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90% drop for Honda  Honda Motor Co., the first major Japanese automaker to report quarterly earnings, slashed its full-year forecast Friday after reporting a 90 percent drop in profit for the three months to Dec. 31, the third quarter of Japan's fiscal year.

Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. are expected to announce weaker quarterly results in coming days, with Japanese newspapers reporting that they will show full-year losses, too, for the first time in many years.

Japan's leading automakers have been hit not only by the extreme weakness of the U.S. market, traditionally their biggest source of profit, but also by a surge in the yen. Its rise to 13-year highs against the dollar increases the Japanese manufacturers' costs relative to export earnings.

In terms of the bottom line, "foreign exchange has a much larger negative impact, and volumes come second, believe it or not," on the Japanese automakers' earnings, said Kurt Sanger, a Tokyo-based analyst at Deutsche Bank.

Japan's largest business newspaper, the Nikkei, reported Friday that Toyota would record a net loss for the year ending on March 31 and an operating loss of $4.5 billion, nearly the triple the operating loss it forecast only a month ago.

Electric car technology gaining momentum rapidly  
Regenerative Shock technology developed at Tufts University
As we wrote yesterday, today's internal combustion engines will soon go the way of the dinosaur as research and technology accelerates the development of the electric automobile.  Scientists everyday are finding ways to harness electrical energy and apply it to automobiles.  The latest breakthrough is shock absorbers that convert the heat generated by a vehicles shock absorbers, into recharging of an electric vehicles batteries.

A vehicle in motion has a lot of energy passing through it various ways. The limited capacity of electro-chemical batteries means engineers have to find any way they can to reduce wasted energy and recapture as much as possible. The primary means of recapturing energy up until now has been regenerative braking, where the wheels turn the motor during deceleration causing it to charge the battery.

Tufts University engineering professors Ronald Goldner and Peter Zerigian have developed a regenerative shock absorber that harnesses the kinetic energy of the wheels' vertical motions as they follow the contour of the road. Traditional dampers use the resistance of a viscous fluid flowing through orifices to dampen out the motions as wheels traverse bumps and potholes. This new configuration would put a magnet stack within stator windings and use the resistance provided by an electromagnetic field to achieve the same effect. Such a system could provide continuously variable damping while providing power instead of consuming it.

A similar concept was developed several years ago by Pennsylvania man David Oxenreider. Electric Truck LLC has apparently licensed the commercial rights to the Tufts design, although there is no indication when we might see it on the road. GizMag

Atherton statement on passing of Mayer  "Our thoughts and prayers are with Tim, Pattie and the rest of the Mayer family. Teddy Mayer was one of motorsport's foremost minds and earned the respect of his fellow competitors with his tireless dedication, ingenuity and championship-winning history. He was truly one of the pioneers of modern motorsport, both from a sporting and business perspective. The accomplishments he achieved with McLaren in a variety of racing disciplines and later in life in a much more understated manner with the Penske organization cannot be matched. We truly have lost one of the giants of our industry." Scott Atherton, President and CEO, American Le Mans Series
1-shot teams taking stab at Daytona 500  With the economy on the skids and Sprint Cup Series race teams either folding up or merging, there was talk a few weeks ago NASCAR would have a hard time filling the Daytona 500 field.  Think again.

It seems like a new entry or team entity is announced on a daily basis as Speed Weeks, Part II, rapidly approaches.  It's obvious the lure of a fat check has caught the fancy of many of these one-shot race teams.

The car that finishes last in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 15 will pocket $250,000 in prize money. That's about $40,000 more in the envelope than Denny Hamlin got for winning the Goody's Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville, Va., last season.

With the mega-teams on their fourth generation of Car of Tomorrow, since the start of the 2007 season, there's plenty of equipment out there to work with, and a ready-made work force for these cars.

After the season finale at Homestead, more than 600 mechanics and fabricators lost their jobs, as teams disappeared or made severe employee cuts to trim their 2009 budgets. Several of those in the pink slip brigade are either working part-time or volunteering at these makeshift race shops. Daytona Beach News Journal

Sorenson Faces High Expectations in the King's No. 43  
Can Reed Sorenson put the backmarker No. 43 Petty Dodge back in victory lane?
When Atlanta Motor Speedway president and general manager Ed Clark talked to Georgia native Reed Sorenson about moving into the No. 43 car and his new boss Richard Petty, a brief quip offered by the driver revealed the depth of his new work relationship. 

"It's a little different testing when 'The King' [Richard Petty] is there watching you," Sorenson told Clark.

Sorenson, who cut his teeth racing Legends cars at Atlanta Motor Speedway as a youth, is often soft-spoken and plays his cards close to his chest. But when questioned about the move to the No. 43 that many consider the most famous car in NASCAR history, it's apparent the talented NASCAR upstart understands the expectations and history that come with the territory.

"I guess the pressure is to get [the No. 43 car] back in victory lane," said Sorenson. "I think that's going to be the biggest pressure point on that. Once everybody on our team found out that we were going to be the 43, you could kind of tell in their eyes that it was something different than most of the other numbers that we could have had." More ...

track news
Darlington Historic Racing Festival to Return in 2009  After a successful Inaugural event, the Darlington Historic Racing Festival is set to return in 2009, announced Darlington Raceway President, Chris Browning.

The event will once again be run on a Saturday and Sunday, September 26-27. The event was moved from its original Labor Day weekend date to help accommodate more entries in 2009.

"The Inaugural Darlington Historic Racing Festival was a special event that allowed us to showcase the history of Darlington Raceway and oval-track racing," said Browning. "We are looking forward to hosting the event again in 2009 and hope to have an even bigger turnout of car entries." More ...

QVC Teams Up With NASCAR  QVC, one of the largest multimedia retailers in the world, announced that it has entered into a strategic alliance with the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) to provide racing enthusiasts with a unique multichannel shopping experience.

As part of this new venture, QVC will expand upon its current For Race Fans Only® programming, which is currently celebrating its 15th year of broadcasting, with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the biggest events of the season as well as offering the newest NASCAR-licensed merchandise before other retailers.

Through its relationship with Turner Sports, operator of NASCAR.com, QVC will also launch Shop NASCAR on QVC.com (www.QVC.com/ForRaceFansOnly). The online shop will feature an expanded assortment of thousands of NASCAR products online as well as webcasts and product features. More ...

Ron Dennis pays tribute to Teddy Mayer  McLaren Group Chairman Ron Dennis has paid tribute to his predecessor Teddy Mayer who passed away on Friday at the age of 73.

Edward Everett Mayer took charge at McLaren in 1970 after Bruce McLaren was killed in a Can-Am car at Goodwood. He led the team to the 1974 and 1976 world championships with Emerson Fittipaldi and James Hunt the successors.

Mayer stayed on at McLaren until 1982 when he sold his shares to Ron Dennis who had been ushered in to take control of the team by Marlboro in wake of a disappointing run of results.

Dennis, paying tribute to Mayer, says that the success McLaren have enjoyed subsequently would not have been possible without the foundations laid by the American and his colleagues. More ...

Williams sponsor RBS targeted by class action suit  A New York law firm announced Saturday it had filed a class action complaint in US court against the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for allegedly issuing false statements that exposed shareholders to risky subprime loans.

The law firm Murray, Frank & Sailer said it was acting on behalf of shareholders over two separate public offerings made in May 2006 and September 2007.

The shares closed at 5.00 and 5.70 dollars Friday, a fraction of their original offering price of 25 dollars. More ...

racing news
Electric dragster blows away competition  Ever think electric motor powered race cars won't be fast enough?  Think again.  Watch this video and see why electric cars will eventually turn internal combustion engine powered cars into air-pollution causing, cancer causing, dinosaurs.  The transformation of the automobile industry has begun.
Old timer Geoff Bodine enters Daytona 500  
Geoff Bodine
Geoff Bodine will drive the #64 Toyota entrant in an attempt to qualify for the 51st running of the Daytona 500 for Gunselman Motorsports. Bodine will be making his first Sprint Cup Series attempt since 2004. The 59-year young native of Chemung, NY will be making several attempts trading off with his brother, Todd, for the Gunselman team during the 2009 season. Bodine’s last attempt was for also for Gunselman when he ran Mach 1 Motorsports.

“This is a pretty neat opportunity and something I’m looking forward to doing,” Bodine said. “I still feel I have the competitive spirit and ability to get out there and race. I have driven so many types of cars from Cup to Modifieds to Trucks that I’m looking forward to the learning curve here with the new Sprint Cup car. When Larry first approached me about this, I started to get excited about getting behind the wheel again. So, here I am, getting ready for Daytona and seeing what our Toyota Camry can do at Daytona.” In addition to the opportunity to race, Bodine and Gunselman are both hoping to draw attention to the US Bobsled efforts that Bodine has headed up through his annual Bodine Bobsled Challenge held in Lake Placid, NY each January. “To have someone like Geoff in our car is incredible,” Gunselman said.

“He and I have been friends for many years and I can’t even begin to thank him enough for signing on with us. I’ve been to every Bobsled Challenge and I’m hoping we can draw awareness to that effort, as well. We’re unsponsored right now, but have some key individuals helping us get the funding we need to compete on a larger basis. To see Geoff in the shop working on the car, in the car and interacting with the guys has been great. He won’t let on, but I think he’s getting more and more excited as time draws near for Daytona.” Interested parties can inquire to info@larrygunselman.com regarding unique sponsorship opportunities available. Packman PR

racing news
Teddy Mayer 1935-2009  
Ken Tyrrell (L) talks to McLaren boss Teddy Mayer
Former McLaren Formula One boss Teddy Mayer, who took over the team after the death of its founder, Bruce McLaren, has died at the age of 73 at his home in England.

Edward Everett "Teddy" Mayer (born September 8, 1935, and died January 30, 2009) was an American who  enjoyed success in several categories of racing, including Formula One and IndyCars.

Mayer was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. While studying law at Cornell, he became involved in the Rev-Em Formula Junior team whose drivers included his brother Timmy and Peter Revson. After graduating in 1962 Mayer followed his brother and Revson to Europe and helped Bruce McLaren to set up his Formula One team. Despite the death of his brother in 1964, Mayer continued to be involved in motor sport and assumed control of the McLaren team after Bruce McLaren was killed in 1970.

For much of the 1970s McLaren enjoyed considerable success, with both Emerson Fittipaldi and James Hunt taking the drivers title. In addition to Formula One, McLaren also competed in CART and CanAm racing under Mayer's management.

Towards the end of the decade the teams results began to decline and title sponsor Marlboro engineered a merger with the Project 4 team run by Ron Dennis. Mayer remained as joint managing-director until 1982, when he sold his shares and left the team he had helped to create. More ...

Papis makes good on promise to his father  UPDATE Mario Andretti won the 1967 Daytona 500 and he was born in Italy so Max Papis forgot that he will be the 2nd Italian driver to compete in NASCAR.  The question is whether he will win a race like Andretti did.

Can Max Papis repeat fellow countryman Mario Andretti's feat?
01/31/09 Three years ago, Max Papis made his dying father a promise. Papis told him that some day he would become the first Italian driver to compete in NASCAR.

Papis made good on the promise — technically — since then as he picked up a handful of part-time gigs in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series.

This coming season, the promise to his father will come true on a more permanent basis. Papis, a native of Como, Italy, will drive in at least 18 races for Germain Racing in the Sprint Cup series. He also will be eligible for the 2009 Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award.

Papis was overjoyed when he talked recently about his first real NASCAR job.

“This is huge,” he said. “This is what I have been waiting for all my life.”

Papis’ racing life has been long and varied. More at Kansas City Star

Genoa Lights Completes Test with Top Time  Completing their test plan early, including a qualifying simulation, Genoa Lights leaves Homestead-Miami Speedway with the top time of the day. Incremental to the original test plan, things were progressing so well that Genoa decided to trim out the car, install new tires and run a qualifying simulation. Driver Richard Philippe, in his first experience with this qualifying format, put in a 2-lap average that was faster than the 2008 pole speed. Richard relayed to the team that it, “… seemed easy”. More ...
Audi driver squad stronger than ever before  Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich left the traditional Audi Winter Camp in Ofterschwang, Bavaria, at which the AUDI AG factory drivers prepared for a week together with their team bosses between 24 and 31 January for the 2009 motorsport season, extremely satisfied.

"As far as the team spirit and fitness are concerned we can safely say that we have the strongest driver and team line ups which you can imagine," summarized Dr Ullrich following an extremely pleasant eight day period spent together in the Allgäu region. "As always we were greeted by perfect conditions at the Sonnenalp and used these to prepare optimally for the special challenges we expect to face in this tough year 2009."

This consists specifically of the DTM title defense with the further developed Audi A4 DTM and the factory entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the new R15 TDI diesel powered sportscar. Several of the 13 Audi factory drivers are involved in both projects, for others there are more tests on the agenda than races in 2009. More ...
Mateschitz: No hurry to sell STR  Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz told Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten, "There is no pressure on us to proceed with the sale.  If there is a potential buyer, he has to guarantee to keep STR alive and have the knowledge and funding to do this."

"The cost-cutting measures in F1 are useful and appreciated, we can save a lot of money by them," he said. "For both teams we can save 100 million Euros."

Daytona Int'l Speedway Shootout news  The first official act of the 2009 NASCAR season will take place on Thursday night, Feb. 5 with the Budweiser Shootout Draw Party on the SPEED Stage located outside Turn 4 of historic Daytona International Speedway.

Drivers that are eligible for the 31st annual Budweiser Shootout will draw their starting position for the 75-lap All-Star classic set for Saturday, Feb. 7 at "The World Center of Racing." The draw party, which begins at 6:30 p.m., is free and open to the public and parking is available at Lot 3 (Speedplex Offices).

The Budweiser Shootout will feature a star-studded lineup in a new format. The field will consist of the top six teams from each manufacturer based on the final 2008 car owner's points. Eligibility is based on owners competing in this event with the same manufacturer as 2008. In addition, each manufacturer will be able to enter a seventh car or "wild card" entry.

The criteria for the wild card entry are: More ...

Gascoyne demands money from Force India  Mike Gascoyne, the former Force India F1 Team's Chief Technical Officer, is suing the team for damages and this for a sum of £2.5 million. Gascoyne was dismissed at the end of 2008, 12 months before his original three-year deal came to an end because he designed yet another backmarker car, the story of his career.

Since no one else with probably hire him after his latest failure, Gascoyne lodged legal paperwork in London's High Court for damages caused by his dismissal and demands around £2.5 million.  This should be enough that he could retire.  The former Chief Technical Officer was fired after Team Principal Vijay Mallya conducted a management reshuffle following the team's switch from Ferrari to Mercedes engines.
Red Bull undecided on KERS debut  Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner says his team will only run its Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) in Australia if it has conclusively proved its worth in pre-season testing.

RBR is planning to use the same KERS system as Renault, which has been developed by Italian company Magneti Marelli, a Fiat subsidiary that has also had a major input in Ferrari’s device.

Renault’s engineering chief Pat Symonds told this week's Autosport that he is increasingly confident the device will be ready to use on the R29 in the Melbourne season-opener.

“Nobody knows how many teams will come to the grid in Melbourne with KERS,” he said in an interview with Motor Sport magazine.

“There will be a few, but the power advantage versus the weight penalty is certainly a closely matched thing. We will only run KERS on the race car when it earns this place there, just as we would with any other new development.  We are working closely with Renault on a system that is primarily designed by Magneti-Marelli but it is, shall we say, a significant technical challenge.  We have to wait and see if it proves its worth in testing and then decide whether or not we run it at the first race in Melbourne.” More ...

Q&A with Merc boss Haug on new Hamilton success  Eurosport conducted a question-and-answer session with Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug ahead of McLaren's 2009 season.

Eurosport: Are you well-prepared for the new season with your drivers Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen?

Norbert Haug
Norbert Haug: We've a very ambitious timetable and I think everything is going according to plan. The first tests were mostly on a wet track in Portugal. In dry conditions the material is wearing out much faster, but we've learned many things about the new car.

ES: Did Ron Dennis inform you of his retirement plans before he announced them?

NH: Every year there are many surprises in Formula One. It is very important to minimize such things in your own team: that's our rule, and our goal.

ES: Do you think Martin Whitmarsh is the right man for the job?

NH: One man alone can't push the whole team on top. Martin knows that and he's a very professional team-player. Most of the important things we'll decide on together. I have worked for 14 years with Ron and Martin and it's a close and coordinated relationship: everybody knows everybody. That's a very pleasant fact and very economic. More ...

tv news
Weekend USA TV Reminders  UPDATE
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
SCCA Runoffs -2008 Topeka
12:00am-1:00am (R) -Sports 2000
1:00am-2:00am (R) -Showroom Stock B
2:00am-3:00am (R) -C Sports Racer
3:00am-4:00am (R) -American Sedan
4:00am-5:00am (R) -Formula Enterprises SPEED
Bodine Bobsled Challenge -NASCAR Drivers Lake Placid, NY
12:00pm-2:00pm (R) SPEED
World Series of Off-Road Racing Bark River Wheatland Crandon
3:00pm-4:00pm SPEED
KONI Challenge Series Daytona
4:00pm-6:00pm (1/23/09) SPEED
Lucas Oil on the Edge -SPEED lists Indoor Dirt Karting Tunica, MS
7:00pm-7:30pm SPEED
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Columbus, MS
7:30pm-8:00pm (7/12/08) SPEED
A1 Grand Prix Highlights
12:00am-1:00am Setanta Sports
AMA Supercross Houston
12:00pm-1:00pm (R) SPEED
Formula Drift Long Beach
1:00pm-2:00pm (R) SPEED
Targa Newfoundland -2007 Highlights Newfoundland
2:00pm-3:00pm (R) SPEED
Movie: Landspeed (2002)
2:35pm-4:15pm Showtime
Check your listings, as Showtime channels vary Check local listings for your time zone Showtime
NASCAR: The Ride of Their Lives History of NASCAR
narrated by Kevin Costner
4:15pm-6:00pm (R) Showtime
Check your listings, as Showtime channels vary Check local listings for your time zone Showtime
Lucas Oil on the Edge Las Vegas
4:30pm-5:00pm (R) SPEED
NASCAR Preseason Testing Daytona Beach
11:00pm-11:30pm (R) SPEED
For a complete listing of TV programs, see TVRacer.com
Mirko Bortolotti joins Red Bull as their third driver in Formula Two  
Mirko Bortolotti
Red Bull has signed Italian F3 champion Mirko Bortolotti as part of its junior driver program, and placed him in the FIA Formula Two Championship for the 2009 season. 

Bortolotti has recently tested a Scuderia Ferrari F2008 F1 car as part of his F3 title prize – setting an unofficial lap record for the car at Fiorano just before Christmas. This followed a highly impressive campaign in the 2008 Italian F3 Championship, where he took nine wins and a total of 15 podiums in just 16 races. A run in the new A1GP car and the F1 test with Ferrari followed, before Red Bull invited Bortolotti to join its prestigious Junior Team.

Bortolotti’s first full season of single seater racing was in 2006, where he finished as runner-up in Formula Azzurra. Fellow F2 competitor Nicola De Marco also contested the same championship, finishing third. A podium in the Formula Renault 2.0 Italy Winter Series followed before he stepped up to compete in Italian F3 in 2007. One win and seven podiums helped Bortolotti to fourth in the overall standings, setting him up for a championship assault in 2008. More ...

track news
Dover Motorsports sells Memphis Motorsports Park  Dover Motorsports announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Memphis Motorsports Park to Gulf Coast Entertainment, L.L.C. Under the terms of the agreement, Dover Motorsports will sell all of the stock of its subsidiary Memphis International Motorsports Corporation, the owner of Memphis Motorsports Park, to Gulf Coast Entertainment for $10 million in cash. Gulf Coast Entertainment is the owner of a newly proposed multi-use entertainment complex in Mobile, AL which is projected to be operational in 2011. As additional consideration for the purchase, Dover Motorsports will receive a two percent non-dilatable interest in Gulf Coast Entertainment and will have an agreement to provide motorsports management services to Alabama Motorsports Park [A Dale Earnhardt Jr. Speedway] when the facilities become operational. Closing is expected to take place on or about April 30, 2009 and is subject to financing and customary closing conditions. Memphis Motorsports Park does not contemplate any schedule changes in 2009 and will continue to host events in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. It will continue operations under the ownership of Gulf Coast Entertainment, but will operate under a management agreement with Dover Motorsports. In connection with securing NASCAR's approval of the transaction, Dover Motorsports is expected to guarantee the obligations of Memphis Motorsports Park under its sanction agreements with NASCAR for the 2009 season. Dover Motorsports PR
track news
Investor group pulling out of Milwaukee Mile  UPDATE #2 Dominic and Frank Giuffre, brothers and former racing promoters, say they are going to take a pass on making a bid to take over racing at the Milwaukee Mile.

Dominic Giuffre said he and his brother met with Wisconsin State Fair officials, but didn't like what they were hearing.

"The feeling we were getting is that they wanted to have the same kind of deal they have with the present promoter," Dominic Giuffre said.

Milwaukee Mile Holdings, the current promoter, have told fair officials they will exercise their option to get out of racing in December 2010. Milwaukee Mile Holdings had paid $700,000 last year in licensing fees, but was limited by the number of days it had access to the racetrack.

"I don't think any group will make a bid," Dominic Giuffre said. JSOnline

12/26/08 The future of motor sports at the Milwaukee Mile is in doubt after Wisconsin State Fair Park officials announced Tuesday that the investor group now promoting events at the track plans to get out of the business by December 2010.

Milwaukee Mile Holdings LLC is led by two Californians, Frank J. Andrews and David O. Stroud, but includes several prominent local investors, including local philanthropists Chris Abele and Dan Bader, Ulice Payne Jr., chairman of the Bradley Center Sports and Entertainment Corp., and auto dealer David Hobbs.

The group had asked the board to reopen its licensing agreement because it was losing money. The board said no, prompting the group to exercise its right to opt out by December 2010.

Milwaukee Mile has said that, since taking over the historic racetrack in December 2005, it lost $2.1 million in 2006 and $1.5 million in 2007. This year it expects to lose $1.2 million. More ...

FIA analysis on proposed F1 medal system  
Mario Andretti would be a 2-time World Champion under Bernie Ecclestone's medal system
Further to the proposal for medals to replace points in the FIA Formula One World Championship, the FIA has conducted an analysis of how the proposed system would have altered the results of previous seasons.

Under the medals system, it is proposed that the top three drivers in each race would win gold, silver and bronze medals. At the end of the season the driver with the most gold medals would win the championship. If two or more drivers have the same number of golds then the silver medals would come into account and so on.

The FIA’s analysis shows that the medal system would change the outcomes of past World Championships considerably. Only 22 of the 59 World Championships to date would have the same top 3. The other 37 World Championships would be different. The World Champion would be altered on 13 occasions.

The medal system would create three “new” World Champions who did not win the title using the various points systems.

The overall effect would be to reduce the number of World Champions, concentrating the titles in a smaller group. More ...

Rahal team happy with Winter Test results  The first BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3 completed more than 850 miles of testing at Sebring International Raceway during this year’s annual American Le Mans Series Winter Test, held on January 26, 27 and 28.

The new fourth-generation M3 racer spent almost 12 hours on the classic 3.7-mile endurance circuit over the three-day test. That number is important as the team will be aiming to race that same amount of time when it returns to Sebring for the ALMS season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring on March 21.

Dirk Müller set the team’s best time of 2:03.654 minutes on the morning of the second day as he began an all-day Dunlop tire test. Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand and Tommy Milner shared the M3 throughout most of the first and third days of the test. More ...

In 1967 Andretti beat NASCAR's best at their own game  
In 1967 Mario Andretti came south and beat the stock car boys at their game.  He led 112 of 200 laps in winning the 67 Daytona 500 for Holman-Moody
At 68 years old, Mario Andretti looks as if he still could kick some butt on the race track.
He has no plans for that, of course. The last time he had thoughts along those lines, he almost killed himself. Years after retiring from Indy-car racing, he returned to test a car at Indianapolis in 2003, hit a piece of debris and sailed high into the air in one of the scariest incidents at Indy in recent years. Andretti had only minor injuries, but he was shaken – as were more than a few people who were there that day.
It is best that racing remains a memory for Andretti. But, boy, does he have a few memories. He’s the only driver to win a Daytona 500 (1967), an Indianapolis 500 (1969) and the Formula One championship. He won four Indy-car titles and the International Race of Champions and was a threat to win in almost anything he drove for decades. And he did it all with class.

In 1999, the Associated Press named Andretti the driver of the century. Among the candidates he outran for that award were A.J. Foyt, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr., all racers who could have legitimately filed claim to such an honor.

Andretti continues to hang around the sport, and that’s a good thing. He’s smart, personable, articulate and a walking encyclopedia of motorsports. More ...

D’Hondt Motorsports announces sponsors  D’Hondt Motorsports, LLC (DMS) announced today the signing of several new product sponsors. STP Tools, makers of a multitude of battery powered tools and equipment. NutriSystem, a leader in the weight loss industry providing nutritionally balanced, heart healthy meals delivered right to your door. SCA / TORK, one of the world’s largest producers of tissue, napkin, toweling, specialty wipers, innovative dispensers and other paper related products. Gunk, serving up a full line of automotive aftermarket specialty products. Rudy Project, a modern and technical company designing and manufacturing hi-tech sunglasses, goggles, helmets and accessories. AIRCAT®, a line of pneumatic hand tools with all the power and reduced levels of noise. 

“With the 2009 racing season about to get underway, we are very fortunate to have these fine companies supporting our efforts. DMS is growing and it says a lot for what we are building and where we are headed in both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the ARCA REMAX Series, to be blessed with this amount of support in these challenged times,” said DMS - New Business Director, Dan Leon.

Paul Menard welcomes Bud Shootout shot  
Paul Menard
A week from Saturday Paul Menard will race in his first Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.  Additionally, he will unveil the 2009 Quaker State-Menards Ford Fusion and get that jump start to racing during Speedweeks he has not had in his first two seasons of Sprint Cup racing.

"It's definitely going to be cool to run in that event," Menard said. "The last couple years I've had to watch it on TV, so actually getting in this year and being able to race will be a big advantage for us."

For Quaker State, it's the first event on track with their new logo and special hood treatment, which will carry through the Daytona 500 and California weekends.

"Both Quaker State and I have a new look for the 2009 race season.  I'm excited to be driving the Quaker State car during the Bud shootout and kicking off the NASCAR season with the motor oil brand that delivers the protection consumers need for their everyday driving." More ...

Force India on track for March debut  (GMM)  Force India's Mercedes-powered 2009 car is still scheduled for a debut in March, according to technical director James Key.

Following two years with Ferrari power, there has been frantic activity at the team's Silverstone base since the new technical collaboration with McLaren and Mercedes-Benz was announced.

"It's obviously very tight, because of what we've had to do.  But the plan is to hit the last two official team tests before the season," Key said.

Key said this year's car, the VJM-02, had been "pretty much" fully defined by the time of the Mercedes announcement.

"It was then a case of having discussions with McLaren on the gearbox and Mercedes on the engine side as we had a new set of numbers to deal with," he said.

Absent from the winter test tracks so far, he said engineers have been busy working on accommodating the new technical elements.

"In some areas it was fairly straightforward.  Some areas of the car matched very well with the new packaging requirements we had, while in other areas it was significantly different," he said.

"Effectively we have had to redesign quite a bit of the car, and starting in November, that's been quite a major undertaking."

Ferrari, McLaren, herald F1 unity  (GMM)  McLaren and Ferrari have demonstrated a new era of unity, co-staging a media dinner.

Within memory of the bitter espionage saga, the event followed Ferrari's usually Maranello based spokesman Luca Colajanni spending most of Thursday at McLaren's Woking headquarters.

"If you had told me a year ago that I would be doing this I would not have believed you," he told reporters after meeting with Ron Dennis and other McLaren staff.

Dennis, McLaren Group CEO and still the Mercedes-powered team's boss, told F1's official website this week that his outfit and Ferrari have been "working extremely closely together" in the F1 teams' alliance FOTA.

The 61-year-old will step down as team principal on March 1, but he insists he will devote some of his extra time to "working alongside my colleague Luca di Montezemolo".

Montezemolo, Ferrari president, currently heads FOTA, the body set up by all formula one teams for discussions with the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone about the sport's future.

"We're not complacent; we're not reluctant to embrace radical change; we're not hidebound by on-track rivalries," Dennis insists.

Webber wants long future with Red Bull  
Mark Webber
(GMM)  Mark Webber is hoping for a long-term future with Red Bull Racing.

The 32-year-old, still recovering from his badly broken right leg, is approaching his third consecutive season with the Milton Keynes-based squad but insists he is in no mood to go onto the driver market.

"I am happy with Red Bull and I hope Red Bull will be happy with me," the Australian is quoted as saying by redbulletin.com.

Alongside David Coulthard, Webber scored 21 of Red Bull's 29 points in 2008.  In 2009, he will be partnered with the impressive German youngster Sebastian Vettel.

"If I keep my consistency and get everything out of the car, I will have no worries for the future," Webber claims.

"I plan to stay on with Red Bull long-term.  In fact, I do not see me working with any other team."

Yates Names Business Development Team  Yates Racing announced Jon Sands as Vice-President and Mark Gendle as Director of Business Development for the three-tiered Sprint Cup Series entry to include the #98, #28 and #96 Hall of Fame Ford. The duo will also support the #98 Nationwide Series entry with Paul Menard. Sands joined Roush Fenway Racing in 2001 after excelling in numerous areas of motorsports marketing. Sands experience ranges from Phoenix's Firebird International Raceway, New York-based Cohn & Wolfe where he oversaw Pennzoil Sprint Cup Series program, and Coors Brewing Company's Cup Series endeavors. At Roush Fenway Racing, his responsibilities included securing primary sponsorships as well as developing specialized, integrated marketing communication programs that make such sponsorship programs profitable to the client. Gendle joined Roush Fenway's marketing team after a four-year tenure with Raycom Sports. At Raycom, Gendle developed sales and marketing strategies for regional television coverage of both basketball and football in the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference. His motorsports experience began at Elevation Motorsports where he worked with clients like General Mill, UPS and Masterfoods USA. Yates Racing PR
Newman questions timeline of drug testing  Ryan Newman supports NASCAR's new drug-testing policy for 2009 but says he was surprised that the sanctioning body so clearly defined a designated time frame for the tests. "I might be opening up a can of worms when I say this, but why would you announce you're going to have a drug-testing time?" Newman said during the Stewart-Haas Racing portion of the Sprint Media Tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway. "I mean the whole idea of announcing it kind of takes away from the people that know how to cheat the system. Obviously, I know there's probably going to be some follow-ups with certain people ... but it just seems to me that you're only eliminating the really, really naïve people in the first testing or in the first screening like this." The sanctioning body issued a memo to teams in December, requiring they submit drug-testing results from all crew members, spotters and race-day support personnel, including engineers, engine tuners, shock specialists, chassis specialists and tire specialists, by Jan. 16. NASCAR was to oversee drug testing for all drivers beginning the week of Jan. 20. Scene Daily
Wypall Wipers announces 2009 Crew Chief Lineup  Three of the most respected and successful crew chiefs in the history of NASCAR have been named to the 2009 WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief lineup. The all-star line-up of Bob Osborne, Todd Berrier and Jeff Hammond, who have a total of 63 career Sprint Cup Series victories between them, continues the tradition of top-notch crew chiefs who call WYPALL Wipers their wiper of choice. This year's WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief program, which began in 2004, launches in Daytona on Feb. 15. Osborne is in his second year as a spokesperson for WYPALL Wipers. He is coming off a banner 2008 season after leading the # 99 Roush-Fenway Ford Racing team and driver Carl Edwards to a runner-up finish in the Sprint Cup Series Chase. Berrier, also in his second year as a spokesperson for WYPALL Wipers, helped guide the #29 Richard Childress Racing Chevy team to a fourth-place finish in last year's title chase with driver Kevin Harvick. The team had seven top-five and 19 top-10 finishes. He has four career victories with Harvick, including a checkered flag in the 2007 "Great American Race," the Daytona 500. While Hammond no longer calls the shots from high atop a pit box, he still oversees each racetrack from a television booth, analyzing the action for FOX Sports and SPEED Channel. His credentials include 43 wins and two championships as Darrell Waltrip's crew chief, in addition to being a team member on four other championship teams. He, too, is a part of the WYPALL Wipers team for the second year. The crew chief trio, along with representatives from WYPALL Wipers, will serve as the panel for the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Challenge, a season-long contest that will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup garage. Following each Cup race, each member will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and ingenuity during the race. It isn't necessarily the crew chief who goes to Victory Lane, but the crew chief who made the biggest difference to his team. The weekly winning crew chief will receive a $1,000 check as well as signage to announce the win on their pit box at the following week's event. The crew chief with the most weekly wins will be honored as the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $20,000 check at the season finale in Homestead, Fla. Former yearly winners include Tony Eury, Sr. (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.), Robbie Reiser (Matt Kenseth), Doug Richert (Greg Biffle) Mike Ford (Denny Hamlin) and Chad Knaus (Jimmie Johnson). Wypall PR
Honda shuts UK plant  Japanese carmaker Honda has announced the four-month closure of its manufacturing plant in Wiltshire after posting an 89 per cent slump in quarterly profits.

Net profit in the third quarter stood at 20.24 billion yen (£157 million), down from more than 200 billion yen from the same period last year.

Japan's second largest automaker announced at the same time it was shutting its Swindon plant for four months from tonight.

The roughly 4,000 workers at the factory will receive their full basic pay for the next two months, with a 40 per cent cut coming into effect for the remaining closure period.

Schu admits test action unlikely in '09  
Michael Schumacher
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has conceded that F1's newly-imposed in-season testing ban will probably mean less or no running for him in 2009.

The seven time world champion remains an advisor to the Ferrari team and also an occasional test driver, appearing in the F2008 on a number of occasions last year.

But not only will the in-season moratorium see him sidelined, the 40-year-old German said the race drivers will want to be on duty for the remaining tests of the current winter period.

"These next weeks and tests are now for preparation of the entire season," he told Germany's Express.

Schumacher, despite his vast experience with slick tires, said he assumed the test drivers, including himself, Luca Badoer and Marc Gene, will have to defer to racers Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa.

"At the moment we are just discussing whether Ferrari sees it the same way," he explained.

Schumacher, however, said he will not be bored in 2009, revealing he will contest the German superbike championship because two-wheeled racing is his "new passion".

Alonso attends mentor's funeral  
Fernando Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso on Thursday attended the funeral of his karting mentor Genis Marco's father, Josep.

Having earlier this week travelled to Paris as Renault displayed its new R29 car to team partners, the 27-year-old then moved on to Bellcaire d'Emporda, in his native Spain, to pay his respects.

In the early 90s, then barely a teenager, Alonso lived with the Marco family as he advanced his karting career with Marco's Genikart team.

At the age of 57, Josep Marco died on Monday, and Alonso had been told the sad news by rally legend Carlos Sainz, according to the Spanish newspaper Diario Sport.

Alonso attended the funeral with fellow racing driver and Genikart contemporary Antonio Garcia.

F1 weight rules unfair - Rosberg  
Nico Rosberg singing the blues
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg has hit out at F1's current minimum weight rule.

The Williams racer suggests that, combined with the addition of heavy KERS systems in 2009, the tendency is to unfairly penalize the heavier or taller drivers.

The minimum weight in F1 is 605kg including car and driver.

But with KERS systems weighing between 25 and 40kg, heavy drivers now have even less scope to distribute ballast around the car, to achieve an ideal weight distribution.

So far, it has emerged that, in preparation for 2009, Rubens Barrichello, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso have deliberately lost weight.

"I have lost weight and even at Christmas was counting calories," Nico Rosberg now reveals.

"I think the weight rule is unfair because bigger drivers are disadvantaged even before they start (the season)," the 23-year-old German told Speedweek magazine.

"I think it should be urgently talked about in the (drivers' association) GPDA," he said.

Rosberg argues that a variable weight limit, based on the weight of individual drivers, should be installed so that the heavier drivers are not disadvantaged.

BMW's Robert Kubica, standing at about 6 feet or 185cm, shed several kilograms before last season and now weighs sub-70kg, but vows to lose no more for fear of losing strength or fitness, the Cologne newspaper Express said.

Rosberg is 178cm and weighs about 70kg.  The diminutive Nick Heidfeld and Felipe Massa are both believed to weigh less than 60kg.

Watch Superspeedway in High-Def  Watch a high-definition video of the Superspeedway film about the Andrettis.  Press the HD link at the bottom of the frame to switch to high-def.  Once you get HD press the full screen icon--it's the best video we have seen on the internet yet.  This IMAX film is about to be re-released on Blu-Ray in HD and it will be mind blowing.
track news
Decreased seating capacity at Daytona, Phoenix  Daytona International Speedway and Phoenix International Speedway have decreased their seating capacity by 9,000 in the last year.

Spokesmen for both tracks said the changes were the result of improvements made to certain grandstand sections. Daytona’s seating capacity shrunk from 168,000 to 159,000, the result of a frontstretch grandstand project that began in August, according to DIS spokesman Andrew Booth.

The renovation project replaced lower aluminum seating in the DePalma and Oldfield grandstands (located near Turn 4) as well as the Seagrave, Keech and Lockhart grandstands (located near Turn 1) with chair seats with arm rests.

Phoenix’s capacity shrunk from 76,000 to 67,000. The Phoenix changes, according to PIR spokesman Paul Corliss, came from the track’s replacing of temporary bleacher limited-view seating on the backstretch with high-end recreational vehicle and hospitality spots.

“You’ll continue to see us evolve and expand or contract as necessary,” ISC spokesman Wes Harris said. “The nice thing is you can do other things that can make a lot of sense.” More ...

Dyson Racing Sebring test summary  
Dyson Lola with Mazda power
It was much warmer for Dyson Racing's first public running of their new BP Mazda Lola Coupe than it was in Washington DC a week ago. But the fifth-annual American Le Mans Series Winter Test in Sebring, FL provided a similar public stage for showcasing a new chapter and partnership of Dyson Racing, Mazda, BP, Lola and Advance Engine Research. "It was not a question of `if' - it was a question of `when Mazda and Dyson

" Racing would come together. There is a real common sense of purpose, and a shared sense of integrity with Mazda and all of our partners," noted Chris Dyson.

The drivers all spoke well of the new car. Dyson said that he "could not be happier to be behind the wheel of the latest Lola. The car is fundamentally very good and has a huge amount of potential. The engine is strong and the car's feedback gives the driver a lot of confidence." More ...

Logano to be youngest driver to ever start 500  
Joey Logano has some pretty big shoes to fill
When Joey Logano climbs into the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for the 51st running of the "Great American Race," on Sunday, Feb. 15, he will make history as the youngest driver to start a Daytona 500 – NASCAR's biggest, richest and most prestigious race.

If Logano, who will be 18 years, 8 months and 22 days old on the date of this year's Daytona 500, can get the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota and his Joe Gibbs Racing team into Gatorade Victory Lane in his first Daytona 500 start, he will surpass Jeff Gordon as the youngest driver to win "The Great American Race." Gordon won his first Daytona 500 back in 1997 at the age of 25.

"I went down there last five or six years and I've had to watch from the sidelines and to be involved in it (this) year is really exciting," Logano said. "There's just so much history there and to be able to be on the same track that so many legends have won at is really an honor. It's Daytona and that's the Daytona 500. Even though I've never run in the race, I know how much of a big deal it is."

Logano began racing at age six and signed on with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver development program back in 2005. In three short years, Logano already posts an impressive resume of racing accomplishments including a 2007 Camping World East Championship and a 2008 win at his ARCA/REMAX Series debut at Rockingham.

Before Logano suits up for the 51st annual Daytona 500, he will first compete in a rare "Daytona double" on Saturday, Feb. 7 when he races in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA/REMAX Series season opener and the Budweiser Shootout All-Star race.

In addition, Logano will participate in Daytona 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger on Sunday, Feb. 8, the Gatorade Duel At Daytona on Thursday, Feb. 12 and the Camping World 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series season opener on Saturday, Feb. 14.

"I'm doing it," Logano said of his busy DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009 schedule. "I'm running both races (ARCA and Budweiser Shootout) and then I've got the Nationwide race with the GameStop Toyota and then running the Cup race with the Home Depot Toyota. Between all that, I've got my hands full."

NASCAR limits Truck series engines, pit crews  NASCAR will limit Camping World Truck Series teams to five men over the wall instead of seven and not allow them to fuel and change tires during the same pit stop this season, the sanctioning body announced today.

The change in over-the-wall personnel was one of several changes NASCAR announced to help teams in the series save money.

Teams also will not be able to use three different engines in three consecutive events, excluding the races at Daytona and Talladega. After an engine’s initial use, competitors must declare the use of an engine for a future event, and the engine will be sealed by NASCAR. If an engine expires during a race weekend and the team must use a different engine, it must start in the rear of the field, just as in previous seasons. The rule applies to a team's three consecutive races entered and not just the three consecutive races on the schedule, meaning that if a team skipped races, it would still need to race the same engine in two of any three events it enters. More ...
track news
ISC reports 4th Qtr. results  ISC" today reported results for the fourth quarter and full year ended November 30, 2008.

“Given the impact the economic environment had on consumers and our corporate partners in 2008, we were pleased with our overall results,” said ISC President Lesa France Kennedy. “NASCAR fans remain the most avid and brand loyal in all of sports, and continue to attend live events in huge numbers. They are attracted to a sport that provides thrilling on-track competition by teams of highly-skilled athletes, which has been a hallmark of NASCAR racing for the last 60 years and will continue into the future. This backdrop will serve us well as we operate in a continued challenging landscape during 2009.”

Ms. France Kennedy continued, “Clearly we are sensitive to the financial pressures many of our fans are experiencing. To address this, we recently reduced ticket prices on over 150,000 seats, or 15 percent of capacity, for Sprint Cup events across the Company. Additionally, we are working closely with community partners to lower the overall race weekend cost for fans, such as reducing the number of minimum night stays at local hotels. More ...

McDowell announces Nationwide plans  
Michael McDowell
NASCAR driver Michael McDowell announced today that he has signed with JTG Daugherty Racing to race the #47 Toyota Camry entry in the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series. The #47 team, owned by Tad and Jodi Geschickter and Brad Daugherty, a former NBA all-star and current ESPN commentator, is scheduled to compete at the season opener at Daytona on February 14 and the next 15 races. The remaining races on the schedule are dependent upon sponsorship support.

"I know that I'm climbing into a competitive program based on JTG's on-track performance," said McDowell, a 24-year-old native of Phoenix, Ariz. "Tad has a great reputation in the garage and has done an excellent job delivering a return to his sponsors." More ...

Labonte get sponsorship for 5 races  Hall of Fame Racing announced that Academy Sports + Outdoors, a leader in the sports and outdoor industry, will sponsor Bobby Labonte and the #96 Ford for five races in the Sprint Cup Series in 2009. Academy Sports + Outdoor's will debut with the # 96 Academy Sports + Outdoor Ford at Bristol Motor Speedway. The retail leader will again race at Darlington Raceway in the Southern 500, Daytona International Speedway in the Coke Zero 400, Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Pep Boys Auto 500 and Talladega Superspeedway in the Amp Energy 500.  Yates Racing PR
GM cancels contracts for Cruze/Volt engine plant  It was reported late last night that construction contracts for the new $370 million GM engine plant that was going up in Flint, Michigan have been canceled. The plant was to produce the new 1.4-liter four cylinder engine for the 2011 Chevy Cruze and Volt. GM spokeswoman Sharon Basel told AutoblogGreen that the intention all along had been for engines for the early production runs of the Cruze and Volt to be supplied from a European facility that already builds variants of GM's so-called "Family 0" powertrains. The Flint plant would not have been ready for start of production of Cruze next spring.

With the continuing financial crisis and weak sales, GM's European factory has enough capacity to supply Cruze and Volt for a time so that the automaker can conserve capital. The timing of construction was reaching a point where GM would have had to commit to spending millions of additional dollars that it doesn't have right now. Therefore, the company has opted to cancel the contracts and put the plant on hold until the situation improves. In the meantime, both vehicle programs are still on schedule and otherwise unaffected by these moves. Autoblog
LeMans 24 Hours: 82 entries for 55 places  The Le Mans 24-Hours event is in very good health and doesn’t mind admitting it! The ACO has received 82 entry requests for the 2009 race. Despite the quality of all these candidatures only 55 cars will line up on the starting grid.

For the ACO this figure is cause for joy, and it is also a reward for the club, which has fought hard against all odds to impose its technical choices, so that the greatest endurance race in the world remains faithful to the Le Mans spirit. 82 entry forms have been sent to the ACO!

This is a remarkable number that has swept away the fears that hang over motor racing due to the current economic crisis. Once again, the Le Mans passion is stronger than ever, and the host of competitors wanting to have their names associated with the myth is living proof of this. More ...

Bryan Herta Autosport to debut in Firestone Indy Lights  
The Indy Racing League will see a new team join the Firestone Indy Lights paddock in 2009 as Bryan Herta and Steve Newey are the proud owners of the newly formed, Bryan Herta Autosport.

"Steve Newey approached me with the concept of starting our own Indy Lights team back in December, " explained Herta, "and in just six weeks we are almost ready to hit the road for our first test.  I'm very excited about the opportunity to take on a new challenge in open wheel racing as a team owner, and am confident that we have assembled a formidable program."

The young Firestone Indy Lights team has formed a technical alliance with Vision Racing, basing themselves in the IndyCar team's 32,000 square foot Indianapolis facility in order to take full advantage of Vision's resources and expertise. Herta will also continue his role with Vision Racing as the team's Road Course Consultant. More ...

NHRA suspends oildown penalties for the 2009  NHRA will suspend oildown penalties for the 2009 season in both the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. The move is designed to save teams money and is possible given the success in recent years to minimize oildowns during national events to enhance the fan experience.

The oildown policy, which was first enacted in 2000 in the Professional classes and later in the Sportsman categories, was created to improve the quality of the show for fans attending NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events. The policy has been effective in reducing the amount of downtime caused by oildowns in the Professional and Sportsman classes at national events.

"This move is designed to ease the financial burden on the race teams, given we have experienced cooperation among the racing community to minimize oildowns at national events with much success," said Graham Light, NHRA senior vice president-racing operations. "We are confident that the fans will continue to see a great show come the start of the season at the Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals."  More ...

Ford continues to circle the drain  Ford Motor Co. announced Thursday another huge quarterly loss of 5.9 billion dollars, capping a nightmarish year, but said it had "sufficient liquidity" to fund its turnaround plan without US government aid.  The number two US automaker's results showed a sharp widening of its losses as auto sales were slammed in the fourth quarter by a deep economic crisis and credit squeeze.

But Ford said that unlike rivals GM and Chrysler, it had enough cash to keep operating as it executes a restructuring plan.

"Based on current planning assumptions, it does not need a bridge loan from the US government, barring a significantly deeper economic downturn or a significant industry event, such as the bankruptcy of a major competitor that causes disruption to the company's supply base, dealers or creditors," Ford said in a statement.

Bernie's dream battle: Vettel vs. Lewis  If Bernie Ecclestone could pick any battle he would want to see, the F1 supremo reckons it would have to be Lewis Hamilton versus Seb Vettel - and in the same car.

While Hamilton won last year's Drivers' Championship title with McLaren, Vettel, at the other end of the grid, was making a name for himself with Toro Rosso.

The German driver clinched both pole position and the victory at the 2008 Italian GP, pulling off what many believed no Toro Rosso driver would ever do.

This year, though, Vettel is off to Red Bull with Hamilton remaining at McLaren. However, if Ecclestone had his own way F1's two young stars would be up against each other in the same machinery in a battle royal.  More ...

Monaco voted sport's greatest wonder  Monaco's Formula One street circuit has topped a list of Seven Sporting Wonders of the World voted for by British sports fans.

F1's flagship circuit claimed 18 per cent of the vote for the world's greatest sporting venue outside the UK, ahead of Barcelona's formidable Camp Nou stadium and the unique Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing, the scene of last summer's Olympic Games.

The survey, conducted by Barclays Spaces for Sports, saw the world's most popular sport well-represented with the Santiago Bernabeu (Madrid), San Siro (Milan) and Maracana (Rio de Janeiro) also featuring in the top seven. More ...

Superleague announces Provisional Calendar for 2009  France shall host the opening of the championship this coming spring in Magny Cours and Jarama joins the calendar this second season with the last race of the series in October.

The French circuit Magny Cours shall host the inaugural meeting of the second season of Superleague Formula.  After the disappearance of F1 from the French circuit last year, the takeover of Superleague Formula shall be converted into one of the most attractive meetings expected by motorsport fans of the country.

After receiving such a warm welcome from the circuit of Zolder last season, with the presence of the numerous players of the teams Anderlecht and PSV, the Belgian and Dutch fans will have the opportunity once more to cheer on the colors of their favorite team in the second round which shall take place on July 18th in Belgium. More ...
Unification, rising stars bring glitter back to Indy 500  [Editor's Note: Although dated today, this article appears to have been written before last year's Indy 500.  In particular, they quote Helio as if he doesn’t have some issues facing his very participation in the Indy 500, let alone the sport!  Then they reference the challenges to first time Indy drivers like Justin Wilson, who was reported to be on the Champ Car powerhouse team of NHL Racing, but he is without a ride going into 2009 and looks to be ALMS bound.  Granted, no one outside the few thousand core fans IndyCar Racing has left would even notice this is obviously an article written prior to the 2008 Indy 500, but you read something like this, weep at what IndyCar once was before the split.] 

This may be the year that the Indianapolis 500 regains its glitter.

Since the Indy Racing League began competing in 1996, igniting a bitter 12-year rivalry with the now-defunct CART/Champ Car World Series, its showcase event has lost prestige, about half of its once-impressive annual TV audience and most of its big-name drivers.

But things are looking up for the IRL's IndyCar Series as it heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 92nd edition of the big race.

With the recent unification of the two American open-wheel series promising the most competition in years, and historic victories by Danica Patrick and Graham Rahal adding to the anticipation, the May 25 race could be the most watched – and most exciting – Indy 500 in years.

"Indy's an open road, so I think everybody's going to have a chance to do really well there," former IRL champion Tony Kanaan said.

One thing is certain this year: there is no question about having enough entries to fill the 33-car starting lineup.

That's a change from recent years, when it was a struggle for IRL and speedway boss Tony George to make sure his crown jewel didn’t face the embarrassment of coming up short of the traditional 11 rows of three cars.

And bumping - the time during the four days of qualifications when faster cars can knock out the slowest cars already in the field - fell flat, with few candidates and little of the expected drama.

"This year, you're going to see bumping, maybe every day (of qualifying)," said two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves. "The competition is really tough. You can't afford to make mistakes because there are so many guys to take advantage of it now." More from AP Article

Gunselman, Bodines start new Cup team  Journeyman driver Larry Gunselman is the latest to make an attempt at the Cup Series dream in 2009 as the Washington native has formed a team for himself and a pair of veteran brothers, Geoff and Todd Bodine.

Gunselman, who won races in the old Winston West Series and its most popular driver award in 1996 before traveling east in 2000 to seek his racing fortunes, is the principal in the team that will field #64 Toyotas. He said Wednesday morning he's backed by a group of investors who are new to the sport and is still seeking primary sponsorship.

"Right now we're looking at running for purse money while we try to come up with sponsorship dollars," Gunselman said.

"The more sponsor dollars you get, the harder you can run. I tell people all the time, if you don't have money, you've got to race smart, and you can race hard if you do have money.  If a team had been able to make all 36 Cup races last season and finish in the least-paying position, it would have won $2,880,640 in purse money. Gunselman has six Camrys -- three each that were purchased from Bill Davis Racing and Red Bull Racing -- and Wednesday he'd just come from the NASCAR R&D Center with his crew chief "for as long as I can keep him," former champion Doug Richert, and the second chassis they'd had certified.

Gunselman, who has previous Cup team ownership experience from when he fielded the #98 Mach 1 Motorsports cars in 2004 with Chris Edwards, made 26 of 36 races and finished 39th in the owner standings, said to start the season attempting the races was critical. "There are so many people out of work out there right now that I believe the whole industry is going through a major correction factor -- the whole economy of the United States is going through a correction factor at the moment," Gunselman said. More ...

Evernham announces plans  
Ray Evernham
Ray Evernham has been long known for his leadership atop the pit box of NASCAR stars like Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne, guidance of Dodge's return to NASCAR racing and technological innovation that changed the sport. Evernham announced that he officially is passing the torch on race team entrepreneurship to new team owners like Tony Stewart and Tommy Baldwin. He will now focus his attention on broadcasting, preserving racing venues for future generations, helping develop young drivers and setting new records.

"I'm proud of the accomplishments I've achieved with my colleagues and partners over more than two decades in racing, from the early days in IROC to the championship years with Hendrick Motorsports and Jeff Gordon to leading Dodge's return to NASCAR as a team owner," said Evernham. "It has been an amazing journey, and I've been fortunate to work with some incredible people and gain invaluable experience throughout the years." Evernham is relinquishing his leadership role at Richard Petty Motorsports to pursue new Ray Evernham Enterprises Museum opportunities in motorsports, from grassroots racing to NASCAR and beyond.

He is focusing his short-term efforts on establishing Ray Evernham Enterprises, broadcasting races for ESPN, managing East Lincoln Speedway, opening a new museum and entertainment facility in Mooresville, NC, (shown at right), helping develop young drivers and designing racecars for several key events. "I'm not retiring from racing or putting NASCAR on a back burner," he noted. "I'm committed to the growth and success of the sport overall, and to building championship teams and organizations in many different levels of racing in the future. I spent my first decade in racing driving and working on racecars. My next decade I went from a rookie crew chief to a NASCAR champion. My third decade I had the opportunity to lead a manufacturer back into the sport and own a team. Who knows what my fourth decade in the sport will hold?"

Evernham will continue his duties in the booth for ESPN with co-hosts Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Alan Bestwick for a number of NASCAR races throughout the season. He also will be at the ESPN Studios on Mondays as a host of "NASCAR Now". Victory Management Group

Ron Dennis to be in Melbourne  (GMM)  Ron Dennis on Thursday said he will attend the season opening Australian grand prix.

The 61-year-old Briton, who since the beginning of the 80s has been McLaren team principal, will hand over the top role to his deputy Martin Whitmarsh on March 1.

Dennis will be on hand to see McLaren start defense of its driver title
Dennis, however, remains chief executive and chairman of the entire Woking based McLaren Group, and always intended to attend some races in 2009.

He told F1's official website on Thursday that he will actually attend "most if not all" of the 17 grands prix around Europe and the world this year.

"The first reason is that I'll have work to do at grands prix as an influential member and proponent of FOTA, and as chairman and chief executive officer of the McLaren Group," Dennis said.

He has said his new role will be to grow the McLaren brand in its other areas, including a new production car program.

But his decision to continue to travel to most grand prix venues, including Melbourne on March 29, is not purely about business.

"I continue to love the sport of formula one with every fiber of my being," said Dennis.  "That'll never change.  So, yes, I'll be in Melbourne for the 2009 Australian grand prix."

'Don't panic', Prost tells F1  (GMM)  No longer a team owner, the quadruple world champion Alain Prost admits he is happy to now be a formula one spectator.

The 53-year-old's Guyencourt based Prost Grand Prix collapsed at the end of 2001, but Prost says spending in the sport spiralled even more out of control since then.

"Today I am making more money but I am less interested in the world of F1," he is quoted as telling the Associated Press in the French language.

When asked about the global financial crisis' impact on the sport, including Honda's withdrawal and dwindling sponsors, Prost's advice to F1 stakeholders is "don't panic".

"I prefer people who say 'let's think' rather than 'let's stop'.  Honda aside, I don't think there is panic," he said in Paris.

"In F1, everyone is in the same boat with having to reduce budgets, and in the last ten years I had never seen F1 with such an abundance of resources," Prost continued.

He believes, however, that he took part in F1's "golden years" and that these days are over.

"There is less overtaking and more strategy.  Everything happens on the pitwall and the drivers just go.

"We had to save the brakes and the gearboxes, and monitor fuel consumption, but now it has all been organized by the starting grid," Prost said.

"I experienced the golden age, but there were crashes, deaths.  The drivers today are in a golden age of safety."

Since leaving the paddock, Prost has concentrated on racing in the Andros ice-racing series, as well as supporting the burgeoning career of his son Nicolas.

track news
Deadline in Kentucky Speedway antitrust appeal extended  NASCAR, International Speedway Corp. and the former owners of Kentucky Speedway have a little more than two weeks to submit their final briefs to the U.S. Appeals Court in Cincinnati.

The final briefs in the antitrust lawsuit were due Friday, but the court has extended the deadline to Feb. 13.

The longer the process takes, the more difficult it could be for current Kentucky Speedway owner Speedway Motorsports Inc. to realign a Sprint Cup race for the track. NASCAR has stated repeatedly that it would not consider a realignment request until the lawsuit is resolved, and the sanctioning body typically begins the upcoming year’s sanctioning process in the spring. A hearing on the appeal has not yet been scheduled, and typically it takes two months or longer for the court to make a decision following the hearing. More ...
Patr¢n Highcroft complete Winter Test  Patr¢n Highcroft Racing's 2009 American Le Mans Series preparations continued at the historic Sebring International Raceway today as Scott Sharp, David Brabham and Dario Franchitti completed the final day of action at the 'Wheels Down' winter test.

The trio recorded a total of 69 laps of the 17 turn, 3.7 mile Florida circuit with the new LMP1 class Acura ARX-02a - recording the second fastest time of the day.

David Brabham was behind the wheel in the morning session when the #9 Patr¢n Highcroft car recorded a time of 1 minute, 46.157 seconds.

Sebring International Raceway will host the opening race of the 2009 championship on March 21 - 48 days away.

This year's event will be the 57th running of the famous 12-hour classic at the Sebring circuit which began its life as a United States Army Air Forces training base in 1941. More ...

Aston Martin plant on 3 day workweek  Late last year, Aston Martin announced that it would reduce its ranks by some 600 workers to cope with a sales slide of 28% in 2008. Apparently, those cuts, which are now halfway completed, weren't enough to stem the tide of red ink, as Bond's favorite automaker has now said it will place its entire staff of assembly line workers on a workweek that starts on Monday and ends on Wednesday. A total of 1,250 individuals now work at the Gaydon, Warwickshire plant, and almost half of those employees will be affected by the three-day workweek.

Bentley, another famous British automaker, announced its own production cuts just yesterday. In response to the industry hardships faced by automakers in the U.K., the British government has promised £2.3 billion worth of aid, though we're not yet sure how much will go to smaller companies like Aston Martin. Autoblog

Bill Pappas Joins Dale Coyne Racing  Engineering great Bill Pappas has joined the Dale Coyne Racing squad for a full assault at the 2009 Indy Racing League season.

Pappas, who is best know for his multiple wins at Ganassi Racing, comes to Coyne with a wealth of experience.  Bill has engineered and won on every type of circuit from road courses to short ovals to the famed Indianapolis 500.  His reputation has earned him the ability to work with the worlds best drivers.  Such driving greats including Jimmy Vasser, Gil de Ferran, Juan Pablo Montoya and Bruno Junqueira.  Bill’s litany of success is a welcome addition to Dale Coyne Racing.

“I cannot say how excited we are to have someone the caliber of Bill Pappas join our efforts this year,” commented team owner Dale Coyne.  “Last year was an important learning curve for us, but with the addition of Bill we look to move strongly up the ladder into podium and winning positions.” More ...

Two (2) Daytona 500 tickets for sale  
Selling two tickets for both the Saturday Camping World 300 and Sunday Daytona 500 in Weatherly Tower (see photos for seat location).  These tickets are in an excellent location at the entrance to pit lane.  Over the years this area of the track has been a hot bed of excitement.

You can see the entire track and pit lane from these seats.

Selling all tickets as a package - 4 total tickets, 2 for each race at face value - $640 for the complete package.

All tickets are in-hand and ready to ship.  If interested, send us an email.

Randy Moss truck team moves to Toyota  Randy Moss Motorsports has announced today that it will partner with Toyota for the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season. "We are extremely excited to be joining the Toyota team this season," stated co-owner Randy Moss. "Toyota has proven year in and year out that they are competitive on the track and can provide the resources to run for a championship. We are pleased to be a part of their camp." "We look forward to working with the Randy Moss Motorsports organization in 2009. TRD, USA will provide technical support to assist the team's efforts to get to victory lane", said Les Unger, Toyota national motorsports manager. Randy Moss Motorsports will compete full-time in the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season and will announce its driver line-up in the upcoming days. Randy Moss Motorsports PR
Big teams could field three cars - Ecclestone  UPDATE Three-car F1 teams 'will happen' Bernie Ecclestone has reiterated his contention that three-car Formula 1 teams will soon be a reality in the top flight - possibly even as early as the 2009 curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in two months' time.

Honda's withdrawal from the sport at the end of last year means that as things stand there will only be 18 cars on the starting grid Down Under in Melbourne in March, and Ecclestone has hinted that should a buyer not be found for the beleaguered Brackley-based outfit, the big, well-financed manufacturer teams may have to step in to fill the void by each supplying a third car.

Indeed, should any more squads follow Honda out of the exit door - with fears expressed about the future security of Renault, Toyota and Williams' F1 operations, amongst others - a rapid solution will need to be found, be it either in the guise of new teams, or else third cars.

"That is what basically will happen," the sport's commercial rights-holder told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, whilst at the same time denying that he is contractually-obliged to grand prix organizers and broadcasters to have at least 20 cars in the field.

"If the manufacturers supply engines to other people, they can run three cars themselves.

"It is better to have 20 cars on the grid - whether they are in the hands of manufacturers or in private hands, that doesn't make any difference." Yahoo! Eurosport

01/26/09 (GMM)  F1's big teams can plug any holes on the grand prix grids by fielding third cars, according to chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

In the wake of Honda's departure from the sport, and speculation that further teams might succumb to the effects of the global financial crisis, formula one is facing an immediate future with grids of perhaps fewer than eighteen drivers.

Short of plugging the gaps with new team entrants, Briton Ecclestone, 78, says the easiest solution to the problem is to ask the best-financed existing teams to enter more cars.

"That is what basically will happen," said Ecclestone, who has denied that he is contractually bound to organizers and broadcasters to provide well-stocked fields.

He explained to Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa: "If the manufacturers supply engines to other people, they can run three cars themselves."

Ecclestone hinted that the third car provision could be triggered immediately, such as if a buyer is not found for Honda's Brackley based team.

"It is better to have 20 cars on the grid, whether they are in the hands of manufacturers or in private hands, that doesn't make any difference," he said.

Petty confident in A.J. Allmendinger's NASCAR potential  
A.J. Allmendinger
Former open-wheelers haven't been extremely successful in NASCAR in recent years, but that isn't stopping NASCAR teams from putting them behind the wheel.

Enter A.J. Allmendinger, a former winner in Champ Car, who was signed Wednesday to drive the fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup entry for Richard Petty Motorsports in 2009. He will drive the No. 44 Dodge for RPM in the Bud Shootout and at least the first eight NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season.

“I went testing with him a few weeks ago,” Richard Petty said. “When he climbed out of the car I think he went to everyone working on the car asking them questions and wanting to know what was going on. That’s the kind of thing you want out of your driver.”

Allmendinger joins RPM teammates Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson.

ALMS Winter Test: Wednesday notebook  Dominik Farnbacher has gone from one extreme to the others in terms of GT2 cars in the American Le Mans Series. He drove rear-engined Porsches in 2006 and 2007, moved to a mid-engined Ferrari last season and now is in a front-engined Panoz Esperante GTLM for 2008.

Farnbacher has tested this week for Panoz Team PTG during the American Le Mans Series’ annual Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway. He confirmed that it looks likely that he will contest the full season for Tom Milner’s team.

“The first session was very different,” said Farnbacher, who won in class four times last year with Tafel Racing. “There were some adjustments moving from the Porsche to the Ferrari at the beginning of last year, and this is another one. But things are going really well. The car is pretty soft on the suspension side as it is an older car but that is not a bad thing. We were quickest in one of the sessions Tuesday and the last one Wednesday, and that made everyone happy.

“It looks like I will be here for the full season,” he added. “This is the Series I want to be in. I want it to be my focal point. It is the place to be.”

SAME AND NEW AT FARNBACHER LOLES: After a strong first full season in GT2, Farnbacher Loles Racing looked formidable again at Sebring with the fastest time in two of Wednesday’s three sessions.

Dirk Werner, new full-season teammate and Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler, and Richard Lietz, another factory pilot, split time in the team’s new 2009-spec Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Lietz was quickest Wednesday morning with Henzler fastest in the day’s second session. More ...

tv news
NASCAR Now Returns  ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program NASCAR Now returns to the air for its third season on Monday, Feb. 2, to coincide with the beginning of the 2009 NASCAR racing season. The season’s first program, a one-hour roundtable discussion, airs at 5:00pm/et. Mike Massaro, who has been a pit reporter on ESPN’s NASCAR coverage the past two years, moves to the studio this year as a new co-host of NASCAR Now, joining returning co-hosts Nicole Manske and Allen Bestwick. NASCAR Now includes the latest news, highlights, opinion, debate and analysis from drivers, crew chiefs and insiders both on and off the track. The program regularly airs at 5:00pm/et. Monday through Friday, with all programs 30 minutes except for the one-hour Monday roundtable. ESPN2 also airs a one-hour edition at 10:00am/et on the morning of each Sprint Cup race, and a weekend wrap-up edition will begin in July. More ...
Allmendinger signs with Richard Petty Motorsports  Richard Petty Motorsports announced today that AJ Allmendinger has agreed to a contract that calls for him to race in the 2009 season with the team retaining an option for 2010. Allmendinger, 27, will drive the team’s #44 Dodge in the Budweiser Shootout plus the first eight races of the 2009 Sprint Cup season as well as the Daytona race in July. The team is looking to put together a sponsorship package that would guarantee the #44’s participation in the remaining 2009 races and the 2010 season. “This is pretty awesome news for me,” said Allmendinger who posted two top-10 finishes in 2008 and a victory in the Sprint Showdown. “I just want to get behind the wheel of a race car and race. We have a lot of work to do on the track and need to sell some sponsorship, but this team has great equipment and I think there is a lot of chemistry here based on how we did at the end of last season.” I cannot put into words how excited I am to run the #44 in 2009. I raced with these guys five times last year and loved everything about it. The cars were great, the guys were great and we put up some pretty good results. I’m just very grateful to have this opportunity.” Allmendinger, a Los Gatos, Calif. native, is a five-time winner in the Champ Car World Series but is relatively new to the world of the heavier, full-bodied stock cars. “AJ has a ton of potential,” said team owner Richard Petty. “I went testing with him a few weeks ago. When he climbed out of the car I think he went to everyone working on the car asking them questions and wanting to know what was going on. That’s the kind of thing you want out of your driver. He’s a young guy and I think we can help him and he can help us.” Allmendinger joins Richard Petty Motorsports’ teammates #9-Kasey Kahne, #19-Elliott Sadler and #43-Reed Sorenson. Sammy Johns will serve as crew chief on the #44. An agreement in principle to merge Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Petty Holdings to form Richard Petty Motorsports was announced earlier this month. RPM PR
Kazim Vasiliauskas makes history by joining F2  
Kazim Vasiliauskas
18-year-old Kazim Vasiliauskas has signed up for the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship, becoming the first Lithuanian driver ever to compete in an international single seater series.

Vasiliauskas won multiple karting championships in his home country before moving to the international karting stage in 2007. In his first season of racing he qualified for the ultra-competitive World Karting Championship final and took the runner-up spot in the Winning Series Karting championship. He also finished fifth in the European Championship KZ2 after scoring 5 top six finishes from six finals.

After graduating to car racing in 2008, Vasiliauskas contested ten Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup races against drivers including fellow F2 rival Tobias Hegewald. He also competed in eight Formula Renault 2.0 Italy races, achieving a season’s best fifth position at the Hungaroring. More ...

Star Mazda Sebring Test Day 1  Amid a field of twenty-one cars piloted by faces both familiar and fresh, it was a newcomer with a distinctive moniker who set the fast time in both sessions of the first official series test day for the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear.  Driving the #21 car for Andersen Racing, Adam Christodoulou, winner of the 2008 British Formula Renault championship, set a fast time of 2:00.945 (110.133 mph) in the first of two one-hour sessions held Tuesday afternoon.  In the later session, from 4:30 to 5:30 pm, with temperatures lower and the wind picking up, some cars were slower, some faster, but Christodoulou again put in the fast – albeit slightly slower -- lap of 2:01.372 (109.745 mph).

The Star Mazda Championship track record at Sebring International Raceway is held by 2007 series champion Dane Cameron with a 1:59.986.  Times are a bit off in this first test because all of the teams are still working to install, and discover the optimum settings for, the upgrade package of aero, suspension and engine pieces that the Star Mazda Championship has made available for 2009.

Second-fast was second-year driver Caio Lara, at the wheel of the #19 JDC Motorsports Mazda, with a second-session lap of 2:01.644 (109.500 mph), a dramatic improvement over his 5th-fast lap of 2:04.135 (107.303 mph) in the first session.  Lara finished 8th in the 2008 Star Mazda Championship standings, his best finishes a pair of 5th-places in the final two races. More ...

Dixon keeps de Ferran team on top  Scott Dixon kept de Ferran Motorsports on top of the time sheets at Sebring International Raceway on Wednesday morning. The reigning Indy 500 and IndyCar champion turned a lap of 1:45.671 (126.052 mph) on the third and final day of the American Le Mans Series’ annual Winter Test at Sebring.

Two more sessions are scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. The Series will be back at Sebring in less than two months for the season-opening 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida, the 100th race in Series history.

The new Acura ARX-02a that Dixon drove Wednesday morning has been fastest in all but one of the six sessions so far. Teammate Simon Pagenaud has the week’s quickest time, a 1:44.814 (127.082 mph) from Tuesday morning. His time bettered Marco Werner’s standing qualifying record around the famed 17-turn, 3.7-mile layout, set in 2007 in an Audi R10 TDI. Pagenaud, Dixon and team owner Gil de Ferran will team for the 12 Hours. More ...

Grand-Am allows cheaters to keep Rolex 24 win  UPDATE Rumor in the Grand-Am paddock was that Jim France has personally paid for the engine development of the Brumos Porsche team and pays the majority of operating costs by financing J.C. France's seat at Brumos.  They did a token rpm reduction to 7,600 after Penske complained when the Brumos cars were 3mph faster on the straights. That is an unheard of margin when everyone runs the same body.  In the end Ganassi and Penske cannot complain too much because of the bigger NASCAR picture.

01/27/09 The winning No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley was found to be out of compliance for minimum vehicle weight in post-race technical inspection. The car was found to be 12 pounds underweight. The team was fined $5,000 in addition to five driver, team and manufacturer points. This will not affect the race results says the Grand-Am.

No wonder the Ganassi team could not figure out why the Porsche powered car was faster.  They were cheating.

So in essence Grand-Am (run by NASCAR) has stated you can cheat to win and get to keep it.  They will only slap your wrist with a measly $5K fine.

Grand-Am should hang out a new sign "Cheaters Wanted".

NASCAR targets Canadian race fans  After watching its Canadian audience increase rapidly over the past two NASCAR seasons, Michigan International Speedway will be bringing its mobile ticket office to events on this side of the border.

Organizers will visit RV shows in Windsor, Hamilton and Kitchener, Ont., and have already set up shop at the show in Toronto.

“I think there was this misnomer that all Canadians were F1 fans,” speedway president Roger Curtis said. “When the Nationwide Series went to Montreal, we learned that they were just race fans. They like watching good racing of any kind.

“Now that they’ve been exposed to NASCAR, they’re very excited by it. That’s why I think after two years (of a NASCAR presence) in Montreal, the timing for us to do something and start advertising in Canada is really good. There’s already a lot of pent-up desire in Canada, so hopefully, we can tap into that and make a good case for coming to (Michigan International Speedway).” More ...

Whiting insists: KERS will be safe  FIA race director Charlie Whiting has assured the F1 teams that all measures to ensure the safe use of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) have been considered by the FIA.

KERS will be used in Formula One for the first time this season, however, it has already caused numerous problems for the teams.

While some are just behind in their development of the device, others have experienced injuries to their team members with a BMW mechanic being admitted to hospital after receiving a shock from a car fitted with KERS.

Red Bull have also had their own problems with their factory having to be evacuated after smoke started pouring from a battery. As a result Red Bull have opted not to design their own device, instead announcing that they would be using Renault's. More ...

Red Bull switch KERS  Red Bull have confirmed they will use Renault's KERS system this season rather than their own device.

The team's attempts to develop their own Kinetic Energy Recovery System were hampered last year when smoke pouring from a battery forced them to evacuate their Milton Keynes factory.

And with the 2009 season starting in two months' time, team boss Christian Horner has now revealed that Red Bull have opted instead to use the system developed by engine supplier Renault.

"We will await the outcome of Renault's initial running before activating our identical system," he told autosport.com.

Spa has 'no fear' of ING exit  (GMM)  Organizers of the Belgian grand prix insist they are not worried about the Dutch bank ING's scaling-back of its formula one sponsorship program.

As well as naming sponsorship of the Renault team, and widespread trackside advertising, the beleaguered company is also title sponsor of four races, including the one at Spa-Francorchamps.

ING is cutting back on aspects of its F1 activities this year, but the entire program will be reviewed mid-season.

But Spa boss Andre Maes, already presiding over the losses of the 2008 race, said: "We have nothing to fear.  Our contract is not with ING, but with the company that organizes all of the (F1) advertising."

Maes said his "biggest fear" is the impact ING's problems will have on ticket sales.  "In 2008," he explained, "they reserved 3000 tickets for their employees and customers."

Spanish F3 champion Germán Sánchez joins Formula Two  
Germán Sánchez
Spanish Formula 3 champion Germán Sánchez has signed up to compete in the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship.

The 19-year-old joins Formula Two after securing the 2008 Spanish F3 title at the final race weekend of the season in Barcelona, beating fellow F2 rivals Natacha Gachnang and Nicola De Marco in the process. Sánchez scored four race wins during his title winning campaign including a victory at the Circuit de Valencia, which will host the opening round of the F2 season in May.

Sánchez has made a remarkable start to his motor racing career, taking seven wins and ten podiums on his way to the 2006 Spanish F3 cup class title in his first ever season of car racing before claiming overall honors in the main Spanish championship two years later.  More ...

Craftsman Renews "Official Tools of NASCAR" Sponsorship  Craftsman tools announced the renewal of the "Official Tools of NASCAR" sponsorship through 2013. Building on a 14-year relationship with NASCAR, Craftsman continues to view the sport as a perfect fit for America’s most trusted tool brand. "We’ve enjoyed a long and successful association and we look forward to building on the heritage of Craftsman in NASCAR," said Mike Cassar, Craftsman brand manager. "NASCAR shows trust in our tools and that parallels the loyalty our customers have shown in making Craftsman their trusted brand of choice." With the renewal of the "official tools" status, Craftsman will return as presenting sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pit Crew Challenge, which is held at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. during the All-Star Week in May. Taking a broader approach to the NASCAR sponsorship in 2009, Craftsman will introduce a season-ending award for crew members, and plans to announce a defining partnership before the season kicks off in Daytona. NASCAR PR
HP teams up with Renault  After the news that ING will be slashing finances to Formula One, the Renault F1 Team has announced a new technical partnership with Hewlett-Packard.

"We are very pleased to have HP reinforce our portfolio of technical partners," commented Managing Director Flavio Briatore. "The importance of IT in Formula 1 is well known and we strive to ensure our needs in this area are covered by the most prestigious and reliable companies in the world."

Head of IS-IT for the ING Renault F1 Team, Guillaume Jacquemin, added that… More ...

tv news
NHRA Full Throttle Series and ESPN partner for ninth straight season  The worldwide leader in sports television will join forces with NHRA for a ninth consecutive season in 2009 as ESPN2 returns as the exclusive network of the 24-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. ESPN2 is now available in more than 96 million households.

The partnership that began in 2001 has grown stronger with each year of the relationship. In 2008, the fast-growing NHRA Full Throttle Series delivered 9 percent ratings growth on its Sunday eliminations broadcast.

The 2009 season begins in Southern California with the 49th annual Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona Feb. 5-8. It will conclude back in Pomona with the season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals Nov. 12-15, the sixth and final race in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to 1, and like each of the previous five races in the NHRA playoffs, it will be shown in prime time (7-10 p.m. ET). More ...
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Tire gap to be bigger in 2009 - Whiting
  • F1 to ensure KERS safety for marshals
  • No 'free' Friday engine use in 2009
  • FIA confirms safety car rule change
  • New STR heads for February debut
  • Malaysia also agrees to 'twilight' race
  • BMW decides to join Bahrain test

Tire gap to be bigger in 2009 - Whiting
(GMM)  The difference between the performance of the two tire compounds on offer at grands prix this year will be bigger than in 2008, the FIA's technical boss Charlie Whiting has confirmed.

The sport's rules dictate that drivers must use both types of dry-weather compounds during races, but in 2008 the difference between the Bridgestone products was often not large.

Whiting confirmed that F1's official tire supplier has been asked to exaggerate the difference between the offered compounds in 2009.

"Sometimes, in 2008, this gap was a matter of one or two tenths.  We thought it would be better if it was bigger.  The Bridgestone engineers are working on that," the Briton said in a media briefing.

Early tests of the 2009 tires, to be 'slicks' for the first time since 1997, indicate that the difference between the compounds may now be very wide.

Whiting, however, played down the indications of the winter test tracks.

"What happens in winter testing is probably not indicative of what will happen in the warmer conditions of the first four races.

"It's something we'll have to look at, as we certainly don't want too big a difference between the two types of tires available at each race."

He said his preference for the compound gap at races is "at least half a second".

F1 to ensure KERS safety for marshals
(GMM)  Warning lights, insulated gloves and color-coding will help keep F1 marshals safe from the dangers of new KERS technology, Charlie Whiting told the media on Tuesday.

The dangers posed to drivers and team personnel by the high-voltage systems has been often discussed, but also at risk are the trackside marshals, whose mainly voluntary job it is to recover stricken or crashed cars.

"It's several hundred volts and the potential to be tens of amps, pretty lethal," said Renault technical director Bob Bell recently.  "And it's DC, so if you hold it you cannot let go."

A KERS Safety Working Group has been chaired by BMW, the team whose mechanic was electrically-shocked during early testing of the new energy re-use technology.

FIA delegate Whiting said a document prepared by the Group will shortly be circulated to all race hosts, in order to educate the marshals and other workers who will be exposed to KERS systems in 2009.

"There will be things like the KERS status warning light that will be on all cars," he said.

"If there's a risk, it should be clear to a marshal who walks up to the car.  He should approach the vehicle, look at the KERS status light and, if it is in the wrong state, he shouldn't touch the car," said Whiting.

Another safety measure for marshals will be the color-coding of potentially high-voltage parts, and the mandatory use of gloves "which are good for a thousand volts", Whiting explained. More ...

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