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Land Closures On The Horizon for off-roaders  The following is from the AMA...

The U.S. House of Representatives could vote as early as next week on a wide-ranging bill that could shut off-highway motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle riders out of more than 2 million acres of public land, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

The measure, Senate Bill 22, also known as the Omnibus Public Lands Bill, is actually a package of more than 160 bills that were melded together to form a single bill more than 1,300 pages long.

"This bill was on the fast-track in the U.S. Senate and passed swiftly earlier this year without public scrutiny or debate," said Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. "The measure is now being steamrolled through the U.S. House without giving the public an opportunity to fully digest its impact and debate the many provisions in the bill." More ...

Bridgestone's MotoGP tire plans  The following is from Bridgestone...

In 2009 Bridgestone begins the first of three seasons as the official tire supplier to the MotoGP World Championship. This will represent a very different approach for tire supply to motor cycling’s premier sports category from its previous competitive tire supply environment.

Hiroshi Yamada, Bridgestone Motorsport, Manager Motorcycle Sport Unit, explains some of the differences at of the start of pre-season testing in Malaysia.

Q+A with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport – Manager Motorcycle Sport Unit

How many specifications of tire will there be in 2009?

We will have four different specifications of front tire and six different specifications of rear tire for the season. More ...

2009 NASCAR truck TV schedule  Fox Sports will again telecast two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this year, the Saturday afternoon events at Auto Club Speedway in California and Martinsville Speedway early in the season. The remainder of the series schedule will be on Speed.

NASCAR released the network lineup and the start times on Tuesday.

Here is the complete Truck series schedule, with date, site, network, TV start time and race start time (all times are Eastern and subject to change): More ...
“Hoot” Auton passes away Sunday  

Robert “Hoot” Arlin Auton of Hickory, N.C., passed away Sunday at the age of 75. Auton worked as an official at every level of NASCAR – from the short tracks of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – for 37 years.

Auton is survived by his wife of 56 years, Jerolyn Stallings Auton, and two sons and two daughters. Son Wayne Auton is the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director; and his other son Robert “Buster” Auton is the NASCAR Director of Transportation.

“Hoot was one of NASCAR’s pioneers and will be missed by the entire NASCAR community,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Hoot Auton was born March 20, 1933 in Lincoln County. He originally became involved with NASCAR providing fire equipment before becoming a NASCAR official. He was also retired as owner of Auton Remodeling and was a member of Springs Road Baptist Church. More ...

Press Picks Edwards to End Johnson Dynasty  The media have spoken, and it predicts Carl Edwards will end Jimmie Johnson’s championship stranglehold.

In a NASCARMedia.com poll asking members of the media to forecast 2009’s final top 12, Edwards received almost twice the first place votes as Johnson. Edwards finished with 70 first-place votes, compared to Johnson’s 37.

Despite his proven dominance in winning three consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles, Johnson could not muster a majority of the support from the 198 voters who cast a ballot.

“It is an unreal compliment for 70 [media members] to think that I will win it all,” Edwards said. “It's just great. What Jimmie has done is spectacular. For the media to say they think that I might be able to stop that is pretty neat.” More ...

Teams Ready For New-Look Bud Shootout  
Budweiser Shootout’s defending winner – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Amid much anticipation, the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series officially returns to the track Saturday night.

The 31st annual Budweiser Shootout At Daytona – the non-points precursor to the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 15 – snares the spotlight first at Daytona International Speedway.

This year, the event will have changes in its format, with a slightly longer distance and an expanded field designed to showcase the four manufacturers competing in NASCAR’s premier series.

And come Saturday, no one will be more eager to mash the gas than the Budweiser Shootout’s defending winner – Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet).

“Winning the first race of the year – whether it’s for points or no points – is always pretty special,” Earnhardt said. “There’s no better way to start a season than by winning the first one right out of the gate.” More ...

track news
Darlington Raceway Ambassador Passes Away  Clarice Lane, Darlington Raceway’s best-known female ambassador, died Monday evening after a long illness. 

Lane, 82, was a part of the inaugural event at the track in 1950 and an even bigger part of ensuing events for more than 50 years. She came to personally know hundreds of NASCAR drivers and their families.

A native of Mullins, S.C., Lane served as administrative assistant to the president of the track. The late NASCAR Chairman and CEO Bill France Jr. referred to Clarice as one of his favorite people.

"She sold the sport with her personality," NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter said. More ...

ESPN announces TV changes  ESPN2 has announced a programming change for Sunday's coverage of eliminations for the Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The network's scheduled three hours and 30 minutes of coverage of the NHRA Full Throttle Series season opener will now begin a half-hour later, at 7 p.m. ET.

On Saturday, Feb. 7, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 10 p.m. ET.

On Sunday, Feb. 8, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise NHRA Race Day presented by Lucas Oil, a 30-minute newsmagazine show, at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Sunday, Feb. 8, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours and 30 minutes of coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

Theissen predicts F1 grid shakeup in 2009  The radical rule changes that were introduced this year could lead to a big shake-up in Formula One's grid order, according to BMW team boss Mario Theissen.

Besides the return of slick tires and the introduction of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, this year's Championship will also see major changes in the cars' aerodynamics.

Theissen feels the new regulations will shake up the 2009 grid order.

"I think we are going to witness some surprises," he told the official BMW website. "It goes without saying that the established teams once again have to be regarded as the favorites. But I think that the radical rule changes can make a significant impact on the 2009 grid order."

Mosley can't protect British GP  Asked at a lunch with journalists on Wednesday if he had the power to protect a British round, the FIA president Max Mosley said: “I can’t.

“We have a role to protect the races – Bernie cannot put out a calendar which results in the elimination of one of the traditional races without our agreement.

“But we have to be reasonable as to the financial terms and facilities.

“The FIA can’t put pressure on Bernie Ecclestone to race in the UK for less than other countries would pay for us to race elsewhere.”

However, Mosley did label Britain as “the home of grand prix racing”, with the country being a mainstay on the calendar since the world championship’s inception in 1950 and providing the base for the majority of teams.

Earlier this month Gillett reiterated his total faith in the Donington redevelopment project, telling itv.com/f1 that the circuit would “absolutely be ready” for 2010.

“We’re going to be announcing the debenture scheme at the end of this financial quarter,” he added.

“By the end of March you will be hearing more about the debenture scheme, but it’s in place and going very well.”

GameStop Renews Partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing  GameStop Corporation, the world’s largest video game and entertainment software retailer, announced today that it has agreed to extend its partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing through the 2009 NASCAR season.  Rising star Joey Logano will pilot the No. 20 GameStop Toyota in 20 Nationwide Series events, beginning with the season-opening race at the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on February 14, 2009.

“GameStop prides itself on being a company that continually meets new challenges and sets the bar still higher,” said Bob McKenzie, Senior Vice President of Merchandising.  “Joe Gibbs Racing and Joey Logano have set a very high bar in NASCAR.  Their successes speak for themselves.  Joey has shown that he is a force each time he gets into the No. 20 GameStop Toyota, and we are proud to stand by his side as he sets off for even greater achievements.”

Mosley dismisses Bernie's medals idea  FIA president Max Mosley has dismissed the notion that replacing Formula 1’s points system with medals for the top three finishers would encourage overtaking and lead to better racing.

The medals scheme is being pushed by the sport’s commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone, who believes the current points structure offers insufficient reward for winning and therefore too little incentive to overtake.

“If the idea is to make people keen to overtake then we need to do a better job on the cars’ bodywork than we have done,” he told journalists at a lunch on Wednesday.

“Fiddling around with the points system won’t fix the problem.”

track news
Bid to race against celebrities  Here's a opportunity you can't pass up.

Fans can bid for a spot on the starting grid of a star-studded field in the 33rd Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, part of the 35th Anniversary Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend April 16-19.

Bidding at www.gplb.com/auction begins at $25,000 and runs through 5 p.m. (PT) Feb. 11. All proceeds from the winning bid will go to the Grand Prix Foundation of Long Beach, which has contributed more than $2 million to a multiple charitable organizations throughout the greater Long Beach area.

The winning bidder will join the rest of the celebrity and professional field for four days of professional driver's training at Fast Lane Racing School at California's Willow Springs Raceway March 19-22. The high bidder will receive a custom-made professional driver's suit, and a $5,000 donation from Toyota will be made in the winning bidder's name to Racing for Kids, a national program benefiting two children's hospitals in Southern California. More ...

Development of F1.09 centered on three key areas  
BMW F1.09
"The development of the F1.09 centered on three key areas: aerodynamics, optimum tire utilization and the integration of KERS," explains Walter Riedl, Managing Director of the BMW Sauber F1 Team, ahead of the new season.

With regard to the optimal utilization of tires, provided by technical partner Bridgestone, the switch to slicks was an important aspect. The team collected initial data with the grooveless tire, which generates far greater grip than its predecessor, over the course of the summer after Bridgestone delivered the first batch of slicks for testing. It quickly became clear that achieving the right weight distribution would play a critical role. More ...

New name for Penske's team  Bill Davis has become a minority owner of the team now known as Penske Championship Racing, a move giving Sam Hornish Jr. points that will guarantee him a spot in the season's first five races. With the addition of Davis, the team changed its name to Penske Championship Racing from Penske Racing. Bud Denker, the senior vice president of Penske Corporation, confirmed the move on Wednesday. ESPN
No Bud Shootout for Hornish  Even though some last-minute deals are taking place to lock drivers into the first five races of the Sprint Cup season, any new developments will not impact the field for the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said today. However, Penske Racing officials confirmed Tuesday night that Sam Hornish Jr. would end up having the 2008 owners points of the Bill Davis Racing #22 car and will be locked into the field for the first five events. The former BDR team was 31st in the points last year. But NASCAR has already set the field for the Budweiser Shootout, and there will be no changes, Tharp said. Richard Petty Motorsports’ AJ Allmendinger remains in the field as the seventh Dodge  SceneDaily
Lewis, Olson honored by Indianapolis Business Journal  Indy Racing League vice president John Lewis and Firestone Indy Lights team owner Mark Olson were recognized in the Feb. 2 issue of Indianapolis Business Journal as two of the city’s top “Forty Under 40.”

A committee from the magazine selected the top 40 individuals younger than 40 from more than 240 nominees with the primary criteria being those who have made significant achievements and are likely to continue to achieve. This is the 17th year the magazine has made the selections.

Lewis, 36, has worked in racing for nearly 15 years, first for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and since 2000 for the Indy Racing League. As vice president of marketing and league development, Lewis oversees marketing, advertising and promotion, handles promoter relations and develops new business.

“I’m very lucky to do what I love doing,” Lewis said. “To be recognized alongside these talented individuals and the many who have been honored in previous years is something I appreciate very much.” More ...

Honda Indy Toronto tickets on sale Feb. 13  Tickets for the 2009 Honda Indy Toronto will go on sale to the general public Feb. 13. Slated for July 10-12, the Honda Indy will mark the IndyCar Series first visit to Toronto.

Beginning Feb. 13, all tickets will be available with three-day prices as low as $59. Fans can also purchase paddock passes, VIP pit walk-through passes and parking passes. Tickets are available at www.hondaindytoronto.com.

“This is a very exciting time for the Honda Indy Toronto,” said Kevin Savoree, president of Andretti Green Toronto. “We’ve been working extremely hard to get to this point and are right on schedule to produce a tremendous event for everyone July 10-12. We’re already receiving renewals from past fans of the event and are hoping to see many new faces there this year, as well.”

Dixon honored as New Zealand’s Sportsman of the Year  
Scott Dixon
Reigning IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion Scott Dixon received the Sportsman of the Year award during the annual Halberg Awards ceremony Feb. 2 in Auckland, New Zealand.

The awards, organized by the Halberg Trust, recognize outstanding achievement by New Zealand sports men, women, teams and coaches over the previous 12 months.

"I was a little disappointed that I wasn't able to make it down," said Dixon, who grew up in Auckland. "To be honest, I wasn't ever sure that I would win that award. So, needless to say, I am over the moon that I did. A huge thanks to my family and the many supporters I had a long the way. Without them, none of this would have been possible. 2008 was a great year for me and my wife, and it looks like 2009 is starting off great as well." More ...

Firestone Indy Lights continues growth  
2008 Indy Lights champion Raphael Matos
After completing a competitive 2008 season that saw 10 different winners and a championship battle that came down to the final race, Firestone Indy Lights continues to see unprecedented growth as the 2009 season approaches.

Five new teams have announced intentions to compete in the IndyCar Series’ official developmental series this season alongside series mainstays such as Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Andretti Green Racing, Panther Racing and Team Moore Racing. In addition, several other teams remain in contact with series officials in hopes of joining the grid before the 16-race schedule begins on April 5 at St. Petersburg

As a result, there has been a nearly 200 percent increase in announced car-driver combinations from this time over a year ago, including returning drivers J.R. Hildebrand, Sean Guthrie and Andrew Prendeville as well as newcomers Martin Plowman (F3 EuroSeries), Gustavo Yacaman (Spanish F3) and Sebastian Saavedra (German F3). More ...

Atherton addresses SAE  UPDATE Addressing a noteworthy group of government and automobile industry executives at SAE International’s Government Industry Meetings in Washington, D.C., American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton today encouraged manufacturers “to compete in the great race of the 21st century - a race to new technology that will result in better cars with unprecedented efficiency by utilizing renewable bio fuels, generating fewer and cleaner emissions.”

Scott Atherton
Atherton had been invited to Washington, D.C. by the EPA and DOE to participate in a press conference at the Washington Auto Show as well as to speak at SAE International’s Government Industry Meetings. His remarks as the keynote speaker at the Government and Industry Meeting breakfast focused on the unique relationship formed a year ago between Washington (D.C.) and the American Le Mans Series as the government agencies and SAE International declared it the only racing series to meet the green racing protocols.

“Over the last 10 years, the relevance of auto racing has come full circle,” declared Atherton. “Since its launch, the American Le Mans Series has been providing a platform of world-class racing for manufacturers to showcase technology that is cutting edge, relevant and that has a direct link back to the production line. In addition, we now stand together with these government agencies and SAE International to work toward educating consumers that being green doesn’t mean being boring. Our collective goal is to get to the technology of tomorrow, faster.”

Atherton also hinted that additional fuel sources may be on the horizon for the world’s top sports car series.

“Going forward, we will continue to focus on the three alternative fuels (clean diesel, E10, cellulosic E85) with the possible addition of a fourth - if it becomes commercially viable and relevant as a consumer option,” he revealed.

He added that the American Le Mans Series expects to add at least one gas-electric hybrid, competing in the prototype category. This would represent a next-generation hybrid using the very latest in lithium-ion battery technology from Zytek, a leader in hybrid technology and supplier for major OEM applications. More ...

track news
Gasoline Alley businesses upset  A proposed closure of Grande Avenue in Speedway has more than a few Gasoline Alley businesses riled up. Allison Transmission—which has plants on both sides of Grande Avenue just south of 10th Street—along with the Speedway Redevelopment Commission, has requested the road closure.

The Speedway Redevelopment Commission is the group working on major overhauls to the town of Speedway which include enhancements around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to make the place more of a 12-month destination. But Gasoline Alley businesses, including a number of racing related enterprises, said the closure of Grande Avenue will cut off their much needed access to the Brickyard’s front door on 16th Street and hurt their business. Grande Avenue is just north of Gasoline Alley, which runs between Rockville and Cossell roads. More ...

racing news
Speedway Illustrated Sold  Anthem Media Group (AMG), announced that the firm has acquired one of the nation's most prominent and largest circulation motorsports magazines, Dick Berggren's Speedway Illustrated, and related assets including SEMA Show Daily relationship, NASCAR Insider, Speedway Expo and SpeedwayIllustrated.com. "As publishers of media products, including guest guides, souvenir programs and web content for nearly every major motorsports facility in America, we have an intimate knowledge of the industry and what advertisers, sponsors and marketing partners look for," said Tom Pokorny, President of Anthem's Motorsports division. "Speedway Illustrated has a long-standing reputation of being a quality product and we're excited to have it in our family of publications." More ...
Official NASCAR Magazine hits stands Feb 9th  A.E. Engine, a publishing and marketing services company, has released the Daytona 500 edition of NASCAR Pole Position, an officially licensed NASCAR magazine. The 88-page, newsstand-quality magazine, now in its fifth year, is available free in the greater Daytona Beach area from distributors such as Wal-Mart and CVS. The Daytona magazine marks the first of 36 editions that will be published in 2009. The magazine, whose Daytona cover features Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch, will be published in all 36 race markets in 2009. Each issue features content from respected NASCAR writers and photographers. The magazine includes profiles of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ top drivers, trivia, games for kids and plenty of photography. In the next two weeks, A.E. Engine will release the California and Las Vegas editions of Pole Position in those respective race markets. For collectors and out-of-market fans, editions are available for purchase at the magazine’s web site, www.freeracemag.com. More information, including digital editions, can be found at www.freeracemag.com
New Red Bull to 'look different'  (GMM)  Expectations about the appearance of Red Bull's 2009 car are rising, as the team prepares to launch the RB5 next Monday.

Despite the questionable aesthetics of this year's bodywork regulations, Australian driver Mark Webber recently said the Milton Keynes-based squad is to buck the trend by revealing a "beautiful" car.

"(The RB5 is) perhaps the most beautiful of the 2009 class, which under the new regulations was pretty difficult," he said.

Helmut Marko, the motor racing advisor to Red Bull chief Dietrich Mateschitz, confirmed Webber's claim about the shape of the Adrian Newey-penned single seater.

He is quoted as saying by the Austrian news agency APA: "Our car will look different to the majority of the others that have been presented so far."

Ahead of the last major technical changes in 1998, Newey designed the championship-winning McLaren.

Marko admits that fundamental rule changes can be an opportunity for unusual shifts of performance in F1.  "We are relatively confident," he added.

de Ferran hires Robert Clarke as CEO  
Robert Clarke
de Ferran Motorsports founder Gil de Ferran today announced a major new recruit to his ambitious organization: Robert Clarke the recently retired Honda Performance Development President.

The appointment of Clarke as CEO is a very significant step for the new team, which made its competition debut less than a year ago. Clarke has an impressive track record of success and has the proven talents and experience to mastermind the company's future.

"I am really excited to be adding Robert's name to the de Ferran Motorsports' roster as our new CEO," said Team Principal Gil de Ferran. "I know and have worked with Robert in different capacities since 1996 and I believe we have employed one of the best and most experienced executives in this industry. Robert was in charge of Honda's American motorsport program from the mid-90s until the beginning of 2008 and oversaw some really glorious years in Honda's motorsport history. More ...

Red Bull growth rate slows  Austrian energy drink producer Red Bull reported Wednesday that its 2008 sales reached 3.32 billion euros (4.28 billion dollars), up 7.9 per cent, less than half the previous year's 16.6 per cent rise. At 79 per cent, sales growth was especially strong in the Far East, with the Middle East (31 per cent) and South America (26 per cent) also boosting revenue, Austrian press agency APA reported Wednesday.

Red Bull founder and co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz said last week that the growth rate in the United States had slowed down since October, falling to single digits.

The company said it had "ambitious growth and investment plans" for 2009, despite the difficult economic climate, but Mateschitz told the regional daily Salzburger Nachrichten that he expected revenue to increase by only 3 to 5 per cent.

"People go out less and drink prosecco instead of champagne, or apple juice instead of Red Bull," Mateschitz said.

To compensate, the Salzburg-based company is planning to cut costs, with potential savings of up to 100 million dollars at its Formula 1 teams Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso. Earthtimes.org

Williams sponsor Baugur goes belly up  (GMM)  The former Williams sponsor Baugur Group, an Icelandic investment company, has applied for court protection from its creditors.

Grove based Williams carried signage of the Baugur brands All Saints, mydiamonds.com and Hamley's last year, but the company has been rocked by Iceland's financial and economic collapse.

There was speculation last year about even closer ties between Williams and Baugur, but the new FW31 did not feature a single Baugur brand when it was revealed in an interim livery last month.

It emerged on Wednesday that the Group applied to a District Court in Reykjavik for a "moratorium process" to protect its assets and "all creditors".

Ford US sales plunge 40 pct., Toyota down 32 pct.  Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday its U.S. vehicle sales fell 40 percent in January, setting an abysmal start to 2009 for the automaker and the industry overall as sales to fleet buyers like rental car companies weighed down the results.  Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. posted a 32 percent drop for the month but managed to outsell Ford.

Ford sold 93,060 light vehicles in January, compared with 155,832 in the same month of 2008. Toyota sold 117,287 vehicles, down from 171,849. Light vehicle sales exclude heavy trucks.

Other automakers also are expected to report lower sales.

track news
Martinsville to sell least desirable seats for $25  Martinsville Speedway says it will offer $25 tickets for the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on March 29.

“We continually look for ways to help our fans and make sure they are still going to be able to see the exciting races Martinsville Speedway has to offer,” said track President W. Clay Campbell. “Our fans have stuck by us over the years, and we’re going to stick by them.”

Tickets to the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on March 28 are now available for $30 in advance and $35 on race day.

Tickets for both are available by calling (877) 722-3849 or on the Web at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

Head of design quits BMW  Christopher Bangle has quit as head of design for BMW Group and plans to leave the auto industry altogether.

BMW has announced the news in a press release. Bangle says he will be pursuing other design challenges beyond automobiles.

Bangle's influence on BMW's recent history and his contributions to the premium car maker's success are difficult to overstate. Bangle, only 52, is a legend in automotive design and has been head of BMW Design Development since 1992.

He headed the design evolution of the BMW 3, 5 and 7 series from the 1990s into the 2000s, an era of commercial and critical success for those models. More ...

It’s a Boy for the Wheldons  St. Petersburg resident and 2005 Honda Grand Prix champion Dan Wheldon and his wife Susie have welcomed their first child, Sebastian Daniel, born on Sunday, Feb. 1 at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg.  The Wheldon camp reports everyone is doing well.  Wheldon will shift his focus to the 2009 IndyCar Series and his return to Panther Racing.
Financial troubles force Mitsubishi to withdraw  Mitsubishi will no longer compete in the Dakar Rally for financial reasons, the company announced Wednesday.  The announcement came as Japan's fourth-largest automaker said its group net loss will amount to $670 million for the fiscal year through March 2009.

"The sudden deterioration of the global economy made it necessary for the company to focus its resources more tightly," Mitsubishi Motors said in a statement.

In its 26 entries in the Dakar Rally, Mitsubishi Pajeros won the rally a total of 12 times, including seven consecutive victories from 2001-2007.

Preliminary entry list for Bud Shootout at Daytona  The preliminary entry list for Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway includes 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup teams.

On the list are David Reutimann, No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota; Kurt Busch, No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge; David Ragan, No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford; Robby Gordon, No. 7 Robby Gordon Motorsports Dodge; Casey Mears, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet; Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge; Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota; David Stremme, No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge; Tony Stewart, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota; Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford; Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford; Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota; Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Richard Petty Motorsports  Dodge; Joey Logano, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota; Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet; Jamie McMurray, No. 26 Roush Fenway Racing Ford; Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet; Jeff Burton, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet; Reed Sorenson, No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge; AJ Allmendinger, No. 44 Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge; Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet; Michael Waltrip, No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota; Scott Speed, No. 82 Red Bull Racing Toyota; Brian Vickers, No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota; Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet; Bobby Labonte, No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing Ford; Paul Menard, No. 98 Yates Racing Ford; are Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.

The draw for starting position in the non-points Shootout is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST Thursday with the race scheduled for 8:10 p.m. Saturday.

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • BMW confirms Bahrain test switch
  • Renault adds another test to winter plan
  • Abu Dhabi on track for 2009 finale
  • 'White paper' reveals shape of future rules

BMW confirms Bahrain test switch
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber has confirmed reports that it is set to join next week's Bahrain tests.

The Hinwil based team had been scheduled to follow the majority of teams to Jerez in Spain, but following the recently affected Portimao session, more bad weather is expected in Europe in the coming days.

Ferrari and Toyota will also be in Bahrain, where eight days of running will be split into two tests at the Sakhir circuit between February 10-13 and 16-19, according to the local newspaper Gulf Daily News.

BMW's full compliment of drivers will be on duty, after the newly unveiled F1.09 proved reliable at its first test in Valencia.

"From now, we will concentrate mainly on performance," a spokesman said.

Despite the expense of long-haul testing, the BMW official confirmed that the search for dry and warm weather is the reason for the Bahrain switch.

"Particularly, the track temperatures are extremely important," he said.

"They were too low in Europe during the last test, and we hope that they will be significantly higher in Bahrain.

"This is the basis to get valid tire data for the first races, which will all take place in hot conditions."

It is understood that Toyota and Ferrari will also deploy their race drivers for the test.

Renault adds another test to winter plan
(GMM)  Renault has decided to add one more test to its pre-season preparations, according to the Spanish sports newspaper Diario AS.

The French team, believed to have struggled significantly at the R29's weather-affected debut test in Portugal, was scheduled to wind-up its winter program on March 14, some two weeks before the Australian grand prix.

But AS claims that one more test date, possibly at Silverstone which is less than an hour's drive from Renault's Enstone headquarters in England, is now set to take place sometime on the week beginning March 16.

From the beginning of the following week, when teams will be setting up at Albert Park for the Melbourne opener, the new in-season testing ban is set to take effect. More ...

Disgusted with racing  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, A real racer like Paul Tracy can't get a ride, and a ride-buyer like Milka Duno has one is one reason that my interest in open wheel racing is fading. I know it's just a sign of the times where money, not talent buys a ride, but the only way I would pay money to watch Duno is if she was swinging around on a brass pole.  Similarly I was thinking of taking in the Grand-Am race at Mid Ohio this year but after the Brumos team wins the Rolex 24 and cheats but yet keeps the win (underweight car),  I guess I will save my money and go the local circus rather than pay to watch a circus on the race track.  Mike Newboyer, Ohio
Penske buys the #22, Davis a minority owner  Bill Davis is now a minority owner in Penske Racing. Penske has acquired Davis' #22 and will keep the number for further consideration to align with the #2 and #12. But for now, the #77 Mobil 1 Dodge driven by Sam Hornish Jr. will take the 22's owner points and start the 2009 season 31st, which guarantees it a position in the Daytona 500. "As a business person, you have to look at what your options are," Penske said by phone Tuesday. "I think the key thing right now is it's too bad that anyone who has run a full season whether they're in the top 35 or not — and I don't mean the ones that run a half season — but if you run the full season last year, every car in every race, you hope you would be given some kind of priority." FoxSports
Tommy Baldwin Racing signs assoc sponsor  Metaljeans.com, the only company that manufactures denim apparel, shirts, outwear, casual wear, foot wear and race gear exclusively in America, announced that they are METALizing Tommy Baldwin Racing for the 2009 Sprint Cup season [as an associate/product sponsor]. In addition, the band Sevendust will be guests of metaljeans.com at Daytona International Speedway during the Great American Race. The band will visit the crew of Tommy Baldwin Racing as well as several other teams sponsored by metaljeans.com. Everest Marketing Group/TBR PR
Mayfield to be driver/owner  Jeremy Mayfield "has finalized a deal to be the driver/owner" of the No. 41 Sprint Cup Series car sponsored by All Sport, making Mayfield "one of 15 new owners approved" for the series. The team will be co-owned by Gary Smith, Chair & CEO of Big Red Inc. and the All Sport brand  ESPN.com
EM Motorsports, Simo Racing To Merge for 500  EM Motorsports and Simo Racing will "combine forces in 2009, at least for the season-opening Daytona 500." The two single-car NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams plan to operate as Carter/Simo Racing, and are "expected to enter two cars under separate manufacturers for the 500." The No. 08 Ford will be driven by Boris Said, while James Hylton will drive the No. 60 Dodge. It is "unclear whether the affiliation will continue in some form for the rest of the season" NASCAR.com
Atherton says racing has lost its way  
Scott Atherton plugs his own series
At a joint press conference with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, American Le Mans Series President/CEO Scott Atherton today declared that most forms of auto racing have lost their way, particularly when addressing environmental issues.

“Racing has become better known for back flips and soap opera-like drama,” said Atherton. “And while there is nothing wrong with entertainment-based motorsport, the role of the automobile in the equation has been reduced to that of an irrelevant appliance of parity.

“Through our alliance with the EPA, DOE and SAE International, we defined the protocols and standards for Green Racing,” added Atherton. “Within the auto racing industry there is a lot of self-proclaimed leadership in this area, but not a lot of substance.” More ...

Q&A with NHRA Ford drivers Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson  
• Bob Tasca III, driver of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Mustang Funny Car, enters his second season at the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals this weekend in Pomona.  Tasca talks about the importance of off-season testing, racing in Pomona with sophomore eyes and the return of the Mustang Cobra Jet to competition. 

• Tim Wilkerson driver of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang Funny Car finished second in the 2008 NHRA Funny Car championship narrowly missing the title as a single car entry in the age of multi-car teams.  In 2009, Wilkerson has formed a technical alliance with Bob Tasca III and Tasca Racing allowing the two single car entries additional access to data and set-up information.  As part of the alliance Wilkerson will campaign a Ford Mustang for the 2009 season which kicks off later this week at Pomona, Calif. with the NHRA Winternationals. More ...

EPA gives a plug to ALMS  
EPA's Margo T. Oge (right) and Series President and CEO Scott Atherton (left) declared the Series' position as the global leader of green racing.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy held a press conference in Washington, D.C. today at the Washington Auto Show declaring the importance of President Obama's directive to continually develop sustainable energy sources through alternative fuels for the transportation and automobile industry.

American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton participated and provided valuable insight into the world's top sports car series' direction and position as the global leader in green racing. But it was Margo T. Oge, Director of Transportation and Air Quality for the EPA, that proved to be one of the American Le Mans Series' biggest fans. More ...
tv news
NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series Return to ESPN Networks  Continuing a multimedia commitment to the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, the ESPN networks launch coverage of the 2009 season with a live, flag-to-flag telecast of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Camping World 300 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 14, at noon ET on ESPN2. ESPN2 will again be the television home for the series in 2009, with select races on ESPN and ABC.

ESPN and ABC also will have live coverage of the final 17 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, including all 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on ABC. The Sept. 20 event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., again marks the beginning of ESPN’s coverage of the Chase to the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The Richmond International Raceway event, run the week before the start of the Chase, is the first ABC event after six races on ESPN. The Richmond event determines the final seeding of the 12 drivers in the Chase. ESPN’s NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage begins July 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. More ...

IMSA tribute to Harry Brix  The International Motor Sport Association honors the memory today of Harry Brix, a championship-winning team owner in IMSA and one of the nation’s pioneering businessmen. The 61-year-old Brix passed away Sunday in his hometown of Los Gatos, Calif., after suffering a cardiac arrest some days ago.

“The loss of Harry Brix is a tragic one for all those associated with IMSA and road racing in North America,” said Doug Robinson, Executive Director of IMSA. “His pedigree as a driver, team owner and businessman places him in rare company. He was a fantastic competitor, tremendous family figure and most importantly loyal friend to those who knew him. We send our deepest thoughts and condolences to his friends and family at this most difficult time.” More ...

Indianapolis 500 starter McWithey dies at 81  Jim McWithey, who drove in the Indianapolis 500 in 1959 and 1960, died Sunday, Feb. 1 in Gainesville, Ga. McWithey, a native of Grammer, Ind., was 81.

Racing out of Anderson, Ind., for the majority of his career, McWithey switched from the IMCA sprint car circuit, where he ranked third in 1955, to USAC in time to pass a rookie test for car owner George Walther at Indianapolis in 1956.

In his first Indianapolis 500 start three years later, he drove the Ray Brady Special from 33rd to 16th, completing the full 200 laps some 12 minutes after Rodger Ward had won the race, the rules at that time permitting as many cars as was reasonable to complete the distance. This feat earned him membership in the very prestigious Champion 100-Mile-An-Hour Club, which was discontinued in 1970. More ...

Gigawave develops new on-board technologies  The inaugural Superleague Formula season was a great success in terms of the racing, the television spectacle and the organization, surprising many other better established motor sport series.

The last season of the Championship gradually gained supporters from the audience in 70 countries where the races were broadcasted, obtaining in its first season, and with only 6 rounds, an average of 6 million fans per race throughout the world, as well as internet uses in 80 different countries who followed the races with Superleague Formula TV also live on the official website of the championship.

The off season does not always mean a holiday for those working on the series and the Gigawave on-board team have been working hard, making sure all their camera and transmitter systems are checked and upgraded for a new season of racing.

Gigawave have also used the off season as a chance to develop their on-board technology with the use of the Glasgow Rangers car that is currently at their Earls Colne headquarters in Essex. More ...

Dallara chassis ready for Porsche engine  As a demonstration of its continuous investment in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, the Dallara Daytona Prototype chassis is now ready for the installation of the Porsche engine.

Up until now, the Dallara was configured to work with either the Ford or Pontiac engines in Daytona Prototype competition.

"At the moment we have noticed a big interest in this project," said Luca Bergianti, Dallara's Senior Vehicle Dynamicist. "Already, some teams have enquired regarding this package."

The Dallara debuted in Daytona Prototype competition at the 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona, when Doran Racing finished 16th in class with in the No. 77 Ford Dallara. Memo Gidley and Brad Jaeger raced the car - a modified Doran chassis - throughout the season, with a best finish of fifth in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. More ...

Hulkenberg hopes for 2010 F1 debut  
Nico Hulkenberg
(GMM)  Williams test driver Nico Hulkenberg is hoping to make his formula one race debut in 2010.

The 21-year-old German, the latest protégé of Michael Schumacher's manager Willi Weber, joined the Grove team last year, having risen to prominence as an A1 GP champion.

He is the reigning F3 Euroseries champion, and in 2009 is stepping up to the F1 feeder series GP2.

Williams' growing faith in the youngster was demonstrated when he recently gave the team's new FW31 its track debut in Portugal, and he aims to continue to impress this year. More ...

Mayfield returns to full Cup ride, with sponsor  
Jeremy Mayfield
Jeremy Mayfield returns to NASCAR Sprint Cup competition in 2009 as both team owner and driver. Thanks in part to NASCAR and sponsor All Sport, Mayfield plans to field a full time entry in the series. He will assume driving duties of the team’s #41 entry beginning with the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. “Team ownership is something I’ve always wanted to pursue,” said Mayfield. “Things have really fallen into place this year with the NASCAR rule changes and with All Sport coming on board as a partner.”

Mayfield’s ownership aspirations were given new life when NASCAR announced one key rule change for the 2009 season – a ban on testing at NASCAR sanctioned tracks. “I have to give NASCAR a lot of credit for the things they’ve done in the sport over the last two years to make it possible for people like me to get involved as a team owner,” continued Mayfield.

“The new COT car and even more importantly the testing ban have made it a reality for me to come in and compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.” Mayfield will be joined in ownership by Gary Smith, Chairman and CEO of Big Red, Inc. and co-owner of Mayfield Motorsports. Smith’s All Sport brand will sponsor the team during the 2009 Sprint Cup season. More ...

Golden Corral to sponsor Kvapil at Daytona  
Travis Kvapil
Yates Racing announced that Golden Corral, America's favorite family buffet and grill restaurant chain, will sponsor Travis Kvapil and the #28 Ford Fusion in the 2009 Daytona 500 on February 15th. "It's great to have Golden Corral on board for the biggest race of the year," said Yates Racing driver Travis Kvapil. "I've always been a huge fan of Golden Corral, and now to have them on the #28 Ford for the Daytona 500 is such a great opportunity for us. I can't wait to get back down to Daytona. It's been a long off season without any testing, and I think I speak for all the guys on the #28 team, but we are all chomping at the bit to get back down there. Doug (Yates) has been working solid hours over at the engine shop getting ready for the 500, and I know we'll have a ton of horsepower under the hood of the #28 Golden Corral Ford Fusion." More ...
Patrick helps GoDaddy hit records  
Danica Patrick's beauty leaves some men weak-kneed
How successful were the GoDaddy ads aired on TV during the Super Bowl? That depends on who you ask. Some panned, while other praised the two ads featuring Indy Racing League driver Danica Patrick.

A USA Today pole of viewers rated GoDaddy’s ads No. 41 and No. 45 out of 50. The beef about USA Today’s Ad Meter among advertising executives is that it only measures how well viewers like the ad—and not consumer brand recall or any other sort of return on investment.

GoDaddy officials said they are getting plenty of return on investment. According to company officials, the two 30-second spots—which cost $3 million each in air time—are already paying heavy dividends. According to Akamai Technologies, one of the leading Internet traffic trackers, GoDaddy had the biggest increase in Web traffic of any of the Super Bowl advertisers. That probably has something to do with GoDaddy’s attempt at luring viewers to their Web site with the promise of an “unrated” addition to the company’s racy TV commercials. And Web surfers didn’t just stop by GoDaddy-an Internet domain name registry.

“[Sunday and Monday] broke records with respect to new customer sign ups and total orders,” said GoDaddy President and COO Warren Adelman. “It was a great Sunday.”

Adelman gives Patrick lots of credit for the successful campaign. “She’s enormously popular. She’s a dynamic, fun, intelligent spokesperson,” he said. “We think she draws a lot of attention to this campaign.” IBJ.com

tv news
SPEED Awards to air  The Third Annual SPEED Performance Awards will air Thursday at 10:30 p.m. ET. Hosted by four-time SCCA champ Tommy Kendall and versatile on-air personality Krista Voda, the one-hour special will crown the 2008 SPEED Performer of the Year™ and highlight nine fan-voted SPEED Performance Awards, including the RACER Magazine Rookie of the Year presented by Ace Hardware.

This year, more than 118,000 fan votes were placed over a four-week period on SPEEDtv.com for nine categories including Best Finish, Best Rivalry, Temper Temper, Best Move, Biggest Upset, Biggest Comeback and the dreaded “Oops” Award.

A schedule of air dates/times for the Third Annual SPEED Performance Awards:

·        Thursday, Feb. 5 @ 10:30 p.m. ET
·        Wednesday, Feb. 11 @ 7 p.m. ET
·        Thursday, Feb. 12 @ 2 a.m. ET
·        Friday, Feb. 13 @ 3 p.m. ET
·        Tuesday, Feb. 17 @ 2 p.m. ET

Sub-zero Webber confident for return  
Mark Webber
(GMM)  Mark Webber is using a cryogenic chamber and sub-zero therapy as a tool to returning to full fitness ahead of the 2009 world championship.

The Australian, who badly broke the two bones in his lower right leg in late November, is scheduled to return to the cockpit of his Red Bull next week.

It emerged on Tuesday that part of his accelerated rehabilitation program has been standing in temperatures of an incredible minus-130 degrees for three minutes at a time.

"It's very good for your general well-being, your immune system and apparently it's good for cellulite.  Not much of a worry for me ... but it's very good for the whole body," the 32-year-old said.

Webber claims his February return is still due to take place, but is realistic about the rigors of action in a F1 cockpit.

"Driving is not like playing tennis.  A tennis player can practice before actually playing a game.  I need to get in the car and go and do it to find out about things like the vibration jolts," said Webber, who did some karting in Austria recently.

He insists he will be fit for the first race of the season in March.

"There's been some stuff in the press that I won't be 100 per cent fit for Melbourne which pissed me off.  I will be 100 per cent ready to do my job," said Webber.

Board approves Mercedes F1 program  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  An official spokesman has denied reports that Mercedes-Benz's F1 program only narrowly survived a vote of the Daimler AG board.

The German news magazine Focus last Sunday said the management board recently voted three to two in favor of prolonging Mercedes' 13-year collaboration with McLaren.

"There was no voting by the Daimler board of management concerning formula one," a Daimler spokesman said.  "Apart from this it is correct that we continue our commitment."

02/03/09 Mercedes-Benz's participation in Formula One recently came close to being scrapped in a management board vote, according to reports in Germany.

With the world gripped in an economic crisis, Formula One has already lost one of its manufacturer outfits with Honda announcing their withdrawal from the sport at the end of last season.

The team, though, has been put up for sale and although Honda Racing CEO Nick Fry mentioned at the beginning of January that he had at least 30 prospective buyers, the Honda team has yet to be sold.

Honda's demise has already raised some doubts about F1's other manufacturers with reports in German publication Focus claiming that the management board of Mercedes-Benz recently put their F1 participation up for a vote.

And the results are somewhat worrying with the continuation of their partnership with McLaren only surviving by three votes to two.

However, Mercedes-Benz isn't the only manufacturer whose F1 program is in doubt as the publication also reports that BMW are considering their involvement.

Focus reports that should BMW achieve their goal of winning the F1 World Champion the German outfit may opt out of F1 in the aftermath.

02/01/09 (GMM)  Only by a narrow margin was Mercedes-Benz's continued presence in formula one approved by the marque's parent board, a report on Sunday claimed.

The German news magazine Focus said Dieter Zetsche, Daimler AG chief executive, recently asked the management board to vote on whether Mercedes should prolong its 13-year collaboration with 2008 drivers' world champions McLaren.

Mercedes-Benz is currently McLaren's largest shareholder, and has supplied works engines to the Woking based team since 1995.

Amid the global financial crisis, speculation continues that other carmakers will follow Honda in withdrawing from the expensive sport.

Focus claims that the management board's vote tallied three votes to two, meaning that for now Daimler AG remains committed to formula one.

The same magazine, however, said BMW might rethink its BMW Sauber-branded F1 program upon completion of the quest to win the title, theoretically at the end of this year.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone recently said he is pressing for the manufacturers to commit contractually to the sport long-term in order to "prevent the kind of thing we have seen with Honda".

"If they did (agree) we could sue the arse off them if they left.  They wouldn't like that," the 78-year-old said.

racing news
Harry Brix 1947-2009  The 61-year-old Harry Brix passed away on Sunday in his home town of Los Gatos, California after suffering a cardiac arrest some days ago.

Harry Brix was a charismatic and highly respected character, well known to both the sports car and open wheel racing communities as a team owner in the 1990s and, latterly, as father to Grand-Am and ALMS driver, Harrison.  As a former driver himself, Harry knew what it took to achieve success and his Brix Racing team enjoyed several years at the forefront of the IMSA championships, most notably as 1995 IMSA GT Champions with Jeremy Dale and 1996 GTS Champions with Irv Hoerr and Darrin Brassfield.

Brix Racing ran the official factory program for General Motors’ Oldsmobile brand, using Aurora cars prepared by Pratt & Miller, the success of which arguably paved the way for GM’s super-successful Chevrolet Corvette program of today.  The team, entered as Brix Comptech Racing, also competed in the 1996 Indy Car Championship with a Reynard-Honda in the hands of Parker Johnstone.  More ...

Ocean Racing Technology confirms Karun Chandhok  
Karun Chandhok
Ocean Racing Technology has secured a top driver contract for the GP2 Main Series with Indian driver, Karun Chandhok joining forces with the Portuguese team, making him the first driver confirmed for the outfit directed by Tiago Monteiro. At 24, Karun has two complete seasons in the series under his belt as well as two victories and therefore brings great experience with him that will be decisive for the all new team in the GP2 Main Series.

"It is very important for Ocean Racing Technology to guarantee the presence of a talented driver such as Karun Chandhok. He is fast, hard worker and already has some great results on different kinds of tracks. He always had an excellent working relationship with engineers and team principals that he has previously worked with and has won two races in the GP2 Main Series. It is extremely positive that he signed this contract well before the championship starts because this way we can immediately begin work for the Main Series. For us, it is important that an experienced and fast driver like Karun puts his confidence in Ocean Racing Technology, which is a very young team. He is the driver we need to achieve our goals, which are to be competitive right away and consistently into the points," Tiago said. More ...

Additional A1GP test at Ferrari's request  Last Monday, at the request of Ferrari, A1 Teams Ireland and New Zealand completed some additional running on New Zealand’s Taupo circuit to try out a version of the pressurized fuel collector at high ambient temperatures. The data collected will be validated by A1GP Technology in further factory tests to produce a modification for all team cars prior to the A1GP Gauteng event in three weeks’ time. 

"We were asked to help out with the test and were happy to oblige,” said Team Principal Mark Gallagher. “Naturally for reasons of fairness we could not use Adam Carroll for this test, nor carry out any performance testing of benefit to the team, but it was very useful for Niall Quinn to get some decent running in the car.” More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Piquet also tried to lose weight for 2009
  • Rossi admits another F1 chance unlikely
  • 2009 cars look like 'harvesters' - Lauda
  • Gascoyne eyes next job outside UK
  • Heidfeld says drivers' title target realistic

Piquet also tried to lose weight for 2009
(GMM)  Nelson Piquet is another current formula one driver who this winter embarked on a weight-loss program ahead of the forthcoming 2009 season.

Numerous of the Brazilian's rivals also attempted to shed pounds, on the eve of the debut of heavy KERS systems but an unchanged minimum car-plus-driver weight limit of 605kg.

Kimi Raikkonen, Rubens Barrichello and Nico Rosberg have revealed they lost weight, while 23-year-old Piquet's Renault teammate Fernando Alonso is believed to have shed some 4 kilograms.

But according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, the frustrated Piquet managed to lose just 1kg.

"I have nothing more to lose.  I am simply bigger than Fernando," he said.

Rossi admits another F1 chance unlikely
(GMM)  Valentino Rossi believes he turned down his only opportunity to switch to formula one.

A few years ago, the Italian and multiple MotoGP champion tested Ferrari's single seaters and was believed to have been offered the 2006 race seat alongside Michael Schumacher.

Rossi, now 29, ultimately opted to stay on two wheels, but has admitted he often wonders if he made the right decision.

"In 2006 I decided to stay with the bike and, of course, I still have some doubts, but just to climb inside the red car at Mugello and work with Ferrari was fantastic," he said, referring to his recent outing at the wheel of last year's F2008.

On the day of the launch of this year's Yamaha mount on Monday, Rossi pledged a "few more years" to the world of premier motorcycling and said a future in rallying is possible.

He played down the possibility of another flirt with F1, despite the results of his latest Mugello test.

"To try the Ferrari again was a great emotion.  I have always been a great fan of racing cars, not just of rally.  I was fast, so I was happy; I am fast enough also in F1.

"I had my chance and I decided to stay with bikes.  The choice is made and I don't think that there will be another possibility." More ...

Daytona 500 Tickets For Sale  
AR1.com is selling two tickets for both the Saturday Camping World 300 and Sunday Daytona 500 in Weatherly Tower (see photos for seat location).  These tickets are in an excellent location at the entrance to pit lane.  Over the years this area of the track has been a hot bed of excitement.

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

Selling all tickets as a package - 4 total tickets, 2 for each race.
Section:  E
  Row:  29

All tickets are in-hand and ready to ship.  Face Value $640 for set.  Selling to AR1.com customers for $500 plus shipping & handling.

Lola to build LMP1 for Aston Martin  
Aston Martin LMP1 car rendering
Lola will supply LMP1 sportscars to Aston Martin Racing for the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours and Le Mans Series. The Huntingdon designed and built cars will be powered by a production based V12 Aston Martin engine and race in the evocative blue and orange livery of Gulf Oil.

For Lola, the Aston Martin LMP program confirms yet another partnership with a major manufacturer, adding to previous collaborations with General Motors, Nissan and MG.

Martin Birrane, Executive Chairman of Lola Group commented: "Lola's first collaboration with Aston Martin was 40 years ago with John Surtees racing the iconic Lola T70 MkIIIB with an Aston Martin engine. I am very pleased that Lola and Aston Martin Racing are competing together again, as the joining of these two great brands in 2008 proved to be very effective. I am hopeful that this partnership will be even more successful during the 2009 season". More ...

Lola releases 2009 LMP2 specs  
Dyson Lola with Mazda power
Lola Cars International Ltd today reveal the 2009 development updates to its LMP2 Coupe sportscar, which will see significant performance gains for this already successful design.

During the winter Lola has sold more LMP cars more than any other constructor. The Lola designs are constantly evolving and for 2009 the LMP2 will see major revisions to the rear bodywork and undertray, developments that will give its customers significant performance gains. Lola engineers have also exploited a recent upgrade in its CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) capabilities, contributing greatly to the new look cars. More ...

Dover reduces value of NASCAR races  Dover Motorsports has written down the value of its Midwest facilities that play host to Nationwide and Camping World Truck series events.

In a news release detailing its fourth quarter and year-end results for 2008, the company announced that it is writing down the value of Memphis Motorsports Park by $2.15 million, Nashville Superspeedway by $3.14 million and Gateway International Raceway by $7.505 million.

The company cited projected cash flows and the fact that no anticipated material increase in revenues for Nationwide Series races from the television contract is anticipated as the reason for the reduction in value.

A write-down is an accounting measure that adjusts the value of the property to what the company considers fair market value and also impacts how much a company pays in taxes. On a conference call with financial analysts, Dover Senior Vice President of Finance Timothy Horne said Nashville's new value is approximately $51.5 million while Gateway and Memphis are now valued at approximately $10 million.

TV ad buyers hitting the brakes on NASCAR  Advertising sales for NASCAR's season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 15 appear to be on par, Fox Sports tells Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal, but projections for the first two quarters of 2008 are about 25 percent below last year's level.

A Fox source told the publication the network is still asking $550,000 for 30-second spots, which it got for last year’s season-opening Sprint Cup race. But several other sources put rates in the $350,000 to $450,000 range, according to the report on the Sports Business Journal site. Additionally, one source said, Daytona 500 spots at the higher rates include additional placement in prerace and post race shows.

Rates for 30-second spots during other Cup races on Fox are down marginally, the Street & Smith account said, and are in the $75,000 to $125,000 range .

Fox carries the first 13 Cup races of the season.

Bid for F1 passes  Formula 1 fans are being given an unprecedented opportunity to experience a European Grand Prix of their choice from within the Formula 1 paddock as guests of one of the teams.

For nine consecutive weeks from Monday February 9, fans can choose their favorite European Grand Prix and bid for a pair of exclusive paddock passes, including team hospitality, normally reserved for sponsors and VIP guests. The auction takes place on www.tomprycememorial.com and all the money raised will go to create a permanent memorial to Tom Pryce in his home town of Ruthin, North Wales.

Tom Pryce was the greatest Welshman ever to race a Grand Prix car, combining natural speed with sensational car control that invited comparisons with legends such as Jochen Rindt and Ronnie Peterson. He is best remembered for becoming the only Welshman to have won a Formula 1 race, the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch in 1975, on a day when his pace was simply sensational. Tragically he was killed in a freak accident during the 1977 South African Grand Prix, at just 27 years of age. More ...

Rosenzweig joins Carlin for F3 Euro Series  American racer Jake Rosenzweig has signed with Carlin Motorsport for the 2009 F3 Euro Series championship.  The 19 year-old former Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup driver will race with the British squad alongside Red Bull’s Brendon Hartley.  Rosenzweig’s signing with Carlin follows an impressive F3 test with the team, where the young American matched the times of Carlin’s British F3 drivers at the Valencia circuit in Spain in December.  With the 2009 season now quickly approaching, Rosenzweig will continue his testing program in March in the Volkswagen powered Carlin Dallara.
Lara Joins JDC MotorSports  Former series champions JDC MotorSports will be looking to return to the top of the podium again this season with the announcement that Brazilian Caio Lara will drive for the team in the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. Seeking to build on a championship-winning effort in 2007 and a runner-up finish in the driver championship this past season, JDC Motorsports is thrilled to have signed the second-year driver, who joins the team having contested his inaugural season in the highly competitive championship with another team, finishing eighth in the title fight. As part of multi-car effort at JDC, Lara will partner one or two yet-to-be-named drivers throughout the 13-race campaign.  The team also put Lara on-track last week at the first official test of 2009 in Sebring. More ...
track news
NJMP charity event for children  The New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) Green Flag Committee announces an opportunity for race fans to meet David Donohue, winner of this year’s Daytona Rolex Grand Am 24-Hour Race, and to race against him on a Daytona Speedway simulator. It’s all for fun and to raise money for the Green Flag Committee’s Children’s Charities on February 15th, starting at 2 PM at the NJMP Drivers Clubhouse.

The event will coincide with the actual Daytona 500 race in Florida, which will be shown on the Clubhouse’s four big screen televisions.

Guests will have an opportunity to race on the NJMP simulator set up as the Daytona Speedway course and try their skills against champion driver David Donohue and win valuable prizes. Closest competitor to Donohue’s time will win two NJMP 2009 season passes and experience a “day in the life” of an NJMP Drivers Club Member. More ...

Super Bowl Castrol Commercial - Grease Monkeys  

2009 Atlantic season coming together  During a productive and well-attended owners meeting at Media Brokers International headquarters in Atlanta, several key components of the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda were discussed and finalized.

The meeting was attended in person by Thomas Knapp of Genoa Racing; Eddie Wachs, Brian Halahan and Roger Soeldner of Newman Wachs Racing; US RaceTronics owner Shane Seneviratne, Jensen MotorSport owner Eric Jensen, Condor Motorsports owner Carlos Bobeda, Walker Racing owner Derrick Walker, Alain Clarinval of Mathiasen Motorsports and Paladin Motorsports owner Reza Honarvar. Also in attendance were John Doonan from Mazda; David Bowes, Élan Technologies CEO representing Élan and IMSA, and Atlantic Championship President Ben Johnston, Executive Vice President Vicki O’Connor and Vice President of Operations John Brunner.

Joining the meeting via teleconference were Brooks Associates Racing owner John Brooks, Mathiasen Motorsports owners Ray and Leslie Mathiasen, Gelles Racing owner Bob Gelles, Michael Maroney on behalf of both Mathiasen Motorsports and Genoa Racing, and Chris Pantani More ...
Q&A with Valentino Rossi  The following Valentino Rossi interview was released by Fiat Yamaha:

Valentino Rossi
How was your winter holiday? What have you been doing during your time off?

My winter holidays were great! I have a great passion for snowboarding and so I went to the mountains with my friends, did a bit of boarding, which was great fun, and now I am ready to start working again.

What are your memories of 2008? After having some time for your victory to sink in, can you choose your absolute favorite moment of 2008?

It’s difficult to choose my favorite moment because, luckily, there were many in what was an incredible season! I returned to winning ways, but the most emotional race was the one in Laguna Seca, because it was definitely the most important victory of the season.

You had a chance to try the prototype bike before the break. What’s your opinion of it so far and do you think Yamaha are doing a good job?

Yes, I had the chance to try the 2009 prototype briefly after Valencia but more so in Jerez, when I was very fast. The bike seems better and I was faster than I was with the 2008 version. I’m very confident, and anyway we’re only at the beginning of our work and now we must use these months before April to improve the 2009 M1 even more. More ...

Davey Hamilton forms Firestone Indy Lights Team  Veteran Indy 500 driver and “perennial fan favorite”, Davey Hamilton, announces the formation of a team set to run the entire 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season.  Davey has made 50 starts as an IndyCar driver, competed in 8 Indy 500’s, is a partner in a group that is leasing the Terre Haute Action Track and is a driver analyst on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network.

The team has been formed to enhance the careers of young, up-and-coming drivers in various facets of open wheel racing and with Hamilton’s vast experience in numerous types of cars, the creation of a multi-focused team has been a desire for many years.

“This is not my first involvement with a team but I feel this is a step closer to my hopes of having or being a large part of the management of an IndyCar team,” said Hamilton.  “I really look forward to working with Brandon (Wagner) and hopefully a second driver to help them fulfill their goals as well.” More ...

Danica Patrick signs with IMG  IRL driver Danica Patrick "has signed with IMG's Alan Zucker and Mark Steinberg to represent her marketing and endorsement efforts off the track," according to Michael Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Steinberg is "best known" as Tiger Woods' agent, while Zucker's clients include Colts QB Peyton Manning and Giants QB Eli Manning. Patrick had been with L.A.-based Endeavor for the last two years and worked with the Players Group before that. Patrick's business manager and father T.J. Patrick said, "It was a move designed to get more into sports marketing."
Zytek Engineering begins busy season with Estoril test  Quifel-ASM took delivery of its new Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S/2 LMP2 last week.  The Portuguese team successfully completed a shakedown of its new car at the Aut¢dromo do Estoril.  The Ginetta-Zytek ran faultlessly for 78 laps of the Portuguese track, completing over 320km.  Although the weather was far from ideal, the shakedown provided an opportunity for Miguel Amaral to experience the Ginetta-Zytek for the first time and allowed Olivier Pla to renew his acquaintance with the machinery.  The Frenchman previously tested an LMP2 Ginetta-Zytek at Snetterton and raced an LMP1 version at Petit Le Mans in 2008. 

Quifel-ASM driver Olivier Pla enthused "The car felt very good, there are some differences between the GZ09S/2 we were testing this week and the 07S/2 I drove last year, but the car feels very familiar, the balance is still very good.  We had a very productive test until the bad weather set in.  We completed a lot of miles and the car was very reliable which is a good sign.  Obviously I know the quality of the Ginetta-Zytek chassis from my previous experience, but the GZ09S/2 is another step forward." More ...

Rossi insists: No F1 switch  MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi has once again dismissed any chance of racing in Formula One.

Despite another recent test for World Champions Ferrari, the 29-year-old said he now believes he has missed his chance to make the switch.

However, the Yamaha rider did say that he could concentrate on rallying after his career on two wheels has drawn to a close.

The Italian, who took part in Rally GB late last year, said: "I have always loved rally, ever since I was little. It is one of my great passions and it is great to do one when I have the time and the chance.

"I always enjoy it a lot and, probably, when I have given up the bikes and when I have the chance to improve and I have more time, I will do more.

"But it's not a close future, because I still want to race with the bike for a few more years." Skysports

track news
Wayne Newton to perform at Centennial Era Gala  Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton, will be performing at the Centennial Era Gala on Friday, Feb. 27 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

Newton is one of the most celebrated entertainers of all time. This legendary performer has recorded and released more than 165 albums to date and has enjoyed nearly 20 No. 1 and top 10 hits. Having performed more than 40,000 live shows in Las Vegas alone, Newton also has appeared in numerous films and television shows, including participating in ABC's hit "Dancing with the Stars," as well as the "Dancing with the Stars Live Tour."

For information on purchasing a table for the Centennial Gala, call (317) 492-6501 or visit the Centennial Era Gala Sponsor Opportunities section at the IMS Web site, www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.

The Centennial Gala is the first of many events over the next three years that will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was founded and built in 1909, and the 100th anniversary of the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

tv news
Motorsports This Week on ESPN  
NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Season Blasts Off on ESPN2

The 2009 season for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series blasts off this weekend with the 49th ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD air qualifying action on Saturday, Feb. 7, at 10 p.m. ET, and coverage of eliminations on Sunday, Feb. 8, at 6:30 p.m. Finals re-air Monday, Feb. 9, at 9 a.m. on ESPN Classic.

Every February since 1961, fans have flocked to Southern California not just for the un-winter-like weather, but also for one of drag racing’s grandest traditions: the unveiling of new cars, drivers, teams, and sponsorships at the season opener. The Big Go West plays out at the fabled facility known for its outstanding traction, smooth surface, and potential for record performances. Teams hope to use the opener as a springboard in their pursuit of a spot in the Countdown to 10 championship program.

Paul Page anchors ESPN2’s coverage with analysis by 22-time NHRA winner Mike Dunn. Gary Gerould and Dave Rieff report from the pits. Rieff and Dunn host NHRA RaceDay on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. to set the stage for that day’s eliminations action. More ...

Grand-Am Selects Interactive Marketing Company  The Grand-Am Road Racing Association has selected Drive Digital Media to produce a state-of-the-art digital media guide and related interactive assets to highlight the company's five auto racing series for the 2009 season including Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, KONI Sports car Challenge, Ferrari Challenge, Ford Racing Mustang Challenge and SunTrust MOTO-ST Series.

Revolutionizing the motorsports industry's traditional media program, Grand-Am will now provide media centers, partners and sponsors with a custom-programmed, dynamic media guide. The interactive guide includes a downloadable software application, called a widget, allowing users a new level of access to the latest Grand-Am news including the status of drivers, schedules, track information, race results and more.

The widget is downloadable to 98% of all computers and takes just 58 seconds to install. More ...

Braun signs up as Motocross World Championships  Youthstream agreed a deal with P&G’s brand Braun to title sponsor the Motocross World Championships. Giuseppe Luongo, the President of Youthstream, said: “We are very proud that a world famous brand such as Braun has become partner of the FIM Motocross World Championships. This constantly shows the great work done over the past years in promoting our sport and bringing it on TV around the world.

“More than 850 million people in 135 countries for more than 1,200 hours watch the FIM Motocross World Championships and the sport’s website has more than 3.5 million visitors per year. We will do all our best to promote Braun at all our Grand Prix events and we really hope to create a long-term partnership.”

“Braun's sponsorship of the FIM Motocross World Championships reflects a logical progression for our brand as we move into 2009,” said Cornelia Bartl, Marketing Manager for Braun shavers. More ...

Shelby All-Electric Super Car  
2009 SSC all-electric Ultimate Aero EV
Shelby SuperCars (SSC) released today the details of its revolutionary All-Electric Scalable Powertrain, the AESP. SSC will incorporate its AESP into the current Ultimate Aero to create the Ultimate Aero EV. Being the "World's Fastest Production Car," SSC decided the Ultimate Aero to be the perfect high visibility outlet to demonstrate the capabilities of its new Green powertrain. Directly following the debut of the Ultimate Aero EV, SSC will conduct a live media event to showcase the capabilities of its revolutionary Green powertrain.

SSC will display its AESP in the Ultimate Aero EV in order to prove that electric-powered vehicles will not only match but also provide more linear power (electric motors have 100% torque at 0 RPM) and overall performance than internal combustion cars. The Ultimate Aero EV utilizes a twin motor AESP producing an astounding 1,000 HP and 800 lb-ft of torque enabling it to rocket to 60 mph in a mere 2.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 208 mph. Not only does the Ultimate Aero EV have a range of 150-200 miles on a single charge, but SSC's "Charge on the Run" onboard charging system allows for full battery recharges in as little as 10 minutes. SSC's 3-speed automatic transmission transfers the Ultimate Aero EV's power to its wheels and achieves electronically controlled shift times of .24 s. The entire AESP is liquid cooled allowing it to run for extended periods of time at peak performance with no overheating issues. More ...

track news
Singapore GP Circuit Fine-Tuned to Increase Overtaking  
Singapore GP Circuit
The Marina Bay circuit, home to the FORMULA 1™ Singapore Grand Prix will be fine-tuned for the 2009 event. Following consultation with the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and the teams, minor changes will be made to Turns 1, 13 and 14 to further increase the potential for overtaking, road surface improvements will be undertaken at Turns 5, 6 and 7, and revisions will be made to the Pit Lane entry and exit as well as the Turn 22 runoff area.

Drivers as well as spectators can now look forward to an enhanced experience in the 2009 season as race promoter Singapore GP Pte Ltd is looking at improving all aspects of the race after drawing upon lessons and feedback garnered from hosting the first ever night race here.

“While the circuit and the event exceeded expectations around the world, as with any brand new event, there are always things which we now know we can do better” says Technical and Race Operations Director, Michael McDonough.  “Minor modifications are proposed on the track, at Turns 1, 7 and 14 in order to improve overtaking opportunities whilst the main changes will be to the Pit Entry and Pit Exit to provide added margins of safety for cars entering and leaving the pit lane.” More ...

tv news
No DirecTV News Yet For Daytona  Since the Hot Pass service was cancelled by DirecTV, there has been no news from the company. The VP of Sports for DirecTV is Chris Long and he indicated that the company was working with NASCAR to get something going for this season. Obviously, DirecTV wants to ride out this tough economic time and try to get Hot Pass back up and running for 2010.

"NASCAR and DIRECTV made the decision to evolve HOTPASS into a new product that will be available to all DIRECTV customers at no extra charge in 2009," said Long. "We are finalizing the details now and will unveil the new service in the next few weeks."

Well, that was December 10th of 2008 so hopefully DirecTV will be updating the situation over the next week. There are lots of options, but they all certainly will wind-up costing DirecTV some additional money and that is what they just do not have right now. DirecTV recently left the IRL as a presenting sponsor and just like many media companies there is a hiring freeze in effect for the DirecTV folks in California and Colorado. Daly Planet

A1GP News Round Up  London, Great Britain –  On Monday (26 January) following the Taupo event, and at the request of Ferrari, A1 Teams Ireland and New Zealand completed some additional running to try out a version of the pressurized fuel collector at high ambient temperatures. The data collected will be validated by A1GP Technology in further factory tests to produce a modification for all team cars prior to the A1GP Gauteng event in three weeks’ time.

Team  Principal  Mark  Gallagher:  "We  were  asked  to  help  out  with  the  test  and  were happy to oblige. Naturally for reasons of fairness we could not use Adam Carroll for this test, nor carry out any performance testing of benefit to the team, but it was very useful for Niall Quinn to get some decent running in the car. It was nice as championship leaders to be asked to assist A1GP and Ferrari with this test  and  to  help  them  ensure  that  the  superb  new  A1GP  Powered  by  Ferrari  car continues  to  provide  the  teams  with  a  strong,  reliable  package.  We’ll focus all our energies on the next race in Gauteng, South Africa. Kyalami is a new track for everyone in A1GP and will be another leap into the unknown.”

A1 Team New Zealand also ran its car in the test, and worked with Ferrari and Magneti Marelli so they could gain a better understanding as to why a small number of cars – including the New Zealand car – were affected by problems during the Taupo event with the drivers’ application of the anti-stall system. New Zealand did not have a rookie driver at the Taupo event, and therefore Jonny Reid undertook the testing. More ...

Said teams up with Carter for Daytona 500  Carter/Simo Racing is proud to announce that Boris Said and James Hylton will now team up and prepare to qualify for the 2009 Daytona 500. Said will pilot the #08 Ford, while Hylton will pilot the #60 Dodge. Both cars must make the field on speed, or through the "Gatorade Duel" qualification races. In addition to the Daytona 500, Hylton will also race the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA ReMax Series Event. Full and Partial sponsorship opportunities are still available visit EM-Motorsports.com for more info
No Daytona 500 for Marlin  Two-Time Daytona 500 winner, Sterling Marlin, doesn’t have a ride for the Daytona 500. “Everything has to end sometime,” says Sterling Marlin, 51. “Nothing goes on forever.” Last year he just missed cracking the lineup in his qualifying race. This year he won’t even get to try. “I thought I might have something lined up but it didn’t work out,” Marlin said earlier this week. Marlin will still be in Daytona doing some PR work for Coors Beer, with a possibility of landing a ride in the Nationwide Series. Despite the Daytona disappointment, Sterling is not hanging up his helmet in the Sprint Cup Series. He is scheduled to run “12 to 14” races this year, sharing a ride in James Finch’s #09 with Ken Schrader and Mike Bliss. He will also run some races at Fairgrounds Speedway, where he won three championships from 1980-82. His son Steadman will run the full Fairgrounds schedule while daughter Sutherlin plans to compete as a rookie on the quarter-mile track. Sutherlin agreed to attend Columbia State if her parents would let her race. Nashville City Paper
Dale Earnhardt Jr. blasts track promoters  
Bruton Smith and other track promoters speak recently
Rhonda McCole/AR1.com
At a round-table discussion in Concord, N.C., last week the presidents of all but one of Speedway Motorsports' race tracks -- along with SMI Chairman Bruton Smith -- discussed what can be done to make it easier for fans to attend races in a depressed economy.

One thing mentioned was for drivers to do more. Smith said he was particularly upset with drivers who avoid fans.

"This idea of running and hiding and not signing autographs, I don't like that," he said.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took exception with that idea:

"The race track owners want drivers to do more? Yeah, right. They need to go back to work," he said. "They forgot what it's like to sell tickets. That's their problem. They ain't had to sell tickets for a long time and none of them remember how or knew how or ever learned how.

"They need to get back to working hard and doing their promotions and putting packages together for race fans. They don't want to cut the ticket price but they probably should and get these hotels to quit gouging these people. They can dump that responsibility on drivers all they want but the responsibility really lies in their hands to sell race tickets and they have to get creative in doing it. We already do a lot. We do [bleeping] plenty and they are full of [bleep]."

Singapore GP to hike corporate ticket prices  The Singapore Grand Prix plans to increase prices for trackside corporate suites during this year's Formula One event despite a worsening global economic crisis, a newspaper reported Monday.

The highest-end corporate packages for the September race will range from 5,000 to 8,000 Singapore dollars (3,300 to 5,300 US), The Business Times reported, citing "indicative pricing details" given to corporate clients and obtained by the newspaper.

A three-day trackside corporate suite package for last year's race ranged in price from 3,500 to 7,500 Singapore dollars.

A spokesman for the Singapore race promoters told AFP they expected to comment on the report later Monday.

Singapore's first Grand Prix event last year was also the sport's first to be held at night.

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Monza safe despite Rome GP bid
  • Coulthard, Nadal, say Alonso best in F1
  • Former McLaren boss, founder, dies
  • Sacked Gascoyne sues Force India
  • Renault takes new R29 to British airfield
  • Ecclestone calls for 'patience' amid crisis

Monza safe despite Rome GP bid
(GMM)  Rome's bid to host a formula one street race should not pose a threat to the future of the existing Italian grand prix at Monza.

That is the insistence of Gian Carlo Minardi, the former boss and owner of the Faenza based team that is today known as Toro Rosso.

"The grand prix in Monza is untouchable because it is part of the history of the sport," the Italian, echoing the attitude of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, told minardi.it.

Monza mayor Marco Mariani last week responded angrily to the Rome reports, accusing the potential organizers of a street race on the outskirts of the capital of trying to "steal" the F1 date from the famous Autodromo Nazionale.

But Enrico Gelpi, president of the Italian sanctioning body ACI, played down the fears about Monza being replaced by Rome.

"The Italian grand prix is staying at Monza," he is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Even (Rome GP promoter) Flammini acknowledges that a Rome GP must not interfere with the one of Monza."

Alonso is considered by most to be the best driver in F1
Coulthard, Nadal, say Alonso best in F1
(GMM)  He finished almost forty points behind Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa's championship battle, but Fernando Alonso was the "best driver in 2008".

That is the belief of David Coulthard, outlined as the newly-retired grand prix veteran made a visit to Spain for the Zaragoza Motor Show Festival.

Alonso's Renault was not as good as the contending McLaren and Ferrari last year but "he continued working and eventually achieved two wins at the end of the season", the Scot is quoted as saying by Diario AS newspaper.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is also fully convinced of the performance last year of 27-year-old Alonso, amid speculation he may in the future switch to Ferrari.

Ecclestone said on a visit to Valencia that the Spaniard is "one of the world's best drivers who should one day demonstrate his quality with Ferrari".

Spaniard and world number one tennis player Rafael Nadal, who early on Monday morning won the Australian open in Melbourne, agrees.

"Ferrari should have the best driver in the world, and that is Fernando," the 22-year-old said. More ...

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