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Petty Honored Petty HonoredRichard Petty, who won seven NASCAR Cup Series championships, will be inaugurated into the Goodyear Legends of Daytona on Friday. Legends of Daytona is a new attraction at Daytona International Speedway that honors stock car, sports car and motorcycle racers for their Daytona accomplishments. NASCAR Scene
Gordon Talks of Retirement and Overexposure Gordon Talks of Retirement and OverexposureJeff Gordon, NASCAR's leading statesman at 33, says he may retire at 40. "Then you'll start seeing guys go to maybe 35 ... It will get younger and younger and younger." Dale Earnhardt Jr., racing's rock star at 30, admits he thinks about the issue often, and "every day is different." Reigning Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch, 26, says "five years have been knocked off already" from his career plan, just by the grueling crucible of last fall's new Chase for the Championship. This, in a realm where Richard Petty raced through age 54, Bobby Allison had his career cut short at 52 by injury and Dale Earnhardt was about to turn 50, with no set plan to retire, when he was killed. Only now have Rusty Wallace, 48, and Mark Martin, 46, declared this their final full season, and Terry Labonte, 48, drastically cut his schedule. What has changed for the new generation of drivers? SunSentinel
NASCAR pulls more of Goodyear’s junk tires NASCAR pulls more of Goodyear’s junk tiresGoodyear officials admitted to a minor manufacturer problem that caused the tire maker to make the unique decision to pull several hundred more tires from its inventory for Nextel Cup teams. Goodyear originally isolated about 300 tires before the Budweiser Shootout after some teams experienced problems. Stu Grant, general manager of global race tires, announced Thursday morning at Daytona International Speedway that would be expanded to 900 tires. "There was a slightly lower level of adhesion between the tread and the top fabric ply on the tires that experienced problems when you compare them to other tires that specific production run," Grant said. Goodyear officials flew a company plane to Daytona Beach to pick up tires for analysis at its headquarters in Akron, Ohio. Testing was done overnight, and Goodyear announced its findings Thursday morning. Testing was done on samples of tires that had problems, samples of tires in the same group that didn't have problems and samples of tires from that had yet to be used. NASCAR [Editor's Note: How can this company still be in racing after years of making inferior tires and getting beat in every head-to-head competition they have been in? The longer they continue the more they tarnish the Goodyear name. How bad are their tires? The Corvette ALMS team switched to Michelin tires and were immediately 7 seconds per lap faster than the previous year of Goodyears.]
Mark Martin car to be fixed Mark Martin car to be fixedCrew chief Pat Tryson gave an update of the team's plans regarding the No. 6 Viagra Taurus that was involved in an accident during the second Gatorade Duel 150.

PAT TRYSON, Crew Chief - No. 6 Viagra Taurus - "Our plan is to fix that car. It was the better of our two cars when we were down here testing as far as racing. It's been really good in practice. Mark's been really happy with it, so we're just gonna stay late and work on it. We'll work all day on it tomorrow and try to get it ready for Saturday's practice. Hopefully, we'll get it back like it was and we'll have a shot at winning the race."

HOW MUCH WORK IS THERE? "There's a lot of work. We have to fix the right-hand part of the nose and the lower part in the center, and then the left-rear quarter and the decklid we've got to fix. The suspension was OK, so that's good. It's just mainly sheetmetal stuff, but it's a lot of work. We're committed to giving Mark everything we've got this year. He feels a whole lot better about that car, so we just need to fix it and try to win the 500."

SO YOU DON'T FORESEE ANY PRACTICE AT ALL ON FRIDAY. "Our plan right now is to not practice tomorrow and just get it ready for Saturday's practice. Mark doesn't care if he practices it at all, but we want to practice on Saturday just to make sure everything is OK."
Industry News
GM announces new racing boss GM announces new racing bossGeneral Motors has named Mark Kent its new director of racing. Kent will oversee engineering and marketing activities for all of GM's motorsports programs, including NASCAR, NHRA, SCCA, Grand American, American Le Mans and IRL. Kent, 44, replaces Doug Duchardt, who held the position for the last two years. Kent has experience in powertrain development both for production and race vehicles. From 1987 to 1992, he held motorsports engine engineering and program manager positions for winning IMSA GTU and SCCA Trans Am programs. Most recently, he was the GM Powertrain design systems engineer for the Northstar V-8 line-up of engines. "Our racing efforts will benefit from Mark's motorsports engineering and program management experience and his competitive nature," said Steve Shannon, executive director of GM Marketing Services. "He has a strong track record of leading and supporting successful racing programs for the company." Kent takes the reins to GM's extensive motorsports program on March 1, 2005.
McLaren fastest but Ferrari begins to show speed McLaren fastest but Ferrari begins to show speedUPDATE Final times for Thursday:
1 . P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes MP4- 20 - 1:14.542 (+ 0.000 ) - 112 laps
2 . G. Fisichella - Renault R25 - 1:14.608 (+ 0.066 ) - 121 laps
3 . R. Barrichello - Ferrari F2004M - 1:14.641 (+ 0.099 ) - 111 laps
4 . M. Schumacher - Ferrari F2004M - 1:14.920 (+ 0.378 ) - 78 laps
5 . C. Klien - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:14.982 (+ 0.440 ) - 46 laps
6 . F. Alonso - Renault R25 - 1:15.021 (+ 0.479 ) - 104 laps
7 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:15.094 (+ 0.552 ) - 76 laps
8 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:15.578 (+ 1.036 ) - 78 laps
9 . V. Liuzzi - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:15.656 (+ 1.114 ) - 82 laps
10 . A. Pizzonia - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:15.794 (+ 1.252 ) - 99 laps
11 . R. Schumacher - Toyota TF105 - 1:16.281 (+ 1.739 ) - 82 laps
12 . N. Karthikeyan - Jordan Toyota EJ15 - 1:17.589 (+ 3.047 ) - 74 laps
13 . T. Monteiro - Jordan Toyota EJ15 - 1:18.372 (+ 3.830 ) - 43 laps

02/17/05 Pedro de la Rosa paid notice that McLaren's new car is fast by laying down a blistering lap this morning in Barcelona to jump to the top of the timesheets just minutes before the lunch break. The Spaniard had a best lap of 1:14.542s.  Giancarlo Fisichella was just six-hundredths of a second off de la Rosa’s pace.

Ferrari meanwhile set the third and fourth fastest time as they started to put in some fast laps for the first time this week in Barcelona. Rubens Barrichello set the third best time a tenth off the fastest time of the session, while Michael Schumacher was four- tenths of a second back with his similarly Bridgestone-rubbered F2004M. 
 Morning Times
1 . P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes MP4- 20 - 1:14.452 (+ 0.000 ) - 51 laps
2 . G. Fisichella - Renault R25 - 1:14.608 (+ 0.156 ) - 73 laps
3 . R. Barrichello - Ferrari F2004M - 1:14.641 (+ 0.189 ) - 57 laps
4 . M. Schumacher - Ferrari F2004M - 1:14.920 (+ 0.468 ) - 61 laps
5 . C. Klien - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:14.982 (+ 0.530 ) - 29 laps
6 . F. Alonso - Renault R25 - 1:15.021 (+ 0.569 ) - 69 laps
7 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:15.094 (+ 0.642 ) - 47 laps
8 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:15.578 (+ 1.126 ) - 39 laps
9 . R. Schumacher - Toyota TF105 - 1:16.281 (+ 1.829 ) - 64 laps
10 . A. Pizzonia - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:16.496 (+ 2.044 ) - 44 laps
11 . V. Liuzzi - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:17.037 (+ 2.585 ) - 29 laps
12 . N. Karthikeyan - Jordan Toyota EJ15 - 1:18.014 (+ 3.562 ) - 29 laps
13 . T. Monteiro - Jordan Toyota EJ14T - 1:19.268 (+ 4.816 ) - 14 laps

Daytona HOF may face some hurdles Daytona HOF may face some hurdlesSeeking $75 million from the state to try to attract a NASCAR hall of fame, Daytona Beach could become tangled in a political battle over whether Florida should subsidize professional sports franchises. Supporters of the hall of fame, the Florida Marlins baseball team and the Orlando Magic basketball team are asking state lawmakers this spring to commit more than $200 million over the next three decades to help build or renovate sports facilities. That is causing some lawmakers, including Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon, to question whether the state should continue using tax dollars to subsidize projects for sports franchises that are typically worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Much of the controversy has centered on a proposal to commit $60 million to a stadium for the Marlins in Miami. But Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, said he fears the NASCAR hall of fame could get lumped together with the Marlins and Magic in a broader debate about using tax dollars for professional sports. King and other hall-of-fame backers say state subsidies are crucial to Daytona's effort to outbid six other cities for the project. But Sen. Mike Bennett, a Bradenton Republican who is an outspoken critic of giving sports subsidies, dismissed threats that the hall of fame or professional teams could go elsewhere if they don't receive state money. Daytona Beach is lobbying to receive $3 million a year for 25 years to help finance construction of the hall of fame. The proposal, which is similar to an incentives package that brought a golf hall of fame to St. Johns County in the 1990s, calls for the state to provide the money if the stock-car attraction can show it would generate at least $3 million annually in sales taxes. Daytona Beach News Journal
Mad Max in love with stock cars Mad Max in love with stock cars"Mad" Max Papis has raced in Formula One, been one of Indy Car's highest-paid drivers and, in 2004, won the Rolex Series Daytona Prototype championship.  Ask the native from tiny Como, Italy, to cite his life-changing racing moments and he points to two -- one which happened right here at Daytona International Speedway, the other which hasn't even happened yet, but will also be here.

The first came in his first race in the United States, a stirring 1996 Rolex 24 at Daytona performance that gave him his nickname. His stirring come-from-behind driving did not yield a win but was so intense -- on the level of Bill Elliott's 1985 two-lap comeback under green at Talladega -- that his name was changed, live on TV, from Massimiliano to "Mad Max."

The second will be when Papis races on the DIS tri-oval for the first time in Friday's 6 p.m. Crown Royal IROC 29 race.  "When I came here in 1996 and sat in the grandstands watching the Cup cars practice, I never thought that I'd one day be on this oval together with Nextel Cup champions," Papis said between IROC practices this week.   For me, it's like the American world of racing has told me, 'You are one of us.' That is something that makes me very proud."  More at Daytona Beach News Journal

Hattori looking to make history Hattori looking to make historyA year ago Toyota broke new ground when it became the first Japanese company to field an entry in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Tonight, Shigeaki Hattori will try to make stock-car history of his own by becoming the first Japanese driver to qualify at Daytona International Speedway for a NASCAR-sanctioned event. Hattori will try to make the field for Friday's Florida Dodge Dealers 250 Truck Series race in qualifying tonight at 6:30.

"There's pressure because it's Daytona. It's big. Daytona is huge in Japan," said Hattori, whose nickname is Shige. "In Japan there are two big races, the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500. Honestly speaking, Daytona is one of my dreams."

Because he is with the newly formed No. 9 Germaine/Arnold Toyota car, Hattori is one of 12 drivers competing for six available spots in the race. Hattori is just the second Japanese driver to compete in the Truck Series (Kenji Mamota, who raced at Phoenix in 1995, was the first). Hattori was strong in preseason testing here, and he has a teammate, Chad Chaffin, and a team that found Victory Lane last season. More at Daytona Beach News Journal

GM signs deal with RCR GM signs deal with RCRGeneral Motors announced today that it has signed a sponsorship agreement with Richard Childress Racing that makes The GM Card the "Official Credit Card" of Richard Childress Racing RCR
Vonage sponsors Marco Andretti Vonage sponsors Marco AndrettiMarco International, LLC announced today that Marco Andretti and Vonage Holdings Corp., the leading broadband phone company will continue their association in 2005. Vonage will serve as Marco’s primary sponsor for the 2005 season. Vonage sponsored Marco Andretti during his 2004 championship-winning effort in the Skip Barber National Championship. The two parties have extended their relationship to support his entry in the 2005 Star Mazda Championship which will be fielded by MJ Motorsports.

The sponsorship program with Vonage is designed to promote the Vonage brand name and to educate consumers about Vonage’s voice-over-IP (VoIP) product offerings. Vonage will receive prominent identification on Marco’s #11 Pro Formula Mazda, his driving uniform and helmet as well as the team’s transporter, equipment and uniforms.

“Vonage is a rapidly growing company, acquiring hundreds of thousands of customers annually. I am excited to race, and to represent Vonage both on and off the race track,” said Marco. “I have been around racing for my entire life and have learned from my dad and grandfather the importance of delivering both exposure and business results for sponsors like Vonage.”

Dean Harris, chief marketing officer for Vonage said, “Motorsports fans are a desirable demographic for Vonage. Our phone service relies on broadband technology and motorsports fans are certainly technology-savvy. Plus, our association with Marco Andretti links Vonage with one of the great family names in the sport and provides us with the opportunity to promote our message to this audience as both Marco and Vonage grow.”
More Tire Troubles More Tire TroublesTire trouble that cropped up in practice for the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway resurfaced again for several drivers in drafting practice Wednesday. Goodyear flew seven tires to its headquarters for further examination after initial assessment showed no common factors among the six tires with problems. In some cases, the tread pulled away from the carcass of the tire, and trouble cropped up as quickly as 15 laps or after as many as 40, said Greg Stucker, a former engineer who now serves as director of race tire sales and marketing. The company's best guess, Stucker said, is that the trouble comes from a combination of a new compound being used this year, which might cause the tires to retain extra heat, and car setups that put extra pressure on either the right front or right rear tire. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
F1 race promoter in tax dispute F1 race promoter in tax disputeDidier Defourny, promoter of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps, is refusing to pay 1.5 million euros in taxes from last year's race.  The famous circuit runs through four different local communes, and according to a report in Le Soir two of them, Malmedy and Stavelot, are disputing the form in which the tax is set – the two communes want a percentage of every ticket sold, rather than a flat fee on each ticket, which Defourny has agreed to pay. The communes are responsible for resurfacing the track each year before the race – the cost for last year was believed to be fifteen million euros. Defourny is due to attend a meeting with the communes on February 23. Autosport.com
Piquet and Negrão ready to GP2 series season Piquet and Negrão ready to GP2 series seasonHitech Piquet Sports' newcomers Nelsinho Piquet and Xandinho Negrão will kick off the first official GP2 series test session next week at Paul Ricard Circuit with different targets. During a press conference held in São Paulo on Tuesday, Piquet son agreed that he could be listed as a potential favorite for the title. "Yes, I know that a lot of people will keep a close eye on me, but I take it very naturally. I think we have set up a very strong team and we are capable of getting the job done", pointed out the current British Formula 3 champion.

Another representative of a family with a long-time link with motor racing in Brazil, Xandinho Negrão will be happy at the end of the season with a brace of "good results". And what is that supposed to mean? "I still haven't an answer for such a question. Nobody has even seen the car. We will try hard to do our best, we have hired good engineers, but who knows what is going to happen?. There are a lot of circumstances that remain to be known", the 19-year old pilot reminded.

Xandinho and Nelsinho are scheduled to fly tonight to Europe for the seat fitting at the Hitech Piquet Sports headquarters in Silverstone. They will share the first chassis delivered to the team at Paul Ricard. "This is a situation far from ideal, but it is going to be the same for everyone", Xandinho remarked. While Nelsinho is prepared to spend two years in the new series, Xandinho is ready to stay a further season in GP2 series. "But plans may change. It will depend on how things develop from now on", concluded the Sudam F3 champion. Medley Sports

Enge to compete in two ALMS events Enge to compete in two ALMS eventsPanther Racing's Tomas Enge is one of six drivers who will compete for Aston Martin Racing in The American Le Mans Series this year.

Enge, a native of the Czech Republic, makes his debut in the No. 2 Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone in the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 6.

"I'm glad to do two big endurance races in the Aston Martin car, but obviously my main focus and main program will be Indy Racing League with Chevrolet and Panther Racing," he said. "I'm looking forward to the IndyCar season, and the chance to compete in other races is just icing on the cake."

The Aston Marting Racing international lineup of experienced sportscar drivers will share duties in the team's two DBR9s at each of the 10 races. Which races each driver will participate in will be announced later this month.

Enge and Panther Racing teammate Tomas Scheckter will sign autographs Feb. 12 before the SuperCross event at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

Formula BMW
PoleVision to field three cars in 2005 PoleVision to field three cars in 2005The 2005 Formula BMW of PoleVision Racing made its debut on February 12 at the Zoom Motorsport World of Wheels show at Barber Motorsports Park.   Now in it second year, the PoleVision 2005 team will have three cars and drivers.  "We are very excited about this season," said team owner Benoit Morand.  "We were proud to show our cars at this important show."
Proud Webber in the spotlight ahead of home race Proud Webber in the spotlight ahead of home raceAustralia’s most recognizable landmark, a symbol of Australian youth, vitality and sporting prowess, and state-of-the-art motoring technology will come together when Mark Webber drives a BMW Williams over the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

Hoping to become Australia’s next Grand Prix winner and Formula One world champion, in the tire tracks of Sir Jack Brabham and Alan Jones, Webber (right) will cross the Bridge in the Williams on the morning of Sunday, February 27.

It will be just a week before the 28-year-old from Queanbeyan, New South Wales, makes his race debut with the team. NSW Premier Bob Carr will flag off the nation’s star driver in what will be called Webber’s Sydney Harbor Bridge Overdrive, an event guaranteed to draw worldwide attention.

Australia’s Formula One telecaster, Network 10, will screen Webber’s Sydney Harbor Bridge Overdrive live in a special half-hour show from 8am on February 27, with the TV and stills pictures to be distributed globally within hours.

“It’s sure to be an incredible experience driving the Williams BMW F1 car across one of the world’s most famous and spectacular landmarks," said Webber. “The Sydney Harbor Bridge is so instantly recognizable as Australia, so I can’t think of a better appetizer for the following weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne."
“For me it’s even more special as it’s my home country and I’m very proud that we are able to stage such a spectacle to promote Formula One, not just in Australia but around the world," Webber continued. “A lot of people may come up to Sydney from my home town, Queanbeyan, so it will be great to be able to put on a good show for them and the rest of the fans before we get down to serious business in Melbourne. It will be a fantastic promotion - and hopefully spectacle - to be involved in, but I’ll be saving the speed for the following weekend in the Grand Prix!"

The Chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation Ron Walker looks forward to the tenth Grand Prix to be held in Melbourne and the 21st in the country saying that this unique activity will highlight the Australian Grand Prix for all Australians to enjoy and be proud of. "It’s one of the most fantastic international promotional activities I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in," Walker said. The Sydney Harbor Bridge is the largest single-span arch bridge in the world. The sweeping steel curve is 503 meters long, 134 meters high and 49 meters wide. AGPC

Andrew Ranger gives PanAm Renault V6 first test in NA Andrew Ranger gives PanAm Renault V6 first test in NAAndrew Ranger (pictured right in PanAm Renault V6) was the first driver to test the new Renault PanAm V6 race car that was delivered to Gelles Racing less than a week ago. The rising star, who won the Fran-Am 2003 championship only to become the Formula Atlantic 2004 Rookie of the year, was deservingly the best possible driver to take this exciting race machine for its maiden test session in North America, namely Road Atlanta in Georgia.

“We are very happy to have had Andrew test with us, declared team owner Bob Gelles. We understand this young phenom is still looking for a seat in Champ Car but a full day of testing in the V6 demonstrated how exciting the PanAm series is going to be this year and how the careers of young drivers can really benefit from the experience. Furthermore, the winner of the PanAm Racing V6 series will be awarded a full ride in the World Series by Renault (WSR) for 2006 and a testing session with Renault in Formula One. We wanted this session to be as productive for Andrew and for us. We will get a second V6 this week and we have more test days coming in the next weeks.”

 While Andrew was the star in V6, other young drivers were on location to test the Gelles Racing machines. Brandon Thomas drove his familiar Renault FR2000: Brandon is the highest returning driver in this series and will be looking for podiums this season, he posted some very impressive times.

Four other drivers tested Formula BMW for two days. They were BMW scholar Justin Moon from California, Renato Jader-David from Brazil, Maxime Soulet from Belgium and South African native now living in the USA, Darin Marcus.

“Justin (Moon) did a great job over the two days, continued Gelles, and he has his work cut out preparing many test days with our team until the testing ban becomes effective March 15. Renato (Jader-David) was driving with us last year and he was among the fastest in FR2000: look out for this 20 year-old in BMW this year. Maxime (Soulet) comes to us with high credentials; he was surprised because some of our crew speak French and completed the day P-1. Darin Marcus was part of the BMW training program in Spain and no doubt he is a driver with a lot of potential. We were pleased to come away with the quickest times of all the other BMW teams that were also testing at Road Atlanta.”

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Revamped Toyota 'better' - JT
Friesacher debut thwarted?
Fast Fisi on top
Raikkonen 'resting'
Mexican grand prix back on?
Sauber 'not for sale'
Breakaway win F1 team support
Reject GPWC, says Jordan
Piquet Jr ready for F1
Dominguez set for 2006 ride
Barrichello getting worried?
Trulli pans Sunday format
'Give Schu the finger, DC'
Resolute BAR run alone
Confusion at Catalunya
Mosley to crack F1 stalemate
Star Mazda drops IRL St. Pete event Star Mazda drops IRL St. Pete eventTo Star Mazda teams and drivers, We regret to advise you that the Saint Petersburg event, scheduled for April 1st and 2nd, 2005 has been removed from the Star Mazda Championship. This decision was reached after careful consideration of the circumstances, and consultation with all parties involved with organizing the Grand Prix of St Petersburg. The result is that no pro FM race will take place this year in St Pete. The Star Mazda Championship will make a concerted effort to find a suitable replacement event and advise you all if that can be accomplished, at the earliest opportunity. In the event we cannot arrange a date that works and a top-notch venue to conduct the replacement race, the 2005 Championship will be an eleven race series. If that determination is made, you will likewise be advised as soon as possible. Those who take advantage of the option to pre-register for all the Championship races for the entire 2005 season will get a proportional refund of the fee, if the Series becomes an eleven race championship. Gary Rodrigues, President, Star Mazda Championship [Editor's Note: Sounds like contractual issues between the promoter (Andretti Green) and Star Mazda. Or perhaps it is that Mazda doesn't want to race at a Honda sponsored event.]
Daytona Grandstands Sold-out, Infield still available Daytona Grandstands Sold-out, Infield still availableGrandstand seats for the 47th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20 at historic Daytona International Speedway are sold out, Speedway officials announced today. While the grandstand seats have been sold, fans can still purchase infield tickets for "The Great American Race" - the kickoff to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season. "We're happy to announce that the Daytona 500 is sold out," Speedway President Robin Braig said. "The fans, those in attendance and the millions more watching on FOX or listening on MRN Radio Network, continue to validate the Daytona 500 as the premier motorsports event in the world." The Daytona 500, which boasts a purse of more than $17 million, is the biggest, richest and most prestigious race in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
Mario Andretti makes surprise IROC laps Mario Andretti makes surprise IROC lapsA big surprise in the Daytona paddock was a visit from the 1979 IROC champion, Mario Andretti who wandered out to pit road during the late afternoon practice session.  Jay Signore said, “When Mario came out I said, ‘Hey kid, you looking for a ride,’ and Mario said, ‘yeah sure.’ We said our hellos and I said, ‘Mario, seriously, you’re welcome to take one out if you want. I’ve got extra gear in the truck you can borrow,’ and he didn’t hesitate to say, ‘yeah Jay, I would enjoy that,’ and that’s how it came about.”

Andretti strapped in and was immediately flat out and up to speed, clocking the same lap times as the current series drivers. Andretti said, “Getting out in the IROC car was totally awesome. You know, I arrived here today with the idea in my head that I would ask Jay to let me suit up and take a spin. Well, sure enough, good old Jay was ready to accommodate and he really made my day.”

Andretti continued, “I really wanted to see what the latest cars are like. It was awesome! Dave Marcis, Jim, and his son, Jay Sauter, they do a marvelous job at setting these cars up, they really, really drive well and this race will be loads of fun for the drivers in the IROC series.”

Series competitors, Steve Kinser, Danny Lasoski, Helio Castroneves, Max Papis, Scott Pruett, and Sebastien Bourdais, along with members of the crew, all gathered around and had their pictures taken with the legendary Andretti. Signore said, “It was a great treat to have Mario with us here today, we all got a big kick out of it and I think Mario got a big kick out of it all too.”

[Left Photo] From L to R - Scott Pruett, Dave Marcis, Mario Andretti and Buddy Rice
[Right Photo] Danny Lasoski, Steve Kinser and Mario Andretti

[Left Photo] Mario is in the house!
[Right Photo] Mario makes sure everything is in a good spot

[Left Photo] Mario gets everything comfortable
[Right Photo] From L - Scott Pruett, Steve Kinser, Mario Andretti and Danny Lasoski

Police Station Used as NASCAR Gambling Ring Police Station Used as NASCAR Gambling Ring"The president of the Connecticut city police union filed a complaint Tuesday alleging that the police station was used Saturday for an illegal NASCAR gambling ring in which the on-duty shift commander and numerous off-duty police officers participated. "Officer Joseph T. Dolan said about 25 people — including six civilians — came to the station Saturday afternoon and were there for 90 minutes. Dolan did not attend the gathering but was told that participants paid money and 'bets were recorded,' he wrote in a two-page letter on union stationery to City Manager Richard Podurgiel. "The union chief alleged that the station was being used as a 'betting parlor' on taxpayers' time and money, and that Podurgiel and the City Council need to exercise tighter control over the department. Gaming News
Daytona 500 TV Rating history Daytona 500 TV Rating historyUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  The San Antonio Grand Prix is officially off for 2007, but 2008 is still a possibility for Champ Car or the IRL.  Word is the politicians may have gotten fed up and confused with the two sides, IRL and Champ Car, trying to beat each other into the city.  Like sponsors, they decided to walk away from open wheel racing until they get their act together.

08/02/06 There has been much speculation as to why Champ Car would be interested in a race in San Antonio, Texas when in fact they already have a race in nearby Houston, Texas. Well, if rumors are to be believed that Champ Car will drop the Monterrey, Mexico race from the calendar in 2007, therein lies a possible answer. Certainly this year's Monterrey race saw a lot of empty seats, but some blame that on the promoters who did a lousy job. The fans that did attend the race are in fact die-hard open wheel fans from Monterrey and other northeast cities in Mexico. San Antonio is the number two destination in the US for Monterrey, Mexico tourists (and many other cities in northeast Mexico like Saltillo, Monclova, Reynosa, etc, etc, etc). The number one destination is South Padre Island. Without a Monterrey date you definitely will have Mexican fans attending the San Antonio race. They already travel to San Antonio a few times every year, and the River Walk is famous for its fabulous nightlife. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico
From prison to Tony George's Team Manager From prison to Tony George's Team ManagerThis Indy Star article talks about the Team Manager, Larry Curry, Tony George  has hired to run his new team Vision Racing.  In 2001, Curry and a California man were convicted of defrauding Team Menard, an Indianapolis-based Indy-car team, of nearly $900,000 over a three-year period.  As senior manager of the championship-winning operation, Curry allowed team owner John Menard to pay false invoices for parts and services not delivered. Curry and William B. Felts of Source One Engineering then split the profits.  Both men went to prison. Curry spent most of his 26 months in a minimum security facility in Jesup, Ga., but he was exposed to the federal penitentiaries in Atlanta and Talladega, Ala., as well.
Button back in concept car Button back in concept carDay two of BAR Honda's exclusive test at Valencia saw Takuma Sato take over the hot seat in chassis 007-02 on Wednesday morning, with Jenson Button moving to the Concept car. Button spent his early morning runs finding a good balance on the car, before moving onto a tire compound evaluation. He completed a total of 47 laps in the morning session.

Sato spent the morning doing short run tire evaluations alongside an aerodynamic evaluation, completing 46 laps. He began the afternoon session running through a set-up evaluation before commencing a long run tire program. Sato completed a total of 57 laps.

Button spent the afternoon continuing the tire compound program which he began this morning, completing 50 laps. He completed the day with various simulated race starts. Jenson's final lap tally for the day was 97 laps. BAR

Monteiro gets new Jordan, still slowest Monteiro gets new Jordan, still slowestNarain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro continued Jordan Grand Prix’s test program Wednesday in Barcelona, making steady progress and completing test mileage of 76 and 32 laps respectively.

The EJ15 is essentially a modified EJ14 chassis brought into line with the 2005 aerodynamic regulations and fitted with the 2005 specification Toyota V10. The team admit that start of the season may be tough given the lack of track time, but hope that progress can be made though the season.

"It was a good day and among other things we spent time updating Tiago's car (right) to EJ15 specification, so he got some runs in the afternoon with the latest specification," explained Sporting Director Trevor Carlin.

"Narain (Left) improved his time, he did a 1:19.179 and was working through some more of Bridgestone's tire test program. Tiago's best time was 1:19.718 so we are making progress all the time and it's going quite positively at the moment."

The team may be propping up the bottom of the timesheets each day in Barcelona, but the new EJ15 chassis is very new to the team who only ran the car for the first time last week at Silverstone. Jordan

Bahrain working hard to improve facilities Bahrain working hard to improve facilitiesBahrain International Circuit is being beefed-up prior to the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 1-3 thanks to additional landscaping designed to make the event more appealing and enjoyable to spectators.

Fans flocking to the circuit will be offered a wide variety of new activities and services in time for the April race. New tarmac has been laid on walkways between the grandstand and the ‘F1 Village’ behind the main grandstand. Shuttle buses will run continuously for the public allowing them to enjoy practice, qualifying, support races and the Grand Prix as well enjoying the ‘F1 Village’ and the merchandising outlets, coffee shops and recreational areas.

“We aim to offer race fans the most memorable experience. Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport throughout the world and here in Bahrain we are members of an extremely exclusive club of 19 Grand Prix races. Ours is the only race in the Middle East and we want people to come to the circuit not only to enjoy the racing but to bring the family for an entertaining day out together with other families and friends,” said BIC General Manager, Martin Whitaker. “With this in mind, we have added and upgraded a string of services and facilities to ensure that spectators enjoy their time at the circuit."
The popular ‘F1 Village’ will have a new vibrant atmosphere this year, the circuit states, with relaxing grass areas, palm trees and seating. A large number of coffee shops and restaurants will be on hand together with outdoor eating area on grass and around the palm tress has also been created for the enjoyment of the fans.

“Visitors will have a variety of choice with their food and beverages and the service will be quick and efficient. We have put a great deal of effort into making sure that spectators have a good time at the race and we have made improvements across the whole spectrum from flag poles to toilet facilities,” Whitaker added.

To cater for the demands of spectators ATM machines will be installed in the ‘F1 Village’ and water stations will be added throughout the area.

Eight giant screens will be installed around the track to offer greater coverage for spectators. Three of these screens will be erected on top of the pit building directly opposite the Main Grandstand with others dotted around the track in prime locations for the other grandstands.

Another totally new development for this year’s race will be the introduction of the BIC TV.

“For the first time in the Middle East a TV station for the fans will be aired on the giant screens. We will have a crew that will be conducting interviews with drivers, F1 bosses, stars and fans throughout the weekend,” Whitaker said.

Another area that has been developed in the name of beauty since last year’s race is the F1 Paddock Area. The long open space between the team buildings and the pit garages will include 12 ‘Green Islands.’ Each island will be sized at 36sqm and contain four mature palm trees. The islands will include a range of flowering shrubs, grass and plants. Traditional Arabic seating will be set-up around the islands in order for team members and their guests to watch the activities in the paddock.

The team buildings will be boosted in hospitality areas as the space at the bottom of the step will be upgraded to include a garden. A three meter grass area has been installed where team members can relax and enjoy the sun.

More than 2,500 flowering shrubs have been planted in the vending area next to the main grandstand. Another 800 ground cover plants will be set in a five meter wide strip running along the inside of the car park fence. BIC

No TV for Sunday qualifying No TV for Sunday qualifyingBritish Formula 1 broadcaster ITV is unlikely to show the decisive Sunday qualifying sessions live this year, according to this week's Autosport magazine. The television company's decision may lead to further criticism of the new-for-2005 aggregate qualifying regulations.

“The decision by ITV not to televise Sunday qualifying comes as no surprise whatsoever to me,” said Frank Williams. “Most TV viewers are not petrolheads and there won't be the interest. This format is not good.”

Responding to ITV's decision, FIA president Max Mosley said: “That is their decision, but (German broadcaster) RTL have been complaining to Bernie that there is no warm-up so they cannot sell the advertising for the warm-up. “To me the warm-up is like watching paint dry but apparently they put the TV on and people watch it. It is not really up to me to stand out against it but personally I am not terribly in favor and people who watch it on TV are not either. The teams all like it because in Japan (when poor weather forced qualifying to switch to Sunday morning) they all said it created a buzz on Sunday and I think it was an emotional reaction to that.”

Mosley believes that the system will remain in place at least through 2005, regardless of broadcasters' reactions, because any change would require the unanimous support of all ten F1 teams. “It has got a year unless everyone agreed to change it and that is unlikely,” he said. “To get all the teams to agree, unless there is a manifest disaster that we haven't foreseen, will be difficult.” Autosport.com

NASCAR Content to Wireless Users NASCAR Content to Wireless UsersDigital Orchid, the industry’s leading innovator in the development, management, and distribution of branded real-time wireless applications, today announced a partnership with NASCAR.COM, the premier destination for NASCAR fans and exclusive NASCAR application developer, to launch several new real-time wireless products for the 2005 NASCAR season. Together, NASCAR.COM and Digital Orchid will enable over 75 million NASCAR fans to gain access to the NASCAR.COM TO GO application via a broad suite of handsets. As a part of the wireless lineup, NASCAR.COM will provide access to its Emmy award-winning PitCommand application, produced in cooperation with Sportvision, which uses in-car telemetry to track the position of the entire field of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers in real-time as they compete during a race. Digital Orchid is forecasting as many as 20 million content downloads for 2005, with NASCAR.COM TO GO content currently available on over 100 handsets in the U.S. Orchid PR
American Iraqi War Soldiers part of pre-race American Iraqi War Soldiers part of pre-raceWhen driver John Andretti traveled to the Middle East for seven days in December, he met and spent time with sailors from a number of different U.S. Navy vessels.  Now, they are returning the favor. Over 50 crew and their families from the U.S.S. Hue-City will take part in holding American flags during pre-race ceremonies Sunday in the Daytona 500. Their attendance was arranged by Andretti through Daytona International Speedway and with the cooperation of Victory Brand, whose VB brand sponsors Andretti's #14 VB/APlus At Sunoco Ford. "I think it's great that these guys and their families will be with us Sunday," Andretti said. "They have given so much to us, I'm glad we can celebrate their return." Thatsracin
Kahne Back in the Dew Scheme Kahne Back in the Dew SchemeKasey Kahne, the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series' Rookie of the Year, will take his partnership with Mountain Dew to new heights this season when his first national television commercial for the brand debuts this Sunday and his No. 9 Dodge Charger features a Mountain Dew paint scheme at next week's race at California Speedway. In the TV spot entitled "Change," not only does Kahne's Dodge Charger go through a number of "changes," but he must also vie for the seat behind the wheel of his own race car. The commercial will air during the FOX broadcast of the Daytona 500 this Sunday, February 20. Kahne's Dew allegiance will also show on the track when he competes in a Mountain Dew paint scheme at the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway on Sunday, February 27. Kahne's No. 9 Dodge Charger will showcase the new Mountain Dew graphics that will begin appearing on the brand's product packaging available in stores in March. The last time Kahne's car featured a special Mountain Dew paint scheme he finished second at Michigan International Speedway on June 20, 2004. NASCAR
Shootout Draws More than Pro Bowl Shootout Draws More than Pro BowlFor only the second time, Fox's NASCAR Bud Shootout on Saturday night outrated the NFL's Pro Bowl. ESPN's Pro Bowl posted a 5.1 cable rating (4.2 broadcast network rating), a jump of 6% compared to last year's 4.8 cable rating (3.9 on broadcast network). But the football game was topped by Fox's 5.3 national rating. The only other occasion when the Bud Shootout prevailed was in 2001. USA Today
Industry News
SPEED Channel opens new season SPEED Channel opens new seasonSPEED Channel opens its most aggressive programming season to date, rolling out three major shows next week, beginning with the network's signature NASCAR program - NASCAR Nation - Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. ET and PT.    "This is, by far, the most anticipated programming launch for SPEED Channel since FOX purchased the network in 2001," said Robert Ecker, SPEED Channel VP of Programming. "SPEED Channel always has been seen as the benchmark in motor sports television, and in 2005 we expect to expand that reputation into the world of automotive and motorcycle lifestyle programming.    "Defining the network as 'all things automotive,' SPEED Channel will offer everything from the world's most popular racing to specials on some of the greatest American muscle cars of all time," Ecker added. "If it's about cars or motorcycles, it will be on SPEED Channel."

A look at the new SPEED Channel programs:

  • NASCAR Nation (Feb. 21, 7 p.m. ET & PT, 60 minutes): Airing each week of the NASCAR race season, Monday through Thursday, NASCAR Nation will be the definitive show for SPEED's NASCAR TV block of programming, concentrating heavily on features and all-access content.   
  • Build or Bust (Feb. 23, 8 p.m. ET & PT, 60 minutes): An unscripted drama where each episode documents an ordinary motorcycle enthusiast given the chance to build a custom bike from scratch. Using the facilities of a well-known custom motorcycle shop, the builder, nicknamed "The Wrench," is supplied with the parts and tools necessary to build the motorcycle of his or her dreams and given 30 days to complete the task. If successful, The Wrench gets to keep the bike, if not he leaves the shop with nothing.   
  • Unique Whips (Feb. 23, 9 p.m. ET & PT, 60 minutes): Shot on-location at the Long Island shop of "customizer to the stars" Will Castro, Unique Whips will be all about taking the luxury cars of today's entertainers and athletes and making them one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Castro's A-list clientele includes entertainers Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Wyclef, Fat Joe, G-Unit and Eminem; NFL standouts Curtis Martin, Santana Moss and Lavar Arrington; NBA stars Jermaine O'Neal, Carmelo Anthony, Yao Ming, Steve Francis and Latrell Sprewell.   
  • SPEED Channel is the nation's first and foremost cable network dedicated to motor sports and the passion for everything automotive. From racing to restoration, motorcycles to movies, SPEED Channel delivers quality programming from the track to the garage. Now available in more than 68 million homes in North America, SPEED Channel is among the fastest growing sports cable networks in the country.
IRL exploits Danica Patrick’s sex appeal IRL exploits Danica Patrick’s sex appealThe full-page ad to the right appeared in the popular Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition that just hit the bookstore shelves. Give the IRL credit for knowing how to advertise in all the right places. Recall that our spies saw and reported on the Danica Patrick ads that essentially make her the IRL poster girl, replacing Sarah Fisher, long before she was officially announced as an IRL driver. Note that the sensuous pose (i.e. using sex to lure the male fans - many women would call that degrading to females) and at the same time pointing out the race series and where to watch it. The IRL exploited Sarah Fisher and then cast her off like a forgotten noodle when the sexy Danica Patrick came into play. Let's hope Danica is better known for her skills on the track rather than off and isn't cast off as the next forgotten noodle when the IRL finds the next hot babe to exploit. Is this a sport or a show?
More details from GPWC meeting More details from GPWC meetingThe nine teams made a joint statement about different points that were agreed in today's meeting :

1. The Teams and Manufacturers met today at Cliveden near London and unanimously agreed upon the establishment of a new framework for their participation in Grand Prix motor racing post 2007.

2. With respect to technical rules and regulations, all parties confirm and fully endorse the “Governing Principles for Grand Prix Motor Racing” previously developed by the major Manufacturers.

3. With respect to the commercial aspects of the sport, all parties further confirm their support that the principles of premier Grand Prix motor racing post 2007 should be as described by International Sport and Entertainment AG (“iSe”) today, which complies with the Governing Principles. iSe will continue its work in this respect.

4. The Manufacturers agreed that when the series is established which respects the “Governing Principles for Grand Prix Motor Racing”, then they will guarantee from 2006 the supply of competitive engines at an affordable price to a second team which commits to such series.

5. All parties agree to continue to co-operate together and to establish technical, sporting and governance working groups with appropriate specialists, operating within a defined timetable and brief to document in full a new structure and regulations for the sport so as to put the Teams in a position to participate in a timely and orderly manner in 2008.

6. All parties further agree that all Teams are invited to join on equal terms.

7. The Sauber, Red Bull and Jordan teams warmly welcome the above and agree to respond formally with their positions on the document, following further internal consultation.

Who is Sebastien ’Bordoo’? Who is Sebastien ’Bordoo’?We're sure you won't be surprised by this at all, but this afternoon on the NASCAR channel on XM Radio "expert and insider" Claire B. Lang when reporting on the IROC qualifying draw referred to Sebastien as "Sebastien Bordoo" and stated he raced in the "Champ World Car Series." 
Hinchcliffe moves from F-BMW to Star Mazda Hinchcliffe moves from F-BMW to Star MazdaAfter a long and challenging winter, 18-year-old James Hinchcliffe resigned with the AIM Autosport squad, this year competing in the Star Mazda Series presented by Goodyear. The 2004 Formula BMW Rookie-of-the-year champion will look to make his mark in ’05 as the Canadian driver aims for the overall series title.

After finalizing the contract with the AIM squad on February 2nd, Hinchcliffe and his team had to purchase a Pro Formula Mazda and head south for a February 13 and 14th test at Road Atlanta. Having never seen the car before and taking delivery at the track a day before the test, the AIM squad immediately went to work prepping the car and getting it ready for the two day stint.

Sunday morning greeted the team with rain showers and forced Hinchcliffe to make his first on track session on a wet race course. A brief break in the action allowed the racing surface to dry as the three time BMW race winner Hinchcliffe and many of his fellow Mazda competitors were able to turn some dry laps in the afternoon. As the Sunday test came to a close, Hinchcliffe was very quick compared to other competitor’s times.

Monday also greeted the test day participants with rain as it lasted throughout the day. Hinchcliffe showed his driving abilities as he circuited the race course without any problems and once again faired well in difficult conditions to set very competitive times.

“These cars are definitely a step up for me” explained the Oakville, Ontario resident. “We had a very successful two days and we are all looking forward to the Sebring season opener in mid March.”

Though Hinchcliffe will not have a chance to complete another test before the start of the season, he is very optimistic about ’05. “I learned a lot last year and will learn even more this year. There are a lot of good drivers in this series but I believe that AIM is one of the best teams in North America and I am sure that you will see us at the front of the pack.”

The AIM squad will now head back to their Ontario based shop and complete the pre season car preparation and get Hinchcliffe comfortable in his new ride.

Industry News
Short Track Summit Ends In Daytona Beach Short Track Summit Ends In Daytona BeachHundreds of short track and weekly track promoters from across North America concluded a three-day series of meetings, seminars and exchange of ideas Wednesday at the Ocean Center. The Short Track Racing Summit is a collation of short track and weekly racing industry leaders from ovals and drag strips throughout North America who met for three days to discuss the state of motorsports, exchange ideas and view a series of idea-provoking presentations from leaders in the industry. NASCAR, the only sanctioning body to have fully supported weekly short track racing at a grassroots level throughout its 56 years, was among the many sponsors of the summit. A number of different sanctioning bodies and dozens of tracks nationwide took part.

The emerging coalition of independent motorsports business operators shared candid ideas over the three-day seminar/trade show which promoted better business practices and a stronger industry. "We are leaving this room stronger as individual tracks, stronger as a group and stronger as an industry," said Don Hawk, NASCAR’s Director of Regional Racing Development. "Everything we have done this week will carry over and help us build short track and weekly racing throughout North America," Hawk said. "Hundreds of promoters are leaving this seminar more excited about the future than ever before."

The promoters in attendance agreed, and also emphasized the importance of the summit and the coalition. J.D. Green, Competition Director, Lakeside Speedway: "This summit is very important for all tracks," said J.D. Green, Competition Director of Kansas’ Lakeside Speedway. "Nobody knows everything by themselves but with all of these people here and when you add it all together, it comes right close. So this is a way to share information and to help each other. "It's great that weekly and short tracks are working closer together. We're like family. We all do the same thing, and generally have the same problems and issues," Green added. "Helping each other is good for our business, and everybody working together in the same direction - regardless of what kind of racing or what sanctioning body - is good for weekly racing all over the country."

The final day brought a myriad of ideas and exchanges. Roger Vandersnick, who heads NASCAR’s Brand and Consumer Marketing Department, discussed the importance of demographics – "knowing your audience" – and how best to interpret those demographics to help in ticket sales and acquiring sponsorship. His presentation offered specific ideas and techniques to assist in both areas.

Bob DeFazio of Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway talked about promotions and special nights in a unique presentation that offered tremendous ideas, even though entitled, "Top 10 Things That Don’t Work." Jeff Ptak, Director of Sales and Services for the Washington (Pa.) Wild Things minor league baseball team, offered ideas his company learned when implementing a start-up minor league team, from advertising to publicity plan. Kevin Nevalainen, Senior Account Executive for NASCAR’s Dodge Weekly Racing Series, talked about concessions, how to increase sales and offered specific methods of building a strong concession program.

NASCAR’s Brett Bodine discussed competition issues facing short tracks and weekly tracks, and how to approach them. "Creating a level playing field is important, not just on the track but in the grandstands too," said Bodine, who discussed several areas in which to economically keep cars close. He also answered questions.

Talk just hot air Talk just hot airAll the talk about Formula One cars being slowed down by rule changes this season is beginning to sound like just so much hot air, adds Reuters from London. Already McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen has broken the Valencia circuit record, albeit on a whiff of fuel. Ferrari's Michael Schumacher did the same at Barcelona last month. Engineering head Pat Symonds says Renault will start the season with more power than they had at the end of 2004, even though their engine has to last for two races rather than one.

In 2006, the regulations will force teams to replace their three liter V10s for 2.4 liter V8s. Even that may not reduce speeds much. "I think the cars will be just as fast this year and it wouldn't surprise me if they're not damn near as fast in 2006," agreed International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley.

"But it's where they would have been (without the changes) that is important. What we are doing is not looking at today, we're looking at where the speed of cars is going. The most we can hope to do is contain it."

The FIA forced through rule changes to slow cars down for safety's sake, as well as to cut costs, after they decided that lap times indicated cornering speeds in particular were moving into the danger zone. "The faster the cars go, the greater the probability that someone will be hurt or killed," Mosley said last year.

Need IDs to buy some collectibles/t-shirts Need IDs to buy some collectibles/t-shirtsYoung fans of Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch will be confronted with a new reality if they visit the team's souvenir trailer at the Daytona 500 this weekend. If they want to purchase a piece of licensed merchandise featuring Busch's 2005 car, they'll have to flash identification proving they are 21 years of age. And if parents are looking to purchase Busch merchandise for their children, that's not going to happen either, as all outerwear will come in adult sizes only. Busch's young fans could be considered a casualty of the latest alliance in NASCAR, as alcohol sponsorship was expanded to include the hard liquor category this off-season. Jack Daniel's took Dave Blaney's car; Jim Beam scooped up Robby Gordon; and Diageo tabbed Busch to tout its Crown Royal and Smirnoff Ice brands. Although NASCAR is requiring each of the companies to spend 20% on alcohol responsibility campaigns, Diageo officials voluntarily decided to impose an age limit on who can buy logo gear at the track, as well as avoiding clothing in children's sizes. They also chose to attach Crown Royal and Smirnoff Ice diecast model cars to a base that will keep the wheels from moving, hoping to discourage children from playing with them. Fans of Blaney's #07 Jack Daniel's Chevy also will face similar limitations, according to Richard Childress Racing's public relations manager Matt Klug. "Eventually I think they plan to offer a [diecast] car for kids without the Jack Daniel's logo," Klug said. There will be a separate line of Blaney clothing coming out for children that does not have Jack Daniel's name emblazoned on it, though it will carry the #07 car number, which also is a reference to the Old No. 7 Brand. For NASCAR's part, the sanctioning body is taking a public stance that it is not regulating merchandising. "It's every team's decision as to how they want to handle the sale of merchandise," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. "Diageo has decided to do it this way, and they're taking a leading role." Poston said that Diageo's conservative licensing program isn't entirely new. Dale Earnhardt Jr. model cars made for children are red and have the #8 on it, but don't have the Budweiser logos. And it's not an uncommon sight this week at Daytona International to find parents wearing Junior's Budweiser shirts while their children sport Junior shirts with Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers logos on them. Jim Beam, sponsor of Gordon's #7 car, says that its diecast cars will be made in a larger scale size to try to keep kids from playing with them. ESPN.com
Final test for Montoya Final test for MontoyaJuan Pablo Montoya was present at the circuit alongside Pedro de la Rosa, who was deputizing for Kimi Raikkonen after the team took the precaution for him not to test today after yesterday's accident. Kimi is fine and currently resting at home in Finland following further medical check ups today. The extent of the damage to his car covered the front wing, left front corner, left side pod, left rear corner, and the rear crash structure.

The focus of Juan Pablo’s program today was durability and calibrating the car for Australia and he completed 119 laps. Today was the final opportunity for Juan Pablo to test MP4-20 ahead of the season opener in Melbourne.

The mechanics meanwhile worked overnight and throughout this morning to repair Kimi’s MP4-20 for Pedro, and the Spaniard completed his first installation lap at 13:35. Pedro’s afternoon program was also focusing on calibrating the car for the forthcoming Australian race and he completed 63 laps.

Juan Pablo Montoya “Today has been a productive day with the focus on the forthcoming Australian Grand Prix. The next time I will drive MP4-20 will be in Melbourne, my first Grand Prix for Team McLaren Mercedes which I am really looking forward to.”

Pedro de la Rosa “The mechanics have worked through the night and throughout this morning in order to repair the car so I could test today. They have done a fantastic job and although Kimi was unable to be here today, I have continued with the planned testing program.”

Pedro de la Rosa will continue at the circuit tomorrow for the final day of this week’s test in MP4-20 as originally planned. McLaren Mercedes

Both Ferrari drivers at work in Barcelona Both Ferrari drivers at work in BarcelonaThird day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, once again at the Catalunya Circuit on the outskirts of Barcelona. Today saw both nominated race drivers in action. Michael Schumacher carried out a race simulation, completing a total of 77 laps, the quickest in a time of 1'16"187. Rubens Barrichello concentrated on finding the best set-up and on development of the Bridgestone tires. At the end of the day, the Brazilian driver had put together 117 laps, setting a best time of 1'15"908. The Scuderia continues testing tomorrow, still with Barrichello and Schumacher on track. Ferrari Press
Cars smash through 1:14 sec barrier in Barcelona Cars smash through 1:14 sec barrier in BarcelonaUPDATE Final times for the day:
1. G. Fisichella - Renault R25 - 1'14"408 (+0"000) - 87 laps
2. R. Zonta - Toyota TF104B - 1'14"502 (+0"094) - 91 laps
3. F. Alonso - Renault R25 - 1'14"552 (+0"144) - 75 laps
4. J.P. Montoya - McLaren Mercedes MP4/20 - 1'15"199 (+0"791) - 119 laps
5. D. Coulthard - Red Bull Cosworth RB1 - 1'15"418 (+1"010) - 113 laps
6. C. Klien - Red Bull Cosworth RB1 - 1'15"673 (+1"265) - 79 laps
7. M. Webber - BMW Williams FW27 - 1'15"841 (+1"433) - 70 laps
8. R. Barrichello - Ferrari F2004M - 1'15"912 (+1"504) - 116 laps
9. J. Trulli - Toyota TF105 - 1'16"060 (+1"652) - 120 laps
10. N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams FW27 - 1'16"077 (+1"669) - 93 laps
11. P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes MP4/20 - 1'16"133 (+1"725) - 63 laps
12. M. Schumacher - Ferrari F2004M - 1'16"188 (+1"780) - 76 laps
13. N. Karthikeyan - Jordan Toyota EJ15 - 1'19"179 (+4"771) - 76 laps
14. T. Monteiro - Jordan Toyota EJ14B - 1'19"718 (+5"310) - 32 laps 02/16/05 Renault driver Giancarlo Fisichella set the pace this morning at Circuit de Catalunya as the Italian stopped the clocks in just 1:14.408s, half a second under the pole position time set at the Spanish Grand Prix last year. This is the 2nd day in a row that Renault is at the head of the speed charts. Times may tumble further this afternoon. Lap times for Wednesday morning in Barcelona
1 . G. Fisichella - Renault R25 - 1:14.408 (+ 0.000 ) - 60 laps
2 . R. Zonta - Toyota TF104B - 1:14.502 (+ 0.094 ) - 56 laps
3 . F. Alonso - Renault R25 - 1:14.552 (+ 0.144 ) - 14 laps
4 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:15.418 (+ 1.010 ) - 32 laps
5 . C. Klien - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:15.673 (+ 1.265 ) - 36 laps
6 . M. Webber - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:15.841 (+ 1.433 ) - 45 laps
7 . J. P. Montoya - McLaren Mercedes MP4- 20 - 1:16.270 (+ 1.862 ) - 34 laps
8 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:16.625 (+ 2.217 ) - 40 laps
9 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF105 - 1:16.686 (+ 2.278 ) - 37 laps
10 . M. Schumacher - Ferrari F2004M - 1:16.874 (+ 2.466 ) - 20 laps
11 . R. Barrichello - Ferrari F2004M - 1:17.148 (+ 2.740 ) - 50 laps
12 . N. Karthikeyan - Jordan Toyota EJ15 - 1:19.596 (+ 5.188 ) - 24 laps
13 . T. Monteiro - Jordan Toyota EJ14T - 1:28.354 (+ 13.946 ) - 6 laps
Bourdais gets pole for IROC opener Bourdais gets pole for IROC openerMcDonald’s driver Sebastien Bourdais, 25, will be making his Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) debut on Friday at Daytona International Speedway from pole position after having selected the position in a blind draw today.  It will also be the first time for him to compete on the 2.5-mile high-banked oval as well as his first stock car style race.

“I hope it’s not the pole,” said Bourdais (pictured right) immediately before he revealed the replica race car with the number one displayed from the Crown Royal bag.  “I’m very happy to be invited to represent Champ Car in the IROC series.  It’s all new to me, and, like everybody, I want to do well.  The spotlight is now going to be on me and I don’t want to look ridiculous.  I’m going to see how many friends I’ve got fast because if I see the second row going by on the outside of me, it’s going to be not good I guess.”

Bourdais will be joined on the front row by 2004 Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch.  Former open-wheel driver and current Grand Am co-champion Max Papis will line up behind Bourdais in third place while Busch champion Martin Truex Jr. will start fourth.  He first tested an IROC car on February 9 and added to his experience yesterday and today and estimates he has run approximately 160 laps.  He also practiced starting from the front of a four-car pack today in preparation for his role on Friday when he will become only the second French driver to compete in the series after the late sports car driver Bob Wolleck did so in 1991.

“The draft is obviously very important in this series,” added Bourdais.  “The key will be getting other drivers to work with you.  There are more open-wheel drivers in the field this year so hopefully that will bring more options for drafting partners.  For sure the NASCAR drivers have more experience with these types of cars and tracks but Jay Signore, Jay Sauter and everyone has been so helpful in getting everyone comfortable that it’s going to be a fun race.  It’s been a great experience so far and I hope I can bring a good result and represent the Champ Car series and fans well on Friday night.”

The first of four races in the Crown Royal IROC series will take place on Friday at 6:00 p.m. ET and will be televised live on SPEED Channel.

Starting Driver Car Representing
1 Sebastien Bourdais #2 Yellow Champ Car World Series
2 Kurt Busch* #97 Red NASCAR Nextel Cup Series
3 Max Papis #16 Magenta Grand American Road Racing
4 Martin Truex Jr. #8 Black NASCAR Busch Series
5 Buddy Rice #15 Burgundy IRL IndyCar Series
6 Helio Castroneves #03 Day-glo IRL IndyCar Series
7 Scott Pruett #01 Gold Grand American Road Racing
8 Bobby Hamilton #4 Dark Blue NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
9 Danny Lasoski #20 Orange World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series
10 Matt Kenseth* #17 Purple NASCAR Nextel Cup Series
11 Mark Martin* #6 Lt. Blue NASCAR Nextel Cup Series
12 Steve Kinser  #11 Green World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series 

ALMS gets NY Times recognition ALMS gets NY Times recognitionThis NY Times article talks about the ALMS and how its form of racing is catching on in the USA. Scott Atherton, the president of the series, said television ratings, though modest when compared with NASCAR’s, were 24 percent higher in 2004 than in 2003, and attendance was up 15 percent to 20 percent.

Atherton said that this year's 10-race series, which opens with a 12-hour race next month in Sebring, Fla., has found an audience among more affluent race fans. That appeals to sponsors.

"The message we want to get across is not how many eyeballs watch us, but whose," Atherton said in an interview after speaking to the Madison Avenue Sports Car Driving and Chowder Society in Manhattan.

The twist is that the series, whose cars include foreign makes like Audi, Porsche and Ferrari, might not have become as popular as it is without NASCAR, which features American stock cars. More at NY Times

GPWC lands a counterpunch GPWC lands a counterpunchThe GPWC thinks that it has landed their first counterpunch to Bernie Ecclestone and FOM for control of F1. A statement issued by the manufacturers after today's meeting with the nine F1 teams said: “The Teams and Manufacturers met today at Cliveden near London and unanimously agreed upon the establishment of a new framework for their participation in Grand Prix motor racing post 2007.. The teams endorsed the ‘Governing Principles for Grand Prix Motor Racing', a series of ideals to which the manufacturers have signed up – which include a more equitable distribution of money."

As a shot across Bernie's bow to sway the small teams to go with them, the statement said: “The Manufacturers agreed that when the series is established which respects the ‘Governing Principles for Grand Prix Motor Racing', then they will guarantee from 2006 the supply of competitive engines at an affordable price to a second team which commits to such series.” This of course would be a major blow to Cosworth if the smaller teams all lined up to get engines from Toyota, Mercedes, BMW and Honda.

Bahrain ticket sales doing well Bahrain ticket sales doing wellTickets for the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2005 are selling fast after the success of the two road shows held in Lebanon and Kuwait. The great success witnessed in Beirut and Kuwait registered huge traffic at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) stand. This translated into an impressive sale of race tickets and complete race package programs prepared by Gulf Air.

The road show will turn its wheels to the regional capital of automobile manufacturers, Dubai, signaling the end of the first half of the campaign. The Dubai road show will be held in Dubai, UAE from the 16th till the 21st of February in the Mercato Mall. The campaign aims to promote the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2005 to be held on April 1, 2 and 3. It will be the third round of the FIA Formula One World Championship 2005.

The audience will be taken on a trip into the glittering world of Formula One. The BIC stand will include a virtual Formula One driving experience via an F1 driving simulator, which promises to bring to life most aspects of Formula One driving with all of its thrill and excitement. The audience will be able to buy race tickets or specialized packages prepared by Gulf Air, which include flight tickets, race tickets, transportation and accommodation.

Dubai is also home to one of the largest foreign multi-national community from all over the globe. This makes of Dubai not only a regional platform but a global one for promoting the Bahrain GP. Also, the promotional campaign in Dubai is unique as it signals the countdown for the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2005 which will kick off in six weeks.

Dubai is considered a regional hub for the automobile industry. In fact it is a stage for hosting a string of launches of the latest in automotive products. It is home to the official invitation sent out to key figures to test drive the latest and most technologically advanced cars in the world.

Moreover, UAE nationals are known for their deep passion for motor sport especially Formula One. Dubai will also be the home of the recently launched A1 Grand Prix world championship which in return will make the UAE community gear up for single seater motor sports.

Dominguez still bullish on Champ Car Dominguez still bullish on Champ CarWhen AutoRacing1.com spoke to Mario Dominguez yesterday about his F1 aspirations, he was quick to point out that if he leaves for F1 he will miss Champ Car, and that Champ Car is still popular in Mexico.  "The two Mexican races will do well in 2005," said Dominguez.   "Of course the series lost Adrian Fernandez and Michel Jourdain Jr, and if I go to F1 next year, it will be important for Champ Car to replace me with a Mexican driver who is good," said Dominguez.  "I have no idea who my teammate will be this year, but I assume he will be a Mexican.  We have a sponsor lined up for my car and we are close on the 2nd car." 

When told that AutoRacing1.com had heard that Ryan Hunter-Reay was probably going to drive for Rocketsports in 2005 Mario said, "In a way that's too bad, he was a great teammate and I consider him a real friend."

While he would not reveal who the sponsor is for his Champ Car this year he did say, "the sponsor is a big Mexican company (not Herdez) and they will be new to Champ Car.  I can't say anymore and I will leave it up to the team to announce it when they are ready."

Andretti warns NASCAR Andretti warns NASCARMario Andretti, the only driver to win the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500 and Grand Prix world championship, said NASCAR is making a mistake expanding into Mexico if it means losing tracks such as Darlington Raceway.  “Darlington is the heart, the soul, of the series,” he said on Monday.  Andretti was speaking at a gathering of past Daytona 500 champions participating in a short-track racing summit.  He said NASCAR can’t afford to lose its roots at places such as Darlington, which will run only one race this year for the first time since 1960 and is in danger of losing its remaining date (May 7) as the sport expands into other markets inside and outside the U.S. borders.  Andretti addressed Mexico specifically because the Busch Series will run its inaugural race in Mexico City on March 6. But he was at the summit to discuss the value of short tracks such as Myrtle Beach Speedway.

“We all started on the weekly tracks,” said former Cup champion Darrell Waltrip, pointing to others on the panel. “It is the backbone of everything we did.”

Defending Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he learned 75 percent of what he knows today at tracks in Myrtle Beach and Florence.  “Those tracks are crucial to everything going on in Cup or Busch or even Indy cars these days,” he said. The State

Sponsor Offers Free Die Cast Cars Sponsor Offers Free Die Cast CarsOne of NASCAR’s top sponsors and most fan-friendly teams are offering free die-cast cars to fans. The die-cast of the #49 Schwan’s Home Service Dodge of driver Ken Schrader is being offered by BAM Racing and Schwan’s Home Service to fans calling 1-877-3RACE49. “This was just a way of saying ‘Thank you’ to all of the fans who have supported us,” said Beth Ann Morgenthau, BAM Racing’s namesake who owns the team with her husband, Tony. “BAM Racing and Schwan’s Home Service really appreciate the support we’ve received from so many people throughout the country,” she said. “We’re hoping these cars will be a way of showing that appreciation.” Doug B.
Eddie Jordan says GPWC is not credible Eddie Jordan says GPWC is not credibleEddie Jordan believes that the GPWC is not for the smaller teams and believes Bernie is the one to side with.  Jordan said Ferrari’s decision to sign up with Bernie Ecclestone made remaining in F1 the “only credible solution” for privateer teams.  The GPWC will meet the sport’s nine other teams on Wednesday and Jordan admitted that it was “a bit premature” to write off the rival series before they had even had the chance to make their pitch.

But he told BBC Radio Five Live: "A vast majority of the teams, once you've got Ferrari on your side, will all side with Bernie.  Bernie Ecclestone is the only credible solution because the private teams would have great problems believing that the manufacturers will look after their needs and cares.  Bernie has looked after us almost like a godfather figure, in a tough way, but a fair way.  ld have to come up with "a hugely beneficial deal to attract the teams to go with them rather than Bernie Ecclestone."

Piquet aims for F1 in next few years Piquet aims for F1 in next few yearsNelson Piquet Jr was in action with BAR Honda last Tuesday at Jerez as the team complimented the young Brazilian on his superb British Formula 3 campaign in 2004, rewarding him with a run in last year’s car.

Piquet (pictured right) completed 41 laps for the team admitted he had hoped for more were it not for his small ‘off’ that ended his run slightly pre- maturely. “I have had very little mileage in an F1 car so every time is so valuable and I learn a lot,” said Piquet. “I have now done four days with Williams and one day with BAR Honda. It’s still the beginning of my career though and I am learning all the time.”

“What I have found interesting is how different the teams are and how different they work,” Piquet continued. “You see how different teams treat things and how they react to different situations. It’s all part of learning and gaining experience.”

Piquet’s rise through the ranks of the sport has been swift and successful so far. This year he races in the new GP2 championship which aims to replace the now defunct International Formula 3000 Championship and beyond that, Piquet hopes is Formula One with a top team.

“I see myself in F1 within the next few years,” said the young Brazilian. “I do not know exactly when. I think every year I am out of F1 in lower categories I am learning a lot, winning championships, winning races and learning to work with a team. GP2 will be good for me in this way, as F3 has been for the last few years. Every year I am gaining more and more experience and preparing myself for F1, and so I hope when I do get there I am ready to sit in a good car.”

“I think to be one of the 20 drivers in the world to be considered good enough to drive an F1 car is a difficult feeling to explain - obviously I have never had this situation yet but it must be something very special,” Piquet continued. “The day I sign a contract is going to be very special for me and I am sure I will deserve it as I have been racing and winning for years, preparing myself for F1. I have the capacity to learn more and the will to learn more and help the team that I am with. I am still only 19 years old so I have a few years but one day I will get there.” Piquet Sports

Up to 7 Locations going for the NASCAR Hall Up to 7 Locations going for the NASCAR HallNASCAR announced the final list of locations in the running to host the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Groups in Atlanta, Birmingham/Talladega, Charlotte/Concord, Daytona Beach, Kansas City, Richmond and the State of Michigan have received requests from NASCAR for proposals and have agreed to submit bids for this new project. The city selected will partner with NASCAR to build a state-of-the-art facility aimed at displaying – and preserving – the sport’s rich history and tradition. “NASCAR’s overriding goal is to have a world class Hall of Fame,” said NASCAR Chairman/CEO Brian France. “We want it to be a special place that brings NASCAR’s history to life. Our hope is for longtime fans to have the opportunity to relive NASCAR’s greatest moments and for new fans to learn about them.” There are a number of independent racing “halls” in existence in the United States, but none are officially affiliated with NASCAR. In support of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, it is likely that an annual induction ceremony would take place in conjunction with an existing NASCAR-sanctioned race weekend. This would attract a significant number of visitors to the site and provide a major economic lift for the Hall of Fame and surrounding areas. The enshrinement ceremony and other ancillary events would also make for compelling television content on a national basis. “NASCAR wants a Hall of Fame that will remain fresh and will entice visitors to return time and time again,” said NASCAR VP of Licensing and Consumer Products Mark Dyer. The NASCAR RFP (Request for Proposal) sent to the seven groups bidding is intentionally vague. There are no specific requirements for size, shape or cost. It is NASCAR’s hope that each community will view this as an opportunity to be creative in design, development and timing. The deadline to submit proposals is May 31. “NASCAR seeks a strong partner that shares our vision and belief that the NASCAR Hall of Fame will be a great success for their community and all our fans,” Dyer said. “This is critical to the project and will be something we’ll look at when the proposals are submitted.” NASCAR will begin the process of review once the proposals are received. At that time a schedule will be announced for site visits and presentations by each city. NASCAR PR
Corvette drivers talk about new C6R Corvette drivers talk about new C6RCorvette Racing recently completed the third official test of the new Corvette C6-R at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. Following the three days of private track time, Corvette drivers Johnny O'Connell, Ron Fellows, Oliver Gavin and Max Papis all had upbeat remarks about the new C6-R chassis that will officially debut at the American Le Mans Series Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 17-19.

O'Connell: "Starting with a clean sheet of paper, the team gave us an amazing race car and that is something you always expect from Corvette Racing. Initially we saw tremendous potential with the new Corvette C6-R and every time we have tested the car it's been better. By the time we completed this test, we had a race car that was very comfortable to drive fast."

Fellows: "It's still early in the development curve for the Corvette C6-R, but I feel we're ready to race. I think it's already as good as the Corvette C5-R that benefited from years of development and it's going to continue to get better. The reliability was excellent, as always."
Gavin: "I was very pleased with the way the test went. The Corvette C6-R's handling is very progressive and predictable, without any nervousness that can catch a driver out. In the driver's seat, I feel that the C6-R has more mechanical grip than its predecessor and we're making sure that we have a good aerodynamic balance from front to rear."

Papis: "I was very, very pleased to see that we made strides forward every time that I drove the car. I drove the Corvette C6-R in three tests and every time we definitely improved the feeling of the car. We are still just at the beginning of the development cycle and you can feel that the new Corvette has big potential. We know that we have to expect improvements step by step, but I've been very impressed from the first day I drove the new C6-R."

American Le Mans Series and Corvette fans wanting to see the C6-R debut can order Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race tickets on-line at www.AmericanLeMans.com. The historic release of the newest version of ‘America's Sports Car' is something fans will not want to miss!

Dover Downs reduced ticket prices Dover Downs reduced ticket pricesNot having had a sellout crowd since 9/11,  Dover Downs)has taken the unprecedented step of reducing (some) ticket prices. The “Monster Mile” is the only one of the country’s big tracks to announce such a step. And the track will not install any lights for night racing this year, or for any year for that matter, citing $3 million to $3.5 million in costs. National Speed Sport News
Lynch In Daytona Lynch In DaytonaWirt County native Jessica Lynch has been named an honorary race official for the Daytona 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race this Sunday.  Lynch was launched into the international spotlight after being rescued from an Iraqi hospital in April 2003. The Army supply clerk had been captured a week earlier when her convoy was ambushed. Lynch will share in the pre-race festivities with World Series champion Johnny Damon of the Boston Red Sox. The two will be introduced on stage, participate in driver introductions and ride in one of the Chevrolet pace cars that lead the 43-car field before the start of the race. WOWK
Piquet aims for a top spot in his first GP2 season Piquet aims for a top spot in his first GP2 seasonNelsinho Piquet will have this year its biggest challenge since the beginning of his career in motoring, at the age of eight years, when he entered kart for the very first time. The Brazilian pilot will start, at April the 23rd at Imola in the first race of the new GP2 Series, a category just created by the Federation International de l' Automobile ( FIA ) with the objective to prepare pilots and to be the main laboratory for the following Formula 1 series. Nelsinho will compete for the team Hitech Piquet Sports and the team will have also another Brazilian pilot , Xandinho Negrão, current champion of the Formula 3 South American.

In 11 years as pilot, Nelsinho Piquet constructed a solid career in motoring. In this period, the pilot was in Brazil the triple champion of kart (1997,1999 and 2000), the champion of Formula 3 South American (2002) and he also became the youngest champion of history of the Formula 3 British  Championship (2004), at the age of 19 years and two months . Moreover, he participated in three tests with two different Formula 1 teams, two with BMW Williams (2003 and 2004) and one with Lucky Strike B.A.R. Honda (2005). The GP2 Series, however, marks a new stage in the career of the Brazilian pilot. The category has almost the high technology and the speed of the Formula 1 cars, ( 320 km/h, 600bhp ) much superior to the Formula 3 cars.

It will be the first time that Nelsinho takes place in a competition with racing cars of this level , almost similar to the Formula 1 cars. For Nelsinho, the participation in the GP2 will be a very important experience in his career.

" It will be a championship of a very high quality, with great pilots and much competitiveness. As the races will be hold during the Formula 1 weekends , the focus will also be very strong on this new racing series and obviously everybody wants to win a race." nelsinho-piquet.com / Piquet Sports

World Series by Renault
Paul Ricard awaits the 13 WSR teams Paul Ricard awaits the 13 WSR teamsThe World Series by Renault (WSR) 2005 Season continues its schedule and 13 teams will be taking part in the Collective Test at the Circuit Paul Ricard HTTT over the weekend (19-20th February).

The WSR Teams will be arriving at the Circuit Paul Ricard HTTT Friday. Track activity will continue the following week with another test in the Circuit of Catalunya (23-24 February). It will the last time that the drivers will be using the 2004 chassis (Dallara-Nissan/Formula Renault V6).

15 Teams had entered the WSR 2005 but not all of them will be visiting the circuit of Le Castellet. Yet there is already a good number of confirmed drivers, some of the Team Managers would still evaluate the skill of the tested drivers in order to make a decision regarding the 2005 Season. The Teams will be using the solution 3C – Medium Track Solutions (3.841 km.)

Teams like Intervetten and Eurointernational have already confirmed both drivers. Stefano Proetto and Daniel La Rosa will make his debut in the Austrian Team, while the Italians Giorgo Mondini and Matteo Megehello will contest the WSR with the Italian-based squad.
On Monday, Saulnier Racing confirmed Simon Pagenaud, and Carlin Motorsport has confirmed the Austrian Andreas Zuber, former F3 driver in the Euroseries. Carlin hopes to announce its second driver in two days.

KTR’s Team Principal Kurt Mollekens will test Payton Tapp, the first Afro American driver that may enter the World Series by Renault (he was a fraud in the USA using the name Peyton Tapp Watkins, now he is in Europe buffaloing them), and Jaap Van Lagen, a fast and expert driver from the Formula Renault V6.

RC Motorsport will be testing with Giovanni Tedeschi, and GD Racing will test the also Italian Raffaele Gianmaria. Both teams are said to be in serious talks with these two Italian. Cram Competition will test the Frenchman Damien Pasini.

Draco Multiracing USA, after the announcement of Marko Winkelhok (GER), has expressed its intention to test Olivier Tielemans (NED) and Jonny Reid (NZL)

Dams will be also present in this test with their RDD driver Pastor Maldonado (VEN) as well as Jenzer Motorsport with its single confirmed driver Colin Fleming (USA).  WSR

Heidfeld happy with new Williams Heidfeld happy with new WilliamsHaving completed extensive tests at Jerez and Valencia new BMW Williams signing Nick Heidfeld has expressed his satisfaction with the new FW27. “The car is good enough to be at the front,” the team's official website report Heidfeld as saying. “It has improved each day, little by little. The car is very, very competitive.”

Over the course of the four-day test program at Jerez last week, Heidfeld and his teammate, Mark Webber, covered more than 3,000 kilometres. Although it can’t be denied that the rule changes in the aerodynamics area have had an impact on the car’s pace, Heidfeld took a positive stock, “The speed is lower, but the balance is much better than last year.”

The team has yet to challenge the likes of Renault and McLaren in pre-season testing. However, testing times are often misleading as teams work on different test programs. Heidfeld and Webber will be hoping that the speed is there when they most need it. Williams

Gascoyne under pressure to produce Gascoyne under pressure to produceToyota are running the updated version of the TF105 today in Barcelona. Technical Director Mike Gascoyne is under pressure for result this year and he is under pressure to produce a good result. Gascoyne told autosport.com: “Everything is different - even panels bonded on the sidepods have been taken off. There is a new undertray, new rear bodywork, new brake ducts, new drums, new nosebox, new front wing, new plates, new turning vanes, so apart from the monocoque everything else is new.

“We've made full use of the resources we have. For sure people are going to update their car, but no one is gong to be able to do it to this extent. I know the resources at Renault, and they do not have recourse to do that. People are looking at our car and saying the Toyota looks very standard, but they haven't seen our car yet. You'll see our Melbourne spec car, and then we have totally different car in Malaysia.

“We've had issues such as tire degradation,” Gascoyne acknowledged. “We have to improve on that - given the car we launched I don't think we look to be very competitive, and if you look Williams and BAR are within a second of Renault and McLaren. I would say we have to make a reasonably big step forward [with the new car].”

iSport International signs Turkish driver iSport International signs Turkish driveriSport International has announced today the signing of Turkish Driver Can Artam to race in their newly created GP2 series team. “I am thrilled to join iSport International and the GP2 series” said Artam. “We spent a lot of time evaluating the best option. We did not want to rush to make sure we were joining the best team and I am glad that we finally found in iSport International the perfect fit. The team although new is constituted probably by the most experienced people on the grid, it is based in England – the home of motorsport – and I know Scott (Speed) from my racing days in the USA. He is probably the most talented American Driver around and I am looking forward to catching up with him and start working together.”

 “Last year I increased considerably my experience in a challenging championship with a lot of talented drivers. My objective is to further my progression in 2005 and make my way up the field. I am especially excited about racing in front of my home fans later this year in Istanbul,” continued Can. “GP2 is an extremely competitive championship this year. I think it is probably the most competitive grid in years at this level with several of my fellow competitors ready to jump into Formula One. It will be tough but I am ready for the challenge and I know that the team feels the same.” Paul Jackson, iSport’s team principal, said “we have been talking with several drivers in the last few weeks and Jonathan (Williams) convinced our partners and I that Can was the one. We feel that he could do a lot better than his year in F3000 and the team is fully committed to give him the best support in his quest for success.

“Can completes our team and we are now ready to go for the season. We have assembled a lot of talent in our newly created team who are among the best in their respective disciplines. Our objective this year is not only to finish races but also to aim for podiums. With Scott and Can we have a good combination and we are looking forward to our first test in Paul Ricard on 23rd February 2005.” Jonathan Williams – Director of the board of iSport International and son of Sir Frank Williams said “I have been tipped about the abilities of Can Artam which is the reason why we started talking to him.” “We created iSport International with the intention of developing talent and preparing them for the top racing series. The staff we have managed to assemble have so far successfully contributed to the development of drivers such as JP Montoya, Jenson Button, Bruno Junqueira, Takuma Sato and Antonio Pizzonia and we hope to repeat these success stories in the coming years.

“We believe Can Artam’s margin of progression is substantial and are convinced that he will find the right environment to maximize his talent with us” continued Jonathan Williams. “We are looking forward to a successful partnership with the first Turkish driver to compete at this level and hope that both of our drivers will have a great season.” Ali Gursoy – Can’s manager and owner of steam group said “We are in year two of our plan for Can and GP2 is what we always had in mind. Last year, Can’s objective was to get experience in an International Championship and learn the tracks in which GP2 will be racing this year. We are looking to have a very positive year, with a lot of activities around the Istanbul race for Can. It is the first ever Formula One race in Turkey and Can is the first of a group of talented Turkish drivers who can make it to the top. He is working hard and representing a whole nation’s desire of success”. “Our objective is now to focus on the pre season test days and gain as much competitiveness as possible before the first race in late April.”

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Stoddart tore up Kiesa deal
Kimi injured in smash
F1's nine set for GPWC summit
Wurz unseen for 'Friday' job
GPWC to call breakaway 'F1'
JYS to take Brit GP back seat
Toyota work on another update
2005 rules 'have failed'

Austria's back on F1 grid
Red Bull halt expectation
Ralf no fan of 'new' F1
Fiery Fernando, cold Catalan
F1 in spin over tire change
Barcelona 'improving'
Labonte skipping Daytona Labonte skipping DaytonaFor the first time since 1978, Terry Labonte will not enter the Daytona 500.  The two-time Cup Series champion has 26 starts in "The Great American Race," but elected not to visit the dangerous restrictor-plate venues when choosing his 10-event "Shifting Gears - Lone Star Style" schedule for 2005.  Labonte's first action will come Feb. 27 at California Speedway.

"I'm excited about it.  I'm looking forward to going to the places we've got scheduled.  I picked them all myself.  I wanted to visit tracks that were some of my favorites -- places we'd done well at in the past.  Next year we might change it up some because there are other tracks where we've had some success.  I'm looking forward to the 10 this year."

"My wife has asked me five or six times whether I still feel good about it, and I do.  I feel really good about the decision I made (to run a limited schedule).  I feel good about running 10 races this year and 10 races next year.  I'm looking forward to helping Justin (Labonte, son) with his team in the Busch Series.  I'm looking forward to not being on the go all the time.  It's going allow me to do some things that I've never had the opportunity to do."

"I don't think it's going to take me that long to get used to it (laughs).  Sure, it's going to be different.  I think the thing I'm going to enjoy the most is not having the hectic schedule I've kept the last several years -- doing all the races, testing and everything.  You put it all together and you stay awfully busy.  I'm looking forward to doing the things that I've never had the opportunity to do."

Honda says NASCAR not in plan, just IRL, but..... Honda says NASCAR not in plan, just IRL, but.....This Miami Herald article talks about NASCAR's popularity growth, and particularly its growing interest worldwide. NASCAR has a much broader appeal than what it had 10 to 15 years ago. It just didn't happen. It was planned.' (Related article - Stock Car's lead widening over open wheel.)
Head-to-head with LB? Think again Head-to-head with LB? Think againA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Interesting note that Kevin Kalkhoven says that Champ Car would run a race in LA on the same weekend as Long Beach if it fell off the schedule.  Sounds awfully ambitious of him, also pretty naive.    I'm guessing he has never heard of ACCUS, which is controlled by the Oval Track Cartel, and would never allow it to happen - and as a member of ACCUS, they can't run an event without its sanction. Peter Toyman, Michigan 
Why is Said moaning about ALMS? Why is Said moaning about ALMS?A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, In this morning's Palm Beach Post Boris Said expressed his unhappiness with the ALMS and its lack of American drivers. He blames the series. He says the Corvette team has one of the best teams in the country and only one American driver. My question to him would be why is it the series at fault that Chevrolet only has one American driver. The series doesn’t do the hiring.   Maybe he should be mad at Chevy. I would think they are the ones in charge of hiring for their team. Also most American drivers are only interested in NASCAR. Doug Ferguson, Florida
Raikkonen to miss test day after crash Raikkonen to miss test day after crashMcLaren Mercedes has moved its rigorous winter testing program to the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona this week, for a three day program which ends on Thursday. Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya were both present at the circuit today.

Raikkonen was involved in an accident this afternoon which brought a premature end to his testing program. The Finn was bruised but unhurt in the accident, but the car was severely damaged.

"I don't really know what happened," said Raikkonen. "It was quite a big impact and I'm a bit shaken up and have hurt my thumb. I'm not going to be able to continue testing tomorrow which is not ideal but hopefully Pedro will be able to complete the program."

The initial view from the team is that a foreign body got jammed between the brake caliper and the inside of a wheel rim and machined a groove into the rim which caused an immediate failure. It was a heavy impact but Raikkonen has been checked and apart from a bruised thumb he is okay. However as a precaution he will not be testing tomorrow the team confirmed.

The team is aiming to repair Raikkonen's MP4-20 for tomorrow, so that Pedro de la Rosa can test alongside Montoya.
This week it is the race team rather than the test team who are present at the circuit carrying out race weekend operations. All the equipment involved over a race weekend has been installed at the track, and the test will allow for any final checks to be carried out and for new personnel to become familiar with race weekend operations.

Juan Pablo Montoya was second fastest today with a best time of 1:15.227s with Raikkonen fourth fastest prior to his 72nd lap shunt with a best of 1:15.404.

"I'm pleased that Kimi is okay as it was quite a big impact," said Montoya. "We completed most of the program today. I had a small problem with a dragging clutch in the morning which hindered my running a bit, but at the end of the day that is what testing is all about - find the problems and solve them. We will continue the program tomorrow and take it from there.” McLaren

NASCAR special on SportsCenter tonight NASCAR special on SportsCenter tonightESPN’s “SportsCenter” will air the second installment of a five-part NASCAR series leading up to Sunday's Daytona 500 at 6:00pm ET.  Tonight’s piece examines Rusty Wallace’s last chance to win the Daytona 500 before he retires after the ’05 season.
Gulfstream inks deal with NASCAR Gulfstream inks deal with NASCARGulfstream Aerospace recently inked a sponsorship deal with NASCAR, under which the jet aircraft manufacturer receives marketing, PR and hospitality efforts, including customer-, supplier- and employee-related opportunities. NASCAR COO George Pyne said of the deal, “NASCAR provides Gulfstream with unfettered access to business executives increasingly trading with other NASCAR partners” THE DAILY  [Editor's Note: Now that NASCAR has Gulfstream signed up, Champ Car will have to work hard to keep them in their series.] 
LeMans selects first 34 cars LeMans selects first 34 carsIt is level pegging in both the Prototype and GT categories with seventeen in each. This includes the 15 automatically selected entries picked according to their 2004 results and confirmed by the respective teams within the deadlines.

The Selection Committee has thus added an additional 19 cars on the basis of their entry forms: 10 in the Prototype Category and 9 in the Grand Touring one.

This preliminary list is a good indication of the variety and appeal of the coming Le Mans 24 Hours. The battle for the topmost step of the rostrum (occupied by the Team Goh Audi in 2004) looks like being a very open one. There are newcomers in the Prototype Category like the Creation Autosport and Jota-Zytek Engineering squads, which made a big impact during the four rounds of the 2004 Le Mans Endurance Series. In the LMP 2 Category Courage as expected is well represented with no fewer than 5 entries powered by different engines: the 4 cylinder 2-litre turbocharged A.E.R unit for the American team Miracle Motorsport, Ford for Paul Belmondo Racing (backed by Ford France and Gulf), normally aspirated Judds for Intersport Racing and G force Racing/Bokkenrijders: CG ( (Mecachrome, the initials CG stand for Gérard Cazella President of the company) for Courage Competition an entry looked after by Noël Del Bello. The car will be powered by the V8 used in the new GP 2 Championship whose cubic capacity has been reduced from 4 to 3.4 liters.

A quick glance shows that the LM GT entry is more varied than in the past: obviously, it is not yet finalized as the Aston Martins will be closely watched at Sebring in mid-March. Saleen is back and there are also the new Corvette C6-Rs plus 550 Ferrari Maranellos and a 575 GTC from French Team JMB Racing. In LM GT2 there is another newcomer, the Panoz from the USA, which will be up against the Porsches that have dominated this category, TVRs and Ferrari 360 Modenas.

16 places still have to be allocated by the Selection Committee. This will be done at the end of March after the Sebring 12-Hour event, the opening round of the American Le Mans Series on 19th March. The names of 8 reserves will be added to the list of 50 entries. The former will only be called upon in case of official withdrawal before 27th May 2005. Thus, everything is still up for grabs for the 44 out of the 78 entries that have not yet been officially selected.

SPEED adds two Champ Car races for '05 SPEED adds two Champ Car races for '05SPPED Channel put out this press release today talking about the addition of two Champ Car races that they will broadcast in 2005, Monterrey, Mexico and Argentina.  Monterrey was to be on NBC until it was moved to Sunday, and a race in Buenos Aires Argentina has been rumored for quite some time - SPEED Channel has added same-day coverage of the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix from Monterrey, Mexico on May 22 at 11 p.m. ET, giving the network coverage of nine of the series' 14 scheduled events. SPEED Channel also will cover Champ Car World Series races from Edmonton (Live), San Jose (SDD), Denver (Live), Argentina (SDD) [Did they let the cat out of the bag?], Las Vegas, Korea, Australia and Mexico City. Visit SPEEDTV.com for broadcast schedules or consult your local listings.
Industry News
Exxon Launches New Oil Today Exxon Launches New Oil TodayExxonMobil today announced that it is rolling out one of the most aggressive fully-integrated marketing campaigns in the history of its Mobil(R) lubricants brand to increase its share of the $2 billion retail motor oil segment. The initiative was developed to support the new line of high-endurance Mobil motor oils, which meet the longer oil-change intervals being recommended by many of today's automobile manufacturers and to respond to the fact that drivers today are going longer between oil changes -- an average of 4,300 miles. It includes a major new ad campaign, with television ads debuting on Sunday, February 20, during the most high-profile racing event of the year, the Daytona 500. In addition to the placements during the race coverage, the ads will run more than 200 times that day on more than 30 networks. The campaign will be complemented by large-scale public relations and sales-promotion efforts to help raise awareness of the new motor oil line and drive sales. Business Wire
Michael Waltrip endorses hair coloring Michael Waltrip endorses hair coloringFor the third year in a row, racecar driver Michael Waltrip is giving men across the country a chance to drive up charitable donations.  This year, it's through the Just For Men(R) Haircolor "Hit Your Target" Sweepstakes.  By entering at http://www.justformen.com men will be eligible to win a trip to the 2005 Ford 400 race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway and help drive funds for the Victory Junction Gang, an independent, not-for-profit organization that strives to enrich the lives of children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.  The organization creates camping experiences that are memorable, exciting, fun, empowering, physically safe and medically sound. PRN Newswire
NASCAR EA Sports Computer Game On Sale NASCAR EA Sports Computer Game On SaleElectronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS) announced today that NASCAR(R) SimRacing(TM) from the EA SPORTS(TM) brand is shipping for the PC. NASCAR SimRacing was developed by a dedicated PC production team for more than 18 months with the help of NASCAR(R) NEXTEL Cup Series(TM) drivers including Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The drivers' contribution to the game assisted the team in producing the most realistic NASCAR PC simulation game to date. NASCAR SimRacing is the perfect combination of realism, true racing 'feel', depth, and advanced EA SPORTS presentation. Race down the straightaway at Daytona International Speedway(R) alongside 42 other live drivers online as Voice Over IP talk mixes with the roar of V8 engines in surround sound. Computer driven cars ensure a full field of 43 cars when racing online, regardless of the number of live drivers. Broadband connection required for online play, microphone required for Voice Over IP. NASCAR SimRacing also features the first multiple series NASCAR PC Career Mode where gamers will battle through 25 authentic tracks in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, NASCAR Busch, and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. While progressing through the career mode, enjoy full race replays and analyze in-depth telemetry data. Improve skills and refine car setups for each track and move up the ranks towards the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship. Pre-designed setups are available for less experienced drivers. EA Sports PR
Delphi renews with Hendrick Delphi renews with HendrickOne of the Dayton region's largest employers, Delphi Corp., said Tuesday it signed on for another year of sponsoring a driver in NASCAR’s Nextel Cup series. The company is co-sponsoring, with Kellogg's, the No. 5 Chevrolet being driven by Kyle Busch. Last year, Delphi co-sponsored NASCAR driver Terry Labonte, also in the No. 5 car. Financial terms of the sponsorship were not disclosed. Delphi, of Troy, Mich., also will be the primary sponsor this year for four races in the Nextel series -- at Texas Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway and Lowe's Motor Speedway -- and supplies ignition wire sets, electrical connectors, steering pumps and steering gear to NASCAR. Delphi PR
Alonso fastest, Raikkonen crashes Alonso fastest, Raikkonen crashesFernando Alonso today set the pace at Barcelona today lapping faster than Michael Schumacher’s Pole Position time recorded in 2004. The Spaniard set a best time of 1:14.991s. Juan Pablo Montoya was a close second fastest in his new McLaren Mercedes while teammate Kimi Raikkonen set the fourth fastest time in the sister MP4-20 despite crashing and damaging the chassis.  The Finn is "shaken but fine" after his big crash a McLaren spokesperson has confirmed. 
Final Day's times in Barcelona
1 . F. Alonso - Renault R25 - 1:14.991 (+ 0.000 ) - 110 laps
2 . J. P. Montoya - McLaren Mercedes MP4- 20 - 1:15.227 (+ 0.236 ) - 82 laps
3 . R. Zonta - Toyota TF104B - 1:15.374 (+ 0.383 ) - 83 laps
4 . K. Raikkonen - McLaren Mercedes MP4- 20 - 1:15.404 (+ 0.413 ) - 71 laps
5 . G. Fisichella - Renault R25 - 1:15.648 (+ 0.657 ) - 63 laps
6 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:15.713 (+ 0.722 ) - 92 laps
7 . V. Liuzzi - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:16.143 (+ 1.152 ) - 70 laps
8 . M. Webber - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:16.509 (+ 1.518 ) - 92 laps
9 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF105 - 1:16.551 (+ 1.560 ) - 97 laps
10 . M. Schumacher - Ferrari F2004M - 1:16.639 (+ 1.648 ) - 101 laps
11 . A. Pizzonia - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:16.726 (+ 1.735 ) - 54 laps
12 . N. Karthikeyan - Jordan Toyota EJ15 - 1:20.029 (+ 5.038 ) - 81 laps
13 . T. Monteiro - Jordan Toyota EJ15 - 1:22.076 (+ 7.085 ) - 86 laps
Jackie Stewart wants reduced role Jackie Stewart wants reduced roleSir Jackie Stewart said he would only continue as president of the British Racing Drivers' Club in an "ambassadorial position". The BRDC owns Silverstone, the Northamptonshire track in central England where the British Grand Prix is staged.

On Tuesday the Scot said business commitments meant he could no longer be a 'hands-on' figure at the BRDC, where he was elected president in 2000 and also said the organization had undergone internal changes to its management structure.

"Whilst my professional activities both in the UK and internationally, such as my new and increasing role with the Royal Bank of Scotland and my other contracted business relationships, make it impossible for me to give the same time to the BRDC that I have in the past, I am immensely proud to be president of the club.

"I look forward to helping the BRDC pursue its proud claim to be the champion of British motorsport."

"I am very pleased the board last week was able to inform our members that it will put new corporate governance structures in place in relation to the roles of the president, the chairman, the chief executive, the BRDC board and its operating subsidiary companies."

Friesacher signs with Minardi Friesacher signs with MinardiMinardi today announced that promising young Austrian driver, Patrick Friesacher, has signed with the Faenza team as race driver for 2005 alongside Christijan Albers.

The 24-year-old, from Wolfsberg/Carinthia, is well-regarded by Minardi personnel, having tested for the Formula One team and participated in Minardi F1 two-seater events on several occasions. He was also a regular front-runner in the FIA F3000 International Championship between 2001 and 2004, scoring wins and a number of top- six finishes in the highly competitive series.

“For me, it is the realization of a long-held dream to be in Formula One,” says Friesacher. “I am also extremely happy that I will be making my debut in the World Championship with Minardi. I know many of the people in the team, and it really is just like a big family. There is a great atmosphere, and when you consider how many top F1 drivers have started their careers at Minardi, I can’t think of a better place to start mine. In fact, I feel honored to be part of the team, and will do my very best for them this season. I’m training really hard at the moment to ensure my fitness is good, but I can’t wait for the season to get under way in Australia. This is a great opportunity, and I intend to make the most of it.”
Minardi Team Principal, Paul Stoddart explained that he and the team were delighted to have signed Friesacher.

“We are very pleased to have signed Patrick," said Stoddart. "He impressed team personnel enormously when he tested for us at Misano in November, and he was undoubtedly one of the stars of the show at the memorable South African F1x2 Grand Prix at Kyalami last year. He’s a quick, and equally importantly, consistent driver, who is also capable of providing good technical feedback to the engineers. I firmly believe the combination of Patrick and team mate, Christijan Albers, will provide Minardi with an extremely strong young driver line-up this season.”

Race Career
1990-1997: Karting, races in various local, national and international competitions
1998: Formula Campus Series (France), 3rd place overall
1999: French F3 Championship, Class B, 3rd place overall
2000: German F3 Championship, 6th place overall
2001: FIA F3000, Red Bull Jr Team, 13th place
2002: FIA F3000, Red Bull Jr Team, 10th place
2003: FIA F3000, Red Bull Jr Team/Coloni, 5th place overall
2004: FIA F3000, Super Nova/Coloni, 5th place overall
2005: Formula One World Championship, Race Driver Minardi Cosworth. Source Minardi

NASCAR marketing group involved in F1 too NASCAR marketing group involved in F1 tooUPDATE Recall that Wasserman Media Group, is the company which is aiming to make Formula 1 racing big in the United States. Wasserman is in partnership with DIC Entertainment in a company called Grand Prix Entertainment (GPE) which recently purchased the exclusive, domestic broadcast television rights to Formula 1 in the United States and then did a deal to air four of the races on CBS Television. 02/14/05 Wasserman Media Group today acquired North Carolina-based sports marketing agency Champion Sports Group from Fahlgren Inc. Champion has clients involved in NASCAR and will be integrated into WMG Marketing . Wasserman Media Group
Alonso on top early in Barcelona Alonso on top early in BarcelonaTuesday morning test times from Barcelona:
Barcelona - AM Feb. 15, 2005
1 . F. Alonso - Renault R25 - 1:15.923 (+ 0.000 ) - 48 laps
2 . R. Zonta - Toyota TF105 - 1:15.983 (+ 0.060 ) - 41 laps
3 . M. Webber - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:16.726 (+ 0.803 ) - 39 laps
4 . G. Fisichella - Renault R25 - 1:16.813 (+ 0.890 ) - 17 laps
5 . J. P. Montoya - McLaren Mercedes MP4- 20 - 1:16.818 (+ 0.895 ) - 17 laps
6 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF105 - 1:17.009 (+ 1.086 ) - 23 laps
7 . A. Pizzonia - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:17.047 (+ 1.124 ) - 32 laps
8 . M. Schumacher - Ferrari F2004M - 1:17.686 (+ 1.763 ) - 50 laps
9 . V. Liuzzi - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:17.938 (+ 2.015 ) - 24 laps
10 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:18.980 (+ 3.057 ) - 20 laps
11 . N. Karthikeyan - Jordan Toyota EJ15 - 1:20.742 (+ 4.819 ) - 53 laps
12 . T. Monteiro - Jordan Toyota EJ15 - 1:22.086 (+ 6.163 ) - 60 laps
13 . K. Raikkonen - McLaren Mercedes MP4- 20 - 1:37.588 (+ 21.665 ) - 8 laps
Courtney blasts F1 Courtney blasts F1Disillusioned ex-Jaguar test driver James Courtney has leveled both barrels at Formula One, saying he had quit his dream of racing at the elite level. Once regarded as the Australian most likely to follow Mark Webber into F1, Courtney has now turned his back on the elite class, blasting it as hypocritical and political.

"At the moment now Formula One seems to not really be about the racing any more," Courtney said. "I got there and I was surrounded by it all and it probably turned me off it more than it turned me on to it. So much politics is involved. You can be the best guy - I'd be smiling with you now and as soon as I turn around in Formula One someone's got a knife in your back. It's not really a place I really enjoyed or felt comfortable with it all. As the years go on I get less and less interested in it."

The Sunshine Coast-based racer plans to continue racing sports cars in Japan for Toyota but has been hand-picked to drive a Commodore for the Holden Racing Team in this year's two V8 Supercar enduros, Sandown and Bathurst.

"Once I left Formula Three I was disappointed for a while but once I started driving the (Toyota) Supra I found out how much fun it is driving with doors and guards," he said.

"It's more racing, I think, sports cars and touring cars so I'm actually enjoying my racing a lot more now than I ever have.

"At the moment I'm quite keen on staying in Japan. I have a really great position there, it's been really good with the Toyota team.

"I don't like to leave a championship until I've won it so until I win it I won't really be looking to come back." The Age [Editor's Note: Earth to Champ Car, You have been looking for a fast Australian to race full-time in Champ Car for years. Here he is. Oops, we forgot talent isn't enough, must have suitcase full of cash too, a disease plaguing the series at the moment.]

Kansas Making a pitch for Hall of Fame Kansas Making a pitch for Hall of FameAn influential contingent from Kansas headed by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius made a quick pit stop here Monday looking to take the lead in the race to land NASCAR's proposed Hall of Fame. The group that met with NASCAR executives for more than an hour included Sebelius; Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Carol Marinovich; and Bob Marcusse, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Developmental Council. "I think it was very productive, helpful in learning more about the vision for the NASCAR Hall of Fame," she said. "This is preliminary. A project design is not due until May 31." Daytona Beach, Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and Richmond, Va., are the other cities competing for what proponents argue will be a tourism magnet, given the growing popularity of the sport nationwide. Daytona Beach News
Short Track Summit Opens In Daytona Short Track Summit Opens In DaytonaWith several hundred track operators from throughout North America taking part, the Short Track Racing Summit opened Monday afternoon in the Ocean Center Convention Center. "We're here to help one another and to help our industry grow," said Don Hawk, NASCAR Director of Regional Racing Development. "We are all trying to become more effective at what we do, and to make positive changes that better our ability to perform. By sharing ideas, by working together and by utilizing this coalition, we can make short track and weekly racing the best it can possibly be." NASCAR, the only sanctioning body to have fully supported weekly short track racing at a grassroots level throughout its 56 years, is among the many sponsors of the inaugural Short Track Racing Summit through Wednesday afternoon. A number of different sanctioning bodies and dozens of tracks from throughout the continent are taking part in the industry coalition. "We must have people talking up the positive aspects of this sport," said Dick Berggren, a keynote speaker in Monday's session. The FOX television commentator, who has raced himself, also publishes the nationally-distributed Speedway Illustrated, which is considered a staple in the motorsports industry. ThatsRacin
Jarrett drove to pole sick Jarrett drove to pole sickSunday at Daytona International Speedway, Dale Jarrett signed up for this all-star version of sick call, capturing the pole for next Sunday's Daytona 500 despite fighting flu symptoms (no driver talent/effort required in 100% throttle racing, just loads of horsepower). "That certainly helps things," Jarrett said of winning the pole, his third for the 500 and first at Daytona since 2000, when he captured the pole for the 500 and Pepsi 400. He won his third Daytona 500 that year. "But I'm still a little bit under the weather. The biggest thing is my voice and coughing. I'm trying to get rest at night, but I'm doing all right. Things like this certainly make that healing process a lot better." Palm Beach Post
New Cam on Fox New Cam on FoxCable Cam, a staple on TV football, made its debut this weekend in NASCAR. Fox brought its overhead camera and its crew straight from Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville to Saturday's Budweiser Shootout, an exhibition setting up next weekend's Daytona 500. The camera, rolling 30 feet above ground and capable of going 20 mph, rolled above pit row. It also rolled above the finish line to provide what Fox vice president Jerry Steinberg described Sunday as "a shot no one has seen before." After the Daytona 500, Steinberg said, Fox will "pick its spots" to use the camera since it costs "something like" $50,000 an event. USA Today
Small Crowd on Hand for Sunday Small Crowd on Hand for SundayQualifying for NASCAR's premier event drew a lackluster crowd of maybe 15,000 Sunday, but it didn't surprise pole-sitter Dale Jarrett. "Unless I missed something, watching those cars go around two laps at a time wasn't that exciting," he said. "As Speedweeks go on, we'll have plenty of people here. Just saying we'll have qualifying, there's a lot of other things people would rather do than just sit there, what, six or eight hours. I watched three basketball games and a golf tournament while it was going on." Jarrett was kidding; the pole session took about three hours to complete. TimesDispatch
Johnson Chosen as 2005 NASCAR Preseason Top 10 Favorite Johnson Chosen as 2005 NASCAR Preseason Top 10 FavoriteIf media voters prove accurate prognosticators, look for the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship battle to mimic recent history.

The defending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series champion, Kurt Busch (No. 97 IRWIN Industrial Tools/Sharpie Ford), won the 2004 title by eight points over Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) -- the closest finish in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup history. And while both drivers remain title candidates, Johnson has been selected as the media favorite in the 2005 NASCAR Preseason Top 10.

A total of 213 votes were cast in the balloting, which began Feb. 3 at www.nascarmedia.com and ended Feb. 13. Drivers received 10 points for first place, nine points for second place, eight points for third place, seven points for fourth place, six points for fifth place, five points for sixth place, four points for seventh place, three points for eighth place, two points for ninth place and one point for 10th place. Eight drivers in the 2005 NASCAR Preseason Top 10 competed in the inaugural Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

Johnson received 1,765 points and 87 first-place votes. Trailing him by only 25 points in second is Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), who received 1,740 points and 65 first-place votes. Third place in the 2005 NASCAR Preseason Top 10 belongs to Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet), who received 1,355 points and 25 first-place votes. Only eight points separate Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) and Busch for fourth and fifth place, respectively. Stewart received 1,030 points and seven first-place votes while Busch received 1,022 points and five first-place votes.

As for the rest of the 2005 NASCAR Preseason Top 10, sixth-place Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) received 844 points and nine first-place votes. In seventh place is Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), the defending Raybestos Rookie of the Year. Kahne, who received 707 points and one first-place vote, didn't make the inaugural Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, but he has been voted to the 2005 NASCAR Preseason Top 10.

In eighth place is 2003 series champion Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWALT Industrial Tools Ford). Kenseth received 657 points and no first-place votes. Behind Kenseth, in ninth place, is Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge), the second driver who didn't make the inaugural Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, but has been voted to the 2005 NASCAR Preseason Top 10. McMurray received 546 points and two first-place votes.

Tenth in the 2005 NASCAR Preseason Top 10 media voting is Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford), who's beginning his final fulltime season. He received 453 points and four first-place votes.  NASCAR

New F1 cars harder to drive New F1 cars harder to driveIt seems the lower downforce aerodynamics mandated for this year's F1 cars have made the cars much harder to drive.  There have been many crashes in winter testing.  “The cars today are much more difficult to control, even in a straight line,” Rubens Barrichello said. “But it is in the turns that it becomes very complicated. One will have to adapt.”
South Africa gets Free-to-air coverage South Africa gets Free-to-air coverageSouth African state broadcaster the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has seemingly relented to pressure and decided to cover Formula One this season after all. In December last year it was revealed that SABC had failed to renew their contract with Bernie Ecclestone's FOM company for the rights to broadcast the series live and that satellite broadcaster Dstv had secured the exclusive rights.

In a statement early last week, which failed to gain much publicity, SABC announced that they had secured a deal whereby every race would be shown late in the evening on the Sunday of each race on its SABC 2 channel and not SABC 3 as was the case previously.

SABC has brought live F1 coverage to viewers between the mid-1980's and the end of last season. During the last three years this was shared between the Corporation and Dstv, but according to reports the SABC had lost many viewers and consequently advertising income during this period. It was reported in December last year that SABC had not renewed its contract with FOM because of high costs, but with many people in the country not able to afford the satellite service subscription it is believed that pressure from F1 fans has brought about the change of heart.
"The SABC will be broadcasting Formula One this year after striking a deal giving the Corporation access to delayed telecasts,” a SABC statement read. "The full race will be broadcast on the day of the race at 23h00. The broadcast will now be on SABC 2 and not on SABC 3 as has been the case in the past.”

"'We are happy with the arrangement we have been able to reach. Unfortunately a deal to broadcast the race live that was viable for both the SABC and the FIA could not be reached. We've endeavored and have now found a solution that leaves the viewer as the winner,” said Yusuf Nabee of SABC Sport Programming.

"We believe this relationship has a prosperous future and this can again only be good news for the South African racing fan,” Nabee continued. "So all Formula One fans can now look forward to one of world sport's true spectacles - the Formula One racing season - courtesy of what will be one of the country's best produced television packages.”

Dstv will continue broadcasting all sessions of each race, including practice and qualifying, live on its Supersport 2 channel, available only to satellite viewers in South Africa and a number of other countries on the African continent. Hendrik Verwoerd

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Ralf's new F1 man
Alonso 'flattered' Schu
Max mocks F1 'danger' fear
Bernie's crack legal team
British TV's new F1 sponsor

Saturday is RBR 'D-day'
'Smooth' JB to ace F1 rule
Schu back on track
Oz GP facing 'mass boycott'
Toyota renovate 2005 car
BAR 'back on track' - JB
Ferrari owner in cash boost
Ex-Jag tester slams F1
Champ Car's tougher - CdM
F1 on road to radical future
'Reliable' racers
'05 tire 'may not make it'
Da Matta compares F1 to Champ Car Da Matta compares F1 to Champ CarIn this GP2005.com interview, Cristiano da Matta says (excerpts),

Cristiano, welcome back to the series, and I guess you'll get a lot of practice at moving that funny thing people call a gear shift lever in a Champ Car after having dealt with paddles and the like for a couple of years.
........I'm going to find a little bit difficult to come back to 100% with Champ Car will be I think the power steering that I had in the F1, I don't have in the Champ Cars. I think this is going to -- I'm probably going to have a sore arm on the first couple of days of testing.........

You spent a couple of years in maybe the most competitive form of racing in the industry. Did you come out of that maybe a better driver do you think, and when you come into the Champ Car series now, do you feel any more confidence than you had before when you left?
.......Definitely in Formula 1, I was able to see a lot of different things, not necessarily good or bad, but I was able to see many things that are maybe done in a different way than they are done here in American racing. And that was very interesting for me, not only on the technical side, also as far as driving style goes because the Formula 1 car requires a slightly different driving style than the Champ Car........

Is there one thing that you bring to the table now that maybe you didn't have before? You said you had learned several things; can you talk about what one of those things might be?
It's difficult to mention one thing, it's all details in driving, especially braking and corner entry. Maybe I've learned in there how to do this part of the cornering a couple of different ways instead of doing in the always classical way, always trying to brake as straight as you can and then turning in. Things that I didn't used to do before, I think I struggled a little bit in the F1 car in my first couple of tests. But if you ask me if I think this is going to change my complete way of driving, I don't think so, but racing in Champ Cars is full of details. The cars are all the same, the engines are all the same. It's all about the setups, setting up the cars, working with the engineers. And I feel like I have a few details, like nothing big, but I have a few details that I feel I'm a little bit better than I was when I left here.

In America we have an old saying, especially in the south that sometimes we think the grass is greener on the other side; apparently you thought so when you went to Formula 1. How long were you in Formula 1 when you said to yourself, or did you say to yourself, "Gee, I wish I'd have stayed right where I was in Champ Car"?

...............When I went over here in 2002, I was 100% happy in America. I never wanted to race anything else, but Champ Car at that time was -- nobody knew exactly what was going to happen to Champ Car in 2003. And at the same time, I had this opportunity to go and drive Formula 1 for a couple of years. So it was the kind of thing that it was here a bit uncertain. ............I always liked Champ Car better. And I say that for years, I say that now not because I am back in Champ Cars. Ask one of my teammates that I had in the past, Oriol Servia, he always said to me, "Man, you cannot say this, now you are going to Formula 1, you always said that you didn't like it over there, you like it over here." I says, "Yeah, but here we don't know what's going to happen next year." And I really like Champ Cars and I never thought that the grass was going to be greener over there.

What is it about Champ Cars that you like?
I just like the rules. I like the fact that the driver with his engineers, with his team can make a much bigger difference than any other series you can imagine. I mean, any other top series.............What I like here is if you get to the racetrack and you are not on the pace, everything you need to make that car on the pace for the next day, everything is in the truck. It's just a combination of springs and shocks and let's say, suspension, geometries and aerodynamic settings. Everyone has basically the same things. So if you're slow, you'd better get back on the truck and think a little bit more with your engineers and your mechanics. The answer is there; you just have to find. Obviously, it's not easy, but this is what I like about it. You always, every race weekend you go to, have the hope that you can win the race, you always have the chance to win the race, because everyone at the end of the day, everyone has the same cars. The difference is all setup. This is very interesting I think. It's one of the top two or three series in the whole world as far as open-wheel goes. This is very exciting. This is why I like it here so much.

Cristiano, which is more physical, Formula 1 or Champ Car?
Well, the Formula 1 car is a lot easier physically than the Champ Cars. Formula 1 is just more difficult on the neck, because usually you drive road courses with long corners, so it can become quite tough on the neck with the G-forces that you are pulling. The Champ Car, because of the braking being it's manual brakes and you have to use more power to decelerate the car, you don't have power steering, you have to shift the gears, you have slick tires, that all adds load to the steering wheel, and, of course, to your body, too. So you are using more all of your muscles to drive the race car, and that, of course, makes your heartbeat go up. So I imagine in an F1 race, if the average heart rate for me for example would be around 150, 160, in a Champ Car race it would be more 160, 175. It would be a little harder physically apart from the neck.......

Cheever says the IRL is like "old CART" Cheever says the IRL is like "old CART"In this ESPN.com article, Eddie Cheever makes some controversial quotes - Eddie Cheever is certainly one team owner who subscribes to George's vision. And with Toyota engines and new recruit Patrick Carpentier on board, Red Bull Cheever Racing is the obvious candidate for 'Most Improved IndyCar Team' honors in 2005...................."It takes awhile for everybody that comes from CART to get used to the different atmosphere of the IRL," Cheever said. "I don't mean that in a negative way; it just takes some time to get all that 'I am a superstar' out of their system. Let's get down to some real strong grassroots racing like we have here.

Despite being an early and fervent supporter of the IndyCar Series, Cheever is alarmed by the escalating costs in the 'grassroots' series. "[Costs] are at the old CART, which is not healthy," Cheever said. "The history of that is unhealthy, but there are two sides to that coin. I believe that the IRL is the most technically advanced form of racing in the United States [Eddie can be quite the comedian at times, the most technically advanced, too funny] and it has to set itself apart from NASCAR. But we have to draw a line. We don't have carburetors; we have computers on board.

"On the other hand, we cannot be like Formula 1, which is silly. There are countries in South America that don't have a GNP as large as the Ferrari F1 team. We have to find some formula that works here.

"I think having Toyota and Honda has done a lot of good technically in this series," he added. "They have pushed the limit to look for perfection and made us dig deeper. But the sad thing is that has escalated our costs at a higher rate than we have been able to attract new fans [Given the plummeting TV ratings for three straight years, one can argue they are losing, not gaining, fans faster than the costs are rising]. So we're out-pricing ourselves in the market. We have to reevaluate what we are doing and come up with a paradigm that works. The only teams that really scraped through are ourselves, Dreyer & Reinbold and Panther. We're trying to hang on, but all of the CART [Notice he won't say "Champ Car", but instead says CART repeatedly so as not to give Champ Car any "free" advertising]  teams have carried forward the support they had from Toyota and Honda. Without the Honda and Toyota support for those CART teams, they would be gone too." [They would not have gone there in the first place if Toyota and Honda didn't write them big checks.]

Matsuura raises the bar for sophomore year Matsuura raises the bar for sophomore yearKosuke Matsuura was virtually unknown in North American auto racing circles a year ago. But after a 16-race IndyCar Series season that included winning the Bombardier Rookie of the Year award, name recognition has markedly improved.

It was in November 2003 that Matsuura impressed Super Aguri Fernandez Racing principals Aguri Suzuki and Adrian Fernandez during an audition at Phoenix International Raceway. That was quite a feat in itself before the discerning eyes of a former Formula One driver (Suzuki) and a veteran driver who would go on to win three IndyCar Series events in 2004.

Matsuura continued to impress as his experience and comfort level on the ovals expanded. He had a best finish of fourth at Kentucky in August, recorded four top-10 finishes and was named Bank One Rookie of the Year for the 88th Indianapolis 500. All in all, it was quite an accomplishment for a driver in his first season of oval racing. Matsuura had competed in the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup Championship and the German Formula 3 Championship in 2001-03, and had been a part of the driver development program (Autobacs Racing Team) founded by Suzuki.

Matsuura has raised his personal bar for 2005. He’s comfortable in the car, with his crew and engineer. He’s also more comfortable after a year living and traveling in the United States.

“My goal for 2005 is to be a championship contender and get my first win in the IndyCar Series,” the Aichi, Japan, native said. “I’ve learned and the team has grown from all the experiences from last year, so I would like to show the improvements and better performances.”

Suzuki and Fernandez bolstered Matsuura’s confidence by announcing before the season’s penultimate race at California Speedway that he would be in the No. 55 Honda-powered Panoz in 2005.

“Adrian and I are very excited about the start of the 2005 IndyCar Series season,” managing director Tom Anderson said. “Road courses being added to the schedule is a challenge for all -- Honda, Panoz, the team and certainly Kosuke. Kosuke has now driven all the ovals and we are sure to be more competitive at all the events this season. “We have been able to add to our team this season with more personnel and now Adrian will have more time to help Kosuke. This will be our best year.”
Stewart to drive Mr. Clean car Stewart to drive Mr. Clean carProcter & Gamble today announced a six-race deal with Kevin Harvick Inc. for its Mr. Clean AutoDry Pro-Series Carwash to serve as the primary sponsor for the No. 33 NASCAR Busch Series Chevrolet this season. Tony Stewart will drive the car during the six races, beginning with Saturday's Hershey’s Take 5 300 at Daytona Int'l Speedway.
Schumacher tests wet Bridgestones at Valencia Schumacher tests wet Bridgestones at ValenciaFirst day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, working today at the “Ricardo Tormo” circuit in Valencia, Spain. At the wheel of an F2004 M, Michael Schumacher worked on a technical program centered on general set-up work on the car, as well as development of Bridgestone tires, on an artificially watered track. The German driver completed a total of 169 laps, all of them on the short version of the track. Therefore, no lap times were published. The Scuderia continues testing tomorrow, switching to Barcelona, with Michael Schumacher driving once again. Ferrari
NASCAR working hard to monopolize Mexico NASCAR working hard to monopolize MexicoUPDATE #2 Promotion of the NASCAR race took another step up over the weekend in Mexico. With soccer being the most popular sport in the country, the promoters of the race have engaged the TV commentators, who are repeatedly reminding soccer fans of the race in Mexico City between plays. Their goal - to sell all 150,000 grandstand seats available for the event. Jose Arrambide 02/14/05 This is one of the cars being used to promote the upcoming NASCAR Busch race in Mexico City. In typical NASCAR fashion of doing things the right way, the city has been papered with NASCAR advertising. 02/12/05 Just arrived from a trip to Mexico City and witnessed first hand how hard NASCAR is working to do whatever it takes to take control of this country's racing fans. Mexico’s airports are full of NASCAR ads, and of course advertising the Busch series race in Mexico City in March. There is no way to escape NASCAR if you fly into this country. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico [Editor's Note: Recall our rumors from 3 months ago that Nextel Cup will race in Mexico City as early as 2006 as NASCAR looks to take over the Mexico market from Champ Car.  It will be interesting to see whether Champ Car can protect their market share in Mexico.  That depends on how much interest there is in Champ Car by the Mexican fans and that is 100% dependent on whether a Mexican driver is winning races or getting up on the podium regularly.]
Champ Car announces ’05 rule changes Champ Car announces ’05 rule changesIn an ongoing effort to provide the best racing and most entertainment for Champ Car fans, as well as the best competitive environment for the teams and drivers of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, the series has implemented a number of rule changes that will go into effect for the 2005 season.

The rule changes address issues both on the track and in the paddock and are designed to allow teams to invoke a wide variety of strategies in their pursuit of the checkered flag. Other changes were designed to increase activity throughout the weekend in order to give the multitudes of Champ Car fans more on-track action to watch when they come to an event.

Pit intervals and mandatory pit stops have been abolished this season, meaning that teams no longer have any directives on when they must pit and what they must do during that stop. The previous rules forced teams to pit at specified intervals and forced teams to change four tires during that stop.

“The goal is to take it out of the hands of the officials and put the onus back on the teams,” said Champ Car Vice-President of Operations Tony Cotman. “There’s definitely more than one way to win a race, and we want to leave it up to our teams to find the best way for them to get to the front.”

Rules regarding full-course caution periods have been addressed, with the pits being automatically closed during full-course yellow flag conditions. The pace car will slow the field as soon as possible once the caution flag waves, allowing the Champ Car Safety Team to address the situation. When conditions warrant, Race Control will open the pits so that all cars may pit at their discretion.

“One main point here is, once we have a full-course caution, all racing ceases,” Cotman explained. “We want to give the Safety Team every opportunity to do their job safely.”

The Friday and Saturday morning practice sessions will be shortened by 15 minutes, a move that is expected to lead to more on-track activity as teams will spend more of their morning hour on the track working on their machines. The process of determining where they sit on Pit Lane has been changed as well, with pit selection order set by the previous event’s results instead of qualifying order as it had been in the past.

“Any team can have a good day at any given time and we want to reward them when they do have a good event,” said Cotman. “Anything can happen in a race whether it be good or bad, and we want a team to get something out of it for their efforts when they do well.”

The rules concerning a wet track have been abolished as well for 2005. Previously, teams would have an unlimited number of qualifying laps if Race Control called a wet track prior to the session. Now, teams will only have 15 laps to use (for each qualifying session) regardless of track conditions.

Ecclestone hires prestigious attorney Ecclestone hires prestigious attorneyRichards Butler has scooped prestigious first-time instructions from Bernie Ecclestone in the ongoing litigation regarding the future ownership of Formula 1 motor racing.  Litigation partner David Warne and Ali Malik QC of 3 Verulam Buildings are advising the Formula 1 head honcho on his latest bout with the banks, which own a 75 per cent stake in the commercial rights to Formula 1.

A source at Richards Butler said the appointment reaffirmed the standing of the firm's commercial disputes practice following the recent departures of litigation stars Lista Cannon to Fulbright & Jaworski and John Hull to Latham & Watkins.

Richards Butler has been called in following a High Court defeat for Ecclestone's companies at the end of last year. In that dispute Ecclestone instructed Lovells, with Murray Rosen QC and Nicholas Parfitt of 11 Stone Buildings, and the firm continues to assist with the latest action, which is scheduled for 10 days in May.

The banks - Bayerische Landesbank, Lehman Brothers and JPMorgan Chase - inherited their shareholding when German media group Kirch went bankrupt in 2002. The banks aim to take control of the Formula 1 board. The dispute revolves around a deal Ecclestone cut to gain control of the board in 2002.

White & Case partner Alistair Graham is advising the banks with Elisabeth Jones QC and Nicholas Harrison of Serle Court.   Richards Butler declined to comment. White & Case and Lovells were unavailable for comment. The Lawyer

Norbert Siedler to test Champ Car Norbert Siedler to test Champ CarOne year after his first Formula 1 experience in a Minardi Norbert Siedler is preparing for his maiden test in a 750 hp Champ Car on the Miami-Raceway at Homestead next Tuesday (22nd Feb.).

Two years ago the Austrian hotshoe had already been in contact with Walker Racing, the team of former Penske VP Derrick Walker, and now the time has come for taking the first laps in the quickest American single-seater.

"We definitely want to get a clear picture of this series", says Siedler, looking forward to show his driving skills and convinced that Champ Car could be an option for him, after Gerry Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven have taken over its management. Two million race attendees, action-packed events and live coverage on the NBC and CBS prove that the former IndyCar-Series is on the way up again.

Even in Europe the situation has changed positively after a live-TV package with Eurosport has been announced recently. "The series is extremely well promoted and therefore it would be a perfect marketing platform for Norbert's sponsors", claims his manager, Edi Nikolic, "but there are also some other discussions up in the air, one even combined with a testing package in Formula 1." Within the next 3 weeks Siedler wants to make his choice. Norbert Siedler PR

Female racer tests Toyota Atlantic car Female racer tests Toyota Atlantic carThe unseasonably rainy weather over the past week in Arizona may have made 24-year-old British racer Katherine Legge feel more at home, but she was hoping for slightly drier conditions in her first Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama test session.

The talented, young open-wheel driver spent half of the day last Wednesday getting familiar with the 240 HP Atlantic machine and the other half dodging rain drops at the 1.2-mile Firebird East road circuit near Phoenix as heavy rainfall settled into the area and continued throughout the weekend. Legge tested with the Chardon, Ohio-based Polestar Racing Group team and, despite the inclement weather, the determined native of Guildford, England ran very well as she logged 120 miles in her maiden Atlantic voyage.

“I thought it went pretty well. The car was brilliant and the Polestar team was so professional and very helpful,” said Legge (pictured right). “I feel that (the Toyota Atlantic Championship) is where I want to be right now. It’s a great race car and if I can get in with a good team this will be a good situation where I can up my game.”

Legge has gained a reputation as one of the fastest female drivers in Europe over the past several years competing in the Formula Ford, British Formula 3 and British Formula Renault racing series. Last season, she ran in the North American Formula Renault championship and finished 10th in the final series standings.

“I thought Katherine did a really good job. She got in the car and got right to it and she got down to competitive lap times right away,” said Polestar owner Jim Griffith, who has helped develop many talented drivers in his 12 plus years in the Toyota Atlantic Championship. “She wasn’t nervous and was very professional and she gave us some good feedback on the car. We just started to make some changes to the car when, unfortunately, the rain started coming down.”

Legge, who also won several karting titles growing up in Europe, hopes to be on the Atlantic grid when the 32nd season of Atlantic competition gets underway April 8-10 at the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Polestar Racing Group will continue its testing program this week as another promising up-and-coming driver, Adam Pecorari, will run for the squad at Firebird. Pecorari, a 20-year-old American, competed in the final two races of the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2004, earning a ninth-place finish at Montreal before finishing 14th in the season finale at Laguna Seca. With drier conditions expected in Arizona over the next few days, plans call for Pecorari to test all day on Tuesday with the Polestar team.

Papis gets first taste of Daytona oval Papis gets first taste of Daytona ovalUPDATE Max Papis, the 2004 Grand American Road Racing co-champion, took his first laps on the 2.5-mile, high-banked oval portion of the Daytona International Speedway Thursday in preparation for his first run in the Crown Royal International Race of Champions.

The Como, Italy native has logged many miles on the 3.56-mile Daytona road course in various sports cars, but his first practice today revealed the Daytona oval to be a bit more challenging than he had anticipated.  Papis said,   “Today was my first experience on the oval at Daytona. It was definitely very different from what I expected. That Turn 2, you actually go through an acceleration. It was very tough, definitely very tight. It was a great experience. Now I know what bump-drafting is.

The Superspeedway driving style proved a bit more challenging than Papis anticipated, he continued, “ It is definitely a lot more demanding than what people told me. There is a lot of driving involved, a lot of finesse and thinking about it, and to me, it was just a dream come through. After being here in ’96 and watching the NASCAR Cup cars driving around from the grandstands, and now being in an IROC car, it’s really something cool. “

NASCAR’s Bobby Hamilton and World of Outlaws driver, Danny Lasoski, joined Papis on the track.  “I was out with Bobby Hamilton and Danny Lasoski, drafting, it was pretty cool,” said Papis.  ‘The Dude’ was bump-drafting me. He is a really good guy. I’m sure I’m going to leave next Friday with a lot more experience. I am in their turf. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can.”  Papis is hoping his past oval experience will help his run for the checkered flag in the IROC season opener Friday, Feb. 18.  Papis said, “My first-ever win in the U.S. was an oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway in an Indy Car in 1999. You never now, maybe coming here next Friday, I can have built up enough experience that I can repeat it.”

SPEED Channel will broadcast Race 1 of the 2005 Crown Royal International Race of Champions live on Friday, Feb. 18 at 6:00 p.m. ET. Max Papis PR

02/13/05 Many drivers invited to participate in the International Race of Champions opted to let test drivers take their cars around in Friday practice sessions at Daytona International Speedway. But one who opted to do the driving himself was Max Papis, and for good reason.  He earned his way into the IROC competition as the 2004 Grand American Rolex Series co- champion, and has never driven at DIS. Not on the oval, anyway.

Also, Papis is eager to prove himself worthy of joining the NASCAR circuit and is seeking an invitation from a team in need of a driver. Faring well in the IROC would go a long way in receiving recognition that could help him achieve his goal.

``It was definitely very different than what I expected,'' Papis said of his first laps around the speedway. ``That Turn 2, you actually go through an acceleration. Now I know what bump-drafting is.''

Papis first developed an itch for NASCAR competition as a spectator at Daytona in 1996. Now he's getting a chance to race against many of the sport's top drivers, including 2004 Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch.

``It is definitely a lot more demanding than what people told me,'' Papis said. ``There is a lot of driving involved, a lot of finesse and thinking about it. It was just a dream come true.'' Tampa Tribune

Industry News
Wind Tunnel kicks off new season Sunday Wind Tunnel kicks off new season SundayWind Tunnel with Dave Despain kicks off its new season Sunday, Feb. 20 at 9 p.m. ET. For 2005, the new two-hour format will include a weekly rotating cast of in-studio guest "co-hosts," in addition to the popular featured guest interviews Despain has had in the past. As always, fans are encouraged to send their questions and comments for Dave, the co-host, or the featured guests to windtunnel@speedtv.com or they can call the show LIVE at 866-W-TUNNEL.  SPEED Channel analyst Robin Miller will co-host the first show on Feb. 20, with NASCAR legend David Pearson scheduled as Dave's first guest of 2005.
Industry News
GM to pay off Fiat GM to pay off FiatGeneral Motors will pay Fiat, the parent company of Ferrari, two billion dollars as part of the settlement over the ‘Master Agreement’ in which GM had expected to take over the Italian car company, should Fiat put it on the market, between 2005 and 2009.

"GM and Fiat have agreed that it is in the best interest of their companies and shareholders to terminate the Master Agreement," said GM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner in a press release. "GM has derived significant benefits from its association with Fiat Auto, including the accelerated development of diesel engines, cost savings and the joint development of certain vehicle programs. With this settlement, our overall financial returns will have been favorable.”

"We believe that we have reached a fair and equitable agreement that enables both companies to maintain a high level of synergy savings, but in a more focused approach that gives each of us more freedom to act in today's competitive environment,” Wagoner said.

Earnhardt Jr. relegated to also-ran status Earnhardt Jr. relegated to also-ran statusDale Earnhardt Jr. is an also-ran.  That's right, an also-ran.  NASCAR's most popular driver is nothing without an engine making lot's of horsepower.  On the no-talent-required restrictor plate tracks where drivers run 100% throttle, Earnhardt Jr. is a back marker now.  Talent, or lack thereof, will get him nowhere on tracks where horsepower is king.

Despite DEI's rich restrictor plate pedigree, Earnhardt Jr ran only 41st fastest in practice and stated that while his #8 Budweiser Chevrolet performed well in the all important draft, on its own his car simply can't contend with many others.

“We're way, way down on horsepower,” said Earnhardt Jr, who will start 21st in Thursday's opening Gatorade 150. “And that's just the simple fact of it. The car races really well in the draft. If everything works fine, we'll have a good race on Thursday and get up front sooner or later. But, to run by ourselves, we need more steam underneath the hood. I've kind of seen it coming and the test wasn't that good.

"We've been real slow since we've been here,” continued Junior, who finished seventh in Saturday's Bud Shootout after recovering from engine worries in the first segment. “We were slow in the test. So our expectations have been pretty low as far as qualifying. We picked up a little bit so that made the team happy. We picked up about a tenth. But we didn't expect to be real high on the board."

Wilson off to flying start Wilson off to flying startJustin Wilson had his first test with RuSPORT at Sebring on 4 and 5 February and the team showed that it will be a force to be reckoned with when the Champ Car season gets underway on April 10 in Long Beach.

During its two days on the Florida track the team was able to assess the fruits of its development work on the Lola-Cosworth over the winter. From Justin’s perspective the test was also his first real opportunity to get comfortable in the car and develop the all-important relationship between driver, engineer and crew.

The RuSPORT drivers posted the top two times in a test that also involved the crack Newman/Haas squad, PKV Racing, Rocketsports and Justin’s former team Mi-Jack Conquest.

Times were unofficial, but reported to Champ Car officials by Cosworth Racing engineers. Teammate A.J. Allmendinger set the fastest time of the test with a lap of 50.64 seconds on Sunday and Justin was close behind on 50.90, matching the best effort of Newman/Haas’s Bruno Junqueira. Closing the gap to Newman/Haas is a target for every Champ Car team, so not surprisingly the mood amongst the Colorado-based team is one of quiet confidence as they continue preparations for their second season in the series.

“I’m really pleased with the way it went, especially since we were working on development rather than set-up”, said Wilson. “In the last couple of years I’ve hardly had any pre-season testing, so it’s great to be able to start preparing so early”, he added. Justin was also full of praise for his new team. “It’s incredibly well-organized. One of the most important things was for Todd [Molloy, Justin’s engineer] and I to start understanding how each of us thinks and works – what I want from the car and so on – and for me to get to know the crew. It feels good.” The team has further tests planned for March in the run-up to Long Beach.

Petty Seeing Results With Evernham Engines Petty Seeing Results With Evernham EnginesPetty, who has gone 362 races without a pole and 290 without a victory, had the third-fastest lap, at 188.312 mph, during the second practice session. Earnhardt, who has been dominant on restrictor-plate tracks at Daytona and Talladega, was 41st.  The Petty Enterprise car of Jeff Green was 17th fastest, giving the teams of seven-time Cup champion Richard Petty a much-needed morale boost.  “After four or five years, to come out after the first day and both cars be in the top 20 all day long, it’s a huge morale booster for the guys at the shop,” Kyle Petty said. Petty said Saturday’s success was a direct result of changes Petty Enterprises made after two of three Petty cars failed to make the field for the July Daytona race. Those changes included new crew chiefs, a revamping of the engineering staff and the return of the Dodge Charger. But the biggest change was the decision to purchase engines made by Ray Evernham Motorsports. Petty referred to the engines he used the past few years with Mike Ege as his builder as “junk.” The State
Biffle Fire on Pit Road Biffle Fire on Pit Road Sitting in his motorhome watching qualifying on television, Greg Biffle learned his shot at winning the pole had gone up in flames — literally.  Biffle’s No. 16 Ford caught fire while sitting on pit road because of a short circuit in an oil tank line. The fire was put out, but much of the cockpit was charred in a car Biffle considered strong. He still made his qualifying lap, ending up 14th, and a little nauseous from the experience.  “I knew that there was going to be some of the fire extinguisher chemical inside the car and it was the worst taste ever in my mouth,” Biffle said. “That was the most thing I was worried about making my qualifying laps was that it smelled so bad inside the car with all that chemical in there — under the seat and everywhere. That was probably the worst time I’ve ever been in a race car.” AP Story
Kenseth and Green Suffer Blown Engines Kenseth and Green Suffer Blown EnginesJeff Green and Biffle's teammate, Matt Kenseth, didn't get what they were looking for either. Green's engine blew up on his first lap, while Kenseth's let go on his second. Kenseth said he burned a piston, but Green wasn't sure what happened.  "Something happened and the motor started tightening up," Green said. "I thought we hit a big gust of wind, but something must have broke. I thought we had a shot at the pole or at least a top five. We've got enough points for a provisional, so we don't have to worry about Thursday anyway. NASCAR
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
'We're listening' - FIA
Minardi face Oz ban
Mexican drove Jordan car
Button: 'nearly' quickest
Ferrari to launch new F1 car
Ralf's struggling
FIA ease 'loophole' fear
Sato 'shock' at new BAR
Friesacher for Minardi
'We break down too often'
How good is F1's iceman?
'Sign up or be left out'
Indian GP back on agenda
'Paul for President' a joke
Radical 'box is legal - FIA
GP winner died
Sauber spend week at HQ
Schu's 'my hero' - F1 rookie
Test pact to fold - again
F1 set for 'breakaway' summit
Schu's team 'third best'
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