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Martin not slowing down Martin not slowing downOnce thought to be cutting back in 2006, Roush Racing’s Mark Martin finds himself moving into what may be the busiest of his 21 career Speedweeks at Daytona International Raceway. Martin is scheduled to run a whopping 470 racing laps and well over one thousand miles during the two weeks that make up Speedweeks, and that’s not even counting the 13 practice and qualifying sessions he is set to run. By the time Martin rolls into California for the second Nextel Cup race on Feb. 26, Martin will most likely have logged well over 1,000 miles of racing in 2006. Mark Martin takes a break during Budweiser Shootout practice at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

“And we were talking about slowing down,” laughed Martin at Thursday’s Daytona media day. “Now here we are running in five races and that’s just Speedweeks. We have a lot of racing to do in next few days, but we are excited about it. I love to race and that’s what we are going to do plenty of, so hopefully we can pick up a couple of more trophies.

“Daytona hasn’t always been kind to us, but we have won a couple of IROC races and a Bud Shootout here, so we do know where victory lane is. Hopefully we can get back there again, especially with all of the racing we are planning to do.”

Martin will get started in tomorrow night’s Budweiser Shootout, where he will start his record 18th consecutive Shootout. He will qualify his AAA Ford Fusion car for the Daytona 500 the next day. He’ll return to racing action on next Thursday for the Gatorade 150, before taking part in back-to-back races on Friday night when he begins his defense of last season IROC title, before making his Daytona debut in the Craftsman Truck Series where he will race is Scotts Ford F-150. Martin will be easy to find this Speedweeks as every car and truck he will racing with carry his familiar No. 6 on the side and roof.

Industry News
Hyundai introduces turbo engine concept Hyundai introduces turbo engine conceptHyundai has released a concept of a hot turbocharged Accent. The Accent SR Turbo is believed to be a design study of the next Hyundai World Rally car expected to debut in the middle of next year for a 2008 competitive season start. The Accent SR is on display at the Melbourne International Motor Show this week.

The SR is based on the three-door version of the new generation Accent hatch and houses a 2.0-litre high output turbocharged engine which is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.

The SR has big flares framing 18-inch alloys, lowered sports suspension, body kit and big tailpipes. It is 180mm shorter than the outgoing Accent. Electronic Stability Control and a tire pressure monitoring system are fitted. On the outside the SR features projector headlights, a matt-black stylized mesh grille, power tilt/slide sunroof and rear roof shade-spoiler.

On the inside, Accent SRs has brushed alloy and metallic panel finishes, leather seat trim, blue-hue instrumentation and a data screen in the centre dash.
While the SR is a concept car only, Hyundai says it carries clues to directions in Hyundai models to come in the not-too-distant future. [Editor's Note: Hmmm...turbo, could that mean Champ Car in the future?]

Industry News
Renault won't re-enter USA market until 2009/2010 Renault won't re-enter USA market until 2009/2010PARIS - French carmaker Renault said on Thursday it would not enter the U.S market before the end of 2009. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn also told a strategy presentation that the company would remain in Formula 1 racing as long as it is a good investment.  "For the moment we will stay there, we will fight. We are staying for 2006; after that we will remain as long as it remains a good investment. We will look at it each year" Reuters
Daytona 500 Entry List Daytona 500 Entry List
00 Derrike Cope Royal Admin Dodge
00 Hermie Sadler Aaron's Ford
01 Joe Nemechek U.S. Army Chevrolet
1 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
4 Scott Wimmer AERO Exhaust Chevrolet
5 Kyle Busch Kellogg's Chevrolet
6 Mark Martin AAA Ford
07 Clint Bowyer Jack Daniels Chevrolet
7 Robby Gordon Jim Beam Chevrolet
8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Budweiser Chevrolet
9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
09 Mike Wallace Miccosukee Dodge
10 Scott Riggs Valvoline Dodge
11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Chevrolet
12 Ryan Newman Alltel Dodge
14 Sterling Marlin Waste Management Chevrolet
15 Paul Menard Menards Chevrolet
16 Greg Biffle National Guard/Post-it Ford
17 Matt Kenseth DeWalt Power Tools Ford
18 J.J. Yeley Interstate Batteries Chevrolet
19 Jeremy Mayfield Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
20 Tony Stewart Home Depot Chevrolet zzzz 
21 Ken Schrader Little Debbie Ford
22 Dave Blaney Caterpillar Dodge
23 Mike Skinner Bad Boy Mowers Dodge
24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
25 Brian Vickers ditech.com/GMAC Chevrolet
26 Jamie McMurray Crown Royal Ford
27 Kirk Shelmerdine Shelmerdine Racing Chevrolet
29 Kevin Harvick GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
31 Jeff Burton Cingular Wireless Chevrolet
32 Travis Kvapil Tide Chevrolet
34 Randy LaJoie Front Row Motorsports Chevrolet
36 Bill Elliott Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevrolet
37 Chad Blount R&J Racing Dodge
38 Elliott Sadler M&M's Ford
40 David Stremme Lonestar Steakhouse Dodge
41 Reed Sorenson Target Dodge
42 Casey Mears Texaco/Havoline Dodge
43 Bobby Labonte Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge
45 Kyle Petty Wells Fargo Dodge
48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
49 Brent Sherman Serta Dodge
50 Larry Foyt Arnold Development Co. Dodge
52 Larry Gunselman Pro30.com Dodge
55 Michael Waltrip NAPA Dodge
59 Andy Belmont YeaerOne.com Chevrolet
61 Kevin Lepage Amp Energy Drink Ford
64 Eric McClure The Premier Motorsports Chevrolet
66 Jeff Green Best Buy Chevrolet
78 Kenny Wallace Furniture Row Chevrolet
80 Carl Long RoadLoans.com Ford
88 Dale Jarrett UPS Ford
89 Morgan Shepherd Dutch Quality Stone Dodge
92 Chad Chaffin Oak Glove Co. Chevrolet
95 Stanton Barrett Barrett Racing Chevrolet
96 Terry Labonte Texas Instruments/DLP Chevrolet
99 Carl Edwards Office Depot Ford
Gerhart wins 4th straight Daytona pole Gerhart wins 4th straight Daytona poleBobby Gerhart continues to rewrite the Daytona International Speedway record books.  Gerhart, driver of the No. 5 Lucas Oil Chevrolet, earned a record-breaking fourth consecutive ARCA 200 pole on Friday with a fast lap of 185.174 mph around the historic 2.5-mile tri-oval.

Gerhart, a native of Lebanon, Penn., was tied with Ferrell Harris and Benny Parsons with three ARCA 200 poles and was also tied with Parsons for three straight ARCA 200 poles.

“It’s been five years of long, hard work,” said Gerhart. “We got the opportunity to put everything where we wanted it to. We started last year trying to build a car that would have a little bit more downforce and along the way it looks like we didn’t even lose any speed.

“For an ARCA team to do that caliber of a change is pretty big. We got away from what really worked for us for three straight years. I think what we’ve done is put together a better car as far as race runs go and a little bit better car.”  zzzz

Gerhart will be hunting for another record in Saturday’s season-opening ARCA RE/MAX Series event that goes green at 4 p.m. Gerhart, who won the 1999, 2002 and the 2005 ARCA 200, is currently tied with Iggy Katona as the only three-time ARCA 200 winner.

Robert Yates Racing development drivers Matt McCall and Stephen Leicht captured the second and third starting positions. McCall posted a lap of 184.366 mph while Leicht turned a lap of 184.079.

“Me and Stephen are on a development deal at Robert Yates Racing,” McCall said. “We came out here to get some experience with some big tracks.  We’re gonna run some others, run some regular speedways.  We’re gonna run eight to nine Busch races with the No. 90 Citi Financial car, so we’ll get us some good experience on the bigger tracks.”

Said Leicht: “It’s a very stout field. This is no runaway by any means. Look at the top five we’re within two or three tenths.  Even in Cup sometimes it doesn’t end up like that.  The pole sitter is two or three tenths above everybody.  Normally ARCA races get spread out a little bit but you’re gonna have a pack of at least five or 10 cars in front of the pack this year.”

ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran driver and car owner Matt Hagans, who finished fifth in last year’s ARCA 200 event, turned a lap of 183.932 mph, which was good enough to start fourth. Veteran Damon Lusk rounded out the top five with a speed of 182.934 mph.

Official Starting Grid, Daytona ARCA 200
1 5 Bobby Gerhart/Lebanon PA Lucas Oil Chevrolet 48.603 185.174
2 55 Matt McCall/Denver NC citi financial Ford 48.816 184.366
3 66 Stephen Leicht/Asheville NC citi financial Ford 48.892 184.079
4 9 Matt Hagans/Pittsboro IN Eagle Creek Aviation-1st Wing Aircraft Mgt Dodge 48.931 183.932
5 85 Greg Barnhart/Oklahoma City OK Panelite Ford 49.083 183.363
6 94 GR Smith/Folsom NJ BGR Research Chevrolet 49.139 183.154
7 37 Damon Lusk/Kennewick WA National Cash Lenders-MSI-Excell Therapy Dodge 49.198 182.934
8 7 Andrew Myers/Newport Beach CA Toyota of Escondido-Red Line Oil Chevrolet 49.204 182.912
9 12 Mario Gosselin/Lake Wales FL JPN Racing-Dan Marc Cnstrctn-Manfull Investment Chevy 49.313 182.508
10 98 Erin Crocker/Wilbraham MA Hamburger Helper Dodge 49.354 182.356
11 4 Scott Lagasse Jr./St. Augustine FL Cunningham Motorsports Dodge 49.378 182.267
12 70 Justin Diercks/Davenport IA Foretravel Motorcoach Chevrolet 49.472 181.921
13 75 Willie Allen/Bonaqua TN Bob Schacht Motorsports Ford 49.528 181.715
14 63 Dawayne Bryan/Lake Alfred FL Hi-Tech Construction Dodge 49.561 181.594
15 2 Dan Shaver/Charlotte NC Petro Express Chevrolet 49.562 181.591
16 08 Jason Hedlesky/Clinton MI Hardcore Motorsports Dodge 49.576 181.539
17 60 Eric McClure/Abingdon VA Premier Motorsports Chevrolet 49.577 181.536
18 50 TJ Bell/Sparks NV ibid motors Dodge 49.584 181.510
19 10 Tim Russell/Longwood FL Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters Dodge 49.627 181.353
20 31 Burney Lamar/W. Sacramento CA Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 49.633 181.331
21 65 Walt Brannen/Elko GA SPS Dodge 49.635 181.324
22 78 Doug Reid/Hueytown AL 3D Motorsports Chevrolet 49.672 181.189
23 22 Brian Tyler/Parma MI Enginetics Aerospace Chevrolet 49.681 181.156
24 91 Christi Passmore/Pryor OK GAP Roofing-Asphalt & Fuel Supply Ford 49.682 181.152
25 39 Danny O'Quinn/Coeburn VA World Financial Group Ford 49.689 181.127
26 24 Chuck Weber/Mesquite TX Cardinal Tool Company Chevrolet 49.767 180.843
27 20 Ken Weaver/Dallas TX Phoneco 1-800-4-A-Phone Dodge 49.769 180.835
28 07 Loyd Teakell/Caldwell TX Jesus Christ Racing Ministries Ford 49.777 180.806
29 59 Ryan Howard/Tipp City OH Williams Bros Lumber Chevrolet 49.808 180.694
30 3 Jeremy Clements/Spartanburg SC Nationwide Metal Recycling-U Pull It Chevrolet 49.825 180.632
31 46 Frank Kimmel/Clarksville IN Pork The Other White Meat Ford 49.837 180.589
32 11 Chad McCumbee/Supply NC Fast Track High Performance Driving School Chevy 49.838 180.585
33 25 Billy Venturini/Chicago IL Central Merchant Services Chevrolet Provisional
34 90 Brett Rowe/Barboursville WV Imperial Bedding-31W Insulation Chevrolet Provisional
35 96 Brandon Knupp/Piqua OH Mark Knupp Muffler & Tire Ford Provisional
36 38 Mike Harmon/Birmingport AL Bert Oostlander Chevrolet Provisional
37 13 Johnny Leonard/Cape Coral FL Affordable Roofing Chevrolet Provisional
38 84 Norm Benning/Pittsburgh PA Benning Motorsports Chevrolet Provisional
39 1 Andy Belmont/Penndel PA Year One Ford Provisional
40 34 Darrell Basham/Henryville IN Eagle Hoist & Winch Chevrolet Provisional
41 21 Todd Bowsher/Springfield OH Safe Auto Insurance Ford

Evernham Motorsports and Ingersoll Rand renew Evernham Motorsports and Ingersoll Rand renewEvernham Motorsports and Ingersoll Rand announced the expansion of their partnership to include sponsorship of an Evernham Motorsports road course development program for the 2006 season. The new program extends the long-standing relationship that Ray Evernham, President and CEO of Evernham Motorsports, has enjoyed with Ingersoll Rand, and allows the organization to further develop its road course performance by tapping road racing veteran Boris Said to serve not only as a driver, but also as a coach.

“Our goal is to build a championship race team and to do that you have to run well on the road courses,” Evernham said. “You can’t take a mulligan at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen. “Boris presented us with an excellent opportunity to improve our road course program by having him work with our teams on the cars as well as with our drivers. He has years of road course racing experience and has had success in NASCAR on the road courses.”

Said will pilot the #9 Ingersoll Rand Dodge Charger in the Busch Series race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on March 5. He also will act as a technical consultant on the development of road course cars and serve as a driver coach to the Evernham Motorsports stable of drivers. Ingersoll Rand also will serve as the primary sponsor on a fourth entry in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series for Evernham Motorsports at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 13. The driver of the #98 Ingersoll Rand Dodge Charger will be announced at a later date.

In addition to the designation as the Official Air Tools and Compressors of Evernham Motorsports, Ingersoll Rand also will be the title sponsor of the Pit Training Facility at Evernham Motorsports and will be an associate sponsor of the #9 Ultimate Chargers Dodge Charger in the Busch Series for the duration of the season. Ingersoll Rand’s other five strategic brands, Bobcat, ClubCar, Schlage, Hussmann and ThermoKing will also be showcased as part of the primary sponsorship. As part of its sponsorship program, Ingersoll Rand will be offering its customers special offers and products like the Street Legal Thundergun air impact wrench that offers the durability and performance NASCAR pit crews rely on to turn 14-second, four-tire replacement pit stops. For more information about Ingersoll Rand, visit www.ingersollrand.com. ClearBlue PR

Budweiser replaces Coors at Daytona Budweiser replaces Coors at DaytonaBudweiser will become the Official Beer of Daytona International Speedway under a new multi-year agreement that includes Official Beer status and signage rights during all of the track’s eight annual events – including Speedweeks, the Daytona 500 and Pepsi 400 – and the renaming of the track’s infield concession area to “The Budweiser Bistro.”

Budweiser replaces Coors Light as the speedway's official beer.

Budweiser, the official beer of NASCAR and driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., will gain significant track signage, a major presence on the infield scoring tower in the NEXTEL FANZONE, use of the Speedway’s logo and 2008 50th Anniversary logo, and will introduce its “Green Team” recycling programs to help keep Daytona International Speedway clean.

“Budweiser is synonymous with NASCAR, Dale Jr. and great racing, and our sponsorship of Daytona International Speedway only heightens our commitment to the passionate fans and drivers of America’s favorite motor sport,” said Tony Ponturo, vice president of Global Media and Sports Marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Inc.  “We’re excited to be involved in ‘The Great American Race’ and all of the thrilling action at Daytona International Speedway.  Sponsoring Daytona is a great way to reach our beer drinkers through a sport and venue they are very passionate about."

“The name recognition of Budweiser and Daytona International Speedway make this marketing partnership a natural fit,” said Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig. “The entire team at the ‘World Center of Racing’ is excited to welcome a legendary brand such as Budweiser to the DIS family.” zzzz

To commemorate the sponsorship announcement, Earnhardt Jr. and Braig poured ice-cold Budweiser for fans gathered at the Speedway’s Budweiser Bistro.

Anheuser-Busch is also the title sponsor of the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona on Feb. 11 and the exclusive beer and malt beverage advertiser of the Daytona 500 national broadcast at 2:30 p.m. ET Feb. 19 on NBC.

The Daytona International Speedway sponsorship enhances Budweiser’s significant commitment to motorsports.  Budweiser is the “Official Beer of NASCAR,” the title sponsor of the Budweiser #8 Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr., and sponsor of the Bud Pole Award in all NASCAR divisions through 2007.  Anheuser-Busch’s Busch beer has been the title sponsor of the NASCAR Busch Series since the circuit’s inception in 1982.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. signed on with Budweiser in 1999 following two successive seasons as the Busch Series champion.  He made an immediate impact on the NASCAR circuit winning two races and finishing 16th in the overall standings in 2000.  He has earned 16 career victories and 91 top-ten finishes in his short career, including a coveted victory in the 2004 Daytona 500.  Earnhardt Jr. is reunited with long-time crew chief and cousin Tony Eury Jr. in 2006 in hopes they can rebuild the chemistry that launched the Budweiser #8 Chevrolet to one of the most successful starts in autosports history.

Anheuser-Busch Green Teams are designed to help event organizers promote positive individual behavior while maintaining a litter-free environment at large company-sponsored events, such as festivals, sporting events and concerts.  Green Teams main focus is keeping areas free of litter, but they also recycle aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles when possible. Green Teams build community pride, as well as, raise much-needed funds for charity organizations from the collected recycled items.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday
8:00 a.m.-8:30 a.m. ET (R) SPEED
Daytona International Speedway
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. ET (L) SPEED

Daytona International Speedway
12:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (L) NBC
Daytona International Speedway
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET (L) SPEED
History of African-Americans in Motorsports
5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. ET (R) SPEED
7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET (L) SPEED
Bud Shootout Wrap-up (2/11/06)
Daytona International Speedway
8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. ET (R) SPEED
Daytona International Speedway
10:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. ET (R) 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.

McLaren unveils 2006 livery McLaren unveils 2006 liveryWoking, Great Britain: The Team McLaren Mercedes Formula One team has revealed a unique new car livery which will adorn the team's cars in the future.

The new livery has an innovative surface coating, which achieves a high level of reflectivity. The technology used was perfected by McLaren during the past six months and is completely new to Formula One.

"A lot of research and months of work have gone into creating this unique chrome finish," explained McLaren Marketing Managing Director Ekrem Sami. "We are always looking at innovative ways to allow our sponsor partners to differentiate their brands from the competition through their partnership with the team and this unique livery is designed to be extremely photogenic. Team McLaren Mercedes had the highest audited 'Share of TV Voice' in 2005 - and we hope that this new identity will contribute to us retaining that status."

The new Mercedes-Benz Formula One engine F0 108s: V8 cylinders, 2.4 liters capacity, more than 19,000 rpm, more than 700hp, weight: 95kg, fuel: Mobil Unleaded, lubricants: Mobil 1 products

"When we created our previous livery in the mid nineties we established what we believed then was an innovative and groundbreaking new identity for McLaren Mercedes," continued Sami. "What we have launched today is as revolutionary and we hope it will be the foundation of the team's livery for many years to come." zzzz

The team can look back on a lot of success during the nine years of the former livery. At the very first race after its introduction in Melbourne in 1997 the team won and since then it has taken nearly 30 per cent of all Grands Prix victories.

The team took the opportunity to show the new livery to McLaren Group and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines employees this evening. Two of the Groups better known personalities, drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya, were both impressed with their cars' 'new clothes'.

"I have only seen illustrations of the new livery until now but they do it no justice," said Kimi. "It looks fantastic and should create a bit of a stir when we drive it on tracks around the world. If we can make the car as fast as it looks then we will be in good shape."

"Wow," said Juan Pablo. "What a beautiful looking car. I have obviously been testing the MP4- 21 quite a bit already but seeing the car like this is something else." McLaren

Stewart close to 194 mph in Bud Shootout practice Stewart close to 194 mph in Bud Shootout practiceDefending Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart pushed the speeds even higher in the 2nd practice for Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout with a speed of almost 194 mph in his Home Depot Chevy.

Carl Edwards put his Ford in 2nd but Chevy's took 3rd and 4th after dominating the Practice 1 session.  More later....

Rank Car Driver Make Speed Time Behind
1 #20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 193.899 46.416 Leader
2 #99 Carl Edwards Ford 193.886 46.419 -0.003
3 #11 Denny Hamlin Chevrolet 193.050 46.620 -0.204
4 #5 Kyle Busch Chevrolet 192.189 46.829 -0.413
5 #9 Kasey Kahne Dodge 191.551 46.985 -0.569
6 #10 Scott Riggs Dodge 191.546 46.986 -0.570
7 #48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 191.493 46.999 -0.583
8 #24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 191.432 47.014 -0.598
9 #29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 191.379 47.027 -0.611
10 #26 Jamie McMurray Ford 191.355 47.033 -0.617
11 #17 Matt Kenseth Ford 190.706 47.193 -0.777
12 #88 Dale Jarrett Ford 190.593 47.221 -0.805
13 #136 Bill Elliott Chevrolet 189.962 47.378 -0.962
14 #25 Brian Vickers Chevrolet 189.805 47.417 -1.001
15 #6 Mark Martin Ford 189.574 47.475 -1.059
16 #01 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 189.506 47.492 -1.076
17 #21 Ken Schrader Ford 189.474 47.500 -1.084
18 #12 Ryan Newman Dodge 189.274 47.550 -1.134
19 #55 Michael Waltrip Dodge 189.274 47.550 -1.134
20 #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 189.096 47.595 -1.179
21 #38 Elliott Sadler Ford 188.992 47.621 -1.205

Chevy’s dominate opening Bud Shootout practice Chevy’s dominate opening Bud Shootout practiceFriday Practice 1 speeds
Rank Car Driver Make Speed Time Behind
1 #5 Kyle Busch Chevrolet 190.343 47.283 Leader
2 #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 190.247 47.307 -0.024
3 #29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 189.757 47.429 -0.146
4 #99 Carl Edwards Ford 189.354 47.530 -0.247
5 #11 Denny Hamlin Chevrolet 189.298 47.544 -0.261
6 #38 Elliott Sadler Ford 189.274 47.550 -0.267
7 #26 Jamie McMurray Ford 189.068 47.602 -0.319
8 #01 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 189.060 47.604 -0.321
9 #25 Brian Vickers Chevrolet 189.032 47.611 -0.328
10 #12 Ryan Newman Dodge 188.897 47.645 -0.362
11 #10 Scott Riggs Dodge 188.885 47.648 -0.365
12 #24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 188.830 47.662 -0.379
13 #136 Bill Elliott Chevrolet 188.762 47.679 -0.396
14 #6 Mark Martin Ford 188.723 47.689 -0.406
15 #9 Kasey Kahne Dodge 188.719 47.690 -0.407
16 #21 Ken Schrader Ford 188.616 47.716 -0.433
17 #20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 188.612 47.717 -0.434
18 #88 Dale Jarrett Ford 188.415 47.767 -0.484
19 #17 Matt Kenseth Ford 188.253 47.808 -0.525
20 #48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 188.202 47.821 -0.538
21 #55 Michael Waltrip Dodge 183.509 49.044 -1.761
DIRECTV Announces Partnership with Richard Childress Racing DIRECTV Announces Partnership with Richard Childress RacingEL SEGUNDO, Calif., – NASCAR partner DIRECTV has announced an official partnership with Richard Childress Racing (RCR), one of NASCAR’s premier racing teams.  Through the partnership, DIRECTV will be an associate sponsor of the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet and its driver, Clint Bowyer, during the 2006 Nextel Cup Series season.  The association with RCR aligns DIRECTV with one of the sport’s most well-respected racing programs and one of the sport’s most exciting young drivers.

DIRECTV also will be primary sponsor of the No. 07 Chevrolet at three NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races this season at Martinsville (April 2), Pocono (June 11) and Talladega (October 8). 

As the nation’s leading digital TV service, DIRECTV has a long history with NASCAR, though this announcement marks the company’s first official sponsorship of a Nextel Cup team.  The service has become an integral part of the sport by providing millions of fans the opportunity for the most enhanced, unique NASCAR viewing experience at home and trackside.  DIRECTV has also become a critical piece of racing equipment for crew chiefs, as teams up and down pit road rely on the digital picture and sound to aid spotters and monitor car performance throughout the entire race. zzzz

“We are proud to be a part of the RCR team and extremely excited to begin our relationship with Clint,” said, Jon Gieselman, senior vice president of Advertising and Public Relations, DIRECTV, Inc.  “By partnering with both NASCAR and RCR, we will bring the superior qualities of DIRECTV to fans and the entire racing community.”

“It’s great to be associated with DIRECTV,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR. “DIRECTV has one of the hottest properties on the market and it’s really a privilege for me, along with Clint Bowyer, to be spokespersons for such a great company. All of our teams depend on DIRECTV at the track so we can see practice, qualifying and the live race broadcast directly from pit road. DIRECTV not only provides us with great entertainment value away from the racetrack, it’s also an exceptionally valuable tool for the entire NASCAR industry while we’re there.” 

The partnership with RCR and Clint Bowyer will enable DIRECTV to create consumer marketing and retail promotions targeting NASCAR's loyal fan base.   In addition, the relationship will provide DIRECTV the opportunity to increase awareness of its new DIRECTV Plus ® DVR among race fans and emphasize current and future features that will enhance their race viewing experience.

Sell-out crowd to pack Peterson's for Atlantic unveiling Sell-out crowd to pack Peterson's for Atlantic unveilingOpening Night for the new generation car of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama is expected to play to a packed house next week as response for the Official Unveiling of the new Atlantic racing machine and the launch of the 2006 Champ Car season has been overwhelming.

More than 500 people are expected to attend the festivities next Tuesday evening, February 14 at the posh Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Representatives of both the Atlantic and Champ Car racing communities will be joined by members of the media, event promoters and series sponsors and manufacturers as the capacity crowd welcomes the arrival of the 2006 racing season and next generation of Atlantics.

The crowd will witness the debut of the new made-in-the-USA Swift 016.a Atlantic chassis powered by a 2.3-liter, 300-horsepower Cosworth engine riding on Yokohoma Racing Slicks as it rolls off the assembly line and into the public eye for the very first time.

“We’re thrilled that so many people have responded so positively to the unveiling of the new Atlantic car and are eager to come out and celebrate the official launch of the 2006 season,” said Vicki O’Connor, Managing Director of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. “This could be the biggest Valentine’s Day party in Los Angeles.”

In addition to some of the top rising stars of racing and legends of the sport like Jimmy Vasser and Bobby Rahal, several Hollywood celebrities are also expected to be in attendance for the invitation-only affair and several significant Champ Car and Atlantic series announcements are also planned for the evening.

Festivities will get underway on Tuesday beginning at 6 p.m. Pacific Time at the Peterson Automotive Museum. Champ Car

Bill Davis Racing Responds Dodge lawsuit loss Bill Davis Racing Responds Dodge lawsuit lossHIGH POINT, N.C. - Bill Davis Racing is disappointed with the decision of a federal court jury in Detroit that Bill Davis Racing breached its Motorsports Agreement with DaimlerChrysler's Dodge division to race vehicles in NASCAR's Cup Series.

Bill Davis, President of Bill Davis Racing, stated, "We disagree with the jury verdict.  We fully intend to exercise the opportunity extended by US District Court Judge George Steeh and ask the Court to set aside this verdict.  If necessary, we intend to appeal the verdict to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  Our racing sponsors and business partners have remained supportive during the legal process and our full effort remains focused on bringing success to their NASCAR programs."

Bill Davis Racing will not have any comment on this issue as the appeal process moves forward.

Meira signs with Panther Racing Meira signs with Panther RacingPanther Racing announced it has signed Vitor Meira as the driver of the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Honda-powered Dallara for the 2006 IndyCar Series season.

Meira, a 28-year-old Brazilian, finished seventh in the IndyCar Series standings last season while driving for Rahal Letterman Racing. Most notable among his efforts was a second-place finish behind Dan Wheldon in the Indianapolis 500 and another runner-up finish at Kentucky Speedway. Meira also finished third twice -- at Kansas and California. He finished eighth in final 2004 IRL standings in the No. 17 car despite competing in just 14 of 16 races.

"This is a fresh start for me and for Panther Racing," Meira said. "And now we are going to make it a quick start. Everything comes full circle; the Panther No. 4 is the first Indy-car I ever drove. They gave me my rookie test in Texas in 2001 and now we're going racing together. It's been a long off-season and I'm happy that everything has come together the way it did because I'm excited to be with the team and all the potential that we have."

Panther also announced that Pennzoil Lubricants will continue its nine-year relationship with the team. Additional sponsors for the 2006 IndyCar Series season will be released as soon as details are finalized.

"I think it's amazing that we can put a deal together this late and still have an opportunity to sign an A-list driver like Vitor Meira," Panther co-owner John Barnes said. "Any team would be lucky to have him, and we're excited to be moving forward on the 2006 season. Our goal here has always been to win races, and I believe with Pennzoil, Vitor and Honda power, we can do just that."

Panther has accumulated 15 race victories in its eight seasons in the Indy Racing League, which is second most in league history. The team won back-to-back IndyCar Series Championships in 2001 and 2002 with Sam Hornish Jr., and is the only team to win two league titles with the same driver. Meira is set to become the 12th driver to start in the IndyCar Series for Panther. He will be the fourth driver to pilot the team's No. 4 entry. IRL

Champ Car needs a better TV partner in Mexico Champ Car needs a better TV partner in MexicoA Mexican reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I just finishing reading your article regarding why the A1GP Team Mexico landed Telmex, and Champ Car cannot keep their Mexican sponsors. I would like to share with you my thoughts (or some of them) in that reference.

You are absolutely right, just a few years ago, the Mexican sponsors were pouring money into Champ Car (CART then), and today only Roshfrans is officially involved with the Series (as the Official Lubricant)

Why did this happen? To start, TV Azteca used to pressure any and every sponsor to buy TV ad time. If a sponsor decided not to 'activate' their sponsorship by buying ad time, then TV Azteca would interview their driver, but NOT show or mention their brand. The network would broadcast some races and some they would not. They would do so claiming that a “black and white movie would garner more rating points than a Champ Car race” (they wouldn’t really promote the Series, the drivers or the events). There were races that I, who am involved in racing in general, and in Champ Car in particular did not know if, when, and where the race would be broadcast. If I didn't know and I was in the business, you can imagine how hard it would be for a fan to know and schedule the weekend to follow his/her favorite driver on TV.

Televisa is not only broadcasting A1GP races (even 1 hour specials), they are advertising it, interviewing the drivers and the Mexican Team owners, etc…zzzz

The Mexican economy has been stable for a long period, but short with cash flow, the oil industry has been particularly hard hit lately (not only in Mexico, check what Shell, BP and Mobil are doing with their motorsport investments in F1 and the like.)

I don’t know what kind of deal Telmex got from A1GP-Mexico, but I’m sure that it was a toughly negotiated one, and that Julio and Juan (owners of the A1GP Mexico Team Franchise) had to make a strong sacrifice. Telmex never gives a penny away and are very hard to get. I honestly hope that Motorsports in Mexico can consolidate and that it really gains credibility so other sponsorship opportunities arise.

What Champ Car does is a great concept, 3 day in-town festivals; races in most kinds of paved roads (ovals, permanent tracks, and street races), Mexican formula drivers such as Mario Dominguez, David Martinez, Rodolfo Martinez-Lavín, Roberto Gonzalez, Homero Richards, Michel Jourdain (who missed a lot by switching to Busch) and plenty others coming up, along with strong and intelligent promotion (OCESA) can and should do what is needed… Let the fans know the broadcast times, educate them on the Mexican competitors’ history, promote who is backing them (how and why), display the sponsor’s branding. They need to turn this sad history around for the benefit of all involved in it.

Not only Champ Car, but Nextel Cup, Busch Series, Grand Am, ALMS, A1GP and even Formula 1, could be here along with the local Mexican race series. Racing in Mexico can flourish if it gets the right people behind it. Name withheld by request (Reader is from Mexico)

American Speed takes first laps in new car American Speed takes first laps in new carAmerican driver Scott Speed wasted no time dialing in the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR-01 in his first day in the new car, which he will drive in the 2006 Formula One season, including the United States Grand Prix on July 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Speed, from Manteca, Calif., turned 79 laps in the new car Feb. 10 at the Jerez circuit in Spain. Teammate Tonio Liuzzi made the maiden run in the car Feb. 9 at Jerez.

"The car tended to oversteer, but we worked on the problem and by the end of the day, we had it improved," Speed said. "We also did a long run at the end, and that went smoothly. It was our best run of the day, which shows we are making progress."

Speed and the team also worked on adjusting to the unique power produced by the car's V10 engines. All other F1 teams this season are using V8 engines according to new regulations, but Scuderia Toro Rosso is using a restricted version of the old V10 engines, allowed by a provision in the rules.

"It definitely has less horsepower and has a different power band," Speed said. "It's going to require a different driving style, carrying more speed through the corners as you feel the difference when you drive out of them."

Speed, Liuzzi and the team will continue testing Feb. 13, at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain. That's the site of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 12.

Speed is the first American to race in Formula One since 1993. When he races at the USGP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he will be the first American to compete in his home grand prix since 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. finished third in the 1989 USGP at Phoenix.

Smithsonian to celebrate 90th Indy 500 Smithsonian to celebrate 90th Indy 500The celebration of the 90th running of one of America's most exciting and historic sporting events, the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, will kick off with a special event Tuesday, March 7 with The Smithsonian Associates in Washington.

The event starts at 7 p.m. (EST) at the Lisner Auditorium. The public will have the opportunity to ask questions of some of the Indianapolis 500's most famous current and former drivers.

An all-star driver lineup includes: Dan Wheldon, defending champion of the Indianapolis 500 and 2005 IRL IndyCar® Series champion; three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford; two-time winner Helio Castroneves; Janet Guthrie, the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500; and the father-and-son racing duo of Michael and Marco Andretti.

Michael Andretti is coming out of retirement for the 2006 Indy 500 to drive alongside his 18-year-old son at the 90th edition of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." zzzz

Fans also will enjoy many historical Indianapolis 500 film highlights, and Wheldon will be presented with his Indianapolis 500 Champion of Champions Ring from IMS President and Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood.

"We're very excited about this event in Washington," Chitwood said. "Just as the Smithsonian is known worldwide as the premier institution that connects people to the American identity and its history, the Indianapolis 500 is also known worldwide for being part of American history. This event with the Smithsonian is an ideal way to kick off our celebration of the 90th Running of the 500-Mile Race."

The Lisner Auditorium is located at the intersection of 21st and H Streets, on the campus of George Washington University. The address is 730 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20052.

General admission tickets for the event are $30 for the general public, $20 for Smithsonian resident members, $18 for Smithsonian senior members and $15 for students with valid college identification.

Tickets are available in advance or at the door. To order advance tickets, call (202) 357-3030 or log on to www.smithsonianassociates.org.

The Indianapolis 500 is one of America's premier sporting events, and since its inaugural race in 1911 has grown to become one of the nation's cultural icons. Opening Day for practice for the 90th Indianapolis 500 is Sunday, May 7, and the 2006 edition of the "500" will get the green flag at 1 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, May 28.

The Smithsonian Associates provide educational and cultural programs that highlight and complement the work of the Smithsonian Institution through a wide variety of formats, including lectures, performances, courses and special events on the National Mall and across the country.

TAG joins MF1 Racing TAG joins MF1 RacingTechnology Advancement Group, Inc (TAG), a United States-based engineering solutions company, has adapted its non-classified military technology to assist MF1 Racing in combating the heat and dust issues that plague computer control systems in F1’s harsh racing environment.

TAG used its thermal engineering expertise to design a high-performance server capable of withstanding temperatures up to 60°C, thereby significantly reducing the risk of losing race-critical communications, telemetry, and diagnostics information. These TAG servers also contain a unique internal coating that dramatically lowers the risk of error or malfunction caused by brake fiber contamination.

MF1 Racing, the Formula One team owned and operated by the Midland Group, will be deploying the Tactical Hybrid Server™ (THS) at the start of the 2006 season. This single-board, small form-factor server uses a Pentium M processor and comes with a customized fan controller board – enabling the unit to operate within a temperature range of 0°C to 60°C. Besides ensuring race car-to-pit wall communications during extreme conditions, the THS uses intelligent fan blowers to move fiber brake particles through the machine without damaging the internal unit, making it ideal for use in race garage applications.

“TAG’s executive management has roots in the automobile industry, so we are excited about this new partnership with Midland F1,” said TAG’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Marcus DeSouza. “I am confident that our THS server will help Midland F1 Racing soar to new heights in the 2006 season.”

Colin Kolles, Managing Director of MF1 Racing, commented, “With communications playing an increasing role in every team’s race weekend operation, the reliability of computer systems has become more critical than ever. TAG is a proven leader in the field of thermal shielding and we are confident their technology will be up to the task of protecting our data equipment. From our point of view, this collaboration could not have come at a better time, as the dust and heat conditions at the first races in Bahrain, Malaysia and Australia will almost certainly prove to be the most challenging of the season.”

Renault 1-2 at Jerez Renault 1-2 at JerezGiancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen finished first and second at Jerez today in the Renault R26.  McLaren drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Pedro de la Rosa were able to set competitive times at the wheel of the MP4-21.
1 . G. Fisichella - Renault R26 - 1:17.763 (+ 0.000 ) - 76 laps
2 . H. Kovalainen - Renault R26 - 1:17.870 (+ 0.107 ) - 59 laps
3 . K. Raikkonen - McLaren Mercedes MP4-21 - 1:18.027 (+ 0.264 ) - 28 laps
4 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber F1.06 - 1:18.445 (+ 0.682 ) - 80 laps
5 . P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes MP4-20B V10 - 1:19.488 (+ 1.725 ) - 49 laps
6 . G. Paffett - McLaren Mercedes MP4-20B V10 - 1:19.912 (+ 2.149 ) - 91 laps
7 . R. Kubica - BMW Sauber F1.06 - 1:19.994 (+ 2.231 ) - 82 laps
8 . T. Monteiro - MF1 Racing M16 Toyota - 1:20.112 (+ 2.349 ) - 78 laps
9 . A. Wurz - Williams Cosworth FW28 - 1:20.314 (+ 2.551 ) - 79 laps
10 . S. Speed - Toro Rosso STR01 Cosworth V10 - 1:20.500 (+ 2.737 ) - 79 laps
11 . C. Albers - MF1 Racing M16 Toyota - 1:21.497 (+ 3.734 ) - 63 laps
12 . M. Webber - Williams Cosworth FW28 - 1:23.494 (+ 5.731 ) - 15 laps.

Times courtesy of Circuito de Jerez

Schiavo to Atlantics instead of Champ Car Schiavo to Atlantics instead of Champ Car[Editor's Note:  We had Luis Schiavo on our 2006 Champ Car Silly Season page as a possible driver for Dale Coyne.  He has been removed.] After helping steer a pair of talented young drivers toward the Champ Car World Series over the past two seasons, Brooks Associates Racing today announced that is has signed another racer with a promising future for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.

Venezuelan driver Luis Schiavo will drive for the veteran Atlantic Brooks squad this season, occupying the first seat in what’s expected to be a two-car, full season effort for the team that finished sixth and seventh in the final 2005 Atlantic standings. Schiavo has spent the last several seasons racing in the Star Mazda Pro Series, including an impressive championship run to claim the 2003 Star Mazda title. The 24-year-old native of Caracas, Venezuela earned several Champ Car test sessions last season with Dale Coyne Racing and he certainly has his eyes set on competing in Champ Car. He believes a strong season in Atlantics, Champ Car’s top developmental category, will help prepare him to compete at the next level.

“With three years in the Mazda series, we were able to consistently set track records, be on the pole and win,” said Schiavo. “Atlantic is the logical next step for me and I’m looking forward to working with (team owner) John (Brooks) and the Brooks Associates Racing team this season. It’s a great opportunity that I intend to take full advantage of and thanks to my sponsor, Energy Freight.” zzzz

Following a successful international karting career, Schiavo came to the U.S. in the late 90s and entered the Skip Barber racing program. He moved over to Star Mazda and also has U.S. F2000 experience. He captured the ’03 Star Mazda crown behind four wins and five poles and he followed that up with a fifth-place finish in the championship the following season. Schiavo was running fourth in the series title chase last season when he got the opportunity to test for Dale Coyne and he then decided to dedicate all of his efforts to finding a path to Champ Car. Schiavo performed well in eight total test days for the Coyne team and he looked strong this week in his first test session for the Brooks squad.

“We’re very excited about Luis joining the team,” said Brooks, who was named Atlantic Team Owner of the Year in 2005. “We’re finalizing a deal with our second driver and I’ve been quite impressed to see the field of new, young drivers interested in our series.  We’ve also strengthened the depth of the team with our newest engineer, Brian Jones, and returning lead mechanic, Duarte Fidalgo, and look forward to being in the hunt for the championship.”

Brooks Associates Racing, entering its 12th season in Atlantics, has emerged as one of the top squads in the series over the last several seasons. Current Champ Car driver Ronnie Bremer began his Atlantic career with the team in 2004 and last season Germany’s Andreas Wirth gave the team its first victory, winning in Denver to move into second place in the championship before a warm-up accident at Road America in the second-to-last race of the year ended his title quest. Wirth has already earned two Champ Car tests and will compete with the four-man Forsythe Racing Atlantic team this season. Al Unser III also raced for the Brooks team in ‘05 and produced a seventh-place finish in the championship. The Tucson, Arizona-based team is completing construction on its new headquarters and will move in just in time to take delivery of its two new 2006 Atlantic cars in early March.

Anxious to get Schiavo more seat time in preparation for what promises to be a challenging season in ’06, the Brooks team doesn’t expect to attend the Official Unveiling of the new generation Atlantic car on February 14 at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles because the team will be on track testing its new driver. “We’ve had testing scheduled for weeks and while we’ll miss being at the formal unveiling of the new car,” explained Brooks, “we look forward to seeing everyone at the Fontana open test (March 21-22) prior to the first race of the season in Long Beach (April 9).”

V8 Supercars
Briscoe signs up for V8 Supercar races Briscoe signs up for V8 Supercar racesStill searching for a full-time open-wheel ride in the U.S. this season, former Ganassi IRL driver and Toyota F1 tester Ryan Briscoe has signed a deal to drive for the Holden factory team in the two endurance races of Australia's V8 Supercars series, at Sandown and Bathurst.  Briscoe will share a Holden Commodore with Jim Richards at the two events.

"I definitely appreciate this opportunity - V8 Supercars is the pinnacle of Australian motorsport and the Holden Racing Team is the team you want to be driving for," said the 24-year old.  I didn't really think I would be driving a V8 Supercar at this stage of my career but motorsport is a funny game like that - you never know where it's going to lead." SPEEDTV.com

Will Ferrell NASCAR themed movie announced Will Ferrell NASCAR themed movie announcedTALLADEGA, Ala. - Moviegoers everywhere will see the name of NASCAR's Most Competitive Track in marquee lighting this summer, as Talladega Superspeedway officials announced today that the much-anticipated comedy starring Will Ferrell will be titled Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and is set for release by Columbia Pictures on Aug. 4, 2006.

The movie, written by Ferrell & director Adam McKay, tells the story of NASCAR racing sensation Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell), whose "win at all costs" approach has made him a national hero. He and his loyal racing partner and childhood friend, Cal Naughton, Jr. (John C. Reilly), are a fearless duo who thrill their fans by finishing most races in the No. 1 and 2 positions - with Cal always in second place. When a flamboyant French Formula One driver, Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), challenges him for the supremacy of NASCAR, Ricky Bobby must face his own demons and fight Girard for the right to be known as racing's top driver.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby was produced by Judd Apatow and Jimmy Miller. The executive producers are Ferrell, McKay, David Householter, Richard Glover and Sarah Nettinga.

The production of the film has received a great deal of media coverage since crews began shooting scenes here during the UAW-Ford 500 event weekend and in weeks following. Fans attending the Oct. 1 ARCA RE/MAX Series race last year watched and participated as select scenes were filmed on the frontstretch of the 2.66-mile track prior to the start of the event. zzzz

"We have enjoyed being part of this project and are thrilled to have our facility figuring so prominently into the film," said Talladega Superspeedway Vice President/General Manager Rick Humphrey. "A lot of buzz has been generated about this movie, and we are as excited as everyone else about the final product. We know it will bring a lot of exposure to our facility and hope it will encourage new fans to visit us for what is going to be one of the most exciting years to date at Talladega Superspeedway."

The 2006 racing season at Talladega Superspeedway kicks off with Aaron's Dream Weekend set for April 28-30. On Friday, April 28, fans will witness two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series practices, followed by The Birmingham News Qualifying for the NASCAR Busch Series. Saturday, April 29 will feature The Birmingham News Qualifying for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the Aaron's 312 NASCAR Busch Series race. Then on Sunday, the stage will be set for the Aaron's 499 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race. Kids age 11 and younger are admitted free of charge on Friday and Saturday of race weekend. To order tickets, call 1-877-Go2-DEGA (1-877-462-3342). For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). Tickets also are available online at www.racetickets.com, or in person by visiting the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. CDT, Monday -Friday.

Renault solves wing problems Renault solves wing problemsRenault were busy testing alongside its rivals yesterday at Jerez with Giancarlo Fisichella and test driver Heikki Kovalainen sharing a single R26. The team were forced to run just the one car following a rear wing 'problem' on Wednesday.

"The rear wing is a brand new design, and we noticed a small structural problem this week on two examples, leaving us with just one lower-mileage wing available at the test – which meant we only ran one car at a time on Thursday," Chassis Technical Director Bob Bell explained.

The team are confident they have solved the wing issue. "Obviously, a potential problem with the rear wing assembly can have serious consequences if it fails, so we took a very prudent approach and immediately brought the wings back to Enstone," Bell explained. "After rigorous analysis, we determined the solution that was required, and the team worked through the night yesterday to implement it. The modified components arrived this morning in Jerez, and the cars were both running again at 09:00." Renault

Cleveland GP future secured Cleveland GP future securedMichael Lanigan said he has one goal as the new promoter for the 25th Grand Prix of Cleveland. He wants race fans to feel on race weekend what he felt the day after the first Grand Prix of Cleveland in 1982.

"I came into Cleveland that Monday on a business trip to visit [Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.]. There was just an excitement everywhere - on TV, in the newspapers, at the hotels, everywhere - about what a great race there was," he said. Lanigan was speaking after Thursday's announcement that Mi-Jack Promotions has agreed to a five-year deal to promote the race, beginning with this year's race at Burke Lakefront Airport on June 23-25.

"I had never heard of Bobby Rahal [winner of the first Grand Prix] before that. I had never been to an open-wheel race before that. I've been to hundreds since. That's what we want again. We want to put the sizzle back in the bacon.

"I have been to hundreds of races since as a fan, then as a race-team sponsor, then a race-team owner. Through the years, we think we understand what race fans are looking for," said Lanigan, chairman and chief executive of Mi-Jack Promotions.

Fans have yearned for stability from an owner-promoter of the race. In the recent past, even as Cleveland has held the reputation as Champ Car's longest-tenured event, it has had a tenuous place on the schedule.

Champ Car, itself a reinvented company that was coming out of bankruptcy two years ago, owned and operated the race the past two seasons, but made it clear the event needed someone else to step forward to remain viable. Mi-Jack has done that. zzzz

"The future is no longer in doubt," said Rena Shanaman, managing director of the race.

From paddock access to jumbo video screens to concerts, go-kart racing for fans and more, Lanigan's goal is to make the weekend a packed experience with Sunday's race being "the icing on the cake."

Mi-Jack Promotions also owns the Champ Car race in Houston. Lanigan is president of Mi-Jack Products, which includes Panama Canal Railway plus equipment and transportation interests in Cleveland and around the country. He said the company is prepared to back up its vision of the Cleveland race with more than slogans.

"We don't get into something just to try it out," Lanigan said. "Mi-Jack Promotions will make the financial commitment to achieve the goals we have set.

"Our company is prepared to carry on the tradition of the Cleveland race with a reinvented Grand Prix."  Cleveland Plain Dealer

Junior Johnson car finally on display at N.C. Museum Junior Johnson car finally on display at N.C. MuseumThe 1963 Chevrolet that Junior Johnson drove to seven victories and 10 poles in 33 NASCAR Winston Cup starts, was put on display Wednesday in the N.C. Museum of History, where the Sports Hall of Fame is located. Gov. Mike Easley accepted the loan of the white No. 3 car from Johnson and expressed the hope that "it will still be on display here in the museum's lobby 25 years from now." The governor added that Johnson deserved the honor "because he has brought the state fame well beyond our borders. Junior is a good citizen and a credit to North Carolina." It's been an uphill battle for Johnson, however. During the 1970s and '80s, an executive director of the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame refused to count votes toward Johnson's induction. The one-man ban was based on Johnson's conviction on a moonshine charge in 1956. Even after he received a full pardon from President Ronald Reagan in 1985, ballots for him were blocked from being counted. Charlotte Observer
Schrader and Wood take to the sky Schrader and Wood take to the skyNASCAR drivers Kenny Schrader and Jon Wood will receive U.S. Air Force fighter orientation flights at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada on Thursday March 9. Schrader, current driver of the NEXTEL Cup #21 Wood Brothers/JTG Racing Team, will fly with the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, Thunderbirds. Wood, this year’s Busch series #47 driver for JTG Racing, will fly with the 57th Wing. United States Air Force PR
2006 F3 Euroseries calendar 2006 F3 Euroseries calendarThe 2006 Formula Three Euroseries Championship calendar has been announced:

Race Date Venue Country
 1. April 9 Hockenheim, Germany
 2. April 30 EuroSpeedway Lausitz, Germany
 3. May 21 Oschersleben, Germany
 4. July 2 Brands Hatch, Great Britain
 5. July 23 Norisring, Germany
 6. August 20 Nurburgring, Germany
 7. September 3 Zandvoort, The Netherlands
 8. September 24 Barcelona, Spain
 9. October 15 Le Mans, France
10. October 29 Hockenheim, Germany

Yoong puts Malaysia on top in 2nd practice Yoong puts Malaysia on top in 2nd practiceSentul – A tropical downpour which began just as the pit lane opened for today’s first official practice session left a slippery wet track for A1 Grand Prix’s first outing at the Sentul circuit, Indonesia. The rain continued to fall into the afternoon but as the sun broke through mid-way into the second session, conditions improved and the A1 teams picked up speed.

Relative newcomer to the Series, A1 Team Italy’s Max Busnelli who drove for the first time at the last round brought out the first red flag spinning off and damaging the car. Red flags caused by Austria, Brazil and the Czech Republic and China followed with Lebanon and Portugal joining the list from the second session.

Home racer Ananada Mikola showed that circuit experience pays leading the second session for some time but it was A1 Team Malaysia’s Alex Yoong (pictured right) who put in the day’s fastest lap time of 1.27.557. ‘We did a good job today, but it is more important to be quick tomorrow. We were struggling with set up at first, but we found a couple of things that really helped us. And I have raced here a long time ago which helps.’

Commenting on tire wear at the track, Alex admitted ‘I am a little worried, the track is very abrasive. Tire wear will be high if the track is dry, but I have heard that it will be wet over the weekend.’

Marcus Marshall (pictured left) made an impressive debut with A1 Team Australia, finishing the day second fastest. Marcus said he was impressed with what he had seen of A1GP so far, ‘It’s been fantastic, I love the concept, every car being equal means tough racing. No-one has an advantage, and everyone starts even.’

Winner of the last A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Jos Verstappen, is hoping for a repeat performance this weekend. ‘I’m very pleased with how it went today, it took around five or six laps to find the limit. The response at home was very positive after the win in South Africa, there was good press and TV footage which always helps a team.’ zzzz

However, the focus of local attention remains on Ananda Mikola, the Asian Formula Three Champions, who is the driver for A1 Team Indonesia. ‘There isn’t too much pressure at my home race, it is my own pride that is at stake. I just want to get a good result. I think we are looking good for the race, as long as no-one hits me from the back! This is a great race for Indonesia, there are some good drivers here, some from F1 such as Ralph, Jos and Alex. We show great racing, and crashes on TV all over the world, I think it will be a great race this weekend.’

Pos Driver Country Time
 1. Alex Yoong Malaysia 1:27.557
 2. Marcus Marshall Australia 1:27.820 + 0.263
 3. Jos Verstappen Netherlands 1:28.279 + 0.722
 4. Nicolas Lapierre France 1:28.680 + 1.123
 5. Ananda Mikola Indonesia 1:28.776 + 1.219
 6. Ralph Firman Ireland 1:28.915 + 1.358
 7. Sean McIntosh Canada 1:29.203 + 1.646
 8. Robbie Kerr Great Britain 1:29.380 + 1.823
 9. Stephen Simpson South Africa 1:29.437 + 1.880
10. Salvador Duran Mexico 1:29.666 + 2.109
11. Mathias Lauda Austria 1:29.786 + 2.229
12. Tomas Enge Czech Republic 1:29.839 + 2.282
13. Armaan Ebrahim India 1:29.925 + 2.368
14. Tengyi Jiang China 1:30.019 + 2.462
15. Hayanari Shimoda Japan 1:30.100 + 2.543
16. Alvaro Parente Portugal 1:30.172 + 2.615
17. Timo Scheider Germany 1:30.349 + 2.792
18. C. Fittipaldi Brazil 1:30.414 + 2.857
19. Neel Jani Switzerland 1:30.489 + 2.932
20. Philip Giebler USA 1:30.772 + 3.215
21. Max Busnelli Italy 1:30.822 + 3.265
22. Matt Halliday New Zealand 1:31.464 + 3.907
23. Khalil Beschir Lebanon 1:32.958 + 5.401

Firman puts Ireland on top in 1st practice Firman puts Ireland on top in 1st practiceTeam Ireland driver Ralph Firman topped the times in first free practice for round eight of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations in Sentul, Indonesia on Sunday.

Pos Driver Country Time Laps
 1. Ralph Firman Ireland 1'28.458 15
 2. Ananda Mikola Indonesia 1'29.006 +0.548 17
 3. Robbie Kerr Great Britain 1'29.028 +0.570 17
 4. Alvaro Parente Portugal 1'29.372 +0.914 17
 5. Christian Jones Australia 1'29.551 +1.093 24
 6. Sean McIntosh Canada 1'29.737 +1.279 25
 7. Neel Jani Switzerland 1'30.166 +1.708 17
 8. Stephen Simpson South Africa 1'30.205 +1.747 18
 9. Nicolas Lapierre France 1'30.295 +1.837 9
10. Matt Halliday New Zealand 1'30.385 +1.927 30
11. Hayanari Shimoda Japan 1'30.444 +1.986 23
12. Jos Verstappen Netherlands 1'30.517 +2.059 15
13. Christian Fittipaldi Brazil 1'30.571 +2.113 25
14. Timo Scheider Germany 1'30.610 +2.152 20
15. Salvador Duran Mexico 1'30.730 +2.272 11
16. Tomas Enge Czech Republic 1'30.801 +2.343 6
17. Alex Yoong Malaysia 1'31.308 +2.850 19
18. Armaan Ebrahim India 1'31.393 +2.935 29
19. Basil Shaaban Lebanon 1'31.822 +3.364 22
20. Tengyi Jiang China 1'32.963 +4.505 23
21. Philip Giebler USA 1'33.459 +5.001 8
22. Mathias Lauda Austria 1'34.518 +6.060 9
23. Max Busnelli Italy 1'37.191 +8.733 5

NASCAR drug addict finds home in NASCAR USAC division NASCAR drug addict finds home in NASCAR USAC divisionFormer stock car driver Shane Hmiel has landed a job in the U.S. Auto Club's revamped Silver Crown division, hired by C&R Racing to drive its car. NASCAR kicked Hmiel out of its sport last year for failing a second drug test. Hmiel also had a much-publicized disagreement with Dale Jarrett at a race in Dover, Del., when he made an obscene gesture at the former Cup champion that was caught by national television. C&R president Chris Paulsen said Hmiel not only is the son of team partner Steve Hmiel, he's a talented driver trying to redeem himself personally and professionally. "He's working really hard to turn things around since his last incident," Paulsen said. IndyStar.com

[Editor's Note: It appears NASCAR is making Hmiel pay his dues in their failing Silver Crown Series. USAC thinks it is their series, but everyone knows who is really behind the new Speedway cars. With just 12 cars showing up for the Copper World Classic in Phoenix two weeks ago, the series needs every body they can find. If Hmiel keeps his nose clean for a couple of years perhaps they will let him back into NASCAR.]

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Spa seals new F1 deal for 2007
News from F1 tests
Renault not committed to F1 - CEO
Honda's concern with V8 engine
Spain heads for grand prix sellout
V8 Sauber as quick as 2005 car - Villeneuve
Berger to attend most races in 2006
'Doctor Brawn'
Flav's fuel is 'beating Ron'
An interview with Dale Earnhardt Jr An interview with Dale Earnhardt JrDaytona 500 Media Day, An interview with Dale Earnhardt Jr: some of the interview..in parts:

Q. Do you think people underestimate your commitment to making the company that your daddy built [DEI] into what he dreamed it could be?

A. Dale Jr: Yeah, I think so. I think people see -- you know, know what I want to do. I know I want to win a championship. I know I have sort of a vision of where I want to be at a certain age. But I don't look that far into the future and get specific. You know, I drive right off the hood. I look at where I'm at right now. I would love to drive the 3 on down the road, and Richard [Childress] knows that. I hate him talking about it, because I don't want to put it off on him, put any pressure on him or disrupt what he's trying to do with RCR to date. But he knows that. That's the extent of it. There's nothing more to it conversation-wise between me and him or anything. We've just made that clear to each other and dropped it.

Q. Would you like to take over at DEI?
A. Dale Jr: I'd love to take over at DEI. Me and Teresa will talk about that when the time comes. We'll talk about that before the time comes obviously. That's not in the near future. I think JR Motorsports is a natural process of a company growing from one rank to the next, and it can go as far as it wants to go. I am not going to stop it at this level or that level. We'll just see however profitable. It don't even have to be profitable. If it breaks even, we'll keep on racing.

Q. Do you want to win a championship in the No. 3 car?
A. Dale Jr: I mean, I could do it. We could do it now, but that would be just kind -- that would be a phony tribute if we did it now. It just wouldn't feel right. I think it's something we can do whenever we want. I really seriously got to take my career -- I got to take my career seriously right now. I can't be fooling around with tributes and feel-good stories all the time. You know, we got to get down to business and race. When that opportunity comes to have that chance, we'll do that. I think -- I don't think a lot of people are ready for it. It's not even than a option. When the time comes, we want to do it, we'll do it, have a little fun with it. No, I just want to be -- I want to win a race with Budweiser as my sponsor, with that 8 on the side, with Tony, Jr. as my crew chief. GM Racing PR

NASCAR HOF decision in 30-60 days NASCAR HOF decision in 30-60 daysNASCAR president Mike Helton said Thursday the announcement of the site for NASCAR's Hall of Fame would be made within 30 to 60 days. France said the decision would be made by NASCAR's board of directors, including chairman Brian France, vice chairman Bill France Jr., executive vice president Jim France, vice president Lesa France Kennedy and Helton. Finalist cities for the hall are Daytona Beach, Atlanta and Charlotte. Florida Today
State Farm teams up with Burton and Sorenson State Farm teams up with Burton and SorensonBeginning with the Daytona 500 on February 19, 2006, State Farm will begin partnerships with NASCAR drivers #31-Jeff Burton of Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and #41-Reed Sorenson of Chip Ganassi Racing. During the Daytona 500 on February 19, State Farm will debut two commercials featuring Jeff Burton and his State Farm agent. Throughout the 2006 NASCAR season, State Farm will advertise in nearly every NASCAR race. Commercials featuring Reed Sorenson will begin later this year. State Farm logo will appear on Burton's driver uniform and uniforms of pit crew during Nextel Cup and Busch Series races, on RCR trailer/transporter and pit equipment and in "fan walk" of RCR headquarters, museum, and RCRacing.com. The State Farm logo will appear on Sorenson's driver uniform and uniforms of pit crew during Nextel Cup and Busch Series races. In both cases, State Farm is sponsoring the drivers and not the cars. The State Farm logo will not appear on either car. State Farm PR
Schrader draws pole for Budweiser Shootout Schrader draws pole for Budweiser ShootoutKen Schrader, driving the Wood Brothers No. 21, will start on the pole Saturday night in the 28th Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.

The 70-lap event is divided into two parts of 20 and 50 laps, with a 10min intermission in between. Drivers may then pit for adjustments before starting the final 50-lap run. The purse this year is just short of $1.1m.

Lineup for the Budweiser Shootout:

1) Ken Schrader, No. 21 Little Debbie Ford
2) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet
3) Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet
4) Joe Nemechek, No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet
5) Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
6) Elliott Sadler, No. 38 M&Ms Ford
7) Ryan Newman, No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge
8) Scott Riggs, No. 10 Valvoline Dodge
9) Dale Jarrett, No. 88 UPS Ford
10) Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
11) Carl Edwards, No. 99 Office Depot Ford
12) Bill Elliott, No. 36 Ginn Clubs Chevrolet
13) Mark Martin, No. 6 AAA Ford
14) Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet
15) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet
16) Matt Kenseth, No. 17 DeWalt Tools Ford
17) Jamie McMurray, No. 26 Sharpie Ford
18) Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
19) Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet
20) Brian Vickers, No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet
21) Michael Waltrip, No. 55 NAPA Dodge

Pakistan team withdraws from Sentul race Pakistan team withdraws from Sentul raceA1 Team Pakistan regrets that the team is unable to compete in Sentul, Indonesia this weekend for the eighth round of the A1 Grand Prix series. Driver Adam Khan is still recovering from injuries sustained at the previous event in South Africa two weeks ago and has been declared unfit to drive by his doctors. The team is looking forward to a return to the track on 24th, 25th and 26th for the next round of the series in Monterrey, Mexico.
Gordon Gives Toyo First Victory in Trophy Trucks Gordon Gives Toyo First Victory in Trophy TrucksWith nothing more than a spray down after returning from the 2006 Dakar rally, Robby Gordon loaded up his Hummer H3 and headed to the Best in the Desert  Blue Water Resort & Casino Parker 425 in Parker, Ariz.

All the spare parts for the H3 were still in transit from the West coast of Africa so Gordon elected to run the Hummer as a test session. The main purpose of the session was to mileage out the transmission and other systems on the race truck and see how long it would take for them to fail.

The narrow single-track course of the Parker 425 was very similar to that of the third stage of the Dakar – which is the first day on African soil in Morocco  -- and therefore was a good test for the H3 and its return to Dakar in 2007. “The plan for the race was very simple  -- basically gas and go. The  H3 holds about 100 gallons of 87 octane fuel. We planned to run all day and not stop for anything.”  zzzz

Two days before the event the Best in the Desert off-road series held a time trial to determine the starting order. Gordon’s effort earned him the eighth starting spot.  On race day, Gordon charged to finish fifth overall while scoring a victory in the Trophy Truck class.   The first four finishers were all in buggies, which are lighter and quicker than the bigger Trophy Trucks.  The event was won by Jon Herder in a buggy.

“It was a very good run for the Hummer. We gave Toyo their first victory in a Trophy Truck. The tires were awesome – we had no flats all day. The truck was still in Dakar mode which restricts the motor. The H3 has half the horsepower of the Red Bull Trophy Truck (which Gordon won the 2005 Baja 500 in).   If we had qualified better I think we could have held off the buggies and won overall.   It was a narrow and dusty single track all day.   Being out front definitely would have helped.”

Perhaps even more important than the win, was the fact that there were absolutely no issues with the performance of the Hummer H3 and at the end of the day Gordon drove to a local gas station, fueled up and drove the street legal truck home.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Daytona International Speedway
10:00 a.m-10:30 a.m. ET (L) SPEED
Morning Session
Daytona International Speedway
10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (L) SPEED
Daytona International Speedway
12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. ET (L) SPEED
Afternoon Session
Daytona International Speedway
1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (L) SPEED
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (R) Discovery HD Theater
Daytona International Speedway
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET (L) SPEED
ARCA 200
Daytona International Speedway
4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. (L) SPEED
Daytona International Speedway
6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. ET (L) SPEED
7:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. ET SPEED
Daytona International Speedway
7:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET (L) SPEED
Daytona International Speedway
8:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. ET (L) TNT
9:00 P.M.-10:00 p.m. ET, ESPN Classic
Bud Shootout Wrapup
Daytona International Speedway
10:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. ET (L) SPEED

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

UPS announces NHRA sponsorship deal UPS announces NHRA sponsorship dealUPS announced today that it has signed three-year sponsorship deals with the NHRA and the Vandergriff Motorsports Top Fuel team. UPS, a longtime sponsor of NASCAR and of Dale Jarrett’s Robert Yates Racing Nextel Cup team, becomes the official express delivery company of the NHRA and primary sponsor on Vandergriff Motorsports’ UPS Top Fuel dragster driven by Bob Vandergriff Jr.

Similar to how it activates its NASCAR sponsorship, UPS will set up full-service UPS trackside services on-site at all NHRA events and will conduct on-site hospitality programs at select race weekends. No financial terms of the deals were released.

A1 Grand Prix
More on support series races for A1GP More on support series races for A1GPWe had reported that the A1GP race organizers in Monterrey, Mexico had officially announced only one support series for the race, the Historic Grand Prix, which is more of a moving museum than a racing series. We were hoping that the organizers would get more support races (hopefully a little less amateur series).  Instead of that they are announcing that the Historic Grand Prix will race twice in Monterrey instead of once - one on Saturday and one on Sunday - and that they will probably add the  "Vintage Category", which is a series for people who owns classic sports cars. Jose Arrambide
NASCAR alters past-champions rules NASCAR alters past-champions rulesThe NASCAR Busch Series has slightly altered the rules governing the use of the past champion’s provisional this season.  Beginning this year, a driver can only utilize the past champion’s provisional once every eight races. In previous seasons, there was no limit to the number of times a driver who was a former series champion could use the provisional.  The change does not apply to the Nextel Cup or Craftsman Trucks series. ThatsRacin.com
Setzer to drive No. 85 Chevy Setzer to drive No. 85 ChevyVeteran Dennis Setzer, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship runner-up for the past three years, was announced as the driver of the No. 85 Chevy Silverado for Morgan-Dollar Motorsports in the 2006 season.
Danica Patrick launches new website Danica Patrick launches new websitePatrick relaunches website: 2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick has re-launched her personal website at www.danicaracing.com.  Patrick's new site features new content that allows her fans to catch up on the latest news, including Patrick's online journal.  The site also features music by emerging artist Katy Perry with plans to add more interactive features, including Patrick's official fan club "Club Danica." IRL
Vision Racing to add second car, Dempsey as co-owner Vision Racing to add second car, Dempsey as co-ownerVision Racing announced Feb. 9 that it will field a second full-time IndyCar Series entry during the 2006 season.

The No. 2 Honda-powered Dallara will be driven by IndyCar Series veteran Tomas Scheckter (pictured right). Ed Carpenter returns to the team as driver of the No. 20 Honda-powered Dallara. Both cars will carry a new paint scheme.

"During the winter off-season we really concentrated on a building program that had as its foundation. A strong nucleus of people from 2005," team owner Tony George said. "And while we are all happy to have Honda power for the coming year, we have focused on becoming a two-car ICS team.  We believe that both of these developments will begin paying dividends for us immediately. We are excited to have Tomas Scheckter join our team and expect him to contribute immediately by bringing his experience and work ethic to Vision."

Scheckter joined Carpenter for the second day of the IndyCar Series' initial 2006 test at Phoenix International Raceway two weeks ago and turned the seventh quickest lap of the  test. Carpenter was eighth.

"I'm extremely excited to be with Vision, to be back in the Indy Racing League and to be back in the car," said Scheckter, son of 1979 Formula One champion, Jody Scheckter. "During the off-season, I had been speaking with Tony about joining the team. Tony was thinking about increasing the size of the team; I had connections with a lot of the personnel on the team, and I get along well with Ed so it was a good fit. I'm excited to be here, and I'm ready to help the team get some race wins." zzzz

Scheckter, 25, a native of Cape Town, South Africa, has 14 top-5 finishes in 61 starts. Last year, his victory on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway came from the pole position (one of three pole starts in '05). He led 365 laps over the 17 races and recorded eight top 10s.
"I'm looking forward to getting further acquainted with the team, but I'm excited to get to continue working with my engineer from Panther Racing (David Cripps)," Scheckter said. "Since we've worked together in the past, we have a good understanding of each other, and we've both been a part of a very successful team. So, hopefully we can bring those experiences to Vision. Tony is serious about winning and that's what we want to do. That's what Ed and I will be shooting for this season."

Vision Racing has also expanded its ownership team with long-time leading man Patrick Dempsey, who's enjoying huge today for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd on ABC's Golden Globe Award-winning drama "Grey's Anatomy."  Dempsey's latest role, however, won't be seen on the silver screen, but rather at the racetrack.

After attending the 2004 Indianapolis 500 as a "celebrity guest" and meeting Tony and Laura George, Dempsey's future racing strategy began to develop. A year later, following another meeting with the couple, Dempsey expressed an interest in Vision Racing and followed it throughout the 2005 season. During the off-season, Dempsey, who was recently named Cosmopolitan's 2006 "Fun Fearless Male of the Year," officially partnered with the George family as a co-owner of Vision Racing.

"Laura and I are proud to have Patrick as a partner in Vision and value his contribution and council as we have built this team," Tony George said.

Dempsey is no stranger to racing when he's not on camera. A true racer at heart, Dempsey is currently driving professionally in "Grand American Cup" sports car racing with Hypersport. He also attended the Skip Barber and Panoz Racing Schools and began racing in the Panoz GT Series in 2004. Dempsey finished an impressive third at the Panoz GT race in Road Atlanta in early May 2005. He also competed in the April 2005 Toyota Celebrity Race at Long Beach and the 2005 Baja 1000 with drivers Boris Said and Oriol Servia.

"I am thrilled to be a part of the Vision team and I feel like a kid in a candy store," Dempsey said. "I think Ed Carpenter and Tomas Scheckter is a formidable combination, and I believe they demonstrated this by their performance at the first test. I also cannot think of anyone other than Tony and Laura George that I would want to partner with in IndyCar Racing. All my experiences at Indy have been magical." IRL

President and GM of Edmonton GP steps down President and GM of Edmonton GP steps downIt was announced today by Ric Forest, Board Chair of the Edmonton Grand Prix, that Greg Macdonald will be stepping down as President and General Manager of the Grand Prix of Edmonton. Greg will continue in his role as a Director and Shareholder.

Forest said, "Greg Macdonald, more than anyone, is the key individual who made the Grand Prix happen and Edmonton owes Greg an enormous vote of thanks for his contribution in bringing this event here. It was because of Greg and Tom Doerksen (the other original founder of the race) and the dream they shared, that our city was able to attract the Grand Prix."

Greg Macdonald said "I am very proud of what all of us have accomplished in the first year of this race, and I look forward to the next chapter in my continued role with the Grand Prix of Edmonton, in ensuring that world class motorsport will remain in Edmonton for many years to come. This event has allowed me to realize the passion I have for the City of Edmonton and the dream of things that many never thought possible. We have accomplished that with the inaugural Grand Prix of Edmonton and I look forward to many successful years as a Director.

Macdonald added that "without the 14 hour days which the General Manager post requires, I am looking forward to having more time to spend with my family at a very important time in their lives."

Ric Forest indicated that a new General Manager will be recruited for the Grand Prix of Edmonton. In the interim, Ernie Pasemko and Frank Calder will provide management support to the race working with Tom Doerksen, Director Operations. Pasemko and Calder were part of the original group of four promoters who worked to bring the race to Edmonton. Grand Prix of Edmonton

De la Rosa fastest with V10 at Jerez Thursday De la Rosa fastest with V10 at Jerez ThursdayPedro de la Rosa turned the fastest lap in testing Thursday at Jerez, but he had a V10 engine so his times are really irrelevant.
1. P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 V10 - 1'17"451 - 123 laps
2. G. Fisichella - Renault R26 - 1'17"479 (+0"028) - 76 laps
3. M. Webber - Williams Cosworth FW28 - 1'17"767 (+0"316) - 104 laps
4. J. Button - Honda RA106 - 1'17"990 (+0"539) - 118 laps
5. J. Villeneuve - BMW Sauber F1.06 - 1'18"179 (+0"728) - 75 laps
6. N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber F1.06 - 1'18"278 (+0"827) - 63 laps
7. H. Kovalainen - Renault R26 - 1'18"542 (+1"091) - 45 laps
8. N. Rosberg - Williams Cosworth FW28 - 1'18"843 (+1"392) - 60 laps
9. K. Raikkonen - McLaren Mercedes MP4-21 - 1'18"929 (+1"478) - 40 laps
10. J. Trulli - Toyota TF106 - 1'19"083 (+1"632) - 103 laps
11. R. Schumacher - Toyota TF106 - 1'19"320 (+1"869) - 107 laps
12. V. Liuzzi - Toro Rosso Cosworth STR01 - 1'19"394 (+1"943) - 79 laps
13. C. Albers – MF1 Toyota M16 - 1'20"685 (+3"234) - 90 laps
14. T. Monteiro – MF1 Toyota M16 - 1'20"922 (+3"471) - 63 laps
Track News
Chicagoland Speedway Track Packs on Sale Feb. 20 Chicagoland Speedway Track Packs on Sale Feb. 20Track Packs for the 2006 season at Chicagoland Speedway go on sale to the general public on Monday, Feb. 20. Track Packs can be purchased at the Chicagoland Speedway Ticket Office, by phone at 815-727-RACE (7223) or online at www.chicagolandspeedway.com.

A Track Pack for Chicagoland Speedway's 2006 season, which ranges in price from $195 to $260, includes admission to five (5) races over two (2) event weekends. The NASCAR weekend returns with the USG DUROCK ® 300 NASCAR Busch Series race on Saturday, July 8, and the USG SHEETROCK® 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race on Sunday, July 9. The 2006 season will conclude with the ARCA/IRL weekend, which includes the Hand Tool 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series race and the Chicagoland 100 IRL® Indy Pro Series race on Saturday, Sept. 9, followed by the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 Presented by Mr. Clean - the last race of the season for the IRL® IndyCar® Series - on Sunday, Sept. 10. zzzz

2005 Track Pack holders and race fans on the 2006 Track Pack Wait List had the first opportunity to purchase and add seats for the 2006 season. Due to the renewal rate and the amount of fans on the waiting list, the "Finish Line Mid" section is no longer available, and other sections are close to becoming unavailable as well. But great seats are still available, and the state-of-the-art design of the grandstands, track and infield allow excellent sightlines of the entire racing surface from every seat in the grandstands.

"It's exciting how much the demand for motorsports continues to grow in the Chicago area every year," said Matthew Alexander, vice president/general manager of Chicagoland Speedway. "Renewals for 2006 track packs were higher than ever before, so we encourage race fans to purchase now before tickets once again become unavailable."

In addition to 2006 Track Packs, Recreational Vehicle passes for the season, as well as Friday Practice/Qualifying tickets for NASCAR weekend, will also go on sale to the general public on Feb. 20. A Friday general admission event ticket for NASCAR weekend is $15 for adults and free for children 12 and under, and includes USG Pole Day as well as the USAC Silver Crown Series race that evening. The 2006 September ARCA/IRL weekend is a two-day event, with no Friday ticket for sale.

There are five options for RVs in 2006: Infield Trackside (electric and non-electric); Infield Non-Trackside (electric and non-electric); Speedway Ridge; Lower Ridge (new this year); and Family Land Campground (new this year). RV spots range from $350 to $2,900. Because of the high number of fans on the 2006 RV Wait List, Infield and Speedway Ridge are no longer available.

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

Sentul ready to pack in big crowds Sentul ready to pack in big crowdsLarge crowds are expected when the A1 Grand Prix series hits Indonesia for round eight on 12 February, an event rescheduled from January due to the untimely death of the Emir of Dubai. (Pictured right is 3.95km Sentul circuit. Note single grandstand) A1 Team Indonesia GM John Allen says: “Interest is huge in Indonesia. In fact, we have had more than a million hits on our website and enjoy the second highest national A1GP viewing figures. In many ways, Indonesia is a racing mad nation that has been starved of international motorsport. The obvious comparison is with neighboring Malaysia, where crowds for the A1GP were less than expected, perhaps due to the fact that they host a Formula 1 Grand Prix as well as a round of the Japanese Super GT series and Superbikes, perhaps leaving the sports fan with little money in the bank by the time A1GP came to town in November.
Tinton Soeprapto, father of A1 Team Indonesia driver Ananda Mikola, is extremely confident that the grandstands will be packed with spectators for the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Indonesia. “Unlike Malaysia,” he explained, “we have no major motorsport events, either for cars or bikes, so we will have a large crowd. This will be important not just for the Sentul circuit and the motorsport fans, but also for the country to show that it’s safe for a large crowd to attend an event in Indonesia.”

“You could also argue that admission prices were too high in Malaysia, thus restricting the size of the crowd,” continues Allen. “We are keeping admission as inexpensive as possible for our round at Sentul and so Friday admission will be free, Sunday admission is very reasonably priced and anyone who buys a Sunday admission can come Saturday for no additional charge.

Sentul hosts up to 25 meetings per year but has yet to make its bow at the top end of the international motorsport scene. With the majority of the races held there being for cars that are from budget-driven formulae, the visit of A1 Grand Prix will give Indonesian motorsport fans a huge treat, putting the annual highlight of a Formula 3 double-header into perspective. Crowds are impressive, at an average of 20,000 spectators per meeting, but motorsport is still very much third in the nation’s sporting ranking behind badminton and football.

There is a trump card in the race organizers’ hand, though, as Allen explains: “We have the support of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his Government and this has helped particularly as this has guaranteed high media coverage in the lead-up to the re-scheduled event, following the death of the Emir in January. A1GP

Fittipaldi replaces Piquet Jr. Fittipaldi replaces Piquet Jr.Nelson Piquet Jr, winner of both races at the opening round of the A1 Grand Prix series at Brands Hatch, has stood down from driving duties for A1 Team Brazil so that he can concentrate on preparing for his forthcoming GP2 campaign. The seat is being filled at this weekend's A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Sentul, Indonesia and for the remaining three rounds of the series by Formula 1 turned Champ Car racer Christian Fittipaldi.

Christian (pictured right), nephew of joint team seatholder and double Formula 1 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi, is delighted to be back in single-seaters, having spent the past few seasons racing in NASCAR and in sportscars. He will bring particular expertise to the rounds at Monterrey and Laguna Seca, as they are both circuits on which he has raced in Champ Cars. Apart from A1 Grand Prix, Christian has racing programs lined up for 2006 in the GrandAm sportscar series in the USA and in the Brazilian Stock Car Championship.

Other changes in the driving line-ups for A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Sentul include Salvador Duran rejoining A1 Team Mexico, taking over from David Martinez who raced to points in South Africa. Champ Car racer Marcus Marshall is a new face at A1 Team Australia, taking over from Will Davison (see separate story). As ever, points leaders A1 Team France continues its policy of driver rotation and it's Nicolas Lapierre's turn in Indonesia, taking over from Alexandre Premat. Also, as announced earlier, At Team Japan is back, with Hayanari Shimoda back at the wheel, while A1 Team Pakistan has joined A1 Team Russia due to driver Adam Khan still being unfit to race following his accident at Durban. A1GP

A1 Grand Prix
A1GP teams limited to one chassis A1GP teams limited to one chassisFrom this weekend's A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Sentul, Indonesia, the 25 teams contesting the World Cup of Motorsport will run one chassis rather than one chassis and a spare.

The teams must nominate which of their two chassis will be their race chassis for the remainder of the season, then disassemble the other and send the tub back to A1GP's Technical Centre at Silverstone Circuit in England. The teams will keep the parts removed during disassembly as spares and A1GP will keep four complete chassis at each of the final three rounds to be used in case of accidents. A1GP

[Editor's Note: This appears to be a cost saving move by the financially strapped series organizers who are writing a lot of checks but making very little in the way of revenue.

Marcus Marshall to drive for Team Australia Marcus Marshall to drive for Team AustraliaA1 Team Australia is one of two teams at A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Sentul to introduce a new driver for this weekend's meeting in Indonesia, with Marcus Marshall taking over from Will Davison for this meeting and two of the three other remaining rounds, in Monterrey, Mexico and Laguna Seca, USA.

Marshall arrives in A1 Grand Prix with the experience gained in British Formula 3 in 2004 and then the Champ Car series with the Walker Racing-run Team Australia in 2005 and is hoping that a strong showing will help him secure a second season in Champ Car this year.

"I'm used to the horsepower, as we have 800bhp in Champ Car," said the 27-year-old from Australia's Gold Coast, "but it's great to be back in the cockpit again, as I haven't driven a racing car since last October. It's better still that Sentul is a proper road circuit as I seem to have raced mainly on street circuits of late." His first experience of the 520bhp A1GP car will be in practice on Friday morning.

Fuller’s Agency To Promote Honda F1 Team Fuller’s Agency To Promote Honda F1 TeamSimon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment has signed a five-year deal to promote the Honda F1 team, “the first time a racing team has hired an entertainment agency to market its brand around the world." Fuller will develop “media properties — which could involve TV, radio or online content — as vehicles to promote Honda.” The deal may “also lead to the development of new reality TV formats,” as 19 Entertainment currently produces Fox’ “American Idol” in the U.S. and the U.K.’s “Pop Idol.” The deal comes after Honda’s purchase of its F1 team last year and the signing of drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello for ’06. 19 Entertainment will “spend the 2006 season familiarizing themselves with the sport and the team and developing ideas for next year.” F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone said, “This is exactly the direction the [F1] teams should be taking to broaden the entertainment and sporting appeal of [F1] to a global audience” Manchester GUARDIAN
Cleveland GP highlights for 2006 Cleveland GP highlights for 2006Cleveland proudly serves as host to the longest-running temporary Champ Car racing circuit in the country, and when the engines roar at Burke Lakefront Airport on June 23 – 25, 2006, it will mark the 25th anniversary of this weekend filled with sights, sounds and thrills. But 2006 also marks the dawning of a new era, with new ownership, a secure future, and a fresh approach to making this event more than just a race.
Featured Events
• Champ Cars, Atlantic double-header and more
• Live music
• Extreme sports demonstrations
• Vintage Race Cars
• Classic Street Cars
• Miss Grand Prix of Cleveland Grid Girls

• Affordable and flexible ticket pricing programs
• Family-friendly amenities
• More on-site parking
• New entranceways and convenient internal shuttle

• Jumbo video screens, viewable from all  seating locations
• Complimentary access to the Paddock  for ALL spectators (unlike other major  league sports, here you will have the chance to meet the drivers and see the race teams, up close and personal)
• Additional hospitality options in  premium locations

US Bank and others return as Cleveland GP sponsors US Bank and others return as Cleveland GP sponsorsThe Grand Prix of Cleveland will be celebrating two important anniversaries this year: the 25th anniversary of the event and the 10th consecutive year that U.S. Bank has participated in the event. The Grand Prix of Cleveland proudly announced today that U.S. Bank will return as presenting sponsor of the event, to be called the Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U.S. Bank.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome back U.S. Bank as presenting sponsor of this year’s Grand Prix of Cleveland,” said Rena Shanaman, Managing Director of the Grand Prix of Cleveland. “This will mark the 10th consecutive year that U.S. Bank has been associated with the Grand Prix and the race couldn’t ask for a better partner. U.S. Bank has remained committed to Cleveland and to showcasing the Grand Prix as an event that brings international attention to the city and the region.”

Building on an initiative that began in 2004, U.S. Bank will continue to enhance its promotional partnership with the Grand Prix of Cleveland by creating some exciting opportunities for U.S. Bank customers with special events and promotions featured in its bank branch locations throughout Ohio leading up to the race.

"U.S. Bank is proud to sponsor the Grand Prix of Cleveland for the 10th consecutive year,” said Kurt C. Treu, President U.S. Bank, Northeast Ohio. “We Believe in Cleveland and we understand the Grand Prix of Cleveland has the largest positive economic impact of any annual event, injecting nearly $30MM into the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. We hope that everyone who Believes in Cleveland supports the race in the Silver Celebration of it's 25thYear!"  zzzz

Sherwin-Williams also returns as a sponsor after an inaugural partnership with the Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U.S. Bank in 2005. The Cleveland-based company’s
agreement with the Grand Prix includes trackside signage and hospitality elements as well as on-track activities that include a dedicated Sherwin-Williams pace car as part of the relationship.

“For years, some of the biggest names in racing have trusted their car finishes to Sherwin-Williams,” said Blair LaCour, President and General Manager, Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes Corp. “It was only natural for us to expand that partnership as a proud sponsor of one of Ohio’s most exciting sporting events – the Grand Prix of Cleveland. With our headquarters in Cleveland, and hundreds of employees who call this city home, we felt it was important to team up with such a tremendous event that benefits the entire greater Cleveland community.”

The Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U.S. Bank further announced that Bridgestone, another major Ohio corporation and long-time Grand Prix supporter, will return as a sponsor of the event. Bridgestone is also the presenting sponsor and official tire of the Champ Car World Series, meaning that every car on the Champ Car circuit is equipped with Bridgestone tires.

"Bridgestone Motorsport is delighted to continue its support of this great race by again serving as the Official Tire for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland in 2006,” said Al Speyer, Executive Director of Motorsports Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC. “The Cleveland event is perennially one of the most exciting on the Champ Car World Series schedule, and it's very important to Bridgestone. The fine Potenza race tires used at Cleveland and every Champ Car event are designed and produced less than an hour away at the Bridgestone Technical Center in Akron. We'll entertain close to a thousand employees, associates and other Bridgestone team members from the Cleveland-Akron area at the track that weekend. Best of all, we know our guests and all the fans are guaranteed to see a Bridgestone victory on race day."

The sponsorship renewals of these three major Ohio corporations represent a significant accomplishment for the Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U.S. Bank, which has emphasized sponsorships from leading, locally based businesses.

“Support from the Northeast Ohio business community is vital to the success of the Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U.S. Bank,” said Michael T. Lanigan, Chairman and CEO of Mi-Jack Promotions. “We are grateful for the continued support of these three great partners – U.S. Bank, Sherwin-Williams and Bridgestone.”

For more information on the Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U.S. Bank contact the event’s downtown business office at (216) 619-RACE (7223) or visit www.grandprixofcleveland.com.

Stewart announces 8-race Busch schedule Stewart announces 8-race Busch scheduleOld Spice, the No. 1 antiperspirant/deodorant stick and personal cleansing choice for guys in the U.S., announces its increased presence in the adrenaline-charged world of NASCAR. Reigning Nextel Cup Champion Tony Stewart, who has been sponsored by Old Spice for the past six seasons in the Nextel Cup Series, will be driving the brand's Busch Series stock car in 2006. The #33 Old Spice Chevrolet Monte Carlo will appear in eight races and make its Busch Series debut in the Hershey's Kissables 300 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 18, 2006.

In addition to getting behind the wheel of the Old Spice car, Stewart is working with Old Spice to give some lucky fans the towel right off his shoulder through the Victory Sweat Towel Auction program. After every Busch Series victory this season, Stewart will immediately autograph and hand over his Old Spice towel in the winner's circle (as seen in countless post-race interviews) for an auction to benefit The Victory Junction Gang Camp. Fans can place a bid for the towel by logging onto http://www.oldspice.com/ shortly after the race.

Following is the 2006 schedule for the #33 Old Spice Chevrolet in the Busch Series:
Feb. 18 - Daytona International Speedway
March 11 - Las Vegas Motor Speedway
April 29 - Talladega Superspeedway
May 27 - Lowe's Motor Speedway
July 8 - Chicagoland Speedway
August 20 - Michigan International Speedway
Sept. 2 - California Speedway
Sept. 30 - Kansas Speedway  zzzz

"Working with a NASCAR champion like Tony Stewart is a perfect fit for Old Spice," said Carl Stealey, Old Spice brand manager. "With more NASCAR fans choosing Old Spice than any other deodorant, it makes perfect sense for us to expand our Busch Series race schedule in 2006."

From the beginning of Stewart's career, more than a quarter century ago, he has proven to be a champion every step of the way. The Columbus, Ind. native ended the season with his second career Nextel Cup Series title in seven seasons, eight other auto racing championships and top-10 ranking in each of his Nextel Cup seasons. Stewart became just the 14th driver in NASCAR history with more than one championship and joined four-time winner Jeff Gordon as the only active full-time drivers with multiple titles.

Finishing first in points in 2005, with five wins, Stewart had a very strong season. "I feel very fortunate to have a leading brand like Old Spice behind me," said Stewart. "Since our partnership started back in 2000, this is the second time I've come home with the Cup and I'm shooting for an equally successful season in the Busch Series."

Bridgman returns to USA for extensive testing Bridgman returns to USA for extensive testingDriving the #2 Epson Team Jensen car, Tim Bridgman returned to the USA for two days of testing at the new Houston circuit on February 6 & 7. Bridgman, who hails from London, England, drove one of the Jensen team's 2005 specification Swift 014.a cars as he begins his extensive pre-season testing program. The team plans as many as 10 more days of testing for Bridgman in the 2005 specification Swift as it prepares the British driver for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship. Jensen team engineer Adam Marchitto states "The Atlantic rules only provide for two days of testing with the new Swift 016.a before the season opening race at Long Beach (April 7-9), so it is critical to provide Tim with as much seat time as possible in the 2005 specification car since many of the key variables such as the tires, weight, and aero profile are similar." Tim Bridgman enters the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship with a formidable record. Bridgman contested the British Formula 3 championship class in 2005, and was the champion of the 2004 Formula BMW UK championship. The Jensen team continues testing on February 9th with Bridgman's prospective 2006 teammate, a driver pairing that the team plans to announce within the next 10 days. For more details, contact Graeme Young via e-mail at team@jensenmotorsport.com Jensen Motorsport
GP2 looking for Spa replacement GP2 looking for Spa replacementGP2 Series bosses are looking for a venue for a replacement season finale after yesterday's news that the Belgian Grand prix had been cancelled.

While Formula One is unlikely to add a replacement race, organizers of the feeder series are keen not to be forced to shorten their calendar.

"It is our intention to keep the GP2 series as a 12 event series in 2006," said a spokesman. "If the correct circumstances and opportunities fall into place, we will do all that we can to ensure that we run 23 races this season. Rest assured we are on the case."

PR1 Motorsports Announces 2006 Atlantic Driver Lineup PR1 Motorsports Announces 2006 Atlantic Driver LineupFor its first full season in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, PR1 Motorsports will rely on two drivers that have a history of success with the team.

The Fresno, California-based PR1 team will compete with a strong two-car lineup in the 2006 Atlantic Championship featuring former Atlantic racer and 2003 U.S. Formula Ford Zetec champion Jonathan Bomarito and 2005 Pacific F2000 champ Mike Forest. Both drivers earned their most recent titles while racing for PR1 Motorsports so the expansion for both the team and its racers into a successful full-time Atlantic effort this season is a natural and logical progression.

“We’ve been fortunate to work with both drivers in the past so this seemed to be a good fit for both PR1 and for Jonathan and Mike,” said Bobby Oergel, owner of PR1 Motorsports. “We certainly know what both of these drivers are capable of and they know the team. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and that should help make a smooth transition for us this season.”

After years of success competing in the Formula Ford ranks, PR1 did a great job in its first foray into Atlantic racing in 2005. The team competed in three races and produced three top-seven results, including a pole position and a second-place finish at Denver with 17-year-old racer Alan Sciuto. “We got our feet wet a little bit last year and we decided with the new car and a lot of new competitors this would be a good time to make the transition to the series full time,” said Oergel. zzzz

While the team plans to continue with a two-car effort in the Formula Ford Zetec series in ’06, its new two-car Atlantic program will be fueled by an experienced crew that brings a history of winning and familiarity with each other. Bomarito, the 23-year-old native of Monterey, California, earned the ’03 Zetec title on the strength of five wins and nine podium results for PR1. When Bomarito joined Atlantics with Transnet Racing in 2004, Oergel served as his driver coach. John Hayes worked as Transnet’s team manager that season with Bomarito emerging as one of the series’ top rookies with four top-five results in seven starts. Hayes will be reunited with Bomarito as his race engineer at PR1 this season.

Forest, a 23-year-old talent from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, is excited about entering Atlantics as a highly-touted rookie this season. The son of former racer Ric Forest, he took full advantage of PR1’s veteran leadership last season on his way to the Pacific F2000 crown. Forest got off to a terrific start in ’05 winning the first four races of the season before locking up the title in late September. Andy Garvey, who has been with the PR1 team since 2001, will serve as lead engineer on Forest’s car this season.

PR1 Motorsports and its drivers will be in attendance next Tuesday, February 14 when the brand new Swift/Cosworth/Yokohama Atlantic car is unveiled for the first time at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The team is anxious to take delivery of its new cars in early March before hitting the testing trail along with the rest of the Atlantic field at the California Speedway road circuit March 21-22. The Champ Car Atlantic season officially gets underway at the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 7-9.

Jack Daniel's launching public service announcement Jack Daniel's launching public service announcementWorking with NASCAR and the Century Council, the Jack Daniel Distillery is launching a new public service announcement as part of its ongoing efforts to encourage adults of legal drinking age to drink responsibly and know their limits when consuming alcoholic beverages. 

The debut of the :30-second spot titled “Pace Yourself” will coincide with the beginning of the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup season.

The public service announcement features Master Distiller Jimmy Bedford - who’s also a farmer - cruising the country roads of Lynchburg, TN in what at first glance appears to be a car.  As the camera pans out, however, you see him on a tractor being followed by a long line of cars. As he travels at his own pace, he suggests that friends of Jack Daniel’s do the same, reminding them to “know your limits, no matter what everyone else is doing around you. Pace Yourself.  Drink Responsibly.”

The spot then directs viewers to www.b4udrink.org, the Century Council’s website to educate the public on drinking and driving laws in each state.  The site’s Blood Alcohol Educator (BAE) helps educate the public about Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels and how alcohol affects you as an individual.  By using the BAE, a person can quickly learn how alcohol affects their BAC level in a safe and alcohol-free environment. zzzz

According to the Century Council, 77 percent of Americans say they have received enough information about drinking and driving, yet an alarming 72 percent of all Americans do not know their state’s blood alcohol concentration for driving. 

“When we entered NASCAR, we promised that everything we do would be grounded in responsibility, and this public service announcement is another effort on our part to continue promoting that message,” said Mark Bacon, National Brand Director for Jack Daniel’s. “We’re serious about responsibility and that’s why wherever you see the No. 07 Chevy, you will see our important message of ‘Pace Yourself.  Drink Responsibly.’ We hope this public service announcement will take that message to an even broader audience.”

“As an organization that has worked for the past 15 years in the fight against drunk driving, we know that education and raising awareness are key to saving lives,” said Susan Molinari, Chair of The Century Council. “We commend Jack Daniel’s for going the extra mile to help us promote this tool among the adult public,” said Molinari.

In addition to national distribution of the PSA, the “Pace Yourself” spot will also be featured on the Jack Daniel’s racing website, www.jackdanielsracing.com, as well as Richard Childress Racing’s site www.rcrracing.com.

SPEED to carry more than 75 hours of Grand-Am SPEED to carry more than 75 hours of Grand-AmDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Including its 13-and-a-half hours of live coverage from the 44th Rolex 24 At Daytona last month, SPEED will carry more than 75 hours of television coverage of Grand American Road Racing in 2006, with live or same day telecasts for 13 races of the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve.

“One of the mainstays of Grand American throughout our history has been SPEED,” said Grand American President Roger Edmondson. “The network has become the premier home for fast-paced, ultra-competitive racing around the world, and we believe the foundation that SPEED has built in the last 10 years has always been a perfect and natural fit for both the Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup Series.”

SPEED is the exclusive home to both the Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup Series in the United States and Canada. In 2006, the network will provide complete live coverage of Rolex Series races at Virginia International Raceway, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Lime Rock Park, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway and Barber Motorsports Park, as well as seven hours of live coverage from the nine-hour Rolex Series season finale at Miller Motorsports Park in September.  zzzz

Additionally, there will be same day broadcasts of races at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Homestead-Miami Speedway, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen and the inaugural Rolex Series event at Infineon Raceway. Round 7 at Phoenix International Raceway and the EMCO Gears Classic presented by Key Bank at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be featured in next day airings.

The Grand-Am Cup Series will be highlighted on SPEED eight times in 2006, beginning with the broadcast of the Grand-Am Cup 200 from Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, March 4. The network will also broadcast Grand-Am Cup races at Virginia International Raceway, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Phoenix International Raceway, Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Barber Motorsports Park and Miller Motorsports Park.

The entire 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve SPEED schedule is available online at http://www.grandamerican.com/Events/TVSchedule.asp?DivisionID=13, and the Grand-Am Cup Schedule may be found at http://www.grandamerican.com/Events/TVSchedule.asp?DivisionID=14.

SPEED is the nation’s first and foremost cable network dedicated to motorsports and the passion for everything automotive. From racing to restoration, motorcycles to movies, SPEED delivers quality programming from the track to the garage. SPEED has been the home of both the Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup Series since series’ inception. Grand-Am

Autocon impressed with now Lola's performance Autocon impressed with now Lola's performanceImpressive times by Highcroft Racing’s Lola EX257-AER didn’t just turn heads at the American Le Mans Series’ Winter Test a couple of weeks ago. The performance also caught the interest of several folks out West, too.

“It was great to see Duncan’s car turn in some nice laps,” said Chris McMurry, one of three drivers for Autocon Motorsports in 2006. The team, owned by Michael Lewis, purchased a similar Lola from Dyson Racing during the off-season to campaign during the 2006 American Le Mans Series.

The season kicks off with the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 18.

“It’s not much of a surprise though, because everyone knows what the car is capable of,” McMurry added. “I don't think either Duncan's team or ours will be beating the R10 or Dyson's new cars on speed, but maybe we can catch them if they hiccup along the way.”

Autocon will be testing its car in California next week, and it’s expected that the car will be in full livery by then. The Lola is the No. 20 entry that previously had been fielded by Dyson Racing. Thanks to a rules extension by IMSA that extends the life of prototypes that were homologated under the LMP900 and P675 specs, the chassis remains eligible to compete in the American Le Mans Series through the end of 2006.

Lewis will drive in nine races this season. McMurry will be in eight, and Bryan Willman will be with the team for six events.

Cleveland GP lowers ticket prices Cleveland GP lowers ticket pricesThe Grand Prix of Cleveland will pick up a nice silver anniversary gift today when its new ownership, Mi-Jack Promotions, is officially introduced in Tower City's Oak Room.

Fans of the 25th annual Burke Lakefront Airport event will get a slice of cake as well in the form of lower ticket prices and a spruced-up schedule for the June 23-25 event. There will be three support races, including the Atlantic series, which last year had Katherine Legge and Al Unser III on the grid, and this year will include Graham Rahal, 17, son of team owner and former Indy 500 champion Bobby Rahal.

"We've redesigned our entire weekend," GPC managing director Rena Shanaman said Wednesday. "This is going to be a very special anniversary."

All this comes under the direction of Mi-Jack Promotions, which has a five-year agreement with Champ Car to run the race. Champ Car also has a five-year deal with the city of Cleveland.

Mi-Jack Promotions is an arm of Mi-Jack Products, an equipment and transportation business with interests in Northeast Ohio. It has more than 200 area employees. It is a privately-owned company held by four brothers; Mike, Jack, Bill and Dan Lanigan. This is the company's second event on the Champ Car Circuit, along with Houston.  zzzz

"We are extremely excited to take ownership of the Grand Prix of Cleveland," Michael Lanigan, Chairman and CEO of Mi-Jack Promotions, said. "This event has a tremendous history in Northeast Ohio and is one of the most important races in the Champ Car World Series.

"Our vision is to carry on the great traditions of the past 25 years, while introducing a number of new innovations to make the event even better."

For the 25th anniversary, ticket prices have been lowered across the board. The race paddock, which in the past cost as much at $30 to enter, will now be free. There will be rear entry to the grandstands, allowing the bleachers to be moved much closer to the track.

There will be a go-cart venue put inside the grounds for race fans. There will be concerts, one Friday and one Saturday, and there will be a "Celebration of Champions."

While all former GPC race winners have been invited to return, multiple winners will receive special recognition. Danny Sullivan, Emerson Fittipaldi, Al Unser Jr., Alex Zanardi, Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais will have grandstands named in their honor.

"Our goal is to make the event much more than a race," race general manager Chuck Kosich said. Cleveland Plain Dealer

Skip Barber
Skip Barber National Announces New Cash Purse for ‘06 Skip Barber National Announces New Cash Purse for ‘06LAKEVILLE, Conn.  – The Skip Barber National Presented by RACER will award more than $150,000 in prize money for the upcoming 2006 season, which begins March 10-12 supporting the inaugural A1GP race weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The $100,000 bonus for the series champion remains, but new this year are cash awards for second-through-fifth in the final points standings. Second overall wins $20,000, third place $15,000, fourth $10,000 and fifth, $5,000.

Series Director Todd Snyder says, ‘‘This is the best prize package in the nine-year history of the National, especially when you consider that a full seven-weekend, 14-race season still costs a driver and his/her sponsors well under $50,000.’’ Skip Barber

Fresh doubts over Renault's future in F1 Fresh doubts over Renault's future in F1Renault's future in Formula One has been thrown into further doubt by news that the team will decide on a yearly basis whether to stay in the sport. "As long as it's in Renault's interests to be in F1, we'll be there," said company president Carlos Ghosn.

Renault enjoyed their most successful season last year, winning both the constructors' and drivers' crowns.

But Ghosn, who used to be in charge of Nissan, added: "We're going to see how things go year by year."

Speculation about Renault's future has increased in recent weeks, with claims surfacing that they would bow out of F1 at the end of this season.

Both Ghosn and team boss Flavio Briatore have rejected the rumors, although Renault have suffered a number of setbacks.

Fernando Alonso, who became the youngest-ever F1 champion at 24 in 2005, has signed to join rivals McLaren in 2007, claiming his defection was not down to money but to confusion over Renault's future plans.

And the loss of key sponsor Mild Seven, a cigarette company, at the end of the year has also contributed to speculation about the team's ability to continue competing. BBC Sport

Gerhard Berger takes 50% ownership of F1 team Gerhard Berger takes 50% ownership of F1 teamScuderia Toro Rosso has a new 50% partner, effective immediately: half the shares of the Italian Formula 1 team have been taken over by Gerhard Berger's motorsport company.

The 46-year-old Tyrolean is contributing his entire personal knowledge and experience of Formula 1, accumulated over two decades, to the fledgling racing team: between 1984 and 1997 he competed in 210 Formula 1 races, finishing among the top three in 48 races and winning ten times. From 1998 to 2003 Berger was Motorsport Director at BMW, where his successes included winning the Le Mans 24 Hours, Sebring 12 Hours and leading BMW to the front of the Formula 1 premier class in 2000, the year of its comeback.

50% of the shares of Berger's shipping company are also changing hands: they will be transferred to Red Bull. The new joint shipping company will be involved as appropriate when assigning worldwide logistics contracts for freight and transport.

Gerhard Berger will be personally involved in the activities of Scuderia Toro Rosso and be available in an advisory capacity with regard to Red Bull's overall Formula 1 engagement. These mutual partnerships are based on the strong longstanding relationship between Gerhard Berger and Dietrich Mateschitz. zzzz

Gerhard Berger: "Three birds with one stone! The involvement of a company like Red Bull is an important milestone for the Berger shipping company and for its successful future development. On the other hand, I am aware that my Formula 1 know-how is very much valued by Red Bull in general and by the Italian Toro Rosso team in particular. Last but not least I'm looking forward to not only continuing to have a great time with Dietrich Mateschitz, but also to being able to implement serious and visionary business developments together in the future."

Dietrich Mateschitz: "I have known and admired Gerhard for twenty years. 18 years ago, he was the first top athlete to drink Red Bull and therefore to make a significant contribution to our growth and to the brand in Austria. I am particularly pleased that we will now be able to take advantage of the synergies that undoubtedly exist between us also for joint business activities. Scuderia Toro Rosso

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
A newsworthy day on F1 test tracks
New 'STR' gets Spanish debut
2002 Arrows looks different - Aguri
Monteiro delay was negotiating ploy
Bernie hints that 'GPMA' solution near
Piquet pans Speed's F1 debut
Spice Girls manager signs Honda F1 deal 
'New' Toyota to run next week
Carl Edwards promotes NASCAR in Mexico Carl Edwards promotes NASCAR in MexicoDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A media and fan favorite in the United States, Carl Edwards may have gained some fans in Mexico City today after opening his media press conference in Spanish and admitted his, "Spanish isn't very good but he hopes his car is fast."
After spending the past two days testing his Busch Series car in Las Vegas, Edwards -- who will compete in both the Busch Series and Nextel Cup Series -- traveled to Mexico City to visit media in advance of the March 5 race.

"Last year's race was one of the most exciting things I've done in racing," Edwards said during his press conference at The Hotel Presidente in front of nearly 70 media members. "Racing in front of such a big crowd was very exciting, and NASCAR is behind this effort 100 percent to help build a fan base in Mexico and among Hispanics in the U.S.

"We hope to gain more Mexican fans and develop sponsorships in Mexico too."

Edwards, who finished third in last year's race behind 2005 Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick, respectively, has only positive things to say about the track.

"I love Autòdromo Hermanos Rodriguez a lot, and it's a lot of fun," he said. "The fans and people are great." zzzz

When asked about Mexican drivers expected to compete in this year's race, Edwards again was complimentary.

"All are great drivers," Edwards said. "I wouldn't be surprised if they do well in the race and are difficult to beat. Adrian Fernandez was very fast, and now he has more experience in a NASCAR Busch Series car.

"Jorge Goeters also ran well, and I absolutely think they can win, which is why I'm so worried about them."

After the press conference, Edwards headed to the track to do one-on-one interviews with key media and give rides around the track. But before he started his interviews, Edwards had the opportunity to select Mexico's biggest NASCAR fan for a contest held by The Record, the country's largest sports newspaper. NASCAR

NASCAR and Historically Black Colleges and Universities NASCAR and Historically Black Colleges and UniversitiesDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) today announced a collaboration with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) in an effort to further increase diversity in the sport. The NASCAR-HBCU Consortium will aim to increase the number and quality of job opportunities for African-American students in key racing and other related automotive business activities.

NASCAR President Mike Helton speaks outside the U.S. Capitol to announce a Congressional resolution recognizing the creation of the NASCAR-Historically Black Colleges and Universities Consortium. Joining Helton (L-R) are Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC), Alvin Brown, Chairman of the National Black MBA Association, and Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK). (Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)  

“This relationship with HBCU and UTI is something that we’re proud of,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “Working together, we will be able to raise awareness and provide more job opportunities for African-American students in the NASCAR industry as well as the entire automotive industry. We believe that our participation in this Consortium will increase the diverse pool of Americans that have the option to develop their professional careers in our industry.”

NASCAR President Mike Helton speaks outside the U.S. Capitol to announce a Congressional resolution recognizing the creation of the NASCAR-Historically Black Colleges and Universities Consortium. (Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images) zzzz

The announcement of the Consortium came at a press conference on Capitol Hill. Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Members Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Mel Watt (D-NC) announced a Congressional Resolution recognizing the creation of the NASCAR-HBCU Consortium. The Members encouraged the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor and other appropriate agencies of the federal government to provide suitable assistance and support to ensure the success of this effort.

“I am pleased to be an original co-sponsor of this resolution recognizing the NASCAR-HBCU Partnership,” Watt said. “I’m especially excited because Winston-Salem State University and North Carolina A&T University, two HBCUs located in my congressional district, have already agreed to join the NASCAR-HBCU alliance. This partnership certainly has the potential to open an exciting door of opportunity for many students in my district and across the country.” 

The groups will work together to help create opportunities for students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees at participating HBCUs. NASCAR, UTI and HBCUs will work together to increase awareness, access to and participation by minority students in the NASCAR Technical Institute curriculum. These students will receive proper training to enter the NASCAR workforce or other related fields including automotive engineering and technology, automotive safety, sports marketing and other automotive industry areas.

“Bethune-Cookman College is excited about the HBCU-NASCAR initiatives to assist students with job opportunities in key racing and other related automotive business activities. The College looks forward to a long-standing partnership with HBCU-NASCAR,” said Trudie Kibbe Reed, Ed.D. President of Bethune-Cookman College. NASCAR

track news
Darlington Grandstand construction progressing Darlington Grandstand construction progressingThe construction of a new 6,100-seat grandstand outside Turn 1 at Darlington Raceway is progressing according to schedule, according to the Elrod Corporation, the construction company which is overseeing the project. Estimated completion date for the tower, which has yet to be named, is early to mid-April. Seats in the new tower for the Dodge Charger 500 weekend, May 12-13, are now available by calling 866.459.RACE (7223), or at www.racetickets.com. NASCAR
Racing News
NASCAR Racing retailer hires exec from Harley NASCAR Racing retailer hires exec from HarleyDAYTONA BEACH -- A new joint venture to market motorsports merchandise has hired a Harley-Davisdson executive as its new president.

Ruth Crowley, 46, who oversaw apparel retailing as a vice present of the motorcycle manufacturer since 2000, starts March 1 as president of Motorsports Authentics, a partnership of International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc. She will be based at the company's headquarters in Concord, N.C.

She will report to a board that includes Lesa France Kennedy, president of ISC, and Marcus Smith, executive vice president of national sales and marketing at Speedway Motorsports.

Motorsports Authentics has taken over the apparel and souvenir businesses of Team Caliber and Action Performance Cos.

Ecclestone profits soar Ecclestone profits soarThe latest accounts of the London, UK company Formula One Administration for the 12 month period to December 2004 show a pre-tax profit almost double that of the previous period and a 25% increase in income.

FOA, which controls the worldwide televisions rights and race licensing for the FIA Formula One World Championship, posted a profit of $413 million (£237 million). The accounts also show that in 2004 FOA chief executive Bernie Ecclestone was paid a salary of $4.6 million (£2.6 million) 15% more than in 2003. Source: The Herald

track news
ISC defends itself in death lawsuit ISC defends itself in death lawsuitIn an attempt to have a negligence lawsuit dismissed, International Speedway Corp. argues that under Florida law, auto racing is not as abnormally dangerous as fumigating, blasting and owning or possessing wild animals.

ISC attorneys made those statements in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the family of track worker Roy Weaver, who was killed during a non-NASCAR race during Speedweeks on Feb. 8, 2004, at ISC-owned Daytona International Speedway.

If the court finds that stock-car racing is an "ultrahazardous activity," the track operator could face a much stricter standard of being liable for a death at its racetracks.

"While stock-car racing may arguably be a dangerous enterprise since it carries with it a potential risk of injury to participants and spectators voluntarily situated among the cars, competitors, and action in the pit area, it is not an ultrahazardous activity since the danger can be eliminated by the use of proper procedures," the motion states.

"Furthermore, the risk of injury does not compare to the degree of risk normally associated with ultrahazardous activities such as blasting."

There has been no ruling on the motion, filed in January in Volusia County (Fla.) Circuit Court. If ISC's motion is granted, the complaint could be refiled, claiming that the track was negligent under general standards rather than a strict liability standard. NASCAR Daily Scene

Mexican team confirms Duran over Martinez Mexican team confirms Duran over MartinezSalvador Duran was confirmed as A1GP Team Mexico driver for the Monterrey Race. Julio Jauregui the Vice-President of the team said that although he would have loved to see David Martinez and Salvador Duran compete for the seat in the practice sessions, the team decided that they need to focus on only one driver to get the best results in the 3 remaining races, and that the best man for the job is Salvador Duran.

Rumor on the street is that the team thought that David Martinez was the best option for the Monterrey race because he had already raced on the track in the Barber Dodge series and the Atlantics series, but that team sponsor Telmex (which is also the sponsor of the Monterrey race) wanted their driver (Telmex is the sponsor of Duran) to be in their local race. Too bad, a lot of fans bought tickets thinking they could see local boy David Martinez drive, along with drivers like Cristiano da Matta for Team Brazil and Patrick Carpentier for Team Canada, but in the end it turns out neither Martinez nor da Matta will be in the race, (and we'll believe Carpentier when we see him in the car). We hope they were not using the Martinez and da Matta names just to sell tickets. Jose Arrambide

A cold damp day at Silverstone A cold damp day at SilverstoneRed Bull completed the second day of its two-day test at Silverstone today in near freezing conditions at Silverstone. Christijan Klien took over from Robert Doornbos at the wheel and the cold conditions put a freeze on the team's pit stop practice schedule.
"It was a scrappy day," commented chief test engineer, Ian Morgan. "The track stayed damp most of the time and we only really managed to do some runs on dry tires after 3pm.   Unfortunately, we lost the last half hour of the session with a hydraulic system problem we had not encountered before and which we are currently investigating."  Red Bull Racing's next test session kicks off in Valencia on Tuesday, 14th February. Red Bull
TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for Friday
'Drifting Pretty'
Female Drifting Crew
1:00 a.m.-1:30 a.m. ET (R) SPEED
NBS 24/7
Season Finale
9:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET SPEED
Dana Brown discusses the making of
   'Dust to Glory' (Baja 1000 documentary)
10:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. ET (R) HDNet
Daytona International Speedway
2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET (Live) SPEED
9:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. ET (R) SPEED
Bud Shootout
Daytona International Speedway
4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. ET (Live) SPEED
11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. ET (R) SPEED
Daytona International Speedway
5:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET (Live) SPEED
Bud Shootout
Daytona International Speedway
6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. ET (Live) SPEED
Daytona International Speedway
7:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET SPEED
Daytona International Speedway
8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. ET (SDD) SPEED

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

More or less for their money? More or less for their money?Monterrey Mexico's A1GP race weekend will begin in 16 days and only one support series has been confirmed, "Historic Grand Prix", which we wouldn’t count as a real supporting series. If you’re not familiar with this series, it consists of owners of vintage F1 cars competing a few times a year. It is more of a moving racing museum than a real racing series. We will not judge the racing and entertainment value of the feature race, which in fact is a lot better than we would have expected of a totally new series, but we will judge the whole package for the fans. Ticket prices are not far from the prices of the Champ Car race of last year, but the Champ Car race offered fans 3 different support series besides the feature race. A1GP race organizers have confirmed a concert with a Mexican pop teen group which is very popular. Trouble is that they decided to have the concert in the arena next to the track, so only the first 15,000 fans that bought a ticket (out of the 60,000 that are expecting to attend race day) got a ticket for the concert. Champ Car had around 7 different bands for everyone at the track to enjoy during the weekend. Maybe the organizers will have more races and events than they have confirmed. In their TV ads they are announcing the feature race the "Historic Grand Prix" and many more surprises. Let's hope the surprises mean more for the fans, not less. Jose Arrambide
Schumacher concludes Fiorano test Schumacher concludes Fiorano testToday was the third and final day of testing this week for the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team who were once again working at the Fiorano circuit.  For day three, seven time world champion, Michael Schumacher, was busy continuing on with the scheduled development program for their 2006 contender, the 248 F1.  Over the course of the day, Michael managed to complete a total of 76 laps, two of which were on the short version of the track to record a best overall time of 57”647.   The Scuderia will resume testing on Monday 13th February at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain where driving duties will fall to official test driver Luca Badoer and Felipe Massa. Ferrari
Cipolloni and Brennan preview '06 NASCAR season Cipolloni and Brennan preview '06 NASCAR seasonTonight Globecast Midweek Motorsport will have an in depth preview of the upcoming NASCAR Nextel Cup season featuring the thoughts of www.autoracing1.com President, Mark Cipolloni and regular presenter, Declan Brennan. Mark and Declan will be picking their favorites to make the Top 10 'Race for the Chase' as well as looking at the other potential winners and losers during the 2006 season.
There will also be news and comment on the cancellation of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, a look at Ford's 50th win in the World Rally Championship and news of an important new sponsor for the British Rally Championship.
You can catch the show on Globecast Channel 907 on your Sky dish or on the web at www.yoursportradio.com or www.radiolemans.com. The show will also be available to download as a podcast on iTunes within a few hours of the end of the live broadcast.
Tonight's show will be broadcast at 8pm BST or 3pm ET.
Busch gets hands slapped in Arizona Busch gets hands slapped in ArizonaKurt Busch appeared in Aqua Fria Justice Court today and agreed to the terms proposed by the Maricopa County, Arizona Attorney's Office and approved by the Court regarding a traffic incident that occurred on Nov. 11, 2005. "I am pleased to have this incident behind me," Busch said. "I have learned many lessons from the situation and one of them is that speeding should be saved for the race track. I am excited for the 2006 race season to begin and look forward to the racing activities at Daytona this week." Busch took responsibility for excessive speed, as well as citations for passing in a no passing zone and following another vehicle too closely. As part of the resolution, Busch will perform community service, which will be determined in the near future. Penske Racing PR
New Atlantic team formed New Atlantic team formedContinuing to expand as a series with new teams and fresh new racing talent, the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama welcomes a new competitor to its 2006 ranks with the formation of the NCDL Tech Atlantic team.

Based in Napa, California, NCDL Tech will compete with a one-car, full-season entry this season in North America’s top open-wheel racing development series. While the team may be new to Atlantics, its driver has already experienced the tough competition in the series. Ryan Spencer-Smith raced in two Atlantic events in 2005 and the 19-year-old native of Napa will return to the cockpit to drive for his hometown team this season.

After emerging as a talented shifter kart racer in California, Spencer-Smith advanced to the SCCA ranks in 2004, winning several regional and national events in both the Formula Atlantic and Formula Mazda categories. He made his Atlantic debut at the challenging San Jose street circuit last season, earning a 12th-place finish for Jensen MotorSport. Spencer-Smith also raced at Denver where he qualified 10th, but was forced to retire after becoming involved in an early-race incident. The promising young driver is excited about competing full-time in ’06 against some of the top rising stars in racing.

“I love our new team and I’m really looking forward to the start of the Atlantic season,” said Spencer-Smith, who tested with NCDL Tech at California’s Buttonwillow Raceway last week. The team ran a Swift 014.a Atlantic machine during the test session and was aided by the Optimum G race car engineering consulting firm. “It was a real pleasure working with our guys and with Optimum G as well. The team’s set-up of the car made it fast and consistent to drive.  We’re like a big family who understands the commitment it takes and all of us want to see the entire team doing well.”   zzzz  

More testing is planned in the next few weeks as NCDL Tech eyes the March 8 delivery date of its new generation Atlantic car. The first-year team, headed by experienced crew chief Jeff Couture, is continuing to assemble its roster for 2006.

Spencer-Smith has demonstrated his development both on and off the track over the past year. He has completed his training as an Emergency Medical Technician and continues to work toward his goal of becoming a firefighter and a paramedic. Through both the Red Cross and Firefighters Fighting for Children’s Literacy charities, Spencer-Smith has made a concerted effort to give back to his local community.

Spencer-Smith and the NCDL Tech team will be one of many 2006 Atlantic competitors who will be present at the Official Unveiling of the new Atlantic race car on Tuesday, February 14 at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Champ Car

Chevrolet to Launch New Chevy Racing Campaign Chevrolet to Launch New Chevy Racing CampaignDETROIT - Chevy Racing celebrates its successes on the track with the launch of a new comprehensive advertising campaign by Deutsch Los Angeles. Touting an impressive win record of "25 of the last 33 Manufacturers' Cup Championships" and more than any other manufacturer, the television work includes a tongue-in-cheek look at Chevy's dominance in one of the country's most popular and dynamic sports.

The campaign establishes "Team Chevy" - an exclusive club uniting some of NASCAR's most notable drivers and their supremacy driving Chevy's Monte Carlo SS race car. Chevy retains its tagline "An American Revolution," yet takes its advertising to a new level, adding a bit of humor with the executions.

The first spot, "Toast," centers on racing superstars Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart, celebrating a handful of recent Team Chevy victories. As they recap their wins, they end with a twist on the classic NASCAR victory celebration of spraying champagne into the crowd - they casually pour their champagne over their heads.  zzzz

Team Chevy's long-standing domination of racing provides the irony for the second TV spot in the campaign. Entitled "Office," it shows Chevy's Racing Director, Terry, desperately searching for a place to display the latest spoils from NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart. Searching high and low in display cases, hallways, cubicles, offices and even drawers, he finds that every last square inch of the office is covered in trophies. Well, almost...

"Chevy Racing is all about a passion for racing and winning and that excitement extends to our vehicle lineup, which is now America's No. 1-selling automotive brand," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet General Manager. "Deutsch found a simple, clear way to deliver that message with a couple of great humorous twists."

The campaign breaks on February 19 during the Daytona 500 on NBC, and television spots will air nationally on NBC and Fox. Print executions will appear in USA Today and in racing program guides. Outdoor elements will be seen at Daytona 500 and web elements will appear on sites including "Yahoo! Fantasy Racing." Chevrolet

Alonso fastest at Jerez Wednesday Alonso fastest at Jerez WednesdayWorld Champion Fernando Alonso continued to show good pace this week by topping the test times Wednesday in Jerez in his new Renault. Jenson Button was close behind. Juan Montoya put in a 1/2 day of running in his new McLaren with an updated Mercedes engine.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Alonso Renault (M) 1:16.956 90
 2. Button Honda (M) 1:17.114 58
 3. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:17.273 53
 4. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:17.425 109
 5. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:17.492 60
 6. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:17.588 116
 7. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) 1:18.069 91
 8. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:18.281 86
 9. Kovalainen Renault (M) 1:18.938 77
10. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:19.430 103
11. R. Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:19.681 84
12. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:19.965 29
13. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:21.911 29

TV News
’06 NASCAR Season Revs Up This Weekend on NBC and TNT ’06 NASCAR Season Revs Up This Weekend on NBC and TNTAs the green flag drops on the NASCAR season, NBC and TNT have the next two weeks of racing covered from Daytona International Speedway, including exclusive live coverage of the Great American Race, the Daytona 500 on NBC.  Live coverage begins this Saturday with TNT’s broadcast of the Budweiser Shootout preceded by the “Bank of America Countdown to Green” pre-race show at 8 p.m. ET.  NBC will broadcast the 48th annual Daytona 500 live on Sunday, Feb. 19, with coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.

The Daytona 500, NASCAR’s richest and most prestigious race, is one of the most-watched sporting events of the year. The 2004 Daytona 500 was watched by 33.5 million viewers and posted a 10.6/24 national rating.  In 2002, NBC's inaugural Daytona 500 set a record with 35 million viewers and a 10.9/26 national rating during the middle Sunday of NBC's coverage of the Salt Lake Olympics.

The NBC/TNT broadcast crew, including play-by-play announcer Bill Weber and analysts Benny Parsons and Wally Dallenbach, will call the action from the booth, with Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns, Marty Snider and Matt Yocum reporting from the pits.

Spa dropped from 2006 F1 calendar Spa dropped from 2006 F1 calendarThe Belgian Grand Prix has been withdrawn from the 2006 calendar, Formula One's ruling body announced on Wednesday.

The FIA said that the race will not take place in 2006.  The withdrawal has been made in order to allow the completion of extensive improvement work to facilities at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

"The Belgian National Sporting Authority, the RACB, has written to notify the FIA of the withdrawal of the 2006 Belgian Grand Prix from the FIA Formula One World Championship," the FIA said in a statement.

"The withdrawal has been made in order to allow the completion of extensive improvement work to facilities at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

"The FIA hopes that the event will be included once again in the Formula One World Championship calendar from 2007 onwards."

The news follows the bankruptcy of the race's local promoter, and speculation that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone might step in to throw the race himself.

But circuit modifications, including a new paddock and pit complex demanded by Ecclestone, were reportedly held up by the regional authority of Wallonia.

''The race has not gone forever,'' 75-year-old Ecclestone, reportedly to promote the race from 2007, said on Wednesday, ''(but) Spa has not been up to scratch for quite some time.''

Spa's axe means that the 2006 calendar shortens from 19 to 18 races.

Legge named most promising road racer Legge named most promising road racerWith three wins and a third-place finish in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, marking the first victories ever by a female driver in a major U.S. open-wheel racing series, Katherine Legge had a year to remember in 2005.

Legge was rewarded for her groundbreaking Atlantic season in this month’s edition of RACER magazine, as racing fans from around the world voted her as the winner of this year’s Most Promising Road Racer Award.

The latest issue of the racing magazine features Legge as the winner of the Most Promising Road Racer category, making her the eighth driver with Champ Car ties to win the award since 1995. Legge burst onto the American racing scene in 2004, winning in her maiden voyage in the Atlantic cars, conquering the demanding Long Beach street course to take the victory. She used a daring pass in Edmonton to wrest the lead away from eventual series champion Charles Zwolsman en route to the win, and then paced the last 16 laps of the day on a tricky San Jose course to claim the victory.

“It’s a great honor to get the Most Promising Road Racer Award.,” Legge said. “It means a lot to me to get the award, especially against such talented competition. I am very grateful to those that voted for me and I hope I can deliver on those expectations.”

Legge, who in 2006 will either race in the Champ Car World Series or fight for the $2 million prize awarded to the winner Champ Car Atlantic Championship, received 27 percent of the fan vote to earn the honor. She outdistanced F1 hopeful Scott Speed and RuSPORT driver and two-time Champ Car race winner Justin Wilson in taking the award. Her win breaks a three-year stranglehold on the category by RuSPORT driver A.J. Allmendinger, who is the only driver to take the honor more than once. Legge is also the only driver from an American open-wheel series to earn any of the eight RACER awards, although two-time defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais fell just one percentage point short of claiming Road Racer of the Year honors from F1 champion Fernando Alonso. Champ Car

Some details for Saturday's Budweiser Shootout Some details for Saturday's Budweiser ShootoutPart of the Budweiser Shootout’s appeal is its sprint format. First staged in 1979, it’s in its fourth season of being run in two segments. The first segment is 20 laps, followed by a 10-minute intermission. The second segment is 50 laps that must end under green-flag conditions, meaning the “green-white checkered” finish is in effect. The starting lineup will be determined by a random draw on Thurs., Feb. 9.

Some procedural notes:

• Teams may change tires or perform any normal pit-stop maintenance during the 10-minute intermission.
• Caution laps will count during both segments.
• Crews can work on their cars during a red flag, but only in the pit or garage areas.
• All restarts are double-file.
• All lapped cars will restart at the rear of the field.

Fast Facts
The race: Budweiser Shootout at Daytona
The track: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.
The date/time: Sat., Feb. 11 at 8:30 p.m. (ET).
TV: TNT, 8 p.m. (ET).
Radio:  MRN/XM Satellite.
Posted awards: $1,119,920.
Race length: 175 miles, 70 laps.
Track layout: 2.5-mile tri oval.
2005 winner: Jimmie Johnson.
2005 polesitter: Dale Jarrett. NASCAR

21 drivers in Budweiser shootout 21 drivers in Budweiser shootoutAs the lone Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate eligible to participate in Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout, Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet) will battle it out with veteran peers. He clinched his spot with a Budweiser Pole-winning lap in last fall’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event at Phoenix International Raceway, one of seven series events he ran for Joe Gibbs Racing in the final weeks of the 2005 season.

“Being the only rookie in the Shootout from the 2006 class is exciting,” Hamlin said, “but it’s also a little added pressure to go out there and run well. Across the board people are expecting good things from us, so I am hoping I can go out there and represent the group well.”

Other Budweiser Shootout participants are Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg’s/Carquest Chevrolet), Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet), Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), Scott Riggs (No. 10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge), Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge), Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Kraft/Dewalt Ford), Ken Schrader (No. 21 U.S. Air Force Ford), Brian Vickers (No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet), Jamie McMurray (No. 26 Crown Royal Ford), Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Reese’s Caramel Cup Chevrolet), Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M’s Ford), Michael Waltrip (No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Dodge), Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) and Bill Elliott (No. 36 Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevrolet).

Drivers who earned their spot via 2005 Budweiser Poles are Kyle Busch, Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Hamlin, Harvick, Dale Jarrett, Johnson, Kahne, Kenseth, McMurray, Joe Nemechek, Newman, Riggs, Sadler, Tony Stewart, Vickers and Waltrip. Drivers who earned their spot via being past eligible Budweiser Shootout winners are Earnhardt Jr., Elliott, Martin and Schrader.

Skinner gets sponsor, will race in 500 for BDR Skinner gets sponsor, will race in 500 for BDRMike Skinner will run a third car for Bill Davis Racing in the Daytona 500 with Bad Boy Mowers as the primary sponsor. The #23 Bad Boy Mowers Dodge Charger at Daytona International Speedway is Chassis No. 62 … It was last run in the 2004 Daytona 500 and helped carry Scott Wimmer and the Cat Racing team to a third-place finish (started 26th). Bad Boy Mowers is teaming up with Bill Davis Racing to sponsor Mike Skinner and the #23 team in the 2006 Gatorade Duel and Daytona 500. This will not be the first time Bad Boy Mowers, Inc. has participated in the NEXTEL Cup Series with Davis. Bad Boy Mowers was an associate sponsor on the #23 car at Texas Motor Speedway in April 2004, when Dave Blaney brought home an 11th-place finish, and then last year Bad Boy Mowers teamed up with Skinner and BDR at Talladega Superspeedway in May. Founded in 1998 and based in Batesville, Ark., Bad Boy Mowers, Inc. is a manufacturer of zero-turn commercial lawn mowers. Rick Viers will serve as crew chief of the #23. BDR PR
Gibbs team picks up Timken as sponsor Gibbs team picks up Timken as sponsorThe Timken Company announced that it has entered into an agreement with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) to become an official technical partner of the NASCAR racing organization. The partnership, which provides product development and technical engineering support, will be leveraged across JGR's multiple team operations in the Nextel Cup Series, Busch Series and Truck Series. For the last two years, Timken has worked collaboratively with the JGR engineering team to develop and test technologies that improve the car's powertrain performance, delivering longer life, improved fuel economy and higher horsepower availability. Products like specialty steels from the company's Latrobe, Pa., operations and Timken RacePac, an integrated hub and bearing assembly specially designed for NASCAR teams, demonstrate an ongoing commitment to safety, reliability and high performance for the motorsports industry. Timken PR
In expensive F1 Renault plans car upgrades every race In expensive F1 Renault plans car upgrades every raceWith its 2006 car setting the pace in pre-season testing, Renault F1 technical director Bob Bell says his team will not let up in its defense of both championships as it plans to introduce improvements and upgrades to its car at every race.
"We will introduce development packages through the season," Bell said. "That will help maximize our production resources, and will allow us to have a firm idea of the step forward we make each time. We aim to have new parts on the car at every race. For example, the aero package on the car at the moment, is quite different from what will be used at the first race. An update package just before Bahrain will bring us a good performance gain."
"The R26 is an aggressive development of a proven, successful design philosophy," he added. "The R25 did not have any real weaknesses, as our championship victory showed. For 2006, our challenge was to understand the impact of the engine regulations on the chassis design, to include those new challenges in our projects goals, and to pursue our development path under stable chassis regulations. We tried to make parts lighter and stiffer, while improving the car in every area."
Impressive mileage from Honda Impressive mileage from HondaJenson Button and Rubens Barrichello took to the track yesterday, continuing the intensive pre-season testing at Jerez, with Button completing an impressive 139 laps.

It was a cold but sunny start to the morning although ambient temperatures increased to 21 degrees C by early afternoon. Barrichello and Button had the driving responsibilities today in chassis RA106-02 and chassis RA106-01 respectively. Both drivers spent the morning session setting up their cars as the circuit had quite low grip following two weeks of MotoGP testing.

In the afternoon session, Button ran through a tire evaluation program over longer runs, alongside an aero evaluation. He completed a very impressive 139 laps today, setting the second fastest time - a 1:18.242s.

Barrichello spent the afternoon working through a race simulation exercise followed by a short tire evaluation, completing 114 laps and managing the third fastest time - a 1:18.609s. Source Honda

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Schu is 'unemployed'
New Merc V8 could lift McLaren form
Three venues for F1 test action
Renault to get Bahrain update
BMW banned for cheating ... by Google
Albers wants maiden podium
BMW's JV expects 'great' season
Hockenheim boss fired
Haug rejects Flav's 'no class' blast
Montagny talks about 2nd PKV test day Montagny talks about 2nd PKV test dayHello all, I know, I am a little late for my second bulletin regarding my test with the PKV Racing team in Champ Car... but I could not connect! I confessed my mistake, so it is half forgiven, right?

So, the second day? Well it was not bad at all! There were some minor problems on the car, small things to put in place which cost us a little time in the morning, and a small problem with the gear box in the afternoon, which cost us an hour... not that important really, as the track conditions constantly changed between the beginning and the end of the day. At the beginning grip was good and we all clocked our best times but then the wind started to blow and the temperature rose so nobody improved.

Bruno 50.6, me 50.8... yes once more! I was disappointed not to improve on my time from the day before but at first I thought I had the time to do so, and that the afternoon would be better to do this.

Unfortunately the wind blew and in spite of a good job on the car we did not find ourselves in a position to improve. Actually it was a tenth better, but I made a small mistake in the last turn, I hit the brakes a little too late and the front end missed the apex, so once again it was a 50.8, while at the same time Bruno was running in 51.0... grrrr, bummer! Not that important at the end of the day as the work paid off after we improved the car with the entire team.

I’m starting, after only 2 days of testing, to understand in which direction we can work, adapting is rather fast, and facilitated by the PKV Racing team, very pro and attentive. I also did a long run of 30 laps: no problem, the car is very effective, especially at the beginning. Small degradation on the fronts at the end, due to the fact that I pushed too much at the beginning of the run, but nothing serious, after all it was only the first time I was on a long run. zzzz

I really had a great time with the team: fantastic atmosphere; and I really hope to race with them in 2006! I proved that my adaptation to the car and the new circuit was rather quick, I also started to use left foot braking in this type of car, a first for me! I have to explain to you: in an F1 car we brake with the left foot but there are only two pedals: under the left foot and under the right one. In Champ Car there are 3 pedals and the one under the left foot is the clutch; so this means you always move the left foot, and my feet are not in good shape since my accident and therefore not very nimble. That’s why it was a first time for me and I am glad to have succeeded, yep very happy!

So, I’m done with my ten days in the US… and I want more! It is clear in my mind that I like this continent and its people, and of course the PKV team, who gave me the will to work my ass off for their benefit! The task will be hard and there will be a lot of work, but it’s worth it, and I really want this new challenge! Franck Montagny

[Editor's Note: With Timo Glock rumored to have signed with the BCN GP2 team we hear the Super Aguri F1 team may want Franck Montagny.]

Formula Russell Championship This Weekend in Sonoma Formula Russell Championship This Weekend in SonomaMore than 50 racers will be vying for their piece of the SCCA Formula Russell Championship, presented by Yokohama, this weekend, Feb. 11-12, as the series kicks off its 2006 open-wheel season at Infineon Raceway.

This marks the 33rd year of the championship series, which will feature nine events in all in 2006, with the overall winner receiving a chance to race a Pro Formula Mazda in 2007.  In addition to the overall championship, the series features a Masters division for drivers ages 40 to 49 and a Grand Masters division for drivers ages 50 and older. (Pictured right, AutoRacing1.com's Mark Cipolloni relaxes after a run)

The series has produced such stars as Manteca's Scott Speed, who will become the first American driver in Formula One since 1993 this year when he gets behind the wheel for the Red Bull team. Brent Sherman (NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series), Novato's Memo Gidley (Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series) and Sausalito's JR Hildebrand (Formula Ford 2000 Series) have also competed in the Formula Russell Championship.

Pictured right, AutoRacing1.com President Mark Cipolloni burns up Infineon Raceway at Sears Point in one of the SCCA Formula Russell cars.

This weekend's racing will feature a total of 10 main events spanning two days, including competition in the SCCA Formula Russell and the new Jim Russell Pro Mazda Series.  Practice and main events are scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday, with the Formula Russell racers split into four groups. Admission is free, with main events beginning at 11 a.m. both days. zzzz

More than 125 racers are expected to enter the series this year from all around North America, including 2005 Jim Russell Scholarship winners, Tyler Dueck (Canada), Daniel Palma (New Jersey), Nick Woodman (Pescadero) and Scott Appleberry (Laguna Nigel).  Bay Area competitors include David Martinez (Tiburon), Zeke Dehnert (Rohnert Park) and Dr. Paul LaHaye (Santa Rosa). 

The Formula Russell Series offers competition for aspiring professionals and seasoned veterans and is open to racing school graduates of Jim Russell or similar programs and SCCA licensed drivers. Racers compete in 150-horsepower, five-speed Formula Russell open-wheel cars on the serpentine 2.52-mile Infineon Raceway road course.  The Pro Mazda Series features racer-owned 240-horsepower, six-speed Mazda race cars.   

For more information on the Formula Russell Series or this weekend's event, please visit www.jimrussellusa.com or call 800-733-0345.

Lawsuit filed in Hendrick plane crash Lawsuit filed in Hendrick plane crashA woman whose husband was among 10 people killed in the 2004 Hendrick Motorsports plane crash has filed a lawsuit against the racing company and two pilots' estates.

The lawsuit, filed by Randy Dorton's widow Dianne Dorton, was first reported by WCNC, the Observer's news partner. The suit claims that Hendrick Motorsports and the pilots were negligent in allowing the plane to fly to and try to land in Martinsville, Va., on Oct. 24, 2004.

The plane crashed into Bull Mountain, about seven miles from the airport. All 10 people on board died.

Randy Dorton was head of Hendrick Motorsports' engine program and lived in Lincoln County. Dianne Dorton still lives in the county and filed the lawsuit there in December.

In addition to negligence by Hendrick Motorsports and the pilots, Richard Tracy and Elizabeth Morrison, the lawsuit alleges that the company and pilots engaged in "willful, wanton and/or reckless" conduct related to the Oct. 24 flight.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages of more than $10,000 from the defendants, as well as punitive damages from Hendrick Motorsports. Charlotte Observer

Camel Yamaha team lead the way again Camel Yamaha team lead the way againOn the third day of Tests in Qatar the Camel Yamahas continued their run at the top of the standings for the second day running. The latecomers to the Losail circuit, having only attended two of the three sessions, both Valentino Rossi (pictured right) and Colin Edwards put in the day’s fastest laps. The Camel Yamahas came in under the 1´57 mark (Rossi 1´56.53, Edwards 1´56.81), showing their development to be taking good shape already.

Rossi’s and Edwards´ times were both faster than Loris Capirossi’s 2005 pole-setting lap. The Italian commented that he was very pleased with the time and that a large part of his 60 laps was dedicated to testing different Michelin compounds. Very satisfied with the tires, Valentino added that he couldn’t wait until Sepang and the chance to go against the rest of the MotoGP field.

Carlos Checa’s skill and determination showed through during the session. The Catalan rider, coming back from a concussion suffered yesterday, took to the track and showed no fear in his comeback. He beat his previous day’s fastest lap time and was just off Colin Edwards´ pace. His competitive spirit was not lost on the reigning World Champion, who regards Checa’s reintroduction to MotoGP as “Good news for the Championship. He’s already a very experienced rider”. Checa described himself as content with his times and excited about the new season, although aware of the work that lies ahead.

Checa’s teammate James Ellison, like the majority of riders, used today for tire testing. The Suzuki riders John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen finished their testing with this session. Whilst Vermeulen put in 56 laps of the Qatar circuit, Hopkins brought his outing to an abrupt end at midday due to engine problems.

Qatar Test- Day 3
Unofficial Times

1. Valentino Rossi - Camel Yamaha 1.56.53 -(60 laps)
2. Colin Edwards - Camel Yamaha 1.56.81 -(76 laps)
3. Carlos Checa - Yamaha Tech 3 1.56.9 -(61 laps)
4 John Hopkins - Suzuki MotoGP 1.57.63 -(38 laps)
5. Chris Vermeulen - Suzuki MotoGP 1.57.83 -(56 laps)
6. Shinichi Ito - Ducati 1.58.9 -(44 laps)
7. James Ellison - Yamaha Tech 3 1'58.98 -(62 laps)
8. Olivier Jacque – Kawasaki Racing 1.59.4 -(46 laps)

TV News
Football still dwarfs NASCAR Football still dwarfs NASCARIn case the France family has any visions of overtaking Football as the #1 sport in America, they have a very long way to go.  The final TV Rating for Sunday's Super Bowl game was a 41.6, which equates to 141.4 million viewers.  NASCAR's Super Bowl, the Daytona 500 had a rating high of 10.4.  So NASCAR remains about 1/4th as popular as football.
Scheckter raises more than $30,000 through raffle Scheckter raises more than $30,000 through raffleIndyCar Series driver Tomas Scheckter's raffle to help pay for his cousin's cochlear implant surgery raised more than $30,000 with Sasenndra Meka from Huntsville, Ala. winning an autographed 2004 Panther Racing helmet.

"My progress has been remarkable," Jaki Scheckter told Panther Racing's website. "I'm used to (hearing) noise, but still need to understand speech sounds so I can be comfortable to listen. Still a long way to go. It may take up to a year before I'm comfortable listening to speech."

Jaki Scheckter, who accompanied his cousin to various IndyCar Series events over the last four seasons, underwent the life-changing surgery several months ago. He is now working with a speech therapist to help speed up the process of getting him comfortable and adjusted to his new lifestyle.  "So far this is starting to have an impact on my life," he said. "However, I can't imagine what will happen yet. Only now can I start to imagine (what it will be like) when I feel comfortable with speech, speaking on the phone, listening to the radio."

The entire Scheckter family has made a new group of friends since Tomas Scheckter started the raffle late last year. One of those friends, The Gift of Hearing Foundation (www.giftofhearingfoundation.org), is dedicated to improving the lives of cochlear implant patients and those who have profound hearing loss.  Donations poured in after the original announcement, and the more than $31,415 that was raised came from 21 states and four countries.  IRL

Industry News
Behind the wheel of Toyota's success Behind the wheel of Toyota's successAs General Motors is cutting salaries, benefits and its dividend to shore up its losses, rival Toyota is on track to post record profits for its fiscal year. On Tuesday, the Japanese automaker reported a 34 percent increase in third-quarter profits as its global sales jumped 15 percent.
So what’s behind the behind the wheel of Toyota’s success?

Along with its reputation for building a quality vehicle, Toyota's keys to success include a flexibility its U.S. rivals don't have and its underdog status in markets where it has no place to go but up.

Its Camry is the top selling car in the U.S. and its hybrids are among the hottest things on wheels, but Automotive News editor Ed Lapham says Toyota's success is driven by a long-held vision at the company.

“It’s providing quality products for the consumers to do so in a way that not only doesn't harm the environment, doesn’t harm the universe, but makes the company a good corporate citizen,” says Lapham.

Toyota’s reputation for quality helps to build its business and its bottom line. 

Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache estimates Toyota charges an average of $4,000 more per vehicle than GM or Ford. “When you can price much higher that means you can put a lot more content into the vehicles and can reinforce that brand equity by putting out exceptional products,” Lache says.  More at MSNBC

Pilot error led to Hendrick plane crash that killed ten Pilot error led to Hendrick plane crash that killed tenThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has ruled that flight crew error is the probable cause of the plane crash near Martinsville than killed ten people in October 2004. The NTSB ruled today the crew failed to properly execute the published instrument approach procedure at Blue Ridge Airport [VA]. The Hendrick Motorsports plane crashed into the side of Bull Mountain in Patrick County after attempted a landing at the airport. All ten people aboard were killed, a loss felt across the entire NASCAR family. Investigators say navigational confusion involving the plane's GPS readings led the crew to approach the airport well above the typical altitude and descend to landing altitude almost seven miles past the airport. At that point, the plane began to climb, and had it turned to the right instead of remaining on a generally straight course, it still would have avoided Bull Mountain. Such a right turn is the standard missed approach procedure employed at the airport. The plane was attempting to bring members of the Hendrick family and company employees for that day's race at Martinsville Speedway. WDBJ7.com
Fittipaldi to get shot at Brazil A1GP seat Fittipaldi to get shot at Brazil A1GP seatAfter speculation that first Tony Kanaan, then Cristiano da Matta would take over Team Brazil's A1 Grand Prix seat -- regular Nelson Piquet Jr. was set to step down to focus on his sophomore GP2 campaign -- team manager Emerson Fittipaldi chose to keep things in the family by tapping his nephew Christian, who will see out the season for the squad.

The former Champ Car race winner and Formula 1 and NASCAR driver will take over Brazil's Lola-Zytek already at this weekend's Indonesia doubleheader. The race will mark Christian's first open-wheel outing since he left Champ Car to try Nextel Cup racing at the end of '02.  More at SPEEDTV.com

Industry News
Ex-McLaren engineers launch 1,000bhp car Ex-McLaren engineers launch 1,000bhp carTwo engineers who were part of the team that designed and developed the McLaren F1 have set up an automotive engineering consultancy whose first project is a 1,000bhp/tonne sports car, the Freestream T1. Following a year of design and development, founders Ben Scott-Geddes and Graham Halstead expect to launch the £150,000 car later this year.

The two owners say interest has already been expressed by half a dozen customers. The company will make 25 cars a year. With the first prototype nearing completion the business has moved into premises that form part of a new automotive business park at Farnham, Surrey.

Further details will be announced closer to the launch. Meanwhile, the company has prepared an introductory website at www.freestreamcars.com outlining the car’s performance potential with a UK contact number of +44 (0)1252 721880 for commercial director Sean Butcher.

Wurz fastest in Williams Cosworth Wurz fastest in Williams CosworthAlex Wurz showed a bit of potential with the new Williams Cosworth by topping the speed charts in testing today at Jerez.

Ferrari meanwhile were back in action at Fiorano with Michael Schumacher taking over the 248 F1 from Felipe Massa. It was another cold and sunny day as Schumacher completed 121 laps with a best time of 57.652s.

Testing continues at Jerez tomorrow with BMW Sauber, McLaren Mercedes, and Renault joining the action. Ferrari continue at Fiorano. 

1 . A. Wurz - Williams Cosworth FW28 - 1:18.144 (+ 0.000 ) - 48 laps
2 . J. Button - Honda RA106 - 1:18.250 (+ 0.106 ) - 88 laps
3 . R. Barrichello - Honda RA106 - 1:18.626 (+ 0.482 ) - 112 laps
4 . N. Rosberg - Williams Cosworth FW28 - 1:18.735 (+ 0.591 ) - 84 laps
5 . R. Zonta - Toyota TF106 - 1:20.162 (+ 2.018 ) - 85 laps
6 . O. Panis - Toyota TF106 - 1:20.339 (+ 2.195 ) - 79 laps
7 . C. Albers - MF1 Racing Toyota M16 - 1:21.511 (+ 3.367 ) - 74 laps
8 . T. Monteiro - MF1 Racing Toyota EJ15B - 1:22.318 (+ 4.174 ) - 71 laps.

* Times courtesy of Circuit de Jerez.

Grand-Am driver in serious condition Grand-Am driver in serious conditionUPDATE #3 Tafel Racing driver Chad McQueen returned to his hometown of Rancho Mirage, Calif. last week to continue his recovery after being released from Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach.

McQueen, who suffered a broken lower left leg, as well as fractures to his vertebrae and ribs in a crash during Daytona Test Days on Saturday, January 7 underwent a series of successful surgeries during his stay at Halifax Medical Center. According to a family spokesperson, the family wishes to thank Halifax Medical Center and is grateful for the outpouring of support from throughout the Grand American community.

Additional updates on McQueen's recuperation will be provided as they become available.

01/10/06 Not sure if readers realized that Chad McQueen is the son of the late actor Steve McQueen and actress Neile Adams.  Father Steve also acted and drove race cars.   Chad has been in many lower-tier films (list).  By the way, the driver got hurt so bad because he hit one of the oval track cartel's concrete walls exiting the chicane, so in effect one can say an oval track has inflicted serious injury on yet another driver.  Racing on an infield of an oval track is silly as hardly anyone sits in the grandstands, so why bother and why risk the danger. 01/09/06 No. 73 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 driver Chad McQueen is resting at a Daytona Beach-area hospital after successful surgery on Saturday evening for injuries he sustained in a crash during Saturday’s morning session of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Test Days.

The 45-year-old McQueen suffered a broken lower left leg, as well as a pair of fractures to his vertebrae and multiple rib fractures after making contact with the barrier exiting the chicane at the end of the Daytona International Speedway Superstretch. McQueen is listed in serious but stable condition, and a full recovery is expected.

“Though we’re very upset about this situation, we’re eternally grateful that Chad will make a full recovery,” said Tafel Racing owner Jim Tafel. “The McQueen family and I especially want to thank Brumos Racing team owner Bob Snodgrass, Bill France Jr., and the Grand American Road Racing Association for their assistance and support following the incident.”

Snodgrass, a long-time McQueen friend, and principal behind Brumos Racing and Brumos Motor Cars, arranged transportation for the McQueen family upon their arrival in Daytona Beach, where ISC Guest Services ensured that the McQueens had extended accommodations. Grand American was also instrumental in providing support for the family throughout the weekend.

01/07/06 On Saturday, No. 73 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 driver Chad McQueen was injured in a collision with the barrier exiting the chicane at the end of the Daytona Superstretch. McQueen was awake following the incident, and was transported to Halifax Medical Center where he is currently in intensive care in serious condition. McQueen was co-driving the No. 73 machine at Daytona Test Days with Jim Tafel, Mike Cawley and Shawn Price.

No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley driver Rocky Moran Jr., who suffered a muscle strain in his neck following a crash in Turn 1 on Friday at Daytona Test Days, has been released from Halifax Medical Center. Moran was at the track visiting with his teammates—including co-drivers Alex Gurney and Bob Stallings—wearing a neck brace.

track news
San Jose accepts Champ Car, rejects MLS San Jose accepts Champ Car, rejects MLSAfter recently agreeing to the bargain amount of just $4 million for a Champ Car race, City of San Jose officials “have abandoned” an $80M offer to MLS for a replacement franchise for the Earthquakes, which relocated to Houston, and will attempt to find a new deal that is “acceptable to city taxpayers, the league and a potential new owner.”  The officials today will ask the City Council “to approve renewed talks” with San Jose State Univ. (SJSU) about using Spartan Stadium for MLS games.  Also, city administrators want to meet with SJSU President Don Kassing and A’s Owner Lewis Wolff, “who is considering a pro soccer franchise” in the city, before returning to the council in 45 days. SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
Daytona 500 purse dwarfs Indy 500 again Daytona 500 purse dwarfs Indy 500 againUPDATE BTW, last year's Indy 500 purse was only $10.3 million.  Why so much less for the Indy 500 if the Indy 500 claims to draw so many more people than the Daytona 500?  Either the Hulman George family is pocketing a big profit at the expense of the competitors, or the Indy 500 attendance is not what we were led to believe.  There have been reports that Indy 500 tickets can be obtained for as little as $25 on race day from scalpers.  It wasn't that way in the CART days, but the IRL has killed the mystique that once was the Indy 500 and ticket demand is way off. 02/07/06 The 48th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 19 will once again carry the biggest purse in the history of stock car racing at more than $18 million.

The posted awards for the “The Great American Race” will reach $18,029,052, an increase of nearly half a million in comparison to last year. The posted awards for the 2005 Daytona 500, which was won for a third time by Jeff Gordon, was $17,623,980.

The winner of this year’s Daytona 500 will collect a minimum of $1,438,155. The second, third, fourth and fifth-place finishers in the Daytona 500 will receive a minimum of $1,034,175, $741,325, $589,500 and $461,925 respectively.

Even the last-place finisher in the Daytona 500 will be rewarded with a minimum of $224,665.

“The Daytona 500 is without a doubt the biggest motorsports event of the year,” Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig said. “This year’s event will boost a substantial reward for all the competitors.”

track news
DTM to race at LeMans DTM to race at LeMansLeMans will be the venue for the ninth of ten rounds of the 2006 DTM. This was agreed upon by the French circuit management A.C.O. and the promoter of the DTM, ITR e.V. This means that the DTM will be racing in France for the first time since the series’ revival in 2000. “Ten rounds, four of which abroad and three new circuits are elements of an excellent calendar for the 2006 DTM season”, says Hans Werner Aufrecht, chairman of the ITR e.V. “With Le Mans and the other new foreign circuits, the DTM is continuing its venture into further interesting European markets, underlining the international focus of the series.”

The ten rounds of the 2006 season will be held in five European countries. Next to the legendary circuit of Le Mans (F), Brands Hatch (GB) and Barcelona (E) are also new venues on the calendar. The race at Zandvoort in The Netherlands has already become a tradition, just like the German venues EuroSpeedway Lausitz, Motorsport Arena Oschersleben, Nürburgring and the Norisring street course in the city of Nuremberg. The season opener and final will be taking place at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg. At Hockenheim, the Nürburgring and at the “Circuit de Catalunya” in Barcelona, the DTM will be racing on the Grand Prix-track, which is also being used for Formula 1. zzzz

The penultimate season round at Le Mans will be the DTM’s first outing in France since the series’ revival in 2000. In 1995 and 1996, the ITC had two races at Magny Cours in France, For quite a long time, the DTM has had close links with France. In 2002, Frenchman Jean Alesi became the first former Formula 1 star to join the ranks of the DTM. The stalwart of 201 Grands Prix already won his first DTM race after three attempts, an achievement that after him was only matched by double world champion Mika Hakkinen. Also in 2002, Frenchman Laurent Aiello won the DTM title with an Abt-Audi TT-R. Alesi, who received the highest civil honor in France by being called into the Legion of Honor a fortnight ago, is looking forward to his forthcoming DTM home round. “Racing in front of your home crowd is always something special. Doing so at the legendary circuit of Le Mans makes it an even more extraordinary challenge. I will do my utmost to bring across the excitement of the DTM to my French countrymen. Of course, success in France would be the greatest thing for me”, says the winner of four DTM-races.

Next to Alesi, a Dane is also rightfully referring to Le Mans as his “home”: with his seventh victory, Tom Kristensen became the sole record winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours last year. “For me, Le Mans will always remain something special. Here, I have scored my biggest successes in sports cars and I hope that I will also be successful in a DTM car“, the Audi works-driver says. DTM

Gordon to use holograms to authenticate signature Gordon to use holograms to authenticate signatureJeff Gordon will begin using sequentially numbered holograms to authenticate his signature on collector's items and merchandise. John Bickford, the vice president and general manager of Jeff Gordon Inc., said the idea originated after the company that oversees Gordon's business interests discovered many forgeries on eBay. "We felt we had a responsibility to the fan to do all we could to protect them," said Bickford, who estimated JGI spent more than $50,000 on development. "Hopefully other athletes will see the value in this, and they'll begin to use a similar process. I anticipate I'll be getting calls from business agents of people like Barry Bonds or A-Rod." The hologram will make its debut Friday during the For Race Fans Only program on QVC. Within a few months, fans will be able to register the items at jeffgordon.com. USA Today
Dan Clarke moves closer to Champ Car ride Dan Clarke moves closer to Champ Car rideDan Clarke is expected to finalize his Champ Car deal within the next few weeks and is preparing for his move with an intensive training program. Clarke has been courted by a number of top race teams for participation in European and British motorsport series’, but is totally committed to a stateside move.

The 22 year-old racer, a BRDC Formula Ford Champion, Formula Ford Festival Winner and a rookie F3 winner, says, “It’s very flattering to have such a high level of interest in my future career and everyone has an opinion on what’s best for me. Champ Cars is getting my vote and with the Champ Car community showing plenty of faith in me, I’m focusing on being ready for the start of the season at Long Beach.

“This year will be my learning year, ahead of the revised Championship in 2007 with the new lightweight Panoz chassis and Cosworth engine power levels exceeding those in F1. I expect to be challenging for wins when the new package comes onboard.” zzzz

Clarke was privileged to spend time with David Coulthard and Red Bull Racing in Barcelona last week, as a guest of Adrian Newey, one of Clarke’s mentors, and he said of his time trackside, “I thank Adrian for inviting me to the F1 test with the Red Bull F1 team and my experience in that environment will definitely help me; it was very educational and a good opportunity for me to learn from some of the best in the business.”

Newey and Clarke’s close friend Johnny Herbert, Sporting Director, Midland F1 team, have both supported Clarke in his decision to join the top American single-seater racing series. Herbert wished Clarke well saying, “I understand Dan’s dream to compete in Champ Car and I support him wholeheartedly. I’d have liked to have seen him test in an F1 car, but he’s showing great maturity in single-mindedly focusing on his goal.”

Dan is currently concentrating on his fitness program, training in London with Nick Russell, a renowned driver trainer with a client list which has included David Coulthard, Eddie Irvine, Justin Wilson, and Christian Klein. Nick said of the regime that he’s developed for Dan, "It’s a two month boot camp for him. I have promised to get him as fit as DC in time for Long Beach. I will be working him very, very hard. His fitness won't be a problem".

The 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford kicks off in California with the blue riband event of the Championship, a street race held in downtown Long Beach from April 7 – 9.

Ralf backs FIA over V8 rule Ralf backs FIA over V8 rule(GMMf1NET)  Ralf Schumacher has backed the FIA over F1's controversial new V8 engine formula for 2006.

The German driver, who broke his back in an horror Indianapolis shunt in 2004, told reporters at the Valencia test last week that less horse power has made the sport safer.

''The FIA has made some bad decisions,'' Toyota's 30-year-old said, ''but on the safety side we have seen some good ones.  If the cars are slower, the drivers are safer.''

The end of the V10 era, however, and the loss of around 200 horse power and three seconds per lap, has not been universally popular up and down the grid.  But Schumacher thinks formula one could have sped out of control if engines had kept evolving.

He said: ''Each year we were moving closer and closer to the limits, and beyond.  Without the V8s, I am sure we would have surpassed 1000 horse power this year.''

But some observers wonder just how much of an impact on safety a three second per lap deficit can have when speeds are still 300 kph-plus.

Ralf explained: ''If you crash and the shock is 3 or 4-g lower, that is a big difference, for sure.''

Schumacher also dismissed the argument that a slower F1 is therefore less spectacular for its fans.

''I don't think they will notice a difference,'' the German insisted.  ''If you are talking a second or two, you don't really see that with the naked eye.''

Aguri's driver call due 'soon' Aguri's driver call due 'soon'(GMMf1NET)  New formula one team Super Aguri has vowed to announce its inaugural driver lineup 'soon'.

With Honda refugee Takuma Sato almost certain to get the nod, further hints about the Japanese's teammate might be given at the first real test at Barcelona later this month (21-23 February), and even before at a shakedown of the reworked 2002 Arrows on 14 February.

''I'd be absolutely amazed if it doesn't happen,'' Sato's manager, Andrew Gilbert-Scott, told Reuters when asked about his charge's seat.

The Japanese team, based at Arrows' former Leafield base in England and to initially use the defunct team's 2002 car, also revealed that Peter McCool - a former Reynard man - was designing the brand new 'SA06' Super Aguri racer.

''They are going to struggle big time to start with,'' thinks Johnny Herbert, sporting relations manager for Aguri's midfield rival, Midland.

Albers aims fire Albers aims fire(GMMf1NET) Christijan Albers has started his new F1 tenure at Midland (MF1) by criticizing both the racer he replaces, and his 2005 Minardi teammate.

The Dutchman, who turns 27 in April, said there was no danger he could - like departed Jordan driver Narain Karthikeyan - fall out with MF1 principal Colin Kolles, because it would be 'unprofessional'.

''If my relationship with Colin ever changed I would not bring it into the press,'' Albers said in England last week.

He added: ''You need to work with your team to improve the car. That is what you should focus on, that is what helps you, not what everyone thinks of each other.''

Christijan also clashed with his former Minardi teammate and countryman last year, after Robert Doornbos - now Red Bull's Friday driver - allegedly told the media that he would do a better job than predecessor Patrick Friesacher.

Albers reacted at the time by attacking Doornbos.

''I told the truth,'' he explained. ''I always say not to say something about another driver if you have never driven with him.''

Ferrari won't float in 2006 Ferrari won't float in 2006(GMMf1NET)  Fiat has denied speculation that Ferrari might float on the stock market this year.

Although major Ferrari shareholder Mediobanca has hinted at such a move, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said it was 'not on my agenda' for 2006.

''After that, we will see,'' said Marchionne, whose employer has a 56 per cent controlling stake in Italy's Ferrari, a sports car brand and formula one team.

Mosley stirs 'no income' storm Mosley stirs 'no income' storm(GMMf1NET)  Max Mosley has moved to intensify the controversy surrounding his claim that carmakers should receive 'no income' in F1.

The FIA president told the BBC on Monday that his suggestion to take the carmakers' revenue away and give it to poorer private teams was 'quite logical', because they need it more.

English-born Mosley, 65, also said he had advised commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone about his suggestion, and that the F1 supremo was currently 'thinking about it'.

The carmakers' disgruntled 'GPMA' group had responded to Mosley's initial comments with 'surprise', warning that the governing body was not entitled to interfere in the commercial running of the sport.

But Max retorted: ''That doesn't stop us from saying ... that the people who have a great deal of money should get less and the people who have less money should get more.''

Mosley also revealed that he thought three of the five carmakers were close to agreeing a 2008 Concorde deal with Bernie, while the other two 'are still arguing'.

MF1 not moving to Russia MF1 not moving to Russia(GMMf1NET) On the back of reports that Midland (MF1) intend to sign Russian aircraft and space specialists, Alex Shnaider has denied that he could move the English-based team to Russia.

The Russian-born Canadian told Russian online daily newspaper 'MosNews' that he sees the longer term future of MF1 - although debuting with a Russian race license in 2006 - well rooted at Silverstone.

Shnaider said at the venue of the British grand prix: ''We have no plans to have a design team anywhere else. If we hire people in Russia, we would get them visas and bring them to work here.''

Despite boasts of possible Russian staff and a Russian team 'flavor', however, not a single major Russian sponsor adorns the new red and grey car's livery.

''It will pick up,'' the 36-year-old billionaire said.

''F1 is still new to Russian companies, but ... now there is a Russian-licensed team it will bring up the interest.''

Shnaider also predicted that formula one will eventually race at a Russian grand prix, probably in capital Moscow.

He insisted: ''I think it should happen ... within five years.''

Glock on road back to F1 Glock on road back to F1(GMMf1NET) With six countrymen already either on the grid or in test seats, a seventh German is now attempting to rejuvenate his own F1 career.

Timo Glock, who raced four times for Jordan in 2004, is reportedly set to turn his back on the American Champ Car category in order to race in GP2 - F1's feeder category - this year.

With the backing of Deutsche Post, numerous sources report that he is now favorite to land a prime spot in the BCN Competicion team.

Klien turns twenty three Klien turns twenty three(GMMf1NET)  F1 driver Christian Klien turns twenty three on Tuesday.

The Austrian youngster, who debuted with energy drink backing for Jaguar in 2004, is today David Coulthard's full time teammate at the Red Bull grand prix team.

Sports icons to race in Bahrain Sports icons to race in Bahrain(GMMf1NET) Bahrain is putting together an impressive entry list for a celebrity race at the opening grand prix of 2006.

Tennis legend Boris Becker, cycling's Lance Armstrong and top US sprinter Michael Johnson, are among those signed up to drive the ten-lap events during the official formula one meeting.

Rowing icon Sir Steve Redgrave will also race, according to the Gulf Daily News newspaper, with the winner to wave the checkered flag at the end of the actual grand prix.

Karthikeyan admits to disappointment Karthikeyan admits to disappointment(GMMf1NET)  Narain Karthikeyan has admitted to disappointment after sliding out of the F1 limelight for season 2006.

The 29-year-old, who became the first Indian to race at the sport's highest level with Jordan last year, failed to have his 'MF1' contract renewed and also missed out on the Friday slot at Williams.

Instead, for the latter Grove based team, Karthikeyan will merely test throughout this year.

Asked if he was disappointed to not be racing again, Narain told the Press Trust of India: ''As a driver, maybe.

''But as a professional, no.

''Sure, every driver wants to race, but to get a step up somewhere in F1 is difficult.  In the short term, it might not look good, but it is going to benefit me in the long run.''

Karthikeyan says spending a year at a top team, even if not actually on the grid, will be good for his career.

''I know I made the right decision for my future.  Working with a top team, I can learn a lot more,' Narain claimed.

Karthikeyan is not expected to return to the test tracks, however, until mid April, although - partly to represent his and team sponsor 'Tata' - he will attend all 19 grands prix this season.

Ralf says Toyota more 'fun' than Williams Ralf says Toyota more 'fun' than Williams(GMMf1NET) Ralf Schumacher has agreed with observers who reckon he is a happier driver these days.

Although initially struggling alongside Jarno Trulli, the German reveled within the Cologne based Toyota ranks in 2005, after five often acrid years at Sir Frank Williams' Oxfordshire squad.

Previously one of the more scowling and serious on the F1 grid, 30-year-old Ralf was often seen smiling and enjoying a joke with the red and whites last year.

''At Toyota we concentrate on our jobs but we also try to have fun,'' the German revealed to reporters at the Valencia winter test in Spain last week.

''The philosophy of the two teams are quite different. At other places it seemed like more attention was put into spreading stories around about the drivers.

''Honestly, I am really happy to be with this team.''

Monteiro says '06 seat was never in doubt Monteiro says '06 seat was never in doubt(GMMf1NET) Tiago Monteiro says his 2006 seat at Midland's MF1 team was never in doubt.

When the Portuguese driver boasted in November last year that he had sealed a deal, team management denied it, while officially confirming Christijan Albers' sister race seat.

Even on the morning of the 'M16' car's launch in England, many F1 fans and journalists were still not sure if Monteiro, 29, had actually secured the ride, leading to many rumors but also criticism of the situation's poor handling.

But Tiago says his agreement - an 'option' on his 2005 deal - was taken up by the team on 2 November, meaning that he was never in doubt.

''Maybe it was a bit confusing for some people,'' he admitted, ''because maybe it was unclear.

''But we thought it was so simple because I was just continuing, not like Christijan who was a new driver to the team.''

Monteiro also criticized 2005 Ferrari teammates Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello for faking 'glum faces' to the crowd's boos at the farcical Indianapolis race.

Tiago, who was on the podium with them, said the scarlet pair - before the presentation - 'were very happy and then suddenly they had these (glum) faces.

''I think (fans) got p*ssed off because not only had the race been destroyed, but they had two people on the podium with long faces.''

Robby Gordon gets new Associate sponsor Robby Gordon gets new Associate sponsorInterActive Financial Marketing has signed an associate sponsorship agreement with Robby Gordon Motorsports (RGM) for the 2006 Nextel Cup Series season. IFMG’s associate program will include branding on the team’s #7 RGM Chevy and an extensive nationwide marketing campaign featuring Robby Gordon in television and radio commercials, specifically customized for each participating Chevrolet partner’s dealership and region. IFMG also plans to develop supporting in-store POP materials for its dealers and special trackside hospitality at select NASCAR events. “Having a sponsor like Interactive Financial Marketing Group is a perfect match for our team.” said Gordon. “Chevrolet is an important part of our team and when we sat down with IFMG and learned of their goal to help Chevrolet dealers sell more cars to NASCAR fans it made a lot of sense. The program they’ve put together for their Chevrolet dealers is great, and I look forward to growing our relationship together for many years.”

“IFMG is excited to offer our partner Chevrolet dealers the ability to tap into the ever-expanding fan base of America’s fastest growing sport, NASCAR. This opportunity will allow our dealers to distinguish themselves from their competitors and provide the NASCAR fan with a truly unique car buying destination and experience,” said Travis B. Weisleder, President and COO, Interactive Financial Marketing Group. With automotive dealer partners in 48 states, IFMG specializes in obtaining high quality special finance customers from its family of brands including hundreds of the most recognized Internet addresses and vanity phone numbers in the industry including carloan.com, autoloan.com, 1-800-CAR-LOAN and 1-800-AUTO-LOAN. For more information or to become part of the CARLOAN.COM race team, contact IFMG at 804-225-1880 or visit interactivefmg.com. RGM PR

F1 records healthy profits F1 records healthy profits(GMMf1NET)  A dispute may be simmering in the background, but formula one has never looked healthier.

Actually, the latest public accounts of Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management (FOM) company bring perspective to the bitter row with carmakers over future income in the premier sport.

Although late, FOM has now lodged financial accounts for 2004 at London's Companies House, which show a mammoth pre-tax profit of $447 million.  It is more than double the 2003 figures of $215 million.

Total income rose by 25 per cent, to $705m, moving 75-year-old Ecclestone to give himself a pay-rise from $3.8m in 2003 to $4.6 million.

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