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BMW falls foul of Google BMW falls foul of GoogleThe German website of BMW, the carmaker, has been removed from Google’s search results as part of the web company’s crack down on the manipulation of its search engine.

Google confirmed on Monday that BMW.de had been removed from all search engine results. A spokeswoman said the company could not comment on specific cases but said: “We cannot tolerate websites trying to manipulate search results as we aim to provide users with the relevant and objective search results”.

The website used “doorway” pages, which can be employed to trick search engines into leading their users to websites that are not directly related to the search terms.

Marc Hassinger, spokesperson for business and finance communications at BMW Deutschland, said the BMW.de doorway pages only redirected users to relevant pages - for example, one doorway page that frequently used the German word for “used car” redirected users to a page about BMW used car sales. He said this was done so that German web users searching for a second-hand BMW car dealership would find an index of dealerships around the country.

“We can’t see a ‘manipulation’ which they said was happening regarding those websites,” Mr. Hassinger said.

Matt Cutts, a software engineer at Google, wrote last month in his weblog that the company would begin to take a tougher line on web spamming by non-English language websites.

On Saturday Mr. Cutts wrote that BMW.de had been removed, for violating the guideline: “Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users.” More at FT.com

Track News
Chicago Motor Speedway still in the news Chicago Motor Speedway still in the newsUPDATE Champ Car trivia buffs know Chicago Motor Speedway was built on the site of Sportsman's Park. Originally a horse racecourse, the facility became a dual use horse/auto track - only the second in the USA after Dover Downs. It shut down - the Sportsman's Park facility was absorbed and the name retired.

The Bidwell family, notably Charlie Bidwell, was involved in the development of Chicago Motor Speedway at Sportsman's Park, along with one Mr. Ganassi. Up to the time they sold the track to the city, the Bidwells had owned the racetrack for sixty six years under that name.

The more famous Bidwell family link to Chicago goes back as far as the Chicago Cardinals (1932), the oldest professional football franchise in the country.

Of course, the Chicago Cardinals went on to St. Louis for a long stretch. The then home of the baseball Cardinals was known as Sportsman's Park, and the Cardinals played there too from 1960-1965. Of course, now they call metro Phoenix their home, leaving Sportsman's Park behind.

The Cardinals are set to debut a new stadium in the West Valley which will be their home. Along with that the stadium will host a BCS championship game (Fiesta Bowl), the debut game of the new BCS Title bowl in 2007, and is a sure lock to find a place in the unofficial Super Bowl rotation, including the 2008 title game that is already scheduled.

Well, the development of that site includes the stadium itself, and some nice public spaces that surround it. Those public spaces have been aptly named. Sportsman's Park.

The name lives on. Andrew Semple

02/06/06 Former Illinois governor George Ryan is currently standing trial in federal court on political corruption charges.  Today's Chicago Tribune includes an article about a $750,000 grant Ryan awarded on January 10, 2003, to the National Jockey Club, the owners of Sportsman's Park/Chicago Motor Speedway.  Interestingly, by this date the Speedway had already announced they were suspending racing operations and putting the property up for sale.
While this story has no direct bearing on CART, Inc. of CCWS, LLC, the article does include a photo (attached) of the current condition of the track.  Also, the main grandstand structure has been torn down and sold for scrap.
track news
Construction begins on Long Beach track Construction begins on Long Beach trackThe 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach took its first step toward the green flag when construction began this morning on Shoreline Drive, the famed racing circuit's front straightaway.

The setting of the first of more than 14 million pounds of concrete blocks that line the 1.97-mile circuit in downtown Long Beach marks the beginning of two months of work preparing the 11-turn racing circuit for the 175,000 fans expected April 7-9.

Grand Prix Association of Long Beach director of operations Dwight Tanaka and his staff of 40 will put in more than 30,000 working hours installing concrete blocks, three miles of fencing and 16,000 bolted-together tires, along with 15 huge spectator grandstands, seven pedestrian bridges and eight giant-vision boards for full-circuit TV coverage.

"After that," said Tanaka, "we start installing porta-johns, hospitality suites, tents, trash containers and a hundred other little things. And when the race is over, we take everything down, inspect it and get ready for the race in 2007."

"We've always prided ourselves in keeping the Long Beach race circuit competitive and safe for the drivers and, at the same time, exciting for our fans," said Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach LLC. "Dwight and his staff do a fantastic job, but it would all be impossible without the assistance of the many Long Beach city departments and a host of private entities. Zzzz

"Quite frankly, without their help we would never have been able to make the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Bach the premier street race in America."

All businesses along the race circuit, which includes Shoreline Drive, Aquarium Way and Pine Ave., will remain open during construction of the racetrack.

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

Ticket prices range from $35 for Friday/Saturday general admission up to $115 for a three-day ticket that includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seats in upper levels of the grandstands. Pre-paid parking packages are also available when ordering through the Grand Prix Ticket Office. Handicapped seating, Bosch Champ Car Garage passes, super photo tickets and a variety of hospitality club packages are also available.
Attorneys, start your engines Attorneys, start your enginesAuto racing fans have taken to Kentucky Speedway, in Sparta, like it's stock car heaven, except after five years there's still one thing missing - a Nextel Cup race, the sport's premier racing series.

Speedway owners tried to correct that major oversight by filing suit last July against NASCAR, the sanctioning body for North American stock car races, and International Speedway Corp., which owns or controls 12 of the 22 tracks that host Nextel Cup races. The lawsuit charges NASCAR and ISC with monopolistic practices. Now Kentucky Speedway has won the first two laps in court, thanks to a federal judge's rulings in Covington that this civil case should not be moved to NASCAR's home state of Florida, nor should it be dismissed as frivolous.

U.S. District Court Judge William Bertlesman was right to let the suit remain here and proceed toward discovery.

The Speedway's legal team, including Cincinnati attorney Stan Chesley, antitrust expert Steve Sussman of Houston and Mark Guilfoyle of Edgewood, have raised legitimate questions about anti-competitive consequences of the France family's overlapping control of NASCAR and of ISC tracks. Besides the Speedway's obvious financial interest in securing a top race worth millions of dollars, Kentucky and this region also have a lot riding on this lawsuit, as Bertlesman remarked at the time of his first ruling, in December. It's not just race fans who want to see leading stock car drivers here. The premier series would bring jobs, extra tourist dollars and another prestigious sports attraction to the region. Kentucky already has invested $152 million in tax breaks for the track and in nearby road and infrastructure improvements. A Cup race also could mobilize those who are trying to locate a small airport at the track. More of this interesting article at Cincinnati Enquirer.

Bridgestone enters into agreement with Aguri Bridgestone enters into agreement with AguriBridgestone Motorsport has announced that it has entered into a multi-year agreement with the Super Aguri F1 Team for the supply of Bridgestone Potenza Formula One tires. The agreement will commence immediately and the team is expected to run for the first time on Bridgestone F1 tires at a shakedown test in February.

"The Super Aguri F1 team is a new but ambitious team and we are delighted that it has chosen Bridgestone to be its official supplier," said Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport.

"Working with a new team that is making its debut in the FIA Formula One World Championship is an extremely exciting prospect. Bridgestone has had a long relationship with the team's founder, Aguri Suzuki, spanning more than twenty years and encompassing numerous motorsport series. Consequently, we have every confidence in his ability and desire to run a successful and professional team."

"The Super Aguri F1 team's inaugural season will not be an easy one but we wish them the very best of luck in 2006 and we look forward to seeing them in action shortly."

Bridgestone will also supply Ferrari, Toyota, Williams and MF1 Racing in 2006 while rivals Michelin – who will pull out of the series at the end of the year - will supply Renault, McLaren Mercedes, Honda, Red Bull Ferrari, BMW Sauber and Toro Rosso.

Rossi back on top on bike Rossi back on top on bikeFresh from his four-wheel adventure, Valentino Rossi was back to business in Monday’s latest installment of the preseason program. Reunited with his Camel Yamaha team, Rossi clocked the fastest time of his first session at Qatar’s Losail Circuit.
Dodge test snowed out Dodge test snowed outDodge teams planning a joint test at Kentucky Speedway on Monday had to postpone the session due to snow in the area. Originally, drivers from Evernham Motorsports, Penske Racing South, Chip Ganassi Racing and Petty Enterprises planned to test together in an attempt to come to a consensus as to what changes can be made to the 2005 Charger to make it competitive while racing in traffic. The owners have yet to determine a new date for the test. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
PCM to campaign Pontiac GTO.R PCM to campaign Pontiac GTO.RPacific Coast Motorsports (PCM), 2004 Toyota Atlantic Series champions, has announced it has purchased a GTO.R race car from Pratt & Miller Engineering. PCM will enter its new GTO.R in the GT class of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve starting with either the Mexico City or Homestead race events. The team - which also campaigns the No. 89 Playboy/Vonage/Palms Pontiac Riley in the Daytona Prototype class of the Rolex Series - intends to run the production-based GTO.R throughout the remainder of the 2006 Rolex season.

"We've worked with GM in the past and we raced one of their Pratt & Miller built Corvette C-5.Rs against Team Corvette last year," said Tyler Tadevic, team director of PCM. "Needless to say, we couldn't really compete with that championship team. But we know the GTO.R will be competitive, reliable and safe. Knowing that it is of the family of GM Racing-developed road racing cars that have had so much success over the last few years and our prior successful relationship with Pratt & Miller Engineering are the major reasons why we're excited to do this." zzzz

Drivers and sponsors for the car have not yet been named but PCM hopes to be able to make more details available in the next few weeks.

"We're in talks with both privateer and corporate-sponsored drivers," said Tadevic. "We anticipate campaigning the car in a good portion of the remaining season and if things go right, the entire season."

Pontiac's two GTO.Rs, campaigned by TRG, have seen much success in the nine events they raced in. After debuting in the Rolex Series midway in the 2005 season, the No. 64 GTO.R of Jan Magnussen and Paul Edwards and the No. 65 GTO.R of Andy Lally and Marc Bunting racked up an impressive two poles and four wins with a total of seven podium finishes. More recently (in the cars' first 24-hour race), the No. 65 TRG GTO.R took second place in class at the Rolex 24 At Daytona with Lally, Bunting, R. J. Valentine and Johnny O'Connell taking turns behind the wheel. The No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R of Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins, Jan Magnussen and Andy Pilgrim finished 12th in class even though the car suffered a broken suspension component on lap 246 which set them back 58 laps. It was partly the cars' consistent strong performance that convinced PCM that this was the car to beat in the GT class.

"We began GTO.R customer car discussions with Pacific Coast Motorsports about two weeks ago," said Steve Sitek, brand promotional manager of Pontiac. "Based on their pre-existing relationship with GM Racing, we felt the team would be an ideal candidate to run the Pontiac GTO.R. Pacific Coast's decision to buy the car came about over the course of the 24-hour weekend, which, due to our success in the GT class, is no coincidence. We're happy to have PCM as our second GTO.R customer team and wish them success in the 2006 season of the Rolex Series and beyond."

The next leg of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series takes place in Mexico City at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on March 4. The race will be run in conjunction with NASCAR's Busch Series.

Massa tests 2nd 248 F1 Massa tests 2nd 248 F1First day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, working today at the Fiorano circuit.

Felipe Massa gave the second example of the 248 F1 its first outing, initiating a program centered on development of the car. The Brazilian driver covered a total of 100 laps, three of them on the short version of the track. The best time on the day was a 58"242.

Testing continues at this circuit tomorrow, when Michael Schumacher will be on track. Ferrari

Carl Edwards to visit Hermanos Rodriguez Carl Edwards to visit Hermanos RodriguezCarl Edwards, Nextel Cup and Busch Series driver, will visit Mexico City February 8th. He will be visiting Hermanos Rodriguez track on behalf of the Busch Series. According to Federico Alaman, who is in charge of sports events for OCES, they will use Edwards to promote the Busch Series race to be held in March in Mexico City. Jose Arrambide
Champ Car, Two years on Champ Car, Two years onTwo years have now passed since the historic ruling of Federal Bankruptcy Court Judge Frank J. Otte, which awarded the assets of Championship Auto Racing Teams to Open Wheel Racing Series LLC (OWRS) owners Gerald Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi. As Champ Car continues to forge ahead, we celebrate the second anniversary of this ruling by highlighting the significant developments in the series in 2005.

January 28, 2004 CART assets awarded to Open Wheel Racing Series LLC (OWRS) owners Gerald Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi by a federal bankruptcy judge.

February 1, 2005 2002 Champ Car titlist Cristiano da Matta signs with PKV Racing, returning to the Champ Car paddock after two seasons in Formula 1. Da Matta becomes the fourth former champion to compete during the 2005 season

February 23, 2005 Bridgestone expands its marketing relationship with Champ Car signing on again as a series presenting sponsor and creating the $10,000 Bridgestone Pole Award at each Champ Car World Series event.

March 16, 2005 Champ Car announces its return to network television in the United States as CBS, NBC and SPEED are signed to broadcast Champ Car events.

April 5, 2005 Ford and Champ Car announce a multi-year agreement for the American automaker to continue as a presenting sponsor of the Champ Car World Series. The agreement also includes provisions for increased support of the Champ Car Fast Lap program.

April 15, 2005 Sebastien Bourdais wins in only his second International Race of Champions start. Bourdais claimed his IROC victory at Texas Motor Speedway and became the first Champ Car driver in eight years to win an IROC race.

May 22, 2005 Andrew Ranger becomes the youngest Champ Car driver to score a podium finish with his runner-up result in Monterrey, Mexico.

May 24, 2005 Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe complete purchase of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach insuring the famed event will remain the crown jewel of the Champ Car schedule.  zzzz

June 4, 2005 Jimmy Vasser makes his 200th consecutive Champ Car start after earning the Bridgestone Pole at Milwaukee.

June 20, 2005 The Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland announces it will grant admission to ticket holders from the ill-fated Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix. Nearly 1,000 fans made the trip from Indianapolis to Cleveland for the offer.

July 15-17, 2005 Champ Car makes a raucous debut in Edmonton, Alberta Canada as the inaugural event draws more than 200,000 fans during the three days. In its first year, the Grand Prix of Edmonton becomes the highest-attended Champ Car event ever held in Canada.

July 29-30, 2005 On the heels of the tremendous debut in Edmonton, Champ Car stages another incredible event on the streets of San Jose. More than 150,000 fans attended the three-day festival of speed in the Silicon Valley that also saw the one-millionth Champ Car fan come through the turnstile in 2005, just eight events into the season.

July 29, 2005 Champ Car announces a new chassis and engine combination for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. The announcement drew rave reviews with 40 new cars ordered. A $2 million award was also announced for the 2006 Atlantic Champion to use to secure a ride in the Champ Car World Series.

August 3, 2005 Toyota Motor Sales, USA announces Toyota will continue as the title sponsor of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach through 2010.

August 13, 2005 Champ Car announces a 15-race schedule for the 2006 season. A Saturday-night street race in Houston is added to the schedule.

August 16, 2005 Champ Car announces it senior management succession plan with the hiring of Steve Johnson as new Champ Car President. Dick Eidswick moves into the new role of Chairman.

September 7, 2005 The Champ Car reality series “Race Car Driver” debuts on Superstation WGN. The 30-minute show features behind-the-scenes action of the Champ Car World Series with most of its focus on the Forsythe Championship Racing team and its flamboyant driver Paul Tracy.

September 15, 2005 Champ Car announces its intention to help the victims of two devastating hurricanes over the summer by renaming its Las Vegas event to the Champ Car Hurricane Relief 400. The event and Champ Car’s online auction raised nearly $50,000 for the American Red Cross and CARA Charities to use to benefit the hurricane victims.

October 11, 2005 Champ Car announces Élan Motorsports Technology will produce the 2007 Champ Car chassis to be paired with a Cosworth V8 engine. The Panoz DP01 will be an All-American built chassis. The announcement means the retirement of the current Lola chassis after the 2006 season.

October 23, 2005 Sebastien Bourdais clinches his second consecutive Champ Car World Series title making him the first repeat champion since Gil de Ferran in 2000-2001.

November 3, 2005 Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe complete purchase of the Molson Indy Toronto insuring the future of the exciting street race. Molson will continue to sponsor the event which will be called the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto.

November 4, 2005 Champ Car announces its 2006 television schedule which includes an increased presence on network television in the United States and also and increased presence on cable partner SPEED. CBS and NBC continue on as Champ Car’s network partners.

November 8, 2005 Brandi Latimer becomes the first “Face of Champ Car” beating out four other finalists for the honor of official spokesmodel of Champ Car.

November 17, 2005 After a very successful debut on the Champ Car schedule, officials from Champ Car and the Grand Prix of Edmonton announce an extension on the sanctioning agreement until the year 2010.

November 29, 2005 Champ Car announces it will return to the historic Road America race course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Listed by many drivers as the best road course in North America, Champ Car will return to the 4.048-mile in September 2006. Champ Car

Tracy tests Busch car at Vegas Tracy tests Busch car at VegasPaul Tracy (right) points to his NASCAR Busch Grand National Chevrolet Monte Carlo as he chats with teammate Todd Bodine on Monday morning during NASCAR Preseason Thunder at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Tracy, a Las Vegas resident, has raced Champ Cars on the 1.5-mile superspeedway.  The Sam's Town 300 NASCAR Busch Grand National race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the third of five scheduled races for Tracy on the NASCAR series. Bodine is the defending Las Vegas 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race winner. Photo by David Allio
B-1 bombers to fly over Daytona races B-1 bombers to fly over Daytona racesUnited States Air Force B-1 Lancer bombers will fly over the Daytona International Speedway for both the Hershey’s Kissables 300 Busch race on Saturday Feb. 18, 2006 and the Daytona 500 NEXTEL Cup race on Sunday Feb. 19, 2006.

The Air Force has 65 B-1B long-range bombers in its inventory.  The Lancer is capable of flying intercontinental missions without refueling and has the capability to fly lower and faster with a substantially larger payload than any aircraft in the world.  Because of this, the aircraft holds nearly 50 world records for speed, payload and distance.  Its four engines put out a monstrous 120,000-plus pounds of thrust that permit the supersonic plane to reach speeds up to MACH 1.2.  Its advanced electronic countermeasures are unmatched and designed to enhance survivability in combat.  Operation of the B-1B started in 1985 and it still plays a major role in today’s Air Force. USAF

Track News
Milwaukee Mile ticket sales increase Milwaukee Mile ticket sales increase2006 ticket sales at The Milwaukee Mile have gotten off to a fast start since the December 19th agreement transferring the promoter rights associated with ‘America’s Legendary Oval’ to Milwaukee Mile Holdings LLC, a company formed by Chairman Craig Stoehr and President & CEO Andy Randall.

“As the new promoter group at The Milwaukee Mile, and in an effort to encourage Wisconsin residents to once again come out and experience the thrill of world-class championship auto racing, we lowered ticket prices across the board.  We are pleased that our loyal fans are already responding, as we experienced an almost 10.0% increase in tickets sold in January 2006 as compared to January 2005,” said Randall.

The Milwaukee Mile has the distinction of being the only oval course on the Champ Car World Series schedule in 2006, with Paul Tracy looking to defend his Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 title on Sunday afternoon, June 4th.

NASCAR’s superstars will visit The Milwaukee Mile on Friday and Saturday evening, June 23rd and June 24th, with at least five NEXTEL Cup drivers racing in the June 24th NASCAR Busch Series AT&T 250, and former Franklin, Wisconsin resident and defending NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ted Musgrave will take on all comers in the June 23rd Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200. zzzz

Sam Hornish, Jr., Wisconsin-born Danica Patrick, and their fellow Indy 500 drivers return for a high-speed thrill ride around The Milwaukee Mile on Sunday, July 23rd in the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 IRL IndyCar Series race.

The Milwaukee Mile’s major 2006 season race schedule will conclude with the traditional Governor’s Cup weekend, featuring over 500 miles of stock car racing from August 25th – 27th, highlighted by a 200-lap ARCA RE/MAX Series contest.

Money-saving Milwaukee Mile full season ticket packages include all four race weekends, while racing fans also have the option of purchasing a ticket package for the two world-class open wheel weekends, or the two stock car weekends.  Premium seating is still available for packages that include the highly coveted and in-demand NASCAR Busch Series race.

Individual tickets are now available for all events through The Milwaukee Mile ticket office, including family-friendly $9.00 tickets to The Mile’s opening weekend, June 2nd – 4th, which, among other events, will feature Champ Car World Series and Star Mazda Series races.

Also among the many new offerings to look forward to this season is the Milwaukee Mile Victory Club, which enables individuals to experience previously unavailable corporate-level hospitality for only $79.00 per person.

For additional information on Milwaukee Mile ticket packages and events, please call (414) 453-8277, or visit The Milwaukee Mile website located at www.milwaukeemile.com.

DSSV damping technology for new Atlantic series DSSV damping technology for new Atlantic seriesYoung aspiring Atlantic series drivers looking to follow in the footsteps of Champ Car title winners Sebastien Bourdais and Cristiano da Matta will now enjoy the same hi-tech damping technology as did these current and former Newman/Haas Racing stars.

Newman/Haas played a key role in developing the Multimatic DSSV (Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve) damper technology that has dominated victory lanes in Formula One, Champ Car and International Sports Car Racing over the past few years.

This DSSV technology has now been chosen by Champ Car as the spec damper for the all new Champ Car Atlantic series, making its on-track debut this year.

Originally debuted in the Champ Car World Series in 2002 by Cristiano da Matta and Christian Fittipaldi, the first generation damper was immediately successful with da Matta dominating the season and winning the championship.

After three years of intensive development through exclusive partnerships in F1, Champ Car, Formula 3 and Sports Cars, the DSSV damping technology is now commercially available and was purchased last year by other leading Champ Car teams.

The DSSV configuration provides significant performance and operational gains over conventional damping technology and eliminates the shims utilized in traditional motorsports dampers. zzzz

”Multimatic is very proud of its success in Champ Car and it is a market that we believe provides tremendous growth opportunities for us,” Multimatic Vice President, Mr. Larry Holt said.

“The young Champ Car stars of the future who are looking to emulate Cristiano and Sebastian’s championship success will now be able to learn about how these dampers work and how to use them to fine tune their race car to achieve maximum performance.

“When they graduate to Champ Cars, they will be very familiar with the damping technology which plays an even larger role at that level of competition.

”We are very excited about the new Atlantic Swift/Cosworth combination and believe Champ Car has laid the foundation to what will be an extremely successful championship.”

DSSV is more than just a damper - it is a complete program that incorporates both hardware and software.

The DSSV damper program includes Dynamic Suspensions' acclaimed SpecFinder™ software which enables race teams to analytically develop and precisely match the desired damping characteristic, providing consistency, enhancing performance and simplifying adjustments.

Distributed in North America by Carl A Haas Automobile Imports Inc, Multimatic’s Dynamic Suspensions’ brand is also the spec damper for the US Formula Ford Zetec Championship.

“For many years, Atlantic has been a strong development series for open wheel drivers and the new package Champ Car has created for 2006 and beyond, will also make it the most cost effective. I am proud to be involved with this premier development series, as the North American distributor of Dynamic Suspensions. We look forward to providing the DSSV spec damper to all the Atlantic teams as well as technical support at each of the events” said Carl Haas, president of Carl A Haas Automobile Imports Inc.

The Atlantic version of the DSSV damper will be sealed, with internal adjustment limited to the range available as delivered. Spring rates will be free, with bump rubbers and packers allowed.

Carl A Haas Automobile Imports Inc. will be responsible for trackside support at each round of the Champ Car Atlantic Series. Dynamic Suspensions

Sponsor announced for Elliott at Daytona Sponsor announced for Elliott at DaytonaMB2 Motorsports announced today that Ginn (pronounced Ghin) Clubs & Resorts will be the primary sponsor on Bill Elliott's No. 36 Chevrolet during Daytona Speedweeks, including the Feb. 11 Budweiser Shootout and the Feb. 19 Daytona 500.

Based in Celebration, Fla., Ginn Clubs & Resorts is a privately held resort development and management firm, specializing in exclusive leisure lifestyle and vacation destination communities in the United States. 

"This is our first venture into motorsports sponsorship and what a thrilling beginning," said Bobby Ginn, president and CEO of Ginn Clubs & Resorts. "To be associated with MB2 Motorsports and the legendary Bill Elliott in the Daytona 500 is a tremendous opportunity to convey our message to the worldwide network of NASCAR fans. The partnership will also provide a special excitement to our communities at Ginn Clubs & Resorts."

Elliott, a two-time Daytona 500 winner, said that he is both confident and happy about returning to Daytona International Speedway as the driver of the No. 36 Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevrolet. zzzz

"We had a productive test session last month in Daytona and I am looking forward to having a successful run in the Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevy," said Elliott, whose last appearance in the Daytona 500 was in 2003. "All systems are go -- we have a first-class sponsor, a top-notch team and a fast racecar."

Elliott, who has run a limited schedule the past two seasons, has amassed an impressive record as a NASCAR Cup driver. Along with winning the 1988 season championship, the redhead from Dawsonville, Ga. has claimed 44 victories, 175 top fives, 319 top 10s, 55 poles and career earnings of nearly $38 million.  

Jay Frye, MB2's CEO and general manager, said, "Ginn Clubs & Resorts is a world-class organization and we welcome them to our team. What a great way to kick off a partnership at NASCAR's biggest race of the season."

Along with Elliott and the No. 36 Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevy, MB2's Daytona 500 lineup will include the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet, driven by Joe Nemechek and the No. 14 Waste Management Chevrolet, driven by Sterling Marlin.

DEWALT to sponsor Williams team DEWALT to sponsor Williams teamWilliamsF1 confirmed today that the world’s leading manufacturer of professional power tools and accessories, DEWALT, has joined the team as an official supplier with a partnership agreement that will extend into the medium term.

Established over 80 years ago, DEWALT’S reputation of designing, engineering and building tough industrial machinery, and delivering high performance power tools and accessories to the professional tradesman, has earned the company market leadership in its native North America. With their commitment to provide jobsite solutions revolutionizing the working methods employed by the construction and manufacturing industry, DEWALT has been the fastest growing supplier of professional power tools in the world over the past five years.

The new partnership with the WilliamsF1 Team will allow DEWALT to exploit the global marketing opportunities afforded by Formula One and further enhance their brand position across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. From the start of the 2006 season, the DEWALT identity will not only appear on the team’s trucks and garage wallboards, but will also feature in prominent team clothing positions, including team trousers and appropriately on pit crew gloves, highlighting DEWALT’s contribution to the all-important teamwork that underlines successful pit-stops. zzzz

On the new association with WilliamsF1, Chas Seymour, DEWALT’s European Vice President, commented, “DEWALT is proud that its power tools and accessories have been adopted by the WilliamsF1 Team as they have been adopted by the professional tradesman worldwide on the jobsite. As with all teams, the key to success is providing the tools to deliver professional results. Our aim through this relationship is to continue to add value to the skilled manufacturing capabilities Williams brings to Formula One racing in line with our end-user commitment. Simply put, DEWALT guarantees to provide and service high performance jobsite tools, accessories and equipment which enable the end-user to deliver productive and professional results.”

WilliamsF1’s Team Principal, Frank Williams, confirmed, “DEWALT’s commitment to delivering advanced technologies in manufacturing makes them a perfect match for Formula One. At Williams, we build 90% of the car in-house so we rely heavily on precision machinery to accurately manufacture parts and components within tight time constraints. Our partnership will therefore be mutually beneficial and, I hope, a rewarding one.” WilliamsF1

Aston Martin returns to defend Sebring crown Aston Martin returns to defend Sebring crownA year after achieving a landmark victory in its first appearance there in 12 years, Aston Martin Racing is returning to the American Le Mans Series and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The prestigious English marque will field two DBR9s in the GT1 class for America’s greatest sports car race on March 18 in hope of defending its Sebring championship.

Aston Martin is the latest prestigious entry for the 54th annual 12-hour endurance classic at Sebring International Raceway, which opens the 2006 season for the American Le Mans Series. SPEED Channel will provide live coverage throughout North America, while MotorsTV will broadcast all the action live across Europe.

“Aston Martin Racing gave the American Le Mans Series and its fans one of the most spectacular stories of 2005 by winning its debut race at the 53rd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring,” said Series President and CEO Scott Atherton. “With this announcement that Aston Martin is returning to Sebring and the American Le Mans Series, we all can look forward to another tremendous battle between multiple world-class GT1 teams including Aston Martin Racing and Corvette Racing.”

Last year at Sebring, Aston Martin Racing’s DBR9 of David Brabham, Darren Turner and Stephane Ortelli survived challenges from a field of Corvettes, Saleens, Vipers, Ferraris and a Maserati, as well as competing for 12 hours on one of the world’s great sports car circuits. After Sebring, Aston Martin Racing went on to post impressive results at such premier events as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Petit Le Mans and the Monterey Sports Car Championships.  zzzz

“Naturally, we’re pleased with Aston Martin Racing’s decision to compete at Sebring,” Atherton said. “Aston Martin and the American Le Mans Series go hand-in-hand. Both are high-tech, premium products that appeal to the same upscale, elite audience. The addition of two DBR9s to the Sebring grid will add to the anticipation of America’s greatest sports car race.”

Aston Martin has a lengthy history at the Sebring circuit dating back to 1950 when three DB2s competed in what was then a six-hour competition. In 1956, driving a DB3S, the Le Mans-winning team of Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori took fourth place overall. In 1958 Sir Stirling Moss set the fastest race lap in DBR1. The first victory for Aston Martin came in 2005 and marked the DBR9’s impact on the world of GT motorsport.

“As we know from our final two races of 2005, the American Le Mans Series is fiercely competitive and as ever, we expect a tough battle in GT1,” said Prodrive Chairman David Richards. “When we came to Sebring last year it was for the DBR9’s first race at the start of a test and development year. Our class victory was an excellent debut for the car, but even more importantly for me was the car’s ability to follow this with many more victories and podiums around the world; not just in our hands, but in those of our customers.”

Dr. Ulrich Bez, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Aston Martin, said, “We are delighted to be back in the US which is an important market for us and racing at Sebring where we achieved such a good result last year. So far this year we have previewed the Aston Martin Rapide concept, a four-door, high-performance coupe at the North American Auto Show and announced that James Bond will again drive an Aston Martin in the next ‘007’ film. 2006 promises to be another exceptional year for Aston Martin and we hope to add to this with success on the race track.”

Federated Auto Parts to Expand Partnership with Brewco Motorsports, Inc Federated Auto Parts to Expand Partnership with Brewco Motorsports, IncFederated Auto Parts announced today it is expanding its partnership with Brewco Motorsports, Inc. during the 2006 season.

Federated Auto Parts will be a full-time associate sponsor on both the #27 and #66 Brewco Motorsports NASCAR Busch Series entries in 2006.  Federated will also serve as the primary sponsor for David Green and the #27 team during the Federated Auto Parts 300 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 10.

“Federated Auto Parts is proud and excited to return as a sponsor with Brewco Motorsports in 2006,” said Federated Auto Parts President Gene Jeffries.  “Brewco Motorsports has proven itself as a championship organization both on and off the track and we are looking forward to another successful season. We are pleased that Federated’s long-time spokesman and Nextel Cup veteran Ken Schrader is scheduled to drive in selected Busch Series events for Brewco in 2006.”

“Brewco Motorsports is thrilled to welcome Federated Auto Parts back as a sponsor for the upcoming season,” added owner Clarence Brewer Jr.  “We are excited to represent the employees and customers of Federated Auto Parts and to host them at the track during hospitality events.  Brewco and Federated teamed up for a very successful 2005 season and we are looking forward to an even more successful year in 2006.”

Super Aguri announces some key info, test dates Super Aguri announces some key info, test datesThe Super Aguri F1 Team is pleased to confirm that it will commence its 2006 testing program at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, on 21 – 23 February 2006.

The team’s driver line-up for 2006 will be announced shortly.

Official Car Name SA05
Chassis Construction Molded carbon fiber and honeycomb composite construction incorporating front and side composite impact structures. Integral roll protection structures. Fully enclosed fuel cell.
Bodywork construction Composite one piece sidepod and engine cover, separate carbon floor section, structural composite nose box and composite wings.
Front suspension Wishbones, pushrod operated torsion bars and dampers. Mechanical anti-roll bar.
Rear suspension Wishbones, pushrod operated coil springs and dampers. Mechanical anti-roll bar.
Dampers Öhlins
Wheels BBS
Tires Bridgestone
Brakes AP Racing Calipers Hitco material
Steering SAF1 power assisted
Steering wheel SAF1 specification and composite construction
Drivers seat Driver specific carbon composite
Seat belts Takata
Fuel cell ATL Kevlar reinforced to SAF1 specification
Battery 2.5 Ah lead acid
Instrumentation SAF1 specification
Transmission SAF1 carbon composite maincase.
 7 speed semi automatic electro hydraulically controlled Clutch Sachs
Front track 1472mm
Rear track 1422mm
Wheelbase 3100mm
Overall length 4666mm
Overall height 950mm
Overall width 1800mm

Engine Honda RA806E
Displacement 2.4 liters
Configuration V8 naturally aspirated
Vee angle 90 degrees
Maximum power Over 700 bhp
Maximum revs Over 19,000 rpm
Valve train 4 valves per cylinder, pneumatic valve system
Throttle system Electro hydraulically-operated system
Ignition system Honda PGM-IG
Spark Plugs NGK

SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM KEY PERSONNEL (Note many are ex-Arrows personnel) 
Team Principal Aguri Suzuki
Managing Director Daniel Audetto
Chief Finance Director & Company Secretary Wayne Humphries
Chief Operations Officer Kevin Lee
Chief Technical Officer Mark Preston
Chief Designer Peter McCool
Team Manager Mick Ainsley-Cowlishaw
Chief Mechanic Phill Spencer
Chief Race Engineer Graham Taylor
Race Engineer, Car No: 22 Gérry Hughes
Race Engineer, Car No: 23 Antonio Cuquerella
Press Officer and Driver Liaison Emma Bearpark Super Aguri Team

Dart Ad hits bull's-eye at A1 Grand Prix Dart Ad hits bull's-eye at A1 Grand PrixRight Stuff went in full throttle with this branding venture and has not looked back. The Dart Ad, Right Stuff's unique rotating tri-panel banner system has truly planted itself in the centre of attention at its biggest event ever - the A1 Grand Prix in Durban, which took place from 27 to 29 January 2006.

This eye-catching advertising gem has barely been on the market four months and the orders are coming in fast and furious. All Dart Ads at A1 were ABSA's, one of the major sponsors of the event. The product could be seen along most of the A1 route.

All reports indicate that the entire event has been a resounding success. Thanks to our client, ABSA, who made it possible for us to launch the Dart Ad in a really BIG way on their behalf. Well done A1 Grand Prix, Mortimer Harvey and last but certainly not least, a very special well done to Durban, without whom this would not have been possible. Roll on, A1GP 2007! Right Stuff

LeMans winning team for sale LeMans winning team for saleThe entire business and assets of the race team which won the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours Race and the 1996 British Touring Car Championship are up for sale.

This is a rare opportunity to acquire in a single deal everything required to run a modern motorsport team.

The package can include taking a new lease of a modern, 4,800 sq ft, two-storey building on the outskirts of Buckingham, right in the middle of the UK's "motorsport valley".

Everything is included, from a modern, fully-equipped race trailer/office, support trucks, hospitality units with awnings, data logging towers, pit/garage walling and equipment, radios, computers, furniture, etc.

The list of equipment is far too long to list here, but may be viewed (along with many color photographs of the team in action) at http://www.racecarsdirect.com.

The premises were last used by Apex Motorsport, which won both the 1996 BTCC Drivers and Teams championships (Frank Biela; Audi A4) and the 2003 Le Mans 24H race (Guy Smith, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello; Bentley EXP Speed 8), as well as a long list of other successes in the UK and overseas.

For further information, please contact:
Mikael Walters
Tel: 07970 736655
Email: info@racecarsdirect.com

Industry News
Vegas will get new Strip attraction Vegas will get new Strip attractionLAS VEGAS - A parking lot behind the Sahara hotel-casino will be converted into an automotive playground and the Strip's newest attraction with the addition of test tracks where would-be racers can take cars, trucks or SUVs for a spin.

Officials from General Motors Corp., the Sahara and the Las Vegas Monorail Co. announced a deal Tuesday that will lease the 11-acre lot to GM for a public test track.

``The Drive'' could open by mid-March, offering licensed drivers the chance to drive GM vehicles on a high-performance test track or an off-road demonstration course for a fee.

GM also will buy theming and naming rights to the monorail's Sahara station, giving the rapid transit line a much-needed cash infusion and more potential riders. zzzz

Financial terms on the lot lease from the Sahara, the sponsorship deal with the monorail and construction costs for GM were not disclosed.

The test tracks will open for an initial six-month run.

The Drive is an outgrowth of AutoShow in Motion, a GM traveling test track that toured nationally and set up shop briefly at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway last year.

Drivers must at least 18 years of age, hold valid driver's licenses and pass alcohol breath tests before being allowed to drive accompanied by a professional driver, officials said. Fees have not been set.

As many as 15 GM vehicles will be available, including Corvette sports cars and Hummer sport utility vehicles.

The proximity to the monorail's northernmost stop was key to the deal, allowing easy access for tourists staying at other Strip hotels.   More at AP Article

Larry Morgan wins Vegas Shootout Larry Morgan wins Vegas ShootoutLarry Morgan was winner of the Pontiac Pro Stock Showdown on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Morgan's 2004 Dodge Stratus is shown here popping his parachute on his NHRA Pro Stock in the left lane at the end of the quarter-final round.

Larry Morgan was winner of the Pontiac Pro Stock Showdown on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Morgan holds the trophy representing his victory in the $5000 winner-take-all event.  Fred Simmons of Pontiac made the trophy presentation.  (Photos by David Allio)

Jackson, Harris Share Honors In Pacific F2000 Opener Jackson, Harris Share Honors In Pacific F2000 Opener
NASCAR news tidbits NASCAR news tidbitsUPDATE A reminder that the Jimmie Johnson special noted below will air tonight.

Double Duty for Long at Daytona: Carl Long will be piloting the #80 Hover Motorsports Ford in this year's running of the Daytona 500. Long will also be at the wheel of the #28 FDNY Racing Chevy in the Truck Series race at Daytona. Sponsorship for both teams will be announced at a later date. Carl-Long.com

Johnson on TV show Monday: Jimmie Johnson will make a primetime guest appearance on the Monday night episode of NBC's Las Vegas (9-10pm/et). In the episode, entitled "Urban Legends," Johnson, appearing as himself, is invited to judge a Chevy Custom Car Show taking place at the Montecito Casino. Johnson and his #48 Chevy are also featured in portions of the episode shot at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he is first approached to judge the car show. "It's definitely not as easy as it looks," said Johnson. "Fortunately, I got to play myself so I think that made it a little easier for me. I'm not sure how I would have done if I had to play someone else and read lines as that character. It was fun, but I think I'll stick to driving my race car." Team Lowe's Racing/GMR Marketing

Dodge Test at Kentucky: Drivers from Evernham Motorsports, Penske Racing South, Chip Ganassi Racing and Petty Enterprises are expected to have a joint test session on Monday [Feb 6th] at Kentucky Speedway. The endeavor will be an attempt to come to a consensus as to what changes can be made to the 2005 Charger to make it competitive while racing in traffic. So far, the four major Dodge organizations have yet to come to an agreement, which hindered attempts to get a change from NASCAR. As of now, Penske Racing South is expected to field 2004 Dodge Intrepids at California Speedway and Las Vegas. Once a decision is reached, Dodge is expected to submit a new nose to NASCAR to see if it will be approved for this season. NASCAR Daily Scene Also, the Kentucky Speedway website lists three drivers testing on Monday, Feb 6th: Newman, Stremme, Mears.   Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge.

TV News
SPEED to air Blacks in racing special SPEED to air Blacks in racing specialUPDATE A reminder that this special will air tonight.

02/04/06 SPEED has reached an agreement with New Millennium Studios to air Black Wheels, a one-hour film exploring the history of African-Americans in motor sports, beginning on Monday, Feb. 6 at 9 p.m. ET. The special will re-air during Daytona Speedweeks on Feb. 12 at 5 p.m. ET.

“We are pleased to have acquired basic cable rights to this significant and important documentary that sheds considerable light upon the often neglected achievements of African-Americans in motor sports,” said Robert Ecker, SPEED VP of Programming.

Writer and producer Byron Hunter took on the project after spending time with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Bill Lester.

“I was hired by General Mills a few years ago to follow Bill’s move into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series,” Hunter said. “He and I really hit it off and that sparked my interest in the history of African-Americans in motor sports. I had heard of Willy T. Ribbs, but really nobody else. I didn’t even realize Wendell Scott was a real person until I started doing my research. I had seen the Richard Pryor movie “Greased Lightning,” but had no idea Wendell was not a fictional character.” zzzz

While he found many of the individual stories interesting, when Hunter came across Charlie Wiggins and the Gold & Glory Sweepstakes from the 1920s, he knew he was onto something special.  Wiggins, an Indiana mechanic and racer, had been turned away from entry into the Indianapolis 500 for years based on unwritten segregationist rules. When businessman William Rucker established the first Gold & Glory Sweepstakes race, a 100-mile test of speed and endurance for black drivers on the one-mile dirt track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Wiggins finally got to show what he could do with “The Wiggins Special.”

“I could imagine maybe one or two guys being involved, but coming across an entire series in the Midwest with as many as 20 cars racing in 20 different cities during the Depression years, I knew I had to do this project,” Hunter said. “A short time later, I attended the Drive for Diversity Combine and realized we had drivers out there now that were ready to race in NASCAR and other forms of motor sports.”

“We are pleased that a media partner such as SPEED is helping the important cause of diversity,” said NASCAR Director of Diversity Tish Sheets. “Airing Black Wheels will be a great opportunity to further introduce the country to the rich motor sports history of the African-American community.”

“We’re really excited about SPEED being involved,” Hunter said. “We will be showing the film throughout the year in select cities, but when it debuts on SPEED for Black History Month next year, it will be available to everyone across the country.” SPEEDTV

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
'06 to be 'Alonso v. Schu' duel
No McLaren 'crisis' - Haug
'MF1' targets points with M16
Aguri Suzuki expects tough start
Piquet turned down F1 offers
'Thanks for the seat and the cash, JB!'
RB2's cooling flaw still not fixed
Another Biaggi test possible - Kolles
Bahrain expect F1 sell out
Midland 'plan' to stay in F1
Ralf waits for new Toyota package
Kolles hints at legal issue in V10 row
Renault in China, India, talks Renault in China, India, talks(GMMf1NET)  Renault may look to China and India to replace the backing of long time title sponsor Japan Tobacco next year.

The team's president Patrick Faure admitted that the sport's - and the world's - newest markets could be the source of future budgets, particularly in the post-tobacco era.

''We are in discussion with Chinese people,'' Frenchman Faure revealed to the Reuters agency, ''you have Indians coming, you have a lot of new countries where companies are big.''

Japan Tobacco and Mild Seven's Renault exit, though, is a big hit to the championship winning team.  Faure admitted that the brand is currently paying 'a good part' of the budget.

track news
Milwaukee gets SAFER Barrier Milwaukee gets SAFER BarrierThe Milwaukee Mile will have the SAFER "soft-wall" system in place by the end of April, if weather conditions are favorable to construction, a track spokesman said. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Segalini completes Durango staff Segalini completes Durango staffFabio Segalini, ex-Dallara engineer, has completed the Durango technical staff for the coming GP2 season.  Segalini said, "Joining Durango is a new challenge for me, my intention is to bring all my experience and knowledge, I predict a great season!"
Piquet says his son must win GP2 title Piquet says his son must win GP2 titleIn an interview with Italian racing magazine Autosprint (Italy's equivalent of the UK's Autosport) Nelson Piquet Sr. said of his son Nelsinho (pictured right) must win the GP2 championship if he has any hope of making it to F1.

"Obviously I'd like to see him in F1 but he comes from a disastrous GP2 season and the situation is complex.

"We have spoken with various teams to sign a test driver contract, but the conditions they propose are unacceptable.

"They don't guarantee any length of running in kilometres, they never speak about driving, but only demand the availability of the driver. On top of that, they demand a six-year contract length without any promise on their side of letting him race or drive.

"With these premises, I told everyone to piss off. Now Nelsinho needs to think about winning in order to get the opportunity to enter a team directly as race driver. It's the only serious and realistic way I know to get in F1."

Piquet rubbishes GP Masters series Piquet rubbishes GP Masters seriesFormer F1 World Driver Champion Nelson Piquet has called the Grand Prix Master Series rubbish and says he would never participate in it as a driver.

"I would never do anything like that, because my time as a professional race driver is gone and I have my job," Piquet told Italian racing magazine Autosprint magazine.

"That's a series for people with no money who are hoping to gain it back somehow. Beyond that, I don't see any reason to race in such rubbish. After having raced in F1, you go back at 50 years of age at the wheel of a car that looks like it? No way." (Pictured left at Zolder in 1981 in his famous Parmalat Brabham)

"My company has grown immensely: 1,025 employees, with an annual revenue of over 200 million dollars," Piquet said.

"Personally, I'm making a lot more than when I used to race in F1. In the next five years, I will make double what Michael Schumacher has made in his entire career." Photos courtesy of Ford

Most teams against Car of Tomorrow Most teams against Car of TomorrowFelix Sabates, a 20-year owner in the NASCAR wars, calls the Car of Tomorrow program "a bunch of (feces)." He's not in the minority. Owners at Daytona testing and on the NASCAR media tour - especially those who have developed winning formulas, such as Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick - don't have much praise for the COT.

Still, they're doing their best to comply; Hendrick Motorsports has four full-time employees working exclusively on the project. But the process of going from the original draft of the COT to on-track testing over the past year has thrown so many different structural proposals at the teams that it has been difficult for them to keep up. That's why most teams have built the cars begrudgingly - if at all.

And even though NASCAR says the final dimensions have been established, it's financially ludicrous for teams to jump on the bandwagon because manufacturers still are lobbying for additional cosmetic alterations that will improve brand identity before the final templates are set.  zzzz

NASCAR's philosophy behind the COT is to produce a much safer and competitive car that will contain teams' long-term rising costs. There's no doubt the new car is structurally safer. But there remains a lot of uncertainty about how competitive the racing will be because the cars will be so similar.

"I don't know what to expect," Wood Brothers general manager Fatback McSwain says. "But the last time I looked, there weren't a lot of fans in the stands for the IROC races (which use identical car bodies)."

Another concern from the current manufacturers is that while they're racing, newcomer Toyota will have ample time to concentrate on perfecting its COT. More at  Daily Press

Gronholm holds on to win 2nd-straight Gronholm holds on to win 2nd-straightMarcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen in the Ford Focus have won their second rally of the 2006 season with the BP-Ford World Rally Team. On the last stage he extended his lead over Loeb by 30.9 seconds.

On the fight for third spot, Daniel Carlsson beat Gigi Galli. Carlsson: "I'm so happy, I wanted this really bad." The Swede completed the stage with the second fastest time only 1.0 seconds behind the leader. Galli finished third on the stage followed by Henning Solberg in the OMV-Peugeot Norway 307.

Both drivers from the Subaru World Rally Team Chris Atkinson and Petter Solberg finished fifth, with equal times. Sixth was Sebastien Loeb in the Kronos Total Citroen who had to settle for second place overall after an intense battle with Gronholm.

Thomas Radstrom in the Rally Team Olsbergs takes fifth place on the leaderboard followed by Kosti Katajamaki in the Stobart-VK-M-Sport Ford Rally Focus.

Janne Tuohino has retired from the rally only 500 meters from the end of the last stage.


Pos. No. Driver/Car Diff Prev Diff Ldr
1. 3 M. GRÖNHOLM 0.0 0.0
2. 1 S. LOEB 30.9 30.9
3. 63 D. CARLSSON 2:25.9 2:56.8
4. 14 G. GALLI 7.0 3:03.8
5. 16 T. RÅDSTRÖM 2:49.5 5:53.3
6. 10 K. KATAJAMÄKI 1:41.5 7:34.8
7. 2 X. PONS 1:00.8 8:35.6
8. 8 H. SOLBERG 25.9 9:01.5
9. 19 J. JOGE 15.7 9:17.2
10. 15 J. TUOHINO 25.8 9:43.0
11. 6 C. ATKINSON 1:50.5 11:33.5
12. 4 M. HIRVONEN 23.9 11:57.4
13. 17 J. KOPECKÝ 21.9 12:19.3
14. 9 M. WILSON 2:21.1 14:40.4
15. 73 J. HÄNNINEN 34.5 15:14.9
16. 21 D. SORDO 2.8 15:17.7
17. 65 J. KETOMÄKI 1:54.9 17:12.6
18. 7 M. STOHL 2:49.7 20:02.3
19. 35 P. ANDERSSON 14.5 20:16.8
20. 41 P. SANDELL 53.1 21:09.9 zzzz
21. 67 O. SVEDLUND 1:57.9 23:07.8
22. 33 U. AAVA 4.1 23:11.9
23. 22 L. PEREZ COMPANC 1:54.0 25:05.9
24. 40 S. BLOMQVIST 18.7 25:24.6
25. 37 P. VALOUSEK 1:34.5 26:59.1
26. 50 K. PINOMÄKI 1:23.5 28:22.6
27. 69 H. WENG 21.7 28:44.3
28. 74 H. GUSTAVSSON 3.4 28:47.7
29. 75 E. STEFFENSEN 4:59.2 33:46.9
30. 45 J. BÉRES 47.7 34:34.6
31. 61 M. ÖSTBERG 42.5 35:17.1
32. 82 S. KARNABAL 3:11.2 38:28.3
33. 71 M. SOLOWOW 1:05.8 39:34.1
34. 59 P. ZACHRISSON 1:48.6 41:22.7
35. 76 J. ROMAN 2:37.5 44:00.2
36. 62 A. GRÖNDAL 14.3 44:14.5
37. 66 R. TAHKO 2:55.8 47:10.3
38. 44 M. KOSCIUSZKO 5.6 47:15.9
39. 48 G. WILKS 5:01.7 52:17.6
40. 79 P. Mikael GUSTAFSSON 27.3 52:44.9
41. 90 L. STORM 2:20.7 55:05.6
42. 43 J. MÖLDER 5.0 55:10.6
43. 88 A. MANCIN 49.3 55:59.9
44. 80 F. FRISIERO 20.6 56:20.5
45. 84 E. BRYNILDSEN 1:07.1 57:27.6
46. 49 M. PROKOP 3:00.1 1:00:27.7
47. 91 Z. PENZES 4:36.0 1:05:03.7
48. 60 J. KARLSSON 3:18.1 1:08:21.8
49. 81 A. VILLANUEVA 12.5 1:08:34.3
50. 47 F. A BORDIGNON 5:33.5 1:14:07.8
51. 89 P. STRAND 8:44.1 1:22:51.9
52. 46 A. CORTINOVIS 3:19.0 1:26:10.9
53. 92 E. GRANUM 5:28.8 1:31:39.7

James Key talks about new MF1 car James Key talks about new MF1 carWith the possible exception of the drivers who will race it, nobody was looking more forward to the car’s unveiling than Midland F1 Technical Director James Key. He joined the team (then known as Jordan Grand Prix) back in 1998, but this is the first car that he has been responsible for from start to finish.

“We went through a transitional period last year with the change of ownership,” says Key. “We’ve had a very short period to get this car designed and manufactured, and with quite a few people in the company who are doing it for the first time. I think as an effort, it’s been absolutely superb, and the whole team has worked incredibly hard.

“I’m very pleased with all aspects of the mechanical side. On the aerodynamic side, we’ve made very good progress, which is an important step toward becoming more competitive. We have to be realistic – it’s not going to move us right to the front of the grid, at least not immediately – but I think we can close the gap quite a bit. It’s all relative, of course. While I’m pretty confident we’ve made a step forward, we'll have to wait and see how far everyone else has come.” zzzz

Because last year’s car was based on the 2004 model, the team has, in effect, had to make a two-year step with the new car.

“It is a completely new car. We learned a lot from the EJ15B, and that has been used to develop the M16, although they are very different beasts. Obviously, the V8 is a new situation for all the teams, and packaging that into the car changes the way you approach certain areas of the car, as does the fact that we’re going back to tire changes. So those things have entailed changes to the car’s architecture and we’ve also got quite a different front end to the car, as will become apparent a few races in.

“The gearbox is completely new and the suspension is quite different at the rear. We’ve used the opportunity to move as much of the volume forward so that the bodywork can be brought in closer.”

Tidying up the rear of the car reflects the shift of emphasis from downforce to efficiency. This winter, all teams have tried to make up for the loss of straight-line speed created by the new engine rules.

“We set ourselves some aero efficiency targets. It’s not as simple as reducing rear wing to give you less drag – you won’t go any faster if that's all you do, so you’ve got to develop in a more efficient way. We set those targets early in the design process, and we’ve achieved them.”

The M16 is one of the last definitive 2006 cars to appear, but Key is confident there will be enough time to get into shape for the first race in Bahrain on March 10-12.

“We’ve already run the rear end in the hybrid car, which includes the major reliability parts like the gearbox and rear suspension, and that went well. So far, there are no fundamental problems to speak of, and we’ve gotten a lot of confidence from that. We’ve taken a lot of care with things like cooling, which can knock you out if you’re not careful. I’ve no doubt that there will be teething problems with little things, but I don’t think there’s going to be anything significant.”

Of course, development will be ongoing, and the team has plans to introduce new parts as soon as possible.

“Because of the time constraints and the way we’ve had to catch up, we know that we still need to address certain area of the car. There’s a lot of work being done on the aero side and constant gains being made there, so we’ll probably be looking at some pretty significant updates during the season that I think will lead to quite a different-looking car by the time we're finished. We’ve also got many ideas on the mechanical side, so we're going to be very busy.”

The MF1 Toyota M16 will complete its shakedown running at Silverstone on February 4th before being taken to Spain for a four-day test at Jerez beginning on February 7th. Source Midland F1

Federated Auto Parts Announces 2006 Plans Federated Auto Parts Announces 2006 PlansIn 2006, Federated is teaming with Ken Schrader, Boris Said, Brewco Motorsports and the Nashville SuperSpeedway. Federated will continue its relationship with veteran NASCAR driver Ken Schrader and the Ken Schrader Racing Team. Road-racing champion Boris Said will continue his role as Federated Car Care spokesperson and carry the Federated logo in an array of motorsports venues during 2006. Also in 2006, Federated will continue its long association with the Nashville SuperSpeedway as Federated will serve as the title sponsor of the NASCAR Busch Series race which will be held on Saturday, June 10th. Federated is expanding its partnership with Brewco Motorsports during the 2006 season. Federated will be a full-time associate sponsor on both the #27 and #66 Brewco Motorsports NASCAR Busch Series entries in 2006. Federated will also serve as the primary sponsor for David Green and the #27 team during the Federated Auto Parts 300 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 10. FederatedAutoParts.com
Red Bull cooling problems almost solved Red Bull cooling problems almost solvedThe Red Bull test team is back at their Milton Keynes base now, after a couple of sessions at the inevitable Spanish circuits and, with everyone tearing the January page off their calendars, the beginning of the 2006 season is rushing towards us at the speed of light.

Despite the fact that much of Europe is going through its coldest winter for several years and Woolly Mammoths are once again stalking the Mediterranean beaches, it is no secret that the tams new RB2 initially struggled to disperse the heat generated by its engine. Technical Director Mark Smith gives a more scientific explanation…

“We’ve had to deal with a cooling issue and, over the past couple of weeks, have made the best possible use of the car in its current configuration. This doesn’t have the cooling elements in place that we will have on the aero kit that will be used at the first race,” he said. “We will be testing the new elements at the forthcoming Valencia test later this month. We’re still working hard on detailing all of the issues that led to the cooling deficit and there is still some work to do. But the timescale means we had to move on applying a solution and our analysis indicates we have solved the problem.” zzzz

The test team could have applied a temporary fix, getting round the cooling issue by attacking the bodywork with hacksaw and drill, turning it into something that looked like a car from Chicago’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Instead, their engineers opted to restrict the car to a limited number of laps at a time, working on improving set-up and performance. Under normal circumstances, a lack of pre-season long distance running would raise serious engine reliability doubts, but not this time, as Mark explains…

“Although we haven’t been able to do long endurance runs to evaluate race distance reliability on our engine, Ferrari have been running the same engine in interim form pre-Christmas and in interim and 2006 form in the new year, so they have a good mileage on the engine and a good understanding of its durability.” Red Bull

Racing News
Cody Unser speaking today Cody Unser speaking todayCody Unser, daughter of two-time Champ Car champion Al Unser Jr., is in Detroit today as a part of Super Bowl XL as the keynote speaker at the Women of Impact Awards Luncheon, that honors women of the NFL who have made a commitment to volunteerism. Presented by the Junior Leagues of Birmingham and Detroit, MI, and held at the Ford Motor Company Conference & Event Center, Ms. Unser will lead the event "celebrating the women who impact the lives of children."

The Cody Unser First Step Foundation (CUFSF) has raised thousands of dollars for research and awareness of Transverse Myelitis-- a rare, auto-immune disorder, which in Cody's case, caused paralysis from the chest down since age 12. As the ambassador to the Transverse Myelothopy Center of Johns Hopkins 'Project Restore', Cody is an impassioned advocate for improving quality of life programs and legislation. Cody's actions and efforts have helped raise awareness and improved the quality of life and treatment for scores of victims of paralysis. "I'm so honored to be a part of this grand celebration of women, life, and the impact we all can make if we only reach into our hearts," says Unser.

"Through my foundation's charity golf tournaments, I've had the pleasure of working with such football greats as Frank Gifford, Jim Kelly, Dick Vermeil-- Nick Buoniconti--through his son Mark and The Miami Project-- as well as with the NFL Alumni Association. I'm thoroughly enjoying my role this week, and look forward to seeing a great game and many good friends." Cody hopes to be able to watch the entire game on Sunday, but may return early to Albuquerque to advocate for disability issues pending before the New Mexico State Legislature. The Women of Impact Award hopes to bring to the forefront the wonderful volunteer efforts made by women of the NFL.

For more information on Cody Unser, The Cody Unser First Step Foundation, or Tranverse Myelitis, please visit http://www.codysfirststep.org/
Toyota has a better idea Toyota has a better idea"There are two ways to intervene on the V10s: either to adopt the FIA-mandated restriction, or to modify the engine mapping," Toyota engine boss Luca Marmorini was quoted as saying in Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.

"In the latter case, which is the one adopted by Ferrari, you are able to thoroughly and completely reproduce the behavior of an eight-cylinder engine.

"By working on the mapping, you can manage to choke the engine at low regimes too. So, you don't get significant differences in lap times between eight and ten cylinder engines."

Gronholm puts his Ford out front Gronholm puts his Ford out frontUPDATE #2 Stage 16 The rally leader has finished stage 16 in ninth spot. The Finn lost the hydraulic oil on the stage which squirted into the windscreen giving him poor visibility and had to do the second part of the stage with no active differential and with manual gear change. Christian Loriaux believes it could be a cracked filter housing but the car will be taken to service and be evaluated. This changes the leaderboard and puts Marcus Gronholm only 14.4 seconds ahead of Sebastien Loeb.

A delighted Gronholm is interviewed, right, after Stage 16, photo courtesy of Ford. After a scare with loss of hydraulic fluid and a car that would not start this morning, Gronholm now thinks he can hold onto lead for the overall win.

The fight between Daniel Carlsson and Gigi Galli continues. The Sweden has retaken third place overall after scoring third fastest time. Gigi Galli finished behind him and goes back to fourth spot in the general classification. 0.7 seconds separate them.

Mikko Hirvonen finished the stage fifth in the Ford Focus followed by Thomas Radstrom in the Rally Team Olsbergs Subaru S10 WRC.

Standings after 16th stage
Pos. No. Driver/Car Diff Prev Diff Ldr
1. 3 M. GRÖNHOLM 0.0 0.0
2. 1 S. LOEB 14.4 14.4
3. 63 D. CARLSSON 2:23.8 2:38.2
4. 14 G. GALLI 0.7 2:38.9
5. 15 J. TUOHINO 1:27.7 4:06.6
6. 16 T. RÅDSTRÖM 46.1 4:52.7
7. 10 K. KATAJAMÄKI 1:37.8 6:30.5
8. 2 X. PONS 54.4 7:24.9
9. 19 J. JOGE 32.8 7:57.7
10. 8 H. SOLBERG 34.0 8:31.7
11. 17 J. KOPECKÝ 2:13.0 10:44.7
12. 6 C. ATKINSON 6.2 10:50.9
13. 5 P. SOLBERG 27.7 11:18.6
14. 4 M. HIRVONEN 6.6 11:25.2
15. 9 M. WILSON 1:47.9 13:13.1
16. 73 J. HÄNNINEN 3.1 13:16.2
17. 21 D. SORDO 55.8 14:12.0
18. 65 J. KETOMÄKI 20.6 14:32.6
19. 35 P. ANDERSSON 3:05.2 17:37.8
20. 41 P. SANDELL 53.6 18:31.4

02/04/06 Stage 9: Another stage victory for Marcus Gronholm and his Ford Focus; the Finn scored his third best time of the day. Sebastien Loeb finished second, only 3.4 seconds behind the leader but 21.3 seconds away from the overall leaderboard. "Marcus is too fast and it will be difficult to catch him," said Loeb.

Petter Solberg was on a charge again and scored third fastest time followed by Mikko Hirvonen in the second Ford Focus who is trying to climb up the leaderboard. Gigi Galli was fifth fastest and still keeps his third position in the general results. zzzz

02/04/06 Ford Focus driver Marcus Gronholm stretched his lead to nearly 18 seconds after 8 stages of the Sweden World Rally.
Pos Driver Make Time
 1. Gronholm Ford 1:29:42.0
 2. Loeb Citroen + 17.9
 3. Galli Mitsubishi + 1:26.3
 4. Carlsson Mitsubishi + 1:26.7
 5. Stohl Peugeot + 1:55.7
 6. Ekstrom Skoda + 1:58.9
 7. Solberg Peugeot + 2:03.5
 8. Sohlberg Subaru + 2:13.8
 9. Tuohino Citroen + 2:18.5
10. Radstrom Subaru + 2:43.8
11. Katajamaki Ford + 3:15.9
12. Pons Citroen + 4:14.2
13. Schie Ford + 4:39.3
14. Joge Peugeot + 4:54.3
15. Wilson Ford + 5:38.9
16. Kopecky Skoda + 5:53.2
17. Solberg Subaru + 6:10.6
18. Aigner Skoda + 7:26.3
19. Atkinson Subaru + 8:16.2
20. Andersson Suzuki + 9:17.2

Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame forced to move Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame forced to moveUPDATE It will be announced today that the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame's new home will be Legendary Motor Car (LMC) outside of Toronto, Canada.  Dream Car Garage is done out of LMC and they get lots of visitors who will now also be able to visit the CMHF at the same time and vice versa.

11/17/05 [Editor's Note: This Hall of Fame was inside the Champ Car track in Toronto. It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, the stadium construction has on the race.] Toronto City council’s approved construction of the new Major League Soccer stadium is forcing the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame (CMHF) to rapidly look for another home to house its remarkable collection of Canadian racing vehicles and memorabilia.

The CMHF, which has been located in the Hall of Fame building at Exhibition Place, adjacent to the Sports Hall of Fame since March 2002, has been given its eviction notice and has been told it must vacate the premises by January 31, 2006.

Thom Dickinson, President, and Chairman of the board of the CMHF, says, “we have a team of people which is working hard to find a new and hopefully better location, but 90 days doesn’t give us a lot of time. We’re investigating several possibilities, but we’re also open to suggestions and offers".

The CMHF, also known as “Canada’s Home of Speed” holds the country’s largest known collection of racing machines and memorabilia. It has more than 20 spectacular vehicles in its diverse collection including the Walter Wolf Formula One car driven by Jody Scheckter, the 1995 Indy 500-winning Reynard driven by Jacques Villeneuve as well as Canada’s most famous racing boat, Miss Supertest III. It also boasts a unique collection of racing suits, helmets and trophies.

Determined to keep operating and remain open for fans, visitors, tours and events, Dickinson states, “We’re working hard to find a home that offers permanence and provides more room for bigger and better displays so we can continue to preserve, promote and celebrate Canada’s rich racing heritage.”

The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame was established to honor and recognize the achievements of those who have made significant contributions to Canada’s rich and colorful motorsport history. Since its inception in 1993, more than 90 people have been inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame including Greg Moore, Scott Goodyear and the legendary Gilles Villeneuve.

UNICO Racing Team USA Signs CR Crews for Atlantics UNICO Racing Team USA Signs CR Crews for AtlanticsUPDATE Frisco teen CR Crews continues to progress up the open-wheel ladder. Crews will compete this season in Champ Car Atlantic, the top feeder series for Champ Car.

Crews, 17, will drive for the three-car Mexico City team of Unico Racing under the new banner of Unico Racing USA. Tommy O'Brien, who worked with Crews in the Star Mazda series, will continue as crew chief.

"This is the opportunity I've waited for," Crews said. "Going into 2006 knowing that I'm competing for the Champ Car Atlantic championship is a great feeling. Things have been so uncertain the past few months. The stability of having a full ride is a huge boost."

Crews is scheduled to make his debut on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., on April 9. Tony Silva, owner of the Unico team, believes he has the skills to become a top open-wheel competitor.

"CR has been raised in motor sports to be a champion," Silva said. "I believe he will be. I know CR. He will compete for the Atlantic championship with the team we have assembled behind him." Dallas Morning News

01/24/06 DALLAS,  - Mexico City-based UNICO Racing plans to expand its operations and contest the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship presented by Yokohama, and it has signed 17-year-old CR Crews of Dallas as its first driver.

It will join Tommy O'Brien Racing of Dallas for the effort, running under the banner Unico Racing Team USA.

Unico Racing's NEXTEL-sponsored German Quiroga won the Mexican Formula Renault 2000 championship last year.  Another one of its drivers, Juan Esteban Jacobo, placed second in the Mexican Formula Renault 1600 drivers' championship in 2005. The team fielded five Formula Renault 2000 cars and two Formula Renault 1600 cars last year in all.

Crews, a standout in America's Star Mazda championship presented by Goodyear, is looking forward to working with the new Unico Racing Team USA and Tommy O'Brien, his highly successful 2004 Star Mazda crew chief.

"This is the opportunity I have waited for," said Crews.  "Last year was a rough one, and just going into 2006 knowing that I am going to be competing for the Champ Car Atlantic championship is a great feeling. Things have been so uncertain these past few months, and the stability of having a full ride even before the cars are delivered is a huge boost for me. I cannot even express how much I am looking forward to working with Unico Racing owner Tony Silva and my original crew chief, Tommy O'Brien. Even though this team is a new one there are years of experience here, and I am so happy to have been chosen to drive for them in the Champ Car Atlantic championship." zzzz

Unico Racing Team USA will be based in Dallas.  It may field up to three drivers in the Atlantic series.

"I am very pleased to join operations with Tommy O'Brien," said Silva.  "We met last week at his facility in Dallas, and I was very impressed by the operation and his personnel. With this partnership we have a complete Atlantic team awaiting delivery of our first car.

"CR and his father, Rik Crews, flew to Mexico City a week ago and we found a perfect opportunity to put this all together," Silva continued. 'I believe that CR will do an excellent job in our car. I know that he will be competing for the Champ Car Atlantic championship with the team we have assembled behind him. He has been raised in motorsports to be a champion. I do believe that it will be with Unico Racing Team USA where he finds that success."

Tommy O'Brien has fielded cars as an owner and crew chief in the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500 for many years.

Unico is the premier brand of men and women's undergarments in Latin America.

The Champ Car Atlantic championship is one of the premier open-wheel development series in North America. Beginning its 33rd season in 2006, the championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition. It has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. 2005 Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer are also established Atlantic graduates, along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger.

Heroes make the difference Heroes make the differenceUPDATE In response to the reader's point about producing heroes in Champ Car, I think Champ Car has every intention to market their drivers more and present them as heroes to casual fans.  An example of this intent is evident when you look at any of the "Race Car Driver" episodes where it focused more on the drivers than anything else. Another example was on the network TV race broadcasts last year, when they had short featurette's where a selected driver was given quick questions revealing their personalities for the audience to connect with.  It was even formally outlined in their long term plan that was presented before the start of 2005 season, where their goal was to keep drivers in the series in the long term.

The problem I believe is not Champ Car's intent, but the difficult situation American open-wheel racing is in with lacking sponsorship and support creating a two fold problem to produce these heroes. First, lack of sponsors means lack of financial stability, forcing teams to go after pay drivers instead of keeping talent and developing it into a public figure. Second, lack of sponsors means lack of sponsor activation and marketing planned around the "hero" driver they support.

The Intent is there, but the lack of sponsorship support necessary to implement it effectively is still something ChampCar has to work on. Alex Melikian, Montreal, Canada

02/04/06 A reader writes, I simply wanted to make an example. In the past The Ultimate Fighting Championship would market their product by having people watch the show. Their marketing strategy revolved around the show and not the fighters. Now, the UFC is marketing their fighters and making them heroes and the series is becoming very popular. You now have people such as Chuck Liddel, Matt Hughes, Tito Ortiz. These are names that people remember or have heard of. As you have mentioned before, it's extremely important that Champ Car starts to market its drivers and make them into heroes so that they become household names. You said it, people follow the heroes. Josue Cano P.S. can I borrow your head banging the wall cartoon?
IRL traveling bumpy road IRL traveling bumpy roadFor the third time in three months, an Indy Racing League team is liquidating, putting its race cars, transporters and other equipment on the auction block.

The Feb. 4-7 auction of locally based Panther Racing hangs over the open-wheel series like a dark cloud at a time when IRL officials have been crowing about its 2005 successes.

Television ratings soared 53 percent from 2004 to 2005, attendance increased 9 percent, merchandise sales were up 75 percent, and Web traffic on the series' site rose 162 percent. According to Joyce Julius and Associates, an independent Ann Arbor, Mich.-based media research firm, sponsors got 57 percent more exposures during 2005 IRL telecasts than in 2004.

"We're gaining momentum," said John Griffin, IRL vice president of public relations. "But we have to build more value for fans and sponsors. That's where our focus is."

On the heels of a week when IRL officials hired famed rock 'n' roller Gene Simmons to help sharpen the series' public image and announced retired NASCAR star Rusty Wallace will be the lead announcer on its national TV broadcasts, series honchos were still pondering why car count is declining, teams are folding, and sponsors are abandoning the open-wheel circuit.

The loss of Panther is especially concerning. Formed in 1997, Panther is one of the most successful teams in IRL history, with 15 race victories and two championships. The team's drivers have included Sam Hornish Jr., Dan Wheldon, Tomas Scheckter and Buddy Lazier.

Panther's owners include former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh, local car dealer Gary Pedigo and Doug Boles, who was an aide to former Mayor Steve Goldsmith.

"Panther lost Pennzoil, their primary sponsor, and that does happen in motorsports," said Zak Brown, president of Just Marketing, a locally owned motorsports marketing firm. "But when a series loses one of its stronger teams, that's pretty serious."

It's far from the IRL's only concern. MoNunn Racing liquidated after its owner Morris Nunn retired. Nunn's ability to make more selling the team piecemeal than as a package shows few prospective owners are on the horizon, motorsports experts said.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports, the 2004 Menard's Infiniti Pro Series champions, also recently chose to sell at auction after encountering financial difficulties.

Hemelgarn Racing, Cheever Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing also have encountered financial difficulties. zzzz

Red Bull, Pennzoil and Menard's are among sponsors that departed after the 2005 season. Engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Toyota also walked, leaving Honda as the series' sole engine supplier. While Honda has promised to bring lease costs of engines down, the series and its teams will sorely miss the millions of dollars in advertising the engine makers pumped into the IRL.

The economics of racing in the IRL is such that seven of the series' top 20 drivers in 2005 are without rides less than two months before the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The car count for the season opener by most accounts is hovering around 16, down from 20 to 21 last year. Officials for Dreyer & Reinbold and Panther are still working to scrape together enough sponsorship money to make the show. Despite its liquidation, Panther still hopes to field a one-car team. But motorsports insiders think Panther has little chance of racing in 2006. It costs $3 million to $5 million annually just to run an IRL team on a shoestring.

"We have a lot of good, productive meetings going on," said Dennis Reinbold, co-owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. "It's always difficult to find good sponsors that are the right fit, but we think right now, this series has some good selling points."

While IRL teams are struggling to find sponsors, sponsorship revenue in sports and entertainment is on the rise, according to William Chipps, editor of IEG Sponsorship Report, a Chicago-based publication that follows the sponsorship industry.

"We're projecting overall sponsorship spending to be up 11 percent in 2006," Chipps said. "This is the biggest increase in sponsorships since the dot-com boom."

Motorsports sponsorships are holding their own against the NBA, NHL and even powerhouse NFL, Chipps said. The IRL is simply losing out to NASCAR and other forms of racing, Chipps added.

Champ Car, the IRL's chief open-wheel rival, is in even worse shape.

"Champ Car right now simply doesn't register with most corporate sponsors," Chipps said. "The IRL is at least on the radar screen." More at Indiana Business Journal

[Editor's Note: Many people ask us if Champ Car even has a marketing department. They simply see no sign of it and apparently William Chipps agrees.]

Industry News
Ford GT axed due to budget cuts Ford GT axed due to budget cutsDETROIT - Ford Motor Co. will end production of the $150,000 GT sports car this year and scrap plans for a high-performance sport-utility vehicle to cut costs and reduce losses in North America.
Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, sold just 1,032 of the GTs last year after starting production in 2003 as part of its centennial celebration. The company is also canceling the Explorer Sport Trac Adrenalin, a 390-horsepower SUV, spokesman Jon Harmon said.

Chief Executive Officer William Clay Ford Jr. approved production of the GT in 2002, a month after he announced his first restructuring plan for the company. The GT was part of Ford Motor's attempt at an image makeover, which also included television advertisements featuring the CEO. The automaker began running a new series of Bill Ford advertisements last year, emphasizing a commitment to making more fuel-efficient vehicles. Bloomberg News

Panther Racing auction starts today Panther Racing auction starts todayPanther Racing has scheduled an auction to sell most of their equipment over three of the next four days and many key employees have already either been laid off or moved to other teams to solidify their own futures. Stability and the promise of a future in Indy Racing are just not things the team can promise to anyone right now.

The auction will begin on Saturday with team memorabilia that includes fire suits, uniforms, body work, and even some of the giant replica checks the team has been awarded through the years.

Monday and Tuesday will see much of the team's racing equipment sold, including current and outdated race cars, show cars, haulers and other vital equipment.

Three cars and parts are being held back in case a sponsor or Tony George rescues them and they can go racing in 2006 in the 11th hour.

One of Tomas Enge's cars from last year (fitted with an older spec Chevrolet engine), is already slated for shipment to Europe where it will wind up in the collection of Enge's manager, Tony Charouz. Another Panther Dallara was sold earlier in the off season to Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, where it will be raced by Kosuke Matsuura.

Internet bidding will be allowed for the Panther Racing auction through bidspotter.com.

Ticket sales for Bahrain race up 15% Ticket sales for Bahrain race up 15%Hotel prices in Bahrain have soared by 75 per cent as firms look to cash in on visitors attending the upcoming Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Race organizers, who are booking accommodation for more than 3,000 journalists, VIPs and the Formula One teams say prices are 45pc to 75pc higher than normal.

Meanwhile, race officials said tickets were racing ahead and 60pc of the tickets for the Oasis Grandstand have already gone.

Thirteen of the 16 corporate boxes have also been sold.

A BIC spokeswoman said they were unable to give exact figures because the selling outlets are located in several countries and there was no way to keep records up to date.

But officials are expecting a sell-out.

"It is the first race of the season and that will mean more support from fans," said the spokeswoman.

"If we compare this year's sales to last year's six weeks before the event, there is a 15pc increase.

"We are holding a big festival in Bahrain and that is why we think it will be sold out.

"There will be a lot of entertainment for children and adults, including an autograph session."

Daytona 500 sells out again Daytona 500 sells out againDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – All grandstand seats for the biggest, richest and most prestigious motorsports race in America – the 48th annual Daytona 500 – at historic Daytona International Speedway are sold out, Speedway President Robin Braig announced Friday.

While all the grandstand seats are sold out, fans can still purchase infield tickets for the “Great American Race” – the kick off to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 19. Fans can also purchase tickets for other exciting DIS Speedweeks events including the Budweiser Shootout (Feb. 11), Bud Pole Qualifying (Feb. 12), the Gatorade Duel at Daytona (Feb. 16), GM Flex Fuel 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (Feb. 17), Crown Royal International Race of Champions (Feb. 17) and the Hershey’s Kissables 300 NASCAR Busch Series event (Feb. 18).

“We’re happy to announce that the Daytona 500 is once again sold out,” Speedway President Robin Braig said. “The fans continue to show that the Daytona 500 is the premier stock car race in America.”

The Daytona 500 is the most watched motorsports event in America with more than:
200,000 in attendance each year
34 million viewers tuning into last year’s event on FOX Sports
2.9 million listeners on more than 500 domestic affiliates on MRN Radio.
Nearly one million men and women in uniform listening on Armed Forces Radio in 176 countries
MRN broadcasts to more than 180 U.S. Navy ships at sea.

Tickets are available for other Speedweeks events at Daytona International Speedway are available online at http://www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Atlanta sweetens HOF offer Atlanta sweetens HOF offerIt's a three-car race for the NASCAR hall of fame, and it looks like Atlanta is taking a pit stop to better its bid. Georgia lawmakers introduced a bill this week that would exempt the hall of fame from taxes on construction and materials -- a $6.5 million incentive.

Now Atlanta’s $92 million bid has more than $32 million worth of government money and incentives. The remainder would be financed through loans and the private sector. Glenn Richardson, the House speaker in Georgia, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the hall of fame “would be a tremendous benefit to the state, and I hope we beat Charlotte.”

Atlanta, Charlotte and Daytona Beach, Fla., are competing for the NASCAR facility.

In December, Florida legislators approved a special license plate that could raise as much as $30 million for Daytona Beach’s $110 million proposal.

Charlotte’s $137 million bid would be secured through an increase in the hotel/motel tax. NASCAR could pick a winning city as soon as March. News 14 Charlotte

Mosley proposes no money for the F1 manufacturers Mosley proposes no money for the F1 manufacturersUPDATE #2 (GMMf1NET)  Freshly re-elected as FIA president, Max Mosley has threatened to reignite political warfare within formula one.

The 65-year-old Englishman suggests to British newspapers that, out of the sport's $800 million per-year revenue, the already irritated car manufacturers should receive a grand sum of zero.

Max reckons private teams should get the loot.

''I believe it would be entirely reasonable to offer the manufacturers ... no income,'' he said.

Although imminent peace looked likely to break out in F1, Mosley's comments are sure to re-enrage 'GPMA', an alliance already threatening to break away and form their own championship in 2008, made up of BMW, Renault, Mercedes, Honda and Toyota.

In the end, however, Max's remarks probably mean little -- the FIA is a sports regulator that is not able to weigh in on F1's commercial side.  That responsibility belongs only to Bernie Ecclestone, owner of a 100-year lease of F1's monetary rights, but also a close Mosley ally.

Max's comments also coincide with reports that the European Union is now investigating F1's sale to CVC.  The transfer will not be completely official without an EU green light.

Spain's Marca newspaper, meanwhile, reports that it is the gearbox in McLaren's new MP4-21 racer that is causing both reliability problems and a distinct lack of pace.

Out with a bad cold at Valencia this week, Kimi Raikkonen will return to the wheel of the orange car in Jerez from next Thursday.  Friday's Valencia timesheet showed two Renault R26s topping the field of ten, also with whopping daily mileage.

02/04/06 Max Mosley, the president of the FIA, has raised the stakes in the battle for control of formula one by saying that the major car companies should receive no income from the sport's commercial rights because they have sufficient financial backing.

Instead he is proposing that the sport's reputed £454m annual income should exclusively benefit the independent teams for whom formula one is the core business rather than a marketing and promotional activity. "I believe it would be entirely reasonable to offer the manufacturers who join the formula one world championship no income," he said. This stance will be seen as highly provocative by the five car manufacturers - Renault, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Toyota - who are grouped under the GPMA alliance and threatening a breakaway championship in 2008 unless there is a more equitable share-out of revenue.

Sources close to the FIA suggest Mosley believes a structure where independent teams are awarded a greater income than their manufacturer-backed rivals is the only way to guarantee the sport's long-term stability.

"Manufacturers are involved in formula one for promotional reasons, whereas for independent teams it is their core business," a source said. The independent teams standing to benefit from such a move are Williams, Red Bull, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Midland and Super Aguri. The Guardian

02/03/06 FIA President Mosley was quoted in today's Evening Standard newspaper in England as saying that he supports the idea of the manufacturers getting no financial return for their entry into F1.

"I believe it would be entirely reasonable to offer the manufacturers that join the Formula One world championship no income," he said. 

"Manufacturers are involved in F1 for their own promotional reasons, whereas for independent teams it is their core business."

This is sure to irk the manufacturers, but of course it's just a bluff to create controversy and a lot of extra free publicity for F1 during the off-season.  The entire breakaway series threat was a ruse.  We see this over and over again in F1 - a mountain is made out of a mole hill by the media.

2006 race calendar details 2006 race calendar detailsThe FIA has released the details of its 2006 F1 calendar

 12-Mar BAHRAIN 5.412 km 0.246 km 57 308.238 km
 19-Mar MALAYSIA 5.543 km 0.000 km 56 310.408 km
 02-Apr AUSTRALIA 5.303 km 0.000 km 58 307.574 km
 23-Apr SAN MARINO 4.933 km 0.237 km 62 305.609 km
 07-May EUROPE 5.148 km 0.017 km 60 308.863 km
 14-May SPAIN 4.627 km 0.126 km 66 305.256 km
 28-May MONACO 3.340 km 0.000 km 78 260.520 km
 11-Jun GREAT BRITAIN 5.141 km 0.105 km 60 308.355 km
 25-Jun CANADA 4.361 km 0.000 km 70 305.270 km
 02-Jul UNITED STATES 4.192 km 0.000 km 73 306.016 km
 16-Jul FRANCE 4.411 km 0.184 km 70 308.586 km
 30-Jul GERMANY 4.574 km 0.000 km 67 306.458 km
 06-Aug HUNGARY 4.381 km 0.007 km 70 306.663 km
 27-Aug TURKEY 5.338 km 0.248 km 58 309.356 km
 10-Sep ITALY 5.793 km 0.309 km 53 306.720 km
 17-Sep BELGIUM 6.976 km 0.017 km 44 306.927 km
 01-Oct CHINA 5.451 km 0.190 km 56 305.066 km
 08-Oct JAPAN 5.807 km 0.198 km 53 307.573 km
 22-Oct BRAZIL 4.309 km 0.030 km 71 305.909 km
FIA confirms F1 schedule change FIA confirms F1 schedule changeUPDATE The FIA Formula One World Championship timetable is as follows:
 Friday (*)
11:00 - 12:00 Practice Session 1
14:00 - 15:00 Practice Session 2 
11:00 - 12:00 Practice Session 3 (**)
14:00 Qualifying Session (***) 
14:00 Race (****)
(*) Friday Practice sessions at Monaco will take place on Thursday.
(**) Except for Great Britain (9:30), Canada (10:00) and United States (10:00)
(***) Except for Great Britain (12:30), Canada (13:00) and United States (13:00)
(****) Except for Bahrain (14:30), Malaysia (15:00), Great Britain (12:00), Canada (13:00), United States (13:00) and Turkey (15:00)
All indicated times are local times. 02/03/06 On Friday, F1's governing body confirmed a much speculated change to the grand prix timetable in 2006, with Saturday now hosting just one practice session (11am-12pm), before qualifying at 2pm.

The British GP, however, will follow an odd schedule, with Saturday practice at 9.30am, qualifying at 12.30pm, and Sunday's big race at twelve noon.

ISport International to run Tristan Gommendy ISport International to run Tristan GommendyISport International are pleased to announce Tristan Gommendy as one of their drivers in the 2006 GP2 series. Tristan has proved to be a race winner in every formula he has competed in, and some strong World Series races last year made him one of our target drivers. After a test with the team at Paul Ricard in December, it was obvious that in difficult circumstances he still showed a high level of maturity and commitment. We think he should be a perfect partner to Ernesto Viso to help in the quest for race and championship wins. The whole team welcomes him aboard, and look forward to many successes together in 2006.

Paul Jackson, Team Principal "We kept an eye on Tristans results last year, and he seemed to be a driver that always pushed to the maximum whatever the circumstances, especially in qualifying.

After a test at Paul Ricard in the wet conditions, he showed with his attitude that he is a driver of class, and I am sure that this will show in 2006 with race wins"

Tristan Gommendy, Driver I'm really happy!   The Paul Ricard test in December was very positive and I have a really good feeling with the team.

Many thanks to iSport to give me this opportunity, and I'm sure that we will achieve very good results and we will fight to get the title!  I'm looking forward to the beginning of the season.

Indy 500 pushes back start time again Indy 500 pushes back start time againThe Indianapolis 500 is changing its starting time again. The May 28 race will begin at 1 p.m., the third starting time in as many years. Last year, the race started at noon after more than four decades at the traditional time of 11 a.m.
This change is precipitated by Indiana's move to Eastern Daylight Time.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials opted for this year's later start to keep the race on television at the same time in other time zones. Like last year, the race will air at 1 p.m. on the East Coast, noon in Chicago and 10 a.m. on the West Coast.

"Obviously, we didn't want to have to change it (again), but this is a reaction to decisions made by (state officials)," IMS president Joie Chitwood said Friday. "A later starting time is important to us getting peak (TV) ratings."
Last year's starting time change helped the 500 score its highest TV rating since 1996, the first year of the Indy Racing League. The 6.5 rating represented a 59 percent increase over the 2004 race.

The later starting time carries with it a later track opening. Rather than opening the gates at 5 a.m., which has been the Speedway's custom since the earliest days, the public will be allowed in at 6 a.m. Indy Star

Kiesa not happy about losing Williams test seat Kiesa not happy about losing Williams test seatA reply given by Danish ex-F1 driver Nicolas Kiesa as to why he did not get the second test driver role at Williams.  It is a reply given to a Danish F1 website.
First the Danish version
Skrevet af: Kiesa - Jeg har ingen manager, problemet er kort og godt jeg blev svigtet på mål stregen atter en gang, alt var på plads, kontrakten forhandlet og da det hele skulle lukkes af sprang en stor investor fra.Jeg er så frustreret at jeg ikke beskrive det, dette er det hårdeste slag i ansigtet jeg nogensinde har fået, der går et stykke tid inden jeg rejser mig nu tror jeg.Men jeg skal nok komme igen, jeg er blot på bar bund igen. Hva ang Narains tekniske feedback, tjaa hva kan jeg sige, han ved da hvad der foregår men han gør sig ikke nogle nyskabene tanker og han skal have præsenteret mulighederne for sig før han ved hva han skal gøre. Williams har fået Tata penge og Narain imellem 1000-1500 km "test" arbejde lovet.Havde det været mig havde jeg nok også taget det hvis jeg kunne men jeg føler ikke jeg har tabt til ham.Jeg ved godt hvem de ville have, om folk (TomK forever) vil tro på det er ikke mit problem.Jeg vil nu koncentrere mig om at komme op på hesten igen. Nicolas K
English version
I do not have a manager. The problem is that I lost out at the finish line. Everything was good. The contract was negotiated and when it was time to sign it a big investor of mine jumped ship.  I am so frustrated that I can not describe it.  It is the hardest blow I have taken and I think it will take some time before I will rise again. But I will rise again.  I am just starting from the bottom.  About Narain's technical feedback, well what can I say. He knows what is going on but he does not bring any creative thoughts and he needs to have things presented to him many times before he knows what to do.  Williams got Tata money and Narain had about 1000-1500 km. Had it been me I would probably also have taken it if I could, but I don't think that I have lost out to him because of ability.  I know who they wanted. If people want to believe it or not that is not my problem. Now I will concentrate about raising myself again. Nicolas K.

It will be interesting to see whether Kiesa tries F1 again, or looks to Champ Car.  Can he drive?

The last 2005 F1 outing for Nicolas Kiesa turned out quite well, setting the fastest time in the Friday sessions in Shanghai, almost a second ahead of his two Jordan teammates, Narain Kartikeyan and Tiago Monteiro - the teams regular drivers.

Even though the Shanghai Circuit was a completely new experience for Nicolas, he succeeded in being the fastest Jordan driver when the timing watch stopped after the second Friday session. With a time of 1:36.644 he was 0.8 seconds ahead of both Monteiro and Karthikeyan.

Wheldon to appear in Super Bowl ad Wheldon to appear in Super Bowl ad2005 IRL IndyCar® Series champion Dan Wheldon is among the athletes who will appear in a Super Bowl commercial to promote ESPN's new mobile phone service.

Wheldon, the first driver to capture the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 championships in the same season, is the only race car driver featured in ad. The 60-second ad promotes ESPN Mobile, which will offer a variety of sports programming and analysis to subscribers' cell phones. The service launches on Feb. 5.

The ad, which showcases a fantasy world populated by athletes and sporting events, will appear during the second quarter of Super Bowl XL on Feb. 5. Also featured in the ad are several IndyCar Series cars.

Among the other athletes to appear in the ad are baseball players Jim Edmonds, Torii Hunter, Juan Pierre, Huston Street and David Wells, basketball players Baron Davis  Stephon Marbury, Lisa Leslie, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, football player Antonio Gates, golfer Mike Weir, tennis player Robbie Ginepri and Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Carly Patterson. IRL

McLaren wrap up week at Valencia McLaren wrap up week at ValenciaThe Valencia test ended today [Friday], the final session of an intensive four day test that saw Team McLaren Mercedes cover over 2250km in total, about 900km in the MP4-21.

Kimi Raikkonen began the week in the MP4-21, on Tuesday 31st January. Wet weather conditions dominated the day, and as a result the Finn's work focused on systems checks. However, having completed just over 100km during the day, Raikkonen returned home with a bad cold at the end of the session.

Juan Pablo Montoya took over from Raikkonen in the MP4-21. As weather conditions improved, the warmer, dry environment allowed Montoya to cover a good distance in the team's 2006 car. The Columbian’s program for the week was running long stints.

In today's session Montoya continued to work on achieving longer runs and putting good mileage on MP4-21. In the morning, he completed two runs of 26 laps.

On his third long run of the day, his engine failed. The test team replaced the engine, however just before Montoya was due to go back out on track, an issue with the hydraulics system was identified.

Because this happened late in the session and the team had achieved the primary engineering objectives for the day, the decision was taken to end running for the week. In total today, Montoya covered 280km and set a quickest time of 1m12.802, ninth fastest.

Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett have also been testing with the team this week, at the wheel of the interim MP4-20. The sole focus for both drivers over the four day session has been key Michelin tire development programs.

Paffett was in Valencia on Tuesday and Wednesday, completing over 620km in total. De la Rosa assumed driving duties on Thursday and Friday and the Spaniard covered 740km, with 380 of those today. zzzz

Juan Pablo Montoya
"The distances we are covering is allowing us to complete some key programs with the car and I am looking forward to continuing this process next week in Jerez. The car is getting better the more we run it and develop it, and the team are doing a really good job. We have had a couple of technical issues this week, but this is why we test and everything like this helps us learn more about the car."

Kimi Raikkonen
"The rain we had in Valencia on Tuesday meant that general testing was not really possible as we would not get any useful results from running. So we used the opportunity to complete some of the tests that we need to do before the start of the season, such as wet launches, various fuel systems checks and so on. Because of my bad cold, I was not able to test on the Wednesday, which was a shame as it was not raining. However I will be back in the car in Jerez on Thursday and will hopefully be able to start putting in some good distances in MP4-21."

Pedro de la Rosa
"We have had another interesting week at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, we have been able to put further mileage on the MP4-21 and from what the team are saying and the time I spent in the car last week, I think it has a lot of potential. Although we are not in the 21, me and Gary are continuing the Michelin development program."

Gary Paffett
"I had a pretty uneventful week at the test, as there were no issues or stoppages for me, however it was a really useful weeks testing. We are getting some good feedback from the on-going Michelin work and as the weather has improved during the week, the conditions have become more favorable for the program we had to complete." Source McLaren Mercedes

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday
'Freejack'  (1992) 
12:00 a.m.-2:30 a.m. ET SPEED
The Making of the Movie 'Le Mans'
2:30 a.m.-3:00 a.m. ET (R) SPEED
5:00 a.m.-6:00 a.m. ET (R) Discovery HD Theater
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (R) Discovery HD Theater
Drifting Pretty (Female Drifting Crew)
9:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m. ET SPEED
'Then Came Bronson'  (1969)
9:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. ET SPEED
Portugal to Dakar
11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. ET (R) OLN

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

Televisa to air Monterrey race live Televisa to air Monterrey race liveTelevisa, the largest TV network in Mexico has announced that they will broadcast the Monterrey A1GP live. Televisa broadcasts a one-hour summary every A1GP race (Remember that there are actually 2 races on race day, a sprint race that normally lasts around 30 minutes, and the feature race that lasts around 60 minutes), but for the Monterrey race they will broadcast both races live.

This reminds us that Champ Car is broadcast in Mexico by TVAzteca, Televisa´s main rival, and we have always believed that Champ Car needs to change  from TVAzteca to Televisa.  If A1GP can do it then why not Champ Car? Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico

Busch spins in final session Busch spins in final sessionKurt Busch spins the Penske Dodge out of turn four during the final afternoon testing session of NASCAR Nextel Cup Preseason Thunder at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Busch was fastest during the afternoon session with a lap of 169.694 mph. 
Photo by David Allio
Firman backs Super Aguri F1 for success Firman backs Super Aguri F1 for successA1 Team Ireland driver Ralph Firman has given his support to the new Super Aguri F1 team which had its entry into the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship confirmed last week. The 30 year old former Jordan Formula One driver raced Aguri Suzuki’s Team Honda Racing ARTA NSX into 2nd place in the 2005 Japanese Super GT series and is confident Suzuki can be successful in Formula One.

“I am delighted for Aguri Suzuki because he’s not only achieved a huge amount as a driver but also as a businessman and team owner,” said Firman, fresh from a highly competitive showing in the South African round of the A1GP series in Durban. “He is a very competitive individual and experienced at pulling together strong teams with good financial support. His business skills are clearly very good. Although he has put this Formula One program together very quickly, I am confident he realizes the challenge that lies ahead and will impress everyone with the way in which he tackles it. It will be fascinating to watch.”

Firman, whose own rookie Formula One season with Jordan was blighted by suspension failures and a huge accident at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix caused by rear wing failure, believes Honda’s opportunity to win in Formula One will be enhanced its involvement in the Super Aguri F1 program. zzzz

“Honda is a fantastic company to work with and, whether it’s in Super GT or Formula One, they compete to win. I am sure that the feedback they get from having both the works Honda F1 team and the involvement in Super Aguri F1 will benefit them as the season progresses. I do not believe it will compromise either team, quite the opposite in fact. Honda F1 has a very strong driver line-up with Jenson and Rubens pushing hard to win, and I am sure Super Aguri F1 will have drivers capable of scoring points this season. That would be a terrific result in the team’s first year.”

Firman is A1 Team Ireland’s principal driver and achieved the team’s first podium finish in the Portuguese round of the series in Estoril. He is also planning to compete again in Japanese Super GT this season, and recently completed a successful test in the Team Honda Racing NSX at Sepang, Malaysia.

Renault stays fastest, McLaren continues to struggle Renault stays fastest, McLaren continues to struggleFriday test times from Valencia where Fernando Alonso stayed atop the speed charts for the 2nd day in a row. Meanwhile the new McLaren appears to be struggling. Missing Adrian Newey already are they?
1 . F. Alonso - Renault R26 - 1:10.552 (+ 0.000 ) - 144 laps
2 . H. Kovalainen - Renault R26 - 1:10.953 (+ 0.401 ) - 163 laps
3 . N. Rosberg - Williams Cosworth FW28 - 1:11.404 (+ 0.852 ) - 53 laps
4 . P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes MP4-20B - 1:11.607 (+ 1.055 ) - 96 laps
5 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber F1.06 - 1:11.797 (+ 1.245 ) - 83 laps
6 . R. Schumacher - Toyota TF106 - 1:11.851 (+ 1.299 ) - 77 laps
7 . R. Zonta - Toyota TF106 - 1:11.934 (+ 1.382 ) - 112 laps
8 . R. Kubica - BMW Sauber C24B - 1:12.217 (+ 1.665 ) - 86 laps
9 . J. P. Montoya - McLaren Mercedes MP4-21 - 1:12.802 (+ 2.250 ) - 71 laps
10 . J.P. de Oliveira Williams Cosworth FW27C - 1:13.918 (+ 3.366 ) - 32 laps.

Times courtesy of Circuit Valencia.

Legge speaks Legge speaksIn this Road And Track column Katherine Legge says about her recent Champ Car test with PKV, "I went through the same rigmarole as Ryan Briscoe, Giorgio Pantano and Ryan Dalziel. It was a real structured test, where we made some changes, but basically worked through the same list that they had worked with. I'd come in and do different length runs, that sort of thing, but it was very professional and very serious, which was a good thing.

"I felt a lot of pressure to repeat the impressive performances that the other three had managed the week before. Because there probably wasn't as much rubber down because I was the only one out on the track, I had a lot to achieve to be as good as their times, but nobody likes to be slow. I still viewed it as going there to do my best and, at the end, I was very pleased with my times. Kevin Kalkhoven had suggested that I needed to be in the 51.5s - saying that if I wasn't there or thereabouts, there was no point taking things further - which added to the pressure, but I rose to the challenge.

"I just did my best, went out there and drove as well as I could have driven, but I pushed hard for the times, because I knew that, if I was to be considered for the drive, I had to be as good as the boys - there's no way I'm going to get an easy ride just because I'm female and good for PR, unfortunately!

"I'm not sure what the situation regarding sponsorship is and, until the team decides what it is doing, that won't become clear, but I'm sure that it will be selection by merit and then find the money after that. I'm sure that we will be able to find sponsorship, purely because I have a unique selling point now. Being female has gone against me in the past, so I'm going to use it to my advantage when it comes to finding money. However, I'm guessing that that won't be the sole determining factor in deciding who gets the drive, because I think PKV wants to get the best drivers it can to move the team forward ahead of 2007, when everyone wants to be at the top of their game."

Dan Cobb Racing prepares for '06 Atlantic championship Dan Cobb Racing prepares for '06 Atlantic championshipFebruary 3, 2006 - Anxious to build on a tremendous rookie season in the Atlantic series in 2005, Dan Cobb Racing is back and ready for another title run in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.
The Illinois-based team emerged as one of the surprises in Atlantics last season as it posted a second-place overall finish in the series championship with Estonian racer Tonis Kasemets. Team owner Dan Cobb also had an interesting rookie season as a driver as he placed third in the series C2 Cup standings. Between Kasemets and Cobb, the team earned four victories and five pole positions in their respective classes of competition.
“We had a great first season in Atlantics and we’re gearing up for even bigger and better things with the new cars in 2006,” said Cobb, referring to the new Swift 016.a/Cosworth/Yokohama Atlantic cars that will be delivered in early March. “We want to run a two-car team this season and we’re actively looking for some talented, funded drivers. We proved last season that we as a team know how to compete and win at this level. Now we want to take the next step.”
The team has been busy testing over the last several weeks and plans to continue on the test trail in February as it searches for the right driver lineup for ’06.
“We’re looking at a few young guys but we’re always keeping our options open,” added Cobb, who performed well in SCCA competition before forming the team to compete in Atlantics last year.
Symonds talks about F1 technical changes Symonds talks about F1 technical changesThe Renault F1 Team’s strategy mastermind explains the impact of changes to the sporting regulations - Interview with Pat Symonds

Pat, the most significant change to the sporting regulations comes in the form of tire usage, both in the race and through the weekend. What is your perspective on the change?
"Going back to tire changes during the race is not a step into the unknown because it marks a return to the sprint races we have seen since the mid-90s. The more interesting point is to do with tire usage and selection. Unlike last year, we are now totally free and do not have to make our tire choice until qualifying starts; indeed, we can now start the race on new tires and fit new tires all the way through the race, if we choose to. The key thing is that we only have seven sets in total. Managing tire usage is now a key strategic choice during the weekend."

What does this change for the set-up, and strategies?
"The car will be configured differently, we can be more aggressive in our set-ups if the tires don’t have to last for the whole race and we will be less worried about tire wear in 2006. Conversely, problems like graining will become an issue once again. Finally, it has an impact on strategy. In 2006, I think we will see more pit-stops and more strategic variation, to take advantage of the performance gain from fitting new tires."

The weekend format has also changed – will that affect the amount of running you do?
"I think it almost certainly will, especially regarding the Friday test sessions. Those teams with the advantage of the third car will run a lot, but for the top four teams, there will be much less activity. The tire situation is one reason, but we also have a longer qualifying procedure – which will use up engine mileage. We will be managing engine life very carefully once again in 2006, especially at the beginning of the year when all the teams will have brand new units. Everybody will look to limit their running on Friday."

Do you expect the nature of the races to change?
"Each team will strike a balance between the optimum race strategy, and the fight for grid position. For the cars outside the top ten, the logical thing to do is to carry as heavy a fuel load, as your tires will allow you to. This will allow you to pit later, and perhaps make fewer stops, in order to gain track position during the race. In the front half, the balance between fuel load and grid position will be more delicate. I certainly believe the qualifying format will split the race into two very distinct halves in 2006, at least in the opening stages of the Grand Prix." Source RenaultF1

Busch drivers, including Paul Tracy, to test Busch drivers, including Paul Tracy, to testAt least 13 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series regulars and a Champ Car star are scheduled to participate in the Busch Series edition of NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas.

NASCAR stars Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick and Las Vegas' Kyle Busch as well as former Champ Car champion Paul Tracy are among the full-time NASCAR Nextel Cup stars that will be part of the 32 drivers who are scheduled to test Feb. 6-8 to prepare for the March 11 Sam's Town 300.

"I really enjoy running the Busch car," Biffle said. "I have a lot of fun with it, and the more seat time I can get, the better. I hate it when there is a race going on and I'm not out there in it."

Midland wants to use Russian space experts Midland wants to use Russian space expertsFormula One's first Russian team are looking to the country's space and aviation experts for a competitive edge.  "It is very exciting. It was our plan from day one to have a Russian team in Formula One and we have executed our plan," said Russian-born billionaire Alex Shnaider after Midland unveiled their first car on Friday.  "Now we just have to do better than we did last year," the team owner, who bought struggling Jordan in January 2005, told Reuters. Jordan had only Minardi behind them in the final 2005 standings.  "We are very actively looking now for aerodynamicists and engineers in Russia, to hire and to bring here to help with the team and bring new ideas," added the naturalized Canadian.  "There are a lot of very good specialists in Russia, aircraft designers."

"It will probably take a few years to get a Russian driver into F1," said Shnaider. "We are looking also at other young drivers. Obviously he has to be as good as the other drivers but I think there is enough talent in Russia."

Daytona hosting NASCAR-LPGA event Daytona hosting NASCAR-LPGA eventDaytona International Speedway officials say the track's Checkered Flag Committee will host the Daytona 500 NASCAR-LPGA Charity Golf Classic presented by Kitson & Partners LLC.

The Feb. 10 event will include 32 teams who will be paired with an LPGA Tour player for nine holes and a NASCAR driver or racing personality for another nine holes at LPGA International's Legends Golf Course.

The tournament will benefit the Betty Jane France Center of Excellence for Children and The LPGA Foundation. NASCAR Daily Scene

Risi Competizione Ferrari returning to GT2 class Risi Competizione Ferrari returning to GT2 classRisi Competizione has confirmed its plans today to field two Ferrari 430 GT race cars in the GT2 class of the American Le Mans Series for 2006. It marks the first full season entry for Ferrari into the Series since 2004 and the addition of yet another elite manufacturer into the class.

"Ferrari embodies many of the same qualities that the American Le Mans Series embraces," Series President and CEO Scott Atherton said. "Exotic, prestigious and elite are descriptions that come to mind when discussing both. Ferrari has played a significant role in the American Le Mans Series throughout its history, and we are ecstatic that it will be returning to our grid."

Team owner Giuseppe Risi said one Ferrari will campaign the entire season, including the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. A second car will compete at multiple races including the Lone Star Grand Prix to be staged in Houston, the team's home base, on May 12. Both cars will run on Michelin tires.

"We're very pleased to race a Ferrari again in the American Le Mans Series," Risi said. "We believe that this is the leading sports car series in the United States, and we are looking forward to the competition in the GT2 class."

The driver lineup will be highlighted by Ralf Kelleners, who returns to Risi Competizione and Ferrari after competing in two Series events last year with ACEMCO Motorsports in GT1. The 36-year-old German was with Risi in 2004 when Risi's Ferrari 360 Modena took a GT2 victory at Lime Rock, breaking Porsche's 21-race winning streak in the class.

Kelleners has made 28 starts in the American Le Mans Series with 11 podium finishes, all but two with Risi and Ferrari. Further driver announcements will be made at a later date.

The Risi Ferraris join a highly competitive GT2 class, which should see its deepest field in the eight-year history of the American Le Mans Series.

"Ferrari joins a GT2 class that is ripe with championship contenders," Atherton said. "A full field of cars from Ferrari, Porsche, Panoz, Lexus and BMW no doubt will entertain our fans at the tracks and the millions who will watch the American Le Mans Series on CBS and SPEED Channel."

Risi Competizione has long been a key supporter and member of the American Le Mans Series. In 2005, the team played a key role in Maserati's 2005 effort in the Series, lending technical support and service to the Maserati MC12 in GT1.

"Giuseppe Risi is one of our most loyal and supportive team owners with an excellent history of fielding winning Ferrari teams," Atherton said. "Our elite competitors, prestigious corporate partners and devoted fans are assured of another outstanding effort in 2006 from Ferrari and Risi Competizione." ALMS

A1 Grand Prix
A1GP cars released after being seized A1GP cars released after being seizedAccording to The Mercury South African publication, 50 A1GP cars were seized at the airport after lawyers acting on behalf of insurance brokers Aon South Africa claimed they were owed $6 million in unpaid insurance premiums. The dispute was settled out of court on Thursday evening.  The Star newspaper reported that the giant cargo plane was forced to leave the airport without its precious cargo, but they are now ‘free to go’
MF1 Racing Charges Ahead with Rhino's MF1 Racing Charges Ahead with Rhino'sMF1 Racing, the Formula One team owned and operated by the Midland Group, is pleased to announce a two-year partnership agreement with Rhino's, an exciting new energy drink from Austria.

Rhino's logos were prominently displayed on the brand-new Midland MF1 Toyota M16 car that was unveiled at Silverstone today.

Colin Kolles, MF1 Racing's Managing Director, welcomed the announcement by saying, "This is a fantastic day for the team. We are very excited to unveil our new car, as well as an important new sponsor. Rhino's two-year commitment affords our team added stability and provides their brand with global exposure. There is great synergy between Rhino's and MF1 Racing, as we are both ambitious, young teams looking to make an impact in our respective fields."

Falk Raudies, CEO of Rhino's Energy Drink and Food AG, added, "Our ambition is to establish ourselves as the undisputed number-two player in the global energy drink sector by 2008, and we see F1 as an effective platform for creating brand awareness in new markets. I believe this co-operation with Midland MF1 Racing will accelerate the company's road to success. MF1 is a dynamic young team on the rise that perfectly embodies Rhino's image of power and endurance. It's a great fit, and we're looking forward to charging ahead together." 

Made with pure spring water from the Austrian Alps, Rhino's represents a fresh-tasting alternative in the sports and energy drink market. The Rhino's brand was launched in 2005 and is now available in 28 countries worldwide. Other sports marketing initiatives include sponsorships of ice hockey, stunt shows and motorsports in Europe and the USA. MF1 Racing

Ward wants a ride Ward wants a rideWard Burton is quite matter-of-fact when reasoning his yearlong absence from NASCAR competition: The phone didn't just sit idle. He had opportunities to get back in the seat. Just couldn't get excited about any of them. So he held out. But as one of the most active Silly Seasons in recent memory came and went without resolution, Burton began to realize something: Some of this is my fault. It's not just going to fall in my lap. "There were a few offers," Burton said. "It wasn't as good as I'd have liked, and some of that is my fault, not being as proactive as I needed to be and relying on other people to do things for me. I didn't take time within the racing fraternity as I should have." That's not to say it was time wasted. Quite the contrary, in fact. Burton spent the year working on land conservation projects and spending considerable QT with his wife and children. "The loss of that year made me realize how much I love the sport, like the competition, like the camaraderie and intermingling with the fans, building sponsor programs, all of it," he said. Easier said than done. Anyone that knows NASCAR knows it is the consummate out of sight, out of mind business. Just walking back in after a year off is difficult for everyone, impossible for some. Burton is committed. He plans to be more visible at the racetrack in 2006, and is discussing possible sponsorship opportunities with NASCAR's brass and other industry movers and shakers "so I can bring something other than just myself to a team." NASCAR.com
Nearly 4000 km for the new Renault Nearly 4000 km for the new RenaultIt was a sunny day in Spain as the Renault F1 Team embarked upon day two of testing, with the aim of completing race distances with each car. Fernando Alonso and Heikki Kovalainen had a busy program, and were hampered by frequent red flags caused by other cars which disrupted running.

Once the circuit had warmed up, Fernando Alonso’s program ran smoothly, without major incident. The Spaniard once again focused on tire development, particularly during medium-length runs this afternoon.

The technical team responsible for Heikki Kovalainen’s car had a busy afternoon. After a productive morning, a minor hydraulic leak – exactly the kind of problem we go testing to solve – left the car out of action during early afternoon, as it was fixed. Better now than in Bahrain! Indeed, the test team often say that a difficult day’s testing is the best way to learn about a new package.

“We had another busy day,” summarized Heikki last evening. “I am pleased with my second day. We had to fix some problems, but nothing serious, and normal when you are developing a new car.”

In spite of these incidents, the team nevertheless completed 743 km in total, with Fernando taking top spot and Heikki seventh. The R26 has so far completed nearly 4000 km in five days of testing. Renault

We have gained a little more top power says Honda We have gained a little more top power says HondaThe Honda Racing F1 Team moved to Valencia this week for the second test with the new RA106 cars. The main focus of the test programme was putting more mileage on the two new chassis, together with tire and engine development work. The team also continued its preparations for the new season with qualifying and race simulations.

Despite the poor winter weather conditions, the test was a positive one with the new car showing good reliability and pace and with drivers Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button and Anthony Davidson regularly occupying the top of the timesheets.

Rubens and Anthony began the testing programme on Tuesday using extreme wet tires following overnight rain at the Valencia circuit. Both drivers completed set-up runs and practice qualifying procedures to adapt to the new 2006 qualifying format. The set-up work was continued in the afternoon session on wet tires as the track began to dry out. Both Rubens and Anthony completed 62 laps in total, with Rubens setting the fastest time and Anthony the second fastest time of the day.

"On my first day of running, we completed quite a lot of laps in the car despite the wet conditions,’ Rubens said. “On the second day, I focused mainly on tire testing over long runs. This is a really good way to familiarize yourself with the car so I am becoming more and more comfortable. It was very pleasing to see that the new car has once again been very competitive."

Jenson joined the team on Wednesday taking over from Anthony. He began the day with an aero evaluation on wet tires whilst Rubens ran through further set-up solutions. With the circuit drying out by lunchtime, both drivers continued the testing programme with a race simulation exercise, in combination with a dry tire programme. Rubens completed 117 laps with Jenson totaling 86 laps and setting the second fastest time of the day.

Anthony rejoined the test program on Friday alongside Jenson. With dry morning track conditions for the first time this week, both drivers worked through long run dry tire evaluations followed by a race simulation in the afternoon session. zzzz

"We've had a pretty good day and it was great to drive the car in the dry finally,” Davidson said. “The conditions were good today and we achieved a lot of laps as my car was reliable all day. As with the other drivers, we mainly went through tire testing for long runs and also pit stop practices which was fun because I don't get to do that very often. So all in all it's been another good week and I'm looking forward to continuing to develop the set-up of the car."

Jenson suffered an engine failure in chassis 02 early in the afternoon session but was able to return to the track to complete his programme. Anthony completed an impressive 126 laps in total today, with Jenson completing 85 laps and once again ending the day second fastest.

"Overall, the test has been really positive this week so it is unfortunate that we suffered an engine failure on the final day,” Jenson added. “We've been working mainly on long run performance and the consistency has been good. As with all new cars we are just trying to get as much mileage as possible under our belts at the moment but I'm pleased with how the car is shaping up."

"It has been another very good test for us this week with the new Honda Racing F1 Team RA106 cars,” added Mark Ellis, Chief Engineer Vehicle Performance. “We have again had to contend with poor weather and track conditions however the cars have proven to be fast and consistent in all conditions. Despite a couple of small issues, we are happy with the reliability of the new car. We look forward to continuing our development programme in Jerez next week."

"We have gained a little more top power and an improved torque curve after this test. Our target is 100% reliability so we still have work to do in the coming weeks, but overall we have made good progress," concluded Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development. Honda

CSS Stellar Management signs Tiago Monteiro CSS Stellar Management signs Tiago MonteiroCSS Stellar Management, a company dedicated to international management, specializing in sport, is pleased to announce that they have signed a new partner, Portuguese driver Tiago Monteiro who will race for the MidlandF1 team in 2006, contesting his second season of Formula One.

CSS Stellar Management is one of the leaders of international agencies specializing in the management of sportsmen’s careers. It was founded by Julian Jacobi, who is one of the greatest figures in terms of managing sportsmen, particularly racing drivers. Jacobi worked with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, and his agency currently has drivers such as Juan Pablo Montoya (Formula One), Dan Wheldon, winner of the Indy 500 and IRL champion, and Rally’s double world champion Sebastien Loeb on their books. The agency also represents the England football team and Sachin Tendulkar, a celebrated cricketer. zzzz

Tim Sice, General Manager of CSS Stellar Management, commented:
"We are very glad to have Tiago as one of our customers. He proved to have enormous potential during his first season in Formula One, and we intend to make his situation mature further by being in charge of his commercial business now and in the future."

"I am very happy to have the opportunity to work with company that has such a proven record in Formula One, the pinnacle of the autosports," said a delighted Tiago. "I am convinced that we will work well together, and that we will benefit from all the opportunities that present themselves to us, which will make my life easier. At this stage of my sporting career, there are a lot of things to consider apart from the car, and it is important to be able to count on the best professionals."

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
MF1 confirm Monteiro
Tombazis leaves McLaren for Ferrari
Three drivers to share MF1 seat
'I didn't see Rossi' - Alonso
Eight teams test new cars
Ralf's new motor home
Hockenheim crisis deepens
Schu sanguine in Spain
Brazilian to test Williams
$3.6m upgrade at Magny Cours
'Aguri' don't expect wins
BMW beat us to Heidfeld - Head
2006 is Lucky Strike's last F1 season
Fisi hopes for new Renault contract
TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (R) Discovery HD Theater
Lake Placid
2:00-3:00 p.m. ET SPEED
3:00-4:00 p.m. ET SPEED
Robert Wilonsky interviews director
   Roger Donaldson about his new
   film, 'The World's Fastest Indian'
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET (R) HDNet
Two Guys go to the Performance
   Racing Industry Trade Show
4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. ET (R) SPEED
Durban, South Africa
Round 7  (1/29/06)
6:00 p.m-8:00 p.m. ET OLN
'Freejack'  (1992)
8:00 p.m.-10:30 p.m. ET SPEED
Making of the Movie 'LeMans'
10:30 p.m.-11:00 p.m. ET (R) SPEED

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

Grand Prix Foundation eBay Auction Winner Grand Prix Foundation eBay Auction WinnerLONG BEACH, Calif. -- Up until 4:59 p.m. Thursday, January 26, Thom Naito had never entered an eBay on-line auction.  For that matter, he'd never turned some hot laps behind the wheel of a race car.

All that changed with the flick of his computer's "Enter" key.

Naito, a 34-year-old business analyst for an on-line marketing firm, was eBay's high bidder - with just six seconds remaining! - for a seat in a race-modified Scion tC in the 30th Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race.

Come April 7-8, he'll be hitting 100 mph and banging fenders with the likes of past participants such as George Lucas, Cameron Diaz, Jay Leno and one of the 50 greatest players in NBA History, Karl Malone, in one of the fan-favorite portions of the 32nd annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend.

His winning bid of $50,350 will benefit the Grand Prix Foundation of Long Beach which, since its inception in 1991, has donated more than $1.8 million to a wide variety of Southern California charities.

"I heard about the auction from people at work," Naito says, "but I'd never done an on-line auction before.  I was definitely exited when I won and I couldn't sleep at all that night.  I'm sure I'm in store for some more restless nights leading up to the race, too!"

Born in Japan and raised in Hawaii, Naito is married and has one child. A self-confessed Formula One and Champ Car fan, he has attended the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for four of the past five years. zzzz

The West Los Angeles resident will now take part in four days of professional driver's training at Fast Lane Driving School at Willow Springs Raceway and be outfitted with custom-made driving gear prior to taking part in the pre-race Media Day and other race-related activities.

"It's unbelievable," Naito said.  "The opportunity to take part in an historic event like the Toyota Grand Prix - and to do it all for charity - is nothing but a 'win/win' situation."

"On behalf of the Grand Prix Foundation, I'd like to congratulate and thank Mr. Naito for stepping up to the plate and winning this auction," said Rick DuRee, president of the Grand Prix Foundation of Long Beach. "As in past years, net proceeds from this year's events - including this auction - will benefit local charities. We are grateful for his participation this year."

Naito and the Pro/Celebrity field will take the green flag on Saturday, April 8, part of a Grand Prix weekend that also include the Champ Car World Series, Drifting challenge, Champ Car Atlantics, Daytona Prototypes and SPEED Challenge GT racing.

Few minor problems for Montoya Few minor problems for MontoyaTeam McLaren Mercedes completed day three of a four day test at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo on Thursday with Pedro de la Rosa joining Juan Pablo Montoya at the Valencia track. Juan Pablo continued to focus on car evaluation work and longer runs in the MP4-21, although again there were a number of red flag stoppages, with 15 other drivers on track, which affected his program.

Despite this, the Colombian covered 61 laps of the Spanish track, which equates to over 235km in total. His fastest time of the day, a 1m12.477, put him in fourteenth position on the timesheets. Juan Pablo also spent some time in the garage during the course of the afternoon, with a minor electrical issue, which was resolved by the test team and the Colombian returned to the track.

Meanwhile, Pedro returned to the Michelin development program in the MP4-20 interim car. He completed over 360km at Valencia and was thirteenth fastest overall. Juan Pablo and Pedro will be present on Friday for Team McLaren Mercedes final day of testing this week. McLaren

Adrian Sutil Confirmed as MF1 Junior Driver Adrian Sutil Confirmed as MF1 Junior DriverOn the occasion of the launch of its brand-new MF1 Toyota M16 car at Silverstone Circuit, MF1 Racing - the Formula One team owned and operated by the Midland Group - is pleased to introduce 22-year-old Adrian Sutil from Munich, Germany, as the team's official Junior Driver for 2006.

Sutil, runner-up in the 2005 F3 Euroseries Championship, becomes the sixth German to be involved in F1 in 2006.

MF1 Racing Managing Director Colin Kolles commented, "Adrian drove for my F3 team in his rookie Euroseries season. When he earned pole position in just his third race, I was more than just impressed - I was convinced that he was a talent for the future. As MF1's Junior Driver in 2006, he will have the opportunity to mature professionally in a Formula 1 environment and prepare himself thoroughly for what I believe will be a great F1 career." zzzz

Sutil will share testing duties for the team and will also participate in some of the Friday Grand Prix practice days.

A gifted pianist, Sutil was expected to follow his violinist father, Jorge, into a musical career but at the age of 14, he discovered karting.

"From that moment on, Formula 1 has been my goal," said the aspiring Junior Driver. "This opportunity with MF1, at an early stage in my development as a driver, is a dream come true. I know that if I work really hard, I can repay the confidence that has been shown in me and earn a place among the top drivers in the world."

MF1 Racing introduces new sponsors MF1 Racing introduces new sponsorsOn the occasion of MF1 Racing Ltd, the team owned and operated by the Midland Group, unveiling its all new MF1Toyota M16, it is also proud to announce a portfolio of brand new sponsors to Formula 1 in addition to those revealed in recent weeks.

Marhaba Communications is a company based in the Middle Eastern region providing Triple Play solutions through their ATM network offering Internet (broadband), Voice (VoIP), IPTV, Media Content Transfer and Mobile Network support.

Clarington Investments is a leading provider of innovative financial services in Europe and other global markets. Clarington offers investment products, private banking and structured finance products for private, corporate and institutional clients.

Axzons is an Intellectual Property Investment company headquartered in New York and specializing in the Biotech industry.

Kick Communications based in the USA has a decade of success in designing, planning, building, management and strategic growth of cutting edge communication networks specializing in the healthcare industry.

Kicklotto provides the operations for the future Russian Electronic Lottery and Credit Card processing solutions.

Colin Kolles, managing director of MF1 Racing commented: 'The introduction of these five new companies to Formula 1 is an exciting moment for our new Midland MF1 Racing team and clearly illustrates the powerful attraction of Formula 1 as it moves into a tobacco-free advertising era.'

Miss Grand Prix of Houston competition announced Miss Grand Prix of Houston competition announcedThe high-octane sights and sounds of the Grand Prix of Houston will now have a more feminine side with the addition of the Miss Grand Prix of Houston competition, a contest to select a young woman who will represent the Grand Prix as the event's official ambassador. The contest will be part of the international "Face of Champ Car" competition, an official support event of the Champ Car World Series.  The finals of the Houston competition will be staged during the three days and nights of speed and entertainment of the Grand Prix of Houston, May 11 - 13 at Reliant Park.

The Miss Grand Prix of Houston competition will feature 22 talented Houston-area finalists who will vie for the top honor of being named Miss Grand Prix of Houston. Each of the 22 finalists will become a member of the Miss Grand Prix of Houston Race Team and will serve as sports model spokespersons for the Grand Prix during a nearly week-long schedule of events during the Grand Prix of Houston. The finalists will stay four nights at the Hyatt Regency Houston, the official hotel of the Grand Prix of Houston, and will meet Champ Car drivers, perform grid duties at the start of the big race and make personal appearances at many of the Grand Prix special events. The 2006 Miss Grand Prix of Houston title will be awarded at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 12 before the start of that evening's American Le Mans Series racing event. zzzz

The winner will be named "Miss Grand Prix of Houston" and will represent the event at the "Face of Champ Car" International Finals, to be held in conjunction with the year-end Champ Car event in Mexico City.  Miss Grand Prix of Houston will compete against winners from Long Beach (CA), Cleveland (OH), Toronto (Canada), Edmonton (Canada), San Jose (CA), and Surfer's Paradise (Australia), and the winner of the Face of Champ Car competition will serve as the official ambassador for the Champ Car World Series in 2007.

In addition to this all-expenses paid trip to Mexico City, the winner of the Miss Grand Prix of Houston competition will win great sponsor prizes and a year-long contract to represent the Grand Prix of Houston at various events. She will also gain a great deal of exposure, beginning with the opportunity to present the championship trophy to the winner of the Grand Prix of Houston on May 13 in front of a potential worldwide television audience of 1.3 billion viewers. 

The 22 finalists will be selected during a series of preliminary events at various Houston-area restaurants and nightclubs between March 24 and April 15.  Interested contestants can register online at http://www.grandprixofhouston.com. The full schedule and list of locations for the preliminary events will be soon announced, and all contestants who have registered on the website will be notified of those preliminary event details.

The "Face of Champ Car" competition is a worldwide promotion officially sanctioned by Champ Car to promote the excitement and glamour of Champ Car motor racing. In 2006 Face of Champ Car contests will be staged in conjunction with 8 Champ Car races. The competition is administered by Procon Leisure International, an international promotion company licensing events in over 50 countries. Procon started the competition at the Surfer's Paradise (Australia) Champ Car event in 1991 as a small support event, and that contest has grown into a national phenomenon in Australia with some 2,500 entrants annually.

Giorgio Mondini for nine Fridays Giorgio Mondini for nine FridaysLate last night as the Midland MF1-Toyota M16 was being finished for today's launch at Silverstone, MF1 Racing signed 25-year-old Swiss driver Giorgio Mondini to participate in nine Friday Grand Prix test days in 2006.

Mondini, from Geneva, was a relatively late starter to racing, competing in his first Formula Renault Championship in 2001. A graduate of the famous Henry Morough Racing School in Italy, He quickly showed speed but 2004 was when it all started to come together for him and he won the Renault V6 Championship.

Mondini graduated to World Series by Renault for the start of the 2005 but things really took off when he was invited to join David Price Racing's GP2 team for the second half of the season. His performances earned him a test driver the World Championship winning Renault team at Barcelona last December:' That test whetted my appetite for Formula1 and I am delighted to have this opportunity with MF1 Racing. The new car looks really good and I can't wait to drive it.'

track news
Dixon's wreath hung at Seneca Lodge Dixon's wreath hung at Seneca LodgeThe laurel wreath Scott Dixon received after winning the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix last September is now hanging behind the bar at the Seneca Lodge, a hotel near the historic race course.

Dixon and Target Chip Ganassi Racing donated the wreath to the Seneca Lodge and it was hung behind the bar by Cameron R. Argetsinger, the auto racing enthusiast who brought the sport to Watkins Glen, N.Y.

"It's an honor to get to be part of history and join all the big names that have been there before," Dixon said. "To be able to carry on the tradition and be the first from the series is very special. I don't know when the last time someone had a wreath hung there, so to be the first IRL driver to do is pretty cool."

The tradition of hanging the wreath given to Watkins Glen race winners dates to the United States Grand Prix Formula One event at Watkins Glen International. Race winners would visit the Tavern Room at the lodge and hang their wreaths on arrows behind the bar. Because wreaths are not given to NASCAR race winners, several tires hang from the ceiling of the lodge.

The other prize Dixon received for winning the first IndyCar Series event at Watkins Glen, the Cameron R. Argetsinger Trophy, is on display at the International Motor Racing Research Center until June 1.

The Argetsinger trophy, a sterling silver cup, is on display with The Seneca Trophy, which is presented to the winner of the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen, Both the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix and Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen will take place in June at Watkins Glen International. IRL

Meijer, Coca-Cola join Rahal Letterman Racing Meijer, Coca-Cola join Rahal Letterman RacingRahal Letterman Racing announced a season long partnership with Meijer and Coca-Cola Enterprises as associate sponsors of 2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick for the 2006 Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series.

Meijer and Coca-Cola have teamed together over the last few years to sponsor an entry in the Indianapolis 500. This season, the companies have expanded their efforts to a full-season program with Rahal Letterman Racing.
"We are pleased to begin this partnership with Meijer and Coca-Cola," said Bobby Rahal," co-owner and founder of Rahal Letterman Racing. "Meijer and Coca-Cola have a longstanding motorsports tradition with historically a strong involvement in IndyCar racing and the Indianapolis 500. They both witnessed the excitement surrounding Rahal Letterman Racing at Indianapolis last May, and they wanted to capture that spirit in their motorsport program throughout the entire season." 

Meijer and Coca-Cola logos will appear on the car of Patrick, while the Meijer logo also will be displayed on 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice's car. As part of the program, fans will get a chance to meet Patrick during autograph sessions at select Meijer stores around IRL events in each Meijer market.

Meijer, is a family owned-and-operated grocery and general merchandise retailer, operates 171 stores in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky.

Industry News
Porsche sets USA sales record Porsche sets USA sales recordPorsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA), importer and distributor of Porsche sports cars and Cayenne SUVs in the United States and Canada, today announced best-ever January sales in the United States. The company sold a total of 3,232 Porsches, an increase of 48 percent compared to January 2005.This striking performance was carried mainly by the much-anticipated debut of the new Cayman S that resulted in total sales of the Boxster/Cayman series of 1,383 units and continued strong demand for the 911 range with 810 cars sold, 31 percent ahead of the same period last year. The Cayenne range held its own with a total of 1,028 units.

“We are thrilled with our customers’ reception of the Cayman S,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, PCNA President and CEO. “With more than 1,000 cars sold in just over two weeks, our new mid-engine sports car exceeded both our and our dealers’ expectations.”

In addition, dealers sold 441 Porsche Approved Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, compared to 327 for the same period last year. Source: Porsche

Industry News
Toyota sales increase 14% Toyota sales increase 14%Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., today reported best-ever January sales of 160,625 units, an increase of 14 percent over last year.

"The year's off to a respectable start, with hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles leading the way," said Jim Press, TMS president and COO. "January's bright job-market outlook and the uptick in consumer confidence bode well for the industry, as do signs the economy has bounced back from the Gulf Coast hurricanes."    The Toyota Division recorded best-ever January sales of 140,967, an increase of 14.9 percent. The Lexus Division posted January sales of 19,658 units, up 7.7 percent over last January.

Super Aguri sets date of first test Super Aguri sets date of first testThe new Super Aguri Formula 1 team is planning to run its interim SA05 car – based on an updated 2002-spec Arrows chassis – as early as mid-February.

The new Honda-supported outfit, which only officially received permission to enter this year’s F1 championship at the end of last week, is still in the process of setting up its new HQ in the old Arrows facility in Leafield in the UK.

However, work has already begun on designing the team’s own, bespoke car – the SA06 – with the intention of introducing it in time for the start of the European season in late April.

Until then, the team will make do with the ex-Arrows chassis, powered by Honda’s new 2.4-litre V8 engine, on the early-season fly-away rounds in Bahrain, Malaysia and Australia.

Track News
Salonpas re-signs with Long Beach GP Salonpas re-signs with Long Beach GPFor the second straight year, Salonpas, an over-the-counter external analgesic product designed to ease muscle pains and cool inflammation, will be a major sponsor of the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 7-9.

Salonpas will utilize the event to promote its many products to more than 175,000 race attendees and, through on-track signage, to a national NBC-TV audience.

Salonpas has been designated as the race's "Official External Pain Reliever." In addition, Turn 8 of the 1.97-mile street circuit, the right-hander at Pine Ave. and Seaside Way, will be called the "Salonpas Corner."

"We were very pleased with our marketing at last year's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach," said Kaz Akiyama, executive vice president of Hisamitsu America, Inc., Salonpas' U.S. subsidiary. "We look forward to even better results this year at America's favorite street race." zzzz

Salonpas will conduct a pre-race retail promotion through Good Neighbor Pharmacies (GNP) in Southern California. In addition to offering free samples of Salonpas products, the company will also co-stage with GNP an instant medical diagnostic and health consultation station inside the Lifestyle Expo, which is free to race ticket holders.

Salonpas originated in Japan in 1934 and was first introduced to the U.S. in 1987, when Hisamitsu America, Inc., was established. Today, Salonpas products can be found in more than 40 countries around the globe.

Salonpas' product line includes a wide variety of external pain-relieving products including Regular Patch, Hot Patch, Cool Patch, Aerosol and Gel. For further information, visit www.salonpas-usa.com.

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

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

Industry News
Cadillac SRX selected best Cadillac SRX selected bestCadillac SRX was selected as Car & Driver's Best Luxury SUV for the third consecutive year in the magazine's March 2006 "5 Best Trucks," issue, now on newsstands.
Roush Racing Signs Peter Shepherd to Driver Development Program Roush Racing Signs Peter Shepherd to Driver Development ProgramCONCORD, N.C.- Roush Racing announced today that it has signed 19 year-old Canadian Peter Shepherd to a driver development contract.  Shepherd will run select ARCA races in 2006 as a part of Roush Racing's driver development program. 

Shepherd was selected as one of the 25 finalists for Roush Racing's Driver X competition in 2005, and was quick to impress.  Following a stellar performance at Martinsville, Shepherd advanced to the second round of the competition at Darlington, where he continued to make an impression on team owner Jack Roush.

"When I saw Peter's performance at Martinsville, it reminded me so much of a young Mark Martin, someone who has the ability to learn and adapt very quickly," said Roush.  "He is one of the most talented 19 year-olds I've ever seen."

Shepherd was able to impress not only on the track, but in the boardroom as well.  During the filming of Roush Racing: Driver X, Shepherd participated in a comprehensive series of marketing and PR evaluations, scoring at the top of the list.  Roush Racing is currently seeking sponsorship for Shepherd's 2006 campaign.

Roush Racing will team with the Roulo Brothers to field Shepherd's No. 39 entry in selected 2006 ARCA events.  Longtime ARCA Series and NASCAR competitors, the Roulo's have fielded cars for such drivers as Ken Schrader and Rich Bickle.  In 2005, they fielded a car in six events for Roush driver Erik Darnell as a part of the Roush Racing Driver Development program. 

German GP legal issues German GP legal issuesThe crisis at Hockenheim seems to be getting worse. According to reports in the local press in Mannheim, there is an investigation going on into the activities of the circuit with the Mannheim office of the public prosecution service looking at whether there have been any irregularities. It is reported that circuit managing-director Hans-Jurgen von Glasenapp has handed over a number of documents to the police and that a member of the staff has been sent on leave. Grandprix.com
Sherwin-Williams to award best looking Atlantics team Sherwin-Williams to award best looking Atlantics teamThanks to a new program instituted by Sherwin-Williams, the Official Automotive Finish of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, the new generation cars of North America’s top open-wheel development series won’t just compete on the race track this season. The new Atlantic machines will also battle to see which cars have the most creative design and use of color in their paint schemes with the Sherwin-Williams Atlantic Design Award.

In November, Sherwin-Williams reached a three-year agreement to serve as the exclusive automotive finish for both the Champ Car World Series and the Champ Car Atlantic Championship beginning in 2006. The Cleveland, Ohio-based company will also provide paints, finishes and associated products to the Champ Car Fast Lap Pace Car Program with the new relationship.

In addition to providing service and finishes to all Atlantic teams, Sherwin-Williams will also sponsor the Atlantic Design Award which will reward teams for their car’s use of color and creativity. At eight select events in 2006, Sherwin-Williams representatives will team with race fans to judge the liveries of all the competing Atlantic cars at that weekend’s race. The judges will then select a winner and that team will be awarded a $4,000 prize on behalf of Sherwin-Williams.  zzzz

The car deemed to have the best livery throughout the course of the 12-race Atlantic season will also be honored with the year-end Atlantic Design Award. Sherwin-Williams will present a $10,000 prize and a trophy to the team that has the top car design in 2006. The winning car will be on display at the annual Champ Car Atlantic Championship season-ending banquet, to be held this year on Sunday, October 8 after the final race of the season at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

“The Sherwin-Williams Design Award will certainly add more color and excitement to the Champ Car Atlantic Championship,” said Vicki O’Connor, Managing Director of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. “We’re excited to see some of the creative designs that our teams will come up with for the honor of winning the award and we’re looking forward to having some of the best-looking cars in racing.”

The Atlantic Design Award mirrors the award program instituted by Sherwin-Williams for the cars competing in the Champ Car World Series this season. Champ Car

Brazilian to test Williams Brazilian to test WilliamsUPDATE Oxford, UK. WilliamsF1 today confirmed that João Paulo de Oliveira will test for the team on Friday 3 February at the Valencia circuit, Spain.
Brazilian Oliveira has spent the past two seasons contesting the Japanese Formula 3 Championship, behind the wheel of the Toyota-powered TOM’s car, in which he won last year’s Drivers’ title. Out of a total of 33 races, entered between 2004 and 2005, the 23-year-old has claimed victory 11 times from 14 pole positions, and achieved 25 top ten finishes.

Oliveira started his motorsport career in 1998, with entries in Formula Ford and Formula Chevrolet-Opel, prior to competing in the South American F3 series for two seasons, claiming Championship honors in the B-class in ’99 and in the A-class in 2000. A further two seasons of German F3 followed, in which Oliveira took the silverware in convincing fashion with 13 victories out of a total of 16 races in 2003.

With such a proven pedigree, Oliveira will make his Formula One debut with the WilliamsF1 Team in Valencia tomorrow. The Brazilian will experience 20 laps of the Spanish track in the interim FW27C chassis and will conclude the team’s week long test program following the launch of the FW28 last week.

Oliveira is one of a long list of Brazilian drivers that has been brought to the team’s attention by major sponsor and fuel supplier, Petrobras. Previously, Max Wilson, Bruno Junqueira, Jaime Melo, Ricardo Sperafico, Antonio Pizzonia and Nelsinho Piquet have all been offered the opportunity to test one of the team’s race cars.

Of his debut, Oliveira commented, “I am delighted that Williams have invited me to drive their car. To be driving a Formula One car is a life long ambition and I intend to take full advantage of the opportunity. I hope that I can also provide the team with some valuable feedback as they prepare for the season ahead.”

Prior to Oliveira’s first outing, Frank Williams, Team Principal of the WilliamsF1 Team, said, “We have closely followed João Paulo’s career to date and it would appear to be an entirely appropriate time to offer him his first F1 test. We’re looking forward to seeing how he responds to the challenge.” WilliamsF1

02/02/06 Japanese Formula 3 champion Joao Paulo de Oliveira, a Petrobras driver, will get his first chance to test in F1 this week in Valencia.  Oliveira is expected to be named to drive for the DoCoMo Dandelion team in Formula Nippon this year and as a Nissan factory driver in the Super-GT series. 

Williams, which is strapped for cash after losing BMW backing, will probably test a lot of funded drivers throughout the year as a source of revenue.

Changes to the Scuderia Technical Department Changes to the Scuderia Technical DepartmentFerrari today announced the following changes to its Technical Department, effective from the 1st of March:
  • Rory Byrne will assume a new position as Design and Development consultant, reporting directly to Technical Director, Ross Brawn
  • Aldo Costa will take responsibility for the Design and Development Department, answering to R. Brawn
  • Nicholas Tombazis will be appointed Chief Designer, reporting directly to Aldo Costa.
F1Racing.net to Sponsor Midland F1 F1Racing.net to Sponsor Midland F1MF1 Racing, the Formula One team owned and operated by the Midland Group, is pleased to announce that leading F1 news and information website F1Racing.net will support the team's inaugural World Championship season.

In addition to continuing its sponsorship of driver Christijan Albers, F1Racing.net will back the Dutchman's new team as it prepares to unveil its new MF1 Toyota M16 race car at Silverstone tomorrow.

"The internet become a vital communications tool for all F1 teams and it's great for us to have the backing of one of the most popular F1 news sites," said Colin Kolles, Managing Director of MF1 Racing. "This promises to be an exciting first season for Midland Formula One and we are glad that F1Racing.net will be along to provide first-class coverage of our team, our drivers and, of course, our brand-new car."

MF1 driver Christijan Albers commented, "There is a positive feeling within the team about the new M16. I'm confident we'll be able to achieve some good results this season and I'm looking forward to continuing to share the experience with all my fans in my very own column at F1Racing.net."

"Making a mark in Formula One is incredibly difficult and we are proud to back MF1 Racing in its first season," added Jeroen Huis in't Veld, Chief Executive Officer of F1Racing.net.

F1Racing.net is one of the internet's most popular Formula One websites and offers readers the latest news in eight languages. Its logo will appear on the drivers' helmets and Albers' merchandise.

Alonso edges Button at Valencia Alonso edges Button at ValenciaFernando Alonso barely edged Jenson Button to claim fast time on the day in Valencia, Spain Thursday. The teams were able to get some simulated qualifying runs in.

Valentino Rossi continued to be the story of the day as he spun a total of five times on the day and ended up 12th fastest out of 15 drivers.

Both McLaren's had a less than stellar day, with Montoya blowing up yet another Mercedes engine. Both he and Pedro de la Rosa ended the day behind Rossi.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Alonso Renault (M) 1.10.904 90
 2. Button Honda (M) 1.10.907 85
 3. Massa Ferrari (B) 1.11.284 50
 4. Davidson Honda (M) 1.11.573 128
 5. M. Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1.11.649 48
 6. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1.11.796 71
 7. Kovalainen Renault (M) 1.12.011 89
 8. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) 1.12.179 104
 9. R. Schumacher Toyota (B) 1.12.182 92
10. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1.12.246 84
11. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1.12.313 46
12. Rossi Ferrari (B) 1.12.315 54
13. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1.12.360 92
14. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1.12.488 61
15. Trulli Toyota (B) 1.12.525 72
16. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1.12.811 48

Knoper Named SCCA Pro Racing President Knoper Named SCCA Pro Racing PresidentTOPEKA, Kan. – SCCA Pro Racing Ltd., the wholly owned professional auto racing subsidiary of Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), Inc., announced today that Earl Knoper will be its next President.

Knoper, 64, joins the SCCA Pro Racing staff after a successful career in the tire business, most notably serving as Senior Vice President of Marketing for Toyo Tires. Before formally retiring and moving into a consulting role for Toyo in 2005, Knoper was instrumental in launching Toyo Tires’ passenger car and light truck program and making it one of the top selling ultra high performance, passenger and light truck brands in the United States.

Knoper also founded the company’s racing activities, and put Toyo Tires on the map for performance and sport compact car enthusiasts through its involvement with Hot Import Nights, projects like The Fast and the Furious and SCCA Pro Racing’s own SPEED World Challenge Championships.

“Earl Knoper’s track record speaks for itself, and his addition is a tremendous boost for SCCA Pro Racing,” Acting SCCA Pro Racing President Garret Mudd said. “His past associations have already greatly benefited the company and the SPEED World Challenge. He brings a tremendous knack for anticipating future success, which, along with his business professionalism, will be of great benefit for everyone involved in SCCA Pro Racing and its series.”

“I am really excited about this opportunity,” Knoper said. “I’ve been passionate about motorsports since I was young, and have been fortunate to focus some of my professional efforts on racing. I’m excited to now focus 100 percent of my energies on SCCA Pro Racing. zzzz

“Through my past experience, I’ve learned that SCCA Pro Racing already has the best sports car racing product and is the best-run racing organization. I plan to enhance what we’re already doing in order to grow our partnership potential and improve our racing product for our teams, sponsors, and most of all, fans.”

Knoper began his professional career in Michigan, managing six Goodyear Tire retail stores. After 13 years with Firestone, Knoper moved to California, beginning a 21-year tenure at Toyo Tires. As a result of Toyo’s marketing successes under his leadership, the company opened its first passenger and light truck tire manufacturing plant outside of Asia in 2005 in order to meet North American demand.

Knoper and his wife, Jan, will relocate from California to the Topeka, Kan. area. He will officially take over the post Feb. 6. SCCA

Roush Racing announces 9 races for Pennzoil Busch entry Roush Racing announces 9 races for Pennzoil Busch entryThe 2006 Pennzoil Busch Series schedule will include both Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth driving the new Pennzoil Ford Fusion in a combined total of nine Busch Series races.  Between these two phenomenal drivers 65 total Busch Series victories have been achieved.  

Kenseth, who is committed to a total of seven races, will pilot the Pennzoil Ford Fusion at Fontana in the spring, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Charlotte in the fall, Texas in the fall, Phoenix in the fall and Homestead.  Martin will be taking over at Texas in the spring as well as Chicago.

"Pennzoil is looking for another great season in our partnership with Roush Racing," said Paul Smith, Vice President of Marketing for Shell Lubricants in the U.S.  "We had two victory lane celebrations with Mark Martin and the Pennzoil Platinum car in 2005 and we look to continue that success in 2006 with Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth again driving the Pennzoil Platinum car." Roush Racing

MF1 full of praise for Toyota MF1 full of praise for ToyotaMF1 Racing heads into the 2006 season secure in the knowledge that it will enjoy great service from engine partner Toyota.

Last season was characterized by the superb finishing record of the EJ15, owing in so small part to the reliability of Toyota’s V10. This year, MF1 Racing will use the same new RVX-06 V8 used by the works team, and everyone at Midland is relishing the prospect.

Toyota was among the first manufacturers to get its prototype V8 onto the track, and was also the first to test it in a definitive 2006 car, way back in November. MF1 will clearly benefit from the extensive development already performed by Toyota engine wizard Luca Marmorini and his team.

“Toyota are fantastic,” says MF1 Sporting Director Adrian Burgess. “The service we get from a customer point of view is second to none. You couldn’t go and buy a better package than what we’ve got. The fact that they are such a big and committed team obviously helps us, as we quickly see the results of the development they’re putting into their own engine."

“They have so much technology and so many resources that are becoming more and more available to us as our relationship with Toyota grows. Some of the things that are being offered to us are fantastic, and I could not imagine receiving that sort of technical support from another supplier.” zzzz
Having a second team on the grid will, of course, enable Toyota to amass a lot of mileage with the V8, and that, in turn, will speed up development.

“For sure,” says Burgess. “We experienced issues with our engine last year that they learned from, and it helped them to improve their engine. All the information we gather is useful to them, as well.”

MF1’s design team were given the dimensions and specifications of the new engine at a very early stage, allowing them to develop the new M16 around it. In contrast, last year’s Toyota V10 had to be shoehorned into a modified Jordan chassis that had originally been designed to take a Cosworth.

“Information was exchanged with our drawing office as soon as the deal was confirmed. We’ve had mock-up engines since around August or September, and we began running it in the interim car in the middle of December. Toyota have been very helpful with our installation.”

Of course, one of the most fascinating aspects of the relationship is that the M16 and Toyota’s own TF106 will not only be powered by the same engine, the will also run on the same Bridgestone tires. No other teams in this year’s championship share both of those key elements.

“It’s going to be very interesting,” adds Burgess, smiling confidently. Source MF1 Racing

Smith and Wheeler welcome Toyota Smith and Wheeler welcome ToyotaBruton Smith is welcoming Toyota - and its racing money - to NASCAR with open arms, even though many team owners are voicing concerns about NASCAR's ability to keep Toyota in check.

Humpy Wheeler, Smith's No. 2 man at Speedway Motorsports and the manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway, said that Toyota will not be bad for the sport.

Might Toyota, with its expected heavy spending, force the hand of the Detroit manufacturers?

"I hope that's not the case," Wheeler said. "And I think this 'car of the future' will take a lot of that 'spend as much as you can' out of this. Sure, money buys speed. But when this new car comes out, it won't buy as much as it did before.

"I don't think Toyota will drive anyone out of the sport. It will stay competitive, and as long as the manufacturers can stay competitive and win, they'll stay in."

Wheeler said that he thinks the "car of tomorrow" will help NASCAR teams control costs.

"By 2011, when everyone has been running this new car for two or three years, I think the cost of this will all come down dramatically," he said. "You can't do anything about the travel or the salaries, but the car will change.

"A car today definitely has to cost over $100,000 to $150,000, maybe up to $200,000. And I think the new car will only cost maybe $50,000 or $60,000."  More at Winston Salem Journal

Kenseth ready for IROC Kenseth ready for IROCRoush Racing's Matt Kenseth will be looking to kick off his 2006 racing season in more ways than one over the next few weeks at Daytona.  In addition to his day job, piloting the No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion in NASCAR's NEXTEL Cup Series, Kenseth will also be apart of the 2006 International Race Of Champions (IROC) lineup, which boasts some of the best drivers in the nation from different forms of racing.

This will mark the third straight season in which Kenseth will participate in IROC.  The 2003 NEXTEL Cup Series champion, Kenseth won the 2004 IROC title by winning the final two of the series' four events at Richmond and Atlanta.  Last year, Kenseth finished third in the IROC standings by completing every lap of the season and scoring three top-four finishes.

"It's a lot of fun racing IROC," said Kenseth.  "The concept is pretty neat.  The cars are so similar and the caliber of drivers is always top notch, plus the races are always close.  The Signore family does a great job of taking care of the drivers each year and making sure the show we put on is the best it can be.  I'm looking forward to it this year.  Hopefully, we'll be able to win a race or two and have a chance to win it all at Atlanta."

For the first time in 14 years the IROC series will be running something other than an oval when it takes to the road course at Daytona International Speedway in late June.

"Talk about a change," Kenseth smiled.  "That should be pretty cool.  I've raced the road course at Daytona in the Rolex 24-hour deal and had a lot of fun.  If IROC truly wants to test these drivers in different racing disciplines, it seems that road course racing would logically be on the schedule.  I'm looking forward to it.  Plus, any seat time that I can log on a road course the better it should make me overall as a road course racer."

Racing News
Tony Venturini dies Tony Venturini diesTony Venturini, father of two-time ARCA Series driving champion Bill Venturini and grandfather of current series competitor Billy Venturini, died Wednesday, February 1st after a long, courageous battle with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. He was 77. Tony, of Chicago, Illinois, was the first line of three generations of Venturinis who competed in motorsports. Tony began his career racing jalopies at Soldier’s Field in Chicago in 1952. During his racing career that lasted through 1959, Tony also raced at Rockford Speedway, O’Hare Stadium and Milwaukee. Tony was also a driver in Andy Granatelli’s Hurricane Hot Rod Association. Tony earned his living through the years as a Chicago-area gas station owner.

Tony’s son Bill, a veteran of ARCA and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, earned ARCA national championships in 1987 and 1991. Bill also has the distinction of being officially the fastest qualifier in ARCA history with a 205.432 mph qualifying run at Talladega Superspeedway in 1987.

Third-generation driver Billy Venturini finished a career-best 4th in ARCA RE/MAX Series points in 2004. Granddaughter Wendy is a broadcaster with Speed Channel. Tony is survived by sons’ Bill Venturini, Jack Venturini, Tony Venturini Jr., John Kaminski, Kenny Kaminski and daughter Caprice Towne. Visitation is from 11am to 8pm Sunday, February 5th at the Cumberland Chapel, 8300 W Lawrence Ave, Norridge IL 60706, phone (708) 456-8300. Funeral services will be held on Monday, February 6th with interment to follow at St. Joseph Cemetery in Elmwood IL, phone (708) 453-0184. All messages of well-wishes can be sent to Venturini Motorsports, 571 Pitts School Rd., NW, Concord NC 28027.

Rivals assess Rossi's run Rivals assess Rossi's run(GMMf1NET) After Valentino Rossi impressed the formula one world with his pace a day later, Jarno Trulli has pardoned the MotoGP for spinning on his first out lap on Tuesday.

''A damp track is tricky even for us,'' the Toyota regular, Italian like the 26-year-old Yamaha rider, said.

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, too, was not surprised that Rossi clocked up a decent pace - about a second slower than Michael Schumacher - once the track dried up on much sunnier Wednesday.

''But it is true that the last few tenths are the most difficult,'' said the French Canadian.

''But I am not surprised that he drives well.''

The flamboyant rider, with the attention of nearly 200 journalists at the Valencia circuit, was also watched over by father Graziano.

He said: ''Of course he needs more time yet, but he already looks like a formula one driver, which inspires me.

''Valentino drives better here than he has at the other tests (he did).''

Ten Indy Pro drivers test at TMS Ten Indy Pro drivers test at TMSUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I could not help but notice that Jay Howard was listed as one of the drivers who tested an IPS car.  Having watched this guy demoralize all competition in the junior ranks I am appalled that he would waste his talent on a 100% throttle series.  How come an Atlantic team did not pick him up? Marty Massi, Dallas

Dear Marty, We agree that racing in a 100% throttle series is a complete waste of this guy's talent, but we suspect it came down to money and that he's getting paid in the IPS and had to bring money to get an Atlantic ride.  Even all four Forsythe Atlantic drivers brought between $500K and $800K to the table so Champ Car and its teams, which are performing poorly in attracting new sponsors, is still very much in the market for ride-buyers.  We don't agree with this model, but then again we are not paying the bills Mark C.

02/01/06 Ten Indy Pro Series drivers participated in a private test Jan. 30 at Texas Motor Speedway, including five rookies who earned their licenses to compete.

Drivers who passed the rookie test were Steven Ablondi, Michael Crawford, Jay Howard, Jonathan Klein and Brett Van Blankers. P.J. Abbott, Jaime Camara, Wade Cunningham, Rocco DeSimone and Geoff Dodge also participated in the test held by Andretti Green Racing, Brian Stewart Racing, Michael Crawford Motorsports and Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

“Everything went very well,” said Butch Meyer, technical director for the Indy Pro Series, who supervised the test. “We have an excellent crop of young rookies heading into the Indy Pro Series in 2006. They were very impressive.”

Unofficial times had the entire field of drivers separated by less than five-tenths of second, running at speeds in excess of 187 mph on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval.

Klein, an 18-year-old from Long Grove, Ill., will drive for Andretti Green Racing in 2006, along with Camara, who finished fifth in the series in 2005. Howard, a 24-year-old rookie from Great Britain, tested for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, which has a partnership with AGR. He won the Cooper Tires Formula Ford Zetec Championship in 2005.

Brian Stewart Racing tested Van Blankers and Dodge after Cunningham, the reigning Indy Pro Series champion, “shook down” the car.

“This was the first time our entire team has been together since adding Brett and Geoff,” team owner Brian Stewart said. “Everybody gelled really well. The test went very well.” IndyCar.com 

Macau driver Rodolfo Avila goes to British F3 Macau driver Rodolfo Avila goes to British F3Macanese driver Rodolfo Avila has signed with Performance Racing Europe for an attack on the National Class of the 2006 British F3 International Series.  British F3 is considered to be the toughest F3 series in the world. 
Despite Earnhardt sponsorship, Bud USA profits plunge Despite Earnhardt sponsorship, Bud USA profits plungeST. LOUIS - Beer drinkers will have to pay more for Budweiser this year after Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., the nation's biggest brewer, said Wednesday its fourth-quarter profit plunged 39.5 percent from a year ago.

The maker of Budweiser, Bud Light and other beers earned $201 million, or 26 cents per share, for the period ending Dec. 31, down from $332 million, or 42 cents per share, a year earlier.

In the wake of those lackluster results, the company plans to boost profit by raising prices in 2006. Chief Financial Officer Randolph Baker said Wednesday price increases started in selected markets this month, with a jump of 2 percent to 3 percent to be initiated nationwide by year's end.

In an unusual move, Baker declined to predict how much beer the company will sell this year, indicating uncertainty about the industry's future performance overall.

Sales were slow in the final quarter of last year, with gross revenue rising to $3.882 billion from $3.880 billion the previous year. After excise taxes are deducted, net revenue was $3.365 billion versus $3.367 billion a year ago.

Analysts were looking for earnings of about 27 cents per share, according to a Thomson Financial poll.  zzzz

Baker said Wednesday during a conference call with analysts that Anheuser-Busch will try to boost sales with new marketing campaigns that are tailored for specific ethnic groups and geographic areas. The long tradition of marketing through sports campaigns will remain unchanged, he said.

Anheuser-Busch will start 2006 with a massive media blitz. As usual, the company is expected to spend millions on television advertisements during the Super Bowl on Sunday. Later in February, Anheuser-Busch will capitalize on its role as sole beer sponsor for the Winter     Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.

The company said it plans to build a six-story pyramid-shaped nightclub called "Club Bud" near the Piazza Vittorio. The company will throw high-profile parties there, including a bash Feb. 13 that will be attended by the U.S. snowboarding team.

Villeneuve the singer Villeneuve the singerDuring the GP 24 Hour ski race in Villars, BMW SauberF1 driver Jacques Villeneuve celebrated a successful stage debut as a singer. Music is one of Villeneuve’s biggest hobbies and he has been playing the guitar and writing songs for a very long time, but that didn’t mean it was any less nerve racking….

“I was pretty nervous,” Jacques admitted.

Prior to the eighth edition of the Ski event in Switzerland Jacques had never performed his own material in front of a live audience. In Villars he took to the stage and presented his own songs for the very first time in a thirty minute concert.

“It was fun to play some music at the concert this year,” he said. “But it was the first time I’ve sung in public so I was pretty nervous. I had some great musicians with me, which helped, and I had the words next to me just in case. The crowd were really supportive and they stayed for the whole set too.”

Performing on stage where also Paul Stewart on guitar and Jacques’ manager Craig Pollock on percussion, among others. The evening was then rounded off with a live performance by British newcomer band the ‘Hungover Stuntmen”. BMW

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Germany warned about tobacco ads
Rossi has the last laugh
F1 talks 'moving forwards' - GPMA
Renault to 'create' new Alonso
Mosley given France's top honor
I'm staying, says Flavio
Renault may tip in Fisi's favor
BMW not a top team - Theissen

Schu ramps up physical regime
Two-wheeled row hits F1 stage
Alonso feels 'less pressure'
Head confirms Webber 'bollocking'
Racing News
GLORIA Racing Cars Announces Expansion Plan in the USA GLORIA Racing Cars Announces Expansion Plan in the USAMIAMI – GLORIA racing cars were successfully launched in Italy in 2002 by Enrico Glorioso, the entrepreneur who in 1977 founded Sparco and built it to a $63 million business before selling the company to a group of investors.  “GLORIA has been a long time idea of mine,” says Enrico Glorioso Founder and President of GLORIA s.r.l., “and the concept behind it is that I wanted to offer young drivers an affordable way to move up from karting towards professional racing”. GLORIA is headquartered in Cambiano, an automotive industrial hub near Torino, Italy, in a 15,000sq.ft. state of the art race shop.  

The GLORIA business model effectively blends the rather sophisticated and the simple with great emphasis on cost-effectiveness. The GLORIA engineering design calls for a very safe, but lightweight tubular steel chassis powered by a 1000cc motorcycle engine that provides an incredible weight/power ratio. The car meets all FIA regulations and features a carbon fiber nose crash box.  The body is all fiberglass and the open wheeler displays anti takeoff devices for additional safety. This innovative formula convinced the Italian Auto Racing Federation to adopt GLORIA as its official constructor for the Italian championship: “Formula Azzurra – Michele Alboreto Trophy”. zzzz

Last December GLORIA racecars were introduced for the first time in the US at the PRI Show in Orlando. “Thanks to a very encouraging response, I decided to move forward and make our cars available in the United States through our US subsidiary,” says Enrico Glorioso, “that will be managed by entrepreneur and racing professional Gabriele Pedone.  Philip Creighton and his team will also be involved in our expansion plan as our technical/support department”.

GLORIA has applied to IMSA for constructor status for their new B6S Sports Car in their newly launched IMSA Lites 2 Series. While waiting for approval the entire GLORIA team is feverishly working in order to be ready for the first race of the season in May.

Both the single seater and the sports car GLORIA models will also be available for SCCA racing as soon as the Sports Car Club of America homologation process is completed.

In addition GLORIA welcomes and supports the grass-root movement that hopes to create the F1000 class that runs open wheel cars with 1,000cc motorcycle engine such as the GLORIA B5.

Company details and car specifics are available on www.gloriacars.com

TV News
NBS 24/7 Back on SPEED NBS 24/7 Back on SPEEDThe popular behind-the-scenes NASCAR program NBS 24/7 returns to SPEED in 2006 with a focus on the NASCAR Busch Series rookie class. NBS 24/7 – The Rookies debuts Feb. 13 at 9:30 p.m. ET before moving to its regular 8:30 p.m. slot on Feb. 20 with the teams from FitzBradshaw Racing and Akins Motorsports once again in the spotlight with drivers Joel Kauffman and AJ Foyt IV.

“The third season of NBS 24/7 promises to be the best one yet, and that’s saying quite a lot,” said Robert Ecker, VP of Programming. “With the emphasis on the rookies, the show will be energized and reinvigorated while remaining true to form, complete with all the ups, downs and twists of fates and fortunes one has come to expect over the course of such a long and grueling schedule.”

In addition to the three primary teams, NBS 24/7 – The Rookies also will keep an eye on Busch rookies Chris Wimmer, Burney Lamar, Mark McFarland and Todd Kluever, as well as partial season drivers, including Erin Crocker.  zzzz

"This show benefits everyone involved,” said former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw, the Emmy Award-winning co-host of Fox NFL Sunday and co-owner of FitzBradshaw Racing. “It's enjoyable to watch, it gives our sponsors more exposure and the fans can get to know our race team better. NBS 24/7 allows the fans to get a glimpse at life in NASCAR, whether it is working at the shop, hanging out with the driver or watching the race from the team's perspective."

"NBS 24/7 is a fun show, not only for the fans, but for those of us at the race shop,” said Armando Fitz, co-owner of FitzBradshaw Racing. “I think the fans enjoy seeing what goes on inside the race shop. It gives them a different perspective on what the teams do to get ready for a race and they get the chance to actually see what it takes to run a race team.”

“We are happy to be a part of NBS 24/7 for a third season,” said Doug Stringer, owner of Akins Motorsports.  “I think the fans are in for a real treat this year with the show putting the rookies of the NASCAR Busch Series in the spotlight.  The audience will be able to witness first hand the ups and down that a rookie driver goes through as he or she tries to make it in this sport and, in a way, experience it with him.  I also think it is a great way for fans to get to know AJ Foyt IV and all of the dedicated guys on the Great Clips Racing team a little better. I think it will be a great season for NBS 24/7.”

Duno's 8th place best for woman Duno's 8th place best for womanMilka Duno's 8th-place overall finish at the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona last weekend is the highest finish for a female driver in the Rolex Series era. Duno also joins an elite list of only five women to finish in the top-ten overall in the event's 44-year history.

Duno, Dario Franchitti, Marino Franchitti and Kevin McGarrity took their No. 7 CITGO/SAMAX Pontiac-powered Riley Mk XI as high as second overall before a drive-shaft failure and a broken right-rear suspension put them behind the wall 7 hours and 55 minutes into the 24-hour race. After 55 minutes in the garage for repairs the team was back on track and charging hard to regain position. The four drivers shared their duties equally for the 24-hour classic - driving six hours each. Duno was behind the wheel for the final stint and took the checkered flag eighth overall.

Duno joins Lyn St. James, Lilian Bryner, Kathy Rude and Kim Hiskey as one of only five women to finish in the top-ten overall in over four decades of 24 Hours of Daytona competition.

Duno, in only two Rolex Series seasons, has three career Rolex Series overall wins, six podiums, nine top-five finishes and seventeen top-ten finishes.

Junqueira featured in Pilates magazine Junqueira featured in Pilates magazineBruno Junqueira is featured in the January/February issue of Pilates Style Magazine.  The article, written by Regina Joseph, discusses the benefits of Pilates for men overall as well as for specific sports.  A special mini feature contained information on the role Pilates played in the minimizing of injury during Junqueira's May 29th accident in the Indy 500 as well as his recovery.  
The issue is currently on newsstands.  The beginning of the article can be found on their website although the entire article can only be found in the current issue. http://www.pilatesstyle.com/
Ecclestone blasts F1 teams for spiraling costs Ecclestone blasts F1 teams for spiraling costsFormula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone blasted F1 teams for failing to keep spiraling costs under control.

Ecclestone told German weekly magazine Sport-Bild that teams should be able to remain competitive on a budget of 50 million euros a season, roughly a quarter of the average amount spent by top-ranked Formula One constructors.

"Teams now have to spend 200 million euros to be competitive but I want to reach a figure of 50 million," said Ecclestone. "Cosworth can make a competitive engine for 14 million euros a year, so the others should be able to. The average of 100 salaried staff per team is completely crazy."

Toyota are the sport's biggest spenders with an annual budget estimated at 400 million euros. Motorsport's world governing body FIA has proposed a 100-million-euro limit on team costs per season from 2008 but Ecclestone said that is too high.

Ecclestone also dismissed fears that his control on power is under threat as the sport's big five constructors - Renault, Ferrari, McLaren, Honda and Toyota - look to form a break-away competition. "They have no chance," he insisted.

The teams want a greater share of the commercial rights for Formula One but a defiant Ecclestone added: "They have no right to a greater share but it is taking them a long time to realize it."

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