to commit to the long-term future of the team."

    Swift's new Atlantic car passes crash test Swift's new Atlantic car passes crash testThe comprehensive crash test of Swift Engineering’s new Swift 016.a, the Atlantic-specific race car, was successfully conducted last week at a private session in Phoenix.  The Swift 016.a meets all crash test requirements as set by Champ Car, the sanctioning body for the Atlantic series.

    Swift was selected by Champ Car to design and build the brand new race car and deliver it  to teams set to compete at the first race of the season, the April 2006 Long Beach Grand Prix.  More than 40 cars were ordered, based on the highly regarded design.

    “This is an ambitious program with a very short timetable, from approval to delivery,” said Kristen Helsel, Director of Sales, Marketing and Corporate Communications for Swift.  “But in no way have we compromised anything in the design and manufacture of the Swift 016.a.”

    “It’s an aggressive plan, but we anticipated having a successful crash test and that was accomplished first-time out,” Helsel added.

    The test chassis was mounted to a fixture for the examination, which included more than six different analyses.   Representatives from both Champ Car and Swift were present during the three-day session.

    Going forward, Swift continues to build the 40 cars and will conduct an on-track test of the car in mid-February.

    Delivery of the balance of the cars is set for early March, with an open Champ Car-sanctioned team test to follow during the third week of March.  The cars and teams will compete on Sunday, April 9th, as the support event to the Champ Car World Series.

    The Swift 016.a is the “16th complete race car Swift has designed and built,” according to Helsel.  It was designed from a blank sheet of paper by a team headed by Swift Chief Designer Chris Norris.  All production of the cars has occurred at the San Clemente facility, including wind tunnel testing of a scale model.  The all-composite race car cost teams $79,500 apiece. 

    Tracy and Wilden lead Canadian contingent in Rolex 24 Tracy and Wilden lead Canadian contingent in Rolex 24(Daytona Beach, FL) The 44th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona is likely to be one of the most competitive ever, with a field of drivers from all over the globe taking the green flag next Saturday in pursuit of one of road racing’s toughest trophies - the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watch that goes to the winning drivers of the twice-around-the-clock classic.

    Photo: (L-R Tracy, Wilden, Mears, and Borkowski are ready to go the distance)

    Last year’s race saw the winner cover over 4000 kilometers before taking the checkered flag. The competition is likely to be even closer this year, as seventy-two cars are slated to start the race. The entry list reads as a ‘who’s who’ of racing from across the globe, as drivers representing twenty-one nations will be taking to the famed Daytona International Speedway road course.
    The international roster includes a healthy contingent of Canadian drivers, headed by Paul Tracy and Kenny Wilden, who are teaming with American drivers Paul Mears Jr. and Mike Borkowski for the grueling event. They will be racing for Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR and the team is sponsored by the Canadian based investment banking and securities firm Graydon Elliott Group, which specializes in a wide range of financial advisory services and products. The rapidly expanding company will be utilizing its connection with Fusion Racing with MSR to continue its expansion into the US.
    When asked if Canadian pride came into his decision to race for the team, Tracy is unequivocal.
    “Absolutely it had a lot to do with my decision,” said Tracy. “I am Canadian and I love racing in Canada and racing in the 24 for a team with a Canadian sponsor was really appealing to me. This event is one of the crown jewels of racing, and I really want to add a win here it to my resume.” zzzz
    Tracy, who won the 2003 Champ Car World Series title and has thirty wins in the category, including five on Canadian soil, raced in the Rolex 24 in 2005. While mechanical gremlins kept that team from scoring a strong finish, the quality of the competition and the lure of the win brought the ‘Thrill from West Hill’ back for another try.
    “I was amazed with the quality of drivers in last year’s field, and there are going to be even more this year,” said Tracy. “The list is very strong - a lot of drivers that are just the cream of the crop. I’m here to win. That’s why I chose to run with these guys and with this team.”
    Team mate Kenny Wilden made his mark in the open-wheel Toyota Atlantic Series, taking runner-up in the 1999 championship before a break-out rookie season in Trans-Am that saw him win the third race he entered. Wilden lives in the Toronto area and will be racing in the Graydon Elliott entry for the full 2006 Rolex season.
    “Any time a Canadian driver has a Canadian sponsor and they are able to do well on the international stage, it has a big impact,” said Wilden. “I have been very fortunate throughout my career to work with Canadian companies and it has always added a bit of extra incentive for me to do well. This race is going to be amazingly competitive, but we feel like we have a car that’s absolutely capable of winning so long as we are able to stay out of trouble.”
    “We are tremendously proud to have two Canadians racing on the team for the 24, although when you see them in the car it’s clear that is not the only reason they are with us - they are also fast!” said Fusion Racing Managing Partner Dennis Bainbridge. “We are excited to have a driver of Paul’s stature with us for the 24 and very pleased to have Kenny on-board with us for the full season.”
    For Graydon Elliott, having solid, high profile drivers from both sides of the border meshes with the group’s business model, marketing plans and of course their goals for a successful 2006 race season.

    “For us this is the biggest race of the year and it is great to have a true North/South partnership emulated through the drivers we have been so fortunate to retain for this race,” said Graydon Elliott President and CEO Rodney Gelineau.

    The two aren’t the only Canadians entered in the top Daytona Prototype class, as Ron Fellows, Patrick Carpentier, Michael Valiante and David Empringham are all slated to race in the classic.
    The 44th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona will get underway beginning at 12:00 ET on January 28, with Speed Channel providing more than thirteen hours of live coverage, commencing with the race start at noon.

    Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR benefits from the support of team partners including Graydon Elliott Capital (www.graydonelliott.com), and the Mears Transportation Group (www.mearstransportation.com).

    Graydon Elliott, a Canadian-based, Investment Banking and Wealth Management Group, specializes in a wide range of financial advisory services and products. The rapidly expanding company will be utilizing its connection with the Fusion Racing with MSR team to continue its expansion into the US. Visit http://www.graydonelliott.com/ for more information.
    Based in Orlando, Florida, Mears Transportation Group started in 1939 with three taxicabs, and with founder Paul Mears’ dedication to outstanding service, has grown to comprise a fleet of 540 taxi cabs, 180 motor coaches, 100 shuttle vans, 12 limousines, and 185 luxury sedans, as well as including resort concierge services. Airport, attraction, cruise, charter, and taxi transportation are the core services that Mears strives to provide to the entire Florida market.

    Sauter, Chevrolet dominate Busch testing Sauter, Chevrolet dominate Busch testingIf the just-concluded three-day NASCAR Busch Series test at Daytona is any indication for race favorites for the Hershey’s Kissables 300 on Feb. 18, Johnny Sauter (No. 00 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet), or drivers in Chevrolets overall look to have the upper hand. Sauter led four of the five single-car testing runs through Sunday’s morning sessions, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Kraft Chevrolet), a two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion and a four-time series winner at Daytona, topped the other single-car speed chart. Sauter’s top lap came during the afternoon session on Saturday, 49.049 seconds; 183.490 mph. Earnhardt had the fastest single-car lap of the three-day test, clocking a lap of 48.977 (183.872 mph) to kick off testing on Friday morning. Chevrolet drivers captured the top spot in three of the four drafting sessions through Sunday morning’s test runs with Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe’s Chevrolet), Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) and Jeff Burton (No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) leading the way; Hamlin’s lap of 48.025 (187.402 mph) on Saturday afternoon was the fastest in the draft. Aaron Fike (No. 43 Curb-Agajanian Dodge) was the only non-Chevrolet to lead a test session through Sunday morning, posting a fast lap of 48.060 seconds (187.266 mph) in the initial afternoon draft session on Friday.

    Fastest Times:
    Jan. 20 – AM Single Car
    Dale Earnhardt Jr., 48.947 seconds; 183.872 mph
    Jan. 20 – PM Single Car
    Johnny Sauter, 49.301; 182.552
    Jan. 20 – PM Drafting
    Aaron Fike, 48.060; 187.266
    Jan. 21 – AM Single Car
    Johnny Sauter 49.228; 182.823
    Jan. 21 – AM Drafting
    Kyle Busch 48.153; 186.904
    Jan. 21 – PM Single Car
    Johnny Sauter, 49.049; 183.490
    Jan. 21 – PM Drafting
    Denny Hamlin, 48.025; 187.402
    Jan. 22 – AM Single Car
    Johnny Sauter, 49.115; 183.243
    Jan. 22 – AM Drafting
    Jeff Burton, 48.909; 184.015 NASCAR PR

    Andretti not really a rookie Andretti not really a rookieAlthough not a rookie, John Andretti (No. 10 FreedomRoads Racing Ford) can consider himself a “pseudo-rookie” in the NASCAR Busch Series. The veteran of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition who has two career wins in the premier series has run only once before in the NASCAR Busch Series, when he started 11th and finished 13th to open the season at Daytona in 1998. Andretti, the nephew of 1967 Daytona 500 winner Mario Andretti, is joined by other first-year series competitors not in the running for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award: Paul Tracy (No. 34 Sport Clips Chevrolet), who has a five-race schedule; Steve Wallace (No. 64 Jackson Roscoe Foundation Dodge) who will share the No. 64 Dodge with Jamie McMurray and the young duo of Stephen Leicht and Matt McCall, who are scheduled to share the No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford with Elliott Sadler.
    Davidson signing leaves Carroll high and dry Davidson signing leaves Carroll high and dryIt was disappointing for Adam Carroll to hear the news Honda had extended Davidson's contract. The Briton was hoping to take over Davidson's role at the team. "I was quite frustrated over Christmas because I really didn't know what I was doing this year and what was going to happen," Carroll said. Carroll explained to Setanta: "When Anthony stayed, that really didn't help me. If he had gone, I think I had a really good chance at the third driver (slot), but unfortunately he stayed. He's good at what he does, so I've just got to concentrate on racing now."
    Track News
    Silverstone to add grandstand seating Silverstone to add grandstand seatingThere was further good news for Formula One fans today as Silverstone confirmed that it has been given the green light to build a new grandstand, and increase the capacity of existing grandstands, for the 2006 British Grand Prix (9 to 11 June 2006).  The new grandstand and additional seating will increase the number of prime viewing locations around the world famous Grand Prix circuit, and improve comfort levels for fans attending one of the biggest events on the UK sporting calendar. 

    For this year's event Silverstone will be building a second grandstand at Club, and increasing the number of seats in existing grandstands at Copse, Stowe, Luffield and Club.

    Richard Phillips, Managing Director at Silverstone Circuits Limited, commented, "Both Silverstone and the British Grand Prix have received fantastic support from fans in recent years. We need to make sure those fans are looked after, and provide them with the best facilities possible to watch and enjoy all the action.

    "For this year's British Grand Prix we will be making more seats available in the prime viewing areas around the circuit. This includes the grandstands at Copse and Stowe, which are always extremely popular and tend to sell out first. Extending the capacity of existing grandstands will also free up space in other viewing areas, in particular those used by General Admission ticket holders. This is 100% about improving the British Grand Prix experience for our customers - the fans."
    Rosberg to debut 'FW28' car Rosberg to debut 'FW28' car(GMMf1NET) Rookie Nico Rosberg, not experienced teammate Mark Webber, will be given the honor of being the first to test Williams' new Cosworth-powered 'FW28'.

    ''That makes me very happy,'' the 20-year-old German told 'ZDF Online'.

    The contender is to be revealed to the media at the team's Oxfordshire base on Friday.

    RCR Personnel Moves RCR Personnel MovesMike Brown has been named director of licensing for Richard Childress Racing (RCR), replacing Chuck Spicer who has assumed the new position of director of competition business operations. Brown is responsible for all aspects of RCR's licensing programs. He has been involved in the sales, marketing and licensing end of the NASCAR industry for more than a decade, most recently in a three-year stint as director of sales and marketing with Team Caliber. Prior to that, he spent more than four years as director of licensing for International Speedway Corporation (ISC), establishing and then supervising the sales, marketing, licensing and purchasing activities of its Charlotte office. Spicer's new responsibilities include RCR's driver development and diversity programs, team travel, engine department business opportunities, and to serve as the liaison between the competition and business sides of the company. He served as RCR's licensing director since moving from Bill Davis Racing in December 2000. RCR PR
    Schrader wins again at Phoenix Schrader wins again at PhoenixNextel Cup driver Ken Schrader raced to his record 16th title at Phoenix International Raceway and fourth West Series victory on the track Sunday, winning the feature race in the Copper World Classic. Schrader, second in a 100-mile NASCAR Southwest Tour event earlier, had better luck in the 125-mile West Series race that capped the combined USAC-NASCAR lineup in the 29th Copper Classic. The 50-year-old Schrader took the lead three times while leading a total of 50 laps. The third time, he passed Spencer Clark after 108 laps and held off Eric Holmes to take the United Rentals 125 by 0.0128 seconds. Schrader broke a tie with Richard Petty for West wins at Phoenix. "We've run so many races here we ought to have won one," Schrader said. "You know, we haven't won any Cup races here. Finished second once." Matt Kobyluck finished third, Clark fourth and rookie Peyton Sellers fifth. ESPN.com/AP
    Wallace in Iowa to thank area people Wallace in Iowa to thank area peopleNASCAR legend and 1989 series champion Rusty Wallace will make an appearance at the Fort Dodge Opera House Tuesday night. Wallace, one of the creators of the new Iowa Speedway located in Newton, is coming to town as part of a promotional tour thanks to Fort Dodge businessman and race car enthusiast Larry Clement. Clement has strong ties with the Newton track and Wallace as a part of the investment group U.S. Motorsport Corp., which is backing the new project. Clement also owns the ARCA RE/MAX series car driven by seven-time circuit champion Frank Kimmel. Tuesday’s festivities will be open to the public starting at approximately 7 p.m. The Messenger
    The stats of NASCAR about to change The stats of NASCAR about to changeThanks to a newly signed deal between NASCAR and Kretschmann's employer (STATS Inc.), auto racing is about to enter a new statistical era. Says NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston: "Our hope is that these new statistics tell the story in a way that our fans and the media have never had the opportunity to see before." Starting soon, NASCAR hopes race fans will talk about drivers' "quality passes," "speed in traffic" or "consecutive passes" (chart), three of the roughly 30 new stats it will begin releasing after races. Former NASCAR champ Darrell Waltrip, now a racing analyst for Fox Sports, says his broadcast team has had nothing like the statistical resources John Madden has access to during NFL games. In part from Newsday
    Larry Carter and Ty Norris joins Waltrip Larry Carter and Ty Norris joins WaltripWaltrip-Jasper Racing has created their own team of people. The foundation of Waltrip-Jasper Racing is sculpted with experienced people vested in NASCAR. Ty Norris, former EVP of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. will serve as the general manager overseeing the operation. Waltrip’s long-time confidant, Bobby Kennedy will serve as the Competition Director and Larry Carter, a veteran crew chief, has also been contracted by Waltrip-Jasper Racing to be a part of the team. “I know how intense this business is and I am prepared for the challenge,” Waltrip said. “I am committed to being successful as an owner and I think the industry will recognize that when they see the caliber of personnel and sponsors I am bringing into this organization. But, there are a lot of days when I anticipate I will need my sense of humor, so I believe I will keep it.” Michael Waltrip Racing PR
    Racing News
    Daly sells his racing school Daly sells his racing schoolFormer Formula 1 driver Derek Daly set up the Derek Daly Performance Driving Academy in 1996 in Las Vegas and has been running operations there while also working as commentator on racing events for various TV channels. The Irishman has now decided to sell the business which will be renamed the American Racing Academy. This will continue to use Formula 2000 open wheel race cars and BMW Z3 sportscars. The school has been bought by Robert Prevost, who was previously involved for 10 years in the running of the Skip Barber Racing School before moving on to set up a company which created an online sales agency for racing schools around the world.

    Daly (52) is expected to continue with his TV activities with Speed Channel while also overseeing the career of his teenage son Conor, who is now competing in karting in the United States. Grandprix.com

    Monteiro crucial to Midland’s development program Monteiro crucial to Midland’s development program[Editor's Note: Although the team has not announced Tiago Monteiro as an official driver for 2006, Tiago told our Mark Cipolloni that he is definitely driving for them and the reason they did not announce him formally is because he already was signed for 2-years and this year is just a continuation of the same contract, now in its second year. No announcement has led some news sources to speculate that he might be replaced.]

    Last week Tiago Monteiro was once again working hard on the MidlandF1 team’s 2006 program as he and they prepared for the upcoming 2006 championship. Working alongside his team-mate for the new season, Christijan Albers, the Portuguese driver took to the Silverstone circuit in Great Britain to take part in the development of certain new parts on the teams 2006 V8 Toyota powered contender.

    "I am thrilled to be back behind the wheel again after being away from it since December and the first day was essential to test the behavior of the new gear box," reveals Tiago. "I covered 200km without it showing the smallest sign of weakness, which is rather unusual for new such a complex element."

    For the last day of the test, despite wet conditions, Tiago was able to carry out the majority of his program.

    “Despite the rain on Friday, it was important to get in some laps even if it was difficult to make any comparisons. We put on dry tires when a dry line started to emerge and could draw some interesting conclusions from the last day," he explained. "I could manage around fifty laps and one of the most satisfying things to come out of this test was that there was a good level of reliability." zzzz

    Monteiro was pleased with this aspect and could therefore test a majority of parts as well as the engine that he will contest the 2006 championship with.

    "We did not encounter any mechanical problems during 1,200km of testing. This program was essential to validate the developments that will be used on the new car."

    In 2005, the late signing of Tiago and the Jordan teams limited program had not enabled him to test during the lead up to the season so this winter, Monteiro can be devoted to his job in the important pre-season, and these tests are of crucial importance.

    "These tests are essential because they enable us extend our knowledge of the car so that we can be ready when the championship begins in March."

    Once the test was finished, Tiago immediately flew to Lisbon for the ‘Bolsa de Turismo de Lisboa’ (tourism stock exchange) – the driver has a degree in hotel management and tourism - where he had an autograph session in Iberotel. Always active, Tiago then dedicated his book, "Tiago Monteiro, Best of Formula One 2005"

    WRC signs cleaning partner WRC signs cleaning partnerWorld Rally Championship (WRC) and BP-Ford World Rally have formed a joint partnership with cleaning technology company Kärcherfor the 2006 season.

    The German family-owned company, which boasted a €1.1billion turnover in 2005, has been a Formula One team sponsor for the last three years.
    Georg Metz, managing director, sales and marketing worldwide, Kärcher said: “No brand awareness means no demand and the prime objective of sponsoring for Kärcher is to increase brand awareness throughout the world.”

    The FIA World Rally Championship got underway with Rallye Monte Carlo, from January 20-22. Further rounds are as far afield as Mexico, Argentina, Turkey, Japan and Australasia.

    New McLaren breaks ground New McLaren breaks groundMcLaren's mean-looking new 'MP4-21' 2006 F1 car reared its head on Monday.

    At Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, Pedro de la Rosa gave the currently orange-colored racer a debut. Fundamentally an evolution of the successful 2005 model, MP4-21 does appear significantly different in areas, such as the slimmer and lower nose, and even more sculptured side pods.

    ''The car feels good initially, but it is of course too early to really understand its potential and we need to put a lot more laps on it,'' said the Spaniard.

    Juan Pablo Montoya will drive the single new car on Tuesday and Wednesday, before Kimi Raikkonen takes over for the following two days.

    After that, MP4-21 faces a six-test, twenty-day track program in the seven weeks leading into Bahrain, including several car and engine upgrades. A second '06 car will be ready next week.

    At about lunch time on Monday, de la Rosa had lapped only about a dozen times and was already just a second slower than the leading time -- Jacques Villeneuve's BMW Sauber.

    The new MP4-21, however, was outpacing Nick Heidfeld in a second Sauber, and test teammate Gary Paffett who steered an older '20' car.. For more see feature story on our Home page.

    MotoGP news in brief MotoGP news in brief
    Sete sets his mind at rest
    Any lingering doubts about his move to Ducati seem to have been dispelled when Sete Gibernau made his first acquaintance with his new machine.

    "I could see that the Ducati was a great bike, albeit completely different to what I had ridden before," said the Spaniard.

    "Add to this a great team and a company that has always made racing its philosophy and I am sure that I have made the right decision."

    After testing in his home country before Christmas, Gibernau says he is feeling very much at home in his new surroundings.

    "Being in a team which is 100% behind me, with the ambitions, the means and the enthusiasm to produce good results, is like realizing a dream," he added.

    As if to echo his sentiments, Loris Capirossi chimed in with his own endorsement of the Ducati project.

    "We are truly a great team," insisted Capirossi, who was in at the outset with Ducati in MotoGP.

    "We've still got some way to go, obviously," he admitted, "and our Championship begins at the forthcoming tests in Malaysia."

    And his new team-mate?

    "We are working well together despite going in different directions," said Capirossi.

    "But we both have the same aim - to have a bike that allows us to fight for the win." zzzz

    Snow job on GP06
    It seemed a strange place to unveil a MotoGP machine.

    After all, when a Championship heads to sun-baked places like Australia and the Middle East, Malaysia and Latin America, why put the poor thing through a trial by snow?

    That's exactly what the Ducati boys did this week when they went to Madonna di Campiglio in Italy's Alto Adige region.

    Loris Capirossi and team newcomer Sete Gibernau were both on hand as the Desmosedici GP6 took its first public bow.

    "Racing is in Ducati's DNA," said Ducati President and MD Federico Minoli. "We feel that we are responsible for taking and communicating Italian technology all over the world, and we are proud to be able to do so."

    Showing off the new bike, Ducati Corse's MD Claudio Domenicali said the GP6 was "an important step forward" from its predecessor, on which Capirossi took back-to-back wins in Japan and Malaysia last season.

    "We are on the right road," Domenicali stated, "and the results of the last few races of last season confirmed this improvement.

    "Our aim now is to be competitive at every circuit."

    Same again for Tamada
    Japan's Makoto Tamada will again play a lone hand in the Konica Minolta team for 2006.

    Tamada, who turns 30 this year, was a fine 11th overall in last year's Championship, his Honda taking a podium finish for third place at his home race as he amassed 91 points.

    The rider himself says 2006 will be "the positive turning-point" in his career, which is going into its fourth MotoGP season in 2006.

    Team Technical Director Giulio Bernardelle bucked the current trend when he said they would be reducing their testing schedule in 2006, stating they would "decrease the quantity to increase the quality".

    The team will be here in Australia at the end of January to test at Phillip Island, where Tamada finished eighth last season.

    Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
    Hakkinen 'glad' he quit F1
    Teams to lift veils this week
    I'm not going anywhere - Bernie
    '06 pecking order unclear - Niki Lauda
    Spa not axed - minister
    Carroll disappointed to miss F1 spot
    Rally champ wants taste of F1
    Cash for Hockenheim
    Red Bull won't become a McLaren - Haug
    '06 is JB's 'crunch year'
    Irvine faces London arrest
    McLaren funding Briton's GP2 move
    DC shows off new girlfriend DC shows off new girlfriend(GMMf1NET) On a visit to the World Cup ski event in Austria, F1 veteran David Coulthard has shown off his new girlfriend.

    After splitting with Brazilian model and long time fiancé Simone, the Red Bull driver arrived at Kitzbuhel hand-in-hand with Karen Minier -- a grand prix pit reporter, 33, for French 'TF1' television.

    The Belgian, black-haired beauty - who has worked full time in F1 for two years - has been dating DC since the start of December, Minier revealed to the German 'Bild' newspaper.

    Racing News
    Historical victory for Piquet team Historical victory for Piquet teamThe 2006 Mil Milhas, celebrating its 50th anniversary, have been won by Nelson Piquet and Nelsinho Piquet, racing together in this historical Brazilian event with Christophe Bouchut and Helio Castroneves for Cirtek Motorsport.

    Competing in the Aston Martin DB9R, Nelson and Nelsinho have been able to overcome the difficulties of the first two days of the Brazilian event, to win this historical edition of the Mil Milhas.

    Nelson Piquet earlier won the 1997 Mil Milhas, together with Johnny Cecotto and Steve Soper.

    Nelson Piquet, Nelsinho Piquet, Christophe Bouchut, and Helio Castroneves finished the race in 10 hours, 36 minutes and 38 seconds, and had a five lap lead on the second placed Mercedes of Tony Kanaan, Peter Lamy, Raul Boesel and Giuliano Losacco, while the Saleen of Antonio Hermann, Didier Theys and Jean-Marc Gounon finished third in this Mil Milhas 2006.

    Top-5 Final classification Mil Milhas 2006:
    1) Nelson Piquet/Nelsinho Piquet/Christophe Bouchut/Helio Castroneves (Aston Martin DB9R), 10h36min38s659
    2) Tony Kanaan/Pedro Lamy/Giuliano Losacco/Raul Boesel (Mercedes CLK ), 5 laps
    3) Antonio Hermann/Didier Theys/Jean Marc Gounon (Saleen SR-7), 9 laps
    4) Giambattista Giannoccaro/Alessandro Pier Guidi/Toni Vilander (Ferrari 360 ), 20 laps
    5) Hoover Orsi/Felipe Maluhy/Ricardo Maurício(Porsche 911 GT3), 25 laps.

    F3000 Italia name change F3000 Italia name changeOrganizers of the F3000 Italia Trophy have announced a name change for the championship, reflecting its decision to hold more races outside Italy in 2006.

    The series, which is run by Coloni Motorsport, will now be known as the Euro3000 Championship. The calendar includes races at Spa in Belgium, Barcelona in Spain and Budapest in Hungary.

    Supporting the championship at the Italian races and at Barcelona will be a new Italian F3000 Championship, which is intended as a learning step for drivers and teams heading into Euro3000. It has also been announced today that the Mugello rounds of both championships have been put back a week to July 9th.

    Hot News Archives
    2000 2001 2002 2003

    Search Hot News
    Search Help
    AutoRacing1 Inc. BBB Business Review