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Felipe Massa backs A1GP concept  
Felipe Massa
2008 Formula One runner-up Felipe Massa backed the nation versus nation concept of A1GP when he watched qualifying at Kyalami today.  It was Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro’s Massa’s first visit to an A1GP event, and he praised the ideology behind the World Cup of Motorsport after watching the session first hand from the pit wall.

The 27-year-old is well known for having a strong sense of national pride, notably having won the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix in specially designed Brazilian-colored fireproof overalls.

“The championship has a nice style,” Massa told A1GP.com. “It’s quite competitive, so I’m happy to be here getting this first experience of watching A1GP. It’s an intelligent format to have countries against countries and a good idea.”

“The nationality side of motorsport is very important. A lot of people want to see the team and want to see also the nationality of a driver. And I think that’s really, really important to have that in A1GP. In Formula 1 the drivers like to represent the countries. So this is very, very nice.” More ...

NASCAR increases length of restart zone  NASCAR has increased the restart zone for the leader to restart the race from 50 feet to 110 feet. Prior to this season, drivers had the entire distance from the restart line (typically coming out of Turn 4) to the starting line in order to mash the gas and restart the event.

NASCAR created a 50-foot restart zone last week at Daytona International Speedway. If a driver didn’t restart the race by the end of the zone, the flagman would wave the green and restart the event.

That distance apparently was too small. NASCAR has increased the length to 110 feet for the races at Auto Club Speedway in California this weekend.

Drivers of the Truck and Nationwide series were told of the adjustment during their prerace drivers meetings today.

tv news
Peter Windsor guest on Wind Tunnel Sunday  
Guest Co-Host              Peter Windsor (SPEED F1 Reporter)

SPEED Formula 1 reporter, Peter Windsor, will be Wind Tunnel’s guest Co-Host this Sunday February 22nd. In addition to preparing for SPEED’s coverage of the 2009 season, Windsor is also preparing to become a F1 team owner in 2010. We’ll talk to Peter about those plans as well as preview this year’s F1 campaign.

Featured Interview      Miguel Duhamel (5-time Daytona 200 Winner)

5-time Daytona 200 winner, Miguel Duhamel, will be a featured guest on Wind Tunnel this Sunday. As a veteran factory Honda rider, Duhamel lost his ride for 2009 when Honda pulled their factory support of the newly-managed AMA Pro Racing. With rides hard to come by, some thought the 8-time AMA champion’s racing days were over. But just last week, Duhamel announced he would be racing for Pascal Picotte’s Blackfoot Suzuki team for this one race...giving him one more chance to earn a record 6 Daytona 200 victories.

This Week’s Races

Sprint CUP, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series in Fontana, CA
NHRA in Phoenix
AMA Supercross in Atlanta

Montoya, Speed not interested in driving for US F1 team  A new Formula One team based in the United States will announce its plans Tuesday, but no Sprint Cup drivers with connections to the series expect to be involved.

Juan Pablo Montoya, who has seven career Formula One victories, seemed surprised when asked about the pending announcement Friday at Auto Club Speedway in California.

“I didn’t even know there was supposed to be a team here,” Montoya said.

Scott Speed, who competed in Formula One in 2006 and 2007, laughed when asked if he was going back to that circuit.

“No, I don’t think so,” the Red Bull Racing driver said. “I’ve been there, done that.”

[Editor's Note: A new team such as the US F1 team is sure to be a F1 backmarker for 10 or more years, so what American driver is going to risk taking a hit on their career to run at the back in F1?  It would be called career-suicide.  Even Honda and Toyota, with all their resources, have failed in F1. ]

Chrysler Canada gets hit with a $500 million tax bill  The federal government has slapped a $500-million charge against Chrysler Canada Inc. as part of a high-stakes tax battle that is complicating government bailout negotiations for the troubled auto maker.

According to Federal Court documents obtained by The Globe and Mail, the Canada Revenue Agency began notifying Chrysler Canada in 2002 that it had been reassessed and owed “substantial increases” in taxes for three years starting in 1996. The reassessment, one of three issued against the company between 2002 and 2005, targeted the pricing of automobiles and parts that crossed the border between Chrysler Canada and its Detroit parent. More ...

Sprint Cup Notebook for Saturday  On Friday afternoon Brian Vickers, driver of the #83 Red Bull Racing Toyota, felt like he was on top of the world after winning the Coors Light Pole Award at the Auto Club Speedway. Vickers turned a lap of 183.429 MPH around the speedway's two mile oval and the fast time stood during the course of the afternoon despite a serious challenge from Jimmie Johnson. There was another reason why Vickers was on top of the world. He truly believed that winning the Coors Light Pole in Fontana was going to alleviate some of the stress he's had to deal with following the controversy from last Sunday's Daytona 500.

But auto racing is full of surprises and the complexion of a race can change in virtually no time at all. One hour after celebrating his qualifying run Vickers got bad news from his crew chief. During the course of changing his Toyota from qualifying to race trim a problem with the engine was discovered. A problem serious enough to force the team to notify NASCAR officials that they were going to have to make an engine change. When the field for Sunday's Auto Club 500 begins the pre race parade laps Vickers will have to make that slow and agonizing move to the rear of the field. More ...
racing news
Larry H. Miller Dies at 64  UPDATE The American Le Mans Series is mourning the loss of Larry Miller, creator and founder of Miller Motorsports Park along with the Utah-based Larry H. Miller Group of Companies. Miller passed away Friday from complications due to Type 2 diabetes at his home. He was 64.

“We send our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Miller family during this very difficult time,” said American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton. “Larry was a visionary in the truest sense and an exceptional businessman, but also one of the most genuine people I have had the pleasure of knowing. The businesses and facilities he built for Salt Lake City, Utah and the region as a whole will be his lasting legacy. He also had a well-known passion for the automobile and sports car racing. Realizing his dream of constructing Miller Motorsports Park -truly a world-class racing facility by every measure - is something he was very proud of. He was a tremendous enthusiast of the American Le Mans Series even before our first race there in 2006.and we are all better people for having known him as a person and worked with him as a professional.”

In this Aug. 8, 2008, file photo, Larry Miller, owner of Utah Jazz, explains his medical conditions during a news conference in Salt Lake City. Miller disclosed a series of health complications that he said nearly ended his life several times, including a heart attack. Miller died Friday, Feb. 20, 2009, at home from complications due to Type 2 diabetes. He was 64.
AP Photo
Larry H. Miller, husband, father, grandfather, a well-known entrepreneur, community advocate and humanitarian, died from complications due to type 2 diabetes today, at home, surrounded by his family.  He was 64.

Miller, a man who truly loved Utah, its people and its land, was born in Salt Lake City in 1944. From modest beginnings, he grew up in the Capitol Hill area and went on to become one of Utah’s most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders. 

Leaving behind a profound professional and personal legacy, the entities Miller created have had a significant and lasting impact on the communities in which he did business, and the more than 7,000 individuals he employed.

The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies began with the Larry H. Miller Toyota store in Murray, Utah on May 1, 1979.  Through the years, Miller amassed more than 80 businesses and properties in the western United States.  Most notable are the Utah Jazz, EnergySolutions Arena, the Salt Lake Bees, Miller Motorsports Park, Megaplex Theatres, and 39 automobile dealerships spanning the Rocky Mountain West.  Miller also developed a vast real estate holdings including commercial and agricultural properties. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Honda says Suzuka revamp on track
  • No night racing until 2015 - Sepang
  • More stray dogs disrupt F1 test
  • Berger tips Red Bull for '09 form
  • Haug admits Merc's eye on Vettel
  • Mere tenths divide seven teams - Gene
  • Branson admits interest in F1 bid

Honda says Suzuka revamp on track
(GMM)  Suzuka is on track to returning to the calendar this year, despite the withdrawal from formula one as a competitor of the circuit's owner Honda.

After an absence while the Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway hosted the Japanese grand prix, Suzuka is scheduled to host October's race as the two circuits now annually alternate.

Suzuka has been busy renovating its ageing facilities in the interim, and those works are nearing completion, with a re-opening set for April 12, Honda said in a statement.

"After a break of two years, the grand prix of Japan, round 15 of the formula one world championship, will be held on October 2-4," Honda confirmed.

No night racing until 2015 - Sepang
(GMM)  Sepang will not go down the route of night racing for the foreseeable future, a spokesman for the Malaysian circuit has confirmed.

Like Melbourne's grand prix, the Malaysian event will move to a 'twilight' start time in 2009, to better serve the European television audience.

But the spokesman told the Associated Press: "There are no contracts that we have to do night races."

He said Sepang looked into the night race option, pioneered last year by Singapore, but concluded that the cost of the lighting was too high.

The existing contract, now amended for a later 5pm start, runs until 2015.

Track chairman Datuk Mokhzani Tun Mahathir is quoted as saying by the Bernama news agency: "(The 5pm start) is another way of saying that there will be no night race until 2015."

He said the "economic crisis" was the leading reason for the decision to decline the night race route. More ...

Waltrip plane develops trouble  UPDATE "There was an issue with one motor that lost oil pressure, so they shut it down," [Marcos] Ambrose said. "On the landing, apparently the other motor got jammed in reverse thrust. But everybody is safe and sound." All three crews for MWR -- Ambrose's #47 Toyota, Waltrip's #55 Camry and David Reutimann #00 car -- were on the plane, but none of the drivers were on board. Tad Geschickter, co-owner of Ambrose's car, also was on the flight. ESPN.com

02/20/09 A private aircraft landed safely at McCarran International Airport Thursday afternoon after the left engine had to be shut down during the flight. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the Canada Air Challenger CL60 was en route to Ontario, Calif. near Auto Club Speedway, when it diverted to Las Vegas because of the engine trouble. McCarran spokesman Chris Jones said the plane landed without incident on the west side of the airport. The Clark County Fire Department was alerted to the problem. Fire Department spokesman Scott Allison said no injuries were reported and the 48 people on board the regional jet all exited the aircraft safely after the incident, which happened about 4:20pm. It was unclear what caused the engine trouble. Gregor said the aircraft is owned by Michael Waltrip Racing. Las Vegas Sun
Netherlands shows its hand  
Jeroen Bleekemolen
A1 Team Netherlands became the team to beat going into qualifying, as lap times tumbled in final practice for Go-GP.org A1GP Gauteng, South Africa.

The times fell dramatically from yesterday as teams experimented with their one practice use of the PowerBoost lap they will get to use in qualifying this afternoon.

The functionality of the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car allows for the PowerBoost button to be available for an entire lap of qualifying, and teams will be allowed to use it for one of their four flying laps. The PowerBoost button gives an extra 60bhp on application, so the ability to use it throughout a lap is likely to make a significant difference to the car’s capability.

Bleekemolen's lap of 1 minute 28.128 seconds was the quickest lap of the weekend so far, with the Dutchman no doubt helped by the fact that he is the only driver to have previously raced at the 2.65-mile Kyalami circuit before. More ...

Lebanon still strong on Saturday  Daniel Morad kept up Lebanon’s astounding pace this weekend in the first of this morning’s bonus practice sessions in Gauteng, South Africa.

Morad made the best of the cool morning conditions at the Kyalami circuit to lap even quicker than his session-topping pace yesterday, recording a 1m 30.123-second lap, about eight tenths of a second quicker.

Great Britain’s Danny Watts was second, although his session wasn’t without incident, stopping out on track towards the end of 45-minute run after an off-track moment which damaged the GBR nosecone. More ...

China tops second bonus session  A1 Team China began its A1GP Gauteng, South Africa weekend well, by running fastest in the second bonus session arranged this morning.

Ho-Pin Tung, on his return to the Chinese car this weekend, clocked a lap of 1m 31.328 seconds as the track conditions got hotter at the start of a glorious day in Johannesburg.

Brazil’s Felipe Guimaraes was second on his track debut, beating Italy’s Edoardo Piscopo into third. More ...

Q&A with Brian Vickers  
Brian Vickers celebrates winning the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway
Jason Smith/Getty Images
Do you feel good about starting on the pole for Sunday's race?

"It always feels good to be on the pole and take the trophy home.  Most importantly we start at the front of the field on Sunday and probably more important than that is the pit selection, that's probably the biggest advantage - that's really what you're fighting for in my mind on Friday." 

Where did your car seem to work better on the track?  Can you take us for a lap around the track?

"It stuck the best all the way around.  There's times when you have a car that works better on entry, middle or exit.  During practice we really fought tight on entry to middle and were okay on exit, maybe a little loose.  We made some adjustments at the end of practice and we weren't sure how they were going to turn out to try to make it turn better in through the center and still keep or improve the drive off on exit.  I'd say we fixed all three because the car was fantastic in qualifying pretty much every turn all the way around the complete lap even coming down to the green.  It got down to the corner good, to the white line, stayed there and when I got back on the gas I never had to check up.  It was just a perfect lap and the car handled amazing all the way around.  In this sport - in the Sprint Cup Series - you have to just about have a perfect car and a perfect lap to sit on the pole.  I've had some really good cars and some really good laps and been fifth, much less second.  That's why it's a nail bitter.  Even when you lay down what you think is an amazing lap, I don't count it until the last car crosses the line because the competition is so strong from a driver perspective and from a team perspective.  It really takes everything to sit on the pole in this series." More ...

Briton Tom Gladdis becomes youngest driver in F2 line-up  
Tom Gladdis
Tom Gladdis has secured the penultimate place in the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship and becomes the series’ youngest driver.

British driver Gladdis is due to celebrate his 18th birthday next week, and he joins Formula Two after finishing sixth in the Star Mazda Championship in North America. Gladdis took one victory, two pole positions and three podiums in just 10 races, having skipped two rounds of the championship through being too young to compete.

Gladdis, who was born on the Isle of Wight but now resides in Gibraltar, only began his racing career in 2007 when he was awarded a Formula BMW UK scholarship following a track test evaluation. This gave Gladdis the chance to compete in the Formula BMW World Final in Valencia – a race that was eventually won by fellow F2 driver Philipp Eng. More ...

PowerBoost good for entire lap in A1GP  Some teams loved it and some teams hated it but the PowerBoost ‘joker’ has been reinstated for Saturday qualifying.

The functionality of the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car allows for the PowerBoost button to be available for an entire lap of Qualifying, and teams will be allowed to use it for one of their four flying laps.

The PowerBoost button gives an extra 60bhp on application, so the ability to use it throughout a lap is likely to make a significant difference to the car’s capability.

As in Taupo, the Sprint race in South Africa will have a standing and not a rolling start after a great deal of consideration was given to the change implemented in New Zealand.  Both these changes will remain a feature for the remainder of Season Four.

Rahal vs. Rodriguez  Alex Rodriguez arrived in Tampa, Fla., this week to a media gauntlet and issued a mea culpa for taking steroids earlier this decade.

The Yankees open spring training in Tampa, while the IndyCar Series opens its season April 3-5 across Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg, prompting this comparison (See IndyCar.com)

[Editor's Note:  Would NASCAR do this kind of an article? Would the NFL do this kind of an article? ...  We don't care who you are or what the situation is, this is just plain tasteless. It's not funny, and it's not clever.  Steroids or not, Rahal's accomplishments before or after Alex Rodriguez's steroid period pale in comparison.  Rodriquez is a superstar, and will remain one.  Rahal has yet to stake his claim to superstardom.]

Renault’s Debt Rating Is Lowered to Junk  Renault SA, France’s second-biggest carmaker, had its credit rating cut to junk status by Moody’s Investor’s Service, which cited “significantly worse operating performance and negative free cash flow” in 2008.

The long-term rating was reduced to Ba1, the first grade into junk, from Baa2, the second-lowest investment level, the credit reporting company said today in a statement. Moody’s gave Renault a “stable” outlook, indicating it’s not likely to change the rating soon.

Auto markets “will remain challenging in 2009, with significant drops in volume expected,” and a “limited prospect of a meaningful recovery in 2010,” Falk Frey, a Frankfurt-based analyst for Moody’s, said in the statement. European governments’ moves to encourage consumers to buy new cars by scrapping older models may “cushion the shock.”

Sir Frank against wind tunnel limitations  Frank Williams has hit out proposals to reduce the use of wind tunnels in Formula One; the potentially cost-cutting idea is being discussed by the Formula One Teams' Association as it looks to present it to the FIA.

The sport's governing body is unable, however, to accept a proposal until all teams have come to an agreement over the matter. Both Williams and its engine supplier Toyota have expressed their dissatisfaction over the idea, which would give teams the option to focus more on development via either wind tunnels or CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), as opposed to using both. If put into practice, the process would see costs decrease as well as contributing to a 'greener' F1 as a result of energy saving.

Despite agreeing initially to the proposal, Frank Williams has since explained to Autosport that he is unhappy with certain teams' comments explaining that, as they possess only one wind tunnel, his Grove-based squad should follow suit. The team principal claims this is "a very strong piece of discrimination" against, not only Williams F1, but the likes of other teams in possession of two wind tunnels such as his engine supplier Toyota and the up-for-sale Honda team.

Despite jokingly offering the more comical suggestion of having only one driver as well, Williams has made his feelings clear that his team is not happy about the issue and further insists that any major technical modification must be with "unanimous agreement" from all teams.

Engine change forces polesitter to rear of field  Brian Vickers earned Red Bull Racing Team’s second pole in the past 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races Friday, turning a lap at 183.439 mph during qualifying at Auto Club Speedway. But the celebration didn’t last long, as the No. 83 team was forced to change engines after time trials. They’ll have Saturday’s lone 1-hour, 45-minute practice session to dial in the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota before dropping to the rear in Sunday’s race. It was the sixth career pole and second at the 2-mile track for the 25-year-old Vickers, who also qualified the No. 83 first last Aug. 15 at Michigan. “I couldn’t ask for much more out of the car,” Vickers said. “Ryan (Pemberton, crew chief) and the guys from the Red Bull team did an amazing job. In this sport — in the Sprint Cup Series — you have to just about have a perfect car and a perfect lap to sit on the pole. “Pit selection is very important, and we’ll be alright there. But it’s a shame we’ll be starting from the back. Having all of that traffic in front of us will be a challenge, but I know we’re all up for it. We have 500 miles to get up there and fight for the win.”
Kyle Busch wins truck pole in Fontana  
Kyle Busch's pole winning Toyota Tundra
Billy Ballew Motorsports’ Kyle Busch will lead the field to the green flag for Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series San Bernardino County 200 at Auto Club Speedway.  Busch, who led Friday’s qualifying session with lap of 174.161 mph, will be joined by Red Horse Racing’s Johnny Benson (172.683) on the front row.

“That’s an awesome run,” said Busch, the defending race winner. “We’ll take that and get into the race tomorrow and hopefully have another strong run.”

Kevin Harvick Inc.’s Ricky Carmichael (172.010), KHI’s Ron Hornaday and Randy Moss Motorsports’ Mike Skinner rounded out the top five. More ...

Extra A1GP sessions scheduled  A1GP Gauteng, South Africa will now have additional track time following delays that affected a number of teams on Friday. 

Five cars did not make it onto the Kyalami track for these two sessions due to a technical issue beyond the teams’ control. With Kyalami sitting 2000-feet above sea level, A1GP has had to introduce new parts to the cars’ fuel systems to combat the high altitude. Unfortunately, the additional parts were not available to be fitted in time to five cars. It also delayed some of the other cars which did get out.

The cars will now be allowed out for an additional rookie session from 07.40 to 08.25 and an additional practice session from 09.15 to 10.05.

Because teams were affected in different ways some will run for the whole of each session, some will run for just 25 minutes of each session and some will not run at all. In the both sessions teams may only use the originally nominated driver. More ...

VICI Racing latest Sebring entry  VICI Racing has joined the grid for the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida, the opening race of the 2009 American Le Mans Series season. The team has submitted paperwork for a pair of Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs for America’s greatest sports car race.

There may be more to come, however. VICI Racing expects to have details in place to enter a third Porsche in GT2, adding to the depth and quality of the Series’ most competitive class. The second-year team also expects to announce additional details of its full-season program coming soon including drivers and sponsors.

VICI Racing spokesperson Edd Ellison, did hint that a driver with a name well-known in sports car racing circles will be part of the team at Sebring and potentially for the full season.

GM shares hit 74-year low  General Motors Corp. shares on Friday tumbled to their lowest level in more than 70 years, pulled down by a drop in the broader markets and continued speculation about the future of the struggling automaker.

GM shares hit a low of $1.52 in early afternoon trading, before rebounding to $1.82 later in the session. The low matched a record set on July 26, 1934, according to the Center for Research in Security Prices at the University of Chicago.

The price is adjusted for splits and other changes.

The Detroit-based automaker's shares have been battered over the past year by worries about the viability of the U.S. auto industry and plunging sales stemming from the industrywide drop in demand for new vehicles.

GM shares were worth $3.50 just a month ago and $25.54 a year ago.

Youthful group of Indy Lights drivers heads to Homestead  Winter private tests have been held and lap times have been debated. Now it’s time to find out who really has the car to beat in 2009.

Firestone Indy Lights teams will get their first indication when the series conducts its first Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 24.  As many as 14 newcomers will kick off the test with a day dedicated to rookie tests on Feb. 23.

“The key to the test for all drivers is teach them to hold their line around the track,” said Firestone Indy Lights race director Tony Cotman, who will observe the rookie drivers alongside four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears, who returns as the series’ driver coach for the eighth-consecutive season.

“Some drivers may need more help than others, so it’s really more an extra day on track with Rick available to lend his expertise.” More ...

IndyCar Series drivers ready to start testing  One hundred seventy days after Scott Dixon was crowned the IndyCar Series champion at Chicagoland Speedway, teams and drivers will re-fire their Honda engines and begin on-track preparations for the 2009 season.

Drivers and teams are scheduled for 10 hours of testing Feb. 24-25 on the 1.5-mile, variable-banked oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Rookies will receive an additional five hours of testing on Feb. 23.

“Testing is always important, one just to get back on track,” said Vision Racing’s Ed Carpenter, who recorded two top-five finishes last season. “That test used to be a little bit more urgent, because that track was also our first race. Now we’ll be testing there and not going back until the end of the year, so I think it may change the test a little bit, because you’re not going to be testing as specific, getting ready for the event.

“Either way, it’s time to get going again. The teams have all probably made minor changes, personnel, different things on the car. It’s always exciting to get out and test new stuff and get going again with the guys.” More ...

Doornbos signs with NHL Racing  
Robert Doornbos
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) announced today that Dutch driver Robert Doornbos, 27, will join the team for the 2009 IndyCar Series (ICS) season. Details of the sponsorship will be announced at a later date.

While competing against NHLR in the Champ Car World Series in 2007 as a rookie, Doornbos finished on the podium five of the first six races including a win in Mont Tremblant, Canada. He went on to finish third in season standings to NHLR driver Sebastien Bourdais, who earned his fourth straight series title, and second place finisher Justin Wilson, who drove for the team in 2008. Most recently Doornbos competed in the China and New Zealand rounds of the 2008/2009 A1GP series and finished on the podium twice in the four races (sprint and feature race per round).

"I'm very happy and proud to get this chance to race with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing,” said Doornbos. “Racing in the IndyCar Series has been my biggest dream and especially to do it with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. The history of the team and the big success they have had in the past really attracted me and it makes me proud to become part of this winning team. Racing on the ovals should be very exciting. It will be tough, but I'm training as much as possible and am in good condition and ready to achieve results. I’m also excited to race in the legendary Indy 500. I really want to thank Mr. Haas and Mr. Lanigan for giving me this chance. I'm looking forward to the first race." More ...

Yates and Gilliland part ways  
David Gilliland
Yates Racing and David Gilliland announced today that they are terminating their relationship due to a lack of sponsorship on Yates Racing’s No. 38 Sprint Cup car.  Gilliland began driving the No. 38 car for Robert Yates Racing in mid-2006.  “David did a great job for us and is a gifted driver.  We are sorry to lose him but it is important for David to continue driving, and sponsorship is very tough this year,” stated Doug Yates of Yates Racing. 

“The folks at Yates Racing treated me very fairly and I appreciate that” said Gilliland.  “Yates is a great organization and I am sorry to leave.  But I need to move on and pursue other opportunities for my Sprint Cup career.”  Yates wishes David a bright future in his driving career, and David likewise wishes much success for Yates.

GM's Saab files for bankruptcy  UPDATE GM Statement: As a result of GM’s strategic review of the global Saab business the Saab Board announced today that it will file for reorganization under a self-managed Swedish court process to create a fully independent business entity that would be sustainable and suitable for investment.

The reorganization is a self-managed, Swedish legal process headed by an independent administrator appointed by the court who will work closely with the Saab management team. As part of the process, Saab will formulate its proposal for reorganization, which will include the concentration of design, engineering and manufacturing in Sweden. This proposal will be presented to creditors within three weeks of the filing. Pending court approval, the reorganization will be executed over a three-month period and will require independent funding to succeed.

“We explored and will continue to explore all available options for funding and/or selling Saab and it was determined a formal reorganization would be the best way to create a truly independent entity that is ready for investment,” said Jan Ake Jonsson, Managing Director for Saab Automobile. “With an all new 9-5, 9-3X and 9-4X all ready for launch over the next year and a half, Saab has an excellent foundation for strong growth, assuming we can get the funding to complete engineering, tooling and manage launch costs. Reorganization will give us the time and means that help get these products to market while minimizing the liquidity impact of Saab on GM.”

Funding for the restructured company will need to be secured during the reorganization process and will be sought from both public and private sources.

Saab will continue to operate as usual and in accordance with the formal reorganization process, with the Government providing some support during this period. The reorganization should have no impact on other GM operations. Details of the progress will be provided as milestones are achieved.

02/20/09 Sweden has been in the news lately. And so has General Motors (GM). But you may not have known that the two intersect. That's because Swedish car-maker Saab is a GM subsidiary -- one that just filed for bankruptcy.

GM's viability is also seriously in question, thanks to its unrealistic financial projections. Perhaps the best solution is some kind of prepackaged bankruptcy that would let GM continue operating while it renegotiates contracts with workers, suppliers, dealers, and bondholders.

Sweden is also in the news because some are citing its 1990s temporary nationalization of the banking industry as a model for what should happen in the U.S. But those folks are barking up the wrong tree. How so? We have a dual problem here: We need to get lending going fast and we need to wind down failed financial institutions in an orderly way.

Goodyear developing bigger tire  UPDATE Goodyear’s plan for a bigger tire won’t necessarily alter NASCAR’s phase-in plan for a new model car for the Nationwide Series, series Director Joe Balash says.

NASCAR already has delayed the introduction of the car from sometime this year to at least 2010 or beyond. Now that Goodyear has said it hopes to have a bigger tire ready to race sometime in 2010, that could throw another curve into the introduction of NASCAR’s new Nationwide car since a change in the size of the tire would require teams to change the chassis.  Goodyear says the new tire might be an inch or two taller and wider in order to handle the high right-side loads of the new car, but Balash says the series may move ahead with the new model anyway.

“2010 is too aggressive for anybody to talk about that tire – it will be a much longer process, so I don’t think the introduction of that car and the tire [will match],” Balash said. “We’re well aware of all the processes and the dimensions and those things. We’ve seen a prototype.”

So will the Nationwide Series have a new car in 2010? That introduction remains to be seen.

“We’re going to do our due diligence like we did last year,” Balash said. “We’re going to take the next few weeks and spend a lot of time with the owners and get a good feel on how they feel for the car, and then we’ll go back to senior management and make a recommendation on our comfort level with 2010 and the launch. Scenedaily.com

02/05/09 Goodyear is developing a wider, taller tire that could improve racing in the Sprint Cup series, but the tire won't be ready for competition until sometime next year at the earliest, a company official said. Goodyear officials hope to test the tire at a track in the second half of the season, said Greg Stucker, Goodyear's director of race tire sales.

The tire could make its debut at the short- track events in 2010 if things go well. That would follow how NASCAR phased in the Car of Tomorrow. The main advantage of a taller, wider tire is it could give drivers more grip. That would help the car's handling and could give teams improved tire wear. "We're operating right on the edge of the envelope for our current package," Stucker said. More ...

A cloud over Valencia  Grands Prix are often closely linked to one individual and thus the news that Francisco Camps, the President of the Generalitat Valenciana, has been implicated in a corruption scandal needs to be taken seriously in F1 circles. Camps has been one of the major forces behind the revival of the city of Valencia, the America's Cup competition and the Grand Prix.

The accusations against Camps come from Judge Baltasar Garzon, who claims that Camps received $40,000 worth of suits from Alvaro Perez, an event promoter, in order for him to gain lucrative contracts to stage special events. Perez was arrested earlier this week. Garzon claims that his company Orange Market made at least $6m in fees for organizing events for the regional government.

Camps's Partido Popular has gone onto the attack, saying that the anti-corruption prosecutor is politically-motivated. He, however, has now handed over his investigations to other investigators. Camps says he is innocent and will take legal action against anyone making such claims.

It remains to be seen what will happen to Camps, but the removal of any high profile supporter of an F1 race is always a danger for the future. In part from Grandprix.com

Gauteng, South Africa – A1 Teams Nominated Drivers  The following drivers have signed-on to compete in Go-GP.Org A1GP Gauteng, South Africa:

A1 Team

Driver 1

Driver 2

Driver 3


John Martin

Ashley Walsh


Felipe Guimarães


Ho Pin Tung


Nicolas Prost

Great Britain

Danny Watts

James Winslow


Michael Ammermüller


Zahir Ali

Satrio Hermanto


Narain Karthikeyan

Parthiva Sureshwaren


Adam Carroll

Niall Quinn


Edoardo Piscopo


Daniel Morad

Jimmy Auby


Fairuz Fauzy

Aaron Lim


Salvador Duran

Juan Pablo Garcia


Clivio Piccione

Hubertus Bahlsen


Jeroen Bleekemolen

Dennis Retera

New Zealand

Earl Bamber

Chris van der Drift


Filipe Albuquerque

Antonio Felix da Costa

South Africa

Adrian Zaugg

Cristiano Morgado

Gavin Cronje


Neel Jani

Alexandre Imperatori


Marco Andretti

John R Hildebrand 

NASCAR watching Fontana attendance  
Attendance at Fontana has been spotty at best for NASCAR
The NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Southern California a year ago was hampered by rain that caused numerous delays and frustrated fans, drivers and track officials. Now the sport and the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana are about to be tested again, this time by an economic storm -- and a big question is how many stock car racing fans will weather it by showing up. Then again, in light of Auto Club Speedway's recent history, it could be difficult to precisely separate the economy's impact on Sunday's race attendance from other factors. Ever since NASCAR awarded two Cup races a year to the track in 2004, the 92,000-seat facility has not sold out for either event. It's a shortfall whose potential causes -- ranging from how the races are marketed to the quality of racing on the wide two-mile oval to bad weather -- have been hotly debated in NASCAR Nation.  Los Angeles Times
Dixon honored on stamp  Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon is among five New Zealand race car/motorcycle drivers featured in a New Zealand Champions of World Motorsport stamp series released this week by New Zealand Post.

Dixon, who earlier this month was recognized as New Zealand’s Sportsman of the Year, is featured on a 50 cent stamp (the going rate for regular posts).

“It’s crazy. I can't believe I am on a stamp,” Dixon said. “I would never have thought I would have the honor. I can’t wait to see them and I will be using them for as long as I can.”

Dixon prevailed as the IndyCar Series champion for the second time, winning the 92nd Indianapolis 500 among a series record-tying six races along the way. He’ll participate in the first Open Test of the season next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway in preparation for the opening race April 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. More ...

John Force crew chief John Medlen admitted to hospital  Longtime John Force Racing crew chief John Medlen was admitted to an Indianapolis hospital for discomfort in his chest late last night. After an examination by doctors, a routine medical procedure was performed, and a stent was inserted into his heart.

This is the second such procedure for the 59-year-old. In 2002, Medlen had a stent inserted as a precaution and, as a result, missed the NHRA national event in Seattle. He returned a week later to resume his responsibilities in Sonoma. A year later, he won the NHRA world championship for JFR with driver Tony Pedregon.

“John Medlen like everyone in my organization is an extremely hard worker. We have been having meetings and working around the clock to start this season off as successfully as possible for all our sponsors,” said team owner John Force. “I know Medlen has already been talking with Mike Neff about how to run the Ford Drive One Ford Mustang this weekend. Incidents like this are why John Medlen wanted to bring Mike Neff onboard. More ...

1 hour "Indy Car Profile" TV show starts on VS March 7  The new Versus IndyCar Profile show starts March 7th and seems to be running every Saturday from 2-3 PM

March 7th: Danica Patrick Retrospective
March 14th: Top 10 Closest IndyCar Series Finishes
March 21st: Indy Car DNA- Crashes and Conflicts
March 28th: 2008 in review

Lauda thinks current drivers are dull dweebs  The lack of risk compared to when Niki Lauda used to race has not allowed the drivers to develop a personality and charisma, says the three times World Champion. Safety has been improved in all areas of motor sport, including the lower levels such a karting, giving drivers a more safe and secure environment to race in.

"Back then, death was always an option. Now they drive go-karts until 18 and start an F1 career. They never have a chance to develop a personality," Lauda told "The Mirror" in a recent interview.

Then he added this, speaking of current Champion Lewis Hamilton, "The only charisma he has is his Ms Scherzinger." Nicole Scherzinger being Hamilton's current girlfriend and main vocalist for the American pop group 'The Pussycat Dolls'.

racing news
ESPN TV Commentator wins another off-road race  
Cameron Steele
Defending SNORE (Southern Nevada Off-Road Enthusiasts) Unlimited Class champion Cameron Steele took the overall win at last weekend’s season opening Battle at Primm.  His 800-horsepower Desert Assassins Chevrolet Silverado finished the two-day, 120-mile race well ahead of the competition.

“My truck was awesome this weekend,” said Steele.  “I had all the power I needed and the Yokohama tire/ATX wheel combo was perfect with no flats as we continue to develop the best possible desert product with our family at Yokohama.”

Steele, from San Clemente, CA, is a commentator for ABC, ESPN and Fuel TV off-road coverage.  He has won 25 major off-road races, including a 2003 victory at the Baja 1000, since 1985 and was twice named the Person of the Year, by competing off-road series SCORE. More ...

GEICO to back Bodine and Papis in Fontana  If you are going to bring a date to a dance, you might as well bring one that has talent.  This week in Fontana, GEICO has brought two. 

GEICO, who is kicking off a four-year relationship with world-class driver Max Papis in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, is prepping their guy by providing him the opportunity to hop in the #9 GEICO Toyota Tundra this weekend in Fontana, CA, for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.  A week from now in Las Vegas, Papis and the Germain Racing team will be attempting to qualify for the first of twenty Sprint Cup Series races slated for the #13 GEICO Toyota Camry this season.

Papis, the 2004 Grand-Am Series Champion, is having a week of new beginnings.  Aside from his NASCAR career kicking off in Fontana, he and his wife Tatiana welcomed home their second son, Matteo, who was born on February 14th at 4:32 AM. Fittingly, Matteo was born on NASCAR’s 2009 opening weekend.  More ...
racing news
Simulations Training Program Announced for Women Racers  A group of America’s most promising young women racing drivers will have the opportunity later this spring to learn how to use state-of-the-art motorsport simulation software to advance their professional racing careers.  Sixteen members of the Women in the Winner’s Circle Driver Development Academy will spend time in iRacing.com’s Driver Development Lab in suburban Boston. 

Under the watchful eye of 1992 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Lyn St. James and a team of professional driving coaches, the students will learn how to use operator-in-loop simulation software to learn new tracks, become familiar with the performance characteristics of new cars, and make more effective use of expensive real-world track time. More ...

Mike Wallace looking for ride  The roar of the engines after Daytona Speedweeks has silenced and the series is heading west to Auto Club Speedway in California. For one driver with victories in two out of NASCAR three series racing this weekend, the silence is deafening. Mike Wallace, with four NASCAR Nationwide and four Camping World Truck Series victories to his credit, will not be competing. “I think people thought I was all set during Daytona because I was in both the Cup and Nationwide Series garages,” said Wallace. “I had a one-race deal with TRG to make the Daytona 500 in their #71 car. “Then, I had a one-race deal with JD Motorsports in the Nationwide race down there. We did okay there earning a top-20 in 19th place. In addition to the eight victories; he’s amassed a total of 56 top-fives and 130 top-10 finishes. “Right now, I am open to talking with owners about driving for their team,” said Wallace. “I’m sure there is a need for an experienced driver like myself and I’m willing to talk. If I can obtain a sponsor, I have several quality teams that I can take it to and we can be competitive right from the start. Basically, I just want folks to know I am available and ready to drive.” Wallace will be a co-host on ESPN2’s “NASCAR Now” Sunday morning, March 8 and on ESPN News following the Sprint Cup Series race. The following day, he will be a panelist on the Monday edition of “NASCAR Now” on ESPN2.
NASCAR suspends drug user crew member  UPDATE #2 The following is a statement from driver/owner Jeremy Mayfield of Mayfield Motorsports regarding Paul Chodora, who was found to be in violation of the NASCAR substance abuse policy: “Mayfield Motorsports respects the decision by NASCAR to indefinitely suspend Paul Chodora. We as an organization appreciate NASCAR's drug testing policies and policing efforts as it makes the sport stronger overall. If Paul doesn’t comply with NASCAR’s reinstatement process, then he will no longer be an employee of Mayfield Motorsports.” Mayfield Motorsports/Co-Pilott PR

02/20/09 Chodora, who NASCAR confirmed was a member of Jeremy Mayfield's #41 Sprint Cup team Thursday, is the first person to be punished under the policy that was amended last season to mandatory preseason testing and random testing throughout the season. Kevin Harvick fired two members of his Truck Series team that failed drug tests given by his organization, not NASCAR, prior to the season. Mayfield's team was formed only a month ago and crew members were not all hired at the time of NASCAR's preseason testing in January. Chodora was given a license by the governing body to participate in Sunday's Daytona 500, then was tested and suspended after only a day and a half of work. Chodora has served previously as a front tire changer with Johnny Sauter's team. ESPN

02/19/09 Paul Chodora, a licensed crew member in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy.

On Feb. 11, Chodora was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 7-5 (violation of the NASCAR substance abuse policy) of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rule book.

Zanardi changes to sequential gearbox  
Alex Zanardi's BMW
Racing legend Alessandro Zanardi will switch to a sequential gearbox for the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship. The Italian has previously used a normal H-gearbox, operating the clutch pedal with a button on the steering wheel due to his handicap.

"The new sequential gearbox is working fine. Despite the extra 30 kilos we have a good balance in the car and the lap times were almost identical compared to the old gearbox," wrote Zanardi on his webpage. The old system with the previous gearbox hindered Zanardi in some occasions, like at Macau. The other BMW-drivers used the clutch in the very tight hairpins to get the car around quicker, something Zanardi could not do.

"I had thousands other things to do with my other hand controls which made it very hard for me to get around such bends properly. At Macau I for example lost around three or four tenths in that corner. With a sequential gearbox this problem will be resolved," said Zanardi. More ...

FIM announces MotoGP cost cutting measures  Details of the changes to the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations for the 2009 season as announced by the FIM on Wednesday

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Claude Danis (FIM), Hervé Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in the presence of Messrs Vito Ippolito (FIM President), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Sport Director), Javier Alonso (Dorna) and M. Paul Butler (Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 18th February 2009 at the FIM Headquarters in Mies, Switzerland, unanimously decided to introduce the following amendments to the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations – with immediate application. More ...

Brian Stewart Racing signs Russian driver  Sergey Mokshantsev has watched plenty of oval racing on Russian television in the last few years. He'll get a new appreciation for it as a Firestone Indy Lights competitor.

The 26-year-old Russian has signed to drive for Brian Stewart Racing for the 2009 season. He'll drive team owner Brian Stewart's familiar No. 3 car this season and be the series' first driver from Russia.

"It takes a lot of desire to be a high-level racer, especially if you come from a country like Russia," said Stewart, whose teams won back-to-back Firestone Indy Lights entrants championships in 2005 and 2006. "Sergey has shown he has that desire and he has been successful in series he's raced in throughout Europe." More ...

Team Penske ready for Spring Training  It's been nearly four months since the final checkered flag dropped on the 2008 season and no one is more anxious to get back behind the wheel than Team Penske drivers Ryan Briscoe and Will Power. The 2009 IndyCar Series season is almost upon us, and the pair of Australian drivers are certainly looking forward to getting back out on the track at Homestead-Miami Speedway next week.

For Briscoe, 2009 will mark his second season with Team Penske, as he looks to continue the success he found in 2008 and build upon the momentum he established at the end of the season. Not only did the 27-year-old earn his first IndyCar Series victory at Milwaukee, but he also earned two more wins (Mid- Ohio and the non-points race at Surfers Paradise) and three poles during the course of the year. In the final seven events of the season (including the nonpoints exhibition at Surfers Paradise), Briscoe earned two poles and started in the top-five each time; he also earned seven top-ten finishes including two wins and four top-three finishes. With his win in Australia, Briscoe rounded out his open-wheel resume by winning on each type of IndyCar Series track in 2008 - an oval, a permanent road course and a temporary street circuit. More ...

Briscoe trains in Italy  Last Friday Ryan Briscoe returned to his home in North Carolina after spending ten days at Formula Medicine in Viareggio, Italy. The facility, led by Dr. Riccardo Ceccarelli, was founded to provide racecar drivers with a resource to learn about and implement successful training regimens into their lives.

Briscoe spent a significant amount of time at the facility in the early stages of his career, but this trip was the first time he'd been back since moving to the United States in 2005. Fitness has always been a large part of Briscoe's life, as he trains nearly every day.

"I put a great deal of importance on being fit," explains Briscoe. "It's vital to build my conditioning levels so I'm just as sharp at the end of a race as I am at the beginning. Fatigue is something I don't want to feel as the final laps wind down." More ...

Ryan Briscoe welcomes new race engineer  Will Power won't be the only new member of Team Penske's personnel when the green flag falls on practice next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Ryan Briscoe will be working with a new race engineer, Eric Cowdin, as he steps into his new position for the 2009 season.

Cowdin joined the Team last fall and immediately found success with the #6 Team Penske car as he and Briscoe teamed up to earn the Australian's third win of the 2008 season at Surfers Paradise. With one race under their belt, you can be sure that Cowdin and Briscoe will look to replicate that success as the 2009 season gets underway.

Cowdin began in open-wheel competition working with Forsythe Championship Racing/Tasman Motorsports Group from 1995-1999. There, he first met driver Tony Kanaan and worked with him in 1996 and 1997 in the Indy Lights Series, winning the 1997 Championship before moving with Kanaan to CART in 1999. He also worked with Cristiano Da Matta in his Championship 1998 Indy Lights season. More ...

NASCAR weekly cheating report  UPDATE
Nationwide Series
NASCAR announced today that three NASCAR Nationwide Series teams have been fined and penalized due to rule violations discovered during last week’s event at Daytona International Speedway.

Blake Bainbridge, crew chief of the No. 09 Ford driven by John Wes Townley, has been fined $15,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until June 30, 2009 for violating Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-I (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules) and 20A-18A (Once constructed and installed, the roll cage must be acceptable to NASCAR officials. Main roll bar (#1) was not round; was altered for clearance) of the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series rule book.

Jay Robinson was penalized with the loss of 100 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship owner points while Townley was docked 100 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship driver points.

Those infractions were discovered on Feb. 10 during opening-day inspection.

George Bartlett, crew chief of the No. 84 Chevrolet driven by Mike Harmon, has been fined $10,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until June 30, 2009 due to rule violations discovered during opening-day inspection and post-race inspection on Feb. 14, respectively. More ...

track news
Final briefs filed in Kentucky-NASCAR appeal  NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. as well as Kentucky Speedway have filed their final briefs in the track’s appeal in its antitrust lawsuit in U.S. Appeals Court in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The filings reiterated several of the arguments that both sides have made since the suit began in 2005.

Kentucky Speedway’s founders allege that NASCAR, a sanctioning body owned by the France family, and ISC, a publicly traded track-operating company whose majority of voting stock is owned by the France family, illegally conspire to keep non-ISC tracks from obtaining Cup races.

Kentucky Speedway’s founders reiterate their argument that because Jim France (brother of the late Bill France Jr.) and Lesa France Kennedy (Jim’s niece and sister to NASCAR CEO Brian France) are the two co-owners of NASCAR, that they can make decisions favorable to ISC. They allege that other tracks were pressured by the France family not to sell their tracks to the owners of Kentucky Speedway. More ...
GM axes high-performance group  Does this spell doom for GM's racing endeavors in a few years?  General Motors, focusing on mainstream products in a battle to survive, has scrapped a unit that produced high-performance vehicles.

GM today disbanded High Performance Vehicle Operations, which is based at the company's suburban Detroit technical center, and redeployed its engineers, said spokesman Vince Muniga.

"All high-performance projects are on indefinite hold," Muniga said. "The engineers are moving into different areas of the organization, and they will work on Cadillacs, Buicks, Chevrolets and Pontiacs."

The unit created low-volume vehicles for GM's divisions designed to appeal to enthusiasts and bolster the company's image. Products included V-series Cadillacs and the Chevrolet Cobalt SS, HHR SS and a V-8 version of the Colorado. More ...

track news
New Milwaukee Mile promoter announced  Wisconsin Motorsports, LLC has signed an agreement to retain promoter rights at The Milwaukee Mile motor speedway.  The historic venue is located on the Wisconsin State Fair Park grounds in West Allis, Wis. and continues to be the oldest active auto racing facility in the country, dating back to 1903.

In 2009, The Milwaukee Mile is set to hold the stars of the IndyCar Series the Sunday following the Indianapolis 500 on May 31, the popular NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series events on June 19 & 20, and the return of Wisconsin NASCAR superstar and 2009 Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth in a special Wisconsin All-Star 100 super late model event on August 29.

The new promoter agreement ensures the near-term and long-term future of auto racing at America’s Legendary Oval.

All purchased tickets for 2009 events at The Milwaukee Mile will be honored. More ...

Inmate sues, says NASCAR made him commit crimes  Today's Loser of the Day is Jonathan Lee Riches, who says NASCAR is responsible for his life of crime.

Jonathan Lee Riches filed suit in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., stating that watching races "influenced him to speed ... doing 135 mph and getting tickets."

And that's not all. He said his NASCAR addiction caused him to use "illegally obtained credit cards to attend races," and once there, he used more stolen credit cards to purchase products hawked by race drivers.

"I used (Kyle) Petty's Discover Card to buy Mark Martin Viagra," states the tardy complaint. (Viagra no longer sponsors Martin's car.) More ...

Massa wraps up Bahrain test on top  Felipe Massa wrapped up Ferrari’s testing program in Bahrain setting the quickest time of the day.  The Brazilian enjoyed a productive final day at the Sakhir circuit racking up 113 laps and posting a best time of 1:32.162, despite being hampered by a faulty cable in the morning which left his Ferrari F60 stranded on the track.

The Ferrari driver concentrated on reliability and assessing different setup configurations as well as developing the F60’s aerodynamic performance.

Nick Heidfeld was second quickest for BMW Sauber after lapping to within two tenths of Massa despite running into mechanical problems of his own.

“Although we lost some time due to a sandstorm last week, the long test in Bahrain was very productive,” said BMW Sauber’s technical director Willy Rampf. “We could work with the cars in temperatures we would not have encountered in Europe at this time of the year, making it good preparation for the first races of the upcoming season. More ...

NASCAR title sponsor circling the drain  UPDATE #3 Sprint Nextel said Thursday that it lost 1.3 million subscribers in the final three months of 2008. This marks an 8 percent decline from the 53.8 million total subscribers Sprint had at the end of 2007. Notably, it also dropped Sprint below the 50 million mark.

The customer erosion took a toll on Sprint’s sales, which dipped to $8.4 billion, down from $9.8 billion in the fourth quarter a year ago.

Sprint said it lost $1.6 billion, or 57 cents per share, in the final three months of the year. This compares with the $29.5 billion, or $10.36 per share, loss Sprint recorded in the same period a year ago after taking a non-cash accounting write-off of $28.7 billion.

01/26/09 Sprint Nextel Corp. is eliminating about 8,000 positions in the first quarter as it seeks to cut annual costs by $1.2 billion.

The nation's third-largest wireless provider said Monday it will complete the layoffs, which comprise about 14 percent of its 56,000 employees, largely by March 31. About 850 of the reductions are voluntary and the company said it expected a first quarter charge of more than $300 million for severance and other costs.

The company said it is also suspending its 401(k) match for the year, extending a freeze on salary increases and is suspending a tuition reimbursement program.

"Labor reductions are always the most difficult action to take, but many companies are finding it necessary in this environment," Chief Executive Office Dan Hesse said in a news release. "Our commitment to quality will not change."

With it's name all over the NASCAR series in the hope of winning new customers, Sprint Nextel lost a net of more than 3 million subscribers in the previous four quarters, most of them valuable customers who pay a monthly bill.

11/24/08 Suffering from a continuing customer exodus, Sprint Nextel posted a $326 million loss for its third quarter.

During the third quarter Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint Nextel said 1.3 million wireless customers left the company with roughly 1.1 million of them falling into the “postpaid” category. Postpaid customers are ones that sign up for annual plans and pay monthly. According to MarketWatch, Sprint has lost more than 4 million customers during the past two years - so what is the NASCAR sponsorship doing for them? Answer - absolutely nothing..

Sprint said it expects to lose more postpaid customers in the fourth quarter.

For its third-quarter, the nation’s third largest wireless provider posted a net loss of $326 million, or 11 cents

01/20/08 Sprint Nextel said Friday it plans to lay off 4,000 workers, close 125 of its retail locations and restructure operations in an effort to save $700 million to $800 million by the end of 2008.

The restructuring is the first move for new CEO Dan Hesse, who jointed Sprint Nextel Dec. 18. It also plans to take a goodwill write-down. The company said in a statement that it anticipates “continued downward pressure on subscriber trends, revenues, and profitability in 2008.”

tv news
AMA Pro and SPEED announce new AMA Pro event  AMA Pro Racing and SPEED announced today an innovative and unprecedented new programming format that will see 2009 AMA Pro Road Racing events, highlight coverage of other AMA Pro disciplines and a variety of in-studio and at-event features showcased every Saturday evening in the AMA Pro Prime Time show on America's leading motorsports television channel.

The 26-week run for AMA Pro Prime Time begins March 21, and will air every Saturday night on SPEED at 10 or 11 p.m. ET (7 or 8 p.m. PT), with each program ranging in length from one to three hours depending on weekly content. The programming schedule will feature flag-to-flag coverage of every 2009 AMA Pro American Superbike and AMA Pro Daytona SportBike race, ample coverage of other AMA Pro Road Racing divisions and select exposure of other motorcycle disciplines under the organization's umbrella.

The race programming will be packaged within a studio show that will offer viewers a variety of features, including in-studio guests, expert analysis, breaking news announcements, motorcycle unveilings and much more. Popular SPEED personality Ralph Sheheen will be the in-studio host for AMA Pro Prime Time while the race coverage team will be anchored by host and play-by-play announcer Leigh Diffey, pit reporter Greg White and a to-be-named analyst. More ...

Waiting for car, A1GP Drivers Take a Tour of Soweto  Their cars are late in arriving as revealed by AR1.com, so A1GP World Cup of Motorsport gave its drivers the opportunity to take in some of the local cultures including a guided tour around the south western Johannesburg township of Soweto this morning ahead of Go-GP.Org A1GP Gauteng, South Africa this coming weekend.

Soweto is an urban area in the City of Johannesburg with its name being an English syllabic abbreviation, short for South Western Township.  Covering 120 square-kilometers, Soweto consists of between 50 -60 townships with approximately 2-million people living there speaking between them 11 official languages. The area has a real entrepreneurial spirit with many locals choosing to start their own businesses in their back yards in order to look after themselves and their families. The streets are lined with colorful displays of items on sale from carved animals and beaded jewelry to clothes and pottery.

The first stop for the drivers was the iconic Apartheid Museum and the Nelson Mandela Exhibition where they learned more about the system of legal racial segregation enforced by the National Party government of South Africa between 1948 and 1994.

They then moved on to visit the site of the Soccer City Stadium being built in preparation for the 2010 World Cup. The stadium is designed to mirror a traditional African Zulu bracelet – similar to the ones the drivers were presented with by their tour guide, Jimmy, a Soweto local who had been doing this for 35 years. More ...

Kenseth does San Francisco  
Daytona 500 Champion Matt Kenseth enjoys some ice cream at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco on Wednesday during the West Coast leg of his champion's tour
Chucke Walkden
Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth learned how to crack a Dungeness crab, enjoyed world-class chocolates and was given a magnum of Sonoma Valley wine on Wednesday in San Francisco.

Kenseth (No. 17 DeWalt Ford), who won NASCAR’s Great American Race on Sunday, celebrated his historic win with a Victory Tour Through the Streets of San Francisco on-board a motorized cable car, complete with a California Highway Patrol escort.

Kenseth and his wife, Katie, enjoyed a first-class tour of San Francisco, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and visiting legendary Fisherman’s Grotto No. 9 at Fisherman’s Wharf.  Kenseth learned how to cook and crack a Dungeness crab under the guidance of co-owner Anthony Geraldi. 

The tour continued to Ghirardelli Square where the Kenseths received a large basket of gourmet chocolates and were treated to ice cream sundaes.

The cable car ride culminated at Willie Mays Plaza at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, where Kenseth greeted race fans and the Northern California media. Giants Vice President Russ Stanley presented Kenseth with an official team jersey, complete with Kenseth’s name and car number on the back.

Kenseth was also surprised at the press conference by a visit from Tony Moll, a Sonoma native who is an offensive lineman on Kenseth’s favorite NFL team, the Green Bay Packers.  Raceway President Steve Page also presented Kenseth with a commemorative magnum of Sonoma Valley wine. More ...

Daytona 500 Drivers Generate $45M In Value To Sponsors  SportsBusiness Daly reports that the 43 race cars on the track during the Daytona 500 broadcast on Fox delivered almost $45M in value to their affiliated sponsors, according to an analysis of the race conducted by K.C.-based sponsorship measurement firm Image Impact.



Car # Driver Duration (MM:SS) QI MV
1 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 20:37 0.175 $4,409,553
2 17 Matt Kenseth 13:16 0.237 $3,891,293
3 18 Kyle Busch 12:38 0.217 $3,567,796
4 24 Jeff Gordon 14:07 0.191 $3,181,804
5 99 Carl Edwards 10:20 0.221 $2,827,160
6 96 Bobby Labonte 06:46 0.321 $2,690,133
7 14 Tony Stewart 09:55 0.197 $2,065,133
8 5 Mark Martin 09:12 0.189 $1,975,578
9 48 Jimmie Johnson 09:59 0.163 $1,792,736
10 42 Juan Pablo Montoya 08:16 0.168 $1,614,386

METHODOLOGY: Includes Daytona 500 race as well as the "Road to Daytona" pre-race show on Fox. The QI ScoreSM (Quality Impact Score) is indicative of a detection's impact potential based upon observable presentation attributes such as duration, size, isolation and presentation type. The MV (Monetary Value) is a quality adjusted value of sponsorship presentations benchmarked against the broadcast's negotiated 30-second ad rate.

racing news
Firestone Racing Receives EPA Recognition  On behalf of Firestone Racing, Al Speyer, Executive Director of Firestone Racing and Greer Tidwell, Director of Environmental Management accepted recognition as a partner in the Environmental Protection Agency's National Partnership for Environmental Priorities (NPEP), which highlights environmental leadership through voluntary reduction of priority and hazardous chemicals such as lead.

A commemorative plaque was presented to Speyer and Tidwell at the Bridgestone Americas booth at the Chicago Auto Show - the world's largest consumer auto show. Presenting the award on behalf of the EPA was Janet Haff, Waste Minimization Coordinator.

During 2008, Firestone Racing permanently replaced the use of all lead wheel weights with non-toxic composite wheel weights and became a charter member of the National Lead Free Wheel Weight Initiative. More ...

Sepang organizers axe night race idea  Organizers of the Malaysian Grand Prix have ditched plans to host a "twilight" race from next season after the proposed night event was deemed too costly.

Sepang International Circuit chairman Mokhzani Mahathir said Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone had agreed to start the race at 1700 local time (0900 BST).

Mokhzani described the cost of lighting up the Sepang circuit as "prohibitive" in the current global economic climate.

It will be the second race of the 2009 season, taking place on 5 April.

The race was previously held two hours earlier but should now attract more locals in the cooler late afternoon. 

"We are experiencing an economic slowdown. But we are offering attractive packages and activities to attract spectators," said Mokhzani, who is expecting 12,000 spectators.

Despite problems Ferrari satisfied with KERS so far  Ferrari technical director Aldo Costa has said he is "satisfied" with the to-date performance of Formula One's new KERS system, although he fears that further troubles could lie ahead after problems in testing.

The team saw its running on the second day of this week's test session in Bahrain hit by a KERS failure that left Kimi Raikkonen parked in the garage for the best part of three hours.

Costa warned that the team could run into more problems with the new electrical system ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

"We're coming close to the end of this long test session here in Bahrain and the days are more and more intense," he said.

"We have to exploit what the rules permit in terms of tests, as far as reliability, development and research in terms of performance are concerned.

"There might be some problems ahead, like the ones we've had over the two days with the completely new components of the KERS or with experiments, like the ones we had on the gearbox.

"As far as the KERS is concerned I have to say that we're quite satisfied with what we've seen so far, although there's still a lot of work to do." Yahoo! Sports

MotoGP joins the SportKlub in Poland  Television broadcaster SportKlub has secured the broadcasting rights to MotoGP in the country until the end of the 2011 season.

SportKlub, which operates eleven channels in eight European countries, will show every MotoGP race as well as qualifying and practice sessions.

“This is one of our new, high profile TV rights agreements and fits perfectly with our other top motorsport events, as well as other high profile live sports rights like the German Bundesliga and the English FA Cup, which SportKlub broadcasts exclusively in Poland,“ said Michael Bunio, channel manager of SportKlub Poland.

MotoGP star Loris Capirossi was the star guest at the Warsaw motor show, at which SportKlub announced the arrangement.

Haas Automation scheme for Newman  So, how does a Hoosier claim the California track as home? The answer lies in #39-Ryan Newman’s affiliation with newly formed Stewart-Haas Racing as the driver of the #39 Chevy. The team is co-owned by two time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and Oxnard, Calif.-based Haas Automation, the largest CNC tool manufacturer in the western world. The company’s 1 million square-foot facility in Oxnard employs 1,200 people, and is the largest, most modern machine tool manufacturing operation in the United States. This weekend, Haas Automation will also adorn the hood of Newman’s black #39 Chevy. Newman, who has one pole and four top-10 finishes in 12 career Sprint Cup starts at Auto Club Speedway, including a 10th-place effort last February, is hoping to post a solid showing for his co-owner and sponsor in their own backyard. Stewart-Haas Racing PR
Todd Bodine in the #64 at Fontana  
Todd Bodine is hot off his Truck race win in Daytona
Getty Images for NASCAR
Todd Bodine, just as planned, will drive the #64 Toyota for Gunselman Motorsports at the Auto Club Speedway in the Auto Club 500. The youngest of the racing Bodine brothers takes over for Geoff, who attempted the Daytona 500, just as planned in the underfinanced Toyota of Gunselman Motorsports. Keeping with the plan, the team is doing the West Coast swing consisting of the California and Las Vegas races. Larry Gunselman, team owner:

“Everything is going to plan. We are putting Todd in the car for the races that don’t conflict with his Truck Series schedule. When he can’t do it, then Geoff will be in the car. I take a lot of pride in having Todd get in our Toyota fresh off his Truck win at Daytona. I just hope that winning feeling carries over to California this weekend when it comes to qualifying on Friday. I like our chances for making the next two races. Once we do, then we can go racing and get this team moving forward in the right direction. Geoff has been a huge help doing everything from working on the car in the shop and at the track; to helping get it ready for loading. He’s going to be out West with us to continue helping, too.”

In addition to being the crew chief, Doug Richert is also capable of jumping over the wall to change tires; just like in the old days when he first started out in racing. Gunselman just might have to call him into action – stay tuned. The team will be using Car No. 8, the same one they used in their attempt to make the Daytona 500. The team still has openings for unique sponsorship opportunities for anyone who want to get involved in NASCAR racing. Send inquiries to info@larrygunselman.com. Like many NASCAR team since the schedule started having back-to-back West Coast races in California then Las Vegas, the Gunselman team will remain in the Pacific Time Zone until after the Vegas race. Gunselman Motorsports PR
Petty feels father, team gave him the shaft  UPDATE Richard comments on Kyle's remarks: from a Dodge Motorsports NSCS Teleconference Transcript:

A: "It kind of upset him because that’s where he started. He started with the 44 car at Daytona and was lucky enough to win the race. When we did our deal with Boston Ventures, we never had a place for Kyle at Petty Enterprises. He sort of got out of the loop. When he got out of the loop, he’s been doing his own thing…he run the 24 (Rolex 24) and doing some TV. I’ve not seen him since Christmas. He’s been so busy, I’ve been so busy. He got snow-bound in Pittsburgh for a few days one time; we just really never have gotten together. I’ve really not talked to him. I spoke to him a couple of times on the phone; you can’t get much done on the phone. He talked to his mother. He was really crushed that we didn’t include him in that part of it, and I can understand that. We were so busy trying to get our end of the deal done and make it work with a new team that it fell through the crack and I’m sorry that it did." Dodge Motorsport PR

A bitter Kyle Petty does not wish any goodwill to Richard Petty Motorsports
02/15/09 There won't be a Petty in the Daytona 500 for the first time in more than 40 years. Kyle Petty, at Daytona International Speedway to do some TV work and promote a celebrity golf event he'll host later this year in Phoenix, will be home in North Carolina on Sunday.

"I won't even watch it on TV, that's what it's like," said Petty, who's run the season-opening race more than 25 times. "It's crap is what it's like."

Petty, who was usually a backmarker on race day, lost his job when Petty Enterprises merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports and was rebranded Richard Petty Motorsports. The move kept the Petty name in the business, but Kyle Petty said he could care less about the new team.

When asked about Reed Sorenson posting the fastest time during Saturday's practice while driving the iconic No. 43 Dodge that Richard Petty drove to seven championships, Kyle Petty grimaced.

"It means nothing to me," he said. "Let's be real honest. There's Richard Petty Motorsports or whatever you want to call it. But there is no Petty Enterprises."

PPG extends Williams partnership  Williams F1's technical partner PPG has extended its contract with the Williams Formula 1 team. PPG has been a technical partner of the team since 2003, supplying paint finishes for the AT&T Williams team's race cars at minimum weight and highest definition finishes for all-important sponsor identification.

Williams F1's chief operating officer Alex Burns said about the renewed contract: "Every weight saving on our race cars makes a real and direct contribution to lap time and paint finishes are part of this consideration. PPG have consistently helped us maintain our finish standards while reducing the weight demand. This winter we have worked in tandem on another progression in the painting of the FW31 race cars which has enabled us to use less primer and no lacquer coat, providing another significant step forward. We value their important contribution and this new and extended agreement is both commercially and competitively welcome." More ...

Ford to stay its course: No loans  Two of Detroit's automakers are well on their way to becoming wards of the federal government, but Ford Motor Co. has no intention of joining its rivals anytime soon.

"Nothing has changed about our plan," Ford CEO Alan Mulally told me Wednesday, one day after General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC submitted requests for a combined $21.6 billion in new federal loans and credit lines. "Our plan is not to access government money. Right now, with everything I see, we have sufficient liquidity to continue our transformation of Ford.

"We haven't changed our plan," he added. "It's broad enough and robust enough to handle all these changes. We're not coming back every couple of months with a new plan like everyone else is." More ...

Conor Daly confirms Cytomax for 2009  
It was announced today that Cytomax performance drink will continue their support of Conor Daly’s 2009 racing program. Cytomax has backed Conor since 2005 when he won the first of three karting championships.

“We regard Conor as being a member of the Cytomax family. We are very proud of his accomplishments and we want to help this young American achieve his dream”, said Greg Pickett, Founder of Cytosport.

In addition to Cytomax, Indeck, The College Network and Merchant Services LTD, the Mazdaspeed development driver will also be supported by Mazda, Pace American trailers, Tom Lange Company, Aprilia Motorcycles and Sick Tea.

At CytoSport™ , the mission is to provide the highest quality nutritional products to professional and amateur athletes striving to reach their potential. They are serious about their commitment to customers and the quality of products.

Cytosport wholly owns it’s manufacturing and packaging equipment and facilities, so that, from raw material to finished products, they control the process. They don't merely put their label on someone else's bottle or jug. Controlling these factors is just one example of how they guarantee a 100% satisfaction.

In 2009 Conor will drive for Andersen Racing contesting the Star Mazda championship as a member of the Mazdaspeed driver development ladder system. In 2008 Conor won the Walter Hayes Formula Ford Trophy in England for Team USA, the Ontario Formula Ford Rookie of the Year title and the Mazda Skip Barber National championship.

Heidfeld hasn't paid for 2009 superlicense  (GMM)  German driver Nick Heidfeld on Thursday insisted he is not among the three drivers who have reportedly already paid for their mandatory 2009 superlicenses.

Amid the Grand Prix Drivers' Association's standoff with the governing FIA, it emerged that three of this season's confirmed 18 drivers ignored the request to hold off paying the controversial high fees.

But BMW-Sauber's Heidfeld, who tested at the Bahrain circuit on Thursday, told the local Gulf Daily News newspaper at Sakhir: "I haven't paid."

Earlier this month, the GPDA issued a statement slamming the recent price increases as "inherently unfair, both in the way they were introduced and the way they impact on individual drivers".

31-year-old Heidfeld said: "I think that the letter that went out explained our point very well and also my point of view."

RLR/Andersen Racing Tests Two Firestone Indy Lights Drivers  Approximately 48 hours after stock car's best drivers were gunning for glory in the Daytona 500, two young open-wheel drivers were trying their best to impress the staff of RLR/Andersen Racing at a private test of that team's Firestone Indy Lights cars further south at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. on Tuesday.

They hail from two different continents, but both Jonathan Summerton of Kissimmee, Fla. and Mario Romancini of Sao Paulo, Brazil did just that driving the Dallaras that are used in the official development series of IndyCar.

"Following our complete rebuilds of our two cars and with the new-for-2009 flat-crank engines, we came to Homestead to both shake the cars down and continue to test drivers for the upcoming season," said team co-owner Dan Andersen. More ...

Glock fastest in Wednesday testing  
With all the F1 drivers on diets to lose weight to make their cars faster, they all look like Timo Glock (above) - weak, anemic pansies.
Timo Glock of Toyota went fastest in Wednesday testing at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir while Ferrari and BMW-Sauber suffered problems on track. Glock, who took over duties in the TF109 from Jarno Trulli, recorded a best time of 1:32.492 after 132 useful laps in windy conditions.

"That was another good day for us," the German said afterwards. "We didn't have any major problems and we again made it through a lot of work. We concentrated on set-up and went through our program smoothly.  It has been a bit tricky to drive today because there was a lot of wind, which was blowing from a different direction to yesterday when Jarno was driving.  But in the end I'm happy that we did so much work and it's positive that we found some useful directions to work with."

Brazilian Felipe Massa was in the cockpit of the F60 Ferrari, following the work of Kimi Raikkonen on Monday and Tuesday, but hit problems in the morning.

After four laps a gearbox issue put his contribution on hold before he returned with a lengthy run-out in the afternoon to complete another 101 laps before an electrical problem again brought the car to a halt on the track.

Wednesday's testing times:

1. Timo Glock (Toyota) 1:32.492 - 132 laps
2. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1:32.917 - 105
3. Nick Heidfeld (BMW-Sauber) 1:32.993 - 82

Montezemolo to unveil teams' plans for future of F1  
Luca di Montezemolo
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo will present Formula One teams' plans for the future of the sport at a news conference in Geneva next month, the teams association FOTA said on Wednesday.

In a show of public unity, FOTA said the March 5 conference would also be attended by all team principals.

"These plans are the result of meetings held over the past few weeks and months, all with a common goal: to make Formula One commercially sustainable, environmentally friendly and compellingly attractive for spectators, TV viewers and internet consumers alike for years to come," FOTA said in a statement.

Formula One's governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), and FOTA have been discussing dramatic cost-cutting measures for 2010 and beyond.

The FIA wants to bring costs down to the point where independent teams can compete on an annual budget of around 50 million euros (44 million pounds). More ...

track news
LVMS officials urge race fans to use mass transit  More than any previous year, race fans attending Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Feb. 27-March 1 NASCAR Weekend events are advised to use mass transportation or alternate routes due to a highway improvement project on Interstate 15.

Although the ongoing road construction poses a level of inconvenience, Las Vegas Motor Speedway officials are once again working closely with the Nevada Highway Patrol, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Nevada Department of Transportation to ensure smooth entrance and exit during the weekend.

Race fans who do drive to the speedway should arrive early and use alternate routes. Race fans living in Summerlin, Aliante and Southern Highlands are advised to use the 215 Beltway. Race fans coming from Henderson and areas east of the Strip should use Las Vegas Boulevard or Nellis Boulevard. Anyone on the Strip should still use Interstate 15.

"We regret the inconvenience that the road construction may cause some of our guests, and we're working with the local agencies to make the trip into the speedway as smooth as possible," said Chris Powell, LVMS's president. "We hope our guests will allow plenty of time, choose alternate routes and consider shuttle buses as an alternative. Once this project is finished, it will make vehicle flow to and from the speedway better than ever. It's a one-year inconvenience for many years of smooth flow." More ...

IRL won't subsidize teams  The Indy Racing League will not subsidize any of its IndyCar Series teams this season apart from assistance with the cost of new cars.

"We're not in a position to ... (be) writing checks," Terry Angstadt, the president of the IRL's commercial division, said today on a national media teleconference. "What you see is what you get."

But Angstadt is optimistic that the season that begins with an official test next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway will have a strong field.

Angstadt said league officials are confident there will be at least 22 cars on the grid for the first race April 5 in St. Petersburg, Fla., and there could be as many as 26.

He said some things are going to have to go right for the series to hit the higher figure, but the low figure is "relatively secure."

BIC denies stray dog reports  Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) officials yesterday denied reports that two stray dogs had run across the track during a Formula One testing session.

Media reports said the animals had found their way to the Sakhir Circuit on Tuesday, forcing the event to be halted.

Three Ferrari, BMW-Sauber and Toyota teams are taking part in the testing sessions, which ends today, ahead of the start of the new season on March 29.

BIC circuit operations director Mark Hughes said Tuesday's session was stopped as a precaution, but insisted the dogs were chased off in the car park and never made it near the track.

"The dogs were seen by marshals before they crossed the track so as a precaution we stopped the session," he told the GDN.

"They were inside the venue, but not in the circuit area."

Mr. Hughes added the race was stopped for less than 10 minutes and none of the drivers had been in any danger.

However, the dogs were never caught as they ran off into a restricted area towards Bahrain University.

racing news
Derek Daly Design - Midwest Model alliance  Derek Daly Design (DDD) is pleased to announce an exclusive agreement with Midwest Model Makers (Midwest) that will enable DDD to bring concepts to life through both physical modeling and computer visualization.

“It’s always better to show as opposed to just tell, and being aligned with Midwest gives us the professional capacity to produce stunning presentations from scale models to virtual tours throughout an entire facility along with an in-car track experience” said Derek Daly, founder of DDD.

Midwest Model Makers Inc. is comprised of three creative studios in Indianapolis, Indiana. Since 1987, they have worked with a distinguished international list of clients to develop their ideas into an illustrative visual reality.

“Derek and Paxton Waters work in an area that can require significant visualization support. Our model displays, computer animations, and presentation company which services the architectural, corporate, and communication industries can provide this. The combination of this type of presentation media is crucial in helping investors to fully experience and understand the potential visual impact of a project, and they get to see it long before a shovel hits the ground,” said Ed Watson, founder, Midwest. More ...

Danica Patrick promotes race in Toronto  Indy Car star Danica Patrick was in Toronto Wednesday, saying those rumors about her moving to Formula One are flattering, but insisting she still hasn't had an official meeting with the USF1  team.

Not that fans who came out to the International Auto Show at the Metro Convention Centre to catch a glimpse of the Andretti Green star were too concerned, instead basking in the glow of her patented smile and the compliments she was doling out to the Canadian racing community.

"Canadian fans are always so knowledgeable and there's always so many of them," Patrick said, taking it all in. It's a process she's been going through her whole high-profile career.

After all it was a year ago that Patrick made history when she won in Motegi, Japan, becoming the first woman to win a major open wheel race. She's looking for more and says racing against Paul Tracy on his home track would be a real treat.

"I think it would be really good for the event to have a Canadian in the race, especially one who's so exciting, as Paul is," Patrick promised.

With Andretti Green Racing Patrick certainly has the car to win her second IRL race. Whether it will come in Toronto the weekend of July 10 remains to be seen.  CityNews.ca

Construction begins on Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Track  Just two months to go until Southern California's annual rite of spring!

Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster at the construction site on Shoreline Drive
Andy Witherspoon/City of Long Beach
Construction began on the famous 11-turn, 1.97-mile Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race circuit on Wednesday morning with the help of Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. Over the next two months, more than 14 million pounds of concrete blocks that line the race circuit will be set in place, turning Shoreline Drive in downtown Long Beach into a 200-mph straightaway for six racing events April 16-19.

The 35th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will feature the cars and stars of the IndyCar Series for the first time, along with the return of the popular American Le Mans Series, Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, Formula Drift, and SPEED World Challenge. The Firestone Indy Lights series will run here for the first time since 2001.

Grand Prix Association of Long Beach director of operations Dwight Tanaka and his staff of 40 will put in more than 30,000 working hours installing concrete blocks, three miles of fencing and 16,000 bolted-together tires, along with 15 huge spectator grandstands, seven pedestrian bridges and eight giant-vision boards for full-circuit TV coverage. More ...

Nationwide race TV ratings off slightly  Saturday’s Camping World 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway was the most-viewed series race ever on ESPN2. The cable network says the race earned a 2.4 household coverage rating from Nielsen Media Research, down from the 2.5 ESPN2 earned for the 2008 race, but this year’s race averaged 3,238,062 viewers, which represented a slight increase over the record viewership from a year earlier.
Rand Purchases Two Atlantic Racecars  Tampa real estate tycoon and multimillionaire Jamie Rand today announced that he has purchased the entire inventory from an undisclosed race team with an eye toward competing in the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

Rand’s purchase includes two complete Atlantic racecars and all the spares needed to field a two-car effort in the 12-race 2009 Atlantic Championship, which gets underway on March 20 at Sebring International Raceway.

Rand has partnered with Chris Hall in this new venture. The UK-born Hall has competed as a professional racecar driver for more than 25 years and is currently driving in the American Le Mans Series. He owns five championships in competition in the UK and in the United States, and has finished on the podium more than 200 times in his career. More ...

Petrobras still interested in F1  (GMM)  Brazilian oil company Petrobras on Wednesday denied reports it is no longer interested in participating in formula one.

The firm was believed to have inked a contract to switch its backing from Williams to Honda in 2009, prior to the Japanese manufacturer deciding to withdraw from the sport.

It has been reported that Petrobras, speculatively linked with Bruno Senna and the attempted Honda team management buyout, subsequently decided to pull out of the sport because it was not interested in acting only as a commercial sponsor to a private team.

But a Petrobras spokesman clarified that "these stories had no interviews with or statements made by the sports endorsement management or by any other company representative".

"The interest in partnering with a team remains, as long as it is possible to develop and provide high quality and high tech Petrobras fuels and lubricants," he added.

However, Petrobras denies it has linked up with 25-year-old Senna, and clarified that it "does not have an agreement signed with Honda, or with a future team yet to be formed" for the 2009 season.

track news
Silverstone reveals track changes  
Planned Silverstone changes
Silverstone has unveiled provisional plans for the MotoGP circuit. The most significant addition will be a new section of track running from the approach at Abbey corner to a spectacular ‘Arrowhead’ at the inside of Becketts. The Arrowhead will then join up with the existing National Straight. There will be additional changes to the layout at Chapel and Club.

The announcement follows the recent signing of a five year agreement between Silverstone and Dorna that will see MotoGP racing at the iconic Northamptonshire circuit from 2010. Several alterations are being made to make the circuit more bike-friendly. The alterations have already been extensively discussed with FIM and will be in accordance with their regulations and subject to final homologation.

The Arrowhead and its approach will provide a focal point for overtaking and will be surrounded by several new spectator areas. It will also be overlooked by the grandstand at Becketts, providing fans with an opportunity to see two sections of track from the one vantage point. Both MotoGP and British Superbike riders will also be pleased to see that the plans include the moving of grandstands and safety barriers at Woodcote. This will enable the circuit to build a new run off area at the fast entry to Pit Straight and dispose of the slow chicane, which is currently a necessity for safety purposes. The work will be carried out between November 2009 and March 2010. In addition to changes to the track, improvements to spectator viewing facilities will include moving some of the existing grandstands to bring them closer to the track.

This year’s Formula 1 British Grand Prix will take place on the current Grand Prix circuit and that circuit will continue to be available to us for appropriate events. However, the new layout will be more suitable for two-wheeled racing. Grandprix.com

Parrott lands job as Nationwide crew chief  Brad Parrott has been hired as crew chief of RAB Racing’s No. 09 Nationwide Series car with rookie driver John Wes Townley, effective immediately. Parrott has more than 20 years of experience in NASCAR, working with Penske Racing, Robert Yates Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and most recently Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
ING to sponsor Turkey GP in 2009  (GMM)  ING has been named the official title sponsor of June's Turkish grand prix.

The Istanbul race has in previous years been usually backed by the Turkish petroleum company Petrol Ofisi.

The news, to see the 2009 event renamed the ING Turkish grand prix, is despite the Dutch bank's decision to pull out of formula one sponsorship at the end of this season.

This year, the grands prix in Australia, Belgium and Hungary will also be title sponsored by ING.

Portugal's championship plan  Filipe Albuquerque believes A1 Team Portugal just needs to slightly improve in qualifying if it is to get on terms with championship frontrunners Ireland and Switzerland this season.

Portugal dropped to third in the overall standings after Taupo, just three points behind second-placed Switzerland, but Albuquerque reckons that if he can make up a small gap in qualifying, the team will be able to challenge for regular race victories.

He also thinks that it bodes well for new circuit Kyalami this weekend, that his and the team’s maiden victory was scored at a track that A1GP had never visited before (Chengdu).

“For Taupo there was a small gap to Adam Carroll in qualifying but in the race it was the best pace I had,” Albuquerque told A1GP.com. More ...

track news
Sebring tack establishes Walk of Fame  
Don Panoz unveils Walk of Fame bricks
Legends from all forms of motorsport have been gracing the landscape of Sebring International Raceway since the 1950s. Now, memories of those legends - drivers, promoters, manufacturers and loyal fans - are immortalized at one of the world’s most famous racing venues. A novel personalized brick program, featured on the walkway leading up to the doors of the Gallery of Legends building at the Sebring circuit, displays 44 bespoken pavers.

The names that appear are of those who believe in the tradition and spirit of America’s greatest sports car race. They include such names as Tres Stephenson, General Manager of Sebring International Raceway; Bobby Rahal, team owner of Rahal Letterman Racing; and Cindy and Doug Robinson, Director of Administration and Executive Director at IMSA.

“It is a way to be a part of the history and support the future of the track for others to enjoy,” Cindy Robinson recalls as she continues to share her personal raison d'être for purchasing a brick. “My daughter Lauren (who turned six on February 14) has come to every Sebring event since she was three weeks old. She started walking at this event after just turning one, so it holds a lot of memories for us as a family.”

Jan Shoop, Gallery of Legends Coordinator, shared Sebring’s story behind the project’s inception. “The brick paver program was established by the Board of Directors of Sebring Hall of Fame Inc.,” she said, “a Florida non-profit corporation, to raise funds for the Gallery of Legends building project and to enable supporters of the project to permanently honor friends and family members.” More ...

Indonesia promotes Zahir Ali  

A1 Team Indonesia has announced a change of lead driver for the first time in nearly two years. Zahir Ali’s performances in the last three rookie sessions have been enough to convince team bosses to give him the chance to be the squad’s main race driver, replacing Satrio Hermanto, this weekend.

“The change in driver line up is a part of the A1 team Indonesia vision to support and improve the careers of young Indonesian drivers,” said A1 Team Indonesia team principal Bagoes Hermanto.

“We are aware it will be a tough weekend for Zahir in Gauteng, but he has already shown natural speed and ability in the A1GP car so far this season. We are constantly striving to improve the team and achieve stronger results for the fans.” More ...
Williams 'won't use' KERS in Melbourne  Williams have ruled out using Formula One's new KERS energy recovery system at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

"We're clear that we're not going to be using it in Australia but not clear when we will use it," he said.

The Kinetic Energy Recovery System will give a driver a brief burst of extra power at the push of a button through the recovery of energy generated by the car's brakes that would otherwise go to waste. Yahoo!

Most teams have said they will wait until after the final pre-season test next month before deciding whether to take the system to Melbourne for the first race on March 29.

The chances are that Williams, who have Germany's Nico Rosberg and Japan's Kazuki Nakajima as their drivers, will not use KERS in Malaysia either since that race follows on the weekend immediately after Australia.

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Red Bull won't block Vettel's title path
  • F1 teams should own sport - Mateschitz
  • Barrichello still 'waiting' on Honda news
  • Stray dogs hold up Bahrain testing
  • Tomczyk not running for FIA president
  • Montezemolo calls for calm as sponsors depart

Red Bull won't block Vettel's title path
(GMM)  Red Bull will not become a roadblock to Sebastian Vettel's F1 title aspirations, team owner Dietrich Mateschitz has promised.

The 21-year-old German has inked a two year contract to race with the energy drink company's senior team in 2009 and 2010, but F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has been vocal about his desire to see the highly rated driver in a truly competitive car.

Red Bull has high hopes for the promising new Adrian Newey-penned RB5, but Mateschitz is realistic about wanting the most promising product of his young driver program to succeed.

"We have a two-year contract with Sebastian," the Austrian billionaire told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"Should we be unable to give him a top car, we will certainly not want to stand in his way to the world title," added Mateschitz.

F1 teams should own sport - Mateschitz
(GMM)  The competing teams should own the business of formula one, according to Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz.

The Austrian billionaire, who owns two of the ten teams entered in the 2009 world championship, waded into the argument about the commercial governance of the sport in interview with Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"The teams are the ones who firstly make up F1 and also bear the financial risk," he said.

"They are the ones that not only have the expertise necessary, but also the passion.

"For me, therefore, there is only one logical and morally acceptable partner for F1 -- the teams."

With the unified teams' FOTA alliance already established, Mateschitz said a joint "takeover bid" is the "next logical step" in the discussion about the future of the sport.

Max Mosley is a known friend and ally of Mateschitz, but the FIA president recently said the commercial governance of the sport belongs to Formula One Management and CVC, because the FIA sold those bodies the rights.

"It's not something I should get involved in but I would make the remark that the idea that F1 belongs to the teams is fallacious," he said earlier this month at a media lunch in London.

"You don't get to own a restaurant by eating in it every night -- and they haven't even eaten in it every night, apart from Ferrari," he added.

Mosley said that if the teams are not happy to agree with F1's existing commercial arrangement, they can set up a rival championship and the FIA would be obliged to sanction it. More ...

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