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NASCAR confiscates illegal parts NASCAR confiscates illegal partsUPDATE A reader responds, Dear AutoRacing1.Com, As noted in your piece on NASCAR collecting "illegal" (meaning not NASCAR ap$pr$ov$ed) parts . . . Cheating, or at least the bending of the rules to their breaking point, is deeply ingrained in the NASCAR culture. It's as much a part of Taxi Cab racin' as any other element of the sport. If NASCAR is going to be so picky about the parts (window nets? spacers?) the teams use to build "their" race cars then why doesn't NASCAR just take the last jump to their "Final Solution"? The solution many fans suspect NASCAR is creeping toward ever so slowly in the hope the fans won't notice (not likely) it mixed in with all the hero worship. Go ahead NASCAR, pull the trigger right now to require all teams buy complete race (?) cars built exclusively by NASCAR (or whatever corporate entity they think up to prevent the Feds from sniffing around Daytona Beach muttering words like "monopoly"). Each car exactly the same as the other. Except of course for the decal kit the team would buy to distinguish their "race car" as a Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Toyota, Honda . . . . Kia (why not?). NASCAR has become so homogenized it's lost all its character and frankly, for as boring as the racing has become, it's going to take more character, not less, to keep "stock car" racing growing in this country, let along Mexico and Canada. "Would monsieur like some brié on his Freedom Fries?" J.N. Anderson, Chicago. IL 02/13/05 In a sport where cheating is the norm, part of the culture, NASCAR has already caught a number of the perpetrators and SpeedWeeks is still only half over.
  • Robby Gordon's No. 7 Chevrolet was fitted with an illegal intake manifold that NASCAR discovered during inspection late Friday night. The part was removed and put on display in the NASCAR hauler, and Gordon was scrambling to get the situation fixed. His engines are built by Menard Engineering in Indianapolis. Menard builds engines for Indy cars, but this is its first year in NASCAR racing.
  •  NASCAR inspectors confiscated the transmission from Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Chevrolet because it had the wrong gear ratio.
  • Kerry Earnhardt and Mike Skinner both had unapproved window nets
  • Andy Belmont and Larry Gunselman both had unapproved fire extinguishers
  • Kyle Busch's car had unapproved spacers.
  • Jeff Gordon and Robby Gordon were both found to have unapproved under-pans on their cars.

Penalties for violations on Daytona 500 cars are not announced until a few days after the Feb. 20th race.

New Renault too unreliable New Renault too unreliableRenault F1 driver Fernando Alonso says the new R25 is fast enough, but too fragile.  "It is faster, we are setting good times on track but we have too many failures," he told Marca. "We are not ready, we need to improve because we can't get to Australia like this. There is a lot of work to be done."
Former GP driver dies Former GP driver diesFormer Grand Prix driver Maurice Trintignant, the uncle of acclaimed French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant, died on Saturday in a Nimes hospital, aged 87.  Born in 1917, Trintignant took part in 82 races and drove for Gordini, Ferrari, Vanwall, Cooper, Maserati, BRM, Lotus and Aston Martin winning two races in Monaco in 1955 in a Ferrari and in 1958 in a Cooper.  He was nicknamed the 'Gentleman Racer' and was a contemporary of Juan-Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn, Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren and Phil Hill.  He also won the Le Mans 24 Hour Race in 1954. Source AFP
Zonta flies solo at Jerez Zonta flies solo at JerezRicardo Zonta completed the final day of testing in Jerez at the wheel of a Toyota TF104B. Just like yesterday, the track was artificially soaked to give Michelin engineers the opportunity to evaluate tires for wet track conditions. The Brazilian driver completed a total of 117 laps, his fastest in 1'27"054.
Wish granted, girl will meet Jeff Gordon Wish granted, girl will meet Jeff GordonYou wouldn't know Jesica Hummel had a life-threatening disease. The bright-eyed, 11-year-old is active and energetic.  When you mention NASCAR, especially Jeff Gordon, she hops around like a jumping bean.  It's a reaction Gordon will get to see firsthand, as Hummel's wish has been granted.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation, a national organization that tries to make wishes come true for children with life-threatening medical conditions, is sending Jesica, her mother, Michele Stewart, her brother, Jason Hummel, and her stepbrother, Cody Stewart, to the Auto Club 500 at the California Speedway in Ontario, Calif. While there, Jesica will meet Gordon, her favorite NASCAR driver.

According to Colleen Harris, the communication and marketing coordinator, for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Ohio and Kentucky chapter, most wishes fall into four categories -- destination wish, when they get to go somewhere; celebrity wish, when they get to meet someone; occupation wish, when they get to do something; and a wish to have something.  Harris said a parent, legal guardian, doctor, or the wish child can submit the information to have a wish granted. More at Zanesville Times 

IMSA announces GT3 Cup Challenge IMSA announces GT3 Cup ChallengeThe International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced today, in conjunction with Porsche Motorsports North America (PMNA) and Michelin, the creation of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin, a series designed for Porsche GT3 Cup race cars.

The series will allow amateur and semi-professional drivers, those who do not make their living in motorsports, to compete in a professional environment, similar to many other GT3 Cup series around the world and will run as part of the American Le Mans Series weekends.

"IMSA is delighted to announce the formation of the GT3 Cup series," said Tim Mayer, IMSA COO. "As an organization we are dedicated to the promotion of motorsports at all levels and the GT3 Cup has proven worldwide to create great racing for the fans and for the competitors."

As part of the announcement IMSA announced that Michelin has agreed to be the title sponsor of the series. Michelin will be providing the spec tire for all competitors.

"As part of our racing heritage Michelin is proud to be a part of the first GT3 Cup Challenge in North America," said Amanda Head, Michelin Motorsports Marketing Manager. "Michelin is associated with the GT3 Cup worldwide as part of our commitment to high-performance tires. The tires used in the series reflect the quality street car tires that we are pleased to offer our customers."

The purpose-built race cars, based on the Porsche 996 body style, will have sealed engines and transmissions, providing for close racing where the driver's talents are exemplified. PMNA will provide technical support for the series with personnel, parts and expertise both away from and at the track.

"There are over 100 of these cars already in North America," said Uwe Brettel, Porsche Motorsports North America President. "Last April, during Porsche's Rennsport Reunion at Daytona, we had more than 65 cars entered in the Cup class, and we think a lot of these competitors will be interested in running this new series."

"We are thrilled to be working with Michelin and PMNA to bring this type of exciting racing to North America," said Mayer. "With support from manufacturers like Michelin and Porsche we are able to deliver professional racing to all competitors. I would also like to thank the Porsche Club of America and the Porsche Owners Club which have been very supportive as we launch this series."

NASCAR going global NASCAR going globalThe first driver diplomat dispatched by NASCAR to Mexico City was a natural choice. Jeff Burton relishes being an emissary for the sport - he tested the Mexico City Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course last month.

His 800-horsepower engine spread the NASCAR gospel in a language that was universally understood, particularly in a country where racing ranks second only to soccer. "Nothing sounds like a Chevrolet V8," Burton said. "When they fired that thing up, everyone went, 'What is that!' There was a lot of interest. I think it's going to be very well received."

NASCAR is counting on it. In a 21st century push toward going global, carving out a niche south of the border is crucial to its strategy. The Mexico 200 on March 6 is the centerpiece of the thrust, and several steps were taken to ensure its success.

The first points race outside the United States in Busch Series history has posted a record purse of more than $2 million. It's being contested on an off weekend from Nextel Cup to draw big names such as Rusty Wallace and Michael Waltrip. It will be televised live on Fox and will be promoted by OCESA, the largest entertainment company in Central and South America.

A sellout crowd of about 150,000 is expected - and needed to build NASCAR's Hispanic following, which could attract a wave of nondomestic corporate sponsors.

"The Hispanic market is the fastest-growing, emerging market in the country," NASCAR Chairman Brian France said. "And we also know that in Miami, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Chicago, that's where a lot of our fans are coming from. So we want to be relevant to our fans, and one of the ways you do that is be relevant in their home country."

Several Mexican drivers also will be attempting to qualify. Adrian Fernandez, an Indy Racing League owner-driver who won three times in the IRL last year, is entered with Hendrick Motorsports, and Craftsman Truck Series veteran Carlos Contreras also is in the lineup.

Michel Jourdain Jr. said the Mexico City race helped cinch his decision to move from Champ Car to NASCAR this season for a full-time Busch ride in a ppc Racing Ford.

NASCAR Managing Director International Robbie Weiss said the hometown drivers would generate major support because Mexico "is a country that likes to follow its own heroes."

That's why NASCAR also is sanctioning Desafio Corona, a 14-race touring series entering its second year. Running Late Model-style cars, Desafio Corona was contested at tracks around the country and was televised on the national TV network in a time slot also occupied by Formula One, the world's top racing series.

"It's important to create authentic organic presence within the Mexican sports culture," Weiss said. "It's great to have a Busch Series race here, but that can happen once a year. We need an ongoing presence throughout the year for fans, sponsors and teams."

Some NASCAR observers believe Desafio Corona could plant the seeds for a pipeline from Mexico to NASCAR, becoming a feeder system similar to the Dominican Republic's steady supply of talent to Major League Baseball.

"Unfortunately, until now there's not been a tie-in between the two countries," Nextel Cup co-owner Felix Sabates said. "The partnership we establish in Mexico will allow NASCAR to have a lot of young drivers from Mexico. It will be like a farm team.

"The Latino population spends a lot of money, and a lot of the money goes back to Mexico. Any of the sponsors in NASCAR are going to benefit from it. If we bring drivers here from Mexico, it's going to help with souvenir, licensing sales."

Weiss cautions a U.S.-Mexico bridge for NASCAR won't happen overnight, though. "We've got a long way to go as far as developing drivers, teams and growing brand awareness," he said. "But we hope the [Corona] series will become well-integrated into our system, and drivers, teams, sponsors and fans will see the border as transparent. That's something that's not been done in U.S. sports." Times Dispatch

NASCAR Members Club gives fans VIP status NASCAR Members Club gives fans VIP statusThe Official NASCAR Members Club has been created as a member organization that will enable the fans to more closely connect with the sport and the sport to more accurately and efficiently connect with the fans. The Official NASCAR Members Club is the only official membership organization licensed by NASCAR where fans can enjoy VIP insider access to exclusive experiences, information and benefits. The NASCAR Members Club aggregates rewards and assets from the entire sport for the benefit of its members. Fans will be rewarded with special privileges and earn elite status advantages, allowing them to get closer to the sport, their favorite drivers and teams.  How To Join: Annual membership dues for the Club are $40. Race fans can join the NASCAR Members Club through one of the following methods:  By calling 1-877-MY NASCAR (1-877-696-2722), Monday through Friday from 7:00 to 11:00pm/ct and Saturday and Sundays from 8:00am to 9:00pm/ct.  Via the Internet at: www.nascar.com
Goodyear pulls bad batch of tires Goodyear pulls bad batch of tiresComplaints about tire problems during the first two [Bud Shootout] practice sessions led Goodyear to pull about 300 tires from circulation Saturday. The tread from #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s tire split during the first practice session Friday, and #01-Joe Nemechek had nearly the same thing happen in the second session. Goodyear engineers lined up all the serial numbers of the tires it had distributed to teams and discovered the ones that had problems came from the same batch. So the company pulled all the tires from that batch as a precaution. Goodyear said it was investigating why the tread was splitting, and officials stressed to teams that there will not be a tire shortage leading up to the Daytona 500. ESPN.com/AP
Gerhart wins wreck-filled race at Daytona Gerhart wins wreck-filled race at DaytonaBobby Gerhart led all but seven laps, despite several huge wrecks involving other cars, and won the Advance Auto Parts 200 ARCA RE/MAX season-opener at Daytona International Speedway.
Results of the Advance Auto Parts 200 (2.5mi oval):
1) Bobby Gerhart, No. 5 Lucas Oil Chevrolet, 65 laps
2) Frank Kimmel, No. 46 Advance Auto/Pork Ford, 65, under caution
3) J.J. Yeley, No. 2 Performance Racing Oil Chevrolet, 65
4) Mike Guerity, No. 4 Hantz Group Dodge, 65
5) Matt Hagans, No. 64 Dodge, 65
6) T.J. Bell, No. 08 Heathcliff Cat Litter Chevrolet, 65
7) Joey Miller, No. 9 Dodge, 65
8) Mike Harmon, No. 38 Global Pigeon Supply Chevrolet, 65
9) Jeff Spraker, No. 07 Race Kentucky Pontiac, 65
10) Norm Benning, No. 84 Chevrolet, 64
11) Todd Kluever, No. 60 World Financial Ford, 63, wreck
12) Larry Foyt, No. 16 Dodge, 63, wreck
13) Kyle Krisiloff, No. 7 Delphi Chevrolet, 63, wreck
14) Billy Venturini, No. 25 Central Merchant Services Chevrolet, 63, wreck
15) Ken Weaver, No. 20 1-800-4-A-Phone Chevrolet, 63, wreck
16) G.R. Smith, No. 75 Morris Iron & Steel Ford, 63, wreck
17) A.J. Henriksen, No. 17 McAdams Painting Ford, 63, wreck
18) Doug Reid, No. 78 Substation Service Chevrolet, 63, wreck
19) Dan Shaver, No. 49 Petro Express Chevrolet, 63, wreck
20) Mario Gosselin, No. 12 ADESA IMPACT Chevrolet, 63, wreck
21) Todd Bowsher, No. 21 Safe Auto Insurance Ford, 63, wreck
22) Chad McCumbee, No. 11 oastal Vacation Chevrolet, 63, wreck
23) Joe Cooksey, No. 23 Servpro Chevrolet, 63, wreck
24) Christi Passsmore, No. 91 GAP Roofing Ford, 63, wreck
25) Dexter Bean, No. 10 Five Star Telecom Pontiac, 63
26) Robert Richardson, No. 33 Ford, 63
27) Marc Mitchell, No. 3 Pontiac, 51, tire
28) Justin Ashburn, No. 6 31-W Insulation Chevrolet, 49, handling
29) Tim Steele, No. 44 Ford, 49, radiator
30) Mark Gibson, No. 59 Williams Bros. Lumber Pontiac, 40, wreck
31) Ed Kennedy, No. 00 Shark Lounge Pontiac, 39, wreck
32) David Ragan, No. 90 Dodge, 39, wreck
33) Chad Blount, No. 67 Foretravel Dodge, 39, wreck
34) Johnny Leonard, No. 13 Boca Bay Builders Pontiac, 39, wreck
35) Bill Eversole, No. 8 Dodge, 39, wreck
36) Blake Feese, No. 94 ditech.com Chvrolet, 27, radiator
37) Walt Brannen, No. 65 Southern Pan Services Dodge, 26, radiator
38) Clair Zimmerman, No. 63 Huntilar Pontiac, 24, wreck
39) Keith Murt, No. 19 Chevrolet, 12, engine
40) Eddie Mercer, No. 88 Dodge, 11, wreck
41) Benny Chastain, No. 98 Pontiac, 11, wreck
Racer slams 4 on pit road Racer slams 4 on pit roadPhotographer F. Peirce Williams jumped onto the hood of a race car that careened toward him and his colleagues Saturday afternoon, escaping serious injury even though he hit the pit road pavement head-first when he rolled off. Another man poised to shoot the same pit stop suffered a broken leg when the No. 94 Chevy driven by Blake Feese during the ARCA Series race at Daytona International Speedway overshot its mark and barreled toward the pit wall opening where the photographers stood, Speedway officials said.  Steve Rose, who was photographing the Advance Discount Auto Parts 200 for Penske Motorsports, was taken to Halifax Medical Center. His condition was not available Saturday night. Two photographers, in addition to Williams and Rose, were injured, neither seriously. More....
Red Bull cars run in final livery Red Bull cars run in final liveryAt the official Formula 1 test runs in the Spanish town of Jerez de la Frontera (February 8 to February 11), Red Bull cut a very promising figure with its new car.  For the first time, two RB1 were used in the new livery (see photos below) – with tests that were without any technical problems on all four days.  All test programs ran as planned – including long runs, fine tuning in the setup and targeted tire tests.  Attention centered on the reliability of the RB1 and the stableness of the engines. All three pilots completed several Grand Prix distances and reported a very neutral RB1 which showed very calm response in the rear part. The times made in the laps were very encouraging on all days, even if only comparable to a limited extent.  The tests will continue in the coming week in Barcelona. After that, the second driver beside Coulthard for the season’s kick-off in Melbourne will be selected. Red Bull Racing

Photos courtesy Red Bull Racing

The steel business in the Ukraine The steel business in the UkraineStudents of the real world in Formula 1 will have noticed that last week the new Ukrainian government headed by Yulia Timoshenko announced that it is to reverse the controversial sale of the state-owned Kryvorizhstal steel works so that the firm can go back on the market at a higher price. One of the world's largest steel plants was sold last year to a group of investors that included the son-in-law of former President Leonid Kuchma. The winning bid was $800m and higher bids from foreign companies were rejected. Timoshenko said her government was canceling "illegal" decisions by the former administration. It remains to be seen how the government will decide which deals were correct and which were not.

One would assume that all is well with the sale of the sale of the Zaporozhstal steel works in 1997. This was acquired from the government by Midland, which recently became the owner of the Jordan Formula 1 team. The Midland empire, which is now largely outside the Ukraine, was founded on the success of Zaporozhstal. Grandprix.com
A change at Hewlett Packard A change at Hewlett PackardHewlett-Packard is the primary sponsor of the Williams F1 team and the US technology firm is very keen on its involvement in F1 as it spreads the word about HP computers across the world. However, the firm is not without problems and these have recently blown up in the face of chairman and chief executive Carly Fiorina who has resigned after a difference of opinion with the board of directors over the company's strategy. Some members of the board would like to spin off some of the less successful divisions of the firm.

The Williams F1 deal was inherited by HP when it merged with Compaq.

The word in California is that the company understands the value of F1 and Fiorina's departure will make no difference. Grandprix.com
PanAm series hires ex-Champ Car manager PanAm series hires ex-Champ Car managerNonie Hinspeter has been appointed the Chief Registrar and Executive Assistant for PanAm Racing.  Nonie has 17 years experience in open wheel racing. She has been involved with motorsports at many levels, from volunteer to traveling official. She retired from the Champ Car World Series in 2002 as the Manager of Registration when the company moved to Indianapolis. Her love of racing has kept her involved and for the past two years, has served as registrar for two other open wheel series.
Fully funded PanAm V6 drives available Fully funded PanAm V6 drives availableTeam AKA has successfully obtained full Team sponsorship from an International commercial enterprise. This enables them to offer 2 qualified drivers a fully funded season in the PanAmV6 series. Interested drivers are required to test at Silverstone UK on Monday 28th February 2005. All drivers are required to register their interest through the PanAm Racing website. Series Director, Allen Berg says ” This is a fantastic step forward for PanAm driver development. Our stated aim has always been to bring in commercial sponsors to provide the funding for these young drivers. I would like to congratulate Team AKA in their achievement. I know other teams are looking equally hard for team sponsors, and I hope to be able to announce a second one soon “.
Mark Martin to serve as Best Man Mark Martin to serve as Best ManMark Martin will be looking to get into victory lane on a number of occasions during this year’s Daytona Speedweeks, but he is assured of a least one trip to Gatorade Victory Lane. Martin, who kicks off his “Salute To You” Tour this weekend, will serve as the honorary Best Man at the wedding of Survivor Vanuatu Islands winner Chris Daugherty to Lorie Groves. The wedding is being held in Gatorade Victory lane on Sunday morning at Daytona International Speedway.

“Now those are some real NASCAR fans,” said Martin. “They wanted to get married at Daytona and I was asked if I could attend. We figured why not, so we are going to go over there and help them out a little. It’s a good way to kind of dive into the “Salute” Tour. I understand they are pretty big fans of mine, so hopefully this will be a good way to say thanks.

“It takes a lot of desire to win on that show and I can sure appreciate that,” added Martin. “Nobody understands sacrifice and commitment more than the people in this NASCAR garage, so it’s a fitting combination.”

New BAR transmission approved, others have it too New BAR transmission approved, others have it tooUPDATE As autosport.com exclusively revealed, it was only this week that the 'seamless shift' technology was given the green light by the FIA and it now appears that three teams will race with the devices in Melbourne.  Although it is not known exactly which other teams have it, it is believed the outfits are BAR, Renault, McLaren and Williams – with the latter outfit maybe not having its device reliable enough to commit to it for Melbourne.  FIA president Max Mosley has confirmed that a number of teams are running the system, but he drew short of naming them.  “Three or four teams have the gearbox,” he explained. “My immediate reaction when I first heard about it was that it was probably CVT. But we have examined the gearboxes and they are all legal.  There are the seven ratios and they have all found a way of changing gear with there being no break in power. I cannot say how it works because then the six other teams would know, but it is clever and fascinating – which tends to go against my views about having a standard gearbox in F1.” Autosport.com  02/11/05 BAR's controversial new gearbox system has been approved for use in this year's Formula 1 series, it was revealed yesterday. The system allows the drivers to change gears with virtually no break in power, giving them a vital advantage against the competition.

When questioned about the system Shuhei Nakamoto, engineering director for Honda Racing Development, told Autosport.com "We have been told by the FIA that everything is legal, and there is nothing wrong with the gearbox.”

Continuously variable transmission – CVT – is banned under the current regulations, and there had been suggestions that FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting may see the new system as a form of CVT. Honda have strenuously denied this, with Honda Racing's vice-president Otmar Szafnauer previously telling Autosport “in our system there is a break in power so it does not breach the FIA regulations. The system is a lot quicker than before, but it is not a CVT.”

It is strongly rumored that Ferrari asked for a clarification from the FIA on BAR's gearbox, as the new system is a step ahead of the Italian team's efforts. “I think we have made good progress on the gearbox,” Nakamoto noted. “Of course the gearbox of Ferrari is superb, upshift and downshift, but I think we have got better then them on the upshift.”

“It is difficult to get the downshift right as it involves brake systems, and therefore the movement of the car. Last year our gearbox was good, and the shift was not affected by unexpected vibration of the car, but we have made further progress on it."

Mosley mocks Stoddart Mosley mocks StoddartUPDATE “A quick point of my rival,” said Max Mosley, referring to stories of Stoddart's presidential ambitions. “Where my rival got his idea is that in the meeting they were all complaining about me and Bernie said: ‘What we need to do is that someone needs to go up against him and I think it should be Paul.  I will get some T-shirts printed for Melbourne and they are going to have ‘Paul for president on the front' and on the back they will have 'I know more about slowing the cars down than anyone else in F1.' This was Bernie and apparently Paul and one or two others in the meeting took it seriously. They didn't know he was taking the mickey, and the idea has grown in Paul's mind.” 02/10/05 In response to Paul Stoddart's call for the ouster of Max Mosley as FIA President and that he could do better - FIA President Max Mosley derided the genuine concern expressed by the Minardi owner Paul Stoddart, on behalf of nine of the 10 teams, about the manner in which he and Bernie Ecclestone are running the sport, and their recently announced long-term alliance with their arch-enemy Ferrari. "Some people suggest to me that Stoddart should be running the FIA as he and his backmarker Minardi team know more than anyone about slowing cars down," Mosley said, his vituperative wit clearly unimpaired even though he came close to quitting his job as president of the sport's governing body last July.
Zonta tops wet weather tire testing Zonta tops wet weather tire testingRicardo Zonta (Toyota) topped Jenson Button's BAR during wet weather testing at Jerez in Spain on Saturday. His time was good enough to edge out Button by seven tenths of a second – as the pair were the only representatives for Michelin's rain tire evaluation work. Testing was delayed two hours to get the water truck used to wet the track out of the gravel when the truck driver thought he was Michael Schumacher took the hairpin too fast and went off. The incident meant that the hairpin section of the circuit was much wetter than other areas. Zonta will stay for testing alone at Jerez on Sunday, but the circuit will be closed to everyone except Toyota team personnel.
1. Ricardo Zonta (Toyota), 1m29.330s, 119 laps
2. Jenson Button (BAR), 1m30.051s, 99 laps
Scott Sharp does laps at Infineon Scott Sharp does laps at InfineonScott Sharp became the second IRL IndyCar Series® driver to take a few laps around the twisting Infineon Raceway road course during a visit to the facility on Friday, Feb. 11.

Sharp was on track for approximately 30 minutes for lead-follow lapping with ESPN Russell Racing School lead instructor Mark Wolocatiuk. Sharp piloted one of the school’s Formula Mitsubishi open-wheel cars. The former Danville, Calif. resident had not been to Infineon Raceway since capturing a Trans-Am event victory on the road course in 1993.

“I love the high, sweeping turns going down the hill from Turn 7. It’s a little daunting, but a lot of fun,” said Sharp, who drives for Delphi Fernandez Racing. “I like the modified section at Turn 9 because I think it will provide for a lot of passing and a great braking zone.”

Dario Franchitti was the first IRL driver to test the Infineon Raceway circuit during a compatibility test on the 12-turn, 2.2-mile course in November. The IRL will compete at a permanent road-course facility for the first time in its 10-year history when the series visits Infineon Raceway, Aug. 26-28. It will also mark the IRL’s first-ever visit to Northern California.

“I’m really excited about racing out here. It’s going to be big,” said Sharp. “I think it’s going to be tremendously exciting for both the drivers and the fans.”

Skip Barber offers $100K prize Skip Barber offers $100K prizeSkip Barber Racing will again award the champion of its Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER a cash prize of $100,000, a dollar amount designed to significantly assist the driver on his/her next career step, as 2004 Skip Barber National champion Marco Andretti has done. ''We are really pleased to continue the long Skip Barber Racing tradition of truly helping drivers climb the motorsports ladder,'' said Divina Galica, senior vice president of racing. ''The Skip Barber culture has always fostered the career growth of young, dedicated racers. Practically every starting grid you can name has talented drivers from our system.'' The National field is typically an interesting mix of drivers: upper echelon karters ready to compete in their first auto racing series; top drivers from the Skip Barber Regional Series; plus quick competitors from Jim Russell, the SCCA and various European series. The National's seasonal cost is well under $50,000. Young drivers are attracted to the Skip Barber National's well-earned reputation, equal-car format, comprehensive coaching, and the opportunity to compete in a car with wings, slicks and a sequential gearbox. ''Plus, we have the leverage to schedule great tracks and venues,'' said Todd Snyder, series managing director. ''We're racing on the tracks the drivers need experience on as they head up the ladder.'' Skip Barber's regional and national open-wheel series are where Bryan Herta, A.J. Allmendinger, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Antonio Pizzonia, Juan Pablo Montoya and dozens of other racing stars began their auto racing careers. Andretti will be using his $100,000 to help fund his 2005 Star Mazda campaign with MJ Motorsports. In addition to the $100,000 cash prize to the champion, new for this year is per-race prize money: $2,500 for first, $1,250 for second, and $1,000, $750 and $500 for third, fourth and fifth place, respectively. Since 1999, Skip Barber Racing has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships and prize money to young, deserving racing talent. The 2005 season will again be a seven-weekend, 14-race series; the $184,000 Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER opens mid-March at the Mobil 1 12-Hours of Sebring.
ALMS to be featured in Manhattan ALMS to be featured in ManhattanThe American Le Mans Series (ALMS) takes a first-ever "bite out of the Big Apple" next week with two high profile special events featuring a unique product debut by JeanRichard Swiss Watches, the Official Time Keeper of the ALMS, coupled with top ALMS stars and cars slated for a variety of New York City-based significant media endeavors.

On Tuesday, February 15, overall/LMP1 champion JJ Lehto and reigning GT1 titleholder Ron Fellows as well as ALMS President and CEO Scott Atherton will headline an important media luncheon at the Madison Avenue Sports Car Driving & Chowder Society. Lehto, Fellows and Atherton will address the prestigious gathering of media, executives and motorsports enthusiasts at Sardi's, one of New York City's oldest and most popular gathering places.

Two days later on Thursday, February 17, JeanRichard Swiss Watches will debut a special limited edition timepiece to commemorate the 53rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The official announcement will take place at the world's largest and most renowned retail watch store, the Tourneau Time Machine located at 590 Madison Avenue. The introduction of the JeanRichard ‘Sebring Edition' watch will take place during a special evening reception featuring JeanRichard North America President Ron Jackson, ALMS champions Lehto and Fellows as well as Atherton. In addition, as a part of the JeanRichard Swiss Watches evening and announcement, ALMS race cars as well as owners, drivers and sponsors representing all four classes of the world's most prestigious form of sports car racing will be on hand for the festivities, including the Champion Audi R8 (LMP1), Miracle Motorsports Courage C65 (LMP2), the world famous Corvette Racing C5-R and the BAM! Porsche 911 GT3 RSR driven by New York businessman Leo Hindery.

JeanRichard is using its month-long marketing and promotional display at the Tourneau facility to showcase its special edition Sebring timepiece as well as the American Le Mans Series. The project includes full-length storefront signage and an extensive photo gallery display in cooperation with AutoWeek Magazine. The high profile JeanRichard reception involves a contingent of national and international media, executives, motorsports industry leaders and fine-watch connoisseurs, who will gather for a first peak at the Sebring watch. Gino Macaluso, Owner, Sowind Groupe SA, JeanRichard's parent company; Massimo Macaluso, JeanRichard President as well as Jackson of JeanRichard North America will host the reception.

Pat Symonds on winter testing Pat Symonds on winter testingEvery F1 fan and observer is busy trying to work out who is quick and who's not. Renault Director of Engineering Pat Symonds tries to decipher the times.

Pat, has testing matched up to the team's expectations so far?
"I think we can say that thus far, we have fulfilled our expectations for the R25. It is one of the most exciting moments of the year when we hear the drivers' comments after first driving the car because they are an instant barometer of our performance, and it was a pleasure to see Fernando and Giancarlo's genuine enthusiasm for the R25 as soon as they drove it. Since then, those comments have been backed up by the car's lap-time performance."

What impact have the new tire rules had on the team's preparations?
"We have had to revise our testing methodology quite significantly: we must run a lot more miles in order to acquire information about tire condition towards the end of their life – and that means we spend a lot more time with the car in a fixed configuration for tire development, rather than adjusting the set-up. Indeed, we know that the R25 responds well to changes, but with the tire development we have undertaken, and delays from a few typical new car problems, we have not yet even begun working on optimizing set-up."

How have the new Michelin long-life tire performed?
"Michelin have been working very hard, and we now have tires that will complete a race distance. Although it will vary from circuit to circuit, the loss in lap-time through the life cycle of the tires is not as great as we had expected. And we were pleased to see that, like its predecessors, the R25 seems to be relatively easy on its tires."

Is it possible to get a realistic idea of the team's pace relative to the opposition?
"The most difficult thing is to stop yourself trying to! But really, expending effort on comparing times is of limited value. The basic fact is that you do not work to respond to the opposition; rather, we push to the maximum of our capability. Equally, other teams often have different test methods which can see them running at different lap-times, and circuit conditions change significantly through the day in the winter months. The best indicators are long runs in the middle of the day and on that basis, we look competitive. As always though, the gaps are very close both in front and behind."

What are the team's priorities between now and Melbourne?
"Our number one priority will be reliability. So far, our relative performance has been better than our relative reliability, and there is no point being quick if you cannot finish the races. In parallel, we are pushing ahead with development of the car: we have not yet run the definitive Australia specification, and new aero developments will be tested shortly before leaving for Melbourne." Renault F1 Team
Jordan completes Silverstone test Jordan completes Silverstone testJordan Grand Prix completed its Silverstone test today (Friday) with Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan at the wheel making progress with the EJ15 test schedule despite damp weather conditions limiting track running.

Monteiro carried out a program which included start and pit stop practice as well as general testing work, while Karthikeyan installed a new Jordan Toyota EJ15 chassis in preparation for Jordan’s two car test at Barcelona next week from 15 to 18 February.

Trevor Carlin, Sporting Director of Jordan Grand Prix, said: “The foggy and rainy weather conditions which are fairly typical for Silverstone at this time of year have restricted our work a bit this week but we are pleased to have got over 900km of test mileage despite that. The drivers know what they have to do and are really stuck in to the program now which is great. We had a late start but so much has progressed in the last three weeks. We’re ready to go with two cars and looking forward to getting through a lot more of our test plans next week in Barcelona.”

Tiago Monteiro said, “It was a successful week overall. It was a time to get to know each other, check a lot of things and get everything up and running. I think we achieved that. We didn’t get much running in the dry and I really wish I could have done more dry laps. But other than that I’m happy just getting used to my new life and colleagues. There are a lot of people to get to know and it’s fun working with them, I’ve had some great moments. My first week in F1 has been exciting and really busy. Now we are going to build on it and I just can’t wait to get back in the car next week.”
Narain Karthikeyan said, “Wednesday was a good day for me and we got a lot done. This week we have made a start with our huge workload of preparation for this season and it’s been really enjoyable getting going in F1. The weather has been pretty poor but I’m used to that now in England! We’ve got the car installed and I’m looking forward to more testing in a few days time.”

Mexican driver Mario Dominguez visited the factory this week and began participating in the team’s test session today (Friday) however he had completed a single installation lap before foggy conditions cut short the test. Jordan Grand Prix

Russian team to run Ferrari Russian team to run FerrariRob Schirle has announced that Cirtek Motorsport will be running a Ferrari 550 Maranello in the 2005 FIA GT Championship, under the name Russian Age Racing.  The car will be driven by the two Russian drivers, Nicolaj Fomenko and Alexei Vasiliev, and by triple FIA GT Champion Christophe Bouchut.  "Cirtek is very pleased to have been chosen to lead this new age of Russian Motorsport.  It is a long term project, with a two-year deal having been signed, and we hope to carry on working together for many years, with both our objectives and theirs being met.  We certainly want to be seen as a major factor in GT Racing and in the FIA GT Championship in particular."   The team will receive the car on February 21st, and will be running a test session in the United Kingdom before taking part in the official launch and test day for the 2005 season at Monza on March 22nd.  "Nicolaj tested the car and loved it," Rob continued.  "Vasiliev is a quick driver, and it is a major boost to have Christophe on board.  There is still a lot of work to do, but we are quietly confident." Photo of car
Candlelight for the Intimidator Candlelight for the IntimidatorOn Friday, February 18, fans gather from all across the country in remembrance of the legendary Dale Earnhardt. A Silent Candlelight Tribute is held every year on this day at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. corporate headquarters in Mooresville, NC.  This year, at Daytona International Speedway during “Trackside Live” on Speed TV (7-8 p.m. ET), fans will simultaneously take part in the candle lighting ceremony. Teresa Earnhardt will light the first candles at Daytona, while fans gathered in Mooresville at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. will do the same.  DEI
Earnhardt, Jr. starts another team Earnhardt, Jr. starts another teamDale Earnhardt Jr. is continuing to grow his JR Motorsports operation and will field a car for Mark McFarland in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series. McFarland will also drive a limited late model schedule for the team.  "It's a fun effort, yet it's a serious effort,'' said Earnhardt, who is using it as a springboard for even more opportunities. "As far as moving on into other series, the sky's the limit."  The late Dale Earnhardt began his empire with a Busch Series team before expanding it to three Nextel Cup cars. Junior called his father's start his "blueprint.'' In a company called Chance 2 Motorsports, co-owned with his stepmother, Teresa, Earnhardt fields a car in the Busch Series for reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr. The McFarland entry is his first sole ownership venture.  "For JR Motorsports, there's no limit or reins, except for the budget side of it. As it is successful, we will proceed and my roots with DEI will continue to grow. Who says you can't have it all?'' he said. ESPN
Visa Joins Rusty Wallace Visa Joins Rusty WallaceOfficials of Rusty Wallace Inc. and Visa USA announced today the continued partnership between NASCAR racing great Rusty Wallace and the world’s number one payment brand. Under the agreement, Wallace, the 1989 NASCAR Champion and 55-race winner, will continue to be a featured driver in the Visa Ultimate NASCAR Experience marketing campaign for the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season.  “Our association with Visa is something that I have been extremely proud of and to be able to continue our involvement this year is really exciting,” said Wallace, who is preparing for his “Rusty’s Last Call” tour, his final season as a driver in NASCAR’s premier series.   “We’ve had so much fun with Visa’s program and the fans have been simply ecstatic about it.   The fact that this will be our final year behind the wheel of my No. 2 Dodge should certainly enhance the promotion for 2005.”    "Rusty Wallace has been a wonderful ambassador for Visa, and his participation in the Visa Ultimate NASCAR Experience is a cornerstone of its success," said Michael Lynch, senior vice president, event and sponsorship marketing, Visa USA. "Rusty’s ability to connect with fans and sponsors alike with his charisma and professionalism helps bring Visa cardholders closer to the action than any other sponsor." Wallace PR
Earnhardt, Jr. to stay with DEI Earnhardt, Jr. to stay with DEIDale Earnhardt Jr. announced Friday he is forming a lower-level race team, but the big news was a statement about his status at Dale Earnhardt Inc. "I'm never going to sever ties with DEI," Earnhardt said. "I'm always going to be a part of that organization." For more than a year, there has been speculation that Earnhardt might leave DEI when his contract expires in 2007. Rumors persisted of him possibly joining Richard Childress Racing, where his legendary father won six of his seven NASCAR driving championships. Earnhardt's words Friday might put those rumors to rest, at least for a while. His statement came when he was asked if he might eventually leave DEI to race for his own team. Dallas Morning News
Anheuser-Busch Debut Jr. Commercials Tonight Anheuser-Busch Debut Jr. Commercials TonightAnheuser-Busch will unveil two new Budweiser commercials featuring NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. during the national broadcast of the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona on FOX on Saturday night. Commercials “Horsepower” and “Aerodynamic” will both feature Earnhardt, Jr.
Daytona Tire Trouble Daytona Tire TroubleA potentially serious tire problem with Goodyear's new Daytona 500 tires developed last night during the first hours of SpeedWeeks practice for tonight's Bud Shootout kickoff, and some drivers, according to crews, are "scared." Jeff Gordon admits he's a bit worried. "We're not really sure what's going on. You're always concerned when you see those things. I talked to Tony Stewart and he said their stuff looks pretty good. But it does worry you when you see it happen to other guys because you're not really sure why it's happening. "The tire here is a little softer than last year, and some teams had tire problems last year, though we didn't. "We haven't seen any problems with our tires, and we don't know if the problem is just with random sets, or if those guys (with the problems) are just trying something that happens to be hurting the tire." Greg Zipadelli, the crew chief for Stewart, says the problem of delamination includes both right-rear and right-front tires, indicating to him that it's not a chassis problem but a tire production problem. Winston-Salem Journal
Testing by the numbers Testing by the numbersIt's hard to judge results at test sessions, as teams and drivers concentrate on different aspects of performance besides pure speed. Some teams work on aerodynamics. Some focus on race setups and make long runs using full fuel tanks, which in turn, slow the car.

But looking at statistics, Dan Wheldon was the top overall driver during five days of Open Testing, Jan.19, 20 on the 2.21-mile road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Jan. 22 on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval and Feb. 9-10 at the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway. Three drivers, Wheldon, Helio Castroneves and defending IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan, ranked in the top-10 on each day of testing. Andretti Green Racing was the most consistent team in the preseason, with Kanaan, Wheldon, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta each ranking in the top five, in their Dallara/Honda/Firestone entries.

Rankings were determined by adding each driver's position on the final speed chart each day. The driver with the lowest score prevails, though it may not be the most accurate indicator of performance. Scott Dixon was the most consistent driver in testing in 2004, but was never a factor in the championship. Buddy Rice, who recorded three wins, including the Indianapolis 500, didn't even crack the top-10.

The top 10 for 2005:

HMS (Road) HMS (Road) HMS (Oval) PIR PIR Overall
Pos. Driver 1/19 1/20 1/22 2/11 2/12 Total
1 Dan Wheldon 4 2 3 2 2 13
2 Tony Kanaan 2 4 6 1 3 16
3 Dario Franchitti 3 1 11 5 1 21
4 Helio Castroneves 8 3 10 8 4 33
5 Bryan Herta 7 5 8 13 6 39
(tie) Scott Sharp 18 11 2 3 5 39
7 Ryan Briscoe 1 8 13 6 18 46
8 Patrick Carpentier 6 6 14 10 14 50
9 Buddy Rice 12 15 1 16 7 51
10 Tomas Scheckter 10 12 7 7 17 53
IndyCar Series car visits Florida State Fair IndyCar Series car visits Florida State FairAn IndyCar Series car will be on display in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg booth at the Florida State Fair at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Fla.
Schmidt to visit Congress Schmidt to visit CongressMenards Infiniti Pro Series team owner Sam Schmidt will visit Washington, D.C., next week to meet with senators and congressmen about paralysis rehabilitation issues. Schmidt, whose team won the Menards Infiniti Pro Series championship in 2004, has been paralyzed since a practice crash in 2000.

Schmidt and Ida Cahill, president of the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, will meet with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and John Ensign, the two senators from Schmidt's home state of Nevada. They also will meet with Rep. Jim Gibbons, as well as other senators, congressmen and staff. The meetings are part of an effort coordinated by the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology

"There are issues coming before Congress which are vitally important to those with spinal cord injuries," Schmidt said. "We lost a powerful spokesman last year with the tragic death of Christopher Reeve, but the movement to find help hasn't had time to slow down. We need to pick up the torch and move forward."

Sharp surprises in Open Testing Sharp surprises in Open TestingAndretti Green Racing wasn't the only team to pick up where it left off in 2004. Fernandez Racing and new driver Scott Sharp continued the momentum gained by team owner Adrian Fernandez in 2004.

"We're real pleased with the Delphi Fernandez team," said Sharp, who will race the No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone. "It was a great couple of days and we really worked through a lot of stuff today. We're just trying to concentrate on things we can learn to help us here and at other tracks. Some improve the car, some don't, but you learn. We got a little bit race running in, so it was a good test."

Sharp was one of the top performing drivers during the oval portion of Open testing. He was second-fastest on the only day of oval testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway and ranked in the top-five both days at Phoenix International Raceway.

The results have left the 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion anxious to start the season.  "I haven't slept well in a couple of weeks because I am so excited every night, and I can't quit smiling," he said. "I'm just so excited to start the season. I think we're going to go to each track and be contenders. I think we're going to get better and better as the year goes on."

Industry News
Racing Employment service launches Racing Employment service launchesA new service catering to the needs of Motorsports Employers and Job Seekers has launched on the Web today.  Racing Employment Network saves time, effort and money by connecting the right people with the right positions in the motorsport trade.  Racing Employment Network recognizes that success on and off the racetrack is the direct result of finding the right connections.

Racing Employment Network is a partnership of veteran members of the motorsports industry who recognized the need for an Internet-based employment service 100% dedicated to the racing industry.

For Employers, your Racing Employment Network membership gives instant 24-7 access to a fully secure database that is totally committed to every facet of motor sport. Save time and money by using one viable source for all your employment related needs:

  • We eliminate or lessen time-consuming H.R. related tasks like dedicated advertising and sifting   through mounds of resumes.  Let us make the first cut.
  • We have easy to use registration, job posting and job seeker access
  • We filter responses to your unique requirements and cut excessive applications and interviews
  • You maintain the ability to monitor your account at will

For Job Seekers, your secure R.E.N. membership allows you to:

  • Post your resume to attract employers to your unique abilities
  • Apply to your choice of job listings in full confidence
  • Gain a no-risk opportunity to better your current position

It’s easy for employers and job seekers to become Racing Employment Network members:

  • Log onto the website at www.racingemploymentnetwork.com
  • Choose either employer or job seeker link
  • Follow the easy step by step prompts
  • Congratulations! You are now online with access to a worldwide database of employers, and job seekers involved in all types of racing: automobile, motorcycle, marine, off-shore among many other categories

Winning results depend on many different things.  None is more important than having the right people in the right place.

Craven's wife gives birth Craven's wife gives birthBefore Ricky Craven could leave for Daytona there was just one more thing he had to do at home – be there for the birth of his third child.  Ricky and his wife, Cathleen, welcomed Lydia Cathleen Craven into the world at 8:47 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, February 10.  Lydia weighed in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces and was just under 20 inches long.   “She is absolutely beautiful,” Craven said.  “Everybody should get to come home from the hospital on Friday so I can spend a few days with her before I leave for Daytona next week.  This is the best start to SpeedWeeks I’ve ever had.”  Lydia will not be in Daytona to cheer her father on while he drives the No. 99 Superchips Ford F-150 in next Friday’s Craftsman Truck race, but she intends to watch live coverage on Speed Channel between feedings.
Garcia and Jani get GP2 rides Garcia and Jani get GP2 ridesSpanish team Racing Engineering has finally confirmed that Borja Garcia and Neel Jani will form its line-up for the inaugural GP2 Series.  Garcia's position in the squad has been taken as read almost from the time the team was granted a place on the twelve-team entry list, having clinched last year's Spanish F3 crown in a Racing Engineering Dallara. Although initially expected to step up to the F3 Euroseries, the bespectacled Spaniard has been offered a chance to show his potential on a higher stage whilst remaining in a familiar environment.

“I am happy to get the chance to compete in GP2 in 2005, but I am aware that it will be a tough championship," Garcia admitted, "There are a lot of very fast and experienced drivers, and every single one will be hungry for a win. But, in Racing Engineering, I know I have the perfect support and having already worked together in the past will be beneficial. Together, our goal is to finish the championship among the top five drivers, making it to the podium as often as possible.”

Jani, meanwhile, graduates from the now defunct Formula Renault V6 series, where he was a runner-up in 2003 and a frontrunner in 2004 with the DAMS team. Unable to remain with the French equipe for its first season in the F3000 replacement, the sometime Sauber test driver has now inked a deal with Racing Engineering, helped, no doubt, by his inclusion on the Red Bull Junior Team scheme.

“I am really looking forward to the season - and would like to take the opportunity to thank Red Bull for making my participation in this new championship possible," the Swiss ace commented, "I am very impressed by the team's infrastructure - and it is also nice as a Swiss driver to race for a partially Swiss team.

"Racing Engineering has got very good people and, if we all do our best, a lot is possible. Of course, there are a lot of good drivers in the championship, but if you want to reach Formula One, that's the way a driver has to go. I think it will be a very hard year for everybody, and the team and I need to go to the first race very well prepared. My goal is always to win the championship I am racing in - and that will not change this year!”

Team principal Alfonso de Orleáns-Borbón is delighted with his line-up, and particularly with the fact that he is able to take one of his countrymen into GP2.

“I am delighted to have Neel and Borja on our 2005 team," he confirmed, "Both drivers have quite similar characters, which fit perfectly with the team. They remind me a lot of Justin Wilson, with their clear thought and aggressive driving styles, as well as their characters. I am sure, with this combination, we will not only be successful, but will also enjoy our work together tremendously."

Industry News
Racing on TV this weekend (USA) Racing on TV this weekend (USA)
Fox will air coverage of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Budweiser Shootout at 8:00pm ET.
Fox will air Daytona 500 Qualifying at 1:00pm ET.
ESPN2 will air NHRA Winternationals at 7:00pm ET.
Nextel unveils marketing plan for NASCAR Nextel unveils marketing plan for NASCARNextel today unveiled its marketing plans for the ’05 NASCAR Nextel Cup season. The wireless communications provider will debut the Nextel FanZone in Daytona Int’l Speedway’s infield for the Daytona 500. The interactive area will feature a garage, racing legends area and a bistro-style restaurant. The company also will launch three TV spots to support its NASCAR sponsorship that demonstrate how Nextel products help fans, businesses and racing teams get things done. Nextel
Champ Car makes Monterrey date change official Champ Car makes Monterrey date change official[Editor's Note: AutoRacing1.com readers heard this news from our Mexico reporters last week.]  The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford today announced that it was moving the date of the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix back to May 22, 2005; the date on which it was originally scheduled. The date moved back to Sunday to alleviate potential conflicts with playoff action in the Liga Mexicana soccer season.

“We will do anything that we can in order to help our valued promoters in Mexico and in turn, to help the many Champ Car fans in Mexico that want to come see our race,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “By moving the race back to Sunday, we can give our Mexican fans a chance to experience a full weekend of Champ Car racing, so we are happy to do it.”

The Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix will be the second race of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season and will be run on the 2.104-mile temporary road course in Fundidora Park. Reigning series champion Sebastien Bourdais will return to Mexico as the defending race winner in Monterrey after taking victory from the pole a year ago.

“We are very happy to have the Monterrey race back on Sunday,” said Motorsports Director OCESA/CIE, Federico Alaman. “I'm convinced that this is better for the fans and we worked with Champ Car for the change so that they'll have a better opportunity to enjoy the race while they support our Mexican drivers as well as our soccer teams.”

Television details concerning the event will be released in the coming weeks.

Positive end of week for BAR Honda Positive end of week for BAR HondaLucky Strike B·A·R Honda switched its test program to the Circuito de Jerez in Southern Spain this week as preparations continue for the new season. The four-day test with all four regular drivers has given the team its first chance to run the B·A·R Honda 007 car on a different style of circuit, having spent the past three weeks in Valencia.

Very little running was achieved on the first morning due to the damp conditions. When the cars did get on track, Anthony ran through a brief tire evaluation alongside set-up work in chassis 007-01. At the start of the afternoon program, the team suffered a rear wing failure with Takuma's 007-02 on the approach to turn one. He spun off into the tire barriers and whilst Takuma was unhurt, the car sustained substantial damage therefore ending his program for the day. Investigations continue into the cause of the failure however the fault appears to be isolated to that individual component.

Anthony ran in chassis 006-06 on Wednesday, working through a tire compound evaluation to complete an impressive 154 laps covering 680 kms. Takuma's morning running in chassis 007-01 was limited due to a gearbox problem and his afternoon was cut short when he ran wide braking into turn ten and spun off the track. The damage was not severe but substantial enough to bring an early end to his running.

Jenson joined the team on Thursday driving chassis 007-02. He ran through some early set-up runs to acclimatize himself to the car and the circuit, completing eight runs before he experienced a similar incident to Takuma's spin the previous day. He too ran wide at turn ten and hit the tire barriers damaging the front of the car. The mechanics did an excellent job to turn the car around and Jenson returned to the track in the afternoon to complete a short tire evaluation alongside an aerodynamic program. His final lap tally for the day was 72 laps. Takuma ran in chassis 006-06, completing 129 laps as he worked through a tire evaluation program.

On Friday, Jenson ran through an aerodynamic evaluation alongside a tire program, completing 129 laps and running the latest specification Honda engine to its target mileage. Enrique joined the test, driving chassis 006-06. He ran through an aerodynamic program before completing long tire runs, for a total of 122 laps.

After such a frustrating start to the week's program, the team was buoyed by signs of the car's true potential on the final day of the main test. The vast majority of the team's testing to date has focused on reliability and understanding how the tires perform under the new sporting regulations. Today, for the first time, the team has explored the car's ultimate performance on lower fuel levels. The signs were very encouraging as Jenson set the fastest lap of the day - a 1:15.680, which was also the fastest lap of the week. Jenson will remain in Jerez on Saturday to complete a wet test. BAR Honda

McLaren testing wrapup McLaren testing wrapupMcLaren Mercedes completed its four day testing program at the Jerez circuit today. Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya were present at the final day of testing, with both drivers’ programs focusing on simulated qualifying runs in the morning and endurance runs in the afternoon. Raikkonen completed 102 laps, with Montoya completing 96 laps. The Colombian set the second fastest time of the day with Kimi setting the fifth fastest time.

This week the team ran two MP4-20s in tandem, with Montoya's car sporting the roll hoop mid wing, part of the aerodynamic package on the team’s 2005 car. Montoya was also working with his race team engineers and mechanics for the first time as the three drivers completed a total of 2493 km over the course of the four day test.

The first day of the program saw Montoya and Pedro de la Rosa in action with Montoya driving a new chassis. Rain the previous evening delayed the start of running until the track began to dry, with Juan Pablo carrying out general set up work and de la Rosa completing long runs. Montoya completed 38 laps with Pedro completing 77 laps of the circuit.

On Wednesday the primary focus of the test was tire development work ahead of the Australian Grand Prix. De la Rosa lost an hour and a half’s running time in the afternoon with a damaged radiator while Montoya had a trouble free day. Montoya completed 102 laps in total with de la Rosa completing 98 laps. Montoya was the fastest driver of the day with a 1m16.803s lap.
A damaged suspension part on Raikkonen’s car meant that he was unable to take part in the penultimate day of the test, and the damaged part was flown back to the McLaren Technology Centre for a comprehensive forensic analysis. Montoya's program focused on tire selection for the Malaysian Grand Prix in the morning, however a clutch problem in the afternoon meant that he was unable to run for the remainder of the day.

Next week the team will test in Barcelona from February 15-17. Raikkonen and Montoya will be present at the first two days of the test driving the MP4-20, with Pedro de la Rosa present on the final day. The program will focus on tire selection for the Malaysian Grand Prix, the second race of the season.

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren CEO “We have had a productive test this week in Jerez where we ran two MP4-20s for the first time. The team took the precaution not to run Kimi on Thursday due to a damaged suspension part, however new parts were flown over to Jerez later that day to allow him to complete the final day of testing."

“Juan Pablo had three trouble free days of testing, but was affected by a clutch problem on Thursday. However it is important to say that it is not unusual for problems to occur during this stage of the testing process and it is better that these issues are resolved now and do not happen over a Grand Prix weekend.”

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Vice President “A test with encouraging results for everybody in the team. We put 1,100 kms on one and 1,300 kms on another engine, when Pedro, Juan Pablo and Kimi posted competitive lap times. The final test in Barcelona before the first Grand Prix in Melbourne will give us an even clearer indication of where we are compared to our competition.” Press Release McLaren

Button goes fastest Button goes fastestJenson Button was only three tenths of a second slower than Michael Schumacher's lap record at Jerez de la Frontera on Friday. The Briton was fast, but also stopped his BAR007 on the track twice. It seems the BAR car still has reliability problems.
Jerez - 11/02/2005
1 . J. Button - BAR Honda 007 - 1:15.663 - 0.000 - 130 laps
2 . J. P. Montoya - McLaren Mercedes MP4- 20 - 1:16.192 - 0.529 - 96 laps
3 . M. Schumacher - Ferrari F2004M - 1:16.662 - 0.999 - 127 laps
4 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:16.797 - 1.134 - 101 laps
5 . K. Raikkonen - McLaren Mercedes MP4- 20 - 1:17.356 - 1.693 - 102 laps
6 . M. Webber - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:17.411 - 1.748 - 114 laps
7 . V. Liuzzi - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:17.436 - 1.773 - 109 laps
8 . R. Zonta - Toyota TF105 - 1:17.710 - 2.047 - 116 laps
9 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:17.921 - 2.258 - 136 laps
10 . R. Schumacher - Toyota TF105 - 1:18.062 - 2.399 - 110 laps
11 . E. Bernoldi - BAR Honda 007 - 1:18.578 - 2.915 - 122 laps
12 . L. Badoer - Ferrari F2004M - 1:18.773 - 3.110 - 80 laps
First Photos: Dominguez drives Jordan First Photos: Dominguez drives JordanUPDATE Autosport reports that Dominguez got out just before 4pm at Silverstone but with fog and drizzle closing in on the circuit, the test had to be abandoned after he managed just one slow lap because the medical helicopter could not safely take off. A Jordan spokeswoman confirmed to autosport.com: “Mario has visited the factory and carried out an installation lap.”

Dominguez in the Jordan
Photo Courtesy Jordan F1

02/11/05 Mexican Champ Car driver Mario Dominguez is set for a run in the Jordan EJ15 this afternoon at Silverstone. It is believed that the Dominguez management is trying for a test role with the squad in order for the Mexican to get some F1 miles under his belt with a view to a drive in the future. Jordan's test at Silverstone on Thursday was cut short due to the heavy rain, Friday at the circuit has been dry with grey skies.

Johnson Oval Racer of Year Johnson Oval Racer of YearDale Earnhardt Jr. was the choice of RACER magazine readers as the overall Racer of the Year for 2004, but when it came to choosing the top oval driver for the season past, the Daytona 500 champ was eclipsed by Nextel Cup’s most successful driver of the season, Jimmie Johnson. The Hendrick Motorsports star, who led the Nextel Cup ranks with eight wins, bested IRL IndyCar champ Tony Kanaan in the voting, as tabulated via an online ballot at SpeedTV.com.  “Jimmie has always understood racing very well,” noted his crew chief, Chad Knaus, who offers his impressions of how his driver hit his stride so quickly in the feature article revealing all of this year’s Racers of the Year, in the March issue of RACER that goes on sale Feb. 22.
Toyota Jerez test summary Toyota Jerez test summary
Location: Circuito Permanente de Jerez, Spain
Dates: 8-11 February 2005
Drivers: Jarno Trulli (8-10), Ralf Schumacher (10-11), Ricardo Zonta (8-9, 11)
Track Length: 4.428km

Jarno Trulli - Chassis TF105/03 Best lap time: 1m16.743s, Total laps: 241, Total distance: 1067.1km

Jarno, what have you been working on over your three days of running? The main aim of the test was to work on tire choice for Melbourne and Malaysia. On top of this we have also done several long runs. We learned quite a lot and carried out some set-up work, some traction control development and some work on launches. Unfortunately I had to miss the last day because I came down with the flu. But overall we put in a lot of laps and it was a generally positive test so I am happy.

How is the car progressing? We didn't have any major new parts on the car here, but we seem reasonably competitive. Now we are looking forward to trying the new aerodynamic package for Melbourne which we are planning to test for the first time in Barcelona next week. That should give us a bit more of a boost.

Ralf Schumacher - Chassis TF105/02, Best lap time: 1m17.773s, Total laps: 182, Total distance: 805.9km

Ralf, what has your program been for this week's Jerez test? Thursday was a straightforward day, working on our Michelin tires. We went through our program without any problems so it was a pretty good day. I had a couple of spins early on because it was my first morning and I was still setting up the car. That meant the car was still tricky to drive and I was trying a bit too hard. On Friday we carried out some long runs and I was able to complete in excess of 100 laps over the course of the day.

How has the car been progressing, and how much are you looking forward to trying out the Melbourne-spec aerodynamic package? Obviously any progress we can get and anything that makes us go quicker is always appreciated. Still, I must say while we seemed to struggle at times at Valencia last week, here at Jerez the package we already have looks a bit better and closer to the other teams.

Ricardo Zonta - Chassis TF105/02, TF105/03, TF104/11B, Best lap time: 1m17.719s (set in TF104/11B), Total laps: 241, Total distance: 1067.1km

What have you been working on this week? I spent Tuesday doing set-up work because it was my first day driving the new car in Jerez. On Wednesday we did some tire work and some longer runs. I had one enforced stoppage with a gearbox problem but it was good to learn more about how the car behaves in race conditions. I returned to the cockpit on Friday to continue the work on long runs. I also completed a small shakedown of the TF104B that I will be using for some wet tire testing here over the weekend.

How has the wet weather tire testing been going? I will be doing two more days of wet tire work here at Jerez over the weekend. We have done quite a few of those tests this winter and I can already feel some improvement in Michelin's wet tires. The wet tires this year haven't changed as much as the dry tires because you are still allowed to change them during the race, but I have already felt some improvements during the tests we have completed so far.

Ferrari to unveil new car Ferrari to unveil new carWorld champions Ferrari will unveil their 2005 Formula One car at their Maranello factory on February 25, the team says.  The season starts in Australia on March 6.  The Italian team have said they do not expect to race the car until the Spanish Grand Prix in May, relying instead on a modified version of their F2004 for the opening four races.
'05 last for Ken Schrader '05 last for Ken SchraderThere wasn't a lot of hoopla, not a lot of fireworks. Nonchalantly, during NASCAR's Media Day at Daytona International Speedway, Schrader let it be known that he will not race in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series past the year 2006. That's when his #49 BAM Racing Dodge's sponsorship agreement with Schwann's Home Service runs out. "That deal is pretty simple actually. You do that when no one will hire you," Schrader said. "We did a three-year deal with Schwann's, with last year being the first year. You never know what's going to happen, but I won't go past next year for sure, I know. Our deal is a little different than some of those other guys, though. After that time, we're just not going to come back (to Daytona) for one race (the Daytona 500). We'll come back, but we'll just bring the truck instead." Once he's done with the Nextel Cup Series, he plans to start racing full-time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He's driven in 58 NCTS events between 1995 and 2004 -- including 12 last season -- with his own team. "We're going to gear up to run a full truck deal when we're done (with Cup)," Schrader said. That's the plan. We just bough a new shop, and we'll run one full-time truck next year. We'll still do a limited schedule this year with Federated Auto Parts as our sponsor, but we're going to go full out next year, whether I'm the driver or I get another one in." Daytona Beach News Journal
TV tidbits TV tidbitsDespite NASCAR's [TV Ratings] rise, though, Fox/FX, which televise the first half of the season, and NBC/TNT, which carry the second half, have yet to show a profit. The rights fees quadrupled to $200 million a year after the networks outbid ABC/ESPN and CBS. NASCAR likely will extend Fox's two-year option through the 2008 season. But the NBC/TNT deal expires after the 2006 season, and ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer said at his company's marketing seminar Oct. 27 that NASCAR topped the list of additional properties he would want. Coincidentally, ESPN has stepped up its coverage of NASCAR for SportsCenter this year. USA Today
FOX surprise FOX surpriseThe NASCAR on FOX production team has a big surprise in store for the Daytona 500 on FOX, Sunday, Feb. 20 at 1:00pm/et [green flag around 2:00pm/et]. It's a camera shot that has been flirted with before, but past attempts haven't even scratched the surface of what our coordinating director Artie Kempner and coordinating producer Richie Zyontz are going to do. FoxSports/Larry Mac
Hotels Unlikely to Reopen In Time Hotels Unlikely to Reopen In TimeFew people will be more upset during the Daytona 500 than Stacy Martin. Hurricane Frances parked for 23 hours over the Daytona Beach hotel she manages and ripped off the roof, tore out windows and turned the inside into a soggy mess. The Shores Resort & Spa's 212 rooms will be closed for the race, leaving Martin in the middle of a $20 million renovation project with little to do except total her losses. ``When I think about all the people in town, I cry,'' Martin said Thursday, as workers repaired the roof. ``I don't know how much we've lost, but I know it's in the millions.'' Martin is among a dozen hotel managers across Daytona Beach who haven't recovered from last year's hurricanes. Officials estimate that 1,700 - about 13 percent - of the 13,000 rooms in the Daytona Beach area are out of commission, and a large portion are the most desirable and expensive waterfront rooms. Tampa Tribune
Busch Doesn't Plan To Race Forever Busch Doesn't Plan To Race ForeverKurt Busch might not stick around NASCAR's Nextel Cup series as long as veterans such as Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott.  Those drivers are in their 40s and winding down long and successful careers. Martin and Wallace plan to make 2005 their final full season in Cup racing, Labonte is cutting back to a 10-race schedule for both 2005 and 2006 and Elliott went to a limited schedule last season.  The 26-year-old Busch is a long way from joining the elder statesmen of the spot, but the 36-race season - particularly the 10-race playoff-style finish - have already taken their toll on the series champion. Mercury Sun
Industry News
Bridgestone Motorsports season gets underway Bridgestone Motorsports season gets underwayWith the AMA Supercross season already underway, Bridgestone Motorsport is also gearing up for other competitions around the globe, continuing to build on the legacy of success that Bridgestone-equipped teams and competitors have established over the past four decades.

“Bridgestone Motorsport has enjoyed spectacular success in the past few years,” said Al Speyer, executive director of motorsports, Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT).  “Certainly our accomplishments in Formula One have been the highlight of our motorsports program, but when you look at our program from top to bottom it’s hard to find a weak spot.  Across the board, from motorcycle to karting to our continued partnership with Champ Car, our triumphs on the track have given us a chance to both highlight our status as a global leader in tire technology as well as find inspiration for future innovations.  We fully expect 2005 to continue the trend.”

The 2005 season kicked off in January as Bridgestone-equipped riders took to the track in both the 125cc and 250cc divisions of the AMA Supercross series.  This year, at least nine riders in the 250cc division will ride on Bridgestone tires, including 2004 champion Chad Reed and perennial Supercross favorite Ricky Carmichael.  At least 12 riders are expected to compete on Bridgestone tires in the 125cc division.  Bridgestone-equipped riders dominated AMA Supercross competition in 2004, led by Reed’s 10 wins.  Every single 250cc victory and all but one podium finish were claimed last season by a Bridgestone-equipped rider.

Bridgestone returns to Formula One competition again this season as a technological partner to world champion Michael Schumacher and the Scuderia Ferrari team, as well as the Jordan Grand Prix and Minardi teams.  The 2004 season saw a Bridgestone-equipped driver win 15 of the series’ 18 races, with Schumacher claiming his record seventh FIA Formula One World Series driver’s championship, the seventh consecutive title by a Bridgestone-equipped driver.  Formula One’s 2005 season, which will feature 19 events, gets underway March 6 with the Australian Grand Prix.   

Bridgestone will continue as official tire and presenting sponsor for the Champ Car World Series in 2005, the fourth consecutive season that every Champ Car driver will compete on Bridgestone tires.  At selected events, Bridgestone will again bring a softer-compound “alternate” tire, a highly successful concept that added a new facet to Champ Car competition last season.       

“After the success we had last season, we’ve decided to continue to offer the alternate tire at several events,” said Speyer. “Historically, passing has been a problem on many Champ Car circuits and we think this has made it easier for drivers to find that little bit of extra speed.  Our aim was to make the racing a bit more exciting for the fans and by having drivers on faster tires at different times of the race, we think we’ve been able to accomplish that.”

The Champ Car Series opens its 2005 season on April 10 with the world-famous Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Many of today’s open-wheel drivers, including Michael Schumacher, began their careers in the highly popular sport of karting.  Bridgestone has been a perennial favorite of karting champions all over the world, and the company has enjoyed a great deal of success in karting competition.  Last season, David Fore won the CIK/FIA World Championship on Bridgestone tires and Bridgestone will be seen again this year in numerous karting competitions around the world, including events in the International Karting Federation, World Karting Association and the Stars of Karting presented by the Indy Racing League.

After entering FIM MotoGP competition for the first time in 2002, Bridgestone had a landmark season in 2004, with two victories and three pole wins by a Bridgestone-equipped rider.  In this thrilling and highly competitive series, sometimes known as “the F1 of the motorcycle world,” Bridgestone is proving itself a worthy competitor and continues this season in partnership with Ducati Marlboro, Kawasaki and Team Suzuki.

World of Outlaws
Hummers to pace WoO Hummers to pace WoOBoundless Motor Sports Racing yesterday announced that Hummer subsidiary Hummers Gone Wild (HGW) will be the official pace car of the ’05 World of Outlaws Sprint Series and World of Outlaws Stacker 2 Late Model Series. HGW will provide each series with a customized Hummer H2 as the official pace car. Boundless Motor Sports
Daytona 500 to be shown live in theaters Daytona 500 to be shown live in theatersIn conjunction with Fox and Regal CineMedia, NASCAR will simulcast the Daytona 500 live in HD at Regal Union Square Stadium 14 in N.Y. and the Edwards Irvine Spectrum 21 in Irvine, California. There will be show-car displays in the theaters and the opportunity to win passes to NASCAR events, copies of the ‘NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience’ DVD and subscriptions to NASCAR.com’s TrackPass NASCAR
Earnhardt to run special paint scheme Earnhardt to run special paint schemeDale Earnhardt Jr. will drive a special paint scheme for Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, as well as next Sunday's Daytona 500. The candy-apple red and white paint scheme was unveiled today at Daytona before the starting line-up was drawn for the Budweiser Shootout. The "Born on Date" will read "12 FEB 2005" for the Shootout and "20 FEB 2005" for the Daytona 500.
Industry News
New seat has HANS built in New seat has HANS built inRacetech has created a new race car seat with a layback design and a head restraint for side impact protection.   The RTTRANSAM model is a race seat with a built in head restraint to give drivers extra protection in a side impact. Most race safety experts agree that head restraints give superior protection in the unfortunate event of a collision. The race seat gives drivers a comfortable 26 degree layback design, which can be angled back additionally for a more aggressive layback angle. This seat is primarily geared to cars that have an open cockpit, or a low profile designed cockpit where the driver needs to be in a reclined, relaxed position. The seat shell is manufactured in a fiberglass composite and covered in a soft cloth material.   The RTTRANSAM was designed originally off the popular RT4009HR seat that is FIA certified. For additional information on this product or other models, contact your Racetech dealer or Racetech North America directly at (775) 351-2250.
Jarrett and Biffle earn front row for Bud Shootout Jarrett and Biffle earn front row for Bud ShootoutDefending race winner Dale Jarrett drew the lucky number - er, beer bottle - and will start from the pole in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.  Jarrett will be going for his fourth Shootout victory in 10 attempts in the special pole winners' race. He started 15th last year before being pushed to the checkered flag by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Pos. Car Driver Make Sponsor
1 88 Dale Jarrett Ford UPS
2 16 Greg Biffle Ford National Guard
3 39 Bill Elliott Dodge Coors
4 25 Brian Vickers Chevrolet GMAC
5 49 Ken Schrader Dodge Schwan's Home Service
6 97 Kurt Busch Ford Crown Royal
7 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL
8 20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet The Home Depot
9 21 Ricky Rudd Ford Motorcraft
10 19 Jeremy Mayfield Dodge Dodge Dealers/UAW
11 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont
12 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Budweiser
13 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Dodge Dealers/UAW
14 6 Mark Martin Ford Kraft - Guess Who's Got The Groceries
15 2 Rusty Wallace Dodge Miller Lite
16 01 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet U.S. Army
17 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's
18 41 Casey Mears Dodge Target
19 18 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet Interstate Batteries
20 193 Geoffrey Bodine Chevrolet Global Industrial Contractors
Best Western Unveils Its New No. 99 Busch Series Street Car Best Western Unveils Its New No. 99 Busch Series Street Car 
WHAT:  Best Western International, the Official Hotel of NASCAR,  unveils its new #99 Busch Series Street Car with a special "Win a Week of Stays" Contest. NASCAR fans will have the chance to guess the number of ping pong balls filling the vehicle's interior.  The person who is closest to the correct answer will "Win a Week of Stays" with the world's largest hotel chain, in the form of a $1,000 Best Western Racing Edition Travel Card.

Individuals can also have their photo taken next to the #99 Chevrolet, a replica of the car veteran Michael Waltrip will drive in a Busch Series race later this season.  Radio station 99.9 Froggy FM will also be broadcasting live from the event.  In January 2004, Best Western International entered into a multi-year agreement as the Official Hotel of NASCAR.  The company also serves as an associate sponsor of Waltrip and the    Dale Earnhardt, Inc.-owned No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet in the CAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

WHEN:   Sunday, February 13, 2005 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.  "Win a Week of Stays" Recipient to be Announced at 12:00 p.m.

WHERE: Best Western Mayan Inn Beachfront 103 S. Ocean Avenue Daytona Beach, FL 32118

Midland-Jordan F3 team Midland-Jordan F3 team'Midland' will run a junior F3 team from 2005.  It's reported that new Jordan MD Colin Kolles' existing Euro F3 outfit will simply be re-branded, and may run with Toyota power.  Formula One team owner Alex Shnaider earlier said that the aim of a 'junior' Jordan-Midland team would be to develop Russian-born driving talent.
Heidfeld can’t wait to race Heidfeld can’t wait to raceNick Heidfeld is looking forward to participating in his first Grand Prix as an official BMW WilliamsF1 Team driver on 6th March in Australia. “This is the greatest opportunity of my career,” Heidfeld stated on the WilliamsF1 website. "I really wanted this job. I will do everything I can to show that I deserve this place and I'm counting the days to the first Grand Prix.” Heidfeld claims that he still enjoys a good relationship with Antonio Pizzonia despite the closely matched competition for the race seat. “Taking up the challenge with Antonio was a lot of fun,” the German continued. “He's a great team-mate. I respect him and I would also have taken on the job of test driver.”

Pizzonia however is believed to be considering his options for 2005 as he freely admits he wants to race and not just test. Rumor has linked the Brazilian to a ride in the Champ Car World Series, possibly in a third Newman/Haas Lola alongside another Williams refugee Bruno Junqueira as well as series Champion Sebastien Bourdais.

Meanwhile at Jerez, both Heidfeld and Mark Webber continued to put laps on the new FW27 on Thursday. The team carried out general setup work with Webber lapping ninth fastest of the 16 runners and 2.4 seconds off the fastest time of the day set by Fernando Alonso in the new Renault. Heidfeld was 14th. WilliamsF1

Piquet Jr. and Button crash their BAR Hondas Piquet Jr. and Button crash their BAR HondasUPDATE Jenson Button joined BAR Honda on Thursday morning for the third day of the team's five-day test in Jerez. Driving chassis 007-02, Button ran through some early set-up runs to acclimatize himself to the car and the circuit. Button completed eight runs before running wide at turn ten which caused him to spin off the track and hit the tire barriers. Button was unhurt but the car sustained some damage to its nose and front suspension. Takuma Sato, meanwhile, had a productive morning in chassis 006-06 which is set up with 2005 specification downforce. The Japanese racer completed a total of 74 laps running through a tire evaluation. Sato continued his tire evaluation in the afternoon, completing further long runs making a total of 129 laps on the day. Jenson Button returned to the track midway through the afternoon session to complete a short tire evaluation alongside an aerodynamic program. His final lap tally for the day was 72 laps. On the day, Jenson Button was eighth fastest while Takuma Sato was 11th. BAR Honda 02/10/05 Nelson Piquet Jr joined BAR Honda in Jerez on Tuesday and was given the opportunity to drive last year's car in recognition of his achievements in British Formula 3 last year. The team began a five-day test at Jerez on Tuesday with all four of its regular drivers. Piquet's program got underway late in the morning session when he completed an installation lap in preparation for the afternoon session. He completed a total of 41 laps during the afternoon, setting a best time of a 1:20.855. He had a small incident when he spun off braking into the final corner, which unfortunately for Piquet, caused sufficient damage to the car to bring an early end to his running. "It has been a good day in Jerez and overall I have enjoyed my experience of driving the BAR Honda 006 and would like to thank the team for giving me this opportunity," Piquet stated. "I wasn't able to get as much running as I hoped due to the late start caused by the damp conditions of the track and the circuit red flags in the afternoon. When I was able to go out, everything worked well and I set some consistent lap times which I am pleased about.” Piquet will compete in the GP2 series in 2005 with Hitech Piquet Sports. Source Piquet Sports
Jean Todt is F1's 'best' Jean Todt is F1's 'best'(GMMF1.NET) Ferrari boast the best principal in F1, Max Mosley said. He claimed that Jean Todt, the Frenchman who may be favored to become the FIA's next president, has the Italian team 'working together. ''Everybody's on the same side,'' said Mosley. ''Everywhere he's been he's won, and that's because he's an absolutely outstanding team manager. ''I reckon you could put him in any of the top five teams and you'd have the same result.'' The FIA president also said it's a 'fallacy' that Ferrari - building both car and engine - effectively have F1's biggest budget, but conceded that they receive the biggest proportion of Bernie Ecclestone's team income.
Ralf to struggle - Wurz Ralf to struggle - Wurz(GMMF1.NET)  Don't be surprised if Jarno Trulli is the fastest Toyota driver in 2005.  That's the assertion of McLaren's 'third' man, Alex Wurz.  The lanky Austrian told a reporter that, in winter testing, he's followed both Trulli and teammate Ralf Schumacher when they're driving the new TF105, and the former is making a better fist of it.  Indeed, at Jerez on Thursday, Trulli outpaced 29-year-old Ralf's best lap time by a tad over a second.  Conventional wisdom says Italian-born Trulli, a renowned qualifying specialist, is better than Michael Schumacher's sibling at the wheel of a tricky-handling machine.
Heavy rain at Silverstone Heavy rain at Silverstone(GMMF1.NET)  Typical Silverstone rain disrupted Thursday's running on day two of the (three day) Jordan test.  Narain Karthikeyan ploughed ahead in the bare Toyota-powered EJ15, but the team - also having practiced starts and pit stops - decided to pack it in early.  The Indian driver and teammate Tiago Monteiro should continue on Friday, 'weather permitting,' a statement cautioned.  Midland-owned Jordan will then move to Spain (Barcelona) next week.
'Senna' in court 'Senna' in court(GMMF1.NET)  A Scottish called Ayrton Senna appeared in court this week -- on a charge of dangerous driving.  The 36-year-old bus driver, who - by deed poll - changed his name from John Campbell in 1997, smashed his bus into another (stationary) coach last August.  Lawyer Bob MacKinnon said: ''The original Ayrton Senna was his hero.''  The judge fined Senna £125 and deducted five license points.  Senna said he is often laughed at for taking the legendary Brazilian F1 driver's name.  ''After a while you get used to it,'' he added.
New car won’t win - Nick New car won’t win - Nick(GMMF1.NET)  Williams' new FW27 car is not good enough to trump the field at next month's Melbourne grand prix, Nick Heidfeld admitted.  But the German driver played down speculation that the BMW-powered contender is grappling with engine fragility, and not enough grip.  'Quick Nick' told Autosport: ''It's good enough to be at the front, (and) BMW have been sorting out the engine problems.''  Heidfeld, 27, also indicated that the engine manufacturers' fight is 'very close' -- apart, maybe, from Toyota.   ''(Their engine) appears to be the only one,'' he said, ''that doesn't break (down)!''
Ferrari at disadvantage Ferrari at disadvantage(GMMF1.NET) According to analysis of winter test mileage, Ferrari will enter the 2005 F1 championship at a distinct disadvantage. Michelin-clad rivals have covered more than seven times more pre-season running than Ferrari tire supplier Bridgestone, the figures reveal. The French company, Michelin, offer rubber to seven of Ferrari's nine track adversaries, and every non-Ferrari top team. 'The Australian' said Michelin have covered 61,284km in the off-season, compared to Bridgestone's paltry 8592. The newspaper also named Williams' Nick Heidfeld as the hardest worker this winter, with 4862km under the German's belt alone.
Toyota's new president Toyota's new president(GMMF1.NET)  In June, Katsuaki Watanabe will succeed Fujio Cho as Japanese carmaker giant Toyota's president.  The 62-year-old, a vice president and (as current head of purchasing) known for cost cutting, is not however thought to be reconsidering Toyota's Formula One involvement.
Irvine's at it again Irvine's at it again(GMMF1.NET) 2005 could be the beginning of the end for German driver Ralf Schumacher. That's the claim of an ex-rival who's never caught without something to say -- Eddie Irvine. ''He seemed to have a lot of potential,'' the Ulsterman - former driver for Jordan, Ferrari and Jaguar - told Autosport, ''but he doesn't have the drive, talent or killer instinct of his brother.'' Irvine, 40 and once punched by the late Ayrton Senna, said Toyota's Schu Jr only ever won a grand prix when Michelin supplied the better tire. He also questioned the 'out and out' pace of Jenson Button, and denied that Juan Pablo Montoya can be a true challenger for Michael Schumacher in '05.
Renault, McLaren, on top Renault, McLaren, on top(GMMF1.NET)  Renault and McLaren, with Fernando Alonso on top, dominated Thursday's F1 test action at Jerez.  Cars for Toyota, Sauber, Red Bull, BAR, Williams and Ferrari - with Michael Schumacher just tenth in one of two '05-spec F2004M - also ran in south Spain.  BAR's Takuma Sato managed not to crash, but teammate Jenson Button spun at Turn 10, hitting the barrier.  Juan Pablo Montoya, second best in the new McLaren, ground to a halt with a clutch problem, but teammate Kimi Raikkonen couldn't run at all after a damaged suspension arm was found on the MP4-20.  ''(The part) was flown back to (Britain) early this morning ... for analysis,'' a statement read.  At Renault, engineer Christian Silk reckons the R25 is in 'very good shape' for the season opening Australian grand prix.  And Sauber counterpart Jacky Eeckelaert insisted that, after a dismal Barcelona test and Jacques Villeneuve's Thursday technical drama, 'we can expect another step forward' at their final Imola test.
Dixon detonates his Toyota Dixon detonates his ToyotaSCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone) at today's test in Phoenix: “We blew the engine going into Turn 1. I don’t really know what happened. It’s unfortunate because it’s getting towards the end of the day and that’s when you want to put a lot of time in. I don’t think we’ll be back out because I don’t think we can change an engine before the end of the day.” (About the test): “As a team, I think we’ve done pretty good. The three guys are working together pretty well. We haven’t been as quick as we probably wanted to be. We’ve got the major test items out of the way, and that will help us a lot more down the road to race better.”
Foyt IV happy being dead last Foyt IV happy being dead lastAJ Foyt IV, driver of the No. 14 Toyota-powered Dallara, did not participate in the second day of testing at Phoenix because the team was pleased with its progress and team owner A.J. Foyt had business in Houston on Feb. 10.  Of the 20 cars running at Phoenix, Foyt was dead last, but hey, if they are happy being losers, that's their business.  Note empty sidepods on car.  Who's paying the bills this year?  Some say this is another Tony George funded team, with help from Toyota. 
Mosley: 9 of 10 teams doing 'crap job' Mosley: 9 of 10 teams doing 'crap job'FIA President Max Mosley put Ferrari's success down to the management of Jean Todt, and added: "I don't agree that Ferrari are killing the sport. I think the others are doing that by doing a crap job. It's not up to Ferrari to lose but to the others to win. I think we will have a great championship this year and I don't see Michael winning the first five races.
ESPN to cover NASCAR for Speedweeks and weekly coverage ESPN to cover NASCAR for Speedweeks and weekly coverageSportsCenter's comprehensive week-long coverage of the Daytona 500 will include a special five-part NASCAR series, and feature Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in its Sunday Conversation (Feb. 13). Additionally, coverage will originate from the SportsCenter set inside the Daytona International Speedway from February 15-20 for NASCAR's season-opening race, with guest drivers throughout the week including Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Jarrett and Tony Stewart.
In 2005, SportsCenter will have a reporter at every race, and have a prominent presence - its NASCAR reporting team and a set inside the tracks -- at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400 (August 7) and the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead, Fla. (November 20). "We are constantly evaluating how we cover sports to best serve our viewers," says Norby Williamson, ESPN senior vice president managing editor, "and we feel NASCAR's increased popularity warrants this thorough commitment from SportsCenter."
ESPN NASCAR reporter Mike Massaro and ESPN NASCAR analyst Dr. Jerry Punch will drive SportsCenter's Daytona 500 coverage from February 15 through comprehensive post-race analysis. Kenny Mayne will host SportsCenter reports that will include interviews with drivers and other pertinent crew members and owners. Marlo Klain will report for ESPNEWS. Coverage will include:
* Week-long coverage originating from a set within Daytona International Speedway
* February 13's Sunday Conversation with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
* Chris Berman's "Top 10 Daytona 500 Finishes"
* Daily reports on SportsCenter and ESPNEWS
* Live coverage of the post-race press conference on ESPNEWS
* A five-part series leading up to the race by reporter Mike Massaro:
Monday - The Chase: Year Two - Many questioned the new "Chase for the Cup" points format last year, but when the "Chase" wasn't decided until the final lap of the final race, many opinions changed - and so have racing strategies.
Tuesday - Rusty Wallace's Last Chance? - Winning Daytona means so much to Rusty Wallace, a top driver who plans to retire at the end of 2005, that he's had a private conversation with - the track - hoping it will help him win his first Daytona
Wednesday - The Liquor Debate - A look at NASCAR's controversial decision to accept sponsorships from liquor companies
Thursday - Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Can "Jr." win Daytona again? Can he shed his father's shadow? Can he adapt to a new team? He discusses his popularity.
Friday - Daytona's Beginnings - Almost 50 years ago the Daytona 500 was listed as 160 miles - unless shortened by incoming tides on the backstretch. Marvin Panch, the oldest living Daytona winner, talks about Daytona's early days and how racing has changed.
ESPN and SportCenter to cover NASCAR all year ESPN and SportCenter to cover NASCAR all yearFollowing the Daytona 500, SportsCenter will report on NASCAR during its 35 remaining races, with comprehensive coverage of the 10-race "NASCAR NEXTEL Chase for the Cup." SportsCenter's 2005 NASCAR coverage will include:
* Reporters Mike Massaro or Marlo Klain at every race * A special "Victory Lane" isolated replay highlighting each winning driver's race
* An interview with the winning driver each Monday
* Post-race coverage every Sunday and Monday; Pre-race analysis Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun
* Reports from a special set inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400 (August 7) and the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead, Fla.
Crown Royal to debut in the Bud Shootout Crown Royal to debut in the Bud ShootoutWhen NASCAR announced last November it was lifting its longstanding ban on spirits sponsors, Crown Royal was the first to join in, announcing a sponsorship with Roush Racing and the #97 team led by 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch. Others have since followed, but now Crown Royal is looking forward to leading another series of firsts as the 2005 season gets ready to kick into high gear:

-- At this Saturday night's Bud Shootout, Busch will become the first NASCAR driver to race in the paint scheme of a spirits brand since NASCAR made its landmark announcement in November. Crown Royal Championship Racing will utilize its new association with NASCAR to promote responsible drinking with millions of NASCAR's adult fans. They will allocate a multi-million dollar marketing budget to support the sponsorship of Kurt Busch and his #97 team, which will include dedicated social responsibility messaging under the tagline "Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly."

-- Later this week, the first NASCAR-themed spirits TV commercial will be unveiled. It stars the #97 Crown Royal car and encourages viewers that "pacing is everything....especially when drinking." Crown Royal's sponsorship of Kurt Busch and the #97 car is built around Diageo's existing relationship with Roush Racing, which started in 2003 with a primary sponsorship of Matt Kenseth and the #17 Roush Racing car for Diageo's flavored malt beverage Smirnoff ICE. In addition to the Bud Shootout, Crown Royal's integrated motorsports marketing plan will include primary sponsorship of the #97 car at additional races during the 2005 season, including the Brickyard 400. When Crown Royal is not a primary sponsor, the brand will support Kurt as an associate sponsor of the #97 car throughout the 2005 season. For more information on Crown Royal, visit www.crownroyal.com. Alan Taylor Communications PR

Tony George’s Vision Racing team Tony George’s Vision Racing teamUPDATE Left to Right - Jay Drake, Larry Curry, Ed Carpenter, and his stepfather Tony George at the press conference announcing their new team, Vision Racing.  Photo courtesy IMS/Ron McQueeney.  02/09/05 With the team name Vision Racing, what better car numbers than 20-20?  Tony George, who in a decade has fulfilled his vision to assemble an exciting and vibrant oval-based racing series, announced Feb. 9 the organization of Vision Racing LLC that will field cars in the 17-race IndyCar Series and 14-event Menards Infiniti Pro Series. The No. 20 cars will carry an identical red, white and blue paint scheme.

Team manager Larry Curry (fresh out of jail) said despite its late start and no on-track testing, Vision Racing intends to compete at the season openers March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Assets to field the Toyota-powered Dallara in the IndyCar Series’ 10th anniversary season were acquired from Kelley Racing, which ceased operations after the 2004 season.

Ed Carpenter, who finished second in the 2004 Bombardier Rookie of the Year standings with Red Bull Cheever Racing, will drive the No. 20 entry in the Toyota Indy 300. Jay Drake, the 2004 United States Auto Club National Sprint Car champion, will drive the No. 20 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone in the Homestead-Miami 100.   More at IndyRacing.com

Fast Five qualifying returns Fast Five qualifying returnsFast Five Qualifying, which was part of Trans-Am Series competition for nearly two decades, returns for the 2005 season. The Fast Five Qualifying format will feature an inversion of the top-five qualifiers and a revised qualifying points system. The pole winner, as well as the second- through fifth-fastest qualifiers will roll off the starting line from their respective qualifying positions. The top five will assume their inverted grid positions by shuffling on the first pace lap, dropping the pole winner to fifth, the outside pole sitter to fourth, and so on. The pole winner will receive three bonus points for starting fifth, while the second-fastest qualifier will earn one bonus point for his fourth-place start. "Fast Five Qualifying has been a meaningful part of the Trans-Am Series for nearly 20 years," said Trans-Am Executive Director John Clagett. "We are confident this new version of the Fast Five format will add to an already exciting race weekend. Certainly, this will make for some thrilling racing throughout the field."
Trans-Am announces new 2005 rule changes Trans-Am announces new 2005 rule changesThe Weight Indexed Neutralization System (WINS) is among several rule changes being instituted for the 2005 Trans-Am racing season. Other changes include a modified ride-height rule, and rules designed to further enhance driver safety.

The goal of the WINS Weight program is to provide close competition at the head of the field. To that end, the system will assess a 25-pound weight handicap against the winning driver of each race this season. An additional 25 pounds will be added for a second victory. The first 25 pounds of WINS Weight will be removed if the car finishes outside of the top three in a subsequent race. If a driver finishes outside the top three following that race, the final 25 pounds will be removed. The maximum WINS Weight is 50 pounds. If a winning driver doesn't race in the next scheduled event following a victory, 50 pounds of WINS Weight will be assessed at the next event in which that driver races.

"The WINS Weight program is designed to equalize the top drivers and teams in the Trans-Am Series, with a final goal of a more competitive racing environment," said Trans-Am Executive Director John Clagett. "Our drivers, teams and, most of all, our fans will benefit from closer, more competitive racing action."

In order to further promote driver safety, the Series will require cars to have two master electrical cut-off switches this season - one inside the cockpit, and a second switch mounted on the driver side A-pillar. Taping of body latches will be strictly prohibited this season. The HANS device will continue to be mandatory for all Trans-Am drivers.

The Series has also modified its ride-height rule this season. The new rule stipulates that no part of the car, other than wheels and tires, may touch the ground when the tires on one side of the car are deflated. Previously, the rule specified all cars were required to meet a 2.5-inch minimum ride height. All cars must also run identical wing mounting posts this season.

Industry News
HANS creator proud of neck-saving business HANS creator proud of neck-saving businessIt's an odd place to find a world renowned lifesaver. Like some backwater flea-market vendor, there he is working out of the back of a rental mini-van, all his stuff spread across a table. But it's hard to imagine a place Jim Downing would rather be as he smiles easily while shuffling through his assortment of screwdrivers and wrenches. Just another day at the office for the man who, along with a friend, designed a head-and-neck support system that has become known as HANS, and has become as common to a driver's uniform as the helmet and gloves. "It's something that's as comfortable as a seat belt to me now," says Kurt Busch. Good thing, since the HANS, after a few years of growing popularity in the wake of high-profile NASCAR deaths in 2000-2001, is now mandated by nearly every big-league racing organization worldwide. More...
No rest for the weary No rest for the wearyWith the 43rd Rolex 24 At Daytona now in the books, many drivers, teams and series officials are looking forward to getting some rest prior to the Grand Prix of Miami—Round 2 of the 2005 Rolex Series schedule—on the weekend of March 3-5. For 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champions Scott Pruett and Max Papis, however, they still have some unfinished business to attend to at Daytona International Speedway this month.

Both drivers have been selected to participate in the 2005 Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) Series, and the first of the series’ four rounds is slated for Friday, February 18 on the 2.5-mile superspeedway oval. IROC testing began on Wednesday at the “World Center of Racing,” and Pruett and Papis will have several opportunities for track time alongside their fellow champions from NASCAR, Champ Car, IndyCar and the World of Outlaws prior to the IROC season-opener.

The duo—who co-drove the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley to the 2004 Daytona Prototype driver and team championships—will contest the four-race Crown Royal IROC Series, in addition to the 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series calendar. Pruett gets back behind the wheel of the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley and Papis returns to the cockpit of the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley at Homestead-Miami Speedway next month.

Coca-Cola re-ups with Long Beach Coca-Cola re-ups with Long BeachThe Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Southern California will continue its long association with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2005 as the “Official Soft Drink” for the April 8-10 race weekend.  As part of its sponsorship, the company will conduct a pre-event promotion through key retail outlets, which offers race fans vouchers for free tickets to the Friday, April 8 racing action.  The Grand Prix is part of a formidable list of other events sponsored worldwide by the Coca-Cola Company, including the Olympic Games (since 1928), FIFA’s World Cup, NASCAR, Special Olympics, Tiger Woods Foundation and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.   "The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Southern California is proud to be an official sponsor of the 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach,” said David Carey, sales center manager, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Southern California. “Your local Coca-Cola Bottler, who provides the widest variety of beverage brands in the world, is honored, once again, to help bring the history and heritage of this event to so many of our consumers in our local Southern California communities as well as to visiting race fans.”
What they’re saying in Phoenix What they’re saying in PhoenixPOST PRACTICE QUOTES:
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We learned a lot. The fast lap was nice, but we're more interested about what we're doing in long runs. We were very happy with the balance of the car. We made some changes to the car and improved it. We think we have enough information to come back for the race. We think the conditions will change substantially, but all in all, the ArcaEx car was very good and all four (AGR) drivers were very happy. We still have a lot of work to do for all four cars. (About performance of the team in the test): "The team has got things right here, and we work well together. We share the information and that's what enabled us to get the cars up there."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I think it was a pretty positive test. My car is, for race conditions, really pretty good. In qualifying and racing, I think it needs to be better for the race. It's difficult to get a read, because obviously the temperature is nothing like what it's going to be come the race. I think the race is going to be difficult. All in all, a positive test. I really enjoyed my time back here in Phoenix. I do think it's one of the more difficult tracks, and it's always nice when you go well here. (About three cars surpassing last year's pole speed): "That's what you've got to expect from the league this year. It's so competitive. I keep saying you look at the teams that are here, you've got a lot of very good drivers in the series right now. To stay ahead, you've got to keep developing. I think Dallara has a done a very good job with that with the chassis, and Honda is always improving. I've been part of that family for a while now, and know their dedication to winning. Everything that I've seen here, I've expected. I think we'll keep getting quicker and quicker."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We're not looking for a fast lap, we're looking to get a good car. We worked together last night, the four of us, and we came up with a good balance on the car. We tried different things, and amazingly, you look at the lap times and they're so close. It's unbelievable. I have a good setup and I'm pleased with what we accomplished. Unfortunately, it rained and it cut our day short, but I think we're looking good." (About running faster than last year's pole speed): "It's hard to tell. The cars have gotten better and the conditions were perfect. So it was just a perfect day."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We improved from yesterday and we were very consistent. If you remember last year, it was very hot and very different conditions from what we have today. I think the conditions will be more like they were last year. Hopefully when we come back, we have a good baseline, or starting position. Hopefully, we'll find something so we can climb the fence."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "We're real pleased with the Delphi Fernandez team. A great couple of days and we really worked through a lot of stuff today. We haven't concentrated on qualifying speed as much as the others. We're just trying to concentrate on things we can learn to help us here and at other tracks. Some improve the car, some don't, but you learn. We got a little bit of race running in, so it was a good test."

Franchitti and Kanaan fast at Phoenix Franchitti and Kanaan fast at PhoenixReports in the Austrian press suggest that Scuderia Toro Rosso part-owner Gerhard Berger would like to keep Italy's Tonio Liuzzi in his team next year. The fact that Berger wants Liuzzi is a great compliment to the young Italian but it is rather inconvenient as Red Bull Racing has been showing considerable interest in Liuzzi in recent months and has tested the 25-year-old on several occasions. David Coulthard is likely to stay in one of the Red Bull Racing cars next year but the team wants a youngster alongside him who is capable of beating DC, as he is the yardstick for the future. It is fair to say that Christian Klien has not been very convincing alongside him this year and the word in Austria is that Klien will now have to look for work in the United States in 2007. If that is indeed the case, then Liuzzi is the only obvious candidate for the job.

It should be remembered that he drove with huge success for Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner in Formula 3000 in 2004, utterly dominating the Formula 3000 series. Since then Red Bull has handled his career rather oddly with just a few F1 races with Red Bull Racing in 2005 before it was decided that the team should concentrate on Klien. The Austrian elements in the team then succeeded in keeping Klien in RBR for this season and Liuzzi ended up being pushed backwards into Scuderia Toro Rosso - Minardi by another name. The team has struggled to be competitive with what looks a lot like the 2005 Red Bull chassis but on several occasions Liuzzi has shown impressive speed and much maturity and it is clear that he is now ready to step up. Berger has obviously seen this and wants to get the best driver line-up he can muster.  More at Grandprix.com

NASCAR Introduces Official NASCAR Members Club For Fans NASCAR Introduces Official NASCAR Members Club For FansNASCAR at Daytona Int’l Speedway today launched the Official NASCAR Members Club. Richard Petty will serve as National Membership Chair of the organization, which will be operated by Stoneacre Partners under a long-term exclusive license from NASCAR. Members receive behind-the-scenes access; special events and race week parties; a members-only magazine; on-going communications; members-only merchandise; and “first look” access to authentic NASCAR items. Annual membership dues are $40, and fans can join by calling 1-877-MY NASCAR or at NASCAR.com NASCAR
Industry News
Detroit Diesel hit with antitrust lawsuit Detroit Diesel hit with antitrust lawsuitTen truck dealers sued Detroit Diesel Corp. on Wednesday, saying the heavy-duty engine maker violated federal antitrust laws by organizing an illegal boycott and price-fixing scheme.  The lawsuit was filed in Philadelphia on behalf of dealers for Volvo Trucks Inc. and International Truck and Engine Corp. Detroit Diesel is owned by DaimlerChrysler AG.  The suit alleges that Detroit Diesel and its distributors boycotted International and Volvo dealers who weren't affiliated with DaimlerChrysler. The suit says Detroit Diesel refused to allow those dealers to perform major warranty repairs on Detroit Diesel engines, even if the dealers had sold the trucks originally.  A telephone message was left with a Detroit Diesel spokesman.  Attorneys for the plaintiffs allege Detroit Diesel tried to force International and Volvo into long-term contracts to install Detroit Diesel engines in their new trucks.  The suit also contends Detroit Diesel and its distributors agreed to increase prices for parts sold to the affected dealers. Detroit Free Press
Industry News
DaimlerChrysler earnings tumble amid troubles at Mercedes DaimlerChrysler earnings tumble amid troubles at MercedesOnce viewed as a liability, DaimlerChrysler AG's U.S. division Chrysler has taken the wheel from the automaker's former star Mercedes -- limiting the damage from the luxury division's woes in a difficult fourth quarter and driving full-year earnings for 2004.

The German-American automaker said Thursday that Chrysler more than doubled its fourth-quarter contribution to 386 million euros ($523 million) from 143 million euros a year ago, while earnings at Mercedes nearly evaporated to just 20 million euros ($27 million) from 784 million euros.

Overall fourth-quarter net profit at DaimlerChrysler fell 63 percent to 526 million euros ($712 million) from 1.4 billion euros a year ago as Mercedes struggled with quality problems and a weak dollar that hurt its results in the key U.S. market. AP Story

Bernie's billion dollar offer to secure's F1's future Bernie's billion dollar offer to secure's F1's futureFIA President Max Mosley revealed on Thursday that a billion dollar offer from Bernie Ecclestone will pull the sport out of its current state of infighting. "I think Formula One has never been in better shape in the years I have been here," said Mosley.

"In 2008 the teams are effectively going to get 50 percent of the entire income of Bernie's companies. That is 50 percent of gross income and all the outgoings he has to pay out of his 50 percent," added Mosley. "That is a substantial income and in addition from 2008 there will be backdated payments for the years 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 which will be spread over the five years of the new agreement."

 "The increase from 2008 is enormous - if they sign up. It's somewhere between 500million dollars and a billion to be shared out between the teams, it's in that order. It will certainly be significant."

"I don't think there will ever be two championships," he said. "The reality is that sooner or later it will be sorted out. The difference between Bernie and the GPWC is that Bernie has contracts with promoters, with television companies and with Ferrari which go beyond 2008."

"The GPWC have no contracts and their position is very weak because promoters are going to play them off against each other. The brand of the Formula One World Championship has become significant. Bernie has that, he has Ferrari and the contracts."

"There is no doubt Ferrari, at least in the last 10 years, have been worth more than the proportion they get of the money given to the teams," he added.

With Red Bull and Midland moving into the sport with vast budgets, the future looks brighter for two of Formula One's strugglers. Jaguar have already been re-branded in honor of their new owners Red Bull and Jordan will follow in deference to Midland at the end of this season, moves Mosley believes have safeguarded the sport's immediate future.

"It looks healthier than I can remember because of those two people coming in," said Mosley. "We had a big crisis in Japan, China and Brazil when two teams were on the point of going out of business and two more were in danger. The financial crisis which was threatened last autumn has disappeared."

Champ Car announces new Dir. of Operations Champ Car announces new Dir. of OperationsChamp Car has named motorsports veteran Paul Harcus Director of Operations.  In this role he will be primarily responsible for running technical inspection for the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.  Harcus takes over as Director of Operations after serving most recently as Team Manager at Kelley Racing.  Before that Harcus, known as “Ziggy” in the racing community, worked with PacWest Racing in the CART series.

“I’m excited to be back in Champ Car,” said Harcus. “I have a lot of experience working with these cars and I am looking forward to helping Champ Car’s continued growth.”

Harcus, a native of New Zealand will work closely with Champ Car Vice President of Operations Tony Cotman and will also be responsible for rules formulation and pit lane officiating. 

“I’m happy to have someone on board with Paul’s knowledge,” said Cotman.  “He is well known and respected in the industry and I’m sure he will do a great job.”

Crown Royal IROC Notes Crown Royal IROC NotesThe Crown Royal International Race of Champions began on-track activities at Daytona International Speedway Wednesday in preparation for the season opener on Friday, February 18, which will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel at 6:00 p.m. ET.  Series newcomers, 2004 Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais and 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Bobby Hamilton took their first laps in the Crown Royal IROC cars along with three-time series participant Danny Lasoski representing the World of Outlaws.

Track activities began with test drivers, Dave Marcis, Jim Sauter, Jay Sauter and Andy Hillenburg putting the fleet of 17 race cars through initial test runs before assisting Bourdais, Hamilton and Lasoski in practice sessions.

Sebastien Bourdais
: "It's been a big adjustment for me, but I've already learned a lot of things today. The IROC concept is great, it's a unification of a lot of different racing series and drivers, which is always interesting and I'm having a blast right now and trying to learn as much as I can and doing that slowly and smoothly and as safe as I can because the IROC cars are pretty fast and I don't want to make mistakes, especially when we are working with all the experienced test drivers and series drivers who have been here before. I'm just going to have to concentrate and learn the right lines and work with all the drivers. Hopefully, I will learn to be in the right place at the end, which is when the result will count and hopefully, I can do that."

Bobby Hamilton: "The IROC cars feel great. It reminds me of the Cup cars a couple of years ago when we had the wickers on like the ones on the IROC cars today, it's fun. There are four practice cars and I got to drive everyone of them. I got to mess around out there with Danny Lasoski and Sebastien Bourdais along with the Sauter’s and Marcis. It’s a lot of fun, I'm glad I came over here to test this today because the cars are different than Truck and Busch cars. I'm going to keep testing as much as I can and get more time in the cars."

Dave Marcis - "When we started out the cars weren't as drivable as we'd like them to be, I think we were trying some things from Atlanta that didn't quite work out here at Daytona, but we learned a lot and made adjustments, which made the cars much more comfortable this afternoon. From what we found out after talking with people who tested here in Trucks, Cup and Busch cars that the race track has changed a bit and everyone seems to be fighting a loose condition, more than what we have in the past. We're going to make a few more changes in the cars, but I don't think it's anything to get concerned over or worry about. It's some minor adjustments and we're looking forward to another great race for Crown Royal with IROC series here at Daytona."

Jay Sauter, Crown Royal IROC test driver - (About Sebastien Bourdais' first day) "Sebastien did very well with us here today. Having never been in a stock car, especially here at Daytona where the draft is critical, he adapted very quickly and did so throughout the course of the day as we stepped through adjustments on the race cars. We were fighting a bit of a loose condition here today and it was probably a good thing for Sebastien to experience.  We made some adjustments to correct for the track conditions and he responded to the changes immediately."

Jay Signore, IROC President - (About Sebastien Bourdais' first day) "Sebastien did great, and he is a pleasure to work with. He was able to give us excellent feedback on the performance of the IROC cars, which are completely different animals than what he is used to driving. Today was our first day on the track with the Crown Royal IROC race cars and we were working Sebastien, Bobby Hamilton and Danny Lasoski in the practice cars and simultaneously, shaking down the race cars. We were loose across the board this morning, but by the afternoon we had the cars dialed in better and all of the drivers were very complimentary of Sebastien's abilities having no experience in this arena. His goal is to come back next week and start logging laps in the IROC cars, because he understands experience is the best teacher here at Daytona, and from what I've seen today, he'll be an A-Student." 

Tickets for the Crown Royal IROC Series opening race and other Daytona Speedweeks 2005 events are available online at: www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Daytona International Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.

The 2005 Crown Royal IROC field includes:
Driver                    Series Representing
Matt Kenseth                NASCAR Nextel Cup (2004 Crown Royal IROC champion)
Kurt Busch                   NASCAR Nextel Cup (2004 Series champion)
Mark Martin                 NASCAR Nextel Cup (4-time Crown Royal IROC champion)
Sebastien Bourdais     CHAMP CAR (2004 Series champion)
Bobby Hamilton           NASCAR Craftsman Truck (2004 Series champion)
Steve Kinser                World of Outlaws (2004 Series champion)
Max Papis                   Grand American Road Racing (2004 Series co-champion)
Scott Pruett                 Grand American Road Racing (2004 Series co-champion)
Martin Truex Jr.           NASCAR Busch Series (2004 Series champion)
Helio Castroneves        IRL IndyCar Series (2-time Indianapolis 500 champion)
Buddy Rice                   IRL IndyCar Series (2004 Indianapolis 500 champion)
Danny Lasoski              World of Outlaws (2001 Series champion)

IMS hires Disney executive IMS hires Disney executivePhil Lengyel, a longtime member of the Walt Disney Company management team, will move to a newly created position with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation in May, IMS President and Chief Executive Officer Tony George announced Feb. 10.

Lengyel, 55, will retire from Disney on April 25 after 23 years of service and will start May 1 as executive vice president, marketing, for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy Racing League and Clabber Girl Corporation.

"We have worked with Phil at Disney since he played a role in the inaugural Indy Racing League event at Walt Disney World Speedway in 1996," George said. "As we have continued to grow our companies and expand our vision, Phil Lengyel has been on my mind to add to our team. He brings wide experience in sales and marketing, knowledge of big events and experience with major corporations throughout the United States."

Lengyel will join the IMS Corporate office as the fourth executive vice president reporting to George.   IMS Corporate is charged with overseeing the finance, legal, communications, and sales and marketing functions of all of the Hulman-George companies.

"I am looking forward to playing a role within one of the most exceptional organizations in all of sport," Lengyel said. "I have been a fan of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500 since growing up in Northwest Indiana. The respect and admiration for the rich traditions of Indy racing led me to play a role in the first IRL race at Disney in 1996. Since that time, my interests have only intensified as I have watched the League grow from its infancy to its 10th anniversary."

Lengyel said he looks forward to working with Disney-owned ABC and ESPN, the IMS/IRL television partners, and to attracting new sponsors and alliance partners for the League and IMS.

He is vice president, alliance development, for the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. He joined Disney in 1982 as a senior publicist after a career in television and radio news in Indiana and Florida. He was made promotions manager of Walt Disney World in 1984, director of marketing in 1987, vice president of marketing in 1988 and senior vice president of marketing in 1990.

LeMans – The Major 2005 events LeMans – The Major 2005 eventsCars, bikes, karts, trucks… The Le Mans 2005 calendar’s major events will fill the hearts of motor sports lovers with joy as well as delighting enthusiasts who adore beautiful machinery and thrill-packed races.

The season will start on 19th and 20th March with the French Open Championship for Motor Cycles. On 26th and 27th the local roads will be the theatre of the Sarthe Rally for Motor Bikes (French Rally Championship). This will be an excellent test run for the 28th Le Mans 24 Hours for Motor Cycles on 16th and 17th April. In May, Le Mans will host the French round of the World Championship for Motor Cycles and its stars. From this year onwards June will be the month of the motor car at national level with the Le Mans Test day now programmed two weeks before the race itself On Saturday 18th June the start of the 73rd Le Mans 24 Hours will be given at 16h00 sharp.

July: A new adventure begins with the World Series by Renault. An innovative racing concept from the brains of Renault Sport whose aim is to combine top-level motor racing with maximum crowd appeal. The program consists of the 3.5 liter Formula Renault Series, FR 2000, the Mégane Trophy and the national FR 2000 and Renault Clio Championships. Admission is free and it will be well worth the visit for the F1 Show, the presentation of an F1 Renault on the Bugatti circuit. On 23rd and 24th the motor bikes will have their own summer show with the Promocourse Cups and the hill climb on the Bugatti circuit. At the end of August finish off your holidays with the Karting 24 Hours on 27th and 28th August on the Alain Prost circuit (ASK-A.C.O). In September comes the Historic weekend for nostalgia buffs with Le Mans GTs and protos and single-seaters including historic F1s. On 10th and 11th an endurance race will be held at Mansion Blanche for 50 ccs. On 24th and 25th the F.F.S.A Super Series, the French Motor Racing shop window, will put on a varied program of events on the Bugatti circuit.

October: The Inter- Teams weekend enables the A.C.O to welcome all its license holders and provide them with a full program including events on asphalt on the Bugatti circuit and Off-Road courses at the ‘Chemin des Boeufs.’ The program on 22nd and 23rd for the 24 Hour race for Trucks with Off-Road events, fully decorated trucks and the final of the European Cup for Trucks, will follow the same guidelines.


20th March French Motor Cycle Championships
16th & 17th April The Le Mans 24 Hours for Motor Cycles
15th May The French Motor Cycle Grand Prix
5th June Le Mans 24 Hours Test Day
18th & 19th June The Le Mans 24 Hours
9th & 10th July World Series by Renault
23rd & 24th July Promosport Cup/hill climb
3rd & 4th September LM Story
24th & 25th September F.F.S.A Super Series
9th October Inter Teams/Fol ‘Car
22nd & 23 rd October The Le Mans 24 Hours for Trucks

19th March Sebring 12 Hours (Florida) ALMS
17th April Road Atlanta (Georgia) ALMS
17th April Spa 1000 Kms (Belgium) LMES
22nd May Mid Ohio (Ohio) ALMS
4th July Lime Rock (Connecticut) ALMS
10th July Monza 1000 Kms (Italy) LMES
17th July Sears Point (Sonoma – California) ALMS
31st July Portland (Oregon) ALMS
14th August Silverstone 1000 Kms (GB) LMES
21st August Road America (Atlanta) ALMS
28th August Mosport (Ontario - Canada) ALMS
4th September Nürburgring 1000 Kms LMES
1st October Petit Le Mans (Braselton, Georgia) ALMS
15th October Laguna Seca (Monterey – California) ALMS
6th November Istanbul 1000 Kms (Turkey) LMES

Sauber wraps up testing Sauber wraps up testingTeam Sauber Petronas completed its three-day test at the Circuito Permanente de Jerez today. Jacques Villeneuve covered 109 laps in chassis C24-01 to set a best time of 1:19.022s. Felipe Massa ran 110 laps in chassis C24-02 with a best time of 1:17.273s.
Jacky Eeckelaert, Chief Race Engineer "Today we compared different pre-selected Michelin tires in long-runs to simulate race conditions whereby Felipe focused on preparations for the Australian Grand Prix and Jacques on Sepang. Jacques also ran further damper tests. He was forced to stop just before the end of today's test session due to technical problems which now need to be investigated. Despite of the bad weather and track conditions on Tuesday morning we were able to complete our scheduled program for the week. Compared to our last test in Barcelona we improved the car and made progress. We believe that we can expect another step forward at our final pre-season test in Imola." Team Sauber Petronas will be testing again from 19 to 21 February in Imola. Sauber Petronas
Alonso tops Jerez testing on Thursday Alonso tops Jerez testing on ThursdayThursday test times from Jerez:
1 . F. Alonso - Renault R25 - 1:15.732 - 0.000 - 101 laps
2 . J. P. Montoya - McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 - 1:16.448 - 0.716 - 49 laps
3 . G. Fisichella - Renault R25 - 1:16.654 - 0.922 - 69 laps
4 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF105 - 1:16.673 - 0.941 - 92 laps
5 . F. Massa - Sauber Petronas C24 - 1:17.273 - 1.541 - 110 laps
6 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:17.526 - 1.794 - 96 laps
7 . R. Schumacher - Toyota TF105 - 1:17.773 - 2.041 - 73 laps
8 . J. Button - BAR Honda 007 - 1:17.989 - 2.257 - 71 laps
9 . M. Webber - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:18.048 - 2.316 - 94 laps
10 . M. Schumacher - Ferrari F2004M - 1:18.119 - 2.387 - 109 laps
11 . T. Sato - BAR Honda 007 - 1:18.150 - 2.418 - 128 laps
12 . R. Barrichello - Ferrari F2004M - 1:18.266 - 2.534 - 76 laps
13 . C. Klien - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:18.517 - 2.785 - 58 laps
14 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:18.735 - 3.003 - 66 laps
15 . J. Villeneuve - Sauber Petronas C24 - 1:19.022 - 3.290 - 109 laps
16 . V. Liuzzi - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:20.118 - 4.386 - 61 laps
Bourdais earns Racer Magazine Award Bourdais earns Racer Magazine AwardThe Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford is held in high regard among racing drivers, owing to the diversity of the tracks on the schedule that sees its drivers compete on road and street courses as well as ovals and superspeedways.

But at its core, Champ Car is a series that thrives on its road and street courses. It is on the tricky road and street layouts where the turbocharged 750hp scream machines and the men that drive them get their opportunities to reach their limits, in a series where the top drivers gain status as some of the best in the world.

This season was no different in that regard as two of Champ Car’s finest pilots have been recognized by the readers of RACER Magazine as the top road racers in the world. Series champion Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was named as the Road Racer of the Year for 2004 in the March issue of the magazine, getting the nod over the winningest driver in Formula 1 history, Michael Schumacher.

Bourdais earned the award after a Champ Car season that saw him win his first series championship on the strength of seven wins and eight poles. He qualified in the top three for every race and also paced the series in laps led.

“This is a great honor, not only for myself, but the entire McDonald’s and Newman/Haas Racing teams,” Bourdais said. “I come from a road-racing background and it means a lot to me that the readers of RACER think highly enough of me, and highly enough of what it takes to win in Champ Car, to award me this honor.”

Roshfrans Rookie of the Year A.J. Allmendinger (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) is only 23 years old but has already been officially ‘retired’ from an award category after dominating it for three seasons. RACER readers named the RuSPORT pilot as the Most Promising Road Racer of the Year for the third consecutive season, prompting magazine editors to remove his from consideration for the award in the future. The Californian won the award after winning a championship in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2002 and again after scoring the Toyota Atlantic title in 2003, and took the honor ahead of Scott Speed and Danica Patrick in 2004 after a Champ Car season in which he earned nine top-six finish and a pair of podiums.

“It is a very high honor for me to receive this award again and hopefully we can do well enough this year to be considered for even higher honors,” Allmendinger said. “Our RuSPORT team is working very hard to take the next step toward championship contention and we hope to challenge Sebastien and everyone else in 2005. Thanks to all of the RACER magazine readers for this honor, it means a lot to me to receive the same honor that guys like Gil de Ferran, Greg Moore and Cristiano da Matta have gotten.” Champ Car

Ferrari downplays testing times Ferrari downplays testing timesRubens Barrichello has played down the significance of Ferrari's preseason test times to date. “After all, Ferrari's best lap last year here (at Jerez) was only seventh best, but then we later won in Australia in a big way,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We work on old tires because that's the real objective. That's why we are not worried about being behind with the lap times.”

 "To go faster here isn't difficult,” said Barrichello. “Look at Sauber last Tuesday: they were slower than us. Towards the evening they did something and Massa got the fastest lap.

“At the moment Ferrari doesn't want to make the headlines like others do. We know we are slower by some tenths but we are concentrating on a program and for sure we won't be changing our ways. We are confident because we are solving every problem. There is a plan to get to the first grand prix while being able to fight for victory there."

"We have a problem: the first lap on new tires,” he said. “The technicians are evaluating whether it's a problem related to this track and to Valencia, or if it's a general problem - I don't think it is.”

McLaren works on Melbourne tires McLaren works on Melbourne tiresJuan Pablo Montoya set the pace for McLaren Mercedes in testing on Wednesday as the team continue tire development work for use at next month’s Australian Grand Prix. Montoya and Pedro de la Rosa completed three long runs each.

Wednesday's test also marked Montoya’s first test with the Team McLaren Mercedes race team personnel who will be responsible for his race car over Grand Prix weekends throughout the season.

The Colombian's MP4-20 was running with the new roll hoop mid wing as first seen Tuesday.

The test running was affected by a number of red flag incidents and a damaged radiator on de la Rosa's car meant that the Spaniard lost an hour and a half’s running time in the afternoon.

Juan Pablo Montoya “We have been experiencing understeer today, but we are aware of this problem and are confident it will be solved by the end of the week. I have completed several long scheduled runs today and have also been working with members of the race team, building up a good rapport with them ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.”

Pedro de la Rosa “Today we have been focusing on long runs, working on reliability and tire testing for Michelin, particularly concentrating on tire performance over a simulated final 50km of a grand prix. The red flags have affected the running today and in addition, this afternoon we had a slight problem with the radiator on my car which prevented me from running for 90 minutes. I have however still completed 98 laps.” Source McLaren

The Stars Will Be Out at Daytona The Stars Will Be Out at DaytonaA star-studded group of entertainers, including country music superstar Clint Black, Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson, Columbia Records recording sensations John Ondrasik and "Five For Fighting," and singer/actress Vanessa Williams will highlight the NEXTEL Tribute to America, the pre-race extravaganza leading up to NASCAR's biggest, richest and most prestigious race - the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20. The NEXTEL-sponsored show, which will be carried live on FOX and produced by Atlanta based Q and A Entertainment, will pay tribute to music as the fabric of America and will feature thousands of cast members on the Speedway's historic five-acre tri-oval grass. "The Daytona 500 is a premier sporting event in America and we're honored to welcome stars of this magnitude to be a part of the historic tradition of 'The Great American Race' in the NEXTEL Tribute to America," Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig said. "The heart-pumping pre-race revelry of the Daytona 500 is a one-of-a-kind experience and both the race fans in attendance and the live television audience watching on FOX will not want to miss this sensational, world-class extravaganza." Black, a Grammy Award-winning artist and multiple Country Music Association award winner, will sing his No. 1 hit single "Nothin' But The Taillights." Among Black's more than 20 No. 1 hit singles are "A Better Man," "Killin' Time," "Like the Rain," "Something That We Do" and "When I Said I Do," a duet with his wife Lisa Hartman Black. Wilson, the singer, songwriter, producer, arranger and composer whose latest solo album "Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE" is nominated for three Grammys including "Best Pop Vocal Album" and "Best Rock Instrumental Performance," will sing the legendary Beach Boys hit single "Good Vibrations." "Five For Fighting," whose lead singer and song writer is John Ondrasik, will sing the No. 1 hit "100 Years" from their latest album "Battle For Everything." Williams, who has recorded hits such as "Save The Best For Last" and "Colors of the Wind" from Disney's animated film "Pocahontas," will sing "America The Beautiful." Williams, who has also starred in such films as "Eraser," "Dance With Me" and "Light It Up," recently released her latest album "Everlasting Love" on Jan. 25.Speedway PR
NASCAR’s First Liquor Sponsor to Make Debut NASCAR’s First Liquor Sponsor to Make DebutWhen NASCAR announced last November it was lifting its longstanding ban on spirits sponsors, Crown Royal was the first to join in, announcing a sponsorship with Roush Racing and the #97 team led by 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch. Others have since followed, but now Crown Royal is looking forward to leading another series of firsts as the 2005 season gets ready to kick into high gear. At this Saturday night's Bud Shootout, Busch will become the first NASCAR driver to race in the paint scheme of a spirits brand since NASCAR made its landmark announcement in November. Crown Royal Championship Racing will utilize its new association with NASCAR to promote responsible drinking with millions of NASCAR’s adult fans. They will allocate a multi-million dollar marketing budget to support the sponsorship of Kurt Busch and his #97 team, which will include dedicated social responsibility messaging under the tagline “Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly.” Later this week, the first NASCAR-themed spirits TV commercial will be unveiled. It stars the #97 Crown Royal car and encourages viewers that "pacing is everything....especially when drinking." Alan Taylor Communications
Tony George finally does the right thing Tony George finally does the right thingUPDATE Robin Miller blasts Tony George in a similar article on SPEEDTV.  02/10/05 Wednesday Tony George announced he was starting an IRL team and hiring an American driver, Ed Carpenter. Bravo, but a bit late Tony.

Let's turn the clock back ten years. The year is 1995, CART rules Indy Car Racing. The sport is flush with money and sponsors. The Indy 500 TV Ratings are better than NASCAR's Daytona 500 by a comfortable margin. Bernie Ecclestone is scared CART will take a big slice out of F1's pie so he badmouth's CART weekly to make it look inferior. The best drivers in the world are clamoring to get into CART. TV ratings across the board are good. Attendance at races is huge.

In steps Tony George. He creates the IRL, splits the sport in half and kills it. Imagine if Tony had taken all the money he wasted creating the IRL and had instead started a number of CART teams and gave young Americans a ride, just like he did on Wednesday. Imagine how even more popular CART would be today than it was in 1995. Imagine how high the Indy 500 TV ratings would be today. The 500 would still be a sellout and a full grid of 33 cars and real bumping on Bump Day would still be the norm. Tickets to the Indy 500 would still be the most cherished commodity around (Today you can buy a ticket for $10 from a scalper on race day.) The sport of Indy Car Racing would be a huge success, possibly still bigger than NASCAR.

Tony George could have been a great CART team owner and could have focused on building the Indy 500 to even greater heights. Instead, look where we are today. In our opinion, and that of most people in the sport, Tony George made a huge error in judgment 10 years ago. Unfortunately the damage is done and there appears to be no easy fix. Some speculate that Tony will eventually sell the IRL to NASCAR to see if they can do something with it. Perhaps one day Tony will look in the mirror, admit to himself that this split has to end, and work to rebuild the sport. There are a lot of fences to mend, and a steep hill to climb, but Tony George must relinquish the sport to others and focus on being a great team owner and Indy Speedway owner. That is what the sport needs most. It needed that ten years ago and it needs that today. Mark C.

XM Satellite Radio’s big Daytona Speedweeks plans XM Satellite Radio’s big Daytona Speedweeks plansXM Satellite Radio, the nation's leading provider of satellite radio with more than 3.2 million subscribers, is kicking off the 2005 NASCAR season this week with live, comprehensive coverage on NASCAR Radio (XM Channel 144) and a host of special events for NASCAR fans at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. XM, the exclusive satellite radio service of NASCAR, will air more than 100 hours of live and first-run broadcasts during the season-opening NASCAR Speedweeks in Daytona Beach, starting February 12 with the Budweiser Shootout and culminating on February 20 with the 47th annual Daytona 500. NASCAR Radio's Claire B. Lang will host her three-hour daily "Dialed In" program (4-7 p.m. ET) live from Daytona during Speedweeks, giving listeners an all-access pass to inside interviews with NASCAR drivers and personalities. Catchfence
Texas Motor Speedway Looks to City Texas Motor Speedway Looks to CityOfficials at the Texas Motor Speedway, which is getting its second Nextel Cup race this year, want the city of Fort Worth to contribute about $500,000 to help with marketing. "The Cup race is good for one year," said Tom Krampitz, the speedway's director of government relations and general counsel. "Another race in 2006 depends on us selling out the speedway in 2005." He said local fans typically pack the stadium for the first big Nextel Cup Series race, which this year is the Samsung/RadioShack 500 on April 17. They won't necessarily return for the Nov. 6 Dickie's 500 race, he said. Krampitz presented the proposal Tuesday to a City Council committee, which endorsed and forwarded the proposal to the full council for consideration. The 20-year promotional proposal would team up the speedway and the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote both races - and Fort Worth - with financial help from the city. Krampitz said the speedway has committed to spending $2.8 million on marketing efforts this year. Speedway officials want the city to contribute additional funds by kicking back most of the sales and hotel taxes generated by the second race each year. Fort Worth Star Telegram
NASCAR Chevy Safety Ad Campaign Kicks Off NASCAR Chevy Safety Ad Campaign Kicks OffA coalition of government, business, advocacy and sport today announced new television spots promoting the use of safety belts and the proper use of child safety seats.   The Chevrolet Division of General Motors is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National SAFE KIDS Campaign to air advertisements and public service announcements featuring NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Burton.  "The first message from Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is to get people to buckle up, every time, on every trip," said Chevrolet General Marketing Manager Brent Dewar. "The second, from Jeff Burton, is for parents, caregivers and grandparents to make sure child safety seats are secured properly." Yahoo!
Spyker enters two cars for Sebring and LeMans Spyker enters two cars for Sebring and LeMansToday, during the Dutch national car show The AutoRai, Spyker announced its racing plans for its racing team, Spyker Squadron. Spyker Squadron has entered two Spyker C8 Spyder GT2 Rs, its new race model, for both the 12-hours of Sebring, Florida, USA and for the 24-hours of Le Mans, France. Participation of Sebring is confirmed with starting numbers 47 and 48 allocated. This challenging 12-hour race takes place on 19 March 2005. Invitations for Le Mans will be issued by the Le Mans organization Automobile Club de L’Ouest after Sebring.

Victor Muller, CEO Spyker Cars: “2005 will again be a challenging year for Spyker Squadron, which intends to make its return to the international endurance racing arena. This is the third time since our incorporation in 2000 that we are participating in the world famous race at Sebring. Both Sebring and Le Mans are particularly challenging. Le Mans, however, is the ultimate endurance test for our cars.”

Muller continues: “In 2004 Spyker investigated a number of alternatives for Le Mans 2005. We considered building a Le Mans prototype car for the GTP class or return to GT racing with a penalty free Spyker. We chose the latter option and started developing the Spyker C8 Spyder GT2 R, a race version of the Spyker C8 Spyder.”

Pancho Carter hired Pancho Carter hiredPancho Carter has been hired by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network to serve as an analyst for its broadcasts. Carter, pole winner for the 1984 Indy 500, will join anchor Mike King, commentator Dave Wilson and reporters Kevin Lee, Mark Jaynes, Nicole Manske and Kevin Olsen. Carter, spotter for Sam Hornish Jr.’s IRL championship seasons in 2001 and 2002, was fired by Pennzoil Panther Racing before a race last season at Milwaukee. SPEEDTV.com
BAR Honda test report BAR Honda test reportBAR Honda suffered a second tough day of the week at Jerez as Anthony Davidson clocked up an impressive number of laps but Takuma Sato endured his second accident in two days. In chassis 006-06 Davidson had a productive morning session running through a tire compound evaluation to complete 51 laps. Sato's morning running in chassis 007-01, however, was limited to just five laps due to a gearbox problem. The gearbox was subsequently changed in preparation for the afternoon session. Davidson continued his planned tire evaluation in the afternoon, completing an impressive total of 154 laps during a trouble-free day and covering some 680 kms - more than two races distances. Davidson's best time was good enough for 12th fastest on the day, just under 1.5 seconds off Juan Pablo Montoya’s best time. Takuma's session, though, was cut short when he ran wide braking into turn ten and spun off the track into the tire barriers. The damage was not severe but substantial enough to bring his running to an early conclusion with the 16th and slowest time of the day. BAR
$100 million to run mid-field $100 million to run mid-field“We just took over Jordan,” Midland team boss Alex Shnaider explained in an interview with the Toronto Star. “This will be a learning year for us. We have to evaluate everything at Jordan and eliminate the weaknesses. Then, we will take what we have with Jordan, take what we have with Dallara, and try to produce a good car — a Midland car — for 2006.”

“I always said the team would operate with an annual budget of approximately $100 million,” Shnaider continued. “But what can we really do with $100 million a year? Some claim that we can do a lot and it's just a question of how you spend it. As long as you don't waste it on unnecessary things; and use the money in a prudent way, it's possible to achieve good results. I believe if we are in the midfield, it will be a good result for us. We don't have to be in the top four.”

Renault World Series
Finn is top Renault star Finn is top Renault star(GMMF1.NET) Up-and-coming 'Flying Finn' Heikki Kovalainen will again top Renault's 'driver development program' in 2005. The 23-year-old, who beat Michael Schumacher to the recent Race of Champions' crown, is the Nissan World Series' reigning title winner. He'll now contest 'GP2' with Arden. Argentina's Jose-Maria Lopez will also stay in the F1 support category, while Brazilian Lucas di Grassi and Loic Duval, of France, do Euro F3. 19-year-old Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado is the youngest RDD member. Meanwhile, Nicolas Todt's GP2 team 'ART' announced that countryman Alexandre Premat will be Nico Rosberg's '05 teammate. The son of Ferrari MD Jean Todt said: ''While times for Frenchmen are not that good in F1, at least we'll have three in GP2.''
Sauber's 'slow' - Villeneuve Sauber's 'slow' - Villeneuve(GMMF1.NET) Sauber's new F1 car is 'slow.' That's the revelation of team driver Jacques Villeneuve, the '97 champion who last year returned from a forced sabbatical. The French-Canadian said 'C24', strangely, is quicker on older tires. ''It's better, because we were very slow last week,'' 33-year-old JV told Autosport at the Jerez test. ''Now we're just slow.'' Villeneuve - formerly a Williams, BAR and Renault member - also revealed that, at privateer Sauber, he's having to adjust to unfamiliar car systems. ''Probably a rich team could change ... to suit me.'' He concluded: ''The car is definitely better for (Felipe Massa).''
V8 Supercars
F1 tester to Aussie V8 F1 tester to Aussie V8(GMMF1.NET)  Former Jaguar test driver James Courtney will race in Australia's 'V8 Supercar' category in 2005, according to speculation.  'Holden Racing Team' reportedly signed the Queensland-based youngster to drive in endurance touring car races, like Bathurst and Sandown.  24-year-old Courtney is a star of Japanese GT, and F3.
'Radical' Red Bull 'Radical' Red Bull(GMMF1.NET) The new 'RB1' (Red Bull) grand prix car is radical, the team said. Head of vehicle design Rob Taylor insisted there is more than one aspect of the car - initially designed to be Jaguar's 2005-spec R5 - that is 'a first. ''As far as I know,'' he told Autosport, ''nobody else in pitlane is using some of the components we have ... in the cooling system.'' Team driver David Coulthard, meanwhile, tested the car at Jerez on Wednesday and said it felt reliable and drivable. And the 33-year-old warned: ''Until the season opens (in Australia) the (test) times do not give a good indication.'
Just dump the ladder series Just dump the ladder seriesA reader writes, It's about time that the Champ Car World Series stops insulting our intelligence and just dumps all of their ladder series. For the longest time, they've tried to sell the drivers in the development series as the next stars of the CCWS.
I've wasted too much time following some of these drivers racing careers when I should have been looking at their bank account to see if they had enough money to ever race Champ Cars. Thank heavens for Carl Russo bringing up A.J., but it's pretty disappointing to see the likes of Fogarty and Dalziel get thrown aside for drivers with less talent and more money.
It looks like there may only be one Atlantic grad moving up to the Champ Car ranks this year - and it's not one of the top three finishers in the series, it's the 18-year old kid who has talent, but little experience. Lots of money, but no race wins at the Atlantic level.
I have nothing against the Rangers or Philippes, but wouldn't it be nice to think that these kids actually won a race driving in something other than a kart or Formula Ford before they got into a Champ Car? The CCWS is supposed to be a world class racing series - not a training ground for rich kids.
By the time they get to NASCAR Cup racing, stock car fans already know and cheer for the drivers they watched in Busch and Truck races. NASCAR spends the money to promote these guys and the fans are familiar with all the drivers.
In contrast, the only way I know of half of the drivers that come into the CCWS is because AR1 tells me which European has $6 mill to come race a Champ Car. Maybe I should just save my money and go watch ALMS to see the drivers I've invested my time and money in getting to know. Richard G., Springfield, Ohio

Dear Richard, In all fairness, many good drivers don't make it to F1 either. The number of seats are limited. However, when the manufacturers were involved in CART they were willing to pay to get the best drivers and CART was a great series with many very talented drivers. If OWRS can get the series to the point where it is profitable again, and the commercial value of the series is such that teams can find their own sponsorship, they will then be able to hire the best driver they can afford. As it is right now, the series is coming back from bankruptcy and it still has a way to go before it has returned to its former glory. Rome wasn't built in a day. Last point - Many great drivers have bought their way into racing to prove their worth/talent. However, once you reach the pinnacle of any sport, the best athletes/drivers should be paid to perform. Mark C.

Control tire 'illegal' in '05 Control tire 'illegal' in '05(GMMF1.NET) Max Mosley barked at criticism that the FIA should have imposed a single-tire rule in F1 for 2005. Minardi's Paul Stoddart, in a letter to the president, argued that a fast-tracked regulation would have both cut costs and helped to control speed. ''It would have been wrong, and possibly illegal,'' Max retorted. He said the FIA was required to give at least one year's notice, and also confirmed that Bridgestone and Michelin appear likely to keep warring at least to the end of next year. It might be easier, and less legally doubtful, if the teams simply sign a 'gentlemen's agreement' to work with only one tire supplier, he suggested. Max added: ''Unlike the FIA, the teams seem to have plenty of money and ... legal assistance.''
Indian to collect F1 license Indian to collect F1 license(GMMF1.NET)  Narain Karthikeyan should soon collect the FIA 'superlicense' he'll need prior to lining up on Albert Park's F1 grid.

At Silverstone, F1's first ever Indian made a quiet Jordan debut to amass the mandatory 300km, under the watchful eye of an official observer.

''I'm happy so far,'' the 28-year-old - who hadn't steered a single seater since November - grinned, ''and had no major problem.

'''It seemed very quick and exciting,'' Narain added, ''but now I'm getting used to it again.''

The Jordan pair, including teammate Tiago Monteiro, will drive again on Thursday and Friday, but a team spokesman - amazed at the Indian drivers' local media attention - said the team would not be 'timing the laps.'

Monteiro 'training hard' Monteiro 'training hard'(GMMF1.NET)  Portugal's first F1 driver in a decade is training hard ahead of his Australian grand prix debut.  Tiago Monteiro, 28 and a part time Minardi tester last year, will drive for Midland-owned Jordan in 2005.  The former Champ Car star, who once also tested a Renault F1, said he's been amazed by the sheer 'information' and 'workload' at the pinnacle of motor sport.

''There are so many things to think about,'' Tiago said, ''so I'm trying to work on my fitness and mental preparation and let other people take care of everything else.''  Monteiro, on Wednesday, tested the Toyota-powered EJ15 at Silverstone.

'Horned' Montoya's grinning 'Horned' Montoya's grinning(GMMF1.NET) McLaren driver Juan Pablo Montoya smiled broadly when he led a big test field at the Jerez circuit on Wednesday. Every team except Minardi, and Jordan (over at Silverstone), is running in Spain. Williams' Nick Heidfeld trailed Montoya's time.

''I cannot complain about (the MP4-20 car) at all, apart from a bit of understeer,'' Colombia's top star grinned to a reporter, happily noting that main rival Renault appear to be less reliable.

Webber, in another FW27, suffered both a BMW engine failure and a shunt, Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve wore an unpainted carbon fiber helmet, and both Renault R25's endured 'mechanical' trouble.

''It was a frustrating day,'' said test engineer Christian Silk. Michael Schumacher will return in a F2004'M' car on Thursday, and Kimi Raikkonen for McLaren.

G.I. Joe’s back to sponsor Champ Car race G.I. Joe’s back to sponsor Champ Car raceChamp Car World Series and Global Events Group announce that G. I. Joe’s will become the presenting sponsor for the 22nd running of the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland to be held at Portland International Raceway June 17-19.

Joe Chrnelich, Executive VP of Champ Car stated “G.I. Joe’s has long played a key role in the success of the Champ Car events in Portland and we are thrilled that they are involved again. With support from companies such as G.I. Joe’s, we are certain that we will put on a first-class event in Portland with a great weekend full of activities.”

Mike Nealy, President of Global Events Group said “We are excited to have G. I. Joe’s back in the race as the presenting sponsor. This is a very positive statement to the community for them to return in a major role for the race weekend. They deserve great recognition for their support over the years and we are excited about their marketing plans for the race,” Nealy added.

“We believe in the new ownership of Champ Car and the tremendous event this is for Oregon and the Pacific Northwest” stated Norm Daniels, CEO of the Oregon-based company. “We plan to support the event with a significant dollar commitment and an aggressive marketing campaign leading up to race weekend” added Daniels.

The Champ Car Business Coalition, which consists of the Portland Business Alliance, the Oregon Sports Authority, POVA, the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber and the Portland Rose Festival Association, was formed to strengthen the commitment of the business community to the race commended G. I. Joe’s for its leadership.

“We know this event has an $8 million annual economic impact on the state’s economy, and this event wouldn’t be possible without business leaders like Norm Daniels and G. I. Joe’s” stated Scott Andrews, President of Melvin Mark Properties and Chair-Elect of the Portland Business Alliance and Business Coalition member.

“We are working to bring other Oregon businesses into the race to develop the event as an economic development platform for Oregon and the region. We are fortunate to be on an internationally televised stage with Champ Car, and we hope other companies join G. I. Joe’s in support of the event” added Andrews.

The Oregon race will be shown LIVE on CBS for 2 ½ hrs on Father’s Day, June 19th, also live into 54 countries via Eurosport, live into Canada and a total of 180 countries worldwide will view the Oregon event.

Tickets go on sale this FRIDAY, February 11th, for the 22nd annual Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland presented by G. I. Joe’s at all G. I. Joe’s/Ticketmaster locations throughout the Northwest, or online at www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling the event Ticket Office at 503-821-4344.

Sebring tickets going fast Sebring tickets going fastAll trackside reserved parking at Sebring is now sold out with the exception of the new Ulmann Straight reserved camping/parking area.  "Demand for trackside spaces has never been stronger," stated Sebring President and GM Tres Stephenson. "Although all reserved spaces are sold out, fans still have plenty of viewing options. A large portion of Sebring's unreserved trackside is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. In addition, we have the new Ulmann Straight reserved camping/parking area, and a limited number of Pit Boxes and Club Sebring tickets still available."   The popular four-day and one-day Supertickets are now on sale at advance purchase prices. After Feb. 28, gate prices will apply to all ticket sales. For tickets call 800-626-7223.  Sebring International Raceway also offers free overflow camping and parking outside the circuit, adjacent to the track entrance. Shuttle service will be available on Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19, for the 53rd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Sebring Wall of Champions Sebring Wall of ChampionsThe past 52 champions of America's oldest and most prestigious sport car endurance race are featured on the new Wall of Champions at the entrance to Sebring International Raceway. A photo of every winning car and a list of all 102 past winning drivers pays tribute to the champions of America's premier sports car race (Right: Bruce McLaren and Mario Andretti with their 1967 Ford Mark IV winning car - they led the entire race.  Andretti would go on to win the 12-Hour classic three times.  Photo courtesy of Ford).  Founded in 1952, Sebring's 12-hour classic attracts the world's finest sports car racing teams, and is second only to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in international stature.  The 53rd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring runs Saturday, March 19. Gates open on Wednesday, March 16, and remain open 24 hours a day through Saturday.
Kanaan fastest in Phoenix Kanaan fastest in PhoenixDefending IRL IndyCar® Series champion Tony Kanaan posted the fastest lap as Andretti Green Racing led the first day of Open Testing at Phoenix International Raceway.

Kanaan, who has won the last two IndyCar Series events held at the 1-mile oval, recorded a lap of 20.6994 seconds, 173.918 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/ Firestone. Kanaan's teammate Dan Wheldon was second-fastest with a lap of 20.7183 seconds, 173.759 mph in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, while Scott Sharp was third-fastest with a lap of 20.7703 seconds, 173.324 mph in the No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone.  In all, 20 cars turned 3,248 incident-free laps. 

In other IndyCar Series news, Tony George, founder and chief executive officer of the Indy Racing League, announced the latest entries for the 2005 IndyCar® Series and the Menards Infiniti Pro Series.  George and wife Laura have founded Vision Racing, LLC., which will field a Toyota-powered Dallara for Ed Carpenter in the IndyCar Series and a Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone for Jay Drake in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series.

Pos. Car Name         C/E/T Speed
1. 11 Tony Kanaan D/H/F 173.918 mph
2. 26 Dan Wheldon D/H/F 173.759 mph
3. 8 Scott Sharp P/H/F 173.324 mph
4. 6 Sam Hornish Jr. D/T/F 173.239 mph
5. 27 Dario Franchitti D/H/F 172.863 mph
Slowest: AJ Foyt IV

Canadian sponsor woes tied to poor TV Canadian sponsor woes tied to poor TVA reader writes, Champ Car has problems in Canada. Period. Every year the series falls a little bit more below the radar. Paul Tracy can’t even get Canadian sponsorship. Without going through a litany of issues, a large part of that problem has to do with the Canadian TV schedule. While Global has done a fine job broadcasting the three Canadian races to date, TSN has dropped the ball totally. A great number of races are tape-delayed to the late evenings in favor of other events, including NASCAR races. The ratings for the non-Canadian races have tanked. Meanwhile, NASCAR has put together a patchwork broadcast schedule that when combined with US broadcasts beamed into Canada, has every Nextel Cup race live, plus about 50% of the Busch races live, plus NCTS on Speed. Give them a year and I am sure a new deal will be done for CASCAR giving them more exposure than Champ Car. Every day I see more cars and pickups sporting ‘3’, ‘8’, ‘24’ or ‘48’ stickers on them.

Right now though, there exists a confluence of events that if taken advantage of by CCWS, could bring the series right back on top again, and would probably lead to vastly increased sponsorship dollars for the teams, series and race promoters in Canada. The solution: the CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster and most widely available network. CBC Sports has lost more and more events in the last few years to higher bidders, including baseball. The network’s number 1 property, Hockey Night in Canada, has been dormant all year due to the NHL lock-out and that has really hurt the network’s bottom line. This week, CBC lost the rights to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and 2012 Summer Olympics to CTV/TSN/Rogers Sportsnet. They are losing ground, and broadcast content quickly.

Champ Car could be a solution for them. They could be the Canadian solution for us. They have a great working relationship with Molson Sports and Entertainment since the two entities have been working on sporting events together for years. If the CBC would broadcast every CCWS race live, and spotlight the Canadians, as they are essentially mandated to do, the profile of the series in this country would be raised significantly. That should help sell tickets at the three events. In addition, the live, network coverage of every event should help get sponsorship for PT, Tags and Valiante/Ranger if they are to move up. Really, that is the key. CCWS has limited years left with PT as the star for Canada. They need to be working now, to get the profile of Michael Valiante and Andrew Ranger lifted so they can be considered the Canadian stars of the future. Right now, I doubt that 99% of Canadians could tell you who Ranger or Valiante are….or Justin Wilson, or AJ Allmendinger, or Ryan Hunter-Reay. But they probably do know who Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, etc.

Right now – CCWS + CBC are a solution made in heaven. Find a way to make it happen. If not for ’05, then for ’06 to ’09. Even if CCWS gave CBC the rights for free, in exchange for helping to cover some production costs, in the long run it will help the series in spades. This is the move CCWS needs to do to protect their flank here in Canada, and build for the long term.

Gerry Forsythe said he was disappointed in corporate Canada for not stepping up to sponsor PT. I will be disappointed if CCWS doesn't step up and make this kind of thing happen. I believe that Canadian companies would respond in kind. Paul Ferreira, Toronto, Canada

Dear Paul, What you suggest makes perfect sense. The TV coverage for Champ Car was so bad last year the series essentially fell off the map. That coupled with the 2005 TV deal being delayed so long has made it difficult for teams to find sponsorship this year. Never before has our Champ Car Silly Season page had so many teams with uncompleted lineups as this year. It has resulted in far too many questions about the future of the series. Yes, OWRS has taken some positive steps with the new TV package in the USA and Europe, but what about the rest of the world, including Canada? Mark C.

Another Mexican to run Busch race Another Mexican to run Busch raceUPDATE It was announced today that Adrian Fernandez will run for the Hendrick Motorsports team in the car #5 car backed by Lowe's... The deal is only for the Mexican race. Other Mexicans to run are Freddy Tame who announced today his team for the Mexico 200 - Fuerza Motorsports. He will also run 2 other races in phoenix and in Fontana and there are talks for him to run the final at the Texas Motor Speedway. There are six Mexicans confirmed to run the Telmex Motorola Mexico 200
Michel Jourdain Jr
Mara Reyes
Rafael Martinez (not David)
Carlos Contreras
Adrian Fernandez
and Freddy Tame Hector Serrano reporting from Mexico 02/07/05 Female driver Mara Reyes was confirmed yesterday to drive one of the Jay Robinson team cars in the 3rd race of the year in Mexico City. With Mara, the count of Mexicans to run in Mexico City goes up to 6 - drivers like Michel Jourdain, Rafael Martinez, Chapulin Diaz, Capi Martinez and Adrian Fernandez, although not all of the drivers have officially announced their participation. Mara Reyes is the reigning champion of the “Tractocamiones.” NASCAR wants the grid to be full of Mexicans, leaving nothing to chance in this their first event on Mexican soil. Jose Arrambide
Bourdais gets first taste of IROC car Bourdais gets first taste of IROC carReigning Champ Car World Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais completed his first day of testing in preparation for the 2005 Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) Series and is looking forward to the first of four races to be held at Daytona International Speedway on February 16.

"The test went well,” said Bourdais, 25.  “The car was not complicated to drive once it was set up well.  At first it was very loose and everyone was saying the same thing so they made some changes and the car was much better.  It’s a safe, stable car; it doesn’t move around at all whether you are between cars, on the outside or on the inside.  Your success comes down to putting your car in the right place and getting others to work with you in the draft.  We ran in groups of four today and I ran mostly with Danny (Lasoski), Bobby (Hamilton) and Jay Sauter and his dad who set up and maintain the cars.  Everyone was very nice and helpful; they are used to drivers coming in that don’t have any experience with the cars or tracks.  I’m looking forward to the race; it’s going to be fun!"

Bourdais will become the first defending series champion since Jimmy Vasser competed in the series in 1997 following his 1996 Champ Car title.  Bourdais will also be only the second Newman/Haas Racing driver that has participated in the IROC series.  Mario Andretti competed in the series twice (1987 & 1988) while with the team and six times overall (1976, 1978, 1979, 1980) as well as earned the title in 1979.  Mario’s son Michael Andretti ran in the IROC series in 1987 prior to joining the team in 1989. 

“Sebastien did great, and he is a pleasure to work with,” said Jay Signore, IROC President. “He was able to give us excellent feedback on the performance of the IROC cars, which are completely different animals than what he is used to driving. Today was our first day on the track with the race cars and we were working Sebastien, Bobby Hamilton and Danny Lasoski in the practice cars and simultaneously, shaking down the race cars. We were loose across the board this morning, but by the afternoon we had the cars dialed in better and all of the drivers were very complimentary of Sebastien's abilities having no experience in this arena. His goal is to come back next week and start logging laps in the IROC cars, because he understands experience is the best teacher here at Daytona, and from what I've seen today, he'll be an A-Student." 

"Sebastien did very well with us here today,” added Jay Sauter, Crown Royal IROC test driver. “Having never been in a stock car, especially here at Daytona where the draft is critical, he adapted very quickly and did so throughout the course of the day as we stepped through adjustments on the race cars. We were fighting a bit of a loose condition here today and it was probably a good thing for Sebastien to experience.  We made some adjustments to correct for the track conditions and he responded to the changes immediately."

Bourdais will compete against other reigning champions such as Kurt Busch (NASCAR Nextel Cup), Bobby Hamilton (NASCAR Craftsman Truck), Steve Kinser (World of Outlaws), Max Papis and Scott Pruett (Grand Am co-champions) and Martin Truex Jr. (NASCAR Busch).  Other competitors include past champions Matt Kenseth (2003 NASCAR Nextel Cup and IROC champion), Mark Martin (4-time IROC champion), Helio Castroneves and Buddy Rice (both winners of the Indy 500) and Danny Lasoski (2001 World of Outlaws champion). 

Twelve drivers will compete in equally prepared cars for grand prize of $1 million dollars that will be given to the driver with the most points.  Following the season-opener at Daytona (February 18), the series will compete at Texas Motor Speedway (April 15), followed by Richmond International Raceway (September 8) and conclude at the Atlanta Motor Speedway (October 29).  The events will be televised on SPEED TV.

Zizzo leaves NASCAR for TMS Zizzo leaves NASCAR for TMSMike Zizzo, one of motor racing's top media relations professionals, has been named Director of Public Relations for Texas Motor Speedway. Zizzo is leaving the position of Senior Manager of Communications for NASCAR for the Texas post.

"Mike Zizzo is considered by many to be the best public relations man in American auto racing today," said Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway. "He has not only managed NASCAR's public relations program, but prior to that he was Vice President of Competition Public Relations for CART. He is highly respected in stock car racing and Indy Car racing, which will serve us well since we host both NASCAR and Indy Racing League IndyCar Series events.

"Zizzo rounds out a deep, solid management team here at 'The Great American Speedway,''' said Gossage. "He will provide wise counsel and help make many of our most important decisions. Because of his varied experience, he will be involved in many issues outside of what is typically expected of a Public Relations Director. We're honored that he has joined our team."
Karthikeyan makes track debut as F1 driver Karthikeyan makes track debut as F1 driverJordan Grand Prix began its first test session of 2005 today with Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan sharing driving duties, Karthikeyan making his track debut as the first ever signed Formula One racing driver from India.  Including mileage at the shakedown earlier in the week, both drivers have now completed over 300km of test mileage, with almost 700km of trouble-free running for the Jordan Toyota EJ15 car.

Trevor Carlin, Sporting Director of Jordan Grand Prix  "The car has run faultlessly today. We clocked up over 400km in total, with Tiago starting off the day and handing over to Narain later on. It’s positive that we’ve had good reliability and were able to cover plenty of mileage, and we are very impressed with how quickly both drivers have got back into the groove of driving racing cars after a couple of months out of them. They are both comfortable with the EJ15 and they are being sensible and not pushing to the limit at this stage. To be honest I think they are both enjoying it immensely! All credit to Jordan’s factory staff and to Toyota for such a good reliability record on our first full day of testing."

Narain Karthikeyan  "It went very well, we did lots of distance and I’m happy with the test so far. We had no major problems, and achieved my aim which was to complete 300km. Last time I drove a single-seater car was in November and the first thing I’ve driven on the circuit since then is a Formula One car! So it was very quick and very exciting this morning but I know I’m getting used to it and it’s time to get on with the work."

Photos by Jordan F1/Sutton

Diageo leverages Roush Racing deal Diageo leverages Roush Racing dealDiageo today unveiled a 30-second spot entitled “Pace Car,” via Grey Worldwide, N.Y., that highlights the company’s sponsorship of the Roush Racing Nextel Cup car driven by Kurt Busch. The ad, which marks the first NASCAR-themed spirits effort since the racing body began allowing liquor sponsorships, focuses on the premise, “Pacing is everything, especially when drinking,” and closes with the tagline “Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly.” In addition to “Pace Car” running on cable nets such as FSN, FX, Spike TV and Comedy Central, the sponsorship also will be supported with a larger campaign featuring POP materials, radio and a public relations effort. Busch promoted the sponsorship today on ESPN2's "Cold Pizza." THE DAILY
Office Depot launches NASCAR promotion Office Depot launches NASCAR promotionNASCAR partner Office Depot today launched the “Official Small Business of NASCAR” promotion that will allow the winning company to have its name featured on the No. 99 Office Depot Ford during the May 7 Nextel Cup Dodge Charger 500 at Darlington Raceway. The winner also will be granted rights to use a special logo on business materials, a $1,000 Office Depot shopping spree and a race package for the Dodge Charger 500. To support the promotion, Office Depot will debut a NASCAR-themed TV spot, “Bumper,” via BBDO, N.Y., this weekend. “Bumper” will air during race broadcasts through March 20, and a second spot will follow in April. Office Depot
Champ Car loses more of its top young talent Champ Car loses more of its top young talent[Editor's Note:  Recall our rumor from awhile ago that Pacific Coast had bought a C5-R for the ALMS.  This also means the Toyota Atlantic series has lost one of its top teams.]  This week’s Autosport magazine reports that Toyota Atlantic standouts Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge are set to join former Atlantics two-time champion David Empringham in a Corvette C5-R to be campaigned by the Pacific Coast Motorsports team.  PCM is owned by the Figge family, and, through the hands of another new ALMS recruit, Jon Fogarty, defeated Dalziel himself to the 2004 Atlantics crown. Although great news for the ALMS, 22-year-old Dalziel and even PCM’s departures would mean another crack to Champ Car’s ladder system - many in the CCWS paddock rated the Scot as Champ Car material, and he had a solid shot of landing a ride with PKV Racing before Cristiano da Matta’s negotiations with Newman/Haas fell through.  It is understood that PCM has already acquired a 2003 C5R updated to last year’s specs. Said team boss Tyler Tadevic: “We’re pretty sure the ALMS is the direction to go. We expect to make an announcement in a couple of weeks.” SPEEDTV.com
Enge tops AM speed chart in Phoenix Enge tops AM speed chart in PhoenixPanther Racing’s Tomas Enge, who has two IndyCar Series starts under his belt, led the speed chart in the morning session of testing at Phoenix International Raceway.  Enge, driving the No. 2 Chevrolet-powered Dallara, had a fast lap of 172.297 mph on the 1-mile tri-oval under a partly cloudy sky and temperature in the low 60s. Enge recorded 75 laps on the first of two days of testing in preparation for the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 6. Twenty drivers combined to turn 1,559 laps without incident.  Scott Sharp, driving the No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone, was second on the speed chart at 172.278 mph. Marlboro Team Penske’s Sam Hornish Jr. (172.208 mph) and Helio Castroneves (172.179) were next on the list.
Sauber test report Sauber test reportTeam Sauber Petronas continued its three-day test at the Circuito Permanente de Jerez today. Jacques Villeneuve covered 95 laps in chassis C24-01 to set a best time of 1:18.598s. Felipe Massa ran 98 laps in chassis C24-02 with a best time of 1:17.399s. Jacky Eeckelaert, Chief Race Engineer - "Today we worked with Felipe on further improvements of the car's set-up, and also ran Michelin tire and brake tests. With Jacques we focused on brake evaluations and compared different dampers. For tomorrow we have scheduled for both drivers to work with Michelin on a tire program for Melbourne. Overall I'm quite happy with the performances today and the reliability of the C24." Press release Sauber Petronas
A bad day for Renault A bad day for RenaultThe Mild Seven Renault F1 Team’s second day of testing in Jerez proved frustrating, with mechanical problems sidelining both drivers at different points of the day and preventing any coherent work either on tire development or long-distance running. Both drivers nonetheless managed to being tire testing programs in preparation for the Australian Grand Prix.

Christian Silk, Chief Test Engineer - “It was frustrating to complete fewer laps than we had planned today, but we nevertheless began our tire testing for Melbourne and obtained some clear directions on our choices. Both drivers remained positive about the car’s performance at this circuit, but we have not yet completed any dedicated set-up work for this circuit. Along with further tire development, that will be our priority tomorrow.” Press release Renault F1 Team

Montoya dominates at Jerez Montoya dominates at JerezJuan Pablo Montoya set the fastest time today at Jerez. The McLaren driver finished in front of Nick Heidfeld (Williams) and Felipe Massa (Sauber).
1 . Juan Pablo Montoya - McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 - 1:16.774 - 0.000 - 98 laps
2 . Nick Heidfeld - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:17.345 - 0.571 - 115 laps
3 . Felipe Massa - Sauber Petronas C24 - 1:17.399 - 0.625 - 98 laps
4 . Rubens Barrichello - Ferrari F2004M - 1:17.433 - 0.659 - 68 laps
5 . Giancarlo Fisichella - Renault R25 - 1:17.505 - 0.731 - 56 laps
6 . Christian Klien - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:17.571 - 0.797 - 105 laps
7 . Fernando Alonso - Renault R25 - 1:17.600 - 0.826 - 27 laps
8 . Ricardo Zonta - Toyota TF105 - 1:17.687 - 0.913 - 71 laps
9 . David Coulthard - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:17.911 - 1.137 - 80 laps
10 . Mark Webber - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:17.913 - 1.139 - 31 laps
11 . Pedro de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 - 1:17.959 - 1.185 - 88 laps
12 . Anthony Davidson - BAR Honda 007 - 1:18.238 - 1.464 - 151 laps
13 . Jacques Villeneuve - Sauber Petronas C24 - 1:18.598 - 1.824 - 95 laps
14 . Luca Badoer - Ferrari F2004 - 1:18.616 - 1.842 - 69 laps
15 . Jarno Trulli - Toyota TF105 - 1:19.022 - 2.248 - 87 laps
16 . Takuma Sato - BAR Honda 007 - 1:20.050 - 3.276 - 12 laps
Musberger tabbed to host Indy 500 Musberger tabbed to host Indy 500ABC's Brent Musburger, one of the most talented broadcasters in the industry, will serve as host of the network's coverage of the world's greatest auto race, the prestigious Indianapolis 500, on Sunday, May 29.  ABC's telecast of the 89th Indianapolis 500 starts at noon Eastern time.

"Brent Musburger (right) is one of the most well-known and highly respected announcers in sports television," said Joie Chitwood, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief operating officer. "He is a fitting host for the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing,' and his knowledge and enthusiasm will help bring the tradition and thrills of the event to millions of viewers."

One of the industry's most recognized voices, Musburger handles play-by-play for ABC's college football and NBA telecasts, as well as for ABC and ESPN's coverage of college basketball.

Musburger served as the pre-game and halftime host on ABC's coverage of Super Bowl XXV, the 16th time he has participated in the coverage of the nation's most popular sports spectacular. He covered the World Track and Field Championships and U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 1995, hosted the 1992 Pan American Games from Cuba and also has served as host of ABC's golf telecasts.

"We are delighted to have Brent as our host for this marquee event," said Mike Pearl, senior vice president, executive producer of ABC Sports. "He is one of the hardest-working and most versatile announcers in the business. Brent helps to accelerate the excitement of the event and will be a great addition to the broadcast team."

Prior to joining ABC Sports, Musburger was a member of CBS Sports' broadcast team. He anchored "The NFL Today" pre-game, halftime and post-game National Football League broadcasts. Additionally, he was the lead play-by-play announcer for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and Final Four, hosted "CBS Sports Saturday/Sunday," the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, the NBA Finals, the Masters Tournament and the Pan American Games.

No third Penske car for Indy No third Penske car for IndyTeam Penske will not expand to a multi-car team for this year’s Indianapolis 500, even though its two-car squad stands at a theoretical disadvantage compared to its major IRL IndyCar rivals.   And Penske’s stance raises fears that the race’s full 33-car grid will not be met for the first time since 1947.  Only 33 cars tried to qualify for the 2004 event, but with many teams in trouble for this year the chances of getting 33 are looking less and less likely.   Penske president Tim Cindric said: “We don’t plan to run any more cars there. We like to focus on what we’ve got, although we have supported Sam Schmidt Motorsports there in the past to help ensure there are reasonable numbers.” Autosport Magazine
NASCAR Europe TV deal NASCAR Europe TV dealSatellite and cable TV channel North American Sports Network (NASN) has renewed its deal to broadcast all 36 NASCAR Nextel Cup events across Europe in 2005 – most of them live – beginning with the all-star, non-championship Bud Shootout this Sunday. Autosport Magazine
Michel Jourdain Jr. Cleared to Compete at Daytona Michel Jourdain Jr. Cleared to Compete at Daytonappc Racing officials announced today driver Michel Jourdain Jr. has been cleared by NASCAR to compete in next week’s NASCAR Busch Series event at Daytona International Speedway.  Jourdain, driver of the No. 10 ppc Racing Ford Taurus, is the first Mexican driver to compete in the series full time after years of racing in the open-wheel ranks.

“We’re grateful to NASCAR for clearing Michel for Daytona,” said Greg Pollex, car owner at ppc Racing.  “Michel has a ton of experience racing in many forms of motorsports and NASCAR wanted to observe how Michel handled himself in the draft during testing and the comments received by them were very positive.  Our next step is to secure sponsorship with the No. 10 Ford Taurus and I’m confident we will with the season starting next week.  Michel is widely known as an exceptional driver and is a great choice to be behind the wheel of a ppc Racing Ford.”

Ford Racing Technology announced last month Jourdain’s arrival into stock car auto racing with ppc Racing.  He immediately began testing at Daytona International, California and Las Vegas Motor Speedways all of which have secured confidence in Jourdain as he prepares for his first race at Daytona.

“First I want to thank NASCAR and ppc Racing for letting me participate in this race,” said Jourdain.  “They are showing a lot of confidence in me so my first goal is not to make any mistakes that could change this decision of trust in my capabilities into a wrong decision.  In the race, I will do my best and most of all learn a lot from this first great experience.  I will enjoy this moment, my first race at Daytona.”

Jourdain competed in his first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Phoenix International Raceway last month, finishing sixth in the Grand National Division, West Series season opener after starting 16th.

“I wasn’t sure if this was going to happen,” said Jourdain, on his clearance being well before competition begins at Daytona.  “I mean, I have been running on superspeedways a long time now but this (stock cars) is totally different.  I can say the timing is good now that we know about this beforehand.  Now we’ll be able to work on the cars without that pressure of doubt."

Sato crashes again Sato crashes againIn another major setback for the BAR Honda team Takuma Sato suffered his second major crash in just 24 hours.  After spinning off at the first corner on Tuesday following a rear wing failure, Sato lost control at the Peluqui right hander today.   Although Sato was able to climb out of the car and damage was not as extensive as it had been the day before, the Japanese driver felt it would be in his best interests to return to his hotel in Jerez and rest his hurt knee rather than try and continue the test. It is believed he will revert back to the BAR006 for testing on Thursday.  Speaking to autosport.com before he left the track, Sato said: “It has not been a good day. There was something wrong with the car and, although nothing actually broke, there was a problem there. We don't know what it is though.”
Rosberg and Todt Jr. hire Premat Rosberg and Todt Jr. hire PrematAlexandre Premat, winner of the Macau GP F3 race in 2004 and runner-up to Jamie Green in last year's Formula 3 Euroseries, has been hired as Nico Rosberg's team in the ART team, which is being run by Jean Todt's son Nicolas with engineering by the ASM team, which ran Premat and Green last year.  "I think that with Alexandre and Nico, ART Grand Prix will benefit from the services of a very balanced and efficient duo," says Todt Jr. "I also believe that signing a Frenchman such as Alexandre will be appreciated by most of the country, which will now have at least three drivers in the GP2 championship, as times are not that good in regard to Frenchmen in Formula 1 right now."
The Budweiser Shootout lowdown The Budweiser Shootout lowdownBeginning with the 2003 Budweiser Shootout the race was formatted into two segments.
  • The first segment is 20 laps after which a 10 minute intermission is held.
  • During the intermission teams may change tires or perform any other action that would be part of a normal pit stop.
  • The second segment is 50 laps that must end in a green-white-checkered finish.
  • Caution laps will count toward the total in both segments so the second segment may extend beyond the scheduled 70-lap total.
  • In the event of a red flag, crews will be permitted to work on the cars; however, all work must be performed on pit road or Garage Area only. When the race is resumed, all cars must immediately be ready to return to competition.
  • All re-starts will be double-file re-starts. All lapped cars will re-start at the rear of the field.
  • The starting positions for the 2005 Budweiser Shootout will be drawn at random.
  • A $1,087,300 purse is offered for the 2005 Budweiser Shootout. The winner will receive at least $211,500.

Eligibility: A total of 21 drivers are eligible for the 2005 Budweiser Shootout, one less than the 2002 record (22) for the largest field in the history of the event. Twelve gained eligibility based on winning a Bud Pole Award in 2004 while the others are eligible because they are past champions of the Busch Clash/Budweiser Shootout that did not win a Bud Pole Award in 2004 and finished in the top-60 in final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings.

Four drivers will be participating in their first Budweiser Shootout: #16-Greg Biffle, #9-Kasey Kahne, #41-Casey Mears and #25-Brian Vickers. Other drivers: #12-Ryan Newman, #24-Jeff Gordon, #9-Kasey Kahne, #19-Jeremy Mayfield, #01-Joe Nemechek, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #21-Ricky Rudd, #18-Bobby Labonte, #97-Kurt Busch.  Eligible drivers eligible based on being past champions of the Busch Clash/Bud Shootout:
13. #88-Dale Jarrett (winner - 1996, 2000, 2004)
14. #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. (winner - 2003)
15. #20-Tony Stewart (winner - 2001, 2002*)
16. #6-Mark Martin - (winner - 1999)
17. #2-Rusty Wallace (winner - 1998)
18. #49-Ken Schrader (winner - 1989, 1990)
19. Bill Elliott (winner - 1987), #39 Coors Dodge
20. Terry Labonte (winner - 1985)
21. Geoffrey Bodine (winner - 1992)
NASCAR Statistical Services

IRL announces 10-city promotional tour IRL announces 10-city promotional tourIn celebration of the start of the 10th season of IRL IndyCar® Series racing, the Indy Racing League announced it will launch a 14-day, 13-city "Green Flag Tour."

The tour, which will carry the green flag that will be used to start the season-opening Toyota Indy 300, will begin Feb. 21 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and conclude at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 6. Along the way, the flag will travel some 7,500 miles, visiting nine of the country's biggest cities and 10 markets that will host IndyCar Series events.

"For the past nine seasons, the IndyCar Series has delivered some of the most exciting racing on the planet," said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer of the IRL. "The Green Flag Tour will help build even more excitement and keep our millions of fans nationwide on the edge of their seats."

During the two-week event, select drivers from the league will tour the country along with a Chevy SSR safety vehicle and an Indy Racing Experience two-seater designed to provide passengers with the rare opportunity to ride in a real IndyCar Series vehicle. Additionally, TV and radio personality Jack Arute will travel with and report from the "Green Flag Tour." Arute is ABC Sports' top pit reporter and has been a member of the Indianapolis 500 broadcast team since 1984.

"The Green Flag Tour is an incredible opportunity to showcase the high technology, excitement, spirit and fan-friendliness of the IndyCar Series and its drivers," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president, business affairs for the IRL. "This tour will engage our fans and help introduce even more people to this cutting-edge sport."

Drivers scheduled to participate include 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and Danica Patrick (from Rahal Letterman Racing), 2003 IndyCar Series Bombardier Rookie of the Year Dan Wheldon and Dario Franchitti (Andretti Green Racing), 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, Darren Manning and Ryan Briscoe (Chip Ganassi Racing), Tomas Scheckter (Panther Racing), Alex Barron and Patrick Carpentier (Red Bull Cheever Racing), Scott Sharp (Delphi Fernandez Racing), and A.J. Foyt IV (A.J. Foyt Racing).

Team co-owners Michael Andretti and Adrian Fernandez, plus four-time Indianapolis 500 winner and Indy Racing League special projects coordinator Johnny Rutherford also will participate at select stops.

Sponsors of the Green Flag Tour include Chevrolet, Honda, Toyota, Target, Jim Beam, Delphi, Firestone, Pennzoil, 7-Eleven, Pioneer, TAG Heuer and Red Bull. 

Beginning with the March 6 race and concluding on Oct. 16, the 2005 IndyCar Series season includes 17 races in the United States and Japan, including the "Greatest Spectacle In Racing," the Indianapolis 500. The series, which is known for its hallmark, wheel-to-wheel excitement at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour, debuts its all-out competition on street and road events later this year with three brand new events on its schedule.

The Chevy SSR will serve as the official pace vehicle for all 2005  IndyCar Series events, with the exception of the Indianapolis 500 in May. This marks the second-consecutive season that a truck-based Chevrolet will lead the charge to the green flag, while continuing General Motors' tradition of leading the IndyCar Series field, which began with the League's first race in 1996.

The IndyCar Series Green Flag Tour will be managed by Ignition, Inc., an Atlanta-based company that is known for creating unforgettable branded experiences through experiential marketing, strategic marketing and marketing innovations to help make lasting, emotional consumer connections around the world. Ignition, Inc. has managed the IndyCar Series Fan Experience since its inception in 2003.

The Green Flag Tour will race into the following locations on the path to the regular season opener:

Date City
Feb. 21 Indianapolis
Feb. 22 Denver
Feb. 23 San Francisco
Feb. 24-25 Los Angeles
Feb. 26 Phoenix
Feb. 27 Dallas
Feb. 28 Chicago
March 1 Detroit
March 2-3 New York
March 3 Washington, D.C.
March 4 Atlanta
March 5 St. Petersburg, Fla.
March 6 Miami 

Renault announce 2005 RDD program Renault announce 2005 RDD programFor the 2005 season, continuity is the watchword of the Renault Driver Development (RDD) program: four of the five drivers for the coming season graduated from the 2004 class. Inaugurated by the Renault F1 Team in 2002, the objective of the RDD program is to detect the star racing drivers of tomorrow.

The program offers its members the opportunity to develop in the most appropriate championship, while also following rigorous sporting and physical training regimes. As young ambassadors for Renault, the RDD drivers are evaluated by criteria which take account of their on-track performance… but also their performance away from the circuit. Renault Driver Development has earned its reputation as a prestigious, tough and effective proving ground.

2005 will see four members of the 2004 program retained for the coming season, a first for the RDD. Heading the list is Heikki Kovalainen, 23, who confirmed his potential last year by taking the title in the World Series by Nissan, then turning heads as he won the Race of Champions at the Stade de France, Paris last December. An RDD member since 2002, his application, commitment and talent were also called upon by the Renault F1 Team on several occasions in 2004, when he conducted early development work for the R25. This season, he will compete in the GP2 Series championship with the Arden team.
After finishing sixth in last season's F3000 championship, Argentine José-Maria Lopez, 21, has also been retained for the 2005 season, and will compete head-to-head with Kovalainen in the GP2 Series, driving for the DAMS team. After an inconsistent but promising season in British F3, Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi, 20, will once again race in RDD colors in 2005. Two victories and four podiums in 2004 demonstrated his potential, and he will compete in the Formula 3 Euroseries this season with Manor Motorsport. Frenchman Loïc Duval, 22, endured a challenging season in 2004. However, his encouraging performances at the end of the season and two podium finishes have earned him his place for 2005. He will compete in the Formula 3 Euroseries for a second season, for the Signature team.

The newest member of the program, and the youngest of the group, is Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado. At nearly 20 years of age, he won the Italian Formula Renault 2000 Championship in 2004 and will compete in the World Series by Renault championship Formula Renault 3.5L for the DAMS team. Press Release Renault

Industry News
The world of Roger S. Penske The world of Roger S. Penske
Birthplace: Shaker Heights, Ohio.
Resides: Birmingham, Mich.
Family: Wife, Kathy; four sons and a daughter.
Education: Attended Lehigh University.
What he's worth: According to Forbes, which last year listed him as the 142nd richest American, he's worth $1.7 billion. But he may be priceless to metro Detroit, where he may help make or break the region's image during the 2006 Super Bowl.
Racing career highlights: National sports car driving champion in 1964; established racing team in 1961; cofounder of Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) in 1979; Penske Racing has won 13 Indianapolis 500s and 9 CART points titles; announced surprising move to Indy Racing League during the 2002 season.
Business portfolio:
The Penske Corp.
United Auto Group Inc.,
Penske Truck Leasing
Transportation Resources Partners,
Penske Automotive Group Inc., 
Penske Logistics 
VM Motori SpA,
Truck-Lite Co. Inc., 
Davco Technology LLC, 
Penske Racing
Other activities: Aside from being chairman of the host committee for the 2006 Super Bowl, which will be held in Detroit, Penske also sits on the board of directors of the following companies: General Electric Co., the Home Depot Inc., Universal Technical Institute, CarsDirect.com and Detroit Renaissance. He is also a senior adviser to the board of directors at Delphi Corp., a member of the Business Council and enjoys boating, golf and skiing.  More at Detroit Free Press  Related article.
Raceway, neighbors in dispute over noise Raceway, neighbors in dispute over noiseTo Steve Cox, the cars zipping around the track at Portland International Raceway sound something like a swarm of bees, only louder and more irritating.  So, when the North Portland resident found out that the raceway wants an unlimited noise variance from the city for a weekend of ear-splitting drag races this summer, he vowed to fight for peace and quiet.  He's not alone. A group of North Portlanders plan to lobby against that proposal at a Noise Review Board hearing Wednesday at Portland City Hall. The review board's decision could be appealed to the Portland City Council.

Neighbors also oppose the raceway's proposed change in the variance process, which sets acceptable noise levels. They say such a change would weaken oversight of the track's noisiest races.   Conflict between the track and its North Portland neighbors spans decades. At stake this time is the raceway's plans for growth and its ability to lure another lucrative, national racing event to Portland, a race that could pay for a host of track improvements.

The current dispute, which has been brewing for more than a year, could threaten the relationship between neighbors and promoters of other major races scheduled this summer.   "In eight years of running this department, I haven't seen this kind of contention for races at PIR," said Paul van Orden, the city's noise-control officer.

The raceway is owned by the city and operated by the Portland Bureau of Parks & Recreation, which last year received about $300,000 in track revenue. It is required to have variances for events in which the noise exceeds roughly 103 decibels 50 feet from the track, a noise level slightly louder than a garbage truck or jackhammer.  This year, there are expected to be four variances: for a Champ Car race, the American Le Mans Grand Prix of Portland and two events featuring vintage and historic cars.  The raceway's manager, Mark Wigginton, is eager to add the drag races to the schedule but understands that noise will be an issue.  "I realize the track is a neighbor, and we want to be a good neighbor," he said.

Wigginton said he hopes that if the track can successfully host regional drag races this summer, he can persuade one of the major drag-racing associations to bring an event here every year, which he estimates could add up to $20 million in economic benefits for the city.  "An awful lot of people are pretty excited about a drag race coming here for the first time in 20 years," he said.

At Wednesday's review board meeting, a race promoter is seeking variances with a limit of 110 decibels for the Champ Car event and 115 decibels for the American Le Mans event. The Noise Review Board, made up of citizen volunteers, probably will approve those requests, van Orden said.  It's unclear, however, what the board will do about the request for an unlimited noise variance for the drag races, which can produce sounds reaching 130 decibels at 50 feet or 10 decibels more than the human threshold for pain.  The noise diminishes the farther you are from the raceway, Wigginton noted. He estimates that there would be a total of 30 minutes a day in which the noise exceeds 105 decibels.  More at Portland Oregonian

XM Satellite to sponsor Phoenix race XM Satellite to sponsor Phoenix raceXM Satellite Radio, the nation's leading provider of satellite radio with more than 3.2 million subscribers, will serve as the title sponsor of the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 at the Phoenix International Raceway on March 19.  The Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series event, which will air nationwide on ABC television at 3:00 pm ET, is the second race in the series' tenth anniversary season.

The sponsorship of the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 is part of a multi-year marketing agreement with International Speedway Corporation (ISC), a major promoter of motorsports activities in the United States.  Under the agreement, XM will have an on-site presence this year at 25 racing events sanctioned by IRL IndyCar Series and NASCAR at ten ISC tracks, including the Daytona International Speedway, California Speedway, and Richmond International Raceway.

"Racing fans are passionate about automobiles and XM Satellite Radio. This agreement with ISC allows us to further our commitment to motorsports and promote our strategic partnerships with auto manufacturers such as Honda, General Motors, Toyota, and Nissan," said Hugh Panero, President and CEO of XM Satellite Radio.

"As the title sponsor of the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200, our company is proud to be associated with one of the premier IRL racing events of the year," Panero said.  "This agreement gives XM a major presence at NASCAR and IRL IndyCar Series events at ISC tracks all over the country.  XM has been the exclusive broadcaster of NASCAR Radio since our inception, and this agreement expands our outreach to NASCAR fans at the tracks where they experience the excitement of the sport firsthand."

New Istanbul date New Istanbul dateThe LMES has moved the Istanbul date to November 4-6 to avoid conflict with ALMS/FIA-GT dates.
Younger Kinser Looks To NASCAR, Kahne Owner Younger Kinser Looks To NASCAR, Kahne OwnerThe top rookie last season in the World of Outlaws dirt-track sprint car circuit, the 20-year-old son of series champion Steve Kinser made his U.S. Auto Club Silver Crown debut last week in a car owned by Nextel Cup driver Kasey Kahne. Kinser, from Bloomington, Ind., still plans to compete in Outlaws events with his father, but NASCAR clearly is on his mind.  "Let's see where this goes first," he said. The younger Kinser lasted only a few laps before his engine gave out last week in the Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway in his first Silver Crown race. Gordon, Stewart and Newman, who also began their USAC careers in Indiana, used Silver Crown championships as an entry to NASCAR, the world's premier stock car series. FoxSports
Spanish GP tickets strong Spanish GP tickets strongTicket sales ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, the fifth round of the 2005 Formula One World Championship, are progressing well with the circuit announcing on Tuesday that they have already sold 50,000 tickets.  The circuit has just under 66,000 grandstand seats with an additional 35,000 general admission tickets available and claims that most of the grandstand seats will soon be sold.  The Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya takes place in May 6- 8 but before that, testing at the facility resumes next week with Ferrari, Renault, Williams, McLaren, Red Bull Racing, Toyota and Jordan at the circuit. Circuit Catalunya
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
'I earned the job' - Heidfeld
Big smash for Sato
FIA to drop cost cut crusade
McLaren's 'horn' innovation
Jungle Boy to America
'Respectable' Cosworth
DC almost joined Ferrari
'Ferrari could've quit F1'
FIA stirred political pot
'Powered by Toyota'
Indian on cash-lined track
Red Bull to decide - CK
New Sauber not flawed - Massa
Webber - 'I'd pack it in'
'Fire and ice won't clash'
'Fresh blood' in F1 paddock
When Coulthard 'pulled over'
Massa is F1's top overtaker
He who lives in glass house.... He who lives in glass house....A reader writes in response to the rumor Tony George will start an IRL and IPS team, Dear AutoRacing1.com, It is incredible to read your attacks on the Indy Racing League. While you're at it ordering flowers for IRL team burials, see if you can at least pick up a corsage for Forsythe Championship Racing, which has no sponsorship for superstar Paul Tracy for a second straight year, and still doesn't even employ a PR person. Perhaps Corona can sponsor PT. Rodolfo Lavín’s initials are awfully close to IRL. Champ Car couldn't even decide on a site for spring training, or even whether to HAVE spring training. Then they decide to have it in Sebring (not true, it will be in Indianapolis in March), where it can be completely overshadowed by SpeedWeeks at Daytona. Pure genius. How many teams will there be in Champ Car this year? Does anybody even know? Do you really think any of this will matter when ISC takes over the running of the IRL? Open wheel racing needs support, not knives in the back. That's a pretty large glass house you're throwing from, too....Sincerely, Brian Golden Lancaster, California
Champ Car missed the boat again Champ Car missed the boat againWith a large contingent of Indians living in the USA AutoRacing1.com urged Champ Car to get a ride for Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan on a number of occasions, but like many things, it fell on deaf ears and Champ Car is once again on the outside looking in.

Having an Indian on board is already proving a boon, according to Karthikeyan's minder at Jordon's F1 headquarters in Silverstone, Piers Hunnisett. "He has given so many interviews over the past few days," Hunnisett was quoted as saying. If Jordon had signed on a British driver it would not have created such a buzz. But because of his nationality, the media is clamoring to meet him."

Karthikeyan's three main sponsors - the Tata Group, India's second largest business conglomerate, state-run refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp and JK Tires - reportedly coughed up close to 30 million dollars to get Jordan to hire him (Champ Car could have done it for a fraction of that).

"It did not take us long to agree when he told us that Jordon was willing to offer him a place," said JK Tires' Sanjay Sharma, a close friend of Karthikeyan. "We had to put an Indian on the world racing map. Money was really not a consideration."

With two other Indian drivers, Karun Chandok and Armaan Ebrahim waiting in the wings, racing officials are convinced Karthikeyan will revolutionize the sport in the country. "It's always tough for the first person to break into the big league," said Nazir Hoosein, president of the Motorsport Association of India. "Narain's doing so makes me optimistic. Money is no longer the issue and the talent is available."

The country is already buzzing with excitement at the prospect of watching Karthikeyan race. India can't wait for March 6 to happen. Hindustan Times

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