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Edmonton race in planning for 3 years Edmonton race in planning for 3 yearsAmy Cooke, special events coordinator for Champ Car Edmonton, told the Edmonton Sun, the organizing group is in fine-tuning mode as zero-hour approaches. Many of the logistical details are in place. "We've been working at this for three years," said a smiling Cooke.
IRL makes another about-face IRL makes another about-faceUPDATE A reader writes, Tony George always wanted to be CART, I guess he finally achieved his goal.  The teams are now dictating what rules will fly and what ones won't.  Hey Tony, the guys telling you what to do are the same Team/CART owners you were against and that was supposedly your reason for starting the Imitation Racing League.  Congratulations, they destroyed CART and ran over to help you destroy the IRL.  I just hope OWRS tells them to all pound sand when the IRL folds and they want to come back. Tim Fregeau 02/03/05 The IRL, best known for changing its plan on everything, including making a 180-degree turn on its original goals to morph into the old CART. Autosport reports that the IRL has reversed its plan to reduce the number of team members allowed to work on cars during pitstops in 2005. The IndyCar Series’ governing body will instead focus on a change in the way pitboxes are allocated to improve safety. The IRL has rescinded its plan to reduce ‘over-the wall’ pitcrew from six people to four after some teams voiced their opposition to the change.

IRL president Brian Barnhart admitted the spate of pitlane incidents last year was “the most disappointing aspect of our season” but agreed that major changes in procedure would cause further confusion. Instead, pit allocation will return to series order, rather than the previous race order, which many felt led to an increase in pitlane collisions.

Barnhart said: “The rash of mistakes in pit road was the result of bad decisions and poor judgment. We tried to explore a couple of different options, but you just can’t legislate against that. So we made the decision that if the guys just use better choices and decision-making process in the pitlane, we don’t really need to change.” Autosport Magazine

Champ Car fitted with studded tires Champ Car fitted with studded tiresUPDATE A reader asks, I was looking at the nice photos that Joshua Nettles submitted on the ice-prepared Champ Car in Aspen, and noticed that the car is either on loan from Team Rahal, or used to belong to Team Rahal. Look carefully at the logo on the seat.  Is there anything to be inferred from this (Rahal keeping his options open, Rahal loaning car for free to keep Centrix from pulling his IRL sponsorship, etc), or did the Denver GP folks just not re-cover the seat when they bought it from Team Rahal? Clint DeBusk  Dear Clint, It is simply a matter of the logo on the seat never being removed.  Mark C. 02/03/05 A reader writes, I'm a long time fan of AutoRacing1.com and wanted to send a couple of pictures that I took while I was up in Aspen watching the X Games last weekend.  We were walking around downtown and saw this car for the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver sitting on the side of the street.  It was pretty cool looking with its spiked ice racing tires and it drew a pretty big crowd. Joshua Nettles


Industry News
Chicagoland ticket news Chicagoland ticket newsTrack Packs for the 2005 season at Chicagoland Speedway will go on sale to the general public beginning 9:00 am (CT) on Monday, February 21, 2005. Track Packs can be purchased at the Chicagoland Speedway Ticket Office, by phone at 815-727-RACE (7223) or online at www.chicagolandspeedway.com.

A Track Pack for the 2005 season, which ranges in price from $195.00 to $260.00, includes admission to five races over two event weekends. The July 9-10 NASCAR weekend returns with the 400-mile NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race and 300-mile NASCAR Busch Series race. The 2005 season will once again conclude with the September 10-11 ARCA/IRL weekend, which includes the 300-mile IRL® IndyCar® Series race and Chicagoland 100 (IRL® Menards Infiniti Pro Series™), as well as the 200-mile ARCA RE/MAX Series race.

"The excitement for motorsports and the world-class entertainment we provide our guests continues to grow in the Chicago area each season and it's evident by our increased demand for tickets," said Matthew Alexander, vice president/general manager of Chicagoland Speedway. "Since we opened in 2001 we have sold-out every season and 2005 looks to be the same. I encourage race fans to purchase now before tickets once again become unavailable."

2004 Track Pack holders and race fans on the 2005 Track Pack Wait List had the first opportunity to purchase and the option to add seats for the 2005 season. Due to the renewal rate and the amount of fans on the waiting list, the "Finish Line Mid" section is no longer available and other sections are close to becoming unavailable as well. But, great seats are still available and the state-of-the-art design of the grandstands, track and infield allow excellent sightlines of the entire racing surface from every seat in the grandstands.

In addition to 2005 Track Packs, Recreational Vehicle passes for the season, as well as Friday Practice/Qualifying Tickets for NASCAR weekend will also go on sale Monday, February 21. A Friday general admission event ticket for NASCAR weekend is $15.00 for adults and free for children 12 and under. The 2005 September ARCA/IRL weekend will become a two-day weekend, with no Friday ticket for sale.

There are three options for RV's in 2005 - Infield Trackside, Infield Non-Trackside and Speedway Ridge. RV spots range from $500.00 to $2,450.00 and will include admission from Thursday through Monday noon on both weekends. Because of the high number of fans on the 2005 RV Wait List, Infield Trackside and Speedway Ridge are no longer available.

Call 815-727-RACE (7223) or visit www.chicagolandspeedway.com for more information about Track Packs, Friday event tickets for NASCAR weekend and/or RV Spots at Chicagoland Speedway.

MIS ducats to go on sale MIS ducats to go on saleTickets to both NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events at Michigan International Speedway, the June 19 Michigan 400 and the August 21 GFS Marketplace 400, will go on sale at 8:00 AM EST on Saturday, February 12, at MIS’ newly redesigned official website, www.MISpeedway.com, or by calling the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010. In addition to tickets being available at www.MISpeedway.com  24 hours a day, seven days a week, starting February 12, the MIS ticket hotline will be open from 9 A.M. until 9 P.M. seven days a week for fan’s convenience.
New McLaren flies in Barcelona New McLaren flies in BarcelonaKimi Raikkonen set a blistering pace at the wheel of the new McLaren MP4-20 today at the Valencia circuit.  According to the lap times supplied by Renault (minor differences may occur depending on the source), Raikkonen even came within three thousandths of a second from the lap record... that the Finn holds since 19/02/2004!

Thursday Times
1. Kimi Raikkonen - McLaren Mercedes MP4/20 - 1'08"998 - 95 laps
2. Alex Wurz - McLaren Mercedes MP4/19B - 1'09"949 - 109 laps
3. Jarno Trulli - Toyota TF105 - 1'10"192 - 90 laps
4. Fernando Alonso - Renault R25 - 1'10"309 - 54 laps
5. Takuma Sato - BAR Honda 007 - 1'10"465 - 126 laps
6. Giancarlo Fisichella - Renault R25 - 1'10"501 - 67 laps
7. Nick Heidfeld - Williams BMW FW27 - 1'10"506 - 96 laps
8. Michael Schumacher - Ferrari F2004 - 1'10"875 - 43 laps
9. Mark Webber - Williams BMW FW27 - 1'11"123 - 58 laps
10. Rubens Barrichello - Ferrari F2004M - 1'11"131 - 44 laps
11. Jenson Button - BAR Honda 007 - 1'11"564 - 112 laps
12. Ralf Schumacher - Toyota TF105 - 1'11"573 - 48 laps
13. James Rossiter - BAR Honda 006 - 1'12"676 - 24 laps
14. Adam Carroll - BAR Honda 006 - 1'13"968 - 37 laps

16-year old to test Champ Car 16-year old to test Champ CarUPDATE Here are some photos of Crews at his recent Renault V6 test for the PanAmerican series.


02/03/05 Sixteen-year-old CR Crews tested the new Renault Formula V6 car at Donington Park in England last week.  The owners of the new Pam-Am Racing Series, Team AKA and Renault invited Crews to test the car that will be used in Renault's new Pam-Am Racing Series for the Donington Park test.  He also has a Champ Car test tentatively scheduled to occur within the next two weeks at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.  That test will be with Walker Racing.  However, it is more likely he will do a year in the PanAm series before looking to Champ Car simply due to his age. Mark C.
Mi-Jack Conquest to announce first driver Mi-Jack Conquest to announce first driverThe Mi-Jack Conquest Champ Car team has scheduled a media teleconference for Friday where they are expected to make a driver announcement. Sources say they will probably name Nelson Philippe as one of the drivers for 2005. The team is testing other drivers this weekend in Sebring.
IPS rule changes focus on competition, safety IPS rule changes focus on competition, safetyRule changes for the 2005 Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series™ season increase competition and improve already high safety standards.

Highlighting the rule changes is a modification to the scoring system. For the first time in the series’ four-year history, the winner of the pole position will receive one point in the championship point standings.

“There’s no trophy or prize given for sitting on the pole,” said Butch Meyer, technical director for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. “A lot of these guys work real hard to be able to sit on the pole, so we felt they should be rewarded for that effort.”

In addition, qualifying procedures have been expanded to incorporate road- and street-course competition. At such events, the driver with the fastest practice lap during the previous day’s sessions will choose whether the qualification order proceeds from fastest practice driver to slowest or from slowest to fastest. Each car will receive one timed lap of qualifying.

Other changes are designed to increase the level of safety at the racetrack. The speed limit on pit road will be dropped to 45 mph from 60 mph; only three crew members will be permitted over the wall during a pit stop; and no one will be allowed over the wall during a race, except during a pit stop.

Teams will no longer be permitted to add or remove fuel from their cars in the garage area.

“We’ve never had a fire in the garage area, but since there are no safety personnel permanently stationed there, we want to eliminate the risk of an accident,” Meyer said.

The IRL IndyCar Series opens its 10th season of competition with the Toyota Indy 300 at 2 p.m. (EST) on March 6, 2005 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be televised live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The 2005 Menards Infiniti Pro Series season also opens on March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be televised by ESPN2 at 4 p.m. (EST) on March 17.
Hemelgarn returns to IndyCar Series Hemelgarn returns to IndyCar SeriesRon Hemelgarn, who won the 2000 IndyCar Series and 1996 Indianapolis 500 as a team owner, returns full time to the IndyCar Series with Paul Dana behind the wheel of the No. 91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone for the 17-race season.

“I got a feel for how they run their shop and what the attitude is in the shop last year when we had a good season in the (IRL Menards Infiniti) Pro Series,” said Dana (right), who was runner-up in the 2004 standings. “The 2000 championship that they won seems like a long time ago, but a lot of the same guys are in the shop. They remember what it’s like to win, and they’re hungry to do so again. I like being surrounded by people who are hungry and motivated, and the Hemelgarn guys definitely are.”

Team Ethanol was created through the cooperation of a group of companies within the fast-growing ethanol industry, led by the major ethanol design-build firms Fagen Inc., ICM Inc. and Broin Companies.  Associate sponsors are Victory Energy, Novozymes, Flottweg and McCormick Construction. Program supporters include New Energy Corp., Winbco Tank Company, E & I Specialists, A&B Process Systems, J&D Construction, Brown Tank and Laidig Systems Inc. The American Coalition for Ethanol assists with promotional support.  "There are so many people in the industry and companies around the country that are excited," Dana said. "There's a buzz about the program."

Champ Car drivers qualify for Rolex 24 Champ Car drivers qualify for Rolex 24En route to Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford championships in 2002, 2003 and 2004, Cristiano da Matta, Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais usually found themselves at the sharp end of the grid when the green flags waved on race days.

Thursday brought the trio back to reality a bit, but still set them up in good position for Saturday's twice-around-the-clock Rolex 24 at Daytona after qualifying on the 3.56-mile road course at the Daytona International Speedway.

Bourdais was the only Champ Car driver that was in the cockpit for today's qualifying session, putting the #79 Silverstone Racing Ford Crawford into the 13th spot on the grid after turning a top lap of 1:48.466. The #79 car will also feature da Matta and Newman/Haas Racing co-owner Paul Newman in the endurance event, which begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

"We didn't expect to be on pole but I think that we will be OK for the race," Bourdais said. "We improved the grip in today's practice but we have some work to do. If we can have a car that stays consistent throughout the entire race, we should be in pretty good shape at the end."

Da Matta drove in today's practice but was in shorts by the time practice rolled around as he prepared for the 2 ½-hour trip to Sebring, where he will test his new PKV Racing Champ Car tomorrow. The Brazilian will be climbing in a Champ Car Friday for the first time since 2002 as he joins four other teams in an open test at Sebring.

Paul Tracy and his squad put their Bell Motorsports #54 Pontiac Doran into the 15th spot on the grid after a top lap of 1:49.366. Tracy drove in the morning practice as well, but was not in the car for qualifying. Tracy's mount is the same one that won the overall Rolex 24 title in 2004, and Tracy expects to have a chance to take the car back to Victory Lane when the checkered flag falls Sunday morning.

"I've been fortunate in my career to get myself in with good people and good teams and this is another example of that," Tracy said. "This is a professional team with a good setup and we expect to have a good chance to do well. For me, the power-to-weight ratio change from the Champ Car, which has more power and less weight, is the biggest difference to handle. But it's still a race car and you always seem to be fighting the same things in order to find speed."

Tracy and Bourdais will not be joining da Matta in his trip to Sebring, skipping the first major test of the 2005 preseason. Rocketsports, Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing, PKV Racing, and Newman/Haas Racing will be testing Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the short course at Sebring.
Industry News
ISC buys more Staten Island land ISC buys more Staten Island landInternational Speedway Corporation bought the remaining land it needs for its proposed Staten Island, N.Y., oval on Jan. 26th.  Ethan Goodman, a spokesman for one of ISC's allied development firms, said that ISC bought 236 acres of Staten Island west shore land from Duke Energy, of Dallas. While Goodman did not have an exact purchase price at the time, previous estimates have valued the mostly wetland lot at $10 million. ISC had bought an adjacent 450 acres in the island's Bloomfield section from GATX for $100 million on Dec. 15th.
Michael Shank Racing's new partner Michael Shank Racing's new partnerTeam owner Mike Shank announced today that Graydon Elliott Capital Corporation has joined the team as an associate sponsor for the 2005 season. Based outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, Graydon Elliott specializes in a wide range of financial advisory and investment banking services and products. The rapidly expanding company will be utilizing its connection to the Michael Shank Racing team to continue its growth in the future.  "This is a very exciting announcement for us to be making," said award-winning team owner Mike Shank. "Graydon Elliott Capital is joining us at the associate level on the 6 car, and we are looking forward to developing this relationship moving forward. Having our first season of Grand American competition under our belt, we are now working on our long-term plans for growth, and this partnership is going to be an important part of our future success."
Industry News
Molson and Coors merger approved Molson and Coors merger approvedAdolph Coors Co. shareholders overwhelmingly approved a merger with Canada's Molson Inc. on Tuesday, one of the last steps in a $3.4 billion deal that will combine two family-run breweries hoping to keep up with the race for new international markets.  The deal won support from 92 percent of Coors stockholders, the company said. It was approved last week by Molson shareholders.  "This is a momentous time for our company," Coors board chairman Peter Coors said. "Coors and Molson were both founded by bold pioneers in their own time and our family looks at this merger as a pioneering step in its own right."  A hearing in Quebec Superior Court is scheduled for Wednesday for final approval. The deal is expected to close Feb. 9. AOL News
Jordan confirms 2005 driver lineup Jordan confirms 2005 driver lineupJordan Grand Prix today announces the signing of Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan as its race drivers for the 2005 Formula One World Championship.

Karthikeyan’s signing marks the entry of the first ever Indian driver to the top echelons of motorsport, giving Formula One exceptional appeal in India with the potential for an enormous new audience and business market associated with a national racing hero known as “the fastest Indian on wheels”.

Trevor Carlin, Jordan’s Sporting Director, said: “I know Narain very well because he drove for me in 1998 in Formula 3 and I have run him in various formulas every year since then. We’ve won a lot of races together. He’s very competitive, a super-quick driver, sometimes a little bit raw and wild in his style but he is a proven race winner and I am confident that in our environment he will thrive. He’s ready for F1 now I think he’ll do a good job for us.

“Tiago has also raced for me before. He raced in the Nissan Dallara World Series last season and finished second in the Championship, winning five races - he did a fantastic job. He is a super-professional and as a driver he’s very good technically, we will see him work well with the team to get the best out of the car and improve it. He’s extremely fit and has a very good race pace, rarely makes mistakes and brings us a very technically competent, polished and consistent package. This is the chance for him to prove himself and make people notice him. He’s ready to make a big impression.
“We have been very lucky to put together a driver line-up which gives us a really strong package in terms of youth, technical ability, speed and talent.”

Tiago Monteiro said: “I’m more than excited to be part of Jordan Grand Prix this season. I have worked hard each season to be able to race one day in F1 and I really want to make the most out of this to thank everyone who helped put me here today. Portugal was waiting for a F1 driver for nearly ten years and the fact that I'm going to represent my country and the Portuguese culture all over the world makes me proud and gives me so much motivation. I have also a special thought for all my friends and supporters in France where I have done most of my racing career. It’s great to start with Jordan and the addition of Midland and all the Carlin people I have been racing with is a big plus.”

Narain Karthikeyan said: "My aim has always been to compete in F1, it is where no Indian driver has been before. I’ve got the hopes of a nation behind me so I’ve no choice but to succeed now. I have tested with three different Formula 1 teams at various circuits and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got so I am confident that this is going to be a good year for me."  Jordan Grand Prix

Labontes with Doran for three races Labontes with Doran for three racesBobby Labonte, the only driver to win NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series championships and the head of Bobby Labonte Enterprises, and Kevin Doran, president of Doran Racing, plan to jointly field a car in three Grand American Rolex Series races in 2005.

Doran Labonte Racing's first event will be this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona International Raceway here, the most prestigious endurance sports car race in North America and an event that Doran Racing has already won twice.

The other two races will be the Paul Revere 250 at Daytona June 29-30 and the August 11-12 event at Watkins Glen, N.Y.  Both of those races will be held in conjunction with NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events.  Bobby Labonte drives the Interstate Batteries Chevy for Joe Gibbs Racing in NASCAR.  His older brother, Terry Labonte, a two-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion, is doing a limited NASCAR schedule in 2005 and 2006 with Hendrick Motorsports in the Kelloggs Chevy.

The Rolex Series Daytona Prototype will officially be registered as a Doran Labonte Racing entry.  It is a bright red DORAN JE4 powered by a Pontiac engine, and carries No. 44. Doran Racing also fields the gold Crown Royal Special Reserve DORAN JE4 Lexus No. 77 of Didier Theys, Matteo Bobbi and Fabrizio Gollin.

Joining Bobby and Terry Labonte behind the wheel of the No. 44 in this weekend's twice-around-the-clock classic will be endurance sports car superstar Jan Magnussen and Indy Racing League IndyCar standout Bryan Herta.

The Labonte brothers and Magnussen will comprise the driver roster for the two shorter races this summer.

Doran said that he and the Labontes were looking at the possibility of adding a few more events too.

The primary sponsor of the No. 44 car will be announced soon.  Associate sponsors include Lista, the worldwide leader in modular storage units, and MOMO, the world's premier manufacturer of high-performance products such as steering wheels, shift knobs and road wheels.

A 1/18th-scale die cast action model of the Doran Labonte Racing DORAN JE4 Pontiac No. 44 is scheduled to be produced.  Details on that, including how to purchase one, will be announced soon.

Magnussen, Herta and Bobby Labonte will be making their first Rolex 24 starts this weekend.  Terry Labonte will be making his eighth start in the race, winning the GTO class in 1984. The car's number, 44, is significant because it was the number he drove in winning his first NASCAR championship in 1984 and the number he'll use in NEXTEL Cup races this year and next.

Magnussen was a class winner at the 2004 24 Hours of Le Mans and at the 2004 Petit Le Mans with the factory Corvette team. He and Theys co-drove the Doran-Lista Racing DORAN JE4 Lexus to victory in the Sahlen's 200 at Watkins Glen, N.Y. last August.  This weekend's race will be Magnussen's sixth start with the team.  In his five previous races with the Lebanon, Ohio-based team he recorded one victory, one second and two fifths and had one DNF.

Herta, who helped Andretti Green Racing win the 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series title, was one of Magnussen's teammates with the Panoz factory team in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in 2002.  He also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year.

Crown Royal signs on with Doran team Crown Royal signs on with Doran teamCrown Royal Special Reserve will sponsor Doran Racing's DORAN JE4 Lexus No. 77 in the 2005 Grand American Rolex Series, starting with this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway here.

The sponsorship is part of Crown Royal's "Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly." campaign.  "Crown Royal is proud to sponsor Doran Racing in the Rolex Series," said Jerry Knight, brand director, Crown Royal.  "The team is a two-time winner of the Rolex 24, and always attracts world-renowned drivers.  We are proud to be associated with the team and have this unique opportunity to promote and advance our commitment to social responsibility at all 14 races on the 2005 schedule."

Joining Crown Royal on the car in associate sponsorship positions will be Frezza (office furniture); Fondmetal (wheel manufacturer); MOMO (steering wheels, shift knobs and road wheels); Lista (modular storage units); Ceado (commercial foodservice equipment); Tregi (supplier of pulp for commercial printing) and Friul Intagli (furniture components).

The car's paint scheme, which is gold and purple to reflect Crown Royal's colors, was unveiled this morning at the first official practice session for this weekend's race. The twice-around-the-clock enduro, the most prestigious endurance sports car race in North America, will be televised live on SPEED beginning at noon Eastern time Saturday.

The primary drivers of the car for the 14-race 2005 Rolex Series will be FIA World GT champions Matteo Bobbi of Monaco and Fabrizio Gollin of Italy. Gollin won that title in 2004 with Bobbi finishing second. Bobbi won the championship in 2003 with Gollin as the runner-up.

Didier Theys, the champion of Grand American's top class in 2002 and a two-time Rolex 24-winning driver, will join the two young FIA stars in the long-distance races, including this weekend's Rolex 24.

NASCAR hitting Mexico market hard NASCAR hitting Mexico market hardUPDATE Movie theaters in Mexico are running NASCAR 3D ads and if you buy a ticket to watch the documentary on Cinepolis IMAX you get 15% off for the Telcel Motorola Busch 200 race ticket.  Many TV ads are running on Mexican TV for the Busch race. Hector Serrano reporting from Mexico 02/01/05 Talk about marketing and merchandising. NASCAR has decided to have a commemorative Stock Car for the first-ever NASCAR race in Mexico. The car is on display at various malls. NASCAR has announced that in a few days an exact scale replica of the car will be sold in different stores. Top that with the fact they are advertising the race in many local sport bars packed with Mexicans. Will Champ Car do something like this for the Monterrey and Mexico City races, or sit back and watch as NASCAR monopolizes the Mexican market just as it did the USA market? Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico
Rafael Martinez signs with Busch team Rafael Martinez signs with Busch teamMexican Rafael Martinez has signed a contract for the Busch series race in Mexico City with Davis Motorsports reports Reforma.  The ride cost him $220k dollars.  He is looking for sponsorship to recoup his money.
New F1 qualifying system labeled a 'disaster' New F1 qualifying system labeled a 'disaster'ITV F1's Ted Kravitz has branded the new F1 qualifying format for 2005 a 'disaster'. "I think it is a classic case of 'it seemed like a good idea at the time'," he said.

"They tried it out in Japan, because events forced us to have qualifying in the morning and, do you know, it was quite fun? You went in, we had qualifying in the morning and then, suddenly, you had a race on and you thought 'yeah, that's good'. Then they [the FIA and the team bosses] thought 'this is neat - let's change the rules'.

"However, what they didn't think through was that the session on a Sunday will go out at 9am [for races in Europe]. I don't think half the population is up then! I like to have a lie in on a Sunday - well, I don't, because I have to get up at 6am to go to motor races, but I use to love having a lie in on a Sunday morning.

"You wake up Sunday morning, maybe you get the papers, maybe you have a leisurely breakfast, or go out and walk the dog, or play with the kids. You do not want to sit down and watch an hour's worth of motorsport, especially when you know you are going to watch a grand prix in the afternoon and spend another two hours in front of the telly.

"And - getting me on my hobby horse - it makes Saturday's a complete wash-out, because it means nothing," he added, "It is a disaster!"

"I remember talking about this on ITV, when it broke in Brazil on the Saturday, I went on and said 'yeah, they've changed qualifying', and had Dave Richards next to me, and I asked him what was going on?

"He replied, and I said to him that [the new format] 'makes Saturday completely meaningless'. And he said 'no, no, it's not meaningless, you will still know who's quick in that session'. Is this what the team bosses really think, that that is enough?

"What you want, for 50 years of grand prix, you want to know on a Saturday who is going to be starting where on the grid. That is the point of Saturdays. Now Saturday doesn't really mean anything."

NASCAR test draws big crowds NASCAR test draws big crowdsUnpainted stock cars were a big draw Wednesday as more than 7,000 fans made their way to California Speedway for the first of two NASCAR Nextel Cup test sessions.  It mattered little to those pressed against fences, many wearing the colors of their favorite drivers, that the Chevrolets, Fords and Dodges on the track failed to resemble the usual grid. It was more an opportunity to get ready for the 2005 season.

Following the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, the Nextel Cup teams will head West once again for the Auto Club 500 on Feb. 27 at the Fontana track.  "I love the sounds, it really gets you into it,' said 17-year-old April Banuelos of Sylmar, who skipped a day of school to attend the session. "It gets you ready for the season to start. SBSun.com

Bernie puts another nail in GPWC coffin Bernie puts another nail in GPWC coffinBernie Ecclestone's hopes of successfully fighting off the threat of a manufacturer-led breakaway championship have been given a massive boost with grand prix racing's promoters getting behind a campaign to commit their futures to Formula 1.

Autosport.com reports that Australian Grand Prix boss Ron Walker has written a series of letters to his fellow race promoters urging them to reject overtures from the manufacturer-backed GPWC and instead commit fully to Ecclestone and F1.

Speaking exclusively to autosport.com, Walker confirmed that he has written to the promoters and claimed it was important that Ecclestone was shown as much support as possible.

“I have written to all the promoters on the F1 Commission urging them to support Bernie after all the years that he had supported them,” said Walker. “I have also asked for a meeting with them at the next F1 Commission meeting to talk about loyalty – and I have also written to all the promoters outside the F1 Commission seeking their continued support for Bernie, who has done so much for them.

“The support has been resounding – up to the point where 98 percent of the people who have phoned me have said they will support Bernie to the end. This is a great victory for a guy that started the business. And as long as the promoters will support him, I believe the teams will do the same.” [Editor's Note:  This news doesn't bode well for the GPWC.  Bernie has Ferrari, the FIA and now just about all the race promoters on his side.  At this stage the GPWC is just a posturing mechanism for the other 9 teams to extract as much money out of Bernie Ecclestone as they can.] 

Honda to use seamless transmission Honda to use seamless transmissionBAR-HONDA will race its high-tech ‘seamless-shift’ gearbox in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix despite a rule clarification that threatens to make it illegal according to Autosport Magazine.

The Honda-developed seven-speed ’box, which is able to change gear with virtually no break in power, is one of the star technical features of the team’s new 007 car. More than £1 million is thought to have been spent on its development and the team believes it will give the car a distinct performance advantage over a race distance.  Drivers have praised the shift speed of the carbon-cased unit and its tiny dimensions have enabled BAR’s aerodynamicists to optimize the rear airflow of the 007 – a key performance area under 2005 aero regs.

But a rule clarification from the FIA threatens to outlaw the system before it has raced. FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting has told teams the seamless system, which Williams has also been developing, acts in effect as a continuously variable transmission. CVT is illegal in Formula 1.  The FIA has insisted that any gearbox able to change gears with a break in power of less than 300 milliseconds, as the BAR Honda system can, will be deemed a CVT. Honda, however, insists the break in power between gears is sufficient for the box not to be deemed a CVT.  Otmar Szafnauer, vice president of Honda Racing Development, told Autosport: “In our system there is a break in power so it does not breach the FIA regulations. The system is a lot quicker than before but it is not a CVT.”

Garcia to get F1 test Garcia to get F1 testBorja Garcia has been granted a Formula 1 test by Toyota (at Paul Ricard on April 16) as a reward for dominating last year’s Spanish Formula 3 Championship. His career to date has been totally based in his homeland – although he had been expected to drive in the F3 Euroseries in 2004 and was quick in a test, a lack of budget kept him in the domestic ranks.  The 21-year-old from Valencia will graduate to the new-for-2005 GP2 series this year with Racing Engineering, where he will encounter international class opposition for the first time. Autosport Magazine
Bernie: Team Principals are bunch of idiots Bernie: Team Principals are bunch of idiotsBernie Ecclestone doesn't believe for one minute that the GPWC will happen. "The GPWC doesn't exist: not on earth, not in heaven," said Ecclestone to the Sunday Telegraph. "They will not be able to keep their promises. What do they offer more? Nothing! The only thing they can do is talk about what they want to offer."

Ecclestone agrees with the position of the FIA and Ferrari over the new Concorde Agreement but it doesn't stop him from trying to find a solution with the other teams.

"During our last meeting (last week), Bernie Ecclestone agreed with our proposal to limit private testing and reduce costs," anonymously said a Team Principal from one of the other nine teams to the Sunday Telegraph.  According to the same British publication, Bernie Ecclestone made it be known what he thinks of these people - "They are a bunch of idiots. They should take part in the implementation of the future regulations instead of being subjected to it. They don't want to participate because they don't want to have a lesson from Max Mosley and they don't want him to tell them what they should do."

Letter from FIA to team principals Letter from FIA to team principalsThe FIA held a meeting on 28 January to discuss proposals on rule changes for the 2008 season. However Ferrari was the only team to show up. The next meeting is scheduled for 15 April 2005 and Max Mosley wants to be sure that all the teams will be there. The FIA President sent the following letter to advise them:


Today the FIA secretariat sent you an invitation to a meeting on 15 April, together with draft minutes from the 28 January meeting.

I was disappointed that, with the exception of Ferrari, no-one attended the last meeting. Its purpose was to discuss the points raised by the four teams (BAR, Ferrari, Renault and Williams) who responded to my request for proposals to save costs and also to examine any ideas the other teams might have put forward during the meeting. I made a list of the four teams' proposals, many of which seemed quite promising, and circulated them together with the actual documents received. They seemed to offer a good basis for a productive meeting.

It is only through discussion that progress can be made. Now is the time to begin talking about 2008, because the sooner we start the more likely we are to find consensus. At the same time it may still be possible to reach unanimous agreement for a limited number of cost- saving measures during the current Concorde Agreement, perhaps as early as 2006. But this can only happen if everyone participates in the discussion. Soon after the 15 April meeting, change for 2006 will become increasingly difficult and/or expensive and unanimity will no longer be achievable.

I urge you to come to the 15 April meeting. If you have any comments on the conclusions of the 28 January meeting, please let us have them so that we can circulate them in good time for the 15 April meeting. Also, if you have any radical ideas for 2008, now is the time to put them forward.

Yours sincerely,

Max Mosley

cc: Mr B Ecclestone Source FIA

Interview with Scott Maxwell Interview with Scott MaxwellSpeed Weeks 2005 is set to kick off this week at Daytona International Speedway with the running of the Rolex 24, and the entry list is a Who's Who of racing.  The Crown Royal Ford Multimatic "Team of Champions" is comprised of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champions Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth, NASCAR Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series champion Greg Biffle, and road racing champion Scott Maxwell.  Maxwell, who is looking to add an overall win to his class wins at Daytona and Le Mans, will also be one of five drivers debuting the Ford Mustang in the Grand Am Cup Series on Friday.  Maxwell discussed being teamed with three NASCAR drivers and his outlook for this weekend's races. Interview
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
New Red Bull car to debut
Minardi sign Israeli tester
'F1, start talking' - FIA
Renault blitz F1 timesheet
'Let's try' Sunday qualifying
'I'm not Alonso's number two'
Ferrari owner in mire
F1 man set up new company
Renault slower off the grid
'Advance Webber Fair'
'I messed up' - Briatore
Jordan-Toyota to debut
FIA deny Ferrari bias
No 'age cap' in F1
'Cut out the politics' - Flav
F1 threat 'will go' - Frank
German to test for Rocketsports German to test for RocketsportsGermany's Timo Glock is out of the running for a Alex Shnaider-owned Jordan drive in 2005. The 22-year-old, who completed the season in a yellow car last year and had $14m in DHL Speed Academy backing to spend, will instead test a Champ Car contender. He'll try Rocketsports' US-prepared car. ''We heard he is talented and wanted to look at him for ourself,'' said team owner Paul Gentilozzi. Glock views the Champ Car chance as an opportunity to pursue a future career at the pinnacle of motor sport. ''It's a quality competition,'' he said of the open wheeler category. Timo Glock, already in Florida, will test this weekend.
World Rally
Interview: Marcus Grönholm," Winter Sport" Interview: Marcus Grönholm," Winter Sport"With three previous wins to his name, Marcus Grönholm is determined to improve his and Peugeot's score on this event (Swedish Rally) which he particularly enjoys…

A mechanical problem put you out of contention in Sweden last year but you set the highest number of fastest stage times. Will you be out for revenge in 2005? "With a year's experience under its belt, the 307 WRC's teething troubles are now behind it. After an occasionally difficult first season, it is now reliable and still very competitive. The team worked hard over the winter and the testing we did was very positive. Our Pirelli tires seem to work well but we have not of course been able to make any direct comparisons with our rivals so we will see when the rally starts. It's clear that our rivals haven't stood still either and I am not expecting it to be easy, but my objective will be to win."

Compared with 2004, the 307 WRC will have a five-speed gearbox and wider track dimensions. Is that an advantage on this type of terrain? "The wider tracks aren't really a 'plus', although they will surely make the car look even stranger sitting on the narrow, studded tires we run in Sweden! However, the 2005 car has progressed in terms of its suspension and aerodynamics and that will be useful. I don't think the number of gears will make a significant difference as far as making the most of the car's power is concerned on such a flat event which features few tight corners that call for hard acceleration. That said, I prefer the five-speed gearbox. I feel it makes my driving style more natural. I won't need to find my marks and it will be important to drive flat out. That's indispensable to win here."

The Swedish stages are fast but icy. How do you go about finding the limits of the car and grip? "You have to be totally concentrated. For sure, it's not easy to establish exactly where the limit lies on this sort of event. I found that out to my cost last year, while pushing hard to claw back the minute I dropped early in the rally. The 307 WRC was then at an early phase in its development and its handling was still perfectible. After two spins, I told myself it was time to back off a notch. You really have to feel at one with your car and be clear in your mind when driving on a knife edge. And the task isn't made any easier when you're trying to make up for lost time. That said, when you have a good feeling, it is effectively possible to find that little bit of extra speed that can make the difference when you're driving to win…"

You have already shown that you can win in Sweden. Why do you like this event so much? "It's effectively my favorite rally, especially when the conditions are really wintry. It's very fast and that suits my style, perhaps more so even than Rally Finland. Feeling the studs bite into the ice as the car powers from one high speed corner to the next is particularly exhilarating. Maybe it's the pleasure I get that makes me feel so good and enables me to go so quickly here…"

Mild weather can mean having to do without the snow walls that traditionally line the stages. Does that make it more difficult for you to drive flat out? "Let's say it's a little more dangerous if you go wide. The problem isn't so much the absence of snow walls but the lack of ice on the ground which causes the studs to wear more quickly or to come out of the tread blocks. The stages also tend to cut up which means your driving style is not so smooth. You can still drive flat out but it's much less fun…"

What strengths does a car need to be competitive in Sweden? "Through the very fast, long corners, the car needs to be very balanced, progressive in its handling and also very responsive to the slightest instruction via the steering-wheel. For the studs to bite effectively into the ice, you also need good traction, while a powerful engine is important for speed." Peugeot

John Andretti finds wall John Andretti finds wallJohn Andretti brought about an early end to Monday's test session when he spun and hit the wall in Turn 3 with approximately 10 minutes remaining. Andretti, who is driving the No. 14 Ford for ppc Racing, was not injured in the incident.   NASCAR did not bring its timing equipment to Las Vegas, so no official times or speeds were available Monday. Las Vegas Sun
Richmond throws hat in ring Richmond throws hat in ringThe Richmond area has entered the race to become the site of a NASCAR Hall of Fame that could generate an unprecedented amount of fan foot traffic for an athletic shrine.  Joining Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Daytona Beach, Fla.; and Kansas City, Kan., in the bidding, the Henrico County Economic Development Authority is spearheading a proposal to be submitted by May 31. The organization will have support from the state, the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, the Retail Merchants Association of Greater Richmond, Greater Richmond Partnership and Richmond International Raceway, which will hold a news conference this afternoon to discuss the project.  NASCAR, which announced intentions last month to start its first sanctioned Hall of Fame, could choose a location by the end of the year. TimeDispatch
Edwards OK after crash Edwards OK after crashCarl Edwards stayed in Las Vegas on Wednesday instead of heading to Fontana to run test his Nextel Cup car.  He probably wishes he had just gone ahead with everyone else.  Edwards crashed in the opening minutes of Busch Series testing, which opened Wednesday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  David Reutimann, testing Joe Nemechek's Busch car, lost an engine heading into Turn 4, and Edwards ran right through his oil. Johnny Sauter spun and didn't hit anything, but Edwards smacked the wall.  Scott Wimmer was the only other Nextel Cup driver around to test at LVMS's 1.5-mile track. The other regulars are at Fontana for the start of a two-day test at California Speedway.  "I should have been paying more attention," Edwards said. "I was driving down in the corner and I could see the oil on the track. I almost saved it, but ended up tagging the wall."  NASCAR
First day of testing for Ferrari First day of testing for FerrariFirst day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, working today at the "Ricardo Tormo" circuit, Valencia. Today, Marc Gene and Rubens Barrichello took to the track, the former at the wheel of an F2004 and the latter driving an F2004 M. The Spanish test driver worked on a tire and electronics testing program, while Rubens concentrated on finding the best set-up on the car. At the end of the day, Gene had covered 51 laps, the quickest in a time of 1'12"770. Barrichello did 80 laps, setting a best time of 1'11"357. Testing continues at this circuit tomorrow, when Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher will be on track. Ferrari
Jeff Gordon dismisses point system change Jeff Gordon dismisses point system changeOn paper, Jeff Gordon would have won the 2004 Nextel Cup championship using the old point system.  However, he dismisses that notion as nonsense.  "You know I have always said that whatever the point system is, that is how we are going to race and try and win. I knew that going into last season we weren't racing the old point system and we weren't trying to race the old point system, we were trying to race the new point system and we came up short. I don't think that you can really say we would have won the championships because other guys would have raced differently and it may have been a different outcome all together under the old points system."
Nextel Cup teams fight high winds Nextel Cup teams fight high windsWednesday marked the first day of testing at California Speedway for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers in the 2005 season.  The day was highlighted by press conferences held for Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Elliott Sadler and Jeremy Mayfield, all former winners at the superspeedway. 

High winds were the topic of conversation for today's testing session as speeds neared 35 mph.  Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) said, "It just moves your car that much.  If anyone has ever driven anything that big in windy conditions, it's amazing to feel the car buffering around that much."

In testing action, Kasey Kahne's (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) tire ruptured, sending him into the wall.  After being reviewed by the doctors, the 2004 Auto Club 500 pole sitter was released in good health, with the only damage coming to the backside of his car. 

Jeff Gordon: "We are really struggling right now with the wind. I don't know how much valuable information we are going to get out of this test if the wind keeps like this and I think it is supposed to. On the first lap on the track today, I did, I felt really comfortable. Is that the cars or me? Hard to say.  We are always looking for good results, and we continue to get them out here. We want to keep that going."

Drivers continued to become more acquainted with the new spoiler and gear ratios that will be implemented for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Auto Club 500 on February 17, just one week after the season opening Daytona 500.  "I think we were all nervous and thought the cars were going to be very evil to drive and undriveable at times, but they haven't been that way," Johnson said.

The day also saw an excited announcement of the Fontana Race Week that will take place later this month.  Kicking off the Auto Club 500 weekend will be the Fontana RaceFest, featuring displays, show cars, driver appearances and is sure to be the largest free sports-related fan event in California.  The week will also include the Monte Carlo Night on the eve of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series American Racing Wheels 200.  On Saturday, a Hot Rod Cruise will accompany the NASCAR Busch Series Stater Bros. 300.  The week will then be capped off with the NEXTEL Cup Series race on Sunday.

New Renault ’bloody fast’ New Renault ’bloody fast’Speaking to autosport.com after testing in Valencia today, Renault driver Giancarlo Fisichella said: “We are going fast! I can tell you that we are much more competitive than the others at the moment. “We can go into 1m10s in the first few laps of a run and then we stay at the 1m11s level. This is a good car. “Obviously after a few laps the tires slide but with this year's regulations this is normal. The engine is good too. There is much more power. In the mid and high revs it is a lot better than last year and at low revs it's very similar to what we had last year."

“Bloody hell they are so fast,” Anthony Davidson told autosport.com. “I couldn't keep up with them. I thought they were in the low fuel zone but in fact they were doing 25 lap runs.”

Press Release: Following yesterday's official presentation in Monte-Carlo, the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team today commenced a two day test at Valencia, with race drivers Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella present.

The team is testing with two new R25 chassis, with Giancarlo Fisichella running the newest of these chassis, R25-03.

The team's running concentrated on long-distance runs to evaluate tire performance, while also pursuing continuing the pre-season set- up programs aimed at understanding the car's response to set-up changes.

Although both drivers experienced mechanical problems which stopped them on circuit at different points during the day, they both gave positive feedback on the performance of the R25 and its response to the set-up programs.

Christian Silk, Chief Test Engineer “Our main priority today was to complete long distance running to put mileage on both chassis and although mechanical incidents perturbed our program, we nevertheless completed over 100 laps with Fernando and 64 with Giancarlo. The first runs of chassis 03 have proceeded well, and the drivers and their engineering teams have made good progress in their exploration of set-ups with the R25, continuing where they left off last week.” Renault F1 Team

Wurz still fastest in Valencia Wurz still fastest in ValenciaOnce again McLaren test driver Alexander Wurz finished the day at the top of the time sheets. The Austrian drove the old MP4-19B while most of the other drivers were using 2005 models.
Wednesday Times
1. Alex Wurz - McLaren Mercedes MP4/19B - 1'09"201 - 137 laps
2. Fernando Alonso - Renault R25 - 1'09"992 - 129 laps
3. Giancarlo Fisichella - Renault R25 - 1'10"135 - 64 laps
4. Nick Heidfeld - Williams BMW FW27 - 1'10"366 - 97 laps
5. Takuma Sato - BAR Honda 007 - 1'10"641 - 89 laps
6. Mark Webber - Williams BMW FW27 - 1'10"647 - 101 laps
7. Kimi Raikkonen - McLaren Mercedes MP4/20 - 1'10"718 - 50 laps
8. Ralf Schumacher - Toyota TF105 - 1'10"777 - 91 laps
9. Olivier Panis - Toyota TF105 - 1'11"355 - 35 laps
10. Rubens Barrichello - Ferrari F2004M - 1'11"374 - 79 laps
11. Anthony Davidson - BAR Honda 007 - 1'11"406 - 142 laps
12. Marc Gené - Ferrari F2004M - 1'12"744 - 57 laps
13. James Rossiter - BAR Honda 006 - 1'13"736 - 37 laps
14. Alex van der Merwe - BAR Honda 006 - 1'15"087 - 45 laps
Industry News
Milwaukee Mile partners with Best Western Milwaukee Mile partners with Best WesternDuring the 2005 racing season, Milwaukee Mile race fans will be able to enjoy a discounted rate at the Best Western Midway Hotel in Brookfield, the Official Suburban Hotel of The Milwaukee Mile

As a key ingredient in their partnership with America’s Legendary Oval, Best Western Midway will offer a special rate to anyone mentioning “The Milwaukee Mile” when phone reservations are placed at 262-786-9540.

“We are pleased to offer a racer’s rate to our fans participating in events here at The Milwaukee Mile,” commented Mark Perrone, the historic speedway’s Vice President / General Manager.  “We actively promote our fan-friendly environment at our state-of-the-art facility.  Race fans will feel the same warm welcome when they stay at the Best Western Midway Hotel.”

The Best Western Midway Hotel, an easy six minute drive west of The Milwaukee Mile, is located at 1005 South Moorland Road in Brookfield.

“We welcome race fans and teams to take advantage of this cost-saving opportunity to stay in one of our spacious rooms”, stated Scott Ohzourk, Best Western Midway Hotel Manager.  “Whether its friends coming to town for the race, for class reunions or just to visit with family, we want racers and fans to know they are welcome to relax in our tropical domed atrium as well as our pool, lounge and restaurant.”

The Best Western International hotel chain is in the second of a three year agreement as the Official Hotel of NASCAR.  Race enthusiasts can save at any Best Western in North America through a select year-round RaceFan Rate.  When placing an on-line reservation, the words “RaceFan” are to be entered in the promotion code box on the hotel chain’s website, www.bestwesternracing.com, or race fans can call 1-800-WESTERN and ask for the RaceFan Rate.

Guests who stay twice at the RaceFan Rate between February 1 and April 30, 2005 will earn 1,200 bonus points in the chain’s Speed Rewards loyalty program – enough to redeem a free night stay or a $50 gift certificate to the Nascar.com Superstore.

Panoz steps up ALMS effort for '05 Panoz steps up ALMS effort for '05Panoz Motor Sports, the heart of the American Le Mans Series, has announced that it will run two Panoz Esperante GTLM entries during the 2005 ALMS season. The team will keep the No. 50 and will add the No. 51 Esperante to its arsenal beginning with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in mid-March. Drivers for the second entry will be announced at a later date. In addition to Bill Auberlen, Panoz also announced that Robin Liddell will co-pilot one of the entries this season.

Liddell will commence his fourth ALMS season on the heels of his most successful campaign yet. Versed in both GT and prototype competition, Liddell started the 2004 season with PK Sport and registered a 15th place finish at Sebring. He was signed by Intersport Racing shortly thereafter, and spent the balance of the year competing with and against both Jon and Clint Field. At Mid-Ohio, Liddell drove with C. Field to win in the LMP2 class finishing fifth among all entrants. Liddell returned with the Fields again, taking the checkered flag at both Infineon and Portland. Liddell and C. Field drove to their fourth P2 victory lane appearance at Mosport. The duo returned to winning form at Petit Le Mans adding Milka Duno as third driver. At the season closer, Liddell and C. Field clinched their seventh LMP2 win of the season with third driver Rick Sutherland at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

"Liddell is a great fit for the team, said General Manager of Panoz Motor Sports Ed Triolo. "His talent, drive to win and experience with the circuits and with Pirelli are major plusses that will give the team an extra edge this season. Our goal is to enhance the reputation of the Panoz Esperante sports car. We have no illusions about the effort needed to challenge decades of Porsche racing success but neither are we daunted by it. Bottom line - credible challenger to Porsche equals brand success."

The Panoz team has certainly been concentrating on improving performance over the course of the "off-season" this time with two Esperantes instead of one. Newly acquired racing star Bill Auberlen is excited about the venture and the first race of the season.

"We've been doing a lot of development in the last two months and it shows great promise," Auberlen reported. "I can't wait until we debut this car and the team. I can't wait to drive those first laps at Sebring International Raceway, in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 19. Sebring is one of my favorite tracks in the world, and if this car runs as good in the race as it's been in testing, we should have a great shot."

Snap-On Stars of Karting adds another award Snap-On Stars of Karting adds another awardIn yet another effort to boost its platform of providing upward mobility for its racers the Snap-On Stars of Karting series presented by the IRL has just completed a deal that will see Stars & Stripes Motorsports of Foyil, Oklahoma award a one-day private test in one of their Radical Sports Racers to the driver that most "inspires" a panel of judges.  Series marketing director Jeff Swoboda was happy to see another car racing entity identify the value of the karting participant base, “It’s great to see Jim Elliot and everyone at Stars & Stripes Motorsports reach out to the karting community to provide one of our drivers with a test in a Radical SR-3 at the end of 2005.  Programs like this can be mutually beneficial for everyone involved and I look forward to working with Stars & Stripes over the course of 2005 and beyond.”  "We cannot have enough opportunities for our up and coming drivers. There is so much talent we see at our events but many of them are limited by elements not related to their driving skills. The chance to expose the potential of these young competitors in race cars is very important and rewarding to us and it also enhances our series by adding more benefits overall," commented Paul Zalud, the Stars Director of Operations.  Jim Elliot of Stars & Stripes Motorsports was equally pleased with the arrangement, “All of us at Stars & Stripes Motorsports are extremely pleased with the reception we have received from the Snap-On Stars of Karting presented by the IRL!  Karting is the foundation of motorsports. This new partnership hopefully will provide avenues for drivers in karting, leading to such series as ALMS and Grand Am."
Penske's Taj Mahal Penske's Taj MahalAfter seeing the enormous size of Roger Penske's new 400,000+ SqFt NASCAR shop everyone is calling it the 'Rog Mahal.'  One might think he's servicing Boeing 747's in there.  Imagine the heating, cooling and electricity costs alone.  Business must be good in NASCAR-land.
Darlington race gets new name Darlington race gets new nameThe Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 no longer exists, but that doesn’t mean Darlington Raceway has lost its final race date.  Officials at NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway announced on Tuesday that the May 7 Nextel Cup race will be called the Dodge Charger 500 in honor of the Charger’s return to stock car racing.
Brazilian driver Rees to drive for Brooks Associates Brazilian driver Rees to drive for Brooks AssociatesBrooks Associates Racing today announced that talented, young Brazilian driver Fernando Rees will compete in a full-season entry with the team for the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.

Rees is a polished 19-year-old who excelled in karting in his home country. In 2002 he competed in the European Formula Renault Championship and in 2003 he ran in the South American Formula 3 series. Last year he served as a test driver for the French ASM team in the F3 Euro Series. Rees will continue his open-wheel development in 2005, joining the Brooks Associates Racing team for the 12-race Toyota Atlantic Championship contested on a mix of ovals, road courses and street circuits.

“I’m really pleased to have Fernando join the team this season,” said John Brooks, team owner.  “Fernando will be a real asset to our team.  We had tested a number of drivers this off-season and he was quick right off the bat. We certainly expect good things from him in 2005.”

During testing with the Brooks squad at California’s Buttonwillow Raceway recently, Rees demonstrated the poise and speed necessary to excel at the Atlantic level. Brooks plans to continue to work with Rees in upcoming pre-season tests and the Sao Paulo native will make his debut when the 32nd season of the Toyota Atlantic Championship gets underway April 8-10 at the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

“Having run in Europe and South America, I’m excited to come to the U.S. to race,” said Rees. “We looked at a number of options and I believe Toyota Atlantic will give me the best opportunity to showcase my abilities and improve my skills.”

Brooks Associates Racing is based in Tucson, Arizona and the team is owned by John Brooks, a former Atlantic driver himself who competed in the series from 1992-99.  Brooks has fielded Atlantic entries for a variety of rookie drivers in recent years, including Ronnie Bremer, who led the series championship point standings at mid-season in 2004. Drivers Al Unser, Daniel Pappas, Marc Breuers and Stephan Roy have also run with Brooks Associates Racing. 

“We’ve been fortunate to work with such incredible drivers,” added Books.  “We pride ourselves on producing a quality effort and a cost-effective rate in order give drivers a real chance to succeed in motorsports.”

“The Brooks Associates Racing team has been a real asset to the Toyota Atlantic Championship and it’s been a pleasure to watch as the team continues to grow and contend for the series title under the direction of John Brooks,” said Vicki O’Connor, Managing Director for Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. “We’re very happy to welcome Fernando Rees to the Atlantic series this season and I’m sure both he and the Brooks team will provide plenty of excitement in 2005.”

The BAR team expects to field at least one more full-season entry in the Toyota Atlantic Championship this season with announcements planned on future drivers in the coming weeks.

Ashton Kutcher Named Honorary Starter for Daytona 500 Ashton Kutcher Named Honorary Starter for Daytona 500Ashton Kutcher, the popular star of FOX's "That '70s Show" and the star of the upcoming feature film "Guess Who" will serve as Honorary Starter for the 47th annual Daytona 500, NASCAR's biggest, richest and most prestigious race. As Honorary Starter, Kutcher will wave the green flag to start the 43 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers in the 200-lap, 500-mile race. "We're excited to have Ashton Kutcher here to start the Daytona 500 and the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season," Speedway President Robin Braig said. "Attracting a star of Ashton's caliber proves once again the Daytona 500 is one of the premier sports events in the world." "Being Honorary Starter for the Daytona 500 is great way to experience NASCAR and come together with more than 200,000 fans at the Super Bowl of racing," Kutcher said. "As a fan of NASCAR, I'm excited to be involved and to wave the green flag in NASCAR's signature event." President George W. Bush and Academy Award-winning actor Ben Affleck served as the Co-Grand Marshals and the President gave the starting command, "Drivers, start your engines," for the 2004 Daytona 500. Speedway PR
Rusty Wallace Comments on Dodge Charger Rusty Wallace Comments on Dodge ChargerRusty Wallace was asked about his new Dodge Charger during his testing session in Las Vegas: HOW DOES YOUR NEW CHARGER COMPARE TO THE OTHER CARS AT THE LAS VEGAS TEST? “I haven’t seen anybody outrun me yet. My car is flying. I really like that Charger. We’ve got a totally radically different setup than we normally run here and I ran two cars and looked at the wind tunnel data between the two cars. The one that shows the most downforce is the faster car. We know which direction we’ve got to work in, but both cars are real close. We’ve got a trend of what the Charger is wanting, and we’ll go to California and see if that trend continues. We’ll have a lot of good ideas going into the rest of the races.” WILL THE CHARGER BE A CONTENDER AT DAYTONA? “My car ran great at Daytona. I guess if I only had one concern it would be about the grille possibly trapping debris. We worked on that at Daytona. I don’t know if you ever work it all out, but the car is cooling better. The water temperature is running lower, and we’re able to put more tape on the grille, which creates more downforce and makes the car go faster in the straightaways. If you can keep the debris off the grille, that’s a bonus. I think the nose is a better design. It definitely looks cooler. I think it’s neat when Dodge and those guys create something like they did. I think it’s going to be a great looking car on the track. A fellow came up to me a little while ago and said, ‘man, that thing looks mean.’ I like the way my car feels on the soft tires.” DOES THE NAME CHARGER GIVE YOU A BOOST? “It does a little bit. I like hearing about the old cars. I always like the GTO, the T-Bird and now I like hearing the Charger. I’m an old retro guy, and I like hearing those old names.” ANY SURPRISES SO FAR? “I didn’t know what the setups were going to be like here because of the softer tires and shorter spoilers. We unloaded with a totally different setup than we’ve ever run here, just trying to anticipate what we needed, and I’ve got to tell you right off the truck we ran really good. We made some changes and looked at both cars and they’re both fast. I left about half an hour early yesterday. The car was flying. I went out there and felt very confident. I didn’t see anybody run any quicker than us. I went out there this morning and made a couple of changes, and it really flew this morning. I hope it’s this good during race weekend because this feels wonderful. Now I’m putting the car in qualifying mode. We’re going to make qualifying runs the rest of the day. NASCAR rules are totally different now. Everybody is calling this the standard race weekend. It is standard when it comes to schedule, but it’s different when it comes to rules. When we go to California, they’re going to make us race basically what we qualify, but here we can change the car around from qualifying to race. One thing I didn’t know until a couple of hours ago is we have to qualify full fuel. We used to run partial fuel runs for qualifying. We used to put only five gallons of gas in the back. Now we’ ve got to qualify a full 22 gallons of fuel at every track. We can move led and change swaybars and all that stuff. On a track like this, but when we get to California they’re only going to give you a handful of things you can change. As far as Rusty’s Last Call Tour, I’m real excited about that. I think we’ll be super competitive. We ran great at Daytona. I’m going to be on the gas real, real hard. I’ve got a lot of appearances this year, a lot of touring around. I feel like I’m up for the game.”Clear!Blue
Toyota to supply Hemelgarn Toyota to supply HemelgarnToyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. and Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing announced today that they have reached an agreement for Toyota to supply Indy Racing League (IRL) engines to the team beginning in 2005.

The addition of Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing brings the total number of Toyota-powered entries in this year's IndyCar Series field to nine. Hemelgarn Racing is one of the original IndyCar Series teams with a motorsports history dating back to 1984. The team won the 1996 Indianapolis 500 with driver Buddy Lazier.

"We're pleased to be working with one of the IRL's original teams in Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing and a bright young American talent in Paul Dana," said Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports. "This addition gives Toyota a fifth Indianapolis 500-winning team in our line-up for 2005."

After a successful second place finish in the IRL Pro Series in 2004, team owner Ron Hemelgarn is looking forward to returning to the IndyCar ranks with a one-car effort for Dana. Ethanol will be the primary sponsor on the #91 Toyota Dallara.

"We're very excited to be back in the IRL with Toyota power," said Hemelgarn. "Toyota is a proven winner and we're excited to be part of that winning tradition."

Toyota teams have won 13 of the 32 IndyCar Series races the manufacturer has competed in, and earned poles in exactly one half (16) of the events. In addition, in 2003 Toyota powered both Indianapolis 500 champion Gil de Ferran and series champion Scott Dixon, and earned the IndyCar Series engine manufacturer's championship.  Toyota

Busch looking to repair image Busch looking to repair imageA lot of great drivers ruffled feathers during their first few years at NASCAR's top level, and Kurt Busch was no exception.  Busch regrets his run-ins with Jimmy Spencer, which seemingly generated as much press as his Nextel Cup title did.  Busch, still only 26 years old, says he hopes he can change his image the way Darrell Waltrip did in the 1980s.

Waltrip was famous for his boasts when he entered the sport, which led to a lot of fan antagonism, but Waltrip later went on to win a pair of Most Popular Driver awards.  Busch says he is trying to follow the same path.

"It takes time for things to change and for people's perceptions to widen," Busch said. "I am definitely an easy-going guy that is well-misunderstood.  It's almost like a fresh start but it will take time for things to change."
Busch joked that he will try to not to repeat past mistakes.  "I used to go and pick on the roughest guy in each of the series," Busch said. "I probably don't need to do that." NASCAR.com

Truex Jr. eyes Nextel Cup full time in '06 Truex Jr. eyes Nextel Cup full time in '06Some quotes from former Martin Truex Jr. while in Fontana for NASCAR Busch series testing - "The wind is really strong. I'm hoping the wind is hurting us because we're not running too good."

"We're just going through some stuff. We've got a car here we've had a whole lot of success with, but it's not running too good here. It seems like a lot of the stuff we're running last year doesn't seem to work on it. We've got a new car we're trying out, and it's about the same. So hopefully it's the wind that's screwing us up."

"We've got a lot to work on. We've got a lot to learn about. Hopefully, we can learn some stuff we can take to Vegas."

On being the 2004 Busch Series Champion: "It's been a lot of fun. I've done a lot of cool things being the Champion. You get to go to Florida. You get to go to New York City. But the time off seemed to go by real quick. I wish I would have had a little more, but it's time to get back to work now. I'm pretty excited about this year."

On his friendship with Dale Earnhardt Jr: "We like to do a lot of the same things. We're just good buddies. I think if I sucked as a racecar driver, we'd probably still be friends. I just wouldn't be driving for him."

"He's been good through this whole deal, telling me what to look for, what to watch out for. He's made it a lot easier on me. Obviously, he's been through it."

On racing Cup: "We're going to run seven races with one car this year. The plan is to go full-time next year."

On the younger drivers: "It just seems like over the past 10 years, they keep getting younger. I think the big thing is the sponsors. People want to put their name on a young driver."

On the West Coast swing at the beginning of the season: "I think it will be fun, as long as I don't lose my whole bank account in Vegas. I'm going to be there for like two weeks, so it could get kind of crazy. As far as the racing goes, I really like racing at California. There's a lot of cool fans out here, and the race track's been great."

Gordon to be inducted Gordon to be inductedAs a result of his win last May in the Auto Club 500, Jeff Gordon will again be inducted into California Speedway's Walk of Fame during this month's race festivities. Last May's checkered flag marks Gordon's third win at California; therefore, this month's induction will be his third into the Speedway's Walk of Fame. Fans can join Speedway officials at Gate 12 as they further imprint Gordon's legacy, placing his footprints, signature and bronze plaque-with the winning race date and his likeness-into the cement. For more information, check out www.californiaspeedway.com.
Changes not affecting cars as much as thought Changes not affecting cars as much as thoughtWith this season's rule changes igniting a frenzy of hype, Nextel Cup drivers testing at Las Vegas and California say the practical results have not quite lived up to the hype. "It really hasn't had a dramatic effect," Mark Martin told NASCAR.com after about three hours of testing on Monday at Las Vegas. "There's been a lot of hysteria built around these changes, but I can't tell any difference. It doesn't feel any different to me."

Team Hendrick also chimed in on the topic: "We came here a little bit tight and we stayed a little bit tight," Gordon told NASCAR.com. "There maybe isn't as big a difference as we thought. We're just trying to get as much information as we can. The cars want to move around a lot more in the corner. But I felt like we were not far off of where we were last year."

"The teams are way too smart," Jimmie Johnson told NASCAR.com. "Our car has been great. I don't care what it drives like or what it handles like as long as I'm in Victory Lane."

Jourdain talks Champ Car and NASCAR Jourdain talks Champ Car and NASCARSome quotes from former Champ Car driver Michel Jourdain Jr. while in Fontana for NASCAR Busch series testing - On his move from Champ Car to NASCAR: "Of course I loved the series (Champ Car).  I was there for nine years. I was not as successful as I wanted. I had a couple of good seasons, won a few races. I really hope they succeed (Champ Car). This is my job, I love driving race cars. I'm looking to the future and looking at what NASCAR is now. I'm having a lot of fun."

"People tell me it's very hard to get into the NASCAR scene, but everyone's been great to me."

"To make the decision (to leave Champ Car) was hard. It wasn't hard to leave the series, but to come into something so new. I think it's the hardest competition in the world. I hope I do well. The risk is what made it hard."

On his transition from open wheel to stock car racing: "The last couple of years racing in Mexico I was racing cars and trucks 30-35 weekends a year. I love it. I love being behind the wheel. It's going to be harder because it becomes more like a normal job than before. I'll have a little bit less time at home but it's Ok with me."

"Right now I'm going back and forth to Mexico. We're having our first baby at the end of February. As soon as the baby is born and my wife is able to travel we're going to move to North Carolina and spend our winters in Mexico. I want to spend more time in the shop."

"Driving with a roof, it hasn't been a problem. It's not like I raced open wheel cars all my life. I raced semi trucks for three years and sports cars. The (stock) car is so much heavier and the tires are half as wide, because of that you go so much quicker.

"Of course I talked to Christian (Fittipaldi), we are good friends. He told me if I have the chance, I should take it. He's not here (stock car circuit) but it's not because of lack of talent. I don't think he had the right equipment. I think me coming with ppc, which is a stronger team with the support of Ford, I think I have the chance of making it."

On the Busch race in Mexico: "That helped me make the decision to come over. I started talking to NASCAR teams in 2002 but at that time there was no race in Mexico. Jimmy (Vasser) was telling me I should make the move and that they were looking for a good Hispanic driver. But that was why I stayed with Champ Car last year and didn't go over to the IRL.  It's important for me to race in Mexico."

Nissany lands Minardi test role Nissany lands Minardi test roleIn a groundbreaking development for Israeli motorsport, the Minardi F1 Team is today pleased to announce that, following two successful tests, and a further planned for later this week, it has signed Chanoch Nissany as an official test driver for the 2005 season.

Budapest-domiciled Nissany will assist the team with its test and development program in the course of the year, although he is not scheduled to take part in Friday test sessions during Formula One weekends. The news was officially revealed Wednesday morning to a packed press conference in this bustling Israeli city.

Nissany has not trodden a conventional route to the top levels of motor racing, having only launched his driving career in 2002, competing in the Hungarian Formula 2000 National Championship and Central European Zone Circuit Trophy. Results came quickly, however, and subsequently, he raced in selected rounds of the World Series Light by Nissan Championship and F3000 International Championship. In the last 12 months, he has also had four F1 tests – two with Jordan and two with Minardi.

"We’re very pleased to be able to announce here in Israel that we have signed Chanoch as a test driver," says Minardi Cosworth Team Principal, Paul Stoddart. "In the course of the two recent test sessions in which he has participated, he has impressed us with his enthusiasm, his willingness to learn and his fitness. Although Chanoch has not competed in single-seater racing for that long, he nonetheless has experience of a wide range of machinery."

"As a result, we felt he could be of real assistance with the team’s test program this year. On a personal note, I derive considerable satisfaction from the fact that, once again, Minardi is able to contribute in a practical way to the very worthwhile goal of raising the awareness of Formula One in an area of the world where the sport has not previously had a significant profile. This can only be a good thing."

Chanoch Nissany – Biographical Details
Date of birth: July 29, 1963
Born: Israel
Resides: Budapest, Hungary
Nationality: Israeli
Height: 1.74m
Weight: 71 kg
Marital status: Married
Hobbies: Running, fitness
Favorite food: pasta, sushi
Favorite drink: Mineral water
Languages: Hebrew, Hungarian, English

Race Career
2002 Formula 2000, Hungarian National Championship (Szasz Motorsport) - Runner-up
Group E-2000 FIA Central European Zone Circuit Trophy (Szasz Motorsport) - Champion
2003 Formula 2000, Hungarian National Championship (Szasz Motorsport) - Champion
Group E-2000 FIA Central European Zone Circuit Trophy (Szasz Motorsport) - Champion
World Series Light by Nissan Championship (Szasz Motorsport) - competed in selected rounds
2004 Formula 2000, Hungarian National Championship (Szasz Motorsport) - Champion
F3000 International Championship, official test driver, Coloni Motorsport - competed Hungaroring, Spa and Monza rounds
Formula One, tests for Jordan Ford and Minardi Cosworth
2005 Formula One, official Test Driver. Minardi Cosworth Minardi

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Renault 'must win' in '05
No F1 debut for Franck
Webber's Sydney stunt
Jordan line-up wrapped up
Valencia in gear
Honda, Toyota 'will join'
Frank sold jet for F1 fancy
Renault's 'V-keel'
EJ's 'skilful' F1 retreat
Nick pondered 'Schu-jump'
da Matta move confirmed
Nick's no 'number two'
BMW to 'de-tune' V10
Cricket legend's F1 hero
Renault budget 'enough'
Alonso set winning target
Renault's blurred future
Renault and tobacco
Grand-Am contingency program biggest ever Grand-Am contingency program biggest everWith a few stragglers still coming in, the 2005 Grand American Road Racing Contingency Program has already topped $2.7 million dollars in awards. An increase of more than 21% over last year's program, the series has seen an influx of new sponsors with 49 different companies participating in the 2005 program.

This marks the fifth consecutive year that the motorsports industry has raised the bar in award dollars.

"There is no question that Grand American Road Racing has proven itself to the American automotive industry," Grand American Director of Business Operations Patrick Murphy said. "With strong participation from manufacturers and aftermarket companies, this industry support is invaluable in helping us increase the awards available to our competitors."

The companies participating in 2005 include Acura, Airgas, AP brakes, BBS wheels, BMW, Bosch, Brembo, BSR Racing Products, Cobalt brakes, Dynamic Suspensions, EFI Technology, Eibach springs, EMCO Gears, Featherlite, Fikse wheels, Ford, Hawk brakes, Hypercoil, Infiniti, Ingersoll-Rand, Jesel, Jongbloed Wheels, JRZ shocks, K&N Filters, Lexus, Mazda, Motec, Moton, Motorsports Spares, Nissan, Pagid brakes, Pankl , Penske shocks, Performance Friction Brakes, Pontiac, Porsche, PRS, Quartermaster, RaceTech, Racing Optics, Riley Technologies, Ringers gloves, Rockland Standard Gear, Steeda, StopTech, Tearoffguys.com, Toyota, Tremec transmissions, and Xtrac transmissions.  Links to Grand American's contingency sponsors' websites can be found elsewhere on www.grandamerican.com.

Champ Car TV partner wins top award Champ Car TV partner wins top award[Editor's Note:  We hear Traveling Light Media will play a key role in Champ Car's TV promotion efforts starting in 2005.  Most recently they made the Champ Car TV commercial shots done in Times Square, Manhattan, NY and the A&E Mario Andretti Documentary.] The New York Festival awarded the Gold Medal to Traveling Light Media at the 48th annual International Television Programming & Promotion Awards for TLM’s production of The Crash of Flight 191. Executive Producer and President of Traveling Light Media, Adam Friedman said, “I’m very gratified.  We feel it is a very good representation of the high quality programming we produce at Traveling Light.”

The Awards ceremony was held January 28 at the Hudson Theater in the heart of Manhattan’s theater district and attended by some 450 producers, directors and heads of programming from broadcast, cable, satellite and syndicated stations from around the world.  Now in its 48th year, the New York Festivals International Television Programming & Promotion Awards is one of the world’s largest competitions of its kind, and an important event in the communications industry calendar.

The Crash of Flight 191 was further honored with a Gold Medal for Writing Documentary/Information for producer-writer Lee Fulkerson’s script.  The Gold Medal for Writing is not always awarded, only when a program is deemed truly worthy. “Lee is a gifted writer with a talent for blending drama and factual content,” commented TLM exec Bill Evashwick.

The Crash of Flight 191 aired on The History Channel and along with its awards, it also delivered the highest ratings in the time period in History’s history.  Said Fulkerson,  “We’re thrilled with the program and its performance.”  Friedman added, “This is just the beginning.  We’re looking forward to creating more exciting, informative and entertaining programming for The History Channel.”
The two Gold Medals add to an already impressive array of awards for the company. Traveling Light’s John Travolta Biography for A&E was a 2003 Emmy nominee for Best Non-Fiction series and a CINE Golden Eagle for its Biography on Kevin Costner.   Traveling Light Media is a television and film production company based in Burbank, CA.  It was founded by Adam Friedman in 2002. 

Da Matta prefers Champ Cars Da Matta prefers Champ Cars"I think the fact that there is less technology (than F1) and it's a bit more up to the driver over here is one of the main reasons why I chose to race in Champ Car is because the race car driver, as a sportsman, you want to try to measure yourself against the best guys in the business, but obviously in the same similar conditions as possible," said a returning Cristiano da Matta.  As for having to shift again, "It's only two years in the paddles, but I think there is some area that I'm going to find a little bit difficult to come back to 100% with Champ Car will be I think the power steering that I had in the F-1, I don't have in the Champ Cars. I think this is going to -- I'm probably going to have a sore arm on the first couple of days of testing.

"But, I'm ready. I'm very well prepared physically. I haven't been stopped on all of this time that I haven't been driving. I've been driving go-karts a little bit here and there, and I've been training physically very hard. So I think it's just a matter of to wake up those muscles that have been sleeping a little bit, those very specific muscles, but I really don't think the shifting is going to be a problem."

Da Matta gets seat fitting Da Matta gets seat fittingCristiano da Matta (right seated in PKV Racing Lola) chats with a member of PKV Racing while he waits for his Lola seat to harden.  "It's been so long I haven't been driving the race car I want to get this first day behind me as quick as I can and get these rust out of my arms as quick as I can, too, so I can be back up to speed soon," said da Matta.
Press Release: Da Matta back to Champ Car Press Release: Da Matta back to Champ CarThe return of 2002 Champ Car champion Cristiano da Matta adds another familiar face on the grid in 2005 as he joins other Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series champions Jimmy Vasser, Paul Tracy, and Sebastien Bourdais, along with a highly-anticipated field full of talented drivers to compete for the title.

PKV Racing announced today that da Matta, 31, will team up with 1996 champion Jimmy Vasser in a two- car assault for the 2005 season.  The Brazilian rejoins the Champ Car grid after making 28 starts in the Formula 1 World Championship in 2003 and 2004.

Da Matta joined the Champ Car ranks in 1999 and ranks second among active drivers with 11 Champ Car wins, seven poles, in 79 Champ Car starts.  During his 2002 championship run, da Matta became the third driver to record a record-tying four consecutive wins during a single season.  The Brazilian recorded seven races and seven poles en route to his first Champ Car championship and was named Driver of the Year for his champion campaign.  

“I am very excited to be back in Champ Car,” said da Matta just after the announcement was made at the PKV Racing shop.  “This is a series that I have raced in the past and had not only good results, but lots of fun.  It was an easy decision to come back to America after racing over in Europe for the past two years in Formula 1.  I am excited to be associated with PKV Racing.  They are a good team and their plans for the up coming season are strong.  They have everything we need to run well and fight for the championship.  They team has done a lot of work during the winter, so I am very impressed, but we still have a lot of work to do.  Once that is accomplished, we’ll be very competitive.”

With experience and a championship under his belt, da Matta joins Vasser with a similar racing history in addition to their history as friends.

“Jimmy is a good friend of mine,” da Matta stated when asked about teaming up with Vasser.  “I respect him as a person and as a driver.  He knows how to win and how to set up a car.  I couldn’t ask for a better teammate.”

Vasser is equally excited to have da Matta back in Champ Car and as a teammate racing under the PKV Racing banner.

“We are very excited to have Cristiano in the team,” stated Vasser.  “I can tell you from experience that the most important thing in the success of a Champ Car team is chemistry and teamwork, and Cristiano has shown in the past that he is certainly capable of being a good teammate and a champion.  And this really rounds us out now, PKV Racing, just under only one year old, a team of champions.  The face of our team has completely changed and we are very excited to tackle the championship.  I think that we're well-positioned to surprise a lot of people out there.  I am really, really excited about working with Cristiano.” 

Team Manager Jim McGee, also a new addition to the team, feels that the friendship, respect, and determination these two drivers have will complete the team.

“These two guys, they are going to do what's best for the team because they know their success is going to be the success that we have on the team, not the individual's success that each guy would have,” said McGee.  “For me to have these two types of individuals driving for us, that's a huge benefit because it really brings the team concept together and it filters down through the engineering through the mechanics, through the truck drivers, everybody is working for the betterment of the team not any individual betterment, and so it really is; it's just what you want in an organization.”

Co-Owner Dan Pettit also expressed his excitement about finalizing plans of what he believes to be a solid and very competitive team in 2005.

“I have to say we are all excited on behalf of myself and Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser.  We are so excited to have Cristiano, and his presence here means a lot to us.  We have been working very, very hard in putting together a team that can be a serious contender, and I think with your presence here, not only at PKV Racing, but also Champ Car, I think it gives the image that we have finally decided to be very strong and it also says that Champ Car is real.  So thank you very much for joining our team and having the confidence in us.”

Da Matta’s love for Champ Car is more than words can say, and a trip to Formula 1 was an opportunity that could not be missed.  However, he seems to be ecstatic to return to competitive driving in the United States.

“When I was here in 2002, I was 100% happy,” stated da Matta about his leave for Formula 1.  “I never wanted to race anything else, but Champ Car, at that time, was uncertain about its future.  And at the same time, I had this opportunity to go and drive Formula 1 for a couple of years. So, that was the main reason why, and obviously having a chance to drive an F-1 car.  I thought that this is my opportunity and I cannot miss it, but never because I thought it was better over there or if it was better to race or more fun or whatever.”

“But I can say right now I think the direction that Champ Car has taken over this last year I think is the correct direction to go.  I think with (Kevin) Kalkhoven showing how serious he is about this business, this series, by buying Cosworth and having such a great package TV package for the year, I think that all shows the people there in command of the series, they are here not just playing around.  They are here seriously and they want to see this thing happen and see this series being as successful as it was in the past.”

“So I see a good future for the series.  In my eyes I see a good future of the series; otherwise, I wouldn't have any interest to come back here, too.  I came back because I believe in the series, I believe in the true sport that the series is, and I think that this is the place to be.”

Four Ex-Champs for Champ Car Four Ex-Champs for Champ CarFor the first time in quite awhile, Champ Car will have four ex-Champions competing.  The 2005 season will see Jimmy Vasser, Cristiano da Matta, Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy going head-to-head to secure another title and the coveted Vanderbilt Cup.
Anderson Joins Andretti Green Racing Anderson Joins Andretti Green RacingVeteran Indy-style racing team manager John Anderson has joined Andretti Green Racing as one of the team's two team managers.  Anderson, who will share responsibilities with George Klotz, will also serve as race strategist for the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone driven by Dan Wheldon.

"We are very excited to bring John Anderson back on board," said Kevin Savoree, who co-owns Andretti Green Racing with Michael Andretti and Kim Green. "He brings a wealth of experience and a good understanding for how Andretti Green likes to operate. He has been a good friend to many of us at this team for a lot of years and is a great addition."

Anderson has spent the last two years as director of operations for the Champ Car World Series. Prior to joining the staff at Champ Car, Anderson spent two years at Team Green as a consultant and race strategist for driver Paul Tracy.

"Andretti Green Racing has quickly established itself, not just in the IndyCar Series, but in the motorsports industry, and it is going to be great to be a part of it," Anderson said. "I'm really looking forward to working with Dan Wheldon and everyone on the team.
Hopefully, we can bring another championship to this building and continue the great things that have been started here."

Wheldon, who won three races in 2004 and finished second in the IndyCar Series point standings, is looking forward to building a successful relationship with Anderson.

"To have someone of John's caliber come in and take over in this role is certainly exciting for me," Wheldon said. "I hope we can pick up where we left off in 2004, win some more races and make another run at the IndyCar Series championship."

Anderson, a native of Australia, is in his fourth decade of involvement in the motorsports industry. He began as a mechanic for a Formula 5000 team in Australia before coming to the United States in 1981. Anderson began working in Indy-style racing in 1984 as a mechanic for Forsythe Racing and then advanced to the level of team manager and crew chief at Mike Curb Motorsports in 1986.

He has also served as crew chief or team manager for Galles Racing, King Motorsports, A.J. Foyt Racing and Pac West Racing Group. Among the drivers he has worked with are Al Unser Jr., Roberto Guerrero, A.J. Foyt, Mauricio Gugelmin, Mark Blundell and Scott Dixon.

Faure laughs at Mosley statement Faure laughs at Mosley statementFIA president Max Mosley, a Monaco resident, attended Tuesday's launch in the Mediterranean principality's Grimaldi centre and both Patrick Faure and Renault team boss Flavio Briatore welcomed his presence. Faure said, however, that they and the other eight GPWC teams would not be hurried into any decision about the future.

"The only thing that I'm sure of is that for the moment nothing is clear about what is going to happen in 2008," he said. "So let's clarify what is going to happen, what sort of championship we'll have and then we'll discuss the participation of Renault, Honda, Ferrari or whoever. The other nine teams are clearly united on principles and we are not going to compromise on this," said Faure.

"It's quite courageous to say that you will renew the Concorde Agreement with only one team. I find that fantastically humorous. I have the impression that they want to join something new that will be created and not something existing already," said the Frenchman. We are discussing with them at the moment to create something new, working the five of us together to have our ideas coming into reality. We are very much in line with the Japanese companies, we have no problems there." Reuters

Wurz fastest, new Williams strong on first full day Wurz fastest, new Williams strong on first full dayThree teams were back in action today at the Valencia circuit, McLaren, Williams and Toyota.  McLaren tester Alexander Wurz, who was in the hybrid MP4-19B finished on top, eight tenths quicker than the newly launched Williams of Mark Webber.  Webber put in a total of 82 laps to finish three and a half tenths ahead of his new teammate Nick Heidfeld.
1. A. Wurz – McLaren - 1:09.386 – 90 laps
2. M. Webber – Williams - 1:10.538 – 82 laps
3. N. Heidfeld – Williams - 1:10.903 – 89 laps
4. R. Schumacher - Toyota - 1:10.937 – 60 laps
5. O. Panis – Toyota - 1:11.061 – 102 laps
6. P. de la Rosa – McLaren - 1:11.729 – 21 laps
ALMS announces $100K Pit Crew Challenge ALMS announces $100K Pit Crew ChallengeThe American Le Mans Series has secured an official sponsor in a key category specifically created and designed to make a significant impact upon the series. Klein Tools, a leading manufacturer of professional hand tools, announced today that it will become the Official Hand Tool of the American Le Mans Series with category exclusivity.

A major element of the sponsorship includes ALMS and the tool manufacturer creating the $100,000 Pit Crew Challenge and the annual Crew Chief Award worth $20,000. In addition, Klein Tools will enhance selected ALMS event weekends by presenting professional air shows at the race tracks and having a paddock support vehicle at selected ALMS events.

"This is a tremendous development for the American Le Mans Series," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the ALMS. "Klein Tools is an important industry leader that also has a motorsports heritage. We welcome the participation and appreciate that Klein has recognized the value that the American Le Mans Series offers to sponsors."

Klein Tools is making its initial entry into professional sports car racing but has been involved in motorsports most recently as a sponsor of Andretti Green Racing in the Indy Racing League.

"Our new association with the American Le Mans Series will help drive an increase in public awareness of Klein Tools as a leading producer of quality products preferred by professional users of hand tools," said Richard T. Klein, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Klein Tools. "We believe this will be an effective way to communicate to the larger public our commitment to producing the world's finest quality hand tools. We are pleased to be associated with the world's top sports car racing series."

The Crew Chief Award will be presented in each of the four classes of competition within the ALMS with a $5,000 year-end award in each class. Full details of both the pit crew competition and the crew chief award will be announced at a later date.

The new air show presentation element of the Klein Tools association with the ALMS is an extension of the company's sponsorship of Michael Mancuso Airshows of Long Island, N.Y., which began in 2001. Mancuso, who has been an aerobatics pilot for many years and was formerly a member of the award winning Canadian Northern Lights Aerobatic Team, will perform at selected ALMS events in the Klein Tools Extra 300L aerobatics aircraft.

Aston Martin announces driver line-up Aston Martin announces driver line-upAston Martin Racing has confirmed an international driver line-up for the 2005 season, which begins with the American Le Mans Series Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March and includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The six drivers introduced today were: David Brabham (Australia), Tomas Enge (Czech Republic), Peter Kox (Netherlands), Pedro Lamy (Portugal), Stephane Ortelli (France) and Darren Turner (UK) (Pictured right, From Left: Kox, Enge, Lamy, Brabham, Turner and Ortelli). This line-up of experienced sports car drivers will share driving duties in the team's two DBR9s at each of the races during 2005. Precise teams will be announced prior to the Sebring race. All the drivers came together for the first time on January 31 at the team's latest test at Sebring, Florida.

"It's great to have such a talented pool of drivers to choose from," said Aston Martin Racing team principal, George Howard-Chappell. "Having worked with most of them before, we know they will bond as a team and work together to help develop the DBR9."

Coming off an interesting season last year in the ALMS with Zytec, competing in both the LMP1 and GTS classes, David Brabham is no less than thrilled to be a part of such an exciting addition to the ALMS.

"When I was speaking with my friends and they asked who I was going to be driving for, I sort of let it slip that I would be driving for Aston Martin," said Brabham. "There is something inside them that goes ‘ahhhh, Aston Martin!' I am pleased to have the name back in racing. For me to be a part of it with this group of drivers and the Prodrive team is incredible because people will look back in history and see this as one of those special moments."

"For me its as almost the same as it is for David because driving for Aston Martin is an honor for any driver", said Lamy. "I am really happy to be here with these professionals. This is a strong team and I am excited to be here."

"I think it's important to have reasonable expectations for this year," said Jonathan Ward, Commercial Director for Aston Martin Racing. "People like David Brown (owner of Aston Martin from the 1940's to early 1960's and where the "DB" in DBR9 originates) throughout the history of Aston Martin have always said that it takes three years to develop a car that can win Le Mans. We are hoping that we can do it more quickly than that but it would be unrealistic for us to say that we will win the GT1 class here at Sebring. Clearly we are a committed team of designers, engineers and drivers and in our heart of hearts, we want to win it."

Da Matta and Vasser comment on loss of road courses Da Matta and Vasser comment on loss of road coursesResponding to the issue of loss of the great natural terrain road courses on the Champ Car schedule, veteran Jimmy Vasser said, "Well, obviously, the romance of racing around Elkhart Lake or Laguna Seca is very important to the purist in driving, but unfortunately over the last few years, the crowds have been diminishing. So from a business aspect, you have to understand that the series has to do that, and I think as drivers, we understand that we need a healthy series to be able to have jobs and race cars.  So, I think everybody thinks it's unfortunate, but you know."

Cristiano da Matta (right seated in PKV Racing Lola) agreed with Vasser, and added, "I agree with Jimmy. Obviously we as drivers are definitely going to miss driving in Elkhart Lake and in Laguna for example as Jimmy said, but we need to understand the series’ needs. And definitely, if you look on the near past of the series, our street races have been a lot more successful as far as the crowd goes. So we need to understand that we need to be racing more on street courses than in road courses, but I'm sure all of the drivers are going to miss it because it was I think probably the best that you can get to drive these race cars on road courses."

Busy week ahead for da Matta Busy week ahead for da MattaCristiano has a busy week ahead of him.  He flies to Daytona tonight to get a seat fitting Wednesday for this weekend's Rolex 24 Grand-Am race.  On Thursday morning and afternoon he will drive the Grand-Am car that he will share with Paul Newman and Sebastien Bourdais for the first time.  He will then drive to Sebring Thursday night to test his new PKV Racing Champ Car for the first time in over two years at Sebring on Friday.  He will miss all the activity at Daytona on Friday.  He will then drive back to Daytona Friday night and be ready to run the Rolex 24 on Saturday and Sunday.
Da Matta: Champ Car harder than F1 Da Matta: Champ Car harder than F1Cristiano da Matta, speaking to the media today after the announcement that he would drive for PKV Racing in 2005, said driving a Champ Car is much harder than an F1 car (Da Matta climbs into his new PKV ride, right). "The Formula 1 car is a lot easier physically than the Champ Cars. Formula 1 is just more difficult on the neck, because usually you drive road courses with long corners, so it can become quite tough on the neck with the G-forces that you are pulling.

"The Champ Car, because of the braking being it's two brakes and you have to use more power to decelerate the car, you don't have power steering, you have to shift the gears, you have slick tires, that all adds load to the steering wheel, and, of course, to your body, too. So you are using more all of your muscles to drive the race car, and that, of course, makes your heartbeat go up.

"So I imagine in an F-1 race, if the average heart rate for me for example would be around 150, 160, in a Champ Car race it would be more 160, 175. It would be a little harder physically apart from the neck. On the neck, the Formula 1 is definitely more difficult."

Jourdain puts Mexico on map for NASCAR Jourdain puts Mexico on map for NASCARThe Arizona Republic article to the right talks about how Michel Jourdain's popularity in Mexico is helping NASCAR become a known quantity in Mexico in preparation for this year's Busch series race in Mexico City.  Michel Jourdain Jr. finished sixth in Sunday’s NASCAR Grand National, West Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.  Jourdain, who started his first NASCAR-sanctioned race with ppc Racing, started 14th and moved into the top 10 by lap 40 after pitting for fuel during the race’s first and only caution flag on lap 26.  The Mexico City, Mexico native talked about his impressive run.

“We’re very happy,” said Jourdain, driver of the No. 19 ppc Racing Ford Taurus.  “We passed people for positions early on but the track felt very slippery.  I tried to be aggressive passing some of the guys on the outside but I’m here to learn and to take care of the car.  I had so much fun.  It would have been good to get a top five but I’m happy with our finish.  I’m very happy to finish the race.  Next week’s test sessions is what I want and need.  If I could be in the car everyday, it would be perfect.  I’m just having fun and happy to finish sixth.”

“Everything went great,” said Keith Barnwell, general manager at ppc Racing.  “Michel did a fabulous job but even beyond that the guys got the car prepared while trying to get ready for Daytona, California and Las Vegas.  What we did was we took a field trip out here and the NASCAR West officials, Ford, everybody’s been great.  To see Michel’s positive attitude and to come out of here with a good finish is great.  He drove he butt off.  You’d of thought he’d been driving stock cars before.  I was up in one of the suite and watched Michel run an open-wheel line; he comes off turn four, drives down to the bottom and slides back up so there’s a couple of things we’ll work on with Michel but he did a fabulous job.”

“I’m really impressed with Michel Jourdain and how he drove the race,” said Todd Gordon, crew chief of the No. 19 ppc Racing Ford Taurus.  “We had him a little free and asked him to do a whole lot with a car that wasn’t nearly perfect.  He hung in there and ran around some good cars and ended up sixth.  I think that’s a great boost of confidence for him and it showed me that Michel’s got a lot of talent.  He will be good.”

Renault thinks it can continue tobacco advertising Renault thinks it can continue tobacco advertisingRenault F1 boss Patrick Faure says that the team will stop using Mild Seven on their cars after the end of July 2005 when new British and European legislation comes into force to stop tobacco advertising.  "It is not clear to us what the European Union rule is after July 31," Faure said. "We will respect the law in whatever country we race. After the end of 2006 it is true we will have to look for more sponsorship but there are lots of new sponsors and big companies which did not currently want to be involved in F1 with tobacco sponsorship."
Faure wants GPWC talk out of media Faure wants GPWC talk out of mediaRenault F1 boss Patrick Faure was not very keen on discussing the GPWC situation at the launch of the new Renault R25 and called for those involved in F1 to stop fighting battles in the media.  "It is so complicated that I do not want to elaborate too much," he said. "We have signed a document of what we want. In no way are we willing to compromise on these proposals. It is not an act of war against the FIA. It is saying: 'Let us work together'. The worst thing is for F1 to have emotional discussions rather than rational discussion. We have plenty of time. If necessary we will start our own championship but I still think we should stop having all this discussion in public. What is important in F1 is what happens on the track this year."
Murray leaving McLaren Murray leaving McLarenWe hear that celebrated Formula 1 engineer Gordon Murray is to leave the employ of McLaren after 18 years with the team. The 60-year-old South African engineer was a major player in F1 in the 1970s with the Brabham team, winning two World Championships with Nelson Piquet. He stayed with Brabham until the end of 1986 and then joined McLaren where he was named chief designer. He worked initially on the F1 programs but then moved up to become the designer of the McLaren F1 road car. In racing form this won the Le Mans 24 Hours at its first attempt in 1995. Murray then moved on work on the design team for the new Mercedes-badged McLaren supercar. Grandprix.com
Renault team adds new sponsor Renault team adds new sponsorThe Mild Seven Renault F1 Team is delighted to announce the signature of a partnership agreement with Chronotech, the leading brand of the Global Watch Industries group. In combination with the consolidation of the team’s supplier base through new agreements with Tecnomatix and Champion, the team enters the 2005 season in robust commercial health.

“It is a pleasure to welcome Chronotech on-board in time for our official launch of the 2005 season,” commented Managing Director Flavio Briatore. “This is a young brand which combines a spirit of flair and creativity with the cutting-edge technology of watchmaking, and these qualities chime perfectly with the character of the Renault F1 Team.

“We have established a dynamic record of on-track performance over the past three seasons, and this is reflected in a broad range of loyal partners. The addition of Chronotech further strengthens the team as we strive to achieve our goals of challenging for the world championship in the years ahead.”

The winter has also seen the team consolidate its base of official technical suppliers, having reached agreements with Tecnomatix (UK) and Champion (a division of Federal Mogul, USA). Tecnomatix will supply the team with software inspection solutions to further enhance the efficiency of the extensive in-house manufacturing operations required during the design and development process, while Champion (a division of Federal Mogul, USA) will extend its historic supply of sparking plugs that dates back nearly thirty years to Renault’s victorious Le Mans 24 Hours endurance racing program of the mid-1970s.

“With the current focus on cost-cutting in Formula One,” concluded Flavio Briatore, “it is important to stress that we must not only find ways to limit spending, but also guarantee our revenues. At the Renault F1 Team, we pride ourselves not only on our performance, but also on offering value to money to the companies who invest in our success. We are pleased to welcome our new suppliers to the team, and look forward to their contribution to our successes in the 2005 season and beyond.”

Montagny: thousands of kilometers in the shadows Montagny: thousands of kilometers in the shadowsFranck Montagny's role in the Renault F1 team is complex.  A Formula One paddock is a place full of rigid conventions and double meanings, intrigue and gossip. For a young driver, it’s hard to make it through unscathed. But when he arrived in the paddock at each race in 2004, Franck Montagny challenged those conventions.

He speaks his mind, follows his own brand of style, and refuses to be pigeon-holed. This is a man who says what he thinks and is determined to stand out from the crowd. In other words, he is typically Renault! Having served as test driver in 2003 and third driver in 2004, he is on the threshold of achieving his dream.

It can be a tough job, and a thankless task: thousands of kilometers in the shadows, in front of empty grandstands and without any cameras to watch. But Franck knuckled down and learned about the job. And it paid off, as he is now a key point of reference for the team’s two race drivers.

"I think my role in the Renault F1 Team is an ideal starting point," explains Franck. "I have been able to develop in a relatively protected environment. It’s an achievement in itself and a good reward for the sacrifices I have made until now. But it’s also just a stage – my ultimate aim is to compete in a Grand Prix..."

Even after 13,000 km though, Formula 1 remains magical for the Frenchman. "It is a unique experience when you are at the wheel," he smiles. "Nothing can prepare you for the moment when all that horsepower is unleashed – for a driver, there is nothing better in the whole world!"

Franck’s role in the team is complex. In 2004, the majority of his work consisted in making a preliminary selection for the forthcoming races, from the dozens of tire compounds Michelin brings to any test session. "I also evaluate new aerodynamic or mechanical developments," continues Franck. "Most of the time, that means I do quite long runs, with a high fuel load. However, I sometimes get the opportunity to do a quick lap, on low fuel and new tires. That’s when things really become exciting…"

Over two years, Franck and the Renault F1 Team have developed a real sense of trust. Both the race and test teams know him well, and appreciate the qualities he brings to the team. "My role as third driver means I am present at every race, just in case... I go to all the technical briefings, listening and learning," concludes Franck. "I really feel that I belong to this team." Renault F1

Industry News
Pikes Peak Raceway on block Pikes Peak Raceway on blockPikes Peak International Raceway is for sale but track president and CEO Rob Johnson doesn't plan to put his house on the market.   Rockwood Realty Associates of Orlando, Fla., has been retained on an exclusive basis to arrange the sale of the track in Fountain. Wall Street Investment bankers Lehman Brothers Holdings of New York owns PPIR.  "It's more to see what level of interest there is," Johnson said. "We're business as usual. We have long-term plans to be here. So there is no concern there.

"When you are owned by an investment firm there are times when they want to gauge level of interest in their investment. I think that is what this is. You're stuck with me, my house is not on the market. I plan on being here awhile," Johnson said.

"This has all come very recently. This hasn't been actively shopped at all. I have no concern because I'm operating a business. We had the best year (2004) we've had, and when you have the best year you've had, it's a good time to gauge the level of interest in your property.

"It's not a dire situation at all. It's the opposite. There is no pressing need to sell the track. It's simply, 'What kind of interest is there out there?' "

Still, a sale is possible.   "I think if the right opportunity came along, there would be a chance," Johnson said. "I get the question all the time, 'Is the track for sale?' Everything is always for sale if the opportunity is right, and I think that would be the situation."

Construction on PPIR was completed in 1997 at a cost of $35 million. There is a 1-mile oval and 1.3-mile road course along with 42,787 permanent seats and 31 luxury VIP suites.  PPIR has a contract with Rocky Mountain Speedway Corp., a subsidiary of International Speedway Corp. that expires in December. The agreement was designed to improve PPIR's profile and calls for RMSC to provide management, advisory and consulting services.

"It's been a great partnership," Johnson said. "We've actually in the last couple weeks been working together on a couple joint sponsors. We're working with them now on a couple initiatives with ABC television on how to promote the Indy Racing League."

The schedule this year at PPIR includes a NASCAR Busch Series race July 23 and an IRL race in August.  Johnson hasn't given up on his hopes to land a Nextel Cup race.  "We are going to continue to improve year by year," he said. "That's what we've done, so we continue to try to improve the product we have and continue to try to attract other events. Business here hasn't changed." Rocky Mountain News

Flavio Briatore is not sentimental to F1 Flavio Briatore is not sentimental to F1When he first walked into an F1 paddock at Adelaide in 1988, Flavio Briatore knew next to nothing about motor racing. He was in charge of the Benetton Group in North America, light years away from a race track. However, he was named commercial director of the Benetton team the following year – and what had been a temporary position soon became permanent.

Several months later, he was managing the team. He was free of pre-conceptions and determined to do the job as he saw fit. It was to prove his greatest strength, as the Italian defied convention and, simply put, changed the face of F1. "Formula One is about technology but also communication: I try to bring the two things together. The racing is only a small part of the dream we are selling people." This approach soon bore fruit, with Benetton winning three world titles (two drivers’ crowns and one constructors) between 1994 and 1995.

Two years later, Flavio put motorsport on the back burner. He took a step back, selling Supertec V10 engines, but was tempted by Renault’s offer in 2000: the French manufacturer decided to return to the sport with a 100% Renault car. After buying Benetton, the team finished fourth in the World Championship in 2002 and 2003, before finishing third last year.

As for his approach to racing, Flavio Briatore’s summary is succinct. "I am not sentimental when it comes to F1," he explains. It is a tough world. From the outside, it is just cars racing on a Sunday and grid girls. But in reality, you must be committed at every moment. I run an F1 team like any other business – the passionate side of F1 doesn’t come into the equation when you are taking decisions."
Commercial acumen is one of Briatore’s acknowledged strengths, and the Italian’s marketing-focused approach has consistently attracted new sponsors to the sport. He has also established himself as one of the foremost talent-spotters in Formula One, nurturing many young drivers from junior motorsport to the highest levels of the sport. "For me, drivers are not superstars," he states. They are the final link in the chain, but we entrust them with the work of nearly a thousand people every time they are in the car. They need to be aware of that responsibility, and perform accordingly."

The 2005 season will mark another important step in the team’s life. But Flavio Briatore’s philosophy will remain constant. "Be demanding of yourself and others, focus on discipline, creativity and expertise. Make decisions quickly and effectively. Take an international outlook." Welcome to the Renault F1 Team. Renault F1 Team

Fisichella determined to reach potential Fisichella determined to reach potentialIt is said that the best things come to those who wait. For 2005, opportunity has come knocking for Giancarlo Fisichella and he is ready to seize it.

"I am determined to achieve my potential. I will work harder, push the people around me and together, we can win races. I am sure of that.” A combative, experienced, lightning-fast Giancarlo Fisichella will be one of the Renault F1 Team’s greatest assets.

Gentle. At the wheel, Giancarlo transforms some of the world’s most brutal machines into precision instruments. Where others bully a car into a corner, bending it to their will, he searches for harmony. When asked what characterizes his driving style, the answer is unequivocal: smoothness". Out of the car, he is the same: measured, considered, quietly spoken. A man who lets his driving do the talking.

Family man. "When I am away from the race-track, I do not like to talk about Formula One," explains the Italian. The 32 year old is the father of two young children and lives with them and his companion Luna quietly in Rome. Football is his greatest passion and hobby. Even when he is on the track, the drive to win is about repaying others: a victory is for myself, but then especially for my father, who was with me when I started karting at eight years old." Through the transition from childhood dream to everyday reality, he has kept his feet firmly on the ground.
Quick. "After all, that’s my job," he smiles. The turn of speed is disarming – he makes it look easy. In the car, he is totally focused: distractions are blocked out and he gives 100%, every lap of every race. His speed is the fruit of experience – he is fitter, tougher, stronger than ever before. Nine years of technical knowledge are brought to bear when he works to improve and develop the car. His consistency is exemplary. And the overall package has earned one of the highest accolades: this is the man who was elected Drivers’ Driver in 2003, by his F1 competitors…

Giancarlo Fisichella is a man emerging from the shadows... Ask any connoisseur of Formula One for their list of top drivers, and invariably, the 32 year old Roman will be among the names. Yet he has never had the opportunity his talent deserves. Or the recognition. Until now… "I have joined the Renault F1 Team because they believe I am one of the fastest drivers. This trust is very important for me. Now, with Renault, I want to show everybody how quick I am." Renault F1 Team

Alonso a Superstar in Spain Alonso a Superstar in SpainFernando Alonso’s reputation precedes him. He holds records as F1’s youngest pole-man and the youngest ever Grand Prix winner. But what is Spain's foremost F1 talent really like?

A superstar in his home country, he competes in the one of the world’s most glamorous sports. So how does he describe himself? "I’m just a normal guy, smiles the Spaniard. I was never totally obsessed with making it to Formula 1. For me, this is a job like any other – it has its own pressures and restrictions. But of course, it brings its own privileges too."

Off track, he shies away from the limelight and surrounds himself with family and trusted friends. He calls the English city of Oxford home, out of the media spotlight in his home country, nearby the team’s Enstone factory. He relaxes playing football, tennis or cycling, by going to the cinema or following his beloved Real Madrid. Just like a normal guy.

"There are no superheroes in F1," he states categorically. To succeed, everybody must play their part and perform to the maximum. That includes the driver. We are just one part of the team."

Shy, loyal, proud, aggressive, passionate. All of these apply in some measure to Fernando. Relaxed and easygoing outside the paddock, when he passes through its gates superfluous details are jettisoned. He is 100% focused on the job in hand, aggressive from the start of the weekend to the very last lap. But a smile, a joke, even a card trick, are never far away. Just ask the people who work with him.

At the wheel of a Formula One car, though, the diffident young man from Oviedo disappears. "When you put your helmet on and leave the pits, then you have real freedom," he explains. You just drive to the maximum – of your ability and of the car." In terms of style, he is a member of the new generation of F1 drivers – using the car, and all its electronic wizardry, to the maximum. He brakes late, turns in aggressively, relies on the traction control on corner exit. He shows relentless speed in race conditions.

Aggressive he may be, but subtle too – excellent car control makes him devastating in the wet. He races confidently wheel to wheel, hard but fair. Yet he is constantly looking for areas to improve: "I am still only 23 years old and every year, experience teaches you more. You cannot afford to relax in any area." Not until the end of the race weekend, that is, when like in one of his magic tricks, the aggressive competitor vanishes and in his place stands the same reserved, normal guy from Oviedo. Doctor Fernando and Mister Alonso. Renault F1 Team

High Ad Rates for NASCAR on Fox High Ad Rates for NASCAR on FoxAdvertisers will be paying 9 to 10 percent more to buy time on the Fox network during its broadcasts of 2005 NASCAR races, according to Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal . Media columnist Andy Bernstein says Fox had sought increases of more than 15 percent but settled for hikes that were similar to those for other top sports events. The story also says Fox has compelled advertisers to buy into additional races to secure choice spots and pricing during its coverage of the season- opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 20. That sounds like the NASCAR Nextel Cup ticket deals that require fans to buy tickets to the support events. It's all because NASCAR's TV ratings took a jump last year due to The Chase To The Nextel Cup.  MotorSportsNews
New NEXTEL Cup rules have drivers happy New NEXTEL Cup rules have drivers happyNASCAR drivers worried about how the new rules package would affect the handling of their Nextel Cup cars felt better after testing Monday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Two of the changes for this year involve the use of softer-compound tires and a reduction of rear spoilers by an inch to 41/2 inches high on all non-restrictor-plate tracks.  "There has been a lot of hysteria around the changes this year," said Mark Martin, preparing for his final full season of in NASCAR's top series. "My car feels just like it did a year ago.  "Some gains are made at the racetrack and some are made at the shop."  Martin's No. 6 Ford team was one of 43 Cup operations taking part in the first of two days of testing on the 11/2-mile oval. Most of the teams also will try out the new rules Wednesday and Thursday at California Speedway.  Herald Standard
Gibbs reiterates commitment to Redskins Gibbs reiterates commitment to RedskinsJoe Gibbs emphatically reiterated his commitment to the Redskins on Monday, quashing speculation that began with a misinterpretation of remarks he made at a NASCAR media day last week. "I signed a five-year contract when I came here," Gibbs told a news conference. "Most people sign three-year contracts. My commitment to the Redskins, I want to do every single thing I can to restore the Redskins to winning football games. "I'd say that my commitment is a minimum of five years. I want to get the Redskins back to winning, and that's first." St. Petersburg Times
Karthikeyan lands Jordan (Midland) ride Karthikeyan lands Jordan (Midland) rideIndian Narain Karthikeyan will drive for Jordan (Midland) F1 team in 2005 after getting an offer from the team, his manager said on Tuesday. Karthikeyan, 28, will be the first Indian in motor racing history to take part in the F1 championship. "Narain has been offered a full drive by Jordan as their number one driver. He has accepted it," his manager Sanjay Sharma told Reuters. Sharma said Karthikeyan had given his confirmation to Jordan and would address a news conference in Bombay later on Tuesday.  He was offered an F1 drive by Minardi in 2003 but was unable to raise the funds required to secure the offer.

Career Highlights
Born: January 14, 1977 in Chennai (Madras)
1996: Wins Formula Asia title
1998-2000: Formula Three, four wins
2001: Tests for Jaguar and Jordan F1 teams
2004: Wins two races in Nissan World Series

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Nick got FW27 on track
Schu 'needs Ferrari' - JB
Minardi to pack meaner punch
Split 'could happen' - GPWC
F1's romantic - French GP
Big money in F1 auction
da Matta back to America
BMW scrapped 2005 engine
'GP2' taking shape
Max's plan for 'no wing' F1
Webber's 'not like AJ'
Webber happy with German pal
Jungle-Girl 'is perfect'
Nervous Nick got the nod
'I'll beat superstar Schu'
Almost 100K visitors at Senna exhibition Almost 100K visitors at Senna exhibitionSenna Experience, the greatest exhibition ever made about the three- time World Champion’s life, is over after 90 days open with a very positive balance: almost 100 thousand visitors came across the 15 exhibition rooms which pictured Ayrton Senna's life, values and legacy through state-of-the-art resources as simulators and games.

"The people stopped by to amuse and thanked us for the opportunity to know better Ayrton Senna's life and values,” said Ayrton Senna Institute’s president, Viviane Senna. "With the exhibition we were able to show that he was not only a great Champion, but a winner in life that conquered everything with lots of work, dedication, and perseverance. The public understood this message and took those values with them. It was our major goal.”

For the Ayrton Senna Institute it was a great challenge to make Senna Experience happen because of its size and uniqueness: the show got 2.000 m² and was guided by technology and interactivity, which lead the visitors to experience the same emotions that Ayrton Senna felt on the track, inside the cockpit. The entire technological device demanded an R$ 4,2 millions (around 1,2 million Euros) investment, only viable with the participation of the sponsors, which gave a true gift to all whom admire the three-time Champion.
The exhibition was made possible by the sponsorship of APEX, Credicard, Goodyear, Petrobras BR, TAM, Telefonica and Shopping Eldorado (podium sponsors) and Compuware, Eletropaulo, Mapfre, Renault, Sest/Senat and Springer Carrier (pole position sponsors). The revenue from the box office was totally directed to the Ayrton Senna Institute' social projects, reaching R$ 800 000 (around 235 000 Euros).

The audience diversity was a highlight of Senna Experience show. The exhibition counted with visitors of all ages from several regions of Brazil and the world. Many children came with their parents to know Ayrton Senna, once they could not see him on the tracks. The Senninha room, with a 3D video, which showed in a playful way the pilot's life, was one of the highlights for the youngsters. On the other hand, the enthusiasts could know better or see again the cars, helmets, trophies, and they were thrilled with the idol's life and mainly with the Victory room, where the 41 GP victories were shown on a video wall. Press release

ALMS teams complete first day of testing ALMS teams complete first day of testing The first of four days of exciting American Le Mans Series' testing at Sebring International Raceway has come to an end with representatives of all four ALMS classes joining in on the fun.

Champion Audi led the way with both entries posting incredibly fast unofficial test times. The team of Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro, and Allan McNish finished the day behind the wheel of the No. 2 Audi (right) with a best lap time of 1:47.557, beating the qualifying record of 1:48.029 set by Frank Biela in 2002. The No. 1 Audi driven by JJ Lehto, Marco Werner, and Tom Kristensen set the second fastest time of the day with a fast lap of 1:48.073. Intersport Racing tested two cars today both driven by Jon and Clint Field. The team is experimenting with a Lola as well as a Riley Scott MK IIIC.

Last year's LMP2 Champions Miracle Motorsports ran its Courage C65 with drivers John Macaluso, Jeff Bucknum and Chris McMurry. The team utilized its new Kumho tires to post a time of 1:52.668 - just seconds off of the LMP1 times set by Champion Audi.

The ever-popular ACEMCO Motorsports Saleen S7R driven by Terry Borcheller, Johnny Mowlem and Ralph Kelleners was true to form running a best lap of 1:57.931 on its maiden voyage with Michelin tires. Aston Martin (left), the most anticipated entry of 2005, set a time of 1:58.883 led by drivers David Brabham and Tomas Enge. Aston Martin will release its drivers for the second entry tomorrow.

The familiar BAM! Racing team represented the GT2 class of the ALMS with drivers Tony Burgess, Leo Hindery, and Mike Rockenfeller, setting a fast lap time of 2:06.626


The sight and sound of an ALMS race-winning Ferrari Maranello will once again be seen and heard in North America, driven by three reigning Championship titleholders.

A collaboration between Care Racing Development, owners of one of the most successful GT cars in recent years, and Larbre Competition - GTS Champions in the 2004 Le Mans Endurance Series with the same car - will see a 6-litre, V12 Ferrari enter the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The Ferrari will be driven by an all-star champion lineup. Although the team has won championships and several races in the ALMS including Chevy presents Petit Le Mans, it has never won Sebring.

Frederic Dor of Care Racing explained why the Florida classic is so important. "Our cars have been enormously successful over the last three years, thanks to the professionalism and commitment of our partners in the different series."

"This is a very refined race car," said Jack Leconte of Larbre Competition. "Whether you are talking about the aerodynamics or suspension, the engine-gearbox unit or the transmission, everything is spot-on and perfectly reliable. Christopher Bouchut (LMES GTS Champion) will be with us once again and he will be partnered with Fabrizio Gollin (FIA GT Champion) who brings with him so much experience of this car from his years with BMS Scuderia Italia. I am also very pleased to say that Sebastien Bourdais (Champ Car World Series Champion) will join us, which is very exciting news for the series and fans alike. Sabastien's hometown is Le Mans so he has sports car blood in his veins. I think he will have no trouble adapting to the car in a very short time and we will have a really magnificent driving team."

The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will be Bourdais first ALMS experience in world-class sports car racing. The Ferrari Maranello that he will be driving was part of the Care Racing team that won four consecutive events to close the 2003 ALMS season. The Ferrari Maranello will be a major challenger to Corvette Racing, which won all nine GT1 events in the ALMS in 2004.

First GP2 cars delivered today First GP2 cars delivered todayOne third of the inaugural GP2 series teams have today collected their first chassis from the Dallara factory in Parma, Italy. Production of the first 12 cars began last October, and over the next three days the remaining 8 will be made available for collection. The engine and gearbox will follow from February 1st to 12th. The teams will take delivery of their second chassis, engine and gearbox in March. As each chassis is collected by its new owners, the GP2 development car will undergo its final two tests. The first one will run until February 2nd, with RDD driver Lucas Di Grassi at the wheel, and the second from the 9th -11th February. Both will be held at Circuit Paul Ricard, France.

Bruno Michel, GP2 series organizer
"Today is an important day for the GP2 series. Before this point, only one GP2 car existed. By the end of the week, each one of our 12 teams will have their first chassis. I'd like to repeat my gratitude to our partners at Dallara, who have designed and manufactured a chassis which has not only met our original design brief, but which has passed every F1 FIA safety test. Thanks must also go to Mader Racing for their dedication and expertise in building the Renault-designed engines which will power the GP2 series and, of course, to our tire supplier Bridgestone. The delivery of these first cars marks the start of a chain of events which will lead us to our first race in Imola on the weekend of April 24th. This truly is an exciting time for everyone involved with the GP2 series."

Giampaolo Dallara
"For us, today marks the real beginning of the GP2 series. The dream is now a reality. For the first time the GP2 car is no longer a prototype, but a real racing car. The development of this car from concept to design to production has been an immense challenge, but now we face the most important aspect of our role in the GP2 series - to ensure that we provide a high level of service and consistently improve our product over the lifetime of the championship. It will be a fantastic test, and I am confident that we will achieve the goals we have set ourselves. I look forward to the challenges which we will face in the months and years ahead."

2005 GP2 Series line-up

Arden International
Heikki Kovalainen (FIN)
Nicolas Lapierre (FRA)

ART Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg (FIN)

BCN Competicion
Ernesto Viso (VEN)

Campos Racing
Juan Cruz Alvarez (ARG)

Coloni Motorsport
Gianmaria Bruni (ITA)

Jose Maria Lopez (ARG)
Fairuz Fauzy (MAL)

David Price Racing
Ryan Sharp (GBR)
Olivier Pla (FRA)

Clivio Piccione (MC)
Ferdinando Monfardini (ITA)

HiTech Piquet
Nelson Piquet Jr (BRA)
Xandinho Negrao (BRA)

iSport International
Scott Speed (USA)

Racing Engineering
Borja Garcia (SPN)

Super Nova
Drivers get first crack at FW27 Drivers get first crack at FW27After the initial laps of the FW27 on the Valencia circuit, team drivers Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld delivered their verdict on the new car.

Mark Webber "A huge amount of work has gone into the FW27 because of the new regulations on aerodynamics and tires, and BMW have done plenty of work with the two-race engine. We have to look for consistency and reliability with both cars and it is going to be a tough season, but after the first runs, I am happy with the car. The guys have done a good job, but I am sure we will find plenty to do in February to get ready."

Nick Heidfeld "The FW27 looked great on stage this morning and it felt the same this afternoon on the track. I have only driven a couple of laps so far, but already it feels familiar. Hopefully a strong preparation for the season ahead starts now."

NASCAR teams to test rule change NASCAR teams to test rule changeIn an effort to tighten competition and contain team costs, NASCAR has imposed limitations on gear ratio. Affecting the top three racing series, the rule change will limit the maximum number of RPMs that all engines will be able to produce during competition. Enforcing the new rule will involve a thorough technical process, including: inspecting the number of teeth on the pinion and ring gear during race weekend inspection processes and equipping each vehicle with a data log near the ignition system to measure RPMs.

Finally, beginning at California Speedway, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series cars will become beholden to the new rear spoiler height restrictions handed down this year. At all non-restrictor plate tracks, spoilers will now measure 4.5 inches in height. The reduction is expected to further reduce aero-push while enhancing racing and passing ability.

Beginning January 31 and continuing through February 3, California Speedway will host a myriad of teams-including Evernham Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Hendricks Motorsports, et. al.-for test sessions. NASCAR regulations allow teams five two-day and four one-day trials at select tracks throughout the year to help dial in their machines. And California Speedway has opened its doors to the ever-increasing NASCAR fan base on February 2-3 to witness this West Coast version of Preseason Thunder. And guess what? It's freeeeeeeeee. For more information, check out www.californiaspeedway.com.

Busch drivers taste California Speedway Busch drivers taste California SpeedwayCalifornia Speedway will host a total of 18 NASCAR Busch Series drivers and 44 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers over the four-day NASCAR test session.  When you add them up, there will be more than 60 cars on-track at the 2-mile, D-shaped oval, including 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion Kurt Busch, everyone that finished 30th or better last year in the NEXTEL Cup standings, 2004 NASCAR Busch Series Champion Martin Truex Jr. and some of the best up and coming racers around.

Here's a look at some NASCAR Busch Series driver quotes following Wednesday's morning session:

JUSTIN LABONTE (No. 44 Coast Guard Chevrolet, Labonte Haas Racing):  "We just want to make sure the car is comfortable. We just use it as a basic test to get everything going.  The big thing I want to make sure is that it's going to race well. That's why we're here. There's a lot of things we're running through to see what works, what doesn't."

MARTIN TRUEX, JR. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, Chance 2 Motorsports):  "It's OK. We brought in a new car. The wind is kind of screwing us up out there. Hopefully, the wind will die down for tomorrow. We're running through our cars. It's new, so we want to kind of shake it up.  Basically, we're just trying to get a good start and setup. It seems to be kind of like what we ran last year."  One difference: Truex is running on a different set of tires from last year.  "We've already tried a couple of things that didn't work. Hopefully, we'll find some things that do this afternoon."

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR. (No. 10 Ford, ppc Racing):  "It's just getting used to a track like this. It's the first time on a track like this. It's just getting up to speed and making a few changes.  The car's really tight. We're just trying to get a better balance. We were in our backup car (this morning), so we're going to go out in our principal car now.  We're just trying to get a better balance. The track is really green. We're going to go out and see how it is this time."

"BILL MILLER, 9300 CHERRY AVENUE": Bill Miller, president of California Speedway, will make a special announcement at the Fontana City Council meeting tomorrow (February 1) regarding Fontana Race Week. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the Fontana City Hall on Sierra Avenue. Tickets remain available for the Auto Club 500 (February 25-27) at California Speedway. For ticket information, check out the newly renovated www.californiaspeedway.com.

Enge wins Golden Wheel Enge wins Golden WheelTomas Enge received the Golden Wheel Award as the Czech Republic's top driver for the sixth year in a row.  Enge also received the Speed Award trophy for the fastest average speed.  "I am very happy that the tradition of the Golden Wheel goes on," said Enge, who will drive the No. 2 Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone in the 2005 IndyCar Series season.  "I am naturally pleased from the trophy because it is clear that my performances have not been unnoticed at home despite the fact that I do not many chances to race in the Czech Republic. I am now at the beginning of new and exciting season. There will be a new challenges and starts in legendary Indy 500 and 24 Hours Le Mans. I will do my best for a good representation of the Czech motorsport around he whole world."  The Golden Wheel is voted on by Czech motorsport journalists. Enge won the Golden Wheel 2004 for the best circuit racing driver. The Liberec native received the Speed Award for the fastest average lap speed in a race.
IPS To Test On Road Course And Oval At Indy IPS To Test On Road Course And Oval At IndyThe Menards Infiniti Pro Series has changed its Open Test schedule to include testing on both the oval and road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Menards Infiniti Pro Series cars will test on the 2.605-mile road course on March 24, and on the 2.5-mile oval on May 2.  The Menards Infiniti Pro Series will be the first series to compete on both circuits at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The series will hold the Futaba Freedom 100 on the oval on May 27, and will hold a race on the road course in mid-June as part of the United States Grand Prix weekend.  To accommodate the tests at Indianapolis, the Menards Infiniti Pro Series will no longer hold tests at Infineon Raceway or Watkins Glen International.
Simmons returns to Kenn Hardley Racing Simmons returns to Kenn Hardley RacingAmerican Jeff Simmons will return to drive the No. 24 Kenn Hardley Racing entry in the Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2005, the team announced Jan. 31. Simmons, 28, competed in the final four races of the 2004 season with the team, capturing a pole position and a second-place finish. He also competed for A.J. Foyt Racing in the Futaba Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, finishing in second. "I'm ready for the season to start," said Simmons, a native of East Granby, Conn. "I want to win the series this year, and I feel I've got an excellent chance with Kenn Hardley Racing. This is a solid team, and I'm glad to be a part of it."

Simmons made history in 2004 when he and Marty Roth became the first drivers to compete in both the Futaba Freedom 100 and the Indianapolis 500 in the same year. Simmons qualified 29th for the Indianapolis 500 with Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing and went on to finish 16th, the second-highest rookie in the field. Later in the 2004 season, Simmons got an opportunity with Patrick Racing to drive in the IRL IndyCar® Series race at Kansas Speedway where he finished 19th.

Simmons was runner-up in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series as a rookie in 2003. Driving for Keith Duesenberg Racing, he won at Gateway and Kentucky while recording three second-place finishes. Simmons is the only two-time winner of the Barber Dodge Pro Series championship, earning titles in 1998 and 1999. Kenn Hardley Racing enters its third season in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2005. Team owner Kenn Hardley owns Integrated Services Incorporated, a transportation, warehousing and logistics company, headquartered in Kokomo, Ind.

BMW celebrates 30-Years of racing in USA BMW celebrates 30-Years of racing in USAThis year BMW of North America, LLC will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its North American motorsports programs and the year-long celebration will begin at the 43rd Rolex 24 at Daytona.   At Daytona, in 1975, two BMW CSLs with "BAVARIAN MOTOR WORKS" emblazoned on the top of the windshields started BMW of North America racing programs toward three decades of victories in both GT and Prototype categories. Although BMW's first race in the U.S. would end some nine-and-one-half hours later, both CSLs would retire while leading, sending notice that BMW would be a force to be reckoned with.

One month later, at the 12 Hours of Sebring, Hans Stuck, Brian Redman, Sam Posey and Allan Moffat would steer a CSL to its first major road racing victory in North America. In 1976, a CSL, now with "BMW OF NORTH AMERICA" on the top of the windshield, driven by Peter Gregg, Brian Redman and John Fitzpatrick would deliver a win at the 24 Hours of Daytona.

The CSL program would give way to the 320 Turbos of the late 1970s. David Hobbs drove his McLaren-prepared "Flying Brick" to eight Camel GT victories between 1977 and 1979.  In 1985 BMW of North America stepped boldly into the IMSA Prototype category with two BMW GTPs powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder version of the engine that propelled Nelson Piquet's BMW-powered Brabham BT-52 to the Formula One world championship in 1983. A young John Andretti and Davy Jones gave the two-year program its only win at Watkins Glen. David Hobbs and John Watson also drove for the program.

Since 1995, BMW of North America has focused its motorsport efforts with one team, Prototype Technology Group, and one model, the BMW M3. The BMW Team PTG M3s, in both endurance and sprint racing, have delivered 46 wins and, more importantly, 14 championships to BMW of North America. Most recently, in 2004, BMW Team PTG swept the Rolex Sports Car Series GT class Manufacturer, Driver and Team titles, winning 10 of 12 races.

At the Rolex 24 at Daytona, BMW Team PTG won the GTS-3 class in 1997 and the GT3 class in 1998, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring in both those years as well.  Four major racing programs, and contingency support for the many private teams that race BMWs, have provided BMW with wins at most every road racing circuit in North America. As the fourth decade of competition for BMW of North America begins, BMW is stronger than ever - proven in competition.

Champ Car signs wireless deal for fans Champ Car signs wireless deal for fans[Editor's Note: See related rumor from last week]  Fans of the Champ Car World Series have a myriad of options for keeping up on the latest happenings with the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, both on and off the track.

Television partners CBS, NBC and SPEED Channel, the official series website www.champcarworldseries.com and its new Race Director feature and even the Kangaroo TV hand-held video screens at the track give fans up-to-date information on the series. Now fans will have another option that they can carry in their pockets thanks to an innovative new feature from Digital Orchid.

Digital Orchid has created Champ Car Everywhere, which will provide the latest in real-time Champ Car information to fans via their wireless applications such as cell phones and other hand-held technologies. The service will provide video and audio from the race track as well as updated leaderboards, standings, schedules and driver information directly to the fan, and will also include other Champ Car-themed products such as ring tones and wallpapers for the wireless application. Champ Car Everywhere will officially launch and be made publicly available as of February 2005 over all major carrier and handsets.  

“Champ Car fans everywhere have always been quick to adapt to new technologies, and we feel that this new partnership will provide a very attractive feature to the fans,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “The great feature of this product is that not only does it provide additional information to the fans that attend our races, but it also provides up-to-the-minute coverage to fans around the world in a convenient fashion.”

Champ Car Everywhere will be available to fans through the partnership with Digital Orchid, who has developed similar technologies for NASCAR and the National Hockey League. Digital Orchid will offer Champ Car content to over 1.2 billion customers through the TODOMO multi-language platform, allowing fans around the world to follow the Champ Car World Series.

“Digital Orchid has proven itself a leader in delivering real time wireless applications in the United States,” stated Daniel Daou , CEO  for Digital Orchid.  “This, coupled with Champ Car’s global presence, allows us to now give racing enthusiasts everywhere access to a full suite of wireless racing products, previously unavailable to consumer handsets. This application is setting the standard and currently unmatched in the industry.”

About Digital Orchid:
Digital Orchid is a leading innovator in the development, management, and distribution of branded, real time, and wireless applications to the global community.  The company partners with and has exclusive content agreements with a variety of major brands in the sports, entertainment, broadcast media, and gaming marketplace.  Digital Orchid has aligned itself with all major carriers and through its patent pending platforms is able to distribute real time dynamic and interactive applications to all new handsets, on the market today. Digital Orchid is privately held and based out of San Diego, California.  For further information, please call (858) 847-9900 or visit the web site at http://www.digitalorchid.com.

17-year old to start Rolex 24 17-year old to start Rolex 2417 year old James Jakes, best known for his skill behind the wheel of a Formula Renault, will make his first foray in Endurance Sports car racing at this year's ROLEX 24 at Daytona. James will be driving the No. 41 Team Sahlen Porsche. His co-drivers will be Joe, Wayne, and Will Nonnamaker.

The weekend of February 6th Jakes will have an opportunity to compete in one of the most esteemed races in the world, the ROLEX 24 at Daytona. Jakes will compete for the highly coveted trophy with international and U.S. driving stars. The prestige of the event is evident by the roster of drivers. Names include Fittipaldi, Haywood, Barber, Unser, Kenseth, and Busch among others.

Even at such a young age, Jakes, has raced everywhere from Holland to the US. As a native of Leeds, England he has already made a name for himself on the international circuit.

"We are excited to have James with us in the 24 Hours. In last year's race we finished 15th overall and 4th in class. Our goal is to improve upon that this year and move up to the podium. With James' speed and smooth style behind the wheel I am confident we will get there," states Will Nonnamaker.

The Formula Renault UK Championship, which Jakes participates in, is the breeding ground for future Formula One stars. The level of intensity within the series is high and even at the age of 17 Jakes is one of the most fervent competitors.

Phoenix ProMotions prepares the Team Sahlen cars. In addition to their 4th place finish at last year's ROLEX 24, the team's Grand-Am Cup effort swept the Drivers, Team, and Manufacturers championships in 2003 and 2004.

Phoenix ProMotions is an eight car Porsche effort that competes in the Grand-Am Cup and ROLEX Grand American series. The family owned team is based out of Massillon, Ohio.

Industry News
Dubai invests $1 billion in DaimlerChrysler Dubai invests $1 billion in DaimlerChryslerDubai bought a $1-billion stake in DaimlerChrysler AG, becoming its third-largest shareholder as the carmaker seeks to reverse three years of declining revenue.  Persian Gulf oil producers, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, reaped a windfall last year from record oil prices, boosting their cash to invest. Mohammed Al Gergawi, chief executive of the government-owned Dubai Holding, announced the transaction in a statement Sunday.

DaimlerChrysler CEO Juergen Schrempp is counting on growth at the company's Chrysler Group to compensate for declining earnings at Mercedes, which generated more than half of DaimlerChrysler's operating profit in 2003. Revenue at the company fell for the three years ending in 2003.

"This is a real surprise but it should be good news for DaimlerChrysler," said Juergen Pieper, an analyst at Bankhaus Metzler in Frankfurt, who has a "buy" rating on the stock. "It shows there's big interest among institutional investors who find the company attractively valued."

Shares of DaimlerChrysler trade at 13.33 times expected profit, compared with 21.7 times at Volkswagen AG. The company was created when Daimler-Benz AG agreed to buy Chrysler Corp. in May of 1998 for $43 billion in stock and assumed debts.

"This is a perfect time to buy shares in DaimlerChrysler, as the company begins to bear the fruits of its merger," Al Gergawi of the government-owned Dubai Holding said in the statement. The automaker "is now ready to be a leader" in the industry. More from Bloomberg

Support Series stars out of rides Support Series stars out of ridesFrom the Indy Star:
Question: What has happened to Thiago Medeiros? Does the champ from MIPS not have a ride? Is there anything in the works for him? (Kurt from Indianapolis)

Answer: As of Jan. 26, the answer is no, Thiago does not have a ride and, to be honest, there aren't many leads for a driver that doesn't have a sponsorship package to offer. And even if he wanted it, his Pro Series seat at Sam Schmidt Motorsports has been filled.

The same can be said of Champ Car ladder series stars Ryan Dalziel, Michael Valiante and Jon Fogarty....to name a few. A sad state of affair of you ask us.

LB sponsor takes bigger role LB sponsor takes bigger roleBubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurants, Inc., has joined the growing list of companies expanding their official sponsorship involvement with the 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 8-10.  In addition to being the Grand Prix’s Official Seafood Restaurant, Bubba Gump’s newest California location – The Pike at Rainbow Harbor – will host the new Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Turn One Club on race day Sunday, April 10.  And, Turn One Club ticket holders will quickly discover it’s one of the top venues for racing ambience anywhere on the fabled 1.97-mile, 11-turn street circuit.

Located at the end of the fast front straightaway and across from The Aquarium of the Pacific’s landmark “Dancing Dolphins” fountain, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company Turn One Club patrons should witness virtually non-stop action as the Champ Cars gear down from 180-mph and jockey with each other to make it through one of the tightest turns on the circuit.
Turn One Club patrons will have the option of enjoying the race from the restaurant or taking a short walk to reserved seats in Grandstand 36 to get a different perspective of the cars and drivers.

They’ll also be treated to an impressive food and beverage selection, a complimentary souvenir program, and access to a full-service cash bar and the always enthusiastic and friendly Bubba Gump hospitality – all part of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Turn One package.

“Last year, Bubba Gump units had record-setting sales,” said Scott Barnett, company President and CEO. “A major part of that success was our ability to work in concert with events in the communities surrounding our properties. “And, there is no more prestigious event here in Southern California than the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  We look forward to sharing in what will be, for the 31st time, a tremendously exciting weekend in Long Beach.”

Durand to Cheever team Durand to Cheever teamHenri Durand, the former Jordan technical director, is now in the United States as the technical director of Red Bull Cheever Racing in the Indy Racing League. Having dropped from the racing scene for much of 2004 Durand was put into contact with Cheever through the Mecachrome organization which is working in partnership with Cheever and has since taken up residence in Indianapolis. The 44-year-old will oversee the activities of Alex Barron and Patrick Carpentier and the team will use Toyota engines for the first time.
Safety-Kleen signs multi-year deal with Champ Car Safety-Kleen signs multi-year deal with Champ CarGetting a Champ Car to run at over 200 mph for a full season of racing takes more than blood, sweat and tears – it takes oil, fuel and other fluids that aren’t as easy to wipe away as sweat off a mechanic’s brow.  Safety-Kleen is an integral part of handling those fluids in the safest manner possible, and the Texas-based company today announced a multi-year extension to continue as the Official Recycling and Environmental Service Company of the Champ Car World Series.

“We are proud to extend our relationship with the Champ Car World Series,” said Drew Patey, Motorsports Manager for Safety-Kleen. “Champ Car gives us the opportunity to broaden our reach and increase exposure around the world, which makes it attractive to Safety-Kleen and its employees.”

Safety-Kleen is the leading parts cleaner, industrial waste management and oil recycling and re-refining company in North America, and provides waste management services at all Champ Car events. Safety-Kleen collects, transports and recycles all wastes produced by Champ Car along with providing parts-cleaning stations for the teams in the paddock.

Industry News
Ford, Honda, Toyota sweep awards Ford, Honda, Toyota sweep awardsAutobytel Inc, the most visited automotive property on the Internet today announced the winners of its third annual Consumer Choice Awards at the 2005 National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention in New Orleans.  The awards were presented to the automakers who built the cars and trucks most requested by Autobytel's millions of online auto shoppers during the year. Based on Purchase Request data amassed by Autobytel throughout 2004, the Awards offer a unique snapshot of the real-world buying decisions being made on the Internet -- a medium that influenced half of new vehicle make/model buying decisions last year.  Recipients of the Consumer Choice Awards were announced at a press conference attended by representatives from manufacturers and industry press.  Honda Most Popular Vehicle Overall; Ford #1 Truck, SUV and Sports Car     The Honda Accord was the Most Requested Vehicle Overall for the second year in a row, outpacing the resurgent Ford F-150.  Despite falling short on top overall vehicle honors, Ford made an impressive showing in several vehicle categories.  The F-150 led the way as the Most Requested Truck for 2004, outpacing the Chevy Silverado, the Most Requested Truck for 2002 and 2003. The Ford Explorer, meanwhile, was named Most Requested SUV, edging out the Chevy Tahoe and the Ford Expedition.  The Mustang completed the Ford 'trifecta,' defending its title as the Most Requested Sports Car despite a strong run by the Mazda RX-8.
What Honda paid to buy out BAT What Honda paid to buy out BATThis Grandprix.com article says (excerpts) Honda Motor paid "in the region of $180m" for its 45% shareholding in the new British American Racing holding company. Details of the sale have emerged thanks to court records relating to the attempt by Craig Pollock and Gerald Forsythe to stop British American Tobacco from putting the former holding company of the team into administration in the middle of December........After that BAT set about trying to reorganize the ownership of the team and in the spring of 2003 made an offer to buy out the original partners. This offer was refused and so BAT then changed its strategy and at the end of 2003 converted $130m of the debt into new equity. As the other shareholders did not stump up cash in this operation their share of the business reduced from 50% to 11%. BAT began talking to Honda about a deal for the future and both sides agreed that they did not want the previous shareholders involved. According to Mr Justice Evans-Lombe BAT had by this time concluded that "because of the statutory restrictions on tobacco advertising BAT has no interest in remaining a shareholder of the company in the long term". This underlines the belief in F1 circles that the team will eventually be wholly owned by Honda.

BAT then made an offer to the minority shareholders: it is believed that Adrian Reynard, Rick Gorne and Malcolm Oastler (although they are not named in the legal papers, being represented instead by various companies). Pollock and Forsythe (who together owned a British Virgin Island company called Mount Eagle Inc which by then owned 7% of the shares) turned down a BAT offer of $2.65m. As a result BAT put BAR into administration. Pollock and Forsythe challenged the administration decision but Mr Justice Evans-Lombe concluded that their challenge had no merit because BAR owed BAT $26.7m with an additional $145m due at a later date. He noted that without BAT support the BAR holding company was "substantially insolvent" and that BAT was entitled to proceed with administration as the BAR shares had no value. Hidden away in all the paperwork however was the revelation that Honda would pay "in the region of $180m" for a 45% shareholding in the new company. Honda and BAT told the judge that they would settle will all "outside creditors" in full, although the only substantial debt other than that owed to BAT was $50,000 which was owed to Pollock.

Pizzonia to stay with Williams? Pizzonia to stay with Williams?Antonio Pizzonia was beaten by Nick Heidfeld for the 2nd Williams seat but he will remain with the team as a test driver. However, speculation remains over whether Pizzonia might try for a race seat with Jordan or contemplate a move to Champ Car in America.  “I’m a racing driver and naturally I would rather be racing in all the Grands Prix,” he said at the launch of the FW27. “But in the past I have also learnt how important test work is for the success of the team as a whole. I also know as official reserve driver that you have to be ready to step into a race seat at any time.   “Although it is not the decision I wanted, I’m pleased to be part of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team in 2005 and will give my best to help the team’s performance this year.”  Pizzonia continues testing for Williams this week at Valencia.
Ad firms are racing to Charlotte Ad firms are racing to CharlotteThe growing popularity of NASCAR is helping bring more attention to both Lowe's Motor Speedway and Cabarrus County.  So far this year, five national companies have filmed television ads at the speedway in time for the Daytona 500: Domino's Pizza, Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, CARQUEST Auto Parts, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Trimspa.  "Madison Avenue ad agency types recognize the value of NASCAR," said speedway spokesman Jerry Gappens. "The sport is now much more national in scope."  Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said in an earlier interview that NASCAR's status as the nation's fastest-growing sport attracts advertisers.  "The fans are intense about the sport," he said. "Naturally, they tend to support those who support them and their sport." More at Charlotte Observer
Durango names its drivers Durango names its driversThe Durango team has finally revealed Ferdinando Monfardini and Clivio Piccione as its line-up for the first ever GP2 championship.  "Monfardini is well known to the team, having worked with us for a long time, while Piccione is a new entry, both to Durango and this level of racing," team boss Ivone Pinton commented, "Monfardini should be able to use the series to show off his knowledge and driving skills, while Piccione has had a successful career and already feels at home in his new team. I am sure they will both do well this year."
It was a hard decision for Williams It was a hard decision for WilliamsThe BMW WilliamsF1 Team today confirmed that Nick Heidfeld has been appointed as a team race driver to partner Mark Webber for the 2005 season.   The appointment was confirmed at the launch of the team’s new car in Valencia. Antonio Pizzonia has also been retained by the team in the position of official test and reserve driver.  The announcement follows an extensive evaluation process that commenced in November 2004, and saw Heidfeld and Pizzonia test for 12 full days each.  The announcement, together with today’s launch of the Williams BMW FW27, focuses the team’s preparations for the season which commences on March 6, 2005 in Melbourne.

On the confirmation of his appointment, Nick Heidfeld said, “I really wanted this job. Driving for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team is the greatest opportunity of my career. I will do everything I can to show that I deserve this place and I’m counting the days to the first Grand Prix. ‘Racing’ against Antonio was a lot of fun. He’s a great teammate. I respect him and I would also have taken on the job of test driver.”
BMW WilliamsF1 Team Principal Frank Williams commented, “It wasn’t an easy decision for us to make, and there was little to choose between the two of them, and we were in the fortunate position to be able to choose between two drivers who would be a credit to any Formula One team. Ultimately, however, it is Nick who has got our vote, but I am delighted that we have strength in depth with Antonio taking up the position of official test and reserve driver.”

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen said, “All three drivers were very strong in the most recent tests – not only behind the wheel but also when working together with the engineers. The new team has grown together quickly and harmoniously. I’m very pleased for Nick. He earned the seat with his strong performance. Antonio knows that, as a test driver, he is also taking on a key role in the team.”

Antonio Pizzonia said, “I’m a racing driver and naturally I would rather be racing in all the Grands Prix. But in the past I have also learnt how important test work is for the success of the team as a whole. I also know as official reserve driver that you have to be ready to step into a race seat at any time. Although it is not the decision I wanted, I’m pleased to be part of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team in 2005 and will give my best to help the team’s performance this year.” Williams BMW

Heidfeld gets nod over Pizzonia for Williams seat Heidfeld gets nod over Pizzonia for Williams seatNick Heidfeld has pipped Antonio Pizzonia at the post to become Mark Webber's 2005 F1 teammate.  The Williams team said at the launch of their new car, held at the coastal airport near Valencia (Spain), that Brazil's Pizzonia would be retained as 'third' driver.  ''This is the greatest opportunity of my career,'' said German-born Heidfeld, who raced for Jordan last year and debuted in F1 in 2000, for Prost.  Sir Frank Williams explained that there'd been 'little to choose' between the pair, who fought for the coveted drive over a series of head-to-head tests.  The team said the BMW-powered 'FW27' model would be debuted at the nearby test circuit in the afternoon. GMM
Biggest issues facing Open Wheel Racing Biggest issues facing Open Wheel RacingUPDATE #2 Another reader adds, If I might amplify on both your and Budde King’s comments regarding the perceived need to reunite Champ Car and the IRL . . . . As practical as that concept may be, it is totally and utterly doomed to failure for the following key and undeniable reasons (in order of magnitude): First, there is the unquenchable ego of Anton George and the Hulman-George Family relative to their deluded but heartfelt belief they are somehow anointed by their Gods On High to be the self professed guardians of open wheel racing in America and second, the absolute disgust (hatred?) the true fans of open wheel racing harbor for Tony George: “The Man Who Ruined The Sport!”

The IRL is beginning the implosion we all knew would be inevitable. It was only a matter time as the IRL is built on a flawed business plan that erupted from the bravado and massive ego of one Anton George. Its failure is a certainty. No ticket buying customers willing to attend boring “competition managed” races, viewed by NO ONE on FREE television equals IRL teams shutting down and major corporate supporters fleeing. Would anyone care to wager how many cars will be on the grid for the Irrelevant 500 THIS year or how much lower attendance will plummet? Will Tony’s “vision” make it to the final race of the 2005 season (how many teams will pull out completely or be forced to reduce car count right after the 500 due to sponsorship problems that will only build on declining attendance and lower TV ratings for this years “race”?)?

The fan animosity for Tony George himself and all he surveys has been well documented by the motorsports press and by the unequivocal support these same fans have shown for Champ Car’s product. The ONLY way the IRL can survive is if it is taken over and managed by Champ Car and Tony George banished to Terre Haute. Maybe he can bring the same magic to the family baking powder business that he brought to the IRL. Once a year he could be rolled out to present the Borg-Warner Trophy (now there’s a corporation that must be THRILLED with the direction the 500 has taken), or something, but outside of an annual 500 appearance Tony George becomes nothing more than a motorsports footnote. All is not rosy in Champ Car I’ll grant you but if you had to place a bet with your own money on which series will survive who would you bet on? Tony George and his cadre of Yes Men or Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe? J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois

01/30/05 Another reader adds, Great letter by Mr. King of AZ and a good answer by you.  However you did leave out another by-product of the OW split, thanks to T. George.  It seems that Grand Am, a dumbed-down, common template version (sound familiar ?) of international sports car racing heavily supported and subsidized by NASCAR has been able to attract the drivers, sponsors, race car builders, auto manufacturers, and television media that have been disaffected, disenfranchised, and dazed & confused from the open wheel split.  Cap that with NASCAR’s horsepower for making any manufacturer wanting to compete in NASCAR Nextel Cup having to support Grand Am as a prerequisite, well I think that’s where the future of American road racing will be.  What a shame – taxicabs on the ovals and closed fender crapwagons on the roads. Glenn Tanner, Palos Verdes Estates  Dear Glenn, Partially true.  The same way Americans have rejected open wheel "crapwagons" as you call them, we see them rejecting the closed fender versions of Grand-Am as well.  Perhaps in the long run we will be proven wrong, but to date interest in Grand-Am has been downright pitiful, not because the Grand-Am folks have not been trying hard and spending a lot of money, because road racing fans simply are not interested in the product they are offering.  Wrong product for the wrong crowd. Mark C. 01/30/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The (2) biggest question marks going into the 2005 open wheel racing season here in the U.S. are -

• Will the OWRS/Champ Car have (18) cars to field at Long Beach on April 10th? (sounds like a very sad repeat of 2004 again, doesn't it?)

• Will the IRL have enough entrants to even continue to exist throughout this entire year?

These pathetic circumstances make it quite obvious that these separate series need to recombine quickly into one viable entity............Regardless of the huge personal egos involved (on BOTH sides) and the recent, bitter legal confrontations! Somebody (or something) needs to return sanity here, or I'm afraid that BOTH series may suffer the same, ultimate dismal fate!

Champ Car sees their salvation in holding a growing number of their events overseas (with virtually no professional promotion or marketing), and the IRL seems to be trying to desperately "morph" into the CART of yore (which is totally contrary to the reasons given for their original founding!). I'm an American, and I want a series that is HERE with real cars (not just showing a bunch of boring overseas, street races on TV, or dueling, equally-matched "crapwagons" on oval race tracks; but competitive, natural terrain road racing events that I can enjoy & easily attend). Budde King, Phoenix, AZ

Dear Budde, You make some valid points but Champ Car has tried to hold talks with Tony George in the past and he rebuked them. The latest attempt was made by Roger Penske, one of the most powerful men in motorsports. He, Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi met secretly in a hangar in Detroit. Tony George was supposed to show up. He sent his lawyer instead, essentially thumbing his nose at Mr. Penske and the rest.

What do you propose be done if Tony George has no interest in a merger? He wants Champ Car to give in and he run the show. It's his way or the highway. Tony has wanted control all along. It wasn't about the original stated intentions of the IRL. That all went out the door as the IRL morphed into the old CART.

Thanks to the split, NASCAR has monopolized motorsports in the USA. Indy Car Racing has been severely damaged. It may never recover. Champ Car is doing what is best - keep about 50% of their races in the USA and build the remainder of the schedule overseas. In doing so they will try to attract foreign investment into the series from companies that want to sell product in the USA, and vice-versa, from USA companies that want to sell product overseas using Champ Car as a marketing vehicle.

You point out that Champ Car sees their salvation in holding a growing number of their events overseas with virtually no professional promotion or marketing. That is a valid point. In order for Champ Car to generate enough revenue to do professional promotion or marketing it must first jettison all its money losing events (Mid-Ohio, Laguna Seca, Road America, etc.), replace them with profit producing events and start to turn a profit. The profits are what can be plowed back into the series for marketing and promotion. Unfortunately it is a chicken or egg dilemma and it is how OWRS manages that dilemma that will ultimately determine their success or failure. Mark C.

Bourdais to drive Care Ferrari at Sebring Bourdais to drive Care Ferrari at SebringThe sight and sound of an ALMS race-winning Ferrari 550 Maranello will soon be once again seen and heard in North America, driven by three reigning Championship title holders.

A collaboration between Care Racing Development, owners of one of the most successful GT cars in recent years, and Larbre Competition - GTS Champions in the 2004 Le Mans Endurance Series with the same car - will see a 6-litre, V12 engined Ferrari enter the 12 Hours of Sebring on the 19th March, driven by an all-star line up of Champions.

Frédéric Dor of Care Racing explained why the Florida classic is so important. "Our cars have been enormously successful over the last three years, thanks to the professionalism and commitment of our racing partners in the different series.

"We have won Championships (FIA and LMES), the 24 Hours of Le Mans (GTS) and several races in the ALMS including Petit Le Mans, but never Sebring. We believe that Jack Leconte and Larbre are capable of achieving that victory although we know that we face some excellent competition and a tough 12 hours of racing."

Jack Leconte of Larbre Competition (pictured with Frédéric Dor) is keen to expand upon and profit from the experiences gained with the Ferrari 550 last year.

"This is a very refined race car, whether you are talking about the aerodynamics or the suspension, the engine-gearbox unit or the transmission. Everything is spot-on and perfectly reliable.

"At Larbre we also believe in bringing all the right ingredients together for ultimate success and a vital part of this is the driver line-up. To win a difficult race like Sebring you must have drivers who are experienced, fast and reliable and I think we have found three who are perfect for this.

"Christophe Bouchut (LMES GTS Champion) will be with us once again and he will be partnered by Fabrizio Gollin (FIA GT Champion) who brings with him so much experience of this car from his years with BMS Scuderia Italia. [Bouchut (left) and Gollin (right) are pictured at a winter test in Misano.]

I am also very pleased to say that Sébastien Bourdais (Champ Car World Series Champion) will join us, which is very exciting news for the series and fans alike. Sébastien's hometown is Le Mans so he has sportscar blood in his veins, and luckily for us he has also a great deal of experience at Sebring from his Champ Car testing. I think he will have no trouble adapting to the car in a very short time and we will have a really magnificent driving team."

While Larbre Competition's plans for the remainder of the 2005 season have yet to be confirmed, Care Racing has already placed 5 of their Ferrari 550s. Further details on these placements can be found on www.care-racing.com.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
EJ won't go to Melbourne
FIA snubbed in London
Jordan lose Smith
F1 testing in top gear
New McLaren thaws icy track
'Ant' cool on Midland chatter
FIA support Ferrari limit
Spaniard to test Toyota
Honda work on V10 flaw
Toyota didn't join GPWC
Verstappen looking to America
'We'll get along' - Webber
Senna's 'goal' is F1
Tire monopoly still on agenda
Button might stay at BAR
FIA call another meeting
Old car is maxed-out - Schu
Max coughed at GPWC threat
Don Francisco dies Don Francisco diesDon Francisco passed away early Saturday morning, January 29, 2005. Don was a pioneering hot rod engine builder, race promoter and technical writer for many early publications. Don graduated from High School during the Depression, and like many young men of that time, loved hot rodding and the chance to go to the Dry Lakes of Southern California and race cars. He met Bill Burke in the 40's, and built the engine for Burke's Belly Tank. Ted Fry and Wally Parks drove the Burke/Francisco car at Bonneville.

Parks, the 1946 SCTA President, and later editor of Hot Rod Magazine offered Don a job at HRM as a writer and Technical editor. Don wasn't sure that he could write, but was offered more money than he was making at the Alhambra Fire Dept, and truly loved cars more than the bureaucracy at the fire station.

Don's style was a no nonsense and sparse use of the language to get his message across. He was popular with the kids from the very first, and his readers poured over every statistic and explanation he gave. Once, a reader used the exact measurements of a car outlined in the magazine and wrote in to Don that the car appeared to be a foot short in the middle.

Don met his wife, Sunny, at HRM. She was the love of his life, and he did everything that he could to catch her eye, and dissuade her from going out with his rival, Ray Brock, for her affections. Sunny was a former model, and the secretary and receptionist at HRM. To see anyone at HRM, you had to convince her to let you in. Sunny chose Don, and introduced Ray to her equally beautiful sister, Joann.

Don was also a pilot and flew people to and from events. He worked for Bill Stroppe and Clay Smith in the Pan-American Road Race, and later was a partner in the Baja 500, Mexican 1000, Dam 500 and the Parker 500. He raced in the East African Safari. When inducted into the Dry Lakes Hall of Fame, he broke up the audience with his dry wit and humor, "if I'm good enough to be elected into the Hall of Fame, how come I wasn't the first?" Uncle Donald, in anyone's eyes, you will always be one of the firsts.

Badoer again fastest in Barcelona Badoer again fastest in BarcelonaThird and final day of testing for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro at the Catalunya Circuit on the outskirts of Barcelona. Once again today, Michael Schumacher and Luca Badoer were in action at the Spanish track. The world champion continued with set up work and development of the F2004 M, while the Scuderia’s official test driver, at the wheel of an F2004, ran through a technical program centered on Bridgestone tires. Schumacher completed a total of 69 laps, the quickest in a time of 1’15’’970. Badoer did 31, the fastest in 1'15"470. The Scuderia resumes testing this coming Wednesday 2nd February at Valencia (Spain), with Rubens Barrichello and Marc Gené handling driving duties. Ferrari
1. Luca Badoer - Ferrari F2004 - 1'15"446 - 31 laps
2. Michael Schumacher - Ferrari F2004 M - 1'15"973 - 68 laps
3. Jacques Villeneuve - Sauber Petronas C24 - 1'18"108 - 79 laps
Villeneuve in test crash Villeneuve in test crashTeam Sauber Petronas completed its three-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya today. Jacques Villeneuve covered 80 laps in chassis C24-01 with a best time of 1:18.117s.

Willy Rampf, Technical Director "Unfortunately our test here in Barcelona ended not the way we have wished for. At the final timed lap Jacques experienced oversteer while accelerating out of turn 9 and went off track. Fortunately Jacques was unharmed, but we now, of course, have to analyze the data to get a correct and thorough picture of the reason for this incident."

"The positive aspect of this test is that we achieved our set goal to complete an engine long-run. We simulated a two-race weekend situation and covered almost 1,400 kilometres with one Petronas engine without any problem. Overall, the last three test days demonstrated the reliability of the C24. Our target for the forthcoming tests - whereby we will run with two cars from now - will be to further work on the car's set-up and hence the improvement of the balance."

Jacques Villeneuve "Today we mainly concentrated on aerodynamic tests and assessed several different front wings, and were able to gather quite a lot of useful data and information. Of course, I'm disappointed that I went off track at our penultimate scheduled lap, but at least it was just before the finish of today, so we didn't lose much valuable time." Team Sauber Petronas will test again in Jerez from 8 to 10 February. Sauber Petronas

A1 Grand Prix
A1 GP car breaks track record in Dubai A1 GP car breaks track record in DubaiThe A1 Grand Prix car broke the official lap record for the Dubai Autodrome by five seconds when it was put through its paces during two days of intense testing last week.

Test driver Robbie Kerr was at the wheel and covered 700 kilometres on Wednesday and Thursday (26th and 27th January). “I was very impressed by the time I was able to set on what was a very dirty track. The car just got quicker and quicker, and the engine is very crisp and clean. We still have some fine tuning on the car, but there are very few things that need changing. From the way it handles, I am certain we should have some very close racing,” he said. More plus photos

Still no Aussie driver in Champ Car Still no Aussie driver in Champ CarBecause Ryan Briscoe (right) will be driving in the IRL for Target Chip Ganassi Racing that series will likely get far more media coverage throughout the year in Australia than Champ Car.  Although Champ Car has been racing in Australia for a long time, there has never been a fulltime Australian driver in Champ Car.  This of course diminishes Champ Car's popularity in Australia, and Aussies really only get excited about the series around the time the Champ Car 'party' rolls into town each year. 
Williams to reveal Heidfeld or Pizzonia Williams to reveal Heidfeld or PizzoniaWilliamsF1 is scheduled to name their second driver for the upcoming season on Monday in Valencia. Australian Mark Webber is already on board but the second driver has yet to be named and it's a tight call between Brazil's Antonio Pizzonia and Nick Heidfeld of Germany.

Webber was not impressed by Pizzonia when they raced together at Jaguar, where Webber regularly dusted Pizzonia. In addition, Heidfeld has been testing a bit quicker and has the support of engine supplier BMW, who would like a German driver as a replacement for Ralf Schumacher. On his side, Pizzonia has Brazilian petrol company Petrobras, who have a lucrative sponsorship deal with Williams.

Aston Martin Debuts at ALMS "Wheels Down Winter Test" Aston Martin Debuts at ALMS "Wheels Down Winter Test"The American Le Mans Series opens its first "Wheels Down Winter Test" Monday (Jan. 31) amidst much fanfare over the debut of the Aston Martin DBR9. Many are calling the Aston Martin one of the best engineered and potentially most competitive race cars to emerge in years.

"It's really quite a significant moment for Aston Martin to make its return to international racing at a North America circuit," said Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer Ulrich Bez. "There has always been something very special for the company about racing in North America. We have always had a loyal customer following, and I'm sure that enthusiasts around the world are going to watch our first race at Sebring in the American Le Mans Series with a lot of interest and excitement."

Aston Martin's challenge will be mounted by Aston Martin Racing's joint venture of Prodrive and manufacturer Aston Martin Lagonda. Prodrive was the same entity that brought the Ferrari 550 Maranello to the ALMS GTS class in 2002 and 2003, winning the last four races of the 2003 season and falling a mere one point short of Corvette Racing for the manufacturers' title. Aston Martin will test one car at Sebring this week but is expected to enter two cars for the inaugural race at Sebring and several other ALMS races in 2005 before embarking on a full schedule in 2006.

Competing in the GT1 class, the Aston Martin could prove a formidable foe to the newly announced Corvette Racing's C6-R two-car team and champions Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell. Aston Martin is expected to announce all six of its drivers this week at the ALMS "Wheels Down Winter Test." [Editor's Note:  The most exciting competition in 2005 in the ALMS is likely to be in the GTS class where the new Corvette C6R will go head-to-head with the Aston Martin]

What’s all the fuss? They drive in circles What’s all the fuss? They drive in circlesThis Florida Today article says, They say the Daytona 500 is the Super Bowl of racing.  I'll take the Super Bowl instead.

They say the Daytona 500 is the World Series of racing.  I'll take the World Series instead.

In fact, if they said the Daytona 500 is the World Cup of auto racing, I'd even take the World Cup instead. As boring as I find soccer, I find NASCAR much more so.

The roar of the engines? Hah. It's the snore of the engines, if you ask me, watching a bunch of guys making left-handed turns, circling the same track hour after hour, ad nauseam.

(Note to Bithlo race car fans -- a redundancy, I know -- ad nauseam is Latin for "as boring as watching paint dry.")

Before we go any further, allow me to interject a disclaimer: Though I hate NASCAR, I still give it my all when I must cover it. Those who love the sport deserve nothing less. I do, however, remember a letter I received years ago, the author accusing me of being, and I quote, "a stick-and-ball weenie." He thought he was insulting me. I took it as a compliment.

And, you know, now that I'm thinking more about it, maybe hate isn't the word I should use here. I really don't hate NASCAR.  I loathe it, detest it, despise it.  What don't I like about racing? First of all, I can't get into a sport where every time you watch, there is a very real possibility someone can die. I was there at Daytona the day Dale Earnhardt died. Not fun.

There are other things I hate, too. I hate the gratuitous shilling for sponsors. (Notice how  a fellow writer DeCotis couldn't resist calling it "the unique sound of a NASCAR Nextel Cup stock car" right up there in his second sentence? I fear he's been lobotomized, too.) I hate that NASCAR's popularity and influence has infiltrated into the NFL and NBA and MLB, and that those leagues keep taking steps toward selling their souls to advertisers. It's unseemly.

But it's worse when it comes to NASCAR, because the sport was built on the back of tobacco. How can you have any measure of self-respect when you're promoting a carcinogenic product?

I hate that NASCAR was borne out of dishonesty -- moonshine runners, remember? -- and that it constantly has to police itself and comb cars for cheating because, if not, owners and drivers and mechanics wouldn't have the moral fortitude to do it themselves.

Not that NASCAR the governing body is above reproach, either. All those quaint old stories about how races were fixed aren't all that quaint in my book. Being a first cousin to professional wrestling is not something to be proud of.

And what's with changing the rules like underwear? Can you imagine the NFL saying, "Peyton Manning is throwing for too many yards, so we need to let a little air out of the ball and make it harder to throw."

Really, what's there to like about the sport? When you come right down to it, it's just a bunch of guys driving really fast, making left-hand turns and pitting. And speaking of pitting, if I wanted to watch guys change tires, I'd hang out at the local Tire Kingdom. Come on, you can't tell me that watching some schmo change tires is entertaining. And if you find it exciting to see how fast a guy can fill up a tank with gas, then maybe you've been sniffing the fumes a little too long.  [Editor's Note:  This is a Feb. 2004 article.  Will be interesting to see whether he gets credentials for Daytona this year.]

Info on Courage LMP1 Info on Courage LMP1This French Infosource report, has information of the Courage LMP1 for 2005.
Maserati MC12 test photos Maserati MC12 test photosUPDATE Fourth and last test day for Maserati’s Reparto Corse at the Paul Ricard circuit.  Andrea Bertolini completed another race simulation after that conducted yesterday. The Ferrari Maserati Group test driver ran 114 laps in the MC12 (GT1).  The new car proved to be reliable and performed well right from the off. The team is very satisfied with the week’s program of work. 01/27/05 Third day of testing this week for Maserati’s Reparto Corse. Andrea Bertolini continued testing to develop the MC12 modified to conform to the FIA’s category GT1 regulations.  The Italian driver completed a race simulation, running 111 laps.  The exclusive, behind-closed-doors test session will conclude tomorrow.   Second day of testing this week for the Reparto Corse Maserati at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France.  Andrea Bertolini took to the wheel in today’s test session to develop the MC12. The car has been modified to conform to the FIA’s category GT1 regulations.  The Italian driver alternated brief sets of fast laps with some pit stops. These were necessary for setting up the new car correctly. Around thirty laps were run in total.  The exclusive series of test sessions, held behind closed doors, will continue tomorrow.


NASCAR Day back in May 2005 NASCAR Day back in May 2005NASCAR has announced that the second annual NASCAR Day will be held Friday, May 20. NASCAR Day, NASCAR’s largest annual charity, will once again unite fans across the country for a common goal. In exchange for a $5 donation to the 2005 NASCAR Day Designated Charities, fans, businesses and schools will be able to wear their favorite NASCAR gear to work that Friday. In addition, participants will receive a commemorative NASCAR Day 2005 lapel pin.

This year, NASCAR Day will benefit three proud charities – Speedway Children’s Charities, Victory Junction Gang Camp and Speediatrics. Each of these charities shares a common thread – to better the lives of children in need. Speedway Children’s Charities is dedicated to providing direct assistance to children with medical, educational and social challenges. Victory Junction Gang Camp is a free racing-themed camp for children with chronic or life threatening illnesses. Speediatrics is a NASCAR-themed pediatric unit located at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach and Homestead Hospital in Miami.
“We are thrilled to be back as one of the beneficiaries of NASCAR Day 2005,” said Kyle Petty, co-founder of Victory Junction Gang Camp. “We encourage the entire NASCAR community to show their enthusiasm for the sport while helping children in need.”

Individuals and organizations can participate in NASCAR Day by visiting www.nascar.com. Individuals can make their $5 donation through the website and will be mailed the commemorative lapel pin. Businesses, schools and other organizations can take part as a group by requesting a NASCAR Day Participation Kit. The kit includes posters, pins, envelopes and a Crew Chief Manual; everything needed to jump start NASCAR Day within the organization.

“NASCAR Day is a unique platform for the NASCAR community to display its trademark compassion for others to support special causes like the Victory Junction Gang Camp, Speediatrics and Speedway Children’s Charities” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “We are committed to bringing together our resources from across the sport to help make a difference through programs like NASCAR Day.” In its inaugural year, fans embraced NASCAR Day as a way to celebrate the NASCAR spirit and support related causes, namely Victory Junction Gang Camp. With 50,000 individuals and over 700 companies participating in 2004, NASCAR Day found a permanent place in the hearts of the NASCAR community. NASCAR PR

SAFER Barriers going up at Bristol SAFER Barriers going up at BristolConstruction on the SAFER Barrier System is scheduled to begin on the walls of Bristol Motor Speedway on Tuesday. Supplies have already been delivered to the infield, according to BMS spokesman Wayne Estes. Bristol Motor Speedway is the last circular track on the NASCAR circuit to install the barrier system. The installation was delayed at Bristol while engineers determined how to install the walls over the track’s gates. The road courses at Watkins Glen and Infineon Raceway will not install the barriers. NASCAR mandated that all tracks other than road courses have the barriers installed by this January. Dover International Speedway installed SAFER barriers its inside walls last year and will complete construction this summer. Bristol Herald Courier
McLaren completes week of testing McLaren completes week of testingToday (Saturday) was the last day of the week long test of 2005 challenger MP4- 20 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. Following four days of exclusive testing for the team at the Spanish circuit Juan Pablo was joined on track today by Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher and Luca Badoer and Felipe Massa in the Sauber.

Juan Pablo completed a total of 72 laps throughout the day, with several long runs carried out, his fastest time of the day being 1m16.398s. Luca Badoer posted the fastest time at the end of the day in the Ferrari F2004.

“I have really enjoyed my second day of testing in the MP4-20,” commented Juan Pablo. “It was the same situation with the freezing track this morning, but once it warmed up we have been able to complete some long runs with a total of 72 laps so far today. Everything is going well and it has been a good first test, however until we get the car to Australia and start racing, there is no point in making any predictions. Next week we are testing in Valencia, with Kimi, Alex and Pedro, and the following week I will be back at the wheel of the MP4-20 in Jerez.”

“This week has seen a productive first test of MP4-20, and we have received very positive feedback from both Kimi and Juan Pablo on the car,” said CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes, Martin Whitmarsh.
“The extreme cold weather in Barcelona over the last few days did result in a temporary delay to the daily start time of our scheduled program while we waited for the track temperature to increase. We have however completed a series of long runs over the week and conducted all the necessary checks associated with the running of a new car.”

Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport was also pleased with the progress made. "Kimi Raikkonen and Juan-Pablo Montoya have covered more than 1100 kilometres on five test days since Monday. Kimi was at the wheel for the first three days whilst Juan Pablo drove on Thursday and Friday. On both of these days Juan Pablo covered more than one Grand Prix distance. All tests were run with one engine and this ran like clockwork. The team had to deal with only a few technical problems, in general, however, there were unforeseen 'arctic' temperatures in Barcelona and on Monday, at the end of the test day, there was even light snow fall. Despite the track conditions being not at all ideal rather impressive times were achieved- what they are worth we will, however, only see at Melbourne in five weeks." Team McLaren Mercedes will be back in action next week for a three day test in Valencia. McLaren Mercedes

Industry News
Nazareth Speedway to be plowed under Nazareth Speedway to be plowed underNazareth Speedway's owner is waving the green flag for developers who are interested in buying the 90-acre property at Routes 191 and 248.  International Speedway Corp. announced Thursday that it is putting the property up for sale. Officials at the speedway declined to disclose an asking price.  The announcement comes less than six months after the speedway hosted its final spectator race. The Indy Racing League Firestone Indy 225 on Aug. 29 drew tens of thousands of fans and plenty of somber thoughts from local residents who had grown accustomed to the speedway's tradition of racing.  Speedway President Craig Rust said the decision to sell came after determining that running the facility as a racetrack was no longer viable. Express-Times
Ferrari continues testing at Barcelona Ferrari continues testing at BarcelonaThird day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, the second in a row at the Catalunya Circuit near Barcelona. Once again today, Michael Schumacher and Luca Badoer were in action at the Spanish track. The World Champion continued with set up work on the F2004 M, while the Scuderia’s official test driver, at the wheel of an F2004, again concentrated on development of Bridgestone tires. Schumacher completed a total of 86 laps, the quickest in a time of 1’15’’895. Badoer did 103, the fastest in 1’15’’678. Testing continues at this circuit tomorrow (Sunday), with the same drivers on track.
1. Luca Badoer - Ferrari F2004 - 1'15"668 - 103 laps
2. Michael Schumacher - Ferrari F2004M - 1'15"902 - 88 laps
3. Felipe Massa - Sauber Petronas C24 - 1'18"293 - 128 laps

Michael Schumacher is pleased with the progress of the interim Ferrari F2004M, after completing 86 laps at Barcelona yesterday. The World Champion’s work was interrupted by an oil leak, and his lap times were slower than those of tester Luca Badoer in the older F2004, but the German was still pleased with the car he will start the 2005 season in.

He told autosport.com: “It's good, but how good we will only tell in Melbourne when we have real comparison. Because at the moment we all have uncertainties as to what the other teams are doing, as in what tires they are running.”

Schumacher said that the 2005-spec cars slide more because of their reduced downforce and harder tires, but that there was little difference in power from the new long-life engine. “It's not that much different,” he said. “Except that it lasts longer. We're quite happy with reliability so far.”

Guy Smith joins Dyson for Sebring Guy Smith joins Dyson for SebringGuy Smith, victorious in the 2003     24 Hours of Le Mans, will bring his winning ways to Thetford / Norcold Dyson Racing for the American Le Mans Series’ Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.  Smith will be partnering Chris Dyson in the team’s #20 AER-powered Lola.

“Dyson Racing has always been at the top of racing in America,” said Guy Smith. “It is a prestigious team to drive for with a great history like Bentley, who I won Le Mans with.  So many great drivers have driven for them and I am honored to be in such company.”

“I have known Guy for a number of years and have always admired his ability,” said Chris Dyson. “He has been successful in both sports cars and open wheel racing.  There is no question that he has the pace.  But just as importantly, he has an innate understanding of the strategy and teamwork needed to win sports car races.  This is a great combination to have in a co-driver.  We’ve been trying to put something together for the past few years, and he’s joining us at the right time. Guy will be a strong addition to Dyson Racing’s Sebring effort.”

Guy Smith also has a fourth and second in the 24 Hours of Daytona and four top four finishes in the 12 Hours of Sebring. “Dyson Racing will be testing at Sebring after Daytona in preparation for the season’s first race there,” commented Smith.  “Now that the team’s pair of Thetford / Norcold Lolas will be running Michelin tires this year, that should bring the competitiveness to a whole new level and we will be able to take the fight to the Audis. Dyson Racing was second in the ALMS championship last year. I look forward to joining Chris and (the sister #16 car’s drivers) Butch Leitzinger, Andy Wallace, and James Weaver as we look to improve on that record.”

Guy is no stranger to America, having done well in Indy Lights in 1998 and ’99.  In addition to driving in the Le Mans Endurance Series in Europe last year, Guy  drove six races for Rocketsports Racing in Champ Car.  He was engaged to Alicia Richardson following last year’s Australian Champ Car race and resides in a 200-year-old home they have renovated in Yorkshire, England.

The 2005 American Le Mans series kicks off March 19 with the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring in Sebring, Florida and will be televised on Speed Channel.

Da Matta signs with Champ Car team Da Matta signs with Champ Car teamAutoRacing1.com has learned that Cristiano da Matta has signed a contract with PKV Racing to drive alongside Jimmy Vasser for 2005.  With the addition of da Matta, Jim McGee and Steve Krisiloff, PKV Racing will be a force to be reckoned with in 2005.  The deal is thought to be for multiple years.  The team has yet to decide whether they will run a third car for either Ryan Dalziel or Bjorn Wirdheim.  An official announcement on da Matta is expected next week.
BAR Honda Valencia test summary BAR Honda Valencia test summaryLucky Strike B·A·R Honda were in Valencia this week for a four-day test program which saw two 007 cars running together for the first time. Takuma drove for all four days of the test in the brand new chassis 007-02, supported by Jenson and Anthony alternating the driving responsibilities in chassis 007-01. Although the extreme weather conditions made comparison of data difficult, it was an intensive test for the team as preparations continue for the new season.

Anthony and Takuma shared the driving on the first day as Takuma had his first serious run in the 2005 car. He ran through general set-up work in the new chassis and although the windy conditions made it difficult to run consistent lap times, he supplied useful reliability data, completing 85 laps. Anthony also completed early set-up work before running through chassis handling tests to complete 77 laps for the day. His afternoon running was briefly interrupted with an engine failure.

On Wednesday, again in blustery and cold conditions, Anthony ran through long run tire evaluations alongside chassis development work, completing 101 laps for the day. Takuma's morning program was to evaluate suspension changes before moving onto a chassis and systems evaluation in the afternoon, completing 112 laps.

The weather turned even colder for the third day, although the strong winds calmed down. Jenson joined the test taking over from Anthony for the day. He did a couple of short runs to find a good balance before moving onto a chassis and tire development program, completing 69 laps. Takuma´s running was delayed as he had an engine failure early in the morning session. He went out to continue his chassis and gearbox development work, followed by long run tire evaluations, to complete 84 laps.

With an ambient temperature of -3°C, both drivers did not venture onto the circuit until after 10.00am on the final morning of the test. Once on track, Takuma completed 46 laps running through a tire evaluation alongside various set-up changes. He completed two long tire runs in the afternoon covering a total of 102 laps and setting the third fastest time - a 01:10.803. Anthony also ran through a tire evaluation completing longer runs. He had a further engine failure in the afternoon which caused an early end to his running and he completed a total of 93 laps today.

Jenson Button
"It was extremely cold on the Thursday morning of the test and the conditions made it difficult to accumulate any useful data. We concentrated on short runs and set-up work before lunch and following a scheduled engine change we focused on long runs in the afternoon to continue our tire evaluation."

Takuma Sato
"It has been good to drive the new car properly for the first time in Valencia this week. I drove for all four days of the test and feel very positive about what we have achieved. We did important tests for the tires and also some set-up work on the new chassis. There is still a lot of hard work for us to do before the season starts in Melbourne but we are making some good progress."

Anthony Davidson
"We've done some good testing this week and I recorded my fastest time at Valencia in the 2005 car. We have done a lot of long run tire testing which has shown positive results despite the weather conditions. We also worked hard on the balance of the car and made some big improvements over the four days. I have had a couple of engine issues but we hope to resolve these over the next few tests with more reliability testing."

Andrew Alsworth, Test Team Manager
"This week's test in Valencia has given the team the opportunity to run two 007 cars which is testament to the hard work that has been going on back at the factory. Although the initial part of the test was completed under difficult track conditions, we were still able to work on various reliability issues. We completed the majority of the test program covering a total of 2900 kms. We also ran through a comprehensive Michelin tire evaluation although the variant conditions have made it difficult to asses any clear results. Honda have also been able to continue the development of the 2005 engine in readiness for the new regulations."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
"We've made some progress this week on some ancillaries and the engine software, and will continue to work hard to meet the tough challenge of the new regulations in the forthcoming tests."
Industry News
Andretti helps set blood drive record Andretti helps set blood drive recordRace fans were treated to the joyride of their lives around the world-famous road course at Infineon Raceway on Friday, and they set a blood-drive record in the process.

Nearly 425 people braved rainy and windy conditions at the 4th annual Infineon Technologies High-Speed Blood Drive at Infineon Raceway to benefit the American Red Cross. Race fans who agreed to donate a pint of blood were treated to a hot lap at speed around the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course.

Moreover, 75 lucky people were given hot laps around the track by legendary driver Mario Andretti, the only driver in history to win races in five different decades, including the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500. This marked the third consecutive year Andretti has participated in the event.

“I always have a great time with this event, and at the same time, we’re able to help the American Red Cross. It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Andretti, who is also a spokesman for Infineon Technologies.  The event generated 140 pints of blood, which American Red Cross officials say will be a record for 2005.

“There is no doubt that when we look back on 2005 this will be the best output we have for a one-day event in Northern California,” said Sara O’Brien, spokesperson for the American Red Cross-Northern California Region. “This event gets bigger every year and we are certainly very appreciative to all those who came out today and to Infineon Raceway for hosting this.”

The Infineon Technologies High Speed Blood Drive has generated 373 pints of blood over the last three years, saving 1,119 lives.

“This is the third year I’ve come out and it’s great. I always want to give blood but this event really makes me get up and do it,” said Stephen McCulloch, from Rohnert Park. “It’s so positive for the community and you get a lap around this unbelievable track.”

Race fans lined up nearly an hour before the start of the blood drive under rainy conditions, anxious to meet their favorite driver. Andretti not only spent the day giving fans laps around the track in a 2005 Audi, supplied by Niello Audi, he also signed autographs, took pictures and mingled with the fans. Other hot laps were given by instructors from the ESPN Russell Racing School, which is based an Infineon Raceway.

“I drove more than 300 miles for this today and I wasn’t disappointed,” said Kelly Taylor, from Kingsbury, located south of Fresno. “I had the time of my life.”  The raceway partnered with Infineon Technologies, 107.7 FM The Bone in San Francisco and Niello Audi on the event.

Ferrari debuts radical wing Ferrari debuts radical wingSecond day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, working today at the Catalunya Circuit near Barcelona. Michael Schumacher and Luca Badoer were on track today. The world champion worked on the set-up of the F2004 M with radical front wing (see photo to right), while the Scuderia’s official test driver concentrated on development testing of Bridgestone tires. Schumacher completed a total of 57 laps, the quickest in a time of 1’16”003. Badoer did 74, the fastest in 1’15”894. Testing continues at this circuit Saturday, with the same drivers on track. Ferrari
Mosley hails beginning of new peace Mosley hails beginning of new peaceAutosport.com reports that Friday's meeting, which lasted over two hours and was held at the Hilton Hotel at London's Heathrow Airport, was called to discuss rule changes and safeguard the future of F1, but only Ferrari's team principal Jean Todt and technical director Ross Brawn joined Max Mosley and FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting at the table.

"It's the beginning of peace," said Mosley. "I think eventually the teams, or the more rational ones, will realize that all we are doing is a genuine effort to try and make F1 work in 2008 and that as their presence will be welcome, they should come and give us their input. I think that will start to happen.

"The FIA make the rules for 2008. That is very clear and the sooner we make them the better it is for everybody, because the less money it costs the teams to effect any change. But in any event we are bound to announce the 2008 regulations before the end of 2005, so all we need do and all we are doing is consult the teams. We don't need to get their agreement, the meeting today was to consult them. If they don't want to be consulted that's fine but we can do no more than offer."

"I think there is an element of sulking at the moment," he said. "There is going to be another meeting on April 15 in Paris, and again they will be invited. We will circulate the minutes of this meeting and put them on the website.

"That I think is a very genuine process of consultation and if the teams want to turn up to the odd meeting they can, if they don't want to they needn't. In the end we will have on the table a Concorde Agreement from 2008-2012, that will be a slightly modified version of the current one.

"If I were one of the teams, what I would be saying is: right, maybe I want to be in the Formula 1 World Championship, maybe I want to run in some other series like the GPWC. But I will go and try and influence the world championship rules, in my interests, or make sure that I'm looked after, because I don't have to enter anyway.

"I think we're being super generous. Bernie said to me that the people that commit to the championship should be the ones making the rules. But I said let's be completely open, any F1 team can play a part in this thing and when the rules are finalized they can decide if they want to enter or not and that seems to me to be completely fair."

Mosley dismisses GPWC threat Mosley dismisses GPWC threatAutosport.com reports that FIA president Max Mosley dismissed this week's renewed threat from the GPWC and claims that a manufacturer championship is unlikely to reach fruition.

Mosley (right) believes that the threat of a rival championship to Formula 1, as proposed by the GPWC, will disappear by 2008 because there isn't enough investment to sustain two rival series. This despite the perception of a growing division in the sport, with the FIA and Ferrari on one side and the other nine teams on the opposing side.

"The reality of all this is not going to really matter until about three years and six weeks from now, that's when the first race in 2008 is going to happen," Mosley said after today's F1 team meeting at the Hilton Hotel at London's Heathrow, attended only by Ferrari. "At the moment it is very easy for people to huff and puff and take position, because they don't actually have to do anything.

"When it comes to it people have to make their minds up if they want to be in the championship, but they don't really have to do anything for three years. They know that, so it is very easy to be polarized and take dramatic positions, but in the end, they'll all be there in Melbourne in 2008. It will all sort itself out."

"The money given to the teams would have to be financed from somewhere," he explained, "and the only way that could happen is if the big motor companies all put the money in a pool – hundreds and hundred of millions of dollars. You add up what they would be committed to paying, it would be cheaper to go and buy 75 per cent of Bernie's company [SLEC] from the banks.

"And as Bernie has his contracts in place and he also holds the rights to the Formula 1 World Championship, he starts off in a strong position and during the next three years all these people will come together. It's just absolutely inevitable.

"Sometime between now and 2008, that whole GPWC and Bernie commercial negotiation, which is none of our business, will get sorted out and it will be one group of people. And the clever ones will have had their input into the 2008 regulations, and the less clever ones will not, but there will be only one championship because there simply isn't the money for two."

Ferrari submits their test reduction plan Ferrari submits their test reduction planAutosport.com reports, Ferrari presented its own recommendations for cutting testing costs at Friday's Heathrow meeting.  The team is advocating a testing limit based on mileage rather than days – a move that FIA president Max Mosley is publicly supporting.

The remaining F1 teams have declared their willingness to support an allocation of 30 days testing per season, but Mosley believes that Ferrari's suggestion is more practical.

“The point that Ferrari made - that I must say I hadn't thought of - was that the current proposal of 30 days, with a maximum of two cars on the circuit, is hopelessly flawed because, firstly, it doesn't help the small teams because they don't do 30 days testing anyway.

“But for a big team it's an uneconomic way of going testing. Because to take full advantage of the day that you are allowed with the two cars, firstly you have got to have two complete crews, one to run them during the day and another to prepare them overnight so that you don't waste any time from your day. So that's very expensive. On top of that it might rain so you would have your entire crew sitting there doing nothing because there is a risk that your test would be aborted if there is a shower.

“If you are allowed two cars on the circuit at any one time, you got to have three cars there so that if any one car is out of action you have got another car. It becomes phenomenally expensive.

“Therefore the sensible way to limit testing is by mileage and not by number of days. If it rains it doesn't matter. You don't have to work on it all night because it doesn't matter how many days you're there so long as you don't exceed the miles. That's the Ferrari point on testing and I think it is absolutely right.

“(Ferrari's) feeling was that certainly there should be testing restrictions,” he said. “It's a pity that the other teams didn't turn up to hear the other side to that, but to me it seems overwhelming.

“What they think is that they currently do 30,000 miles in the winter and 30,000 during the season,” he said. “They think that could easily come down to 15 and 15 and of what they do at the moment, about 50 per cent is tire testing.”

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