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Canadian Club returns as Andretti Green sponsor  Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Inc. and Canadian Club Canadian whisky, the number two Canadian whisky in the world, announced today that it will continue its sponsorship with Andretti Green Racing for the 2007 IndyCar Series season. Canadian Club will be the major sponsor of the No. 27 car driven by Dario Franchitti. Canadian Club, in its second season of partnership with AGR, will also be an associate sponsor on AGR's IndyCar Series entries driven by Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick. 

"We are very excited about the continuation of our partnership with Andretti Green Racing and Dario Franchitti for the 2007 season," said Dennis Prado, Canadian Club senior director.  "The Canadian Club racing program was very successful in 2006 bringing our brand to core markets through the IndyCar Series and we are looking forward to making it more effective for the brand in 2007 by becoming the major sponsor for the No. 27 car.  The IndyCar Series aligns well with the core Canadian Club brand attributes and it appeals to our target consumers."
Indy Pro champ rideless  UPDATE Interested spectators at the Indy Car test at Homestead Wednesday included a couple of Indy Pro Series veterans searching for IndyCar Series rides. 2005 Indy Pro Series champion Wade Cunningham, and 2006 champion Jay Howard were roaming the pit lane and garage area.

02/20/07 So much for the Indy Pro Series leading to opportunities.  The last two champions have no Indy Car ride.  Jay Howard, the 2006 Indy Pro Series champion, attended the first day of the Indy Pro Series Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Englishman is looking to race in the IndyCar Series after winning the championship on the strength of two victories and seven podium finishes.

“I don’t have anything yet, but there are still a few possibilities,” Howard said. “I’m sure I’ll be doing something.”

Foyt’s back, loses control again  Dan Wheldon's Turn 2 incident was his first contact with the SAFER Barrier during any test, practice or race since he was involved in an accident with Felipe Giaffone during a race at Kansas Speedway during his rookie year 2003.

A.J. Foyt IV, who is testing again with Vision Racing after leaving Indy Car racing two years ago because he crashed every week, spun in Turn 2 late in the session, but did not make any contact with the SAFER Barrier or inside wall.

Wheldon fastest, then crashes  2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon paced the first Open Test held under the lights as IndyCar Series teams completed the first of a two-day test on the oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  Wheldon, who won the last two IndyCar Series races at the variably banked 1.5-mile oval, recorded a lap of 24.8816 seconds, 214.858 mph in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara.

Wheldon, though, was involved in a single-car accident with about an hour left in session when his car made contact with the SAFER Barrier between Turns 1 and 2. He was not injured in the crash, but the damage was enough to end his testing for the day.

"I just got a little loose," Wheldon said. "It's unfortunate because the car was really quick. Both Target Chip Ganassi Racing cars were fast. We'll just have to put another one together and go back out there tomorrow."

Wheldon's lap was slightly faster than Marco Andretti in the No. 26 NYSE Group Honda-powered Dallara, who recorded a best lap of 25.0020, 213.823 mph. Scott Dixon (213.693 mph) Helio Castroneves (213.543 mph) and Dario Franchitti (213.504 mph) rounded out the day's fast five. More ...

LA newspaper slams NASCAR  The cheaters are coming, and aren't you just so excited? Those rule-bendin', death-defyin', rebel-yellin' conglomerates masquerading as simple good ol' boys.

It is Southern California's turn to host the strangest, would-be athletic event in the country. It's NASCAR, which is so huge it defies mortal logic. NASCAR, which has easily become America's most popular form of auto racing. NASCAR, which is so marketable its sponsors have sponsors. It's a phenomenon and I do not get it. I am absolutely amazed.

Guys drive around a narrow oval in supposed stock cars at ridiculous speeds, trying to squeeze into miniscule openings for hours at a time, and people are stunned when they go bouncing like pinballs?

Where is the great attraction? If you like breathtaking turns and high-speed shenanigans, drive the 405 some evening. NASCAR is the dullest major spectator activity in America. Ever actually gone to one of these goofy things? More at LA Daily News

Champ Car Slot-Car Racing Sets  UPDATE #3 Another reader writes, First of all, as always great work with the site and keeping us informed on ALL forms motorsports instead of the typical 'all NASCAR all day' most sites have evolved to now.

Just a short comment on the recent article concerning the Champ Car licensing slot car sets.  With all due respect to Mr. Corley and his experience with HO and 1/32nd scale slot car sets, I have to disagree with the assertion that Champ Car licensing with Racemasters and Tomy "misses the mark".

As background, I am a nationally known and well-respected builder and racer of HO-scale slot cars.  And while I understand the issue Mr. Corley is raising regarding the increasing popularity of 1/32nd scale slot cars in the country (I have and have raced several myself), the fact remains that the biggest advantage HO scale cars have is their compact size.  It is much easier to set up and maintain a decent sized 4-lane HO scale layout in the average home than 1/32nd scale.  This is why most scale sized 1/32nd racetracks are in commercial facilities; the size which gives you the incredible detail in the cars works against you in setting up anything in scale that approximates the length of their real-life counterparts.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy racing 1/32nd scale cars too, but it's damn hard to have a scale 2.5 mile four lane track in your basement at 1/32nd scale.  Recreating a 2.5 mile track in 1/32nd scale requires 412.5 feet of track, as compared to 206.25 feet at the HO scale of 1/64th used by the TOMY sets.  So Champ Car teaming with Tomy and Racemasters isn't such a bad move as it puts their brand in the hands of many more people.  On top of this, the typical cost of getting started with HO scale sets is lower than 1/32nd scale.  All this really equates to is more potential for exposure to a broader market, and if the buyer gets hooked on the hobby you’re also giving them the capability of building a decent size layout that can be conveniently located in their own home in a scale that allows you to expand the set to better replicate the scale of the tracks Champ Car races on.  Personally, I would say that Champ Car has accomplished exactly what it needs to IMHO.

Thanks again for the wonderful site, Mika Malehorn

02/20/07 We now hear there is also work being done on the 1/32nd scale slot car license as well, so it appears Champ Car has all their bases covered and the letter below was written without any background knowledge.

02/19/07 A reader writes, Speaking as a supporter of Champ Car and one who makes a living selling slot cars, getting aligned with a slot car manufacturer is a great idea. Unfortunately, the Champ Car marketing department once again misses the mark a bit. 1/32 scale is the biggest and fastest growing aspect of the slot car hobby. I started this business 3 years ago with $5000 of inventory. Our business (selling strictly 1/32 slot cars, track and accessories) has increased over 50 fold since then. The detail and realism of the 1/32 cars rivals die-cast models, and the upgrades to the cars and accessories for the track are limitless. You can even go digital slot car racing and race multiple cars on a 2 lane track. It is truly a hobby that will keep your interest throughout a lifetime. It is an addicting hobby and it can and does make fans of real racing. By comparison, HO is just a toy that most will forget about in short order. I looked at our 2007 catalogs hoping to see Champ Car in 1/32 scale, but they are absent. By comparison, LeMans style cars (both old and new) will be represented, and we will be stocking IRL and NASCAR ad nauseum. As in real life, oval racing in 1/32 scale gets boring real fast, even die-hard NASCAR fans soon find that out. Being a road racing series, Champ Car really needs to have a strong presence 1/32 scale, and I for one am disappointed that they won't. Jim Corley, owner

02/19/07 INDIANAPOLIS – Millions of fans around the world have grown up watching the Champ Car World Series, and now through a new partnership with AFX, those fans can bring the excitement of Champ Car racing into their own homes with a new HO Scale Champ Car slot-car set.

Champ Car has entered a multi-year licensing agreement with AFX, the leading brand of HO Scale slot cars in the hobby market, to produce race sets for the public beginning in 2007. AFX, which is distributed by Racemasters, Inc. and produced by worldwide toy manufacturer Tomy, will produce four new cars and a full-size track set this year with the promise of more cars and sets to come in future years. More ...

industry news
VW has no interest in Chrysler  Volkswagen, Europe's biggest car maker, said today it was not interested in acquiring  DaimlerChrysler's struggling US unit.  'There are no such considerations at the moment,' a spokesman  for VW said when asked whether the company wanted to acquire Chrysler or expand its partnership with the US company.  Chrysler and VW agreed last year to build the mini-van model in  the Chrysler production facility and sell it bearing the VW brand.
Rahal Letterman Racing partners with Andersen Racing  Rahal Letterman Racing (RLR) and Andersen Racing of Fairfield, N.J. announced today a partnership that will allow the two teams to field multiple entries in the 2007 Indy Pro Series, the official developmental series of the IndyCar Series.  At the core of the agreement is an opportunity for Rahal Letterman Racing to expand its driver development program and for Andersen Racing to access on and off track support from RLR.

“We feel this program is an important component to our IndyCar Series program and we feel it is important for our team to be involved in all levels of the IndyCar Series,” said Bobby Rahal, the co-owner of RLR and the 1986 Indianapolis 500 champion.  “We have been involved in developmental series programs in the past and that has certainly paid dividends in allowing us to groom the next generation of driver. I have a lot of respect for Dan Andersen and his organization.  I saw first hand in 2005, when my son Graham ran for his team in Star Mazda, their approach to fielding a feeder system entry.  Their team has shown a passion for the sport and they have the right approach in making sure things are done professionally and correct the first time.  This is the manner in which we run our IndyCar and ALMS programs and it was vitally important for us to find an IPS partner with the same approach.” More ...

tv news
SPEED to air two COT specials  SPEED will air a pair of 30-minute specials from the NASCAR “Car of Tomorrow” test sessions from Bristol on February 28 and March 1 at 7 p.m. ET.

“NASCAR is expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 cars to participate … with some teams bringing more than one car,” said Frank Wilson, SPEED VP of Production. “This is a huge test that will set the table for the rest of the NASCAR race season … how teams handle this car will go a long way toward determining the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup championship.”

John Roberts will host the SPEED coverage with analysis from 18-year NASCAR crew chief Larry McReynolds and reporting from Bob Dillner.

“SPEED was there when the first wheel was turned at Daytona testing in January and coverage of the Car of Tomorrow tests from Bristol simply reaffirms the network’s commitment to covering NASCAR in the most comprehensive way possible,” Wilson added.

Sign on I-4 gives NASCAR fans the cold shoulder  The electronic sign on the side of Interstate 4 in Florida is supposed to warn motorists of an upcoming exit. This weekend, someone reprogrammed it with a slightly different message: "NASCAR sucks. Go home."

Florida Department of Transportation officials said a prankster with the right kind of keyboard and a password changed the sign this weekend as hundreds of thousands of race fans poured into the area.

The sign -- a 7-by-10-foot movable message board -- was posted near the Saxon Boulevard exit by the eastbound lanes, DOT spokesman Steve Homan said. An employee noticed the unauthorized message late Saturday night. By Sunday morning, the sign was switched off.

Homan said employees checked to see whether the locked box that houses the sign's electronic guts was pried open. It turned out to be unlocked, but someone still needed the correct keyboard and password, which is available to highway contractors, consultants and DOT employees.

"It was clearly someone that was familiar with that operation," Homan said, though he said DOT would not try to find the culprit. "There are just people that are inclined to use our means of communicating, I guess."  Orlando Sentinel

NASCAR TV Rating analysis  In looking at the overnight TV ratings for Sunday's Daytona 500 in the 50 largest USA TV markets it becomes clear very quickly why the NFL Super Bowl's TV ratings are five times greater than the 500.  The largest markets (NY, LA, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco) are at the bottom of the chart indicating that NASCAR remains largely popular in tertiary markets and especially popular in the smaller Southeast USA markets.  This explains why the 500 saw about 17 million viewers tuned in while the Super Bowl was around 100 million.

It should also be noted below that the Indy market is third highest and the ratings above what the Indy 500 gets in Indy....further proof that Indy is now a NASCAR town and the creation of the IRL is destroying open wheel racing's crown jewel, the Indy 500, which is Americas oldest big race and for decades had the highest TV ratings.  And as long as there remains a split in open wheel racing between the IRL and Champ Car, one can expect further erosion of the Indy 500. 

RANK  MARKET (SIZE)                       ’07 RAT/SH ‘06 RAT/SH % +/-
1  Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville (36)     22.1/35  24.7/39  -10.5%
2  Greensboro (47)                           22.0/36  23.0/37  -4.3%
3  Indianapolis (25)                         21.6/37  21.2/34  1.9%
4  Charlotte (26)                            20.6/36  21.0/36  -1.9%
5  Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne (19)      20.1/33  22.7/39  -11.5%
6  Knoxville (60)                            19.8/33  19.2/31  3.1%
7  Birmingham (40)                           19.3/31  16.0/26  20.6%
8  Jacksonville (50)                         19.2/32  18.7/29  2.7%
9  Richmond-Petersburg (61)                  17.9/28  16.5/29  8.5%
10 Nashville (30)                            16.8/30  17.8/30  -5.6%
11 Tampa-St. Pete, Sarasota (12)             15.1/26  12.3/23  22.8%
12 Louisville (48)                           15.0/26  17.3/28  -13.3%
13 Columbus (32)                             14.6/25  15.2/28  -3.9%
14 Dayton (58)                               14.0/25  17.7/30  -20.9%
15 Cleveland-Akron (17)                      13.9/25  13.2/25  5.3%
16t Ft. Myers-Naples (64)                    13.6/25  15.6/28  -12.8%
16t Atlanta (9)                              13.6/25  14.5/24  -6.2%
18 Milwaukee (34)                            13.3/24  14.3/27  -7.0%
19 Norfolk (42)                              13.0/21  11.9/19  9.2%
20 Kansas City (31)                          12.6/24   9.0/17  40.0%
20 Tulsa (62)                                12.6/22  13.2/20  -4.5%
22 West Palm Beach (38)                      12.5/23  13.7/27  -8.8%
23 Raleigh-Durham (29)                       12.1/21  13.6/24  -11.0%
24 St. Louis (21)                            11.5/20  11.5/20  0.0%
25 Minneapolis-St. Paul (15)                 11.2/26  12.9/29  -13.2%
25 Cincinnati (33)                           11.2/20  14.1/27  -20.6%
27 Las Vegas (43)                            11.1/21  11.9/21  -6.7%
28 Buffalo (49)                              10.4/19  11.7/22  -11.1%
28 Memphis (44)                              10.4/17  13.3/19  -21.8%
30 Washington, DC (8)                        10.1/20   7.7/17  31.2%
31 Hartford & New Haven (28)                  9.5/18  10.2/19  -6.9%
32 Philadelphia (4)                           8.9/16   7.8/15  14.1%
32 Phoenix (13)                               8.9/18   9.6/21  -7.3%
34 Detroit (11)                               8.7/17   9.5/18  -8.4%
35 Austin (52)                                8.1/17   9.2/17  -12.0%
35 Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto (20)           8.1/19  10.3/23  -21.4%
37 Albuquerque-Santa Fe (45)                  7.9/17   8.1/18  -2.5%
38 Seattle-Tacoma (14)                        7.5/19   8.2/21  -8.5%
39 Baltimore (24)                             7.3/13   7.3/15  0.0%
40t Dallas-Ft. Worth (6)                      7.2/15   9.8/17  -26.5%
40t Houston (10)                              7.2/15   6.1/11  18.0%
42 Pittsburgh (22)                            7.1/12  12.0/22  -40.8%
43 Boston (7)                                 7.0/14   7.2/16  -2.8%
44 Oklahoma City (45)                         6.9/14  10.3/15  -33.0%
45 Denver (18)                                6.7/15   9.8/22  -31.6%
46 Salt Lake City (35)                        6.1/18   6.7/17  -9.0%
46 Providence-New Bedford (51)                6.1/12   6.9/13  -11.6%
48 Portland, OR (23)                          6.0/15   9.4/22  -36.1%
49 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (16)                  5.9/11   5.7/12  3.5%
50 Chicago (3)                                5.7/12   6.5/13  -12.3%
51 San Diego (27)                             5.6/14   6.4/15  -12.5%
52 San Antonio (37)                           5.4/11   8.4/14  -35.7%
53t New York (1)                              4.1/8    4.5/9  -8.9%
53t Los Angeles (2)                           4.1/11   4.5/11  -8.9%
55 San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose (5)         3.9/13   4.4/13 -11.4%Nielsen ratings stats compiled by Sports Business Daily

Fernandez Team Wins Acura 12-Hour "One Make Race"  SEBRING, Fla.  -  The three new Acura American Le Mans Series teams took to battle Tuesday on the legendary Sebring International Raceway in a special 12-hour "One-Make  Race" in preparation for Acura's factory LMP2 sports car racing debut, set for March 17 in the 55th annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

Staged exactly as the famed 12 Hours of Sebring event, the "One-Make Race" pitted cars from Andretti Green Racing, Highcroft Racing and Lowe's Fernandez Racing powered by identical 3.4-liter, V-8 Acura engines on the tough 3.7-mile, 17-turn Sebring circuit.

Honda Performance Development President Robert Clarke and his associates brought the Acura teams to Sebring to compete against each other and to gauge the engines and machines in race conditions. More ...

Pantano finishes Day 1 on top  Campos Grand Prix got off to a great start in 2007 testing as their lead driver Giorgio Pantano was the first and only driver to break into the 1:13s today, finishing the rain-affected afternoon session with the fastest lap of 1:13.889 to push GP2 series returnee Borja Garcia into second position for Durango.

This morning's pace-setter Timo Glock brought his iSport car home in third, almost three quarters of a second adrift of the Italian, while new boy Ricardo Risatti made an instant impression for BCN with the fourth fastest lap of the afternoon.

Andreas Zuber finished the second session of the day in fifth for is new iSport team, while Durango's Karun Chandhok was a surprise sixth as he aims to impress one of just two teams with a vacant seat for the season.

The afternoon session was a relatively quiet affair, as a post-lunch rain storm kept most drivers in their garages until late on. More ...

Wednesday: Rosberg on top in Valencia  On the third and final day of testing in Valencia it was Nico Rosberg who topped the timesheets today. Spyker driver Adrian Sutil was second fastest and only half a second away from Rosberg's time.

Pos  Driver        Team                      Time      Laps
 1.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota      (B)  1:11.919   97
 2.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari       (B)  1:12.492   47
 3.  Albers        Spyker-Ferrari       (B)  1:13.092  115
 4.  Karthikeyan   Williams-Toyota      (B)  1:14.166   59

TV News
Kevin Harvick will be a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live!  Kevin Harvick, winner of the Daytona 500, will be a guest on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show late Wednesday night.  The show airs at 12:05am-1:05am ET on ABC on Thursday, February 22.  Check local listings for your location and time zone.
HDNet begins NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series  HDNet begins NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race coverage in high definition with the Daytona 500.  The Network will televise re-airs of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races each week from Daytona to Homestead.

What: National cable network HDNet will re-air NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races, beginning with the 2007 Daytona 500, this Thursday February 22nd, 9:30 PM ET.

This NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series coverage comes as the network extends their relationship with NASCAR, including a renewed agreement to air races from the NASCAR Grand National Division in 2007.

When: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, Daytona 500 re-air, Thursday, February 22nd, 9:30PM ET.  Additional NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race re-air times are TBD.

Where: This national race re-air is available in HDTV only on HDNet. Fans who wish to see the network’s coverage of NASCAR should contact their cable or satellite provider to sign up for HDNet.

Policeman charged for chasing speeding Ferrari  A policeman who chased a speeding Ferrari down the wrong side of a motorway at 300 kilometers per hour before ramming it into a crash barrier could soon find himself in court.

The incident happened in April 2006 on the E6 road in southern Sweden. The Ferrari 360 Modena was being driven by owner Bo-Göran Sederlin to a meeting of car enthusiasts, when it met another Ferrari on the motorway. When another car started chasing the two Ferraris, Bo-Göran Sederlin says he feared that his car was about to be hijacked. In fact, the other car was an unmarked police car.

The police set up road blocks to try to catch the car, but when Sederlin reached the block he did a u-turn and drove the wrong way down the motorway. He told Aftonbladet that he still had not realized that it was the police who were trying to stop him. The police car had no blue lights and no police markings. More ...

Cheating has been a part of NASCAR since 1949  The apparent winner of the first NASCAR race was disqualified for cheating. His name was Glenn Dunnaway, and his moonshine-hauling Ford had illegal rear springs at that 1949 dirt-track race in Charlotte. The victory went to Jim Roper, who drove a Lincoln from Kansas after reading about NASCAR in the “Smilin’ Jack” comic strip.

NASCAR drivers (and teams) have been cheating ever since.

In 1965, Junior Johnson built an illegal Ford for Fred Lorenzen. It easily cleared tech because NASCAR needed it to help draw fans. NASCAR caught A.J. Foyt and Darrell Waltrip with nitrous oxide in 1976 Daytona 500 qualifying. Hoss Ellington once tried to beat inspectors with a device that bypassed the restrictor plate. Roger Penske and Bobby Allison were caught at Riverside with roller tappets in their Matador. Richard Petty’s 198th victory at Charlotte featured an oversized engine and illegal tires. Ray Evernham was fined $60,000 for an “unapproved” suspension part for Jeff Gordon in an exhibition race at Charlotte.

So the recent spate of cheating during Speed Week wasn’t unusual.   More at AutoWeek

And the winner is…  Unless you have been living on Mars for the past month, you cannot fail to have noticed that Oscar fever is gripping the media. But no one seems to have caught onto the fact that Red Bull has produced its own Action Movie Blockbuster, featuring the Scuderia Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing drivers. We don’t want to give the plot away, but let’s just say the storyline involves a scrap between the “gentlemen” in the very British Red Bull Racing team and the fearsome “gladiators” of the Italian Scuderia Toro Rosso squad.

For this epic production, David Coulthard and Mark Webber were sent off to the Czech Republic, which in true Hollywood style was supposed to look like Scotland, while Tonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed found themselves in Sofia, Bulgaria, because where else would you go if you want to find a version of the Coliseum. This is the second year that Red Bull has produced a pre-season film, known within the company as “The Mood Film,” possibly because our accountants get in a bad mood when they see the budget!

The film will be distributed to TV companies in Melbourne, at the time of the Australian Grand Prix in mid-March, and those of you who attend the Formula One Grands Prix can see it during the season, playing in our Energy Station. In the meantime, you can get a glimpse of the fun and games of filming, by looking at our photo website.

Now we know you are serious motor racing journalists, but we are sure that, like us, you have been amazed to see what the American Popular Singer, Britney Spears has done to her hair. Take a look at our photos of Scott Speed and you will see it was evidently an all-American idea. Red Bull PR

Editor's Note: Given Scott Speed is being used in this film it would indicate to us that he will drive for Toro Rosso in 2007.

NASCAR secures new licensing partner  As part of the multi-year agreement with NASCAR, Dow Automotive joins the NASCAR Automotive Licensing program. This provides the brand the opportunity to leverage the NASCAR Performance brand in their sales and marketing efforts. In addition, Dow Automotive will become the exclusive provider of ‘energy absorbing foam solutions’ for NASCAR's new safety-driven Car of Tomorrow Project.
San Jose GP attendance overstated  UPDATE There's some good news for the San Jose City Council as it sits down this week for its first hard look at the 2007-2008 budget. The local business climate has steadily improved, and with it the sales tax revenue that tanked after the dot-com crash six years ago.

Now the bad news: New accounting rules, a contaminated park and mounting problems from hiring freezes, service cutbacks and deferred maintenance have piled up into a list of unfunded demands totaling nearly $700 million.

Taken as a whole, those new programs and initiatives could eat up most of the nearly $1 billion general fund that pays for the bulk of the city's ongoing service costs.

Of course, nobody expects the city to meet all those demands, especially because San Jose expects to continue facing budget deficits for at least the next four years. In fact, only a few of those costs have to be dealt with this year.  More at San Jose Mercury News

02/11/07 The San Jose Grand Prix, which received a controversial taxpayer subsidy last year, attracted far fewer fans than organizers claimed and produced a much smaller economic impact than its backers touted, according to a city study released Friday.

The downtown road race also had the lowest economic return compared to its cost to taxpayers among six major downtown events last year, according to the study by Berkeley-based consulting firm SportsEconomics. More ...

AGR announces Sebring lineup  UPDATE A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I thought Danica Patrick was going to drive for the team at Sebring, she even tested. Doug Purdy

Dear Doug, Reports are that at the ALMS Winter Testing at Sebring in late January she was 2-3 seconds slower per lap than Bryan Herta and Dario Franchitti. Road racing isn't 100% throttle no talent required oval racing. If you can't drive it shows up real fast on the stopwatch on a road course. And if you think Danica is slow, just wait until you see Milka Duno in action if she lands the rumored Cahill ride. When she tested a Champ Car she was so slow she wasn't invited back. At least Sarah Fisher recognizes her deficiencies and will only run the ovals in the IndyCars this year. Much credit, however, goes to Katherine Legge, who has shown she can be fairly competitive with the 'men.' And before we are accused of being 'chauvinistic' let us point out that in most sports women have their own league, but 100% throttle oval racing is so easy the women can compete together with the men because it does not take much physical strength. Mark C.

02/20/07 Bryan Herta, Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti will drive the XM Radio sponsored Andretti Green Acura entry in the 12 Hours of Sebring it was announced today.
Q and A with Renault's Steve Neilsen  Renault's sporting manager Steve Neilsen talks about Renault's preparations for the upcoming F1 season, which kicks off in Australia in March...

Q: Steve, with no races on the calendar from October to March, presumably the race team have all been an enjoying an extended holiday since the end of last season?
SN: Far from it! We have had race team personnel at every test of the new year, while our colleagues on the test team have been working the night shift at the track. And last week in Barcelona, we conducted a day of intensive race weekend preparation...

Q: Hence the fireproofs and plenty of activity around the Renault garage?
SN: Exactly. There are plenty of complicated procedures during a Grand Prix weekend: the turnaround between the final practice session and the start of qualifying is very tight; the qualifying format itself has its own complexities, particularly in Q2 and Q3. There are some new faces in the team, from Heikki to new engineers who have never had to manage a full qualifying session, so it was important to give them a full run-through, and also blow out the cobwebs for the rest of the team. We did plenty of pit-stop practice as well, and we have already completed around 90 stops. More ...
ISC moving along in Washington track process  A day after Washington's governor said she didn't see the political support needed to be optimistic about a proposed race track in Kitsap County, International Speedway Corp. took its case to the state Senate.

Speaking by phone following an appearance before the Agriculture and Economic Development Committee, ISC Vice President Grant Lynch said he didn't understand why there wasn't much local support.

Lynch said there are politicians - the mayor of the city of Bremerton, which might annex the site, as well as U.S. representatives and a county commissioner - from the area who are for the proposal.

Lynch said that support, along with the approval of unions and other groups, shows that the project is a viable one for Kitsap County. He said the senate hearing went well.

"We're showing a willingness to partner with the local community and the state," Lynch said in a phone interview after the session Tuesday. "We want to partner and bring this economic development to the state."

Lynch and other supporters, including Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, were scheduled to speak to the Finance Committee of the state House of Representatives later Tuesday night.  Scenedaily.com

Industry News
Nissan to cut factory workers in Tennessee  In a rare move for a major Japanese automaker in the U.S., Nissan Motor Co. said Tuesday that it was offering a cash buyout to employees as it adjusts the product mix at its two Tennessee manufacturing plants.

The company said improved manufacturing efficiencies also led it to offer the plan to cut about 300 of 6,200 jobs at the factories. Analysts cautioned against reading the move as a sign of trouble.

"This is no big deal," said Ken Elias, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based partner at independent consulting firm Maryann Keller & Associates. "They have found some production efficiencies and they need to cut" payroll to take advantage of them.

Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn recently cited a slump in U.S. sales, especially in sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks, as one reason the company's global profit was likely to fall this year after six successive annual increases.

Québec’s Kevin Lacroix Joins Team Canada  A1 Team Canada is delighted to announce today that Québec racer Kevin Lacroix will join its driver line-up in the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport starting with next weekend’s street race in Durban, South Africa, Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th February, Round 8 of the winter-based nation versus nation series.

The 17-year-old Saint-Eustache resident, runner-up and ‘Rookie of the Year’ in last season’s North American-based Star Mazda Championship, joins the Canadian entry to fulfill rookie duties on Friday morning’s at each remaining A1GP round with regular racer, Toronto’s James Hinchcliffe, no longer eligible to run in the hour-long Rookie-Only session having exceeded six race starts this season.

Having excelled in the Formula BMW USA Championship in 2005, finishing second overall with four wins, Kevin’s graduation to the Star Mazda Championship in 2006 and early successes there led to a test with A1 Team Canada last July along with Hinchcliffe at the Pembrey Circuit in the United Kingdom. Despite having never driven anything as powerful as the 550bhp A1GP car, Lacroix proved himself to be a fast learner, picking up both the car and track to set some impressive lap times throughout his day-long test. More ...

All systems 'go' for A1GP Durban, South Africa  It’s all systems ‘Go’ for this weekend’s South African round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport around the street circuit that has been specially constructed in Durban, KwaZulu Natal.

A1 Team South Africa has confirmed that 20-year-old Adrian Zaugg, who gave South Africa its first A1GP victory in the Netherlands in round one in October, will be at the wheel of Vulindlela for the two Durban races.

Zaugg has recovered from an operation on his forearms that kept him out of the second season of A1GP for the past two months and will be making his long-awaited debut on South African soil. Alan van der Merwe, 27, who drove for South Africa in Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia, will be the reserve driver for the Durban race weekend. More ...

GM hoping for boost from Daytona 500  He has been described as the man with the toughest job in the automotive world, as one of General Motors' chief car salesmen.

Certainly, Brent Dewar, in the current economic climate, does face some very difficult issues - and he's relying on NASCAR for marketing help.

This week, he's in Daytona, leveraging Chevrolet's NASCAR properties and doing his part to "sell on Monday what wins on Sunday."

Dewar's Chevy boys certainly delivered here Sunday.

Kevin Harvick, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and Mike Wallace finished 1-2-3-4, a Daytona 500 sweep. It was GM's fifth straight Daytona 500 win.

The topping on the cake, as far as marketing goes, was that Clint Bowyer, the third Chevrolet driver in Richard Childress' camp, made all the highlight films with a fiery upside-down slide across the finish line.

"It was a wild last lap, and I knew we were all going to wreck," Bowyer, now living in the Winston-Salem area, said. "I saw them all wreck and thought I was clear, and I was almost through it, and then somebody clipped me and turned us over.

"I saw Kyle Busch (running neck-and-neck with Matt Kenseth for third) go low and Matt go high, so I went through the middle. But somebody clipped me in the right rear and away she went.  More at Winston Salem Journal

'Heidfeld' in town as Bahrain goes F1 mad  (GMM) The local media in Bahrain is getting into a high gear as the formula one circus flies into town for its hot-weather test.

Newspapers are indulging in unprecedented levels of coverage as ten of the twelve teams prepare to test on the Sakhir GP track.

The daily Bahrain Tribune reports that on Tuesday Honda became the first squad to set up its garage, after the Formula One Management jets flew in 40 tones of equipment.

Honda's Jenson Button was reportedly also spotted at the circuit.

Another local rag, Gulf Daily News, published a photograph of Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton apparently entering the arrivals' lounge at the airport, ahead of the first action on Thursday morning.

Rubens Barrichello, Mark Webber, Anthony Davidson, Scott Speed, Heikki Kovalainen and Vitantonio Liuzzi also touched down on Tuesday evening, the newspaper said, but it misspelled the name of another arrival, BMW's 'Nick Heidfleld'.

Massa to win coveted Bandini trophy  (GMM)  Felipe Massa has capped his successful 2006 season and impressive winter form by securing the coveted Lorenzo Bandini trophy.

The Ferrari driver, who won two races alongside seven time world champion teammate Michael Schumacher last year, is to be presented with the award at an event in May by the late Bandini's widow Margherita.

The ceremony usually takes place in their hometown of Brisighella, which is near Imola, on the weekend of the San Marino grand prix, but the race has been axed for 2007.

Lorenzo Bandini, the leading Italian driver of his period, was burned to death in an horror accident at Monaco in 1967.

Among previous recipients of the trophy in his name are Jenson Button, David Coulthard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher, Alex Wurz and Kimi Raikkonen.

New Aguri, old Honda are 'different' - Fry  (GMM)  The last 2007 car to be unveiled is "different" to the 2006 Honda, according to the team boss Nick Fry.

Super Aguri is supported significantly by the Japanese carmaker, but despite the close relationship Honda team principal Nick Fry played down suggestions that the 'SA07' will be simply a copy of the 2006 works car.

Leafield based Aguri has been testing all winter with what is effectively last year's Honda, and the team is not due to unveil its new racer until mere days prior to the first race.

Amid the heightening argument over so called 'customer cars', observers suggest that the late launch is designed to give Super Aguri's critics little time to mount formal protests. More ...

Wurz still on top as Williams admit error  (GMM) Spyker and Williams on Tuesday tested under an overcast sky at Valencia on Tuesday.

On day two of the three day run in Spain, Alex Wurz again topped the times, after Williams' press office explained that timing information provided on Monday was wrong.

Team test driver Kazuki Nakajima was originally credited for having set the best lap of the day ahead of Wurz, but in fact he had been more than a second off the pace.

Nico Rosberg replaced the Japanese on Tuesday, as Malaysian rookie Fairuz Fauzy joined the fray for Spyker and collected enough mileage for his mandatory FIA Super License.

With the quickest Spyker runner Christijan Albers nearly two seconds off Wurz's pace, however, Mike Gascoyne admitted: "We are struggling to make the tires work on the first lap."

The test concludes on Wednesday, when Williams' second test driver Narain Karthikeyan is scheduled to replace Wurz.

Change of TV broadcasters for Aussie race  The Seven network will broadcast this year's Indy, ending an impasse that threatened the future of the Surfers Paradise motorsport event. The new television deal comes as Indy and V8 Supercar bosses begin talks to extend the event to 2013.

Seven's commitment to the Champ Car race means viewers will now provide more coverage of the American-based open wheel series race than the network it succeeded, Network Ten.

V8 Supercars boss Tony Cochrane said yesterday the Champ Cars would be covered by V8 Supercars Television after a financial agreement had been stitched up with the Gold Coast Motor Events company, which jointly runs Indy with IMG.

He said the TV arm of V8 Supercars had struck a two-year deal with Indy bosses to provide broadcasting. "We have agreed to begin the renegotiation process to take the event from 2009-2013," he said. GC Bulletin

Mutoh tops Indy Pro testing at Homestead  UPDATE Absent from the Indy Pro Series for three seasons, it didn't take long for Super Aguri Panther Racing to show that it plans to return from Mark Taylor's championship campaign in 2003 as a title contender in 2007.

On a day that saw a record 23 driver/car combinations participate in the season's first Open Test, Panther rookie Hideki Mutoh topped the time chart with a quick lap of 1 minute, 16.1559 seconds, 104.470 mph on the 12-turn, 2.21-mile road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"My grandfather had a great statement, 'Life's a people sport,' " Panther co-owner John Barnes said. "We've got really good people in this program with (engineer) Blair (Perschbacher) and (crew chief) John (Worth). Hideki is a great rising star for open-wheel racing. We attack this thing like we do everything else - to win. We look forward to this year."

Mutoh (left), who was atop the chart for most of the afternoon session, saw two-time race winner Alex Lloyd pass him with seven minutes to go. Mutoh went back out for one more lap and clicked off his best of the day.

"It was a good day," said Mutoh, a 24-year-old who won Japan's Formula Dream championship in 2003. "We changed the car from the morning session, and it was really good. I was very comfortable with the car. I'm very happy. I knew Alex had taken the top spot. I knew I only had one chance, just one lap, so I just concentrated for one lap and made it. This is good for the team, good motivation for the first race." More ...

NASCAR.com partners with Army Guard  NASCAR.COM, the premier online destination for NASCAR enthusiasts, today announced that it has joined forces with the Army National Guard to give race fans a season-long virtual ride-along with the No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevrolets piloted by Hendrick Motorsports driver Casey Mears in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.  Using a driver-specific version of NASCAR.COM's revolutionary new TrackPass RaceView, an interactive racing application that features animation similar to that of popular sports video games, fans can follow Mears and the progress of the No. 25 car throughout each race of the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.  Fans can log on to NASCAR.COM to register for the custom-designed application which will be provided free of charge through the National Guard partnership; a standard subscription to TrackPass RaceView is $12.95/mo or $79.95/yr.
Hornish attempting 2nd Busch start  Sam Hornish will attempt his second Busch Series race of the season this weekend at California Speedway.

Hornish, who has won two Indy races at the track in Fontana but has never driven a stock car there, is competing part time for Penske Racing in the series this season.

"I am really excited to get out to California Speedway, because I have some special memories there in open wheel," Hornish said. "With the limited experience I have in the Busch car, it's going to be nice to go to a track that I know and feel comfortable at."

track news
Daytona 500 Finish Sparks Ticket Sales for TMS  The controversial finish in Sunday’s Daytona 500 has piqued the interest of racing fans 1,172 miles away from Daytona International Speedway. Since Sunday’s season-opening race won by Kevin Harvick, Texas Motor Speedway has witnessed a significant increase in ticket sales from a year ago for its Samsung 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race weekend scheduled for April 12-15. Texas Motor Speedway recorded an increase of 20 percent Sunday and 38 percent Monday over last year’s sales during the same two-day period. “Controversy, mixed with some drama and the freshness of a new season, charged up Texas Motor Speedway fans the past two days and we hope the trend continues,” Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. “Heck, I’ll take controversy for the next five or so weeks if ticket sales can remain like this.” Tickets, including some prime seating on the frontstretch, remain available for the Samsung 500 race weekend that will feature the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and Busch Series. For tickets, call the TMS ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or go online to texasmotorspeedway.com
Acura to sponsor St. Pete race  The Acura Division of American Honda Motor Company will be the title sponsor of the first American Le Mans Series race to be held in St. Petersburg, Fla., in March. The Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg will be the feature event on Saturday, March 31 at the 2007 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The green flag on the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg will drop at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 31 and the event will run for two hours, 45 minutes. Entries in four different car classes will compete on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street course through the streets of the St. Petersburg bayfront. The race will be aired on SPEED at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 31.

"We realized when Acura indicated it was entering the American Le Mans Series, that it would be a very supportive and committed partner," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the Series. "Being involved with Series events such as the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg, as well as providing three top world-class race teams, further demonstrates that commitment. We hope to be involved in the St. Petersburg event for years to come as I think our style of racing is something fans will truly love and enjoy." More ...

Valencia Testing: Wurz on top  
1. Alex Wurz Williams-Toyota 1min 11.614secs 83 laps
2. Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1min 11.893secs 92 laps
3. Christijan Albers Spyker-Ferrari 1min 13.504secs 33 laps
4. Adrian Sutil Spyker-Ferrari 1min 13.678secs 128 laps
5. Fairuz Fauzy Spyker-Ferrari 1min 14.499secs 75 laps

Track conditions: Cool all day. All times unofficial - courtesy of WilliamsF1

Two crewmen injured in 500  UPDATE Josh Yost, the jackman on Jeff Burton's No. 31 Chevrolets, ruptured his left Achilles tendon during a pit stop in Sunday's Daytona 500 and will need surgery to repair it.

02/18/07 Two crewmen were injured while performing pit stops during Sunday's Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.  Josh Yost, jackman for Jeff Burton's No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team, suffered a tear to his left Achilles tendon.  Jeremy Geiter, the rear-tire changer for Mike Wallace's No. 09 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet, had a high-ankle sprain of his left ankle. Yost is likely to have surgery this week, and is probably out for the rest of the season.
Martin to run Daytona in July  The ink on Mark Martin's 2007 Nextel Cup calendar boasts 22 races in the #01 U.S. Army Chevy. But if you flip to July, to the small box hosting his July 7 to-do list, the pencil markings suggest another story. The Pepsi 400? That wasn't on the original slate. It is now. Martin told ESPN.com Monday that the July 7 race at Daytona International Speedway was on his docket all along, but he chose to wait and see the outcome of Speed Weeks. He had more fun than he's ever had. No pressure. And, oh yeah, he nearly won the Daytona 500. Martin stressed we not get carried away with this. He doesn't desire to run the entire slate, though some of his colleagues think otherwise. "Winning [the Daytona 500] wouldn't have changed at all how I feel about things. I've learned to never say never, so I'm not going to do that. But I'm very happy and comfortable with my schedule, and even if we'd have won the race I'm just thrilled with what I have laid out in front of me. If I want to change [my schedule] I have that luxury," he said. "I haven't gone and asked [to run the whole schedule], but I can tell you they haven't said no to anything else. I don't think that'd be a problem, but I also don't think that'll happen." Martin's current projected schedule is quite front-loaded. He knows he might get bored in the second half of the year. The Food City 500 [in Bristol] will mark the first race since Valentine's Day 1988 that Martin won't be in the Cup Series field. That's 617 straight. Martin is scheduled to be in Lake City, Fla., that weekend to be Ricky Carmichael's crew chief in a late-model race. More at ESPN.com
SunTrust Racing calls on Magnussen  Veteran Formula One, Champ Car and sports car racer Jan Magnussen of Denmark has been named as co-driver alongside Max Angelelli in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley of Wayne Taylor Racing for the next three Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series events at Mexico City, Homestead, Fla., and Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va. 

Last month, the 33-year-old Magnussen teamed with Angelelli, team-owner Wayne Taylor and four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon in driving the SunTrust Racing Daytona Prototype to its third podium finish in the last four season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance events, a streak that includes a victory in 2005 en route to that season’s Rolex Series championship.
Edmonton to host Atlantic doubleheader  One of the most popular venues on the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda schedule will host a doubleheader weekend in July, completing this season’s 12-race calendar for North America’s top open-wheel development series.

The Grand Prix of Edmonton will host Rounds 9-10 of the Atlantic Championship in ’07, as the 300-horsepower Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Cooper machines will visit the fast and exciting 1.9-mile road circuit constructed at Edmonton’s City Centre Airport, July 20-22. Practice and qualifying for the first race of the weekend will take place on Friday, July 20 while qualifying for the second event and Round 9 will run on Saturday, July 21. The 10th round of Atlantic action will take the green flag on Sunday, July 22 to close out the action-packed weekend, which will also feature the cars of the Champ Car World Series.

The Edmonton weekend will be the second doubleheader event on this season’s Atlantic docket. The Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland will host Rounds 4-5 of the championship, June 9-10. This marks the first time that the Atlantic series has featured a pair of doubleheaders in the same season since 2005 when Portland and Cleveland hosted back-to-back twin bills. The Atlantic calendar has featured at least one doubleheader weekend for the last four consecutive seasons. More ...
This Week's Top 10 Tums Moments  During the Daytona 500 Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, the stars of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series experienced several indigestion-causing incidents, from rules infractions to engine issues to tire troubles to field-clearing crashes. Each weekend, PRN lead anchor Doug Rice picks the Top 10 TUMS Moments from that week's racing activities. For the first week of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Season, top TUMS honors go to: 10. Jeremy Mayfield and Red Bull Racing failing to make the show 9. The run by 72-year old James Hylton where he just missed the show 8. The late race crash in the Daytona 500 that took out Ricky Rudd and ruined his comeback bid 7. Tony Stewart for crashing in his best chance to win the Daytona 500 6. Kurt Busch (see above) 5. Evernham Motorsports for three penalties on three teams 4. Kyle Busch for his late-race crash that started the big one in turn four 3. Toyota for its less-than-spectacular NASCAR debut 2. Mark Martin losing to Harvick on a last-lap melee amid yellow-flag confusion 1. Michael Waltrip and his challenging week with the NASCAR rule book
industry news
Sales up, profits down for Bridgestone  Bridgestone Corp. posted net income of 85.1 billion yen ($714 million) on net sales of nearly three trillion yen ($25.1 billion) for its fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2006. That compares to net income of 180.7 billion yen on sales of 2.7 trillion yen for fiscal 2005.  In addition to net income, operating income decreased as well, dropping 11% from 213.8 billion yen to 190.8 billion yen ($1.6 billion).

The company says a number of factors impacted 2006 income, including the following:

* high prices for natural rubber, crude oil and other raw materials;

* an extraordinary loss of 21.7 billion yen in connection with the announced closure of two tire plants in the Americas. More ...

racing news
XM and Sirius announce merger  UPDATE Maybe Champ Car and IRL should take note of this news - merge to be the biggest open wheel spectacle here in the States and International.

02/20/07 XM Satellite Radio [XMSR] and SIRIUS Satellite Radio [SIRI] today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement, under which the companies will be combined in a tax-free, all-stock merger of equals with a combined enterprise value of approximately $13 billion, which includes net debt of approximately $1.6 billion. 

Under the terms of the agreement, XM shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 4.6 shares of SIRIUS common stock for each share of XM they own. XM and SIRIUS shareholders will each own approximately 50 percent of the combined company. 

Mel Karmazin, currently Chief Executive Officer of SIRIUS, will become Chief Executive Officer of the combined company and Gary Parsons, currently Chairman of XM, will become Chairman of the combined company. The new company's board of directors will consist of 12 directors, including Messrs. Karmazin and Parsons, four independent members designated by each company, as well as one representative from each of General Motors and American Honda. Hugh Panero, the Chief Executive Officer of XM, will continue in his current role until the anticipated close of the merger.  More ...

formula bmw
Webb and Surtees join Carlin for Formula BMW UK  Formula BMW scholarship winners Oliver Webb and Henry Surtees have signed with Carlin Motorsport to compete in the 2007 Formula BMW UK Championship. The young duo has completed a comprehensive test program on circuits around the UK, and will compete in their first FBMW race at Brands Hatch on the 31 March. Webb and Surtees are two of just six young drivers granted the prestigious Formula BMW scholarship. More ...
Davis upset with Mayfield  Team owner Bill Davis was upset with Jeremy Mayfield, who failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 despite fast times in testing and in practices at the track. Davis said Mayfield's No. 36 car was good enough to post a top five or top six finish. "It's just awful," Davis said. "It's one of the worst things to ever happen to us because it's one thing to not have speed and just struggle and not get the job done. But we had a great car, as far as speed goes, and we didn't get it done on qualifying day and then didn't do the job, didn't drive it well enough to race our way in." Sporting News
U.S. Pro Racing will field two cars  Guthrie Racing, which won two Indy Pro Series™ events in 2006, will bring in a new business partner and change its name to U.S. Pro Racing, the team announced Feb. 16. The team will field cars for Sean Guthrie and Tom Wieringa in the 16-race season that begins March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Jim Guthrie, who formed Guthrie Racing in 2005, will join forces with Colorado businessman Mike Lee, who has been involved in racing for many years.

“This will be my first time since the Blueprint Racing days with a partner,” said Guthrie, who won IndyCar Series rookie of the year honors as a co-owner of Blueprint Racing in 1997. “That worked out well, so we’ll try it again. Mike brings some unique skills to the team. He brings sponsorship and sales skills to the team where I’m more on the operations side – making the car go faster.”

Prost and Groppi to Race Oreca Saleen  Oreca has announced that 25-year old Nicolas Prost and 24-year old Laurent Groppi will pilot one of the team’s two Saleen S7Rs in the 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans. The French outfit was also happy to reveal the partnership of Matmut insurance for the 2007 season. We want to launch our young guns in at the deep end in the Le Mans 24 Hours on 16/17th June,” says de Chaunac. “Laurent Groppi and Nicolas Prost have the right profile le and we hope that the ACO will give a favorable reply to our entry request. The third driver will be around the same age and we hope to announce his identity in the near future.”

“Anybody who’s had the slightest contact with motor sport in France has heard of ORECA,” Matmut Chairman Daniel Havis said. “That’s why we approached Hugues de Chaunac two years ago to ask him to help us because of his company’s experience in the fields of technology, organization and coaching. We began our collaboration on this basis in 2006 in the Le Mans 24 Hours in particular. The integration was a success and it has led to new projects for the 2007 season.” More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
Nakajima quickest at damp Valencia
Ammermuller to be Red Bull 'reserve'
Fisichella says Renault to focus on one driver
Open wheel return ruled out for Villeneuve
Mild weather for Bahrain test
BMW's is quickest F1 car in 2007 - analysis
Spyker's Valles wants third seat at Spain GP
Toyota to test at Jerez after Bahrain
Doornbos to test Red Bull in Bahrain
TV News
Kevin Harvick to be guest on Live with Regis and Kelly  Kevin Harvick, winner of the Daytona 500, will be a guest on the Live with Regis and Kelly show Tuesday morning, January 20.  The show airs at 9:00 am-10:00 am ET.  The network varies.  Please check local listings for your location and time zone.
racing news
2007 Motorsports HOF inductees  NOVI, MI – NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, Indy car mechanic-team manager Jim McGee, 1960 Indy 500 king Jim Rathmann, and Goodyear and Indy Racing League executive Leo Mehl will lead a class of eight racing greats into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America when the organization stages its annual induction ceremony on Wednesday, August 15, 2007 at the State Theater in Detroit.

These four, along with the legendary Pro-Stock drag racing team of Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin, America’s first national sports car champion John Fitch, and dirt track and pavement motorcycle hero Bubba Shobert will join the 160 racers already enshrined in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

“From Daytona, to Indianapolis, to Sebring – the members of this class have visited victory circle in every significant race the nation has to offer,” says Ron Watson, president of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. “And they’ve done it as drivers, mechanics, team managers and executives.” More ...

Track News
Segway of LB to back TGPLB  Segway of Long Beach, one of the largest Segway dealers in the country, will be a first-time associate sponsor of the 33rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 13-15.

Race weekend sponsors will be able to utilize the unique machines as mobile marketing and/or information vehicles in and around the 1.97-mile seaside street circuit.

Located in downtown Long Beach at The Pike, Segway of Long Beach opened in May 2005 and offers rentals, guided tours, corporate group events and sales.  Individuals and groups can enjoy the experience of riding Segways down the beach path, over to the Queen Mary or anywhere throughout scenic downtown Long Beach. More ...

Bridgestone to Continue as Official Tire Sponsor of LBGP  The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach is pleased to announce that Bridgestone will continue as the Official Tire Sponsor of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the next three years - an agreement that will see the tire company maintain that role for 14 consecutive years.

The company, which traces its sponsorship of the legendary 33-year-old street race back to 1979, will have a major presence at the April 13-15, 2007 race, including Bridgestone signage on the pedestrian bridge between Turns 9 and 10 on the 1.97-mile course. In addition, Bridgestone will entertain dealers and clients during the race weekend and will once again participate in a special promotional program on Friday, April 13. More ...

Michel Jourdain driving a SEAT  Being a pop singer is fun but today in Madrid SEAT introduced his team which is going to participate the third WTCC season with a renewed sense of purpose and the aim of finishing this year in the top spot: while the team finished third in the manufacturers’ rankings in 2005 and achieved second place in 2006, all the Spanish brand’s hopes are pinned on achieving the crown in 2007.

In order to achieve this target and start the season off in top-notch shape, SEAT Sport has been carrying out a grueling winter testing schedule on several tracks with the aim of improving the performance of the León WTCC. This car already proved its mettle last year by winning three victories, five poles and eight fastest laps.

This season, the team will lose two manufacturers’ cars and will gain factory supported cars. In total there will be four SEAT Sport drivers: Jordi Gené, Yvan Muller, Gabriele Tarquini and the new addition, Michel Jourdain, a Mexican driver with wide experience of the American single- seater championships (IRL and Champ Car) and NASCAR. More ...

A1GP restructures its business  London - A1GP World Cup of Motorsport implements a regional business structure to continue business growth over the coming years, creating four individual territories responsible for expanding the series.

Under its recently appointed CEO, Pete da Silva, will be four regional companies to manage the series' interests in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia alongside a team of five senior executives focused on the series' global activities. Within the global team are two new appointments which include Scott Hollingsworth to the position of chief commercial officer and a new chief financial officer whose appointment is nearing completion. Former acting CEO, Bruce Holmes, will take on the role of chief operating officer.

The four regional companies have been established to allow A1GP to adapt to the unique challenges of each region to fully leverage the possibilities of its international brand in every market. Former chief operating officer, David Clare, will take responsibility for Asia while Scott Hollingsworth, Bruce Holmes and Pete da Silva will manage the Americas, Europe and the Middle East and Africa respectively during the initial set-up phase. More ...

3 charged in race fan's murder  This Orlando Sentinel article talks about the tragic murder of a Daytona 500 fan after the race on Sunday.
19-cars slated for Homestead test  The IndyCar® and IndyPro™ Series will return to Homestead-Miami Speedway’s 2.21 mile road course to test on Tuesday, February 20, Wednesday, February 21, and Thursday, February 22.

The test will include up-and-coming drivers in the IndyPro™ Series as well as IndyCar® Series favorites Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, Dan Wheldon, and South Florida residents Helio Castroneves, Scott Sharp, and Tony Kanaan.

The IndyPro Series will test on February 20 from 1pm to 5pm.  The IndyCar® Series will be on track from 4pm to 10pm on February 21 and 22.  Race fans are welcome to watch all the action, free of charge, from the Speedway Club, located on the 4th floor of Homestead-Miami Speedway’s Administration building. Upon arrival, please come to the first-floor lobby, sign in and then take the elevator up to the Speedway Club. More ...

Daytona 500 winnings  
1 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 1,510,470
2 Mark Martin Chevrolet 1,120,420
3 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 819,216
4 Mike Wallace Chevrolet 615,658
5 David Ragan * Ford 529,350
6 Elliott Sadler Dodge 407,153
7 Kasey Kahne Dodge 386,074
8 David Gilliland Ford 374,764
9 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 302,008
10 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 371,679 More ...
South African to contest Indy Pro Series  Kenn Hardley Racing will campaign driver Stephen Simpson in the Indy Pro Series™ in 2007, the team announced Feb. 19.

Simpson, who was born in Poole, England, has lived in Capetown, South Africa, for most of his life. The 23-year-old ran three races in the Champ Car Atlantic series in 2006 before concentrating on driving in the A1 Grand Prix representing South Africa.

"We are elated to have Stephen with us for the 2007 season,” team owner Kenn Hardley said. “Stephen is a young talent who we are very impressed with and who has driven in many types of open wheel race cars around the world. I don't believe it will take him long to acclimate himself to the Indy Pro Series or our team. The 24 car has finished second and third the last two years in the series with Jeff Simmons and Bobby Wilson, and I believe this will be another banner year with Stephen as our driver. Our team has worked very hard over the winter to put together another solid product.” More ...

Pemberton wins Crew Chief of the Race award  Ryan Pemberton, crew chief for the No. 01 Ginn Racing Chevrolet, made a bold but calculated call in the closing stages of the Daytona 500 to give Mark Martin and the U.S. Army team a great shot at a victory. In the final pit stop of the race, Pemberton's decision to take two right side tires only propelled Martin from seventh to first place after the leaders chose to change all four tires. Martin held onto his lead until the final surge to the checkered flag, only to be inched out by eventually winner Kevin Harvick as the pair crossed the finish line. It was Mark Martin’s best finish in the Great American Race. Pemberton's tactical move earned him the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race Award.

"On the last pit stop, I knew I didn't want to get caught up in the junk," said Pemberton at the conclusion of the race. "At that point in the race, you don't want to be back in the pack. We had only been out for twelve laps, so I thought we had enough to finish out." The No. 01 U.S. Army team begun the race 26th on the starting grid and with this finish has set the new look team up for an exciting 2007 season.

A panel of votes that included a local media representative, Tony Eury Jr. and a WYPALL* Wipers representative, all agreed Pemberton's strategic decision was worthy enough for him to win the first award for the 2007 season. "Ryan's decision in that last pit stop would have been a tough call as tires in Daytona are so important," stated Eury Jr. "They were very competitive all day and to come off with the finish they had is credit to Ryan and his crew."

As the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race, Pemberton received $1,000. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Year.

Junqueira to make debut for Brazil team on the streets of Durban  A1 Team Brazil announced today that former F3000 champion and Champ Car winner Bruno Junqueira will join the squad to lead the charge at this weekend's Durban round of the 2006/07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in South Africa.

Performing back-up duties for the team will be 18-year-old Luiz Razia, who will also have his first taster of the A1GP car when he steps into the cockpit for the rookie practice sessions on Friday. Along with this all-new driver line-up, the weekend will also see the debut of a brand new paint scheme for the Team Brazil car.

Junqueira raced with Ganassi and more recently with Newman/Haas in Champ Car alongside Sebastien Bourdais. He has yet to pen a deal for the new season but recently tested with Dale Coyne Racing. More ...

track news
IMS hires motorcycle motorsports management firm  INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Feb. 19, 2007 - The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has hired Hardcard Holdings, a leading motorsports management and consulting firm specializing in motorcycle events, IMS President Joie Chitwood announced Feb. 19.

Hardcard, led by veteran executives and company co-founders Andrew Leisner and John Farris, specializes in consulting, sales, media and brand management services connected to the motorsports industry.

"The Speedway has been looking at hosting a motorcycle event for some time, and we continue to be enthusiastic about the prospects," Chitwood said. "Hardcard will advise and consult with the Speedway as we continue to pursue and devise plans for this exciting opportunity.

"Hardcard's experience, contacts and accomplishments in motorcycle motorsports are unmatched, and we look forward to the value they bring to the IMS team." More ...

racing news
Does racing really sell cars?  UPDATE Just thought it would be worth noting that the marquees running in NASCAR last year all showed sales declines while those affiliated with ALMS, namely Acura, Audi, Porsche, Mazda, & Ferrari all had record US sales a year ago.  Makes you wonder where the real relevance is, doesn’t it?

02/06/07 The boastful automotive industry's advertising slogan used to be: Race on Sunday and sell on Monday.  I don't remember if statistics pointed toward a steady flow of buyers to showrooms, but at least it caught the fancy of the Madison Avenue agencies that produced these grand television commercials, newspaper and magazine propaganda.

Like passing in review of automobile history, the NASCAR racing fields were full of hot-running Hudsons, Oldsmobiles, Chryslers, Matadors, Plymouths, Buicks and Pontiacs. They all had their moments in victory circle to give their companies reason to brag.

But, those names have disappeared from the NASCAR garages. The battles remain among Fords, Chevys and Dodges. Oh yes, there will be a new entry this year from Toyota.

This particular reflection of the past was stimulated by a recent National Speed Sport News column, which posed the question whether Ford might be ready to withdraw from racing. More ...

formula BMW
Haberfeld and Walker Racing suspend BMW program  Haberfeld and Walker Racing announced today that they will suspend their 2007 Formula BMW USA program. The venture was created in 2005 between veteran driver Mario Haberfeld, Alabama businessman Markus Bischopf and seasoned team owner Derrick Walker.  Haberfeld and Walker Racing set out on their maiden voyage in 2006 as they competed in the Formula BMW USA series fielding Brazilian Marco Santos and Mexican David Rangel.

“We have evaluated the series and other opportunities, which brought us to the conclusion that we should withdraw this program for the time being,” commented HWR co-owner Derrick Walker.  “The BMW series is a great program that fit our ladder system as we operated it last year.  In reviewing our objectives for 2007 we decided that the program should become dormant while we focused on other objectives in-house.  We will certainly re-evaluate our involvement in Formula BMW USA for 2008.” More ...

Dutch Champ Car GP website  UPDATE #2 The website will be in the German language as well (at the moment they are still working on both the English and German versions). Germany borders on Holland and many German Champ Car fans will cross the Dutch - German border to cheer Andreas Wirth (if he manages to secure a drive) and all the other Champ Car competitors.

02/19/07 Except for the English language version, this website is now fully live.  It's interesting to see the Champ Car Club being used in Holland.  The ticket prices are also rather steep at over $200 for a 3-day ticket in the Gold grandstands.

02/18/07 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, the Dutch Champ Car Grand Prix at Assen website will go live on Monday February 19th.  Currently only a partial home page displays.
Rahal would like a go at the Audi R10  While Graham Rahal has his sights set on the Champ Car World Series and ultimately Formula 1. But the 16-year-old apparently has at least a casual eye toward Le Mans with the German manufacturer. Rahal recently purchased an Audi RS4, he told Audi Magazine in its January 2007 edition. In the interview he also said he definitely would like to try piloting the Audi R10 TDI, perhaps at the 24 Hours of Le Mans or in the American Le Mans Series. Endurance racing runs deep in the Rahal family, of course. Dad Bobby won the 1987 Sebring race in a Porsche 962 with Jochen Mass and was second in 1982 in a Chevrolet March.
Siedler signs for Kruse Motorsport  Kruse Motorsport, the Cologne based Le Mans Series team, have signed former F3000 Series Champion Norbert Siedler for their assault on the 2007 championship. Four times Le Mans winner and Pescarolo Sport team boss Henri Pescarolo also confirmed a partnership with the young but successful British-German squad.

24 year old Norbert Siedler will return to the Le Mans Series this season, hoping to repeat his 2006 LMP2 top result at Jarama, where he and his team mates Jens Petersen and JD Lüders achieved a well-deserved 2nd place.

Ian Mitchell (Team Director): „The team is very happy with this signing as Norbert Siedler is going to be a big asset for Kruse Motorsport. He has been signed to give his team mates a positive input and to work closely together with our engineers. We are interested in creating a long term partnership with him, as Norbert’s performance and his success will help to increase the awareness of Kruse Motorsport especially in the German speaking countries.” More ...

Two teams start Valencia test  (GMM)  The rest of the formula one world is en route to Bahrain for the final pre-Melbourne test, but on Monday morning the sport's familiar engine whine returned to Spanish skies.

Unwilling to shell out the cost of a hot-weather 'flyaway' session, Williams got into action at the Valencia circuit with team testers Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima.

It is scheduled to be a three-day test.

Fellow F1 independent Spyker is also running at the southern venue, and on Monday fielded Adrian Valles and the controversial test driver Giedo van der Garde.

The Bahrain test, featuring the remaining ten teams, kicks off on Thursday.

racing news
Quotes of the Week  
MARK MARTIN, NASCAR driver, Ginn Racing 
"I thought Kyle Busch was behind me," Martin said. "I felt confident. Kyle Busch's car was really fast and I thought he was going to be trapped on the inside and he was going to have nowhere to go and have no other option but to push me. His car was fast and we both had Hendrick power.

"I still thought we were going to be alright, but then I didn't realize that he was in the wreck. I wasn't looking back very much. I had my eye on heaven." (After losing the Daytona 500 in the last 100 yards)

"In this sport, no one ever races less. But had that been the case hypothetically, it would have broke me in half. That's what I love about this sport, because it's hard. It's what's driven me for over 30 years, and that's what I love about it, and that's why I'm here, was here today, because I had the choice of whether or not I wanted to race the Daytona 500. I wanted a chance -- I wanted a shot at it, and these guys gave me a shot.  I want to say that I didn't ask for a win in the Daytona 500; I asked for a chance.  Those guys gave me exactly what I asked for, and I let it slip away, slip through my fingers, and I'm fine with that. I did my best.  Nobody wants to hear a grown man cry, all right? That's what it is. And I'm not going to cry about it. This is what it is, and that's it. That's the end.  Their decision, they made the decision, and that's what we're going to live with."   (Commenting after finished in second place in the controversial finish at the Daytona 500)

KEVIN HARVICK, NASCAR driver, Daytona 500 winner
I'm cold right now. They got me with the water there. I smell like I have a heavy alcohol problem. But it's just hard to put into words. I mean, we got ourselves in a little bit of trouble there with a hole in the nose and got really hot and had to drop out of the draft there with about 20 to go. Luckily we got a caution and were able to come back in and fix the front of the car.
"I knew I was going to be the bad guy there at the end with Mark leading. But we just held the pedal down and hoped for the best.

"I know for me I told them on the radio, I says, I don't know what's happening out here but I'm putting myself as close as I can to the wall so I'll hit something as least hard as possible. There at the end, people were dragging the walls. I know I hit the wall two or three times there at the end of the race. I think I hit the back end of the 17, straightened him back out there, in the next to last caution. It was the wildest thing I've been a part of in a long time.

MICHAEL WALTRIP, NASCAR driver and car owner, Michael Waltrip Racing
"I didn't want to taint this wonderful race. I just didn't know if my car on the track would be right. My world has been as mess. I'm probably the most depressed guy you've ever seen make the Daytona 500. What our team did was a terrible mistake. When I find out who was involved, they will pay. But we all should be embarrassed. I don't need to cheat to win this race."
"We just keep digging, digging, digging," Waltrip said. "Toyota's going to help us. A lot of people are going to help us. We're going to find out what happened. We have a lot of circumstantial evidence that implicates a couple of folks, but we don't have any proof. So we'll just keep digging until we find out what happened. " (Comments made after qualifying in the Duel 150 races for the Daytona 500 where Michael Waltrip Racing has been accused of cheating for using a fuel additive.) More ...

The crash that never happened  Kyle Busch disappeared in the smoke just as Harvick pulled alongside Martin in the tri-oval. They both waited for the flagman, who leaned over the track and dropped the checkered with the 07 Chevy of Clint Bowyer tumbling and burning into the infield. At that moment, the outcome was in the hands of NASCAR. The message from the control center above the track to the flagman came as the cars reached the line. "Put it out,'' David Hoots, NASCAR's race director, radioed down. The yellow flag flew after Harvick passed under the flag stand. "When the 07 went sideways on the track, the yellow came out,'' NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said afterward. "At that point the 29 was ahead of the 01 and declared the winner.'' That was a good explanation and all, except that's not what happened. Bowyer was upside down before the leaders took the checkered flag. The caution was thrown after that, technically, and according to NASCAR's own rules, after the race ended. The fact that there was an official margin of victory (.020 seconds) proves it. There is no margin of victory in a race that ends under caution. And since no caution flew before the end, NASCAR had no official account of the crash. In effect, it never happened. Roanoke Times
Roush appeals No. 17 penalty  Roush Fenway Racing president Geoff Smith has filed an appeal of the points penalty given to driver #17-Matt Kenseth after his car failed post-qualifying inspection. Kenseth was docked 50 championship points, which Smith claims is too harsh based on precedence set last year with Jimmie Johnson. Johnson's team was fined and crew chief Chad Knaus suspended for four races when his car failed post-qualifying inspection a year ago. Kenseth lost crew chief Robbie Reiser for four races and the points. "We're not appealing the suspension," Smith said. "But NASCAR said last year when they suspended Johnson's crew chief that they want to be consistent with their penalties. There's no precedence for 50 points." ESPN.com
Daytona 500 post-race press conference  
Top three Drivers:
JEFF BURTON, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS
MARK MARTIN, No. 01 U. S. Army Monte Carlo SS
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Monte Carlo SS

Winning Team:
RICHARD CHILDRESS, Team Owner, Richard Childress Racing, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Monte Carlo SS
TODD BERRIER, Crew chief, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Monte Carlo SS Transcript

tv news
NASCAR cheating special  At 9:00pm-10:00pm ET on Tuesday HDNet World Report will include a segment on The Daytona 500 -- NASCAR's Biggest Names Caught Cheating....all in high-definition.
Busy week ahead for Daytona 500 winner  Tentative and Subject to Change

Monday, February 19th
7:50 AM - ABC’s Good Morning America
LIVE via satellite
8:00 AM - Daytona 500 Car Induction Ceremony
Daytona USA
9:00 AM - Daytona 500 Media Breakfast
Bill France Room - Daytona USA
9:45 AM  - One on One Interviews
ESPN Cold Pizza
The Morning Drive on SIRIUS
10:30 AM - FOX Sports Radio Out of Bounds
12:00 PM - Wheels up to New York, NY
4:00 PM - The Late Show with David Letterman
Check local listings
Other scheduled guest: Jim Carrey More ...

British F3
Carlin sign Valerio for British F3  Former South American F3 champion Albert Valerio has signed with championship winning team Carlin Motorsport for the 2007 British F3 season.   It will be the Brazilian’s second year in the championship, after finishing 11th in his maiden season in 2006. Valerio completed his first full season in single-seater racing in 2003 in Brazilian Formula Renault.  In 2004, he moved up to South American F3, finishing his debut season in sixth place.  In 2005, Valerio defeated all competition to become South American F3 Champion.  

Having conquered F3 in his native South America, Valerio made the jump to Europe to compete in the British F3 championship with his South American championship winning team Cesario F3.  For both the team and the driver, 2006 was a steep learning curve, on circuits that neither Valerio nor the team had any experience of.  Despite this, the Brazilian impressed many in his competitive maiden season, the highlight of which being a third place at Mugello. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
No more excuses for McLaren - Montoya
F1 not unfinished business - Montoya
Alonso nominated for Laureus award
Alonso still thinks F1 not a sport
Massa defends Ferrari amid new car criticism
Villeneuve says Kimi 'overrated'
Brawn admits team boss role 'an option'
Kimi hasn't asked for advice - Schu
Alonso - I didn't make Schu quit
JV retracts Button slams  The March issue of “F1 Racing" recently published Jacques Villeneuve's ‘59 mouthiest moments.'

“When I read it, there were a couple of quotes about Jenson that I said back in 2003 where I thought, ‘Ouch! That didn’t come out too well!’  Jenson didn’t deserve that. Some of the things I said were a little bit too harsh and a couple shouldn’t have been said at all.”

Villeneuve cites the displeasure he felt at being treated as expendable by newly appointed BAR boss David Richards.

“I’d built that team, and suddenly a new team principal was saying, ‘We don’t want Jacques, he’s useless – we’ve got a future world champion in Jenson.’ Jenson had done nothing at the time and had had his ass kicked by [Giancarlo] Fisichella at Benetton. So mainly I was saying let’s just wait and see – I’ll respect him once he achieves something.  And he did, so I did.  It wasn’t as bad as it was portrayed and there was never a problem between us.”

“He’s fast, strong, and nothing disturbs him,” he observed.  But he’ll have to be in a position to take a shot at the championship if we’re to see if he’s as good as [Fernando] Alonso.  That’s highly probable, because he’s at least as good as Kimi [Raikkonen].”

Hopkins falls, breaks hand  UPDATE An update provided by Hopkins on his MySpace page lists his injuries as two broken toes, sprains to both ankles, a chipped bone in the left wrist and a 'fully sprained' right wrist.  It appears he will miss this weekend's final pre-season test, at Jerez in Spain.

02/16/07 American John Hopkins suffered a suspected fractured hand after crashing in MotoGP's final day of testing at Qatar's Losail circuit.  The Californian fell from his Suzuki during the morning session and was taken to hospital for X-rays.  
TV News
Kevin Harvick to be guest on David Letterman  Kevin Harvick, winner of the Daytona 500, will be a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday night, February 19.  The show airs at 11:35 pm ET/PT on CBS.  Check local listings for your location and time zone.
Waltrip's crew chief on paid leave  David Hyder, crew chief for Michael Waltrip, has been placed on a paid leave of absence as the team continues to investigate the rules violation that resulted in Waltrip absorbing a $100,000 fine and the loss of 100 series points.  Hyder and team director Bobby Kennedy were suspended indefinitely by NASCAR after inspectors discovered an unusual substance in the Waltrip Toyota's intake manifold. NASCAR later said the team had used a fuel additive.  MWR vice president Ty Norris said Kennedy remains at work at the team's shop and is assisting in the investigation into the violation. Norris said the team's internal investigation will continue "until we find out" the details of the situation.  "It could be hours, days, weeks - we won't stop," he said. Scenedaily.com
Busch Daytona 300 TV ratings plummet on ESPN2  NASCAR returned to the ESPN networks yesterday. ESPN2's Busch Daytona 300 delivered a 2.42 HH coverage rating and 2,221,415 households (based on Cable Fast Nationals).
* Most-viewed auto race in ESPN2's history
* 5th Highest-rated NASCAR Busch race on cable since 1996.
* 3rd most-viewed NASCAR Busch race on cable since 1996.
ESPN2's race rated 26% lower than TNT's 2006 race (2.42 vs. 3.28 HH cvg rtg). All key demos were down from last year as well. ESPN2's race rated 27% lower than the 3.3 HH cvg estimate. ESPN PR
If Dale Jr. leaves DEI so will Eury Jr.  If Dale Earnhardt Jr. opts to leave Dale Earnhardt, Inc. at the conclusion of the 2007 Nextel Cup season, his crew chief will follow suit. Tony Eury Jr., Earnhardt's crew chief and first cousin, told ESPN.com on Sunday that if Junior goes, he'll go, too. "Yes, " Eury responded when asked if he'd follow Earnhardt to a new race team. "That's the way I based my feelings when I decided to stay there and sign a long-term contract. I made it very specific to them that if 2007 comes and Dale Jr. decided to do something else, I'd like to have my options open to do whatever I want to do."

Ultimately, though, Eury hopes Dale Jr. stays put. "The best thing is to stay at DEI," Eury said. "DEI is his Dad's deal. [Junior] should be running the company. That's what Dale Sr. built the company for, was for those kids to have something later on in life. However it turns out, it turns out. I really don't want to get into the politics side of it with them, so I just let them handle it and we'll figure it out from there." Earnhardt said on Feb. 8 he must get majority ownership of DEI in order to remain with the company his father founded. Eury said he's uncertain where the contract negotiation stands. He's staying out of it. "I just told Junior for him and Kelley to figure out whatever they want to do -- stay or go," Eury said. "I hope he stays, but if they can't get things worked out, that's fine, we'll just figure out what's best for all of us." ESPN.com

The Galleria Ferrari hosts second "La Ferrari and the Movies" exhibition  Maranello - The movies are back in the spotlight once again at the Galleria Ferrari in Maranello with the opening of the second exhibition devoted to the actors and films that have contributed to enhancing the Ferrari legend worldwide.

As part of the Company's 60th Anniversary celebrations, this latest exhibition includes a selection of over 40 previously unseen photographs taken from the Ferrari Archive and featuring international film stars who fell under the spell of the Prancing Horse either on set or in their private lives. Stars immortalized at the wheels of their Ferraris, during visits to the Ferrari factory or on the sets of their films and now seen for the first time in public in a special exhibition with all the magic of the silver screen.

Clips from over 70 different films have been edited together too to tell the story of Ferrari's output over the last 60 years through cameos from its most glittering car stars. More ...

Fords 1-2-3 in Norway  Mikko Hirvonen has led home the first Ford 1-2-3 in World Rally competition since 1979 ahead of teammates Marcus Gronholm and Henning Solberg in the Rally of Norway.  Hirvonen led the event from the first stage on Friday and then held off the charge of Gronholm and Sebastien Loeb to take the second victory of his career.  Full report to follow....

Pos  Driver      Make         Time
 1.  Hirvonen    Ford         3:28:17.0
 2.  Gronholm    Ford         +     9.5
 3.  Solberg     Ford         +  3:44.6
 4.  Solberg     Subaru       +  4:01.1
 5.  Latvala     Ford         +  5:30.7
 6.  Galli       Citroen      +  7:05.2
 7.  Carlsson    Citroen      +  9:23.7
 8.  Kopecky     Skoda        + 11:49.9
 9.  Dalsjo      Subaru       + 13:31.8
10.  Mikkelsen   Ford         + 14:28.7

Gallup survey bursts NASCAR’s bubble  Simple question: What is your favorite sport to watch?

If someone is reading this page, in this town, at this time of year, it's pretty obvious. Cruising the grounds of Daytona International Speedway, more often than not the answer would be "racing," stock-car racing specifically.

Problem is, when you're caught up with this crowd, and surrounded by like-minded folks Sunday after Sunday, either on the couch or in the bleachers or atop the converted school bus, you tend to think everybody feels the same way.

That's why the most recent Gallup poll of American sports fans served as such a wakeup call. How many selected auto racing as their top choice?

"I'd say about 65 percent," said driver Clint Bowyer.

"Percentage-wise, I'd say 60 percent, maybe 50 percent," said Pat Honsinger, a fan from Jacksonville.

"Oh, let's say 71.5 percent," said driver Bobby Labonte.

"I'm gonna say about 75 percent," said Steve Bennett, a fan from Maine.

"I would say that 28 percent would say that racing is their favorite sport," said driver Kenny Wallace. "How far off am I?"

Well, Kenny, the good news is, you're not as far off as the others. Bad news is, you're still quite a ways off.

Ready for the sobering news? "I've got a bad feeling about this," said Bennett, and rightly so.

There's a reason why NASCAR's Boys in Marketing didn't fire off a press release upon seeing this report, and here you go:

Four percent. Four. F-o-u-r. 4 percent (so much for NASCAR being the 2nd most popular sport in America). More at Daytona Beach News Journal 

IRL's biggest star an also-ran in stock cars  IRL star Sam Hornish Jr. was just an also-ran in IROC and now in NASCAR 2nd-rate Busch series. In his first Busch Series race with the Penske Racing team, the 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner started strong in Saturday's season opener. But a lack of familiarity with his No. 12 Dodge led to some handling problems and a couple scrapes with the wall, as the IndyCar champion finished 31st in Orbitz 300, his third-ever Busch race.

"It's still a learning process here for us," Hornish said. "Not really knowing what we needed out of the car and obviously some of my inexperience not knowing how much under-steering the car has. Just the setup of the car is still something I'm trying to learn."

"We got lucky getting through a couple of crashes without hitting anything and then got one of our own," Hornish said. "We're going into the corner, and the car just doesn't want to turn.

"It's kind of baby steps trying to progress forward. If we had two Busch cars we could run in here every weekend, I think it would be easier for me to learn."

Hirvonen poised to win Norway Rally  Seventy of the 74 original starters left Hamar Saturday morning for the second leg of this third round of the FIA World Rally Championship, with 15 of those competing under SupeRally regulations after retiring yesterday. Drivers face six speed tests east and north of the town covering 115.79km, including a short final stage through parkland in Hamar itself.

The action began with the monster 44.28km Elverum test, one of the longest special stages of the season. Temperatures were again relatively mild for a Scandinavian winter but several centimeters of snow fell overnight to leave a liberal covering on the road surface. Overnight leaders Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen and second-placed Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen opted for long 7mm studs in the BFGoodrich tires fitted to their Ford Focus RS World Rally Cars.

BP-Ford World Rally Team driver Hirvonen was fastest through Elverum, 5.1sec quicker than Grönholm and 14.2sec faster than third-placed Sébastien Loeb. The 26-year-old Finn was then third on the 12.71km Terningmoen, less than a second behind Grönholm who was 3.5sec behind stage winner Loeb. As the cars returned to service in Hamar, Hirvonen had extended his overnight lead over Grönholm to 19.7sec and the 39-year-old Finn had widened his advantage over Loeb to 7.3sec. More ...

ESPN brings HD to in-car cameras  After six years away from the sport, ESPN made its return to live NASCAR racing Saturday at Daytona International Speedway with flag-to-flag coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series season opener. The four-hour telecast on ESPN2, which included the one-hour pre-race NASCAR Busch Series Countdown show, ended with Kevin Harvick edging Dave Blaney for victory in the 300-mile race.
ESPN host Brent Musburger set the stage for the telecast, calling Daytona “a legendary coliseum of roar,” and “a modern-day Circus Maximus,” and lead announcer Jerry Punch reflected on ESPN’s return to flag-to-flag racing coverage as the 43-car field was coming to the green flag. “These fans have been waiting and we have been waiting. Boy, have we been waiting!” Punch said. More ...
tv news
SPEED Teams with Dale Jr.'s JR Motorsports  SPEED has teamed with JR Motorsports to develop SPEED 1, a fleet of race-ready demonstration cars to give viewers an unprecedented inside look at how cars will actually behave at each NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event in 2007.

“We wanted to do more than cruise around the track in an old show car,” said Hunter Nickell, SPEED Executive VP & General Manager. “We want to take viewers and fans as inside as we can get them with real equipment. If we do our job right, SPEED is not just telling viewers what’s going on, we’re showing them. By creating the SPEED 1 program, we will give the viewers an opportunity to watch a race like they’ve never watched it before.” More ...

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday  
Courtesy of TVRacer.com 

Beyond the Wheel Daytona 500
8:00am-8:30am SPEED
NASCAR Live! Daytona
9:00am-10:00am (L) SPEED
Daytona 500 Memories
10:00am-11:00am (R) SPEED
10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
NASCAR RaceDay Daytona 500
11:00am-2:00pm (L) SPEED
Chasing Sunday: The Race to Cup Toyota's involvement in NASCAR
1:00pm-2:00pm FOX
Daytona 500 Daytona
2:00pm-7:30pm (L) FOX
AMA Supercross San Diego
6:00pm-7:00pm (2/17/07) SPEED
The SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Daytona 500
8:00pm-8:30pm (L) SPEED
Movie: 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story (2004)
8:00pm-10:00pm ESPN Classic
The SPEED Report -30 minute edition
8:30pm-9:00pm SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Era
11:00pm-12:00am ESPN2

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.

Toyota only American-made car in Daytona 500  GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- This isn't a good place to suggest that Toyota does not belong in the all-American racing series, NASCAR. Count on it: There won't be many people here booing when the Camry takes to the track Sunday at the Daytona 500.

Georgetown is, after all, where the Camry is built and has been since May 1988. Last September, the plant, TMMK -- or Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky -- passed the 5 million mark in Camry production. The plant is one of the largest in the country, with 7.5 million square feet under one roof, and annually its 7,000 employees crank out more than a half-million Camry sedans, Camry Solara coupes and Toyota Avalons, which are based on Camry platforms. They build the engines here, too.

Workers earn about $30 an hour, $35 an hour for skilled employees. Since the plant was incorporated in 1986, the company has donated more than $26 million to local charities. Yearly payroll tops $500 million. When Toyota made the announcement in December 1985 that it would build this plant, Georgetown won the lottery. Toyota said then it would invest $800 million in the plant. That investment has risen to about $5.5 billion.

To find someone to defend Toyota's entry into the NASCAR Nextel Cup series, look no further than Steve St. Angelo, president of TMMK. "I think it's high time for an American-made car to compete in Nextel Cup," he says.

Ouch! St. Angelo, a 30-year General Motors employee before moving to Toyota in April 2005, is referring to one of Toyota's most popular talking points. It seems the civilian versions of the three cars that compete in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series -- the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Dodge Charger -- are built in Canada (the Charger, the Monte Carlo) or Mexico (the Fusion).

Of course, pretty much all of the cars and engines that compete in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series are built in North Carolina, some of them by the same companies -- you need a frame for your Camry, Fusion, Monte Carlo or Charger, you go buy a frame. It doesn't become a Camry, Fusion, Monte Carlo or Charger until you bolt on that fake body. And even then, they all look pretty much alike until you stick on the headlight and taillight decals. More at Orlando Sentinel

Corvette Racing pre-season test notes  As has been its yearly tradition, at least lately, Corvette Racing took a trip south last week to Sebring International Raceway for a three-day private test leading up to the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the 2007 American Le Mans Series season opener. As is always the case, the purpose was two-fold.

"Mostly the focus was Le Mans," said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager. "We have Sebring pretty much down. But you have to classify Le Mans as something entirely different." More ...

Daytona 500 a sellout  All of the grandstand seats for Daytona 500 on Sunday are sold out, Daytona International Speedway officials announced today. The track has approximately 168,000 grandstand seats.  While all of the seats are sold out, fans can still purchase infield tickets.  "We're happy to announce that the Daytona 500 is sold out," Speedway President Robin Braig said in a statement. "The fans continue to show that the Daytona 500 is the premier stock car race in America." 
Daytona 500 starting lineup  
1 38 David Gilliland Ford M&M's
2 88 Ricky Rudd Ford Snickers
3 20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet The Home Depot
4 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite
5 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Budweiser
6 40 David Stremme Dodge Coors Light
7 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Cingular Wireless
8 5 Kyle Busch Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST
9 11 Denny Hamlin Chevrolet FedEx Express
10 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT More ...
Daytona 500 Happy Hour Speeds  
Pos No Driver Make Time Speed
1. 40 David Stremme Dodge 47.342 190.106
2. 5 Kyle Busch Chevrolet 47.358 190.042
3. 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet 47.383 189.941
4. 13 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 47.396 189.889
5. 6 David Ragan* Ford 47.520 189.394
6. 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge 47.582 189.147
7. 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 47.583 189.143
8. 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 47.585 189.135
9. 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge 47.610 189.036
10. 14 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet 47.683 188.747 More ...
Villeneuve slams Raikkonen  Jacques Villeneuve, in the latest edition of F1 Racing Magazine, denounced Kimi Raikkonen, Michael Schumacher’s replacement at Ferrari, as “overrated as a driver package."

According to the French/Canadian, Raikkonen isn’t on a par with World Champion Fernando Alonso because of his slovenly work ethic. “Apart from jumping in a car and going fast, he really doesn’t care about the rest,” declares Jacques. “A complete driver will spend time with the engineers, setting up the team and pushing the team. He doesn’t give a s**t, so he isn’t up there with Alonso.”

The deficiency is so damaging, claims Villeneuve, that both Jenson Button and Felipe Massa will offer Alonso a tougher fight for the World Championship. Villeneuve may have been critical of his former teammates in the past but it is clear that both Massa and Button have since earned his respect. He’s fast, strong and nothing disturbs him,” Jacques says of the Honda man. “But he’ll have to be in a position to take a shot at the championship if we’re to see if he is as good as Alonso. That’s highly probable, because he’s at least as good as Kimi.”

As for Massa, Villeneuve believes that he will emerge as Ferrari’s lead driver in 2007.

“He’s intelligent, talented quick. With the right equipment, he can be a title contender. Then we’ll see if he’s really a great, or just a good, driver. But he could be great.

“Massa will probably take over as team leader. He and Kimi will definitely challenge each other, but Felipe should finish ahead because of his work ethic.”

Albers on crutches  This Dutch Telegraaf newspaper  article says that Dutch F1 driver Christijan Albers tripped and fell on a step painted black at a sponsor function and hurt his foot, but did not break it.  For the time being he is getting around on crutches.

He expects to be OK before the season opening race.

NASCAR VP: Cheating will always be part of NASCAR  "There is no scandal here, and very little dirt. There is only the traditional playing of the NASCAR game, with teams that "push to the limits and use every part of the gray area [in the rulebook] that they can (i.e. cheat)," said NASCAR competition vice president Robin Pemberton, himself a former crew chief. "That's been going on for years and it always will."
Fernandez to drive in Mexico City race  Lowe's and Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday that Adrian Fernandez will drive the No. 5 Lowe's car in the March 4 Busch Series race in Mexico City.

Fernandez, 43, is Mexico's most popular driver and one of its most popular athletes. He finished 10th and 12th in the first two Mexico City Busch Series races in 2005 and 2006.

"I am honored by this opportunity to once again be part of Lowe's, Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR," said Fernandez, who tested the Busch car in January at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "I know race fans in Mexico grow more excited about this race each year. I think this race will continue to grow and prove how popular NASCAR is becoming outside of America." More ...

Edmonton GP offers rare opportunity  The Grand Prix of Edmonton will showcase Champ Car and a NASCAR series under the same prairie sky this summer.

The newly formed NASCAR Canadian Tire Series was announced Thursday as an addition to Edmonton's premiere racing event July 20-22. The support series will take to the track at the City Centre Airport on the first two days of racing.

"I think it's the best of both worlds," said Grand Prix of Edmonton president and general manager Jim Haskins. "We have wonderful stock car competition with NASCAR and we have the North American premiere open wheel series with Champ Car, so our fans are going to have a lot of excitement for their ticket-buying dollar."  More ...

Industry News
DCX to sell U.S. brands in China  DaimlerChrysler AG will start selling Dodge cars in China as it aims to expand in the world's fastest-growing auto market. Chrysler will introduce its first Dodge model, three Jeep models and one Chrysler vehicle in China later this year, the company said in an e-mailed statement Friday.

DaimlerChrysler and its partners are spending 1.5 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in China on increasing capacity in a bid to win market share. Sales of the company's Mercedes-Benz sedans trail behind Volkswagen AG's Audi and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, which have both built cars locally for at least two years.  The company plans to start producing Chrysler Sebring sedans at its joint venture in Beijing by the end of this year, according to Trevor Hale, a DaimlerChrysler spokesman in China. Detroit News

All 43 teams cheat in NASCAR  Felix Sabates, on how many of the 43 cars in Sunday's Daytona 500 will include a piece, part or substance that violates NASCAR rules?

"All Forty-three," says Sabates, a long-time owner who has a piece of Chip Ganassi Racing.

So there you have it, right from a team owners mouth - every single team in the NASCAR paddock cheats.  Is this a sport or the Barnum and Bailey Circus?

NASCAR going global with Montoya  Step off the elevator and into Juan Pablo Montoya's plush penthouse suite and the first thing you notice is the breathtaking view of Miami's Biscayne Bay beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows.

The view is so spectacular that if you look to the south — there, beyond the horizon — you can almost see to Colombia, where Montoya's father began teaching him to drive race cars about the same time he was teaching him to read.

But Montoya isn't the only one looking south from Florida these days. The hierarchy at NASCAR, which had an off year in 2006 after a decade of phenomenal growth, is also looking to Latin America — and elsewhere — in an effort to get stock car growth back up to speed.

All of which makes Montoya's decision to leave open-wheel racing to join Chip Ganassi's Nextel Cup team full time this season something of a godsend.

"Montoya choosing to run in the Nextel Cup series gives us a great moment to revel in, quite frankly," says NASCAR President Mike Helton. "The opportunities for us, they transcend borders. They're huge."

And timely. NASCAR kicks off its 2007 Nextel Cup season with Sunday's Daytona 500 after a year in which TV ratings rose for only three of the series' 36 races, dropping 6.5% overall on Fox, 5% on TNT and a whopping 10% on NBC. And although NASCAR tracks don't release firm attendance figures, fewer than half of last year's races sold out, and crowds for at least 12 races decreased.  More at LA Times

racing news
Record-Breaking Season for Brembo  2007 Brembo Racing is a fascinating success story just 30 years in the making. Although founded in 1961, Brembo began racing in 1975 when Enzo Ferrari entrusted the Bergamo-based, high-performance brake manufacturer with the task of fitting its most prestigious Formula 1 car. Since then, Brembo has been at the forefront of the motorsports arena, winning over 150 world championships on four-wheels and two, a record that is unprecedented in the industry.

The 2006 motorsports season was no exception as Brembo helped the likes of Aprilia, Ducati, Honda, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha win 16 motorcycle championships last year, including the Moto GP World Championship by Nicky Hayden. Brembo also helped Aprilia secure both the 250cc and 125cc World Championships for Jorge Lorenzo and Alvaro Bautista respectively. More ...
Fords 1-2 in Norway  BP-Ford World Rally Team lie first and second after controlling today's opening leg of Rally Norway. Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen led this third round of the FIA World Rally Championship from the opening kilometer in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. They ended the day with a 15.5sec advantage over team-mates Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen in a similar Focus RS.

Just a week after a dominant victory in the Swedish Rally, BP-Ford continued where it left off in similar wintry conditions in Norway. Hirvonen won two of the eight speed tests covering 143.10km in the Kongsvinger forests, north-east of Oslo and close to the Swedish border. Grönholm settled into second on the opening test and maintained his place throughout the day. More ...

Cheating scandals keep NASCAR in headlines  The Daytona 500 was supposed to be a celebration of all that's right with NASCAR - the debut of Toyota and much-heralded rookie Juan Pablo Montoya, and a new format that emphasizes winning.

Instead, this version of the Great American Race has been all about a cheating scandal that forced NASCAR to throw six people out of the garage long before Sunday's race.

It's a drama that generated the mainstream attention NASCAR desperately covets - but for all the wrong reasons.

"I think it gave the sport a black eye, (and) we've got to recover from that," said driver Joe Nemechek. "I know this is the most stressful Daytona 500 I've ever been in."  More at CBS Sportsline

UPS extends deal with NASCAR  UPS announced it had signed a new five-year agreement with NASCAR to continue as the official express delivery company of the sport through the 2011 racing season. The exclusive “Official Delivery Company” partnership extends a highly successful union dating back to UPS’s initial entry into the sport in 2000. As part of the deal, UPS will continue providing its popular Trackside Services to the industry at all Nextel Cup Series races as well as logistics, freight and supply chain services. Today, UPS serves as the delivery company to approximately 99% of the more than 1,000 NASCAR family businesses, race teams, race tracks, NASCAR business units, other NASCAR sponsors and suppliers. That represents a 55% increase in racing customers since UPS entered the sport. UPS’s decision to extend its relationship with NASCAR follows the company’s decision in 2006 to move its team sponsorship with Dale Jarrett to the new #44 Toyota Camry, which debuts at the Daytona 500 on February 18. UPS maintains six individual track sponsorships, including Bristol Motor Speedway, California Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Richmond International Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway. UPS also has been an active supporter of NASCAR’s diversity efforts to embrace the expanding demographics of its fan base. In November, the company contributed $100,000 to five minority students at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C. The scholarships cover all school expenses except room and board for qualified minority students attending the institute. To date, UPS has provided $600,000 in scholarships to the program. For more information, log onto www.racing.ups.com.
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