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Fatback McSwain has surgery Fatback McSwain has surgeryMichael "Fatback" McSwain, crew Chief for Ricky Rudd, underwent surgery Friday for a spinal cord disc injury.  The Wood Brothers team arranged for him to be in contact with the crew via phone and two-way radio from his North Carolina home.  "I think that was going to work out fine," Rudd said.  "They made a few adjustments after the car got banged up. But after Bill got into us, we were just riding it out for the points. Some days it's not your day and definitely today was not ours."
Fontana attendance off slightly Fontana attendance off slightlyBy adding a second California Speedway race to the Cup schedule last year and moving the first event of 2005 from its traditional April date to February, track officials found themselves having to sell tickets to three major stock car races in ten months. Last April and last Memorial Day had sellout crowds of 110,000, while Sunday's race drew an estimated 95,000. [Editor's Note:  As can be seen from the photo top-right, there were quite a few empty seats on Sunday.]
Brother won’t win, but Ralf downplays Toyota’s chances Brother won’t win, but Ralf downplays Toyota’s chancesRalf Schumacher has said for the second time in a week that brother Michael won't win the 2005 Drivers' title.  The Ferrari driver has won the last five Championship titles, bringing his overall total to seven. However, according to Ralf there won't be an eighth, at least not in 2005.  However, we have not seen the new Ferrari run yet.  Many think when that car is ready they will again bury the competition.

Ralf's opinion is based on pre-season's testing timesheets, which often listed McLaren and Renault's drivers as the fastest.  He should know better than be fooled by Ferrari's sandbagging, but, "By the look of it in the testing season, you would say that Ferrari are not the benchmark any more," the younger Schumacher told Reuters.

"It could all turn around but for the moment the benchmark seems to be Renault or McLaren. I think it's going to be a tough season for Ferrari.  I doubt they are going to win 15 of 19."

As for his own team's chances, Ralf's says a podium finish or two would be "great."

"To get on the podium could be a realistic goal for us," the German said. "We have to wait and see how the season develops.  In previous years we had only Ferrari up there and the rest pretty weak and inconsistent. This year... Renault, McLaren and Ferrari are pretty strong, so it's going to be a real tough season for us.  I hope from mid-season we can score one or two podium finishes and if we achieve that, it has been a great season."

Ralf did express concern about his Toyota lasting two full race distances.  "I will be listening to my engine because I hope that's going to stay alive for two races," he added.  "For me, it is to just finish the first two races and I'm sure if we achieve that, we're going to score some good points."

Montoya: 'I'm not the best in F1' Montoya: 'I'm not the best in F1'"I don't think I’m the best,” Juan Montoya said in an interview for The Sunday Times. "I'm as fast as anybody, but not necessarily faster; you have to work with the car and do your best with it, and if you can do a better job, you will have a better car and go faster. For me, the main idea at the first race is to make sure everything works; no heroics, a good finish.”

What's more, Montoya says that he doesn’t expect to beat teammate Kimi Raikkonen – at least in the first few races where Kimi’s greater experience of McLaren's methods will be an advantage.

"Kimi's been at McLaren for two years, he knows how the team works and communicates, and that makes a lot of difference," he explained. "A race weekend isn't like a test, when I can stop and talk and say, ‘This isn’t working’ or 'I want that changed'. You haven’t got that sort of time."

As for McLaren's chances, “We look pretty good, but I don't want to say that we're going to be massively competitive and then turn up at the first race and find we're nowhere," he said.

"Others are looking fast, too; the Renault was quick out of the box, and it's hard to say where Ferrari are, but for sure they'll be strong. I’m looking forward to finding out."

That the new Juan Pablo Montoya - leaner and trimmer - even to the naked eye – he even has his trademark brashness and swaggering confidence.

Why did Montoya get himself in shape? Montoya has admitted that he often became "tired" near the end of races. "It's not rocket science," declared McLaren boss Ron Dennis. "We haven't told him to get fitter, we’ve just shown him the upside, which is that he will be better equipped to drive hard throughout a grand prix. Then we’ve given him the support he needed to do it."

Norbert Siedler tests Champ Car for Walker Racing Norbert Siedler tests Champ Car for Walker RacingUPDATE Siedler, who spent the 2004 campaign in the Euro 3000 Championship, clocked a 1min 09.10secs best around the Homestead road course at the wheel of Walker's ageing Reynard. That compares well with some of the Lola runners who were turning low to mid 1:08's. Afterward he admitted that he had even impressed himself with the performance. "It was my first time in a race car since November, so I guess I was not too bad,” the Austrian grinned, “It was a good opportunity to get a first taste of a Champ Car, and it is definitely a very positive one. The car is similar to an F3000 - just with 300 horsepower more..." 02/23/05 Austrian Norbert Siedler is the latest young and talented driver to experience the power and thrill of the Walker Racing Champ Cars at the Homestead Miami Speedway in Florida today.  The driver, who finished 4th in the 2004 European F3000 Championship, took his first laps in a 750 horsepower Champ Car and completed the testing program to end the day with competitive lap times.  The test is a continuation of Walker Racing’s quest for finding the racing stars of the future, and in preparation for the 2005 season which will be the 15th consecutive season for the experienced Walker Racing team.

Derrick Walker, team owner of Walker Racing, said “we focused on getting as much out of the day as possible, given that we only had one day of running.   I would say that Norbert adapted well once he got comfortable in the car”.   “I was bloody amazed that a farmer’s boy from Austria could go that fast!” continued Walker.

Driver Norbert Siedler was thrilled with his first test in a Champ Car “the car has very impressive power, especially in 5th and 6th gear.  The car is also predictable; it has a similar feel to the F3000 car which is pretty responsive”.  Siedler continued “the car has quite a lot of down force but didn’t feel heavy or slow, and I think the formula allows for a great car to race with”.

When asked how Norbert would perform as a competitor in the Champ Car series, Derrick Walker said “I was very impressed with Norbert, he got down to business right away and adapted to the car well.  Looking at his lap times, he has gone as quick if not quicker than we have ever run on the Homestead course”.

After completing almost 200 miles in seasonal conditions at the Miami course today, Norbert has a good impression of the Champ Car series and the Walker team “I have to thank Derrick and the Walker Racing team for a very professional and serious testing opportunity.  I know I can be competitive in the Champ Car series with Walker Racing and I am working hard to make that a reality”.

As the new season approaches, there are still talented drivers taking a look at the Champ Car series for 2005.  “I always say that I have never heard a driver who didn’t like to drive a Champ Car” said Derrick Walker.  “The feedback from drivers like Norbert are a constant reminder that we have a great formula, it has the right balance of technology, engine power, and down force.  It is a formula where driver skill and input is still the key to success” added Walker.  The Indianapolis-based team will be utilizing the Lola chassis for 2005, and the team is busy getting the cars ready for the season opening race at Long Beach on April 10.

New feature added to AutoRacing1 New feature added to AutoRacing1At the request of our customers, we are happy to announce that a search feature has been added to the top right-hand corner of both the Hot News and Rumors pages. Searching works for Hot News and Rumors from August 2004 and newer. Searching of other pages will be implemented at a later date.

Placing a word, words, or a phrase (a phrase should be in "double quotes") will return all occurrences of the search items in bold text, all upper case and with a yellow highlight. Example, a search for Andretti might return:

Is Marco ANDRETTI F1 material? A reader asks, It seems as though Marco ANDRETTI to this point is the real deal. With Mario's ties to Ferrari and Frank Williams along with Michael's ties to Honda, it appears he could have a great chance to become the next American in F1. It would create a new excitement in F1 and would be great for the USA. With his talent and name there is no doubt he will be hot property in a couple years and I could imagine sponsors, engine manufacturers and team owners will be lining up for his services. Matt Jones, Phoenix, AZ  Dear Matt, Yes Marco appears to be talented, at least up to this stage in his career. He won't be the next American in F1. That will probably be Scott Speed or Ryan Hunter-Reay. It appears Marco ANDRETTI is IRL bound. If so, any chance of him excelling in F1 will be gone. He can't develop as a driver going around tracks in circles at 100% throttle and there is zero chance his skill level will keep pace with other drivers who stay on the road course path, especially the young Europeans. Yes the IRL is doing a few road courses in 2005, but that simply is not enough. If he really wants to try F1 and do well at it, his career path must be Star Mazda (2005)-->PanAmerican-->GP2 or Champ Car-->F1 (at the age of 21 or 22). Mark C

Hattori's night ends early Hattori's night ends earlyShige Hattori in the No. 9 AISIN/AISIN AW Germain/Arnold Racing’s Toyota Tundra night ends early in the running of the American Racing Wheels 200 at California Speedway.  Hattori who qualified 23rd battled an ill handling race truck the whole race and ended early after getting loose and tangling with Chase Montgomery.

“We didn’t qualify where I thought we would,” Hattori said.  “In the race the truck went from really tight to really loose.  We pitted early to try to tighten the AISIN/ASIN AW Tundra up and lost a lap.  We knew the leaders were pitting around lap 42 so we were waiting a few more laps hoping for a caution to get back on the lead lap.”

Hattori still struggled after the adjustments and couldn’t get the truck dialed in where the Germain/Arnold Racing team needed it to be.  Hattori’s Tundra slid and brushed the wall in turn 2 on lap 44 and was clipped by the No. 18 of Chase Montgomery.

“My truck had no grip at the end of the run, we had used our tires up,” Hattori said.  “I was just waiting a few more laps to come in when I came into the corner and clipped the wall.  I was then hit by someone and ended our night.  I am disappointed because the guys work so hard on these trucks.  I wanted to bring home a good finish for my Sponsors AISIN/AISIN AW and the Germain/Arnold Racing team.  We will be back in Atlanta and hope to have a better day.”

Malaysian GP last for tobacco Malaysian GP last for tobaccoNext month's Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix will be the last time cigarette companies will be able to use the romance of racing to sell their tobacco products in Malaysia.  Health activists here can at least in part thank the World Health Organization's treaty on tobacco control, which goes into effect today in 40 countries, for prompting the new limits on advertising.

Malaysia is joining a growing list of nations that severely restrict tobacco sponsorship of sporting events - long a favorite publicity playground of cigarette sellers - for public health reasons.

The new anti-tobacco rules are among a slew of steps Malaysia is taking to ban promotion of cigarettes and other products as it prepares to join the WHO treaty.

About 3.6 million of Malaysia's 25 million people are smokers, and nearly half of adult men light up regularly, according to Health Ministry statistics. About 10,000 people die every year from smoking-related ailments.

Paul Sawyer dies Paul Sawyer diesFormer Richmond International Raceway owner Paul C. Sawyer, whose vision for a unique motorsports facility helped make the track into one of the most popular stops on the NASCAR circuit, passed away late yesterday. He was 88. Mr. Sawyer, who promoted NASCAR races in Richmond since 1955, helped modernize Richmond International Raceway with several visionary projects, beginning with paving the once-dirt facility in 1968. As the sport continued to grow and competition increased, Mr. Sawyer rebuilt the 0.542-mile track into a modern, 3/4-mile facility during the middle of the 1988 season. Three years later, lights were added to the facility and today, Richmond International Raceway holds two key distinctions that set it apart from any other major motorsports facility in the country that hosts all three major NASCAR touring series and the IRL IndyCar Series: it is the only ¾-mile track and it is also the only facility to hold all of its events "under the lights." Mr. Sawyer was born June 26, 1916 in Norfolk, VA, where he later worked at the Naval Air Station from 1939 until his early retirement in 1965. He also served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Along with racetracks in Wilson, NC and Virginia Beach, VA, Mr. Sawyer invested in Richmond International Raceway-then known as "Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds"- with Virginia native and legendary racer Joe Weatherly in 1955. Mr. Sawyer bought Weatherly out of his interest in the tracks and took control of the facility in Richmond in 1956. After the Wilson, NC facility burned down on Easter Sunday in 1958, Mr. Sawyer turned his attention solely to promoting races in Richmond.  Mr. Sawyer ran Richmond International Raceway until he sold the track, along with the surrounding property, to International Speedway Corporation in 1999. He remained the track's Chairman of the Board until his death. Mr. Sawyer received many accolades for his contribution to motorsports. He is a member of the 2003 class of the Virginia Motorsports Hall of Fame and the 2002 class of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. He was honored with the NASCAR Founder's Award as part of NASCAR's 50th anniversary celebration in Hollywood, CA in 1998 and in 1997, he received both the Pocono Raceway Bill France Award of Excellence and the Buddy Shuman Award, which has been presented annually since 1957 to the person or persons who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to NASCAR's top series. He also received the Meyers Brothers Award from the National Motorsports Press Association in 1996. In addition, Mr. Sawyer received an honorary doctorate in commercial science from the University of Richmond in 2001.  Mr. Sawyer is survived by his two sons, Wayne and Billy, three grandsons, one granddaughter and four great grandchildren. Mr. Sawyer was married in 1939 to the former Virginia Weaver of Norfolk, who passed away in 2003. Funeral arrangements are pending. RIR PR
NASCAR errors in diversity NASCAR errors in diversityMight want to take a good look at grand marshal Magic Johnson, if he gets any air time before the Auto Club 500 today.  His could be the last black face TV viewers see at the Nextel Cup race in Fontana.  A half-century after Brown v. Board of Education, elite stock car racing remains a jarringly white sport.

Every driver, crew chief and owner in the Nextel Cup Series is white. Same thing in the second-tier Busch Series.  Not until you reach the Craftsman Truck Series do you find a black driver, Bill Lester. And at any NASCAR level, the number of African-American crew members is minuscule. Perhaps one in a hundred.

``Not a lot of minorities in this sport,'' Harvey Booker said as he scanned the fans, crew and media milling around the California Speedway infield on Saturday. ``Always been that way, I guess.''

Booker, a 47-year-old Reseda resident, was one of the handful of African-Americans in the garage area Saturday morning. Like most of them, he was working (as a security guard), and not attending as a fan.

A few minutes later, 26-year-old Brian Armstrong of Pasadena took a look around. ``Where could you find a group of people this white?'' He paused and chuckled.  ``Maybe a hockey game,'' the African-American security guard said, answering his own question. ``Maybe a polo game. Or a water polo game.  ``I can tell you I wouldn't be here if I wasn't getting paid 120 bucks. Not to watch a bunch of guys drive in circles.'' More at  SBSun.com

Kulwicki movie wraps up Kulwicki movie wraps upUPDATE This movie will open April 1, 2005, 12 years to the day Alan Kulwicki died.  See movie website. 12/16/04 Filming has been completed on Dare to Dream: The Alan Kulwicki Story, but no release date has been announced. The movie is based on the life of Kulwicki, who won the 1992 NASCAR championship and died the following year in a plane crash. Tennessean
British GP almost sold out British GP almost sold outInterest in this year's British Grand Prix tickets is mounting. In spite of the late start for the advance booking, the organizers of the Silverstone event are confident that they will sell all available tickets for the race, which takes place on 10th July, 2005. According to the circuit management, interest in the tickets is tremendous. "The support for this year's race has been fantastic," said Circuit Manager, Richard Philips.
Webber drives Williams across bridge Webber drives Williams across bridgeUPDATE This related article says the PR stunt backfired. 02/27/05 Sydney saw the first Formula One car in action ahead of next weekend’s Formula 1 Foster’s Australian Grand Prix when Mark Webber drove his BMW Williams F1 car across Sydney Harbour Bridge early this morning.

Webber, from Queanbeyan, near Canberra, crossed the bridge at 8am this morning, local time, with the event broadcast live on Network Ten and beamed around the world.

New South Wales Premier Bob Carr flagged off the Aussie F1 star on the bridge, who then roared across, spun around at the end of a rather bumpy ride, and completed the return journey a dozen times. After the event was over, Mark spoke briefly to the press before moving on to make a public appearance at the Hickson Road Reserve, Dawes Point, The Rocks.

There was no public access on the bridge for the Overdrive, but a superscreen as set up at the Hickson Road Reserve so fans could see and hear the spectacle.

"To drive across the bridge was pretty eerie obviously, having it shut off," Webber said. "It was incredible to drive the car across there. Actually I was quite nervous, I just wanted to make sure it all went well and it did. The car ran well. Thundering with 900 bhp over that time-honored structure was an amazing feeling. The engine sound over the ocean was fantastic. I just can’t thank everybody enough in my home state New South Wales who made this show for the fans possible."

Webber’s next appearance in his F1 car will be at practice for the 2005 Formula 1 Foster’s Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne’s Albert Park on Friday, March 4, ahead of the race on Sunday afternoon but before then he plans to take a couple of days to rest, arriving in Melbourne on Wednesday for a dinner appearance.


California Speedway inks new 3-year deal California Speedway inks new 3-year dealThe Automobile Club of Southern California  -- the nation's largest AAA affiliate -- today signed a three-year agreement to continue as the title sponsor for the Auto Club 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at California Speedway, continuing a partnership that dates back to the speedway's opening in 1997.   California Speedway President Bill Miller and Automobile Club of Southern California President and CEO Thomas V. McKernan Jr. made the announcement.   "The Auto Club has been a tremendous partner since the speedway opened in 1997.  They have added California Speedway to their legacy as leaders in motorsports sponsorship and development," Miller said.    "Our relationship with the Auto Club and its membership base has always been strong.  They have been ingrained as our NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series sponsor since 2003, and as we move forward, we will work together to advance this relationship and advance the Auto Club 500 as not only a major event locally, but on a regional and national scale as well."
Kalkhoven puts money on the line Kalkhoven puts money on the lineThis Long Beach Press Telegram article talks about what an unassuming man Champ Car boss Kevin Kalkhoven is despite is vast wealth. He's compared to other great wealthy men. It concludes by saying - I wondered why a 60-year-old man who had been retired for a while and living in golfing tranquility wants to come out of it and invest many millions of dollars into such a shaky enterprise.

"Well, for one thing I've always had a deep fondness for car racing," he says. "And, obviously, the adrenaline one gets from getting into such a business is a great feeling."

I know there still are Champ Car skeptics around, but I'm no longer one because Kevin Kalkhoven assures me with great passion that his organization is destined for success. And who am I to doubt the word of a billionaire?

GP2 Test photos GP2 Test photosHere are some photos from recent GP2 testing at Paul Ricard.  Mouse over image to see team name.

Arden ART Team Campos Coloni
DAMS David Price Racing Durango HiTech Piquet
iSport Racing Engineering Racing Engineering Super Nova

World Series by Renault
Team sues World Series by Renault Team sues World Series by RenaultItalian team Vergani Racing has launched a legal action against the organizers of the new World Series by Renault after being denied an entry to the 2005 campaign.

Promoter RPM Racing and Renault Sport Technologies have been issued with notice of intent to sue by Vergani Racing, which is claiming damages estimated at more than E3million following what it considers to be 'unfair and unjustified exclusion' from the World Series by Renault in 2005.

Vergani had been a staunch supporter of the World Series by Nissan which preceded the new championship, but occasionally failed to run a car owing to its drivers' sponsorship shortfalls. The team has announced, since being left off the World Series entry, that it is to cease competitive activity, and has begun to sell off its equipment and cars. Crash.net

Ground broken for Champ Car’s Korea track Ground broken for Champ Car’s Korea trackUPDATE #2 To the right is a diagram of the 1.9-mile Ansan road course. The series of 180-degree turns on the backside make the track Mickey Mouse for the bulky and heavy Champ Cars. One of them should be eliminated.  We should note that original information was that the track was 2.1-miles in length so hopefully the new "official" length of 1.9-miles means this change has been done. 02/25/05 Preparations officially began today for the Champ Car World Grand Prix of Ansan, as groundbreaking ceremonies took place on the site that will host the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford on October 16.

The 90-minute event saw officials from Ansan City and Gyeonggi Province as well as from The Racing Korea and Champ Car event organizers turning shovels at the site of what will be a 1.9-mile race course in Ansan, South Korea. Vice Mayor of Ansan City Doo Hyun Kwon and Governor of Gyeonggi Province Hak-Kyu Son were among the luminaries on hand along with Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven and Champ Car Senior Vice-President Joe Chrnelich.

“We are pleased to hold a ground breaking ceremony with Ansan citizens and all participants in Ansan City, the hub of advanced technology industry and culture and seashore,” said Vice Mayor Kwon. “This is the most suitable place to hold a Champ Car event because this area is located by a nearby international airport, seaport in one hour distance adjacent to a densely populated district, seaside and a large scale complex where automobile parts are made and repairs are done.”

The event drew nearly 1,000 people to witness the groundbreaking in Ansan City, which is located approximately 45 minutes southwest of Seoul. A marching band added to the festive atmosphere during what was the first official public activity regarding the 2005 event.

“Mr. Dae Chung Kwon and The Racing Korea Promotions (TRK) team have demonstrated with this official groundbreaking event that they are a first class promoter,” said Chrnelich. “And the city of Ansan will have a spectacular race event this October.”

The October event will be the first-ever Champ Car race held in Korea and the first to be held on the Asian continent since 2002.  Champ Car

02/25/05 Today was the ground breaking for Champ Car's new natural terrain road course built in a park in Ansan, South Korea, a suburb of Seoul. Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven is in attendance along with Champ Car circuit boss Joe Chrnelich.  More details later.....
Industry News
New Road Course planned New Road Course plannedUPDATE We have added a track diagram (right) of the proposed High Rock International Raceway. 02/24/05 Property owner Dave Risdon and business partner Frank McGuire today announced plans to request from the Rowan County Board of Commissioners a conditional use permit to construct a road racing course of more than two miles in length on the site of the now dormant North Carolina Finishing Mill.

Preliminary plans for the proposed course, named High Rock International Raceway due to its location adjacent to High Rock Lake, call for sweeping elevation changes, two high-speed straightaways, and dramatic carousel, corkscrew and ess turns. The forty-five-foot wide track will be designed by world-renowned planner Alan Wilson of Wilson Motorsports and will provide a venue for sports car and motorcycle club racing as well as nationally sanctioned professional road-race events. The development team will also include civil engineer Daryl Wagner from Salisbury Engineering & Planning and Leo Dunn from Salisbury-based Carrol Fisher Construction, who will serve as project architect and contractor. Providing marketing consulting services for the track is Ellen McGuire of Charlotte-based Meridian Marketing & Media, Inc.

“This will be one of the most exciting road courses in the world. We are extremely fortunate to be working with Alan Wilson and to have acreage that offers exceptional topography on which to construct a world-class road racing course,” said Risdon.

The proposed road course will be the hub of an innovative motorsports community including a race team performance center, privately-owned racing chalets, guest cottages that overlook the Yadkin River and a spacious RV campground. In addition, the track will offer memberships to High Rock Country Club. Membership privileges will include use of the track on select weekdays and evenings, access to all track events and exclusive access to a club lodge.

Risdon, who acquired the mill property in October 2001, has already begun demolition of the 400,000-square-foot mill building. Construction on the multi-million-dollar track project is expected to start in the fall of 2005 and be completed by the summer of 2006.

High Rock International Raceway, located in Rowan County, NC, is positioned to become one of the world’s premier road racing venues. The 200-plus-acre development will cater to racing enthusiasts with features such as a race team performance center, privately-owned chalets and country club amenities. High Rock International Raceway hopes to attract race series of all kinds -- from sports car and motorcycle club races to nationally sanctioned professional road-race events.
Wallace and Iowa Track Wallace and Iowa TrackDevelopers for a $70 million speedway in Newton completed the deal Friday.  One year ago this week, NASCAR superstar Rusty Wallace promised NewsChannel 8 that the racetrack would come to Iowa.  "It's going to be a reality, and it's going to happen, and it's going to be beautiful," Wallace said.  The racetrack will be located next to Newton's airport, with an asphalt track that will be 7/8 of a mile long. The grandstand will hold 25,000 fans. Temporary seating should boost capacity to 80,000. "This is the biggest thing we've had in a long, long time," said Jim Greve, of the Newton City Council.  Developers are ready to begin building, and racing could begin as early as next summer, if weather permits, according to Dennis Chalupa, the developer's attorney. IowaChannel
Ford teams to race Fusion in ’06 Ford teams to race Fusion in ’06UPDATE Ford Motor Co. officials confirmed Friday the manufacturer is planning on a new entry in NASCAR competition and expects to meet the July 1 submission date. Chevrolet has already announced plans to submit a new version of its Monte Carlo for 2006 and Dodge introduced its new Charger model this season.  Ford, however, will not return with the Taurus, which has been its NASCAR race car of choice since 1998.  "We expect to have a new car in 2006. The decision on branding is being decided," said Ford spokesman Kevin Kennedy.  The most often mentioned entries for Ford are its Ford 500 or the Ford Fusion. Mercury News 02/25/05 If NASCAR Nextel Cup brand identification is sublime now, it's about to get ridiculous. Ford, having botched the relatively simple job of maintaining the Taurus as a top-selling consumer sedan, is phasing out the model. This is the same problem Dodge had last year: Its NASCAR teams raced "Intrepids," a year after the Intrepid was dropped. So the Dodge race cars were simply "Dodges" last year, but this year, they get to be called Chargers.

Next year, Ford NASCAR teams will race the Fusion. The Fusion is smaller than the new Ford Five Hundred, and smaller even than the Taurus. The Five Hundred is 200.7 inches long; the Taurus is 197.6 inches long, and the 2006 Fusion will be 190.2 inches long. The Fusion's standard engine is a 2.3-liter four-cylinder, same as the Ford Focus uses. The premium engine is a 3.0-liter V-6. This sounds like the current Mazda6, and for good reason: The Fusion is based on a slightly lengthened Mazda6 platform, and uses the same engines as the Mazda. Many NASCAR fans are flustered about a Japanese car, the Toyota Camry, joining all-American NASCAR Nextel Cup racing in 2007. Wonder whether they know yet the Ford they'll be cheering is a Mazda under the skin? Wonder whether they care? Orlando Sentinel

Interview with Peter Sauber Interview with Peter SauberThe Sauber team has set itself ambitious goals for the new season. But neither the new car nor Jacques Villeneuve has been able deliver a fully convincing performance in the test days thus far. An interview with the Team Principal, conducted by the team's partner and sponsor, Credit Suisse.

Peter Sauber, before the rollout of the new car in mid-January confidence levels were high at Sauber. What's the situation now, shortly before the season gets under way in Melbourne?
"The situation's different for each person on the team. Some are euphoric, while others have mixed feelings concerning the season ahead. I don't have anything against euphoria, as that gives the company some drive. But you always have to be very careful about making predictions. A year ago, we came out with a good car, but the gap between us and Ferrari was about 1.8 seconds – which is a lot. At the end of the year, the difference was half a second. In doing that, we set the bar very high for this season. We'll have to see if we can reach this goal. At the moment it still doesn't look like it."

The C24 is the first car to be wholly developed in your own wind tunnel. How satisfied are you with the new addition to the family?
"I'll be satisfied only when the results correspond to my expectations. But I'm confident that we'll get there. It's just a question of time."

At the moment, everyone's focusing on the test times, and in that regard Sauber Petronas hasn't turned in any brilliant results yet. On some occasions the gap to the very front has amounted to several seconds. To what degree can you take these times at face value?
"Several seconds isn't just an exaggeration, it's a gross exaggeration (laughs). We're about one second off the front-runners' times if you take the first lap performance. If you take the average times over the race distance, the gaps differ greatly. And it's extremely difficult to make a direct comparison because you never know exactly how much fuel the competition has on board. Right now, it looks like McLaren and Renault are leading the way. But when you look further down the list and come to Toyota, who have also set top times, you suddenly begin to be careful with interpreting test times."

Toyota is one of Sauber Petronas' immediate competitors. When you look at their strong performance in the tests, do you get a little nervous?
"We would need a direct comparison, and we haven't had that yet. Only if we can make a direct comparison can we comment on it. We always take Toyota very seriously and have a great deal of respect for their team. Toyota's entering the fourth year, and when you consider their potential, you really have to respect them."

In comparing the two Sauber drivers, Felipe Massa has almost always been setting the pace thus far. How do you explain that?
"It's not easy to understand indeed, let alone explain. Sometimes the gap was greater than it should have been when you consider the speed of the two drivers. Jacques Villeneuve has recently shown that he's still among the fastest. Just take the last three races of last season when Villeneuve was in a Renault cockpit. Although he wasn't familiar with the car, the gap between him and Fernando Alonso – a very fast driver – was small right from the start. In the final qualifying session in Suzuka, Villeneuve was even a little faster than Alonso."

How does it look from a personal level? Have the two dissimilar drivers become friends in the meantime?
"I don't think so, and I also doubt that they'll ever be friends. But it isn't necessary. Friendships in Formula One are few and far between. We aren't looking for that either. Having professional collaboration in the team's interests is much more important."

In contrast to both Renault and McLaren, Ferrari hasn't hit top gear yet. A lot of observers are again predicting a major change at the front. Are they right?
"I don't think so. In the end, we'll see Ferrari at the very front again." Credit Suisse
Da Matta sees Champ Car returning to glory days Da Matta sees Champ Car returning to glory daysCristiano Da Matta has faith that Champ Car’s chassis, aerodynamic and engine formula will bring back the great days of the nineties.

“I think the target for the series would be to bring it to a level like it used to be in 2000 with four engine manufacturers and three or four chassis manufacturers,” he observes. “I think that would be the best-case scenario. In the long-term I’d like to see more chassis and more engines racing in the series. This is something that the series had before so it’s not any magic.

“The way the Champ Car rules are written we can afford to have a couple of engine and chassis manufacturers and we won’t have the kind of domination we’ve seen in other categories. Through the years I raced in CART all the four engine manufacturers--Honda, Toyota, Mercedes and Ford--were winning races and Lola and Reynard were always winning races too, so I think that shows the rules are competitive rules.

“When you talk about a healthy series from a driver’s standpoint it’s when all the teams have sponsors so they can hire whatever driver they want. They don’t have to find drivers who have money to bring to the teams. That’s not an ideal situation for the drivers or the teams. But I think Champ Car has a good plan for the future and soon we will be looking as good as we were a couple of years ago. I feel this year is going to be better than last year and that step by step it will keep going in the right direction. I hope so, and I have a good feeling it will happen.” Champ Car Website

Martin wins Fontana Busch race Martin wins Fontana Busch raceThere has never been a more enduring winner in the Busch Series than Mark Martin, and at California, he showed he still has what it takes to win on Saturday afternoons. Martin won his first Busch event since 2000 with a dominating performance in the Stater Bros. 300 at Fontana.

Martin was dominant. He led 102 of the 150 laps, including the last 34.  He easily held off Harvick in an eight-lap sprint on the two-mile oval after the last of eight caution flags, driving his Roush Racing Ford across the finish line about 10 car lengths ahead of Harvick's Chevrolet.  "I knew that Harvick was really fast on the restart," Martin said, grinning. "I knew I had my hands full, that Kevin was going to do everything he could to win that race. But we just had an awesome car today."

Images courtesy NASCAR/Getty Images

Webber: ’I am selfish’ Webber: ’I am selfish’Mark Webber jokes that while he has a soft spot for chocolate and ice cream, his weakness — if it can be called as much in such an intense and highly focused world — is his self-absorption about the car and his racing.  "I am an incredibly impatient person, also selfish in terms of getting what I want with the car. But I am loyal, I like to be fair to the people I work with. I always give 100 per cent and never give up. I have been known to ring people at 10 o'clock at night."

Can he win a world championship this year?  "You look at F1 and think it's tough to go to that level . . . the bar keeps creeping up. Every couple of months, you keep thinking you have got to dig deeper, go further, to prove to yourself that you can do it. I want to go on and do my absolute utmost. Maybe I will not be world champion, but I want to look back with incredible memories of trying to achieve it, turn over every stone possible and try to achieve it."

"Driving for Williams is a great opportunity for me to win, to be successful for myself, for Williams, for my country. I am a very competitive person and it's a great position to be in, to drive for Williams . . . but there's still a long way to go for me," he said.

"We need to win races. Juan (Pablo Montoya, the Colombian whom he has replaced at the outfit) gave the championship a fair shake in 2003, but last year was a very tough year. They only won one GP, so it was a lean season. There's definitely work to do to get back to the level they used to be at.

"Ralf's (Schumacher, the other Williams driver who also has left the team) injury, Juan leaving before the season had started, it was just a tough season for Williams in general, so hopefully you can only be more positive for 2005."

Aussie F1 PR chief quits Aussie F1 PR chief quitsThe Australian Formula One Grand Prix has been rocked by the departure of a key official only a week before Melbourne's 10th F1 tournament. Communications manager Geoff Harris has quit after eight years, citing the event's lack of direction. A fight over F1 guest Bo Derek and Mark Webber's drive over Sydney Harbour Bridge are also believed to have played a role. "There is excessive bureaucracy and, frankly, there were circumstances that were increasingly unsatisfactory to me," Mr Harris said yesterday. It is believed relations between Mr Harris and Grand Prix chief executive Tim Bamford had become strained. Mr Harris resigned on Friday morning and later that day left Grand Prix headquarters in South Melbourne. "I had no choice," Mr Harris said. "It will be good to enjoy the race without the associated hassles of recent times." Herald Sun
NASCAR makes pit speed technology standard NASCAR makes pit speed technology standardJohn Darby, the Nextel Cup director, said Saturday the experiment with electronic timing equipment that saw 14 pit road speeding violations handed out during last Sunday's Daytona 500 was such a success that the system "is here to stay."

"Speedometers wouldn't do the drivers any good," Darby said. "They wouldn't be accurate enough. But these crew chiefs out there can take a 99-cent calculator and figure out exactly what RPM number their driver has to hit to be right at the speed limit.

"But, with the new system, there is no question. These guys are going to have to watch their speeds. No more cheating on pit road. Race cars don't speed, drivers do."

NASCAR announced this winter that the electronic equipment would be tried out in conjunction with the old system that relied on handheld stopwatches. But, after using the new system successfully in a series of preliminary races at Daytona, Darby said it was determined the electronic equipment was reliable and efficient.   "This is what we're going to be using every week," he said. AP Story

Schumacher - ’We’ll keep winning despite the anti-Ferrari rules Schumacher - ’We’ll keep winning despite the anti-Ferrari rulesWorld champion Michael Schumacher believes that no amount of rule changes will prevent his Ferrari team from winning races and titles in Formula One.  A raft of changes have been introduced for the 2005 season, which starts next week in Melbourne, aimed at cutting costs, improving safety and, many think, stopping Schumacher and Ferrari. 

“Put it this way, in the last few years every rule change has been pronounced as an anti-Ferrari rule but we have obviously kept winning,” the seven-times world champion told reporters at the launch of Ferrari's F2005 car on Friday. 

“I don't think rule changes stop people winning. Usually those who are better can react quicker and better and adapt. 

“It's a different challenge. I don't care very much because it's the same for everyone. You work in a certain frame and you try to do the best in that frame. 

“I didn't feel the need to say at the presentation that I want to win the championship, I think that's very clear,” added Schumacher. 

“After all we've achieved we like the success, our supporters like our success and we'd like to keep winning for us and for them.” 
Giebler heads to Europe for PanAm shootout Giebler heads to Europe for PanAm shootoutWhile most of Southern California was either enjoying the first day of sunshine in nearly a month, watching the NASCAR Busch race at Fontana or preparing for Sunday's Academy Awards...Oxnard's Phil Giebler boarded a plane for London, England. After living and racing in Europe for five seasons that saw him drive in French, German, Spanish & English F3, Intl/FIA F3000 and win the 2001 Formula Palmer/Audi Winter Cup Championship and Jeremy Shaw's Team USA Scholarship, Giebler returned to the US last season where he had a win and two third's in the IRL's Menard's Infinity Pro Series. Phil was also a standout in World Karting prior to cars where he won the Formula A North American Championship and three American Karting Championships.

Giebler's European return will see him compete against twenty top young drivers for one of two fully funded rides in the new Renault Pan Am Championship. The shootout will take place at England's famed Silverstone circuit this Tuesday.

Says Phil: "It was great returning home and having a chance to get reacquainted with my family and friends for most of 2004, but I am really glad to be able to get back to England for a bit. I love Silverstone and I'll be staying with my old roommate, Adam Carol who may very well end up in my old Super Nova seat. I've seen the Renault V6 cars run and look forward to being able to drive one next week. There are some very good drivers lined up for this shootout, many of which I've competed against in the past. I've always done well in these kinds of situations and even though I haven't been on a road course in eighteen months, I feel really good about my chances.

I believe weather is going to be the biggest obstacle, I understand it's snowing and about 20 degrees at the track today. Pan Am, with events in Canada, America, Mexico, Brazil and other South American stops planned, looks like it will turn into the first great Western Hemisphere series and the chance at a fully funded Renault World Series ride in the 2006 Championship should see some great racing this season. I hope to be part of it"

Earnhardt gets sunglasses deal Earnhardt gets sunglasses dealOrange 21 Inc., a newly public company out of Carlsbad, Calif., unveiled Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s signature sunglasses. The signature style, deemed “E Eyewear,” is actually the brainchild of Earnhardt himself. The driver of the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet worked throughout the entire design process to dream up even the most minor details of the glasses. “I’ve worked with companies in the past a little bit on design,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I wanted kind of like a Steve McQueen style, retro. The glass itself is inset a little bit, kind of like the headlight of a ‘70s-era hot rod. There’s some sharp corners and angles. They wrap a little bit too because I like sunglasses that wrap tight to your face. My head’s not quite as big as Boris (Said)’s. I didn’t know exactly how much input I was going to have, but it was more than I expected. I was able to basically build the sunglasses from the ground up. It was a lot of fun to do, and to see it come to a head and here it is in my hands, it’s pretty amazing. It’s a really good feeling.”  On the process of designing his signature sunglasses: “We made revisions. They would get a mold to me, and me and Boris would kind of talk about it, and then would take back the things we’d like to see different. That took about two or three times. It’s always kind of a work in progress up until the final version. What I wanted was something that you could wear with a suit to the banquet if you wanted to, or here at the racetrack in jeans and a t-shirt. It’s kind of versatile. It kind of transcended from if you’re on the lake in shorts and a t-shirt or if you’ve got a formal engagement. We’re going to come out with a pair each year, keep designing different pairs, different styles. Not necessarily just a revision of this, we’re going to build from the ground up each year.”
NASCAR impounds cars NASCAR impounds carsAfter Saturday's qualifying for the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway, each car was pushed to its garage stall with a NASCAR official escorting it.  Two crew members were allowed to stay to shut off electrical switches, remove the radio, check air pressure and cover the car.

Sunday morning, two crew members per car go in, again with a NASCAR official, to plug in the oil heater, prime the oil system, turn on the car's master switch, start the engine, set tire pressures, torque the wheels, install the radio, put a water bottle into the car, remove or repair tape on the grille and valance and brake ducts.

Batteries for telemetry systems used for televisions broadcasts also may be changed by the companies that install those systems.  Teams can not jack up any part of the car, add water to the cooling system, climb inside the car add oil or brake fluid or adjust the fenders or any other body components. Teams will be allowed to add a maximum of four gallons of fuel at the pumps. That amount of fuel will be lower at shorter tracks.

At the platform where the car's height is measured, teams can adjust the wedge bolts a maximum of one turn in front and one and a half turns in the rear. They can adjust the track bar and the external shock bleeds, but cannot add spring rubbers. Charlotte Observer

Alex Job Racing signs Pobst and Baas Alex Job Racing signs Pobst and BaasAlex Job Racing has signed road racing stalwart Randy Pobst and newcomer Ian Baas to drive the number 24/Alex Job Racing/Bell Micro Products/Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for the full season in the American Le Mans Series.   Randy Pobst last drove for Alex Job in 2001 where he posted seven top five finishes.  The Gainesville, Georgia based driver comes off of the 2004 season having competed in the World Challenge Speed GT series as well as several starts in the Grand American Series. 

"Alex Job Racing was a very important part of my racing career from 1998 to 2001," said Randy Pobst.  "The first race I did with Alex and Holly we won at Watkins Glen in 1998.  2001 was the last time I raced the full year in ALMS.  Since then I have done about six races in the series.  I am looking forward to running with Ian; I have heard some very good things about him.  I will be counting on his youthful enthusiasm at about 4:00 p.m. at Sebring.  Timo and Romain are fast, they are the benchmark in GT2 and I am hoping to provide them with all of the competition they can handle."

Joining Pobst will be 22-year old Ian Baas (pronounced Boss).  Baas comes to AJR from the Formula Ford Zetec Pro Series.  The Noblesville, Indiana native spent last season in the open wheel series scoring top ten finishes at Sebring, Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca, Mosport, Sears Point, Mid-Ohio and Road America.

Industry News
DENSO announces 2005 sponsorships DENSO announces 2005 sponsorshipsDENSO Corporation today announced its motor sports sponsorship plan for the 2005 season.  DENSO has been sponsoring motor
sports since 1971.      This year, DENSO is adding to the products supplied to motor sports teams, with a new compact alternator for Panasonic Toyota Racing in Formula 1 and spark plugs to the Subaru World Rally Team in the World Rally Championship.   "DENSO is excited to sponsor these motor sports teams, and we hope to improve our name recognition and corporate image through our involvement with motor sports around the world," said Hiroshi Uchiyama, senior managing director, Sales and Marketing.  "It also is a good opportunity to showcase our technology to our many customers who support the motor sports community."  DENSO's sponsorships include:

Four-Wheel Races
Formula 1 (F1)
DENSO will continue to support Panasonic Toyota Racing as a corporate sponsor for the second consecutive season.  Also, new alternators developed by DENSO will be installed in the TF105, in addition to the DENSO spark plugs, radiators, and oil coolers that have been installed since the entry of Panasonic Toyota Racing to F1 in 2002.     *See team information at http://www.densocorp-na.com under Media Center

World Rally Championship (WRC)     DENSO will continue to support the Subaru World Rally Team as a corporate sponsor for the second consecutive season.  Also, spark plugs developed for the WRC car will be installed in the SUBARU IMPREZA WRC 2005.     *See team information at http://www.densocorp-na.com under Media Center

Super GT (tentative name)     DENSO will support TOYOTA TEAM SARD as the main sponsor in the Super GT, previously named "All Japan GT Championship."  The DENSO SARD SUPRA GT will be entered in the GT 500 class.  DENSO-made engine management systems, spark plugs, radiators, oil coolers, displays and other components will be installed in the DENSO SARD SUPRA GT.     *See team information at http://www.densocorp-na.com under Media Center

All Japan Formula 3 Championship (F3)     DENSO will support the Le Beausset Motor Sport as the main sponsor starting in 2005.     *See team information at http://www.densocorp-na.com under Media Center

National Mustang Racers Association (NMRA) DENSO Iridium Power Ford Drag Racing Series     DENSO will be the title sponsor for the second year and will support drivers Larry Geddes, Robin Lawrence and Justin Burcham.

Pro Drag Racing Series     DENSO will be the title sponsor of the Pro Street Class for the third consecutive year.

National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and NOPI Drag Racing Association (NDRA)     DENSO will sponsor Jojo Callos, the 2003 NDRA Pro 4 Cylinder Points Champion and 2001 NHRA Hot Rod Champion.

Two-Wheel Races
DENSO will continue to supply Iridium Power spark plugs, the world's first spark plug that uses a 0.4-mm iridium alloy center electrode, to various Motocross and World Two-wheel Championship riders.

FIM Road Racing World Championship (WGP)     DENSO will support new-comers Tomoyoshi Koyama and Toshinaga Kuzuhara in the 125cc class.  DENSO also will continue to sponsor Team LCR (owned by former GP rider Lucio Cecchinello).     *See team information at http://www.densocorp-na.com under Media Center

All Japan Road Race Championship     DENSO will continue its sponsorship of Atsushi Watanabe (JSB1000) and Hiroyuki Kikuchi (GP125).

Others     DENSO will continue supporting Hisashi Tajima in the All Japan Motorcross Championship and Keiji Nakamura in the All Japan Drag Race Championship. [Editor's Note:  Looks like DENSO is not doing any IRL sponsorship this year, after being on the Mo Nunn IRL car last year.]

DuPont comes up big in TV Exposure for the Daytona 500 DuPont comes up big in TV Exposure for the Daytona 500Jeff Gordon's victory in the Daytona 500 last Sunday afternoon enabled his primary corporate sponsor, DuPont, to garner nearly $9.4 million of television exposure value during the live race broadcast on Fox. According to research conducted by Joyce Julius and Associates, the DuPont logo appeared clear and in-focus for 15 minutes, seven seconds (15:07) during the 4.5-hour broadcast (excluding pre-race coverage). Additionally, DuPont was mentioned on three occasions by Gordon and Fox announcers. Exposure value is calculated by comparing the on-screen time and mentions to the estimated cost of a commercial spot during the telecast.
Cumulative exposure statistics were up during this year's race broadcast compared to NBC's live 2004 Daytona 500 telecast. The number of brands monitored during the telecast (292 / 221), total on-screen time (7:26:13 / 5:46:40), verbal mentions (230 / 162) and comparable exposure value ($291 million / $224 million) all increased in 2005. Last year's Daytona exposure tally accounted for 5.4% of all in-broadcast television exposure garnered by sponsors appearing within the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.
Top Hood Logos of the 2005 Daytona 500, On-Screen Time, Exp. Value
1) DuPont (Gordon), 6:49, $4,090,000
2) Lowe's (Johnson), 6:37, 3,970,000
3) NAPA At. Pts. (Waltrip), 6:04, 3,640,000
4) Valvoline (Riggs), 4:54, 2,940,000
5) Caterpillar (Wimmer), 4:32, 2,720,000
Note: Exposure figures reflect the Fox live telecast of the 2005 Daytona 500 only and do not include exposure resulting from cable replays. Joyce Julius and Associates PR  [Editor's Note:  This study is highly suspect.  Tony Stewart led the most race laps in the Home Depot car and they list NAPA, Valvoline and Caterpillar ahead of it.  Waltrip went out of the race early with a blown engine.  Caterpillar did get a lot of exposure from all the crash shots taken when Wimmer went for his wild end-over-end ride in Turn 4.]
Janis opts out of Champ Car Janis opts out of Champ CarJaroslav Janis is the latest driver to opt out of Champ Car after doing a test drive in the off-season and running one race last year.  Sakon Yamamoto and Jaroslav Janis have been announced as the two drivers for the Kondo Formula Nippon team this season. Janis is no stranger to racing at this level. He made his International F3000 debut with Nordic midway through 2001, and returned to that championship in 2003 with PSM after finishing third in Euro3000 in 2002. Last year he raced in the DTM. The drivers were announced in a press conference in Janis' native Czech republic.
Keep your eye on Karthikeyan Keep your eye on KarthikeyanNarain Karthikeyan, remember that name.  Not because he's the first Indian driver ever in F1, but because he is fast.  Driving for the Midland-Jordan F1 team isn't going to enable him to challenge at the front of the grid, but that doesn't mean he won't get the attention of some of the other F1 team bosses this year.

Immediately in testing Karthikeyan was right on pace, in fact faster than his teammate Tiago Monteiro, who we saw in Champ Car, could take an uncompetitive Reynard chassis and be competitive. With a nation approaching 1 billion people behind him, Karthikeyan's every move will be analyzed this year.  Already Japanese companies are starting to look at F1, and if Karthikeyan does well, look for Bernie Ecclestone to add an Indian race to the F1 schedule somewhere around 2008. Mark C.

Q and A with Robert Doornbos Q and A with Robert DoornbosFriday morning at the Red Square in the centre of Moscow, Robert Doornbos was presented as Jordan Grand Prix’s official third and reserve test driver for the upcoming Formula One season. From Russia, Robert would like to give a first reaction on everything what happened in the last couple of weeks as well as share his prospects for 2005.

Are you happy about your 2005 agreement with Jordan Grand Prix, knowing you will be driving in one week time from now in Albert Park, Melbourne?
“Yes, I definitely am!  On from December last year, we’ve been very busy securing a Formula One seat and therefore it feels just fantastic to continue working with the team! Just like my F1 debut in China last year, I also got the nod quite late this time. Though it seems beginning to look like ‘standard procedure’, I’d rather not make it my personal trademark, ha-ha! As I’ll drive the team’s third car during all 19 Grand Prix, I’m looking forward to an exciting and instructive year in which I will continuous develop both the car and my own skills.”

Did you already make personal acquaintance with your new teammates and team management?
“After I arrived in Moscow last Thursday, I went out for dinner with Mr. Shnaider, Dr. Kolles, Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan. I knew Dr. Kolles from the F3 EuroSeries and Narain from my last visit to the Macau F3 Grand Prix. Everyone is really congenial, but at the same time very focused on 2005. It was good to see that we all have our minds set for the same direction. In the break between the Australian and the Malaysian Grand Prix we all stay overseas to complete a joint fitness program in Kuala Lumpur.”

How is/was your preparation for Melbourne?
“Though the last couple of days I was on cloud nine, I’m now already with my mind back at the first Grand Prix. During the winter months, I kept myself fully concentrated on both my physical and mental preparation in the Formula Medicine gym in Viareggio, Italy. Therefore I feel now completely ready for my next F1 test and I’m eager to travel to Down Under!”

What’s your goal for the next F1 test during the Australian Grand Prix next week?
“My fist aim is to get comfortable in the car again and to get some more mileage and feeling with it. After I tested for Jordan Grand Prix the last time around (December 01-04), many things have been further developed. Not only have I not driven the new car before, I also haven’t got any experience with the new Toyota engine and the latest Bridgestone tires. Another important challenge for me is to get and deliver optimum feedback of the tires, as that will be the most important issue in F1 this year. I hope that with my work on Friday I can be a big help for my teammates for the remainder of the weekend.”

Do you have any other things you want to add?
“Yes, I would like to thank everyone who kept supporting me during these hectic winter months. That really meant a lot to me! Next to this, I would of course like to thank everyone at Midland and Jordan Grand Prix for having faith in me and special thanks go out to my sponsor and good friend Harry Muermans. But I also have to mention Eddie Jordan. Both last and this year he was from great benefit to me, as pushed really hard behind the scenes to continue our relationship. Many thanks to you all. I’ll make sure you won’t have any regrets!” Press Release
Barrichello: 'great to see the new car' Barrichello: 'great to see the new car'Rubens Barrichello is keen to get to Melbourne and start racing. “Only when we get to Melbourne will we see what the new order is among the teams,” reckoned the Brazilian. “That is when we will see where we stand and in what areas we need to improve, if indeed we need to improve.”

Asked to single out which team he thought might pose the greatest threat to the Scuderia, Barrichello (pictured right seated on right front wheel) suggested Renault. “From what we have seen in winter testing, they are quick over a single lap and also quick over a long distance.” Barrichello is relaxed about tackling the new race weekend timetable. “It is just something else for us to adapt to,” he said, referring to the fact that final qualifying now takes place on race morning. “I will enjoy the challenge of having to put in a quick lap the very first time I go out on track on Sunday morning. In practical terms, it just means we will be a bit busier and have less chance to relax a bit before the race.

My main hope is that the new format is interesting and easy to understand for the spectators. We will have to learn the best way of getting the most out of the Bridgestone tires during qualifying.” And what did he think of the new car? “I watched it being assembled. At this stage, I cannot pick out one special element on it, but overall it was a great feeling seeing the new car come together, knowing all the work that has gone into producing it.”

Montezemolo: ’a time for faith and optimism’ Montezemolo: ’a time for faith and optimism’The launch of the F2005 ended with a speech from Ferrari President, Luca di Montezemolo. “First of all, thank you all for coming. I think I speak for everyone when I say our thoughts are with the Pope, because one of the most intense moments of the past few years occurred a few weeks ago when we went to the Vatican for an audience. Despite being very tired, the Pope had the strength to speak at length with all of us showing his passion while also taking the opportunity to put over his views on the value of sport and its ethics which are often on the decline. I wish to send our deepest felt wishes to an exceptional Pope.”

This is always an important day for us,” continued Montezemolo (pictured right handing microphone to Jean Todt). “The years go by, but the spirit, the sense of friendship and collaboration have never been lacking, especially in the difficult moments. 2004 was really busy, both professionally and personally. We have won so much in Formula 1, more than anyone else. This team is strong and stable, but with young people continually growing and taking on more and more responsibility under the guidance of Ross and Rory. I like to think back to the presentations of the past: I remember in 1992, when it was hard to understand who had made the car; I recall the years of rebuilding and then 97, 98 and 99 when we lost the drivers title at the very last race. We constantly raised our expectations and this year we want to maintain our current position. In life as in sport, one cannot win all the time, but nevertheless that is what we have set as our goal. This is not just what I want, but also what Todt and everyone at Ferrari wants, because we are up against major manufacturers and we have to push as hard as we can.”

“What concerns me more is to give Ferrari economic autonomy and I think this will be achieved by the end of 2012. Ferrari has some amazing and important sponsors and technical partners, but a different financial structure to our competitors and so we want autonomy so that we are not dependent on FIAT, which has always given a lot to Ferrari and will continue to do so, but economic and operational autonomy is very important. So, for 2008, we are preparing an all-Ferrari championship, which should be interesting,” joked Montezemolo. “Joking apart, between now and 2008 a lot of things will happen. Let’s wait and see.”

The President then turned to Ferrari’s industry achievements in 2004. “This has been an exceptional year. In a few days, at the Geneva Motor Show, we will present the F430 Spider a car born out of collaboration with Formula 1. FIAT and Alfa Romeo will also have an important presence at the show. So we have grand aims for 2005: easy to say, harder to do. Our collaboration with Bridgestone will be vital and in fact this car is born out of close cooperation with the Japanese company. We start with last year’s car modified. As Brawn said, we believe this is the right choice and I think once again this year, we will be front runners. This presentation is the time for faith and optimism. Here is our whole world, our territory, our partners and our suppliers. Together we will do everything possible to keep the two titles at Maranello. We will do all we can to keep both trophies in Maranello. The journalists are asking “who will beat Ferrari.” I hope the answer is Ferrari.”

Todt: ’I respect the other teams’ Todt: ’I respect the other teams’In the press briefing after the official presentation of the F2005, Ferrari Managing Director, Jean Todt (pictured right, in center between Barrichello and Schumacher) revealed that it was hoped that the new car would be ready to make its race debut at the fifth race of the season; the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona. “We will start testing it early next week at a venue that will depend on the weather,” said Todt. Asked if it was a disadvantage not to have the new car for the start of the season, Todt smiled and replied, “We cannot predict the result of the first four races. There are many unknown factors, like the one set of tires for a race and so there are plenty of question marks. It is an interesting situation.” With the winter months dominated by the political rather than the sporting side of Formula 1, Todt was asked to comment on Ferrari’s re-signing of the Concorde Agreement, which sets them apart from the teams associated with the GPWC. “First I would point out that it was Paolo Cantarella (former Fiat president,) who initiated the GPWC,” began Todt. “We always said that, if we could reach an agreement with the FIA, with Ecclestone, with the banks, we would do so. Only after reaching this agreement did we step out of the GPWC.” Todt also felt that Ferrari was justified in getting a better financial package than other teams. “Ferrari has always been special and is tied to F1 just as F1 is tied to Ferrari. It helped to create what F1 is today. It is like in the movies where the stars get paid more. Ferrari is a star and wants to be paid like a star. The others might be frustrated but they would demand the same if they were in our situation.” With Ferrari having dominated the 2004 season, Todt was asked why he felt this year would be particularly tough. “The other teams are very good and I respect them. They and the engine manufacturers and Bridgestone’s rivals have all done a great job. Now it is up to us to provide our team with whatever is needed and make sure we are ready for the challenge.” Finally, Todt was asked if after over a decade with the Scuderia, he did not consider taking on another challenge. “I think it would be difficult to find a more complete challenge than my role here at Ferrari,” said the Frenchman.
Schumacher: ’I don’t feel old’ Schumacher: ’I don’t feel old’Michael Schumacher’s motivation continues to mystify the F1 media, but Michael is equally mystified that people should question his desire to keep racing. “I don’t feel like an old guy,” said the reigning world champion. I still enjoy racing and it feels natural and fun. It is no longer a question of trying to reach the top.” As soon as the F2005 launch was over, Schumacher was heading for Australia for the first race and he admitted that it might be a slight disadvantage to race there with the F2004 M. “Of course, I would have liked to have the new car immediately,” he said. “Maybe it means we have slightly less chance to win, but with 19 races this will be a long season. We have taken a decision that is a compromise, but I think many of the other teams would like to have our compromise! We are well prepared.” The results of winter testing suggest the opposition will be closer. “But for me, my most feared rival is him,” said Schumacher, pointing at Rubens Barrichello sitting next to him.
The first GP2 series test The first GP2 series testThe first GP2 series test was concluded today at Circuit Paul Ricard, in the South of France. Each of our 12 teams attended the session with a total of 22 drivers taking to the track over the course of the three days.

The test provided the first opportunity for the teams to show off their new liveries. Most importantly, it was the first opportunity for the squads to collate the information which will form the basis of their understanding of this new machine. It was a step into the unknown for the drivers, too. At the very start of the session, they were briefed as a group that the intention was to gain an understanding of the car, and not to set out-and-out lap times.

After just three days of their initial test programs, however, the fastest lap of the session was just 0.3 seconds slower than the all-time GP2 lap record on the particular track configuration in use, not bad considering this test was intended to be used simply as a learning experience. By the final day, the majority of teams were able to run between 50 and 80 laps a day.

Bruno Michel: "I think this first GP2 session was very positive and encouraging. Apart from some reliability issues which have affected a small number of teams, we have had few problems. The test has allowed the teams to start to get to grips with their car. All the drivers seemed very impressed with it, and we, in turn, were very impressed with how quickly they were up to speed. I also have to praise the professionalism and dedication of all our teams."

The next test is scheduled to take place back here at Paul Ricard between the 8th and 10th of March. GP2.com See this site and this site for photos. See this site for team and driver information.
NASCAR to hold spoiler height NASCAR to hold spoiler heightAfter taking 1 inch off the rear spoiler over the winter, don't expect any more spoiler cuts this season, Nextel Cup Series director John Darby said.  Any additional changes will likely not take place until after this season, Darby said.  "The teams came and asked if we would just roll it over and do it all at the end of the year so they could build their cars, wind tunnel them once," he said.  "The original thought process was to do it in little increments, so that you could potentially use the same car and save all of that work. Just whacking the inch and moving on seems to work better."
Gordon announces Harrah's sponsorship Gordon announces Harrah's sponsorshipNASCAR owner/driver Robby Gordon will hit the track this year sporting a lucky #7 and a casino logo on his car. Harrah’s Operating Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., announced today that it has reached agreement in principle to sponsor Robby Gordon Motorsports throughout the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup season. Subject to a definitive agreement, the arrangement calls for Harrah’s to be the primary sponsor for 14 Cup races and an associate sponsor for 13 races. The sponsorship includes a multi-faceted marking program and exposes several Harrah’s-owned brands to the more than 75 million NASCAR fans in the United States. In addition to the Harrah’s logo, Gordon’s car hood will feature the World Series of Poker logo for select races. Harrah’s primary sponsorship begins with the February 27th Nextel Cup race at California Speedway and will include several races held at tracks in proximity to Harrah’s casinos across the country, including Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Harrah’s Las Vegas and the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino), Atlanta Motor Speedway (Harrah’s Cherokee Casino), Phoenix International Raceway (Harrah’s Phoenix Ak-Chin Casino), Dover International Speedway (Harrah’s Atlantic City and Showboat Atlantic City) and Kansas Speedway (Harrah’s North Kansas City).  Components of the Harrah’s sponsorship include at-track customer promotions, VIP entertainment and pre-race pit tours, Fan Fest event at casinos, personal appearances and Harrah’s-branded Robby Gordon Motorsports merchandise. Gordon made personal appearances and hosted Fan Fest events for Harrah’s last year. He also helped raise awareness for Harrah’s participation in the Meals on Wheels Association of America “March For Meals” campaign. Additional information about Harrah's Entertainment is available at www.harrahs.com Robby Gordon PR
NASCAR simulcast bombs NASCAR simulcast bombsNASCAR's live high-definition simulcast of last Sunday's Daytona 500 in movie theaters in New York and Irvine, Calif., drew about 150 attendees at each, today's Sports Business Daily reports. Jeffrey Pollack, NASCAR digital entertainment managing director of broadcasting and new media, said that the goals of the experiment were met (150 attendees is a pretty low number for NASCAR). "We didn't expect to sell out," he said. Pollock also said he "wouldn't be surprised" if NASCAR tried the experiment again later this season. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
NASCAR catches more cheaters NASCAR catches more cheatersNASCAR inspectors found their first violator of the Nextel Cup Series' near gear ratio rule on non restrictor-plate tracks.  Officials confiscated the rear gear of Ken Schrader's No. 49 Dodge during inspection at California Speedway on Friday. Also taken Friday was the entire rear deck lid of Kevin Lepage's No. 37 Dodge.  Both are likely to face penalties, which will be announced early next week. ThatsRacin.com
NASCAR press conference in Mexico ends abruptly NASCAR press conference in Mexico ends abruptlyUPDATE Regarding the NASCAR Press Conference in Mexico City last Wednesday that ended abruptly, Michel Jourdain was NEVER supposed to attend. He was at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez race track shooting a TV promotional for Televisa requested by the promoter of the race as well as doing some interviews also for Televisa and Disney Channel. Jourdain was informed about the press conference and was going to attend to it when it was going to be held at the track. On Monday, when they changed the Press Conference to the Hard Rock Cafe at the same time Jourdain needed to be doing the TV promotion for them at the track, he told them he couldn't do the two things at once, so they asked him to do the promotion for Televisa. Also, it is important for you to know that Jourdain was never announced as one of the drivers that would be attending the press conference. They sent an invitation saying that "the Mexican drivers would be there" (they never used any names), also at the press conference, the only driver's names on top of the drivers table were Jorge Goeters and one other driver. 02/24/05 The Washington Post reports that a NASCAR Busch Series press conference yesterday in Mexico City promoting the March 6 Mexico 200 was supposed to feature drivers Adrian Fernandez and Michel Jourdain Jr., “but traffic delayed the stars, and only little-known driver Jorge Goeters appeared.  The news conference ended abruptly when a local newspaper reporter took the microphone and demanded to know how professional racers could be so delayed by regular traffic.  ‘Aren’t they better drivers than all of us?’ he asked, drawing a smattering of applause.”
Remy to Sponsor Paul Dana in the Ethanol Hemelgarn car Remy to Sponsor Paul Dana in the Ethanol Hemelgarn carRemy International, Inc., today announced it has signed a three-year associate sponsorship agreement with driver Paul Dana for the #91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing entry in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, starting with the 2005 season.

Indy Racing League driver, Paul Dana, recently tested the #91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Dallara in preparation for the new season beginning March 6th with the Homestead-Miami race. Dana will banner the Remy International associate sponsorship for the entire season. (PRNewsFoto)

When the green flag flies for the opening race at Homestead-Miami, Florida, on March 6th, Dana will pilot the Toyota-powered Dallara for the 17-race season. Ron Hemelgarn, a founding team owner in the Indy Racing League, will operate the team in an encore return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Chevy SSR to pace NASCAR races Chevy SSR to pace NASCAR racesA Chevrolet SSR will perform pace duties for the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 27, and continue those duties for a total of 20 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races this season. This weekend will be the first time the Chevy SSR, a unique blend of an open-air roadster with pick-up truck functionality, will pace the field during the 2005 race season.
Smith returns to Red Bull Smith returns to Red BullRed Bull Racing is delighted to announce that Mark Smith will join the company as Deputy Technical Director with immediate effect. The 43-year old Englishman joins the team after successful spells producing race winning cars at both Jordan Grand Prix between 1991 - 2001 and Renault F1 between 2001 - 2004.

After a brief return to Jordan last December, Smith has decided to commit himself to Red Bull Racing whose debut race will be next weekend in Melbourne.

“I’m delighted that we have managed to secure Mark’s services at Red Bull Racing,” said Red Bull Racing Sporting Director Christian Horner. “He brings race winning experience to the team and will form an important part of the foundations that we are putting into place.”

“Mark is widely respected throughout the entire sector. He did exceptional work for both Jordan and Renault and is one of Formula 1’s most experienced technical experts,” added Red Bull Racing Technical Director Günther Steiner. “We’re really delighted we were able to win him over.”

Another new face in the Red Bull Racing team is Anton Stipinovich. The 42-year-old South African is the new head of the development team. He spent the past four years working for Ferrari following four years with McLaren. Red Bull Racing

Ferrari more than happy to let Sauber go Ferrari more than happy to let Sauber goFerrari would be happy for Sauber to buy their engines from someone else, team boss Jean Todt said on Friday.  "When we started to supply Sauber, we did that against our will," Todt told reporters at the Maranello factory launch of Ferrari's F2005 car.  We did that because Peter Sauber would have been without an engine and it would have been the end of his team.  That is the reason we decided to support him against the financial contribution and if Peter Sauber has the opportunity to get a better deal with the manufacturer he is right to do it," added Todt.  As yet, nothing has been decided but I hope Peter Sauber can find an agreement with an engine manufacturer as it will allow him to secure the future of his company. He has been doing a great job and it's very difficult.  We did what we did not for financial income but to help Peter Sauber."
France not happy Maserati allowed by ALMS France not happy Maserati allowed by ALMSUPDATE IMSA Official Statement

IMSA confirms that it has invited the Maserati MC12 to compete in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and each of the events of the 2005 American Le Mans Series, as a guest of IMSA, and not as part of the Le Mans branded series. Maserati has accepted and will run at Sebring. As previously announced, the MC12 will be a full competitor in the GT1 category and will be classified by IMSA based on its finishing position, but will not be eligible for series points. This is the arrangement with IMSA confirmed today by the ACO in its statement.

IMSA also confirms that both FIA and ACO officials were contacted and consulted through the process of finalizing the car specifications and protocol that will be utilized to control the performance. However, as the ACO made clear in its statement, IMSA, as the entity with the sporting authority for these competitions, bears final responsibility for the specifications, the protocol used to control performance and the administration of that protocol, and the ACO will not be involved or responsible for any aspect of that.

Tim Mayer

02/25/05 The 'AUTOMOBILE CLUB DE L'OUEST' has noted the decision taken by the AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES to put the MASERATI MC 12 on the list of entries for the coming SEBRING 12 HOURS.  The 'AUTOMOBILE CLUB DE L'OUEST' reminds the parties concerned that the MC 12 does not comply with the Technical Regulations and is not homologated. Thus, this car is not allowed to take part in events run under the 'LE MANS' label.  On no occasion did the A.C.O officials have any contact with either the F.IA. or I.M.S.A concerning the control of the performance of this car.
Assistant General Manager 
Zippo to sponsor Glen Busch race Zippo to sponsor Glen Busch raceWatkins Glen International and Zippo Manufacturing Company announced today a new marketing partnership with making Zippo the title sponsor of the NASCAR Busch Series race on August 13, 2005 during the annual SIRIUS Satellite Radio at The Glen weekend. The race will be called the Zippo 200. "We have been involved with Watkins Glen for over a decade and are extremely excited to embark upon this new partnership during their annual NASCAR event weekend and the newly added Busch Series race," said Greg Booth, President and CEO of Zippo Manufacturing Co. "Not only does this partnership make sense for us and Watkins Glen, but it supports our newest Zippo Motorsports marketing initiative."
MRN to telecast Spanish NASCAR Races MRN to telecast Spanish NASCAR RacesMotor Racing Network (MRN) and Radiovisa, a 24-hour Spanish-language radio network will partner to air three NASCAR races in 2005 beginning with this weekend's "Stater Bros. 300" NASCAR Busch Series race and the "Auto Club 500" NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race Feb. 26-27 from California Speedway in Fontana. Radiovisa will also travel to Mexico City for NASCAR's first ever Mexico-based race, the Telcel Motorola Mexico 200, from Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on March 6th, 2005.  "MRN Radio is excited to have the opportunity to work with Radiovisa in bringing coverage of America's fastest growing sport to America's fastest growing population segment," said David Hyatt, President of MRN Radio. MRN PR
Politician pays back money Politician pays back moneyA Republican state senator whose campaign spending has been under a microscope since he broke GOP ranks has written a personal check to cover the cost of NASCAR season tickets.  The check for $790 is reimbursement to his campaign account for two season tickets to Bristol Motor Speedway given to Denise Davenport, a former girlfriend, state Sen. Micheal Williams said. Williams, a lawmaker from Maynardville since 1991, said he does not believe he did anything wrong by purchasing racing tickets for constituents, including Davenport.  ''I didn't use the tickets for personal gain,'' Williams said. ''But to remove any question, I personally paid it back.'' The affidavit claimed that Williams' campaign account paid for: Bristol tickets that he later scalped and kept the profits; NASCAR-related die-cast cars and framed photos that he kept for personal use; and trips to Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet in Newton, N.C., for routine maintenance on his vehicles. Tennessean
Industry News
Bigger Big Screens in Texas Bigger Big Screens in TexasEverything is bigger and better in Texas, including the view for fans at Texas Motor Speedway's races in 2005.  Fans watching this season's two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races from the grandstands will catch all of the racing action live on four big screens. And, what a view it will be from the backstretch!  Fans sitting in those seats will now have an up close view of all the action with a huge state-of-the-art big screen measuring 16 x 24 feet, allowing fans to see pit stop action along with racing coverage around the entire speedway.   Instant replays of critical portions of the races will be shown on the screens. In addition, Texas Motor Speedway will place screens measuring 13 ½ x 18 feet in Turn One and Turn Four as well as one on the front stretch at the start/finish line near Victory Lane measuring 20 x 27 feet. TMS PR
Fernandez tests Busch car at VIR Fernandez tests Busch car at VIRAdrian Fernandez was at Virginia International Raceway on February 22, 2005 testing the Busch car he will race in Mexico City. Photos courtesy of Hendrick Motorsports

Oz GP race security chief charged with fraud Oz GP race security chief charged with fraudThe man in charge of security for next week's Australian Formula One Grand Prix has been sacked pending 88 fraud related charges. Mario Joseph Siketa, 55, of the Geelong suburb of Bell Post Hill, who was until recently the general manager of Wilson Security, was remanded on bail in the Melbourne Magistrates Court last Friday on charges including receiving secret commissions and obtaining property by deception. The charges are understood to relate to his work for Wilson Security and his relationship with a Melbourne labor hire company controlled by a relative.
BAR Season Preview BAR Season PreviewThe 2005 FIA Formula One World Championship, which gets underway next week at the Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne, Australia, presents an exciting new technical challenge for the Lucky Strike B·A·R Honda team. After an intensive winter testing program incorporating chassis and engine development, reliability work, and getting to grips with the new tire compounds from Michelin, the team is eagerly anticipating the first race. The test schedule was the culmination of four months of hard work at the UK-based factory and on test tracks in Spain and the UK where the team completed almost 28,000 testing kilometers, an increase of 25% for the same period last year.

The team is encouraged by the testing performance of the B*A*R Honda 007 and look forward to the 'acid test' in Melbourne, where all of the teams will get their first real indication of the performance in race weekend conditions. Albert Park is a high downforce circuit, and one that is very popular with the drivers. The 5.303km track features a mixture of short straights and slow to medium speed corners, and requires the car set-up to have a balance of good traction and stability under braking, as well as being aerodynamically efficient. Teams face the problem of a green, dusty and leafy track during Friday and changing surface conditions over the race weekend.

Jenson Button on the Australian Grand Prix "The season has come around so quickly but it's great to be heading to Melbourne again. Personally I can't wait to get stuck into what will be a challenging and exciting year for myself and the team. Our success last season is a tough act for us to follow but we have made good progress over the winter and the past couple of tests in particular have given us a much better idea of the car's real potential. It will be very interesting to see how the new regulations pan out on the race track and the new qualifying format is going to be more mentally challenging for all of the drivers. I'm the fittest I have ever been though and have worked really hard over the close season to make sure I go into this season with the best preparation possible.

"Melbourne is a great place to kick off the season - a great track and a great city. I started my run of podiums in Malaysia last year so my main objective next weekend is to be as strong as possible from the start. Only after the first race will we have a real understanding of where we are in comparison to our competition."

Takuma Sato on the Australian Grand Prix "It is amazing that we are here again, at the start of another season. The winter testing period has gone by so quickly and it is great to be going to Melbourne where the fans are really enthusiastic and the atmosphere is perfect for a season opener. Personally, I am very excited to go into my third F1 season and it is also the first time that I am continuing to drive for the same team, which makes it very special. The first race will be extremely tough for everyone as they get used to the new regulations, but that only excites us more! We feel that we could still be a big challenge to the other teams this year."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director "After a challenging pre season testing program, made more complex by circuit changes and poor weather on top of the usual testing issues, it's a relief to be off to Melbourne 4 the start of the season. While all the teams have now run under the full 2005 regulations, at Melbourne we will have our first opportunity to truly see the relative performance of the cars.

Despite a number of problems during testing we are happy with the fundamental performance of the B·A·R Honda 007 but like many others would have preferred a bit more preparation time to feel more confident. Our objective in 2005 is to win races and as last year we will travel to every circuit aiming to be on the podium."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development "After the long winter testing season, we're looking forward to finally getting down to the real action, and will be doing our best to build on the progress we made last year."

MRN Radio to Broadcast in Spanish MRN Radio to Broadcast in SpanishMotor Racing Network (MRN) and Radiovisa, a 24-hour Spanish-language radio network will partner to air three NASCAR races in 2005 beginning with this weekend's "Stater Bros. 300" NASCAR Busch Series race and the "Auto Club 500" NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race Feb. 26-27 from California Speedway in Fontana. Radiovisa will also travel to Mexico City for NASCAR's first ever Mexico-based race, the Telcel Motorola Mexico 200, from Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on March 6th, 2005. "MRN Radio is excited to have the opportunity to work with Radiovisa in bringing coverage of America's fastest growing sport to America's fastest growing population segment," said David Hyatt, President of MRN Radio. "NASCAR is quickly becoming an important sport to the Hispanic community," said Ray De La Garza, COO of Radiovisa Corporation. "World class racecar drivers Michel Jourdain Jr. and Adrian Fernandez have recently crossed over from Champ and Indycar racing to compete and now NASCAR has brought the sport to Mexico with its first ever race. We wanted to be the first to acknowledge the impact Hispanics can have on this great sport and leapt at the opportunity David Hyatt and MRN Radio offered us to team up with them."David Talley
Truck Champion Gets Injured Working on House Truck Champion Gets Injured Working on HouseJack Sprague, driver of the No. 16 Chevy Trucks Xpress Motorsports Silverado, sustained a broken heel on his left foot in an accident at his Charlotte-area home on Wednesday, February 23, 2005. Sprague was performing home maintenance on gutters when he lost his footing on a frozen patch of the roof. Sprague will practice the No. 16 very minimally turning the driving duties over to NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Chevrolet Monte Carlo driver Mike Bliss for the majority of the practice as well as qualifying. Sprague will start the American Racing Wheels 200 Friday night at California Speedway with Bliss standing by in the pits to relieve Sprague, should he be unable to complete the 100 lap event. “This certainly isn’t good timing for this to happen,” said Sprague. “But this Chevy Trucks team is strong. Chris (Showalter, crew chief) and everyone on the Chevy Trucks Team have worked hard to get this team in position to be a serious championship contender this season. We have discussed this at length with Dave (Fuge, team owner) and the entire crew to make the correct decisions for the good of the team. This isn’t going to hurt our chances for race wins and the championship. I am going to limit my time in the truck prior to the race and will be behind the wheel of my Chevy Trucks Silverado when the green flag flies. I will stay in the truck as long as I feel I am competitive. If I feel I am not competitive and I need to get out, we have a great driver in Bliss standing by and he can wheel it to the front. The key is to make sure we don’t lose a lap making the driver change.” Sprague is the only three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) champion winning the crown in 1997, 1999 and 2001. Judy Kouba Dominick
Oil strategy key to Ferrari reliability Oil strategy key to Ferrari reliabilityThe Ferrari F2005 will contest this year's Formula One World Championship with a completely new portfolio of engine oils. Just as with tires or chassis components, Ferrari will have a suite of oils from which to choose during the race weekend this year.

Designed to accommodate the new one-engine-per-two-race rule, Ferrari will have the option of switching between at least three different oils during the race weekend.

"Knowing which oil will best suit a certain track only comes with experience," explains Mike Copson, Shell's Formula One Technical Manager, "and by supplying a suite of oils to the race team, we can run the car with differing levels of protection and power throughout the weekend."

"At the end of an engine's life, testing has shown that engine wear in 2005 will be similar to last year, but clearly during its life, the stresses on the unit will be increased as it will be under duress for longer periods of time."

"With a portfolio of lubricants we will be able to offer the engine increased protection during practice sessions before we switch to a more viscous, power-liberating blend for the race."

"A key factor for success in 2005 will be knowing exactly how hard to push the engines," explains Ferrari's Technical Director, Ross Brawn. "We expect drivers to concentrate mainly on tire life during the race, but we will be monitoring engine wear very closely from the garage too."

"Having developed a portfolio of oils with Shell, we should be able to push the engines harder for longer without compromising track time or engine wear during practice sessions."

The liberty the lubricant portfolio afford the team is expected to pay dividends straight away as Ferrari will use the new selection in the F2004M immediately at the Australian meeting in March.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION The oil development program continues apace and more iterations are expected later in the season to compliment the existing selection.

FUEL Ferrari will start the new Formula One season with the same well proven and extremely successful Shell V-Power fuel with which it finished last year. A new batch of the Shell V-Power ULG59 has been prepared with a revised additive package that has been altered to compliment the new oil's protective qualities.

"We have now had three seasons without an engine or gearbox related failure, but reliability is absolutely key in 2005, so we have taken a cautious approach to the first developments of the year as the new rules are a step into the unknown for all of Formula 1."

"Shell has been extremely busy working closely with the team to ensure that the all important additive package within the fuel has been further optimized to cope with the rigors of the extended race mileage that we will see in 2005" said Mike Copson. Shell

Industry News
Grandstand seats in the news Grandstand seats in the newsThe now-closed Cicero Speedway is being demolished and its thousands of expensive cushioned and arm-rested grandstand seats which went unsold are being destroyed!

At the recently closed Nazareth, Pa. Speedway, some 11,000 of the 40,000-odd grandstand seats are being sent to Watkins Glen Int’l, ISC’s upstate New York road course, which is undergoing some significant upgrades. The original plan was for these seats to remain in Nazareth until needed at ISC’s planned new circuit on New York City’s Staten Island.

World Series by Renault
WSR - Final run of the Dallara Nissan machinery WSR - Final run of the Dallara Nissan machineryWill Power has set a new unofficial record of the World Series in the last ever run of the Dallara-Nissan cars. 23 drivers had attended the tests in Barcelona showing the great potential of the all-new World Series by Renault.

The Dallara Nissan cars had finished in Catalunya four years of successful life in the best way: with a newcomer setting the last unofficial record of the category.  Carlin Motorsport has been the strongest team of all, with the Aussie Will Power setting the fastest lap of a single seater in Catalunya, besides a Formula One car. Power’s lap was 1.28.774, at an average speed of 187.6 km/h.

The last day of testing started with a light rain, but the drivers could improve their lap times when the sun shone strongly in the early hours of the afternoon. Félix Porteiro was the fastest today after setting a lap time of 1.28.901, and the French driver of Saulnier Racing achieved a fantastic top 3 position after two days, only 0.063 seconds away of Félix. Both confirmed drivers had showed the strong level of competition that will be showed in the World Series by Renault.

“The car it’s simply perfect. My ideal lap is 1.28.500, which means that we can be very competitive in this track. The team did a great work, finishing the car at 4 a.m. after our problem that with the gear box. Robert Kubica is very funny and a great driver. We get along very well since we know each other from karting,” said Porteiro after the session was over.

“It is obvious that we are not concentrated in the times," explained team principal of Eurointernational Enrico Ferrari. "This is not important for us. Our drivers are trying to learn the car and adapting it to their driving style. For sure we are pretty confident about the 2005 Season.”

Serge Saulnier, team owner of Saulnier Racing continues: “We are very impressed by Simon as it was the first time that he drives in this circuit. We have been working in the car and every run you could see how Pageneaud was feeling more confident. The same happened in Paul Ricard. We should be able to announce our second driver the next week”.

Meanwhile, Eric Salignon has been testing for Cram Competition and Saulnier Racing. The Frenchman has demonstrated his great potential setting the 4th quickest lap over the two days.

Pons Racing’s return to activity has been also joyful as their Spanish drivers Celso Miguez and Adrian Vallés had been both in the top seven positions. The team has improved by far their best lap time ever in the Circuit.

World Series by Renault - 02/24/05 – Circuit de Catalunya
1 Felix PORTEIRO (SPA) Epsilon Euskadi 1’28.901
2 Simon PAGENAUD (FRA) Saulnier Racing 1'28.965 0.063
3 Eric SALIGNON (FRA) Cram Competition 1’29.114 0.213 186.9
4 Celso MIGUEZ (SPA) Pons Racing 1’29.243 0.342 186.6
5 Markus WINKELHOCK (GER) Draco Multiracing Usa 1'29.256 0.355 186.6
6 Giovanni TEDESCHI (ITA) RC Motorsport 1’29.306 0.405 186.1
7 Andy ZUBER (AST) Carlin Motorsport 1’29.430 0.529 186.5
8 Patrick PILET (FRA) Jenzer Motorsport 1'29.453 0.552 186.2
9 Christian MONTANARI (RSM) Draco Multiracing Usa 1.29.472 0.571 186.2
10 Raffaele GIAMMARIA (ITA) GD Racing 1'29.731 0.830 185.6
11 Charles ZWOLSMAN (BEL) KTR 1’30.035 1.134 185.0
12 Stefano PROETTO (ITA) Interwetten 1’30.040 1.139 185.0
13 Giorgio MONDINI (ITA) Eurointernational 1’30.050 1.149 185.0
14 Colin FLEMING (USA) Jenzer Motorsport 1’30.277 1.376 184.5
15 Johnny Reid (NZL) Draco Multiracing USA 1’30.476 1.575 184.1
16 Ivan BELLAROSA (ITA) Avelon Formula 1'32.558 3.657 180.0
17 Ryo FUKUDA (JPN) Saulnier Racing 1’32.703 3.802 179.7.

Source WSR

Sato receives L'Automobile award Sato receives L'Automobile awardBAR Honda driver Takuma Sato this week presented with the 'Sporting Revelation of the Year Award' for his performances during the 2004 Formula One season. The presentation was made by Mr Christophe Veyrin-Forrer, President of L'Automobile, the highly respected monthly French motoring magazine, at a lunch in Paris attended also by Mr Hirose, President of Honda France.

"I am very honored to receive this great award from L'Automobile which is such a famous magazine in France," said Sato. "It is great to receive recognition from journalists and the public outside Japan, it really means a lot to me."

Mr Veyrin-Forrer, on making the award said: "We are proud to make this award to Takuma who was such a great inspiration to us in 2004. His fighting spirit is great for Formula One. Personally, he is a very professional, eloquent and sympatric pilot and we are very happy to present him with this award." The trophy itself was made by former famous French F1 photographer Emmanuel Zurini, better known as 'Manou' Zurini. Manou turned to sculpture in the early 90s and mainly works on bronze or stone. Sato

Robert Doornbos signs as Jordan third driver Robert Doornbos signs as Jordan third driverJordan Grand Prix recently announced Nicky Pastorelli as test driver but today unveiled Robert Doornbos as the team’s official third and reserve test driver.

Doornbos, who drove Jordan’s third car in the last three Grand Prix of 2004 in China, Japan and Brazil, won the F3000 race in Spa last year and finished third overall in the 2004 FIA International F3000 Championship with the 'Rookie of the Year' award for his achievement.

The 23 year-old Dutchman joins the team as it presents its car, management and race drivers to international media in Moscow, Russia today.

“One has to be impressed at Robert Doornbos’ pace – in every aspect," explained Jordan MD Colin Kolles. "He started motor racing very late compared to most of today’s drivers and in that situation you have to be outstanding and impress people quickly in order to move up the ranks. He did that, has proved himself competent in F1 last year and now we are happy that he will continue working with us to get the most out of Friday free practice sessions and at the same time he has an opportunity to keep learning Formula One.”

Doornbos, who had been chasing a race deal with the team until the squad announced Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro as race drivers, was naturally delighted to conclude a deal with the team. “It was fantastic doing three Grand Prix with Jordan last year but those free practice sessions were the only time I had ever had in an F1 car," said Doornbos. "I’m delighted now to have the opportunity to continue testing, learning and developing - both for me and for the team.” Jordan

 Formula BMW
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Smith joined Red Bull
Schu may race beyond 2006
Rookie daunted by PR toil
'Villeneuve' - the movie
Rookies win F1 'superlicense'
Webber to win home GP
Doornbos to test Jordan
F1 in Red Square

Schu won't win - brother
Davis left Williams last year
Indian may keep helmet design
Sauber's 'strong' car - JV
Toyota to 'obey' F1 pact
'Winter' period red flagged
BMW laud '05 F1 design
Heidfeld cracked V10 code
Toyota hunt future talent
SPEED World Challenge
Reese to run new Corvette C6 Reese to run new Corvette C6Leighton Reese and Banner Engineering have announced that Reese will return to contest for the 2005 SPEED World Challenge Series GT championships in a brand new 2005 Chevrolet Corvette C-6. "As always it is an honor to represent the fine people and products of Banner Engineering," Reese said of his long association with the Minneapolis based provider of photo sensing and automation equipment. "Banner has been associated with Leighton and his racing program since 1999, and we find that the car, the races and especially Leighton, are great attractions for our U.S. distribution and customer base," said Bob Fayfield, CEO of Banner Engineering. "Most of our customers are engineers, and a trackside or off-site racing event never fails to draw them in large numbers." "The C-5 Corvette was a great car, but the new C-6 has elevated the Corvette to an even higher level, if that was possible," Reese said of his expected upgrade for the 2005 season. "I didn't think that Chevrolet had much room for improvement but they have once again brought America's greatest sports car up another notch!" The Banner Racing team will also have sponsor support from Epic Racing and the Las Vegas BikeFest which is one of the premier motorcycle enthusiast events in the country. "We are looking forward to being regular visitors to the podium this season," said Leighton Reese. "I think that the legalization of traction control will be an equalizer this year."
Ferrari to launch Friday Ferrari to launch FridayThe Ferrari F1 team will unveil their new car at the official Ferrari launch in Maranello Friday, but the car won't actually be raced until May. The car will undergo extensive track testing before it is raced.
Villeneuve movie in works Villeneuve movie in worksA movie to be called "Villeneuve" is to go into production in 2006 - if all goes to plan. The movie will tell the story of Gilles Villeneuve and his son Jacques, who became Formula 1 World Champion in 1997. The move is to be made by Gabriella Martinelli, a Italian-born producer who grew up in Canada. After starting out on TV commercials, Martinelli made several feature films in Canada before becoming head of production at Independent Pictures, a film company in Toronto. In recent years she has worked with David Cronenberg on several feature inclduing "Madame Butterfly" and "Naked Lunch". She also produced "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet" in 1996. The movie is to be based on the book "Villeneuve" by F1 journalist Gerry Donaldson. It will follow the career of Gilles Villeneuve from his early career in Canada to his success in F1 and his death at Zolder in 1982. It will then go on to chart the rise of Jacques Villeneuve. The movie will be directed by Montreal's Christian Duguay while the script will be written by Malcolm Clarke. There is no word yet on the casting. Grandprix.com
Industry News
Andrettis open new indoor karting center Andrettis open new indoor karting centerThe greatest racing family in the world will bring their need for speed to Roswell, Georgia on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 when Andretti Indoor Karting and Games celebrates its grand re-opening starting at 11:00 am. Mario, Michael and John Andretti will be at their new facility from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm that day, signing autographs and greeting fans. After a $1 million renovation, the 100,000 square foot facility includes two brand new custom Andretti designed race tracks, European state-of-the-art super race karts, a 25-foot rock wall, a Fuddrucker’s Restaurant, and a bar called The Adrenaline Sky Bar, which of course features Andretti wines.

“We’re proud and excited to call this facility our own,” said John Andretti. “We think we have a destination that is unique and entertaining, whether you are participating or just eating, drinking and people-watching. It’s a great place for adults, corporations and families.”

Says family patriarch and international racing legend Mario Andretti, “Through Andretti Indoor Karting and Games, my family can share the driving passion of our lives. You can experience what we feel behind the wheel - in the heart of racing country. Trust me, it’s a blast.”

After their November 2004 purchase of the existing Andretti Speed Lab in Roswell, the famed family made extensive improvements to the facility and is gearing up for an enhanced experience at the grand re-opening. The Andrettis, always committed to the very best in racing, consulted with an expert Belgian racetrack design firm to redesign the two existing tracks with extreme racers in mind.

a)Track one is a road course, where 20 of the 40 new super karts can race against one another. Daring hairpin curves and thrilling straight-aways are more challenging than ever on this track and as close as indoor racers can get to the real thing. Drivers on this track must have a driver’s license.

b)Track two is an oval for the sprint car enthusiast, where 10 karts race against one another. There are two specially designed karts for track two - sprint karts for those with a driver’s license and junior super karts for drivers 8 years old or 48 inches tall.

Attendees at the grand re-opening will get the ride of their life on any of the 40 new RIMO karts powered by Honda. Reaching speeds of 38 miles per hour on Bridgestone tires, these 9 horsepower karts are widely known for their superior race-like driving abilities, which make them a perfect match for the Andretti's tracks. In business for more than nine years, RIMO produces only 800-1000 karts each year worldwide.

Are you one who likes nostalgia? If so, you’ll find a great collection of Andretti racing photos throughout the facility. And on temporary display at Andretti Indoor Karting & Games will be Mario Andretti’s “Arrivederci” car, the Champ Car Mario drove in the last race of his career, which was at Laguna Seca in 1994.

Andretti Indoor Karting & Games even has something for the extreme sports enthusiast “outside the car”: a 25-foot rock wall and indoor ropes course. The rock wall has three different levels of rock climbing, for the beginner to the advanced climber. The indoor ropes course offers a challenge perfect for corporate team building or just family fun. For the gaming enthusiast, tandem competitive racing and NASCAR games are synched to closely simulate a real race.
PitFit Training Brings Proven Fitness Tips to Aspiring Karters PitFit Training Brings Proven Fitness Tips to Aspiring KartersPitFit Training president and noted trainer Jim Leo will host Auto Racing Fitness: The Fundamentals Saturday, February 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in conjunction with the 13th Annual Kart Expo, Pheasant Run Resort and Convention Center in St. Charles, Ill. (Chicago area).   The workshop provides drivers with the same physical training knowledge and equipment utilized by PitFit Training’s top-level clientele including champions Paul Tracy, Scott Dixon, and Sam Hornish, Jr. as well as the entire Formula BMW USA series.

The PitFit Training staff will provide participants hands-on instruction to accompany the just-released training DVD of the same name and a detailed training manual.

“Physical training is key to the success and safety of drivers at all levels of the sport, but not everyone can afford the intensive services that are available to professional drivers,” Leo says.  “This workshop is designed to give racers the knowledge and tools he or she needs to start an effective training program to drive the individual’s fitness to the next level.”  Registration is available at http://www.pitfittraining.com.

ADT Champion Audi names driver lineup for Sebring and LeMans ADT Champion Audi names driver lineup for Sebring and LeMansAfter a successful three day test session at Sebring International Raceway in early February, Team ADT Champion Racing announces the driver trios for the two Audi R8s that will compete next month in the 12 Hours of Sebring and in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

Joining JJ Lehto and Marco Werner, last year’s American Le Mans Series Driver Champions, will be six-time Le Mans winner and former ALMS Driver Champion (2002) Tom Kristensen.  In 1999, Kristensen and Lehto were partnered in a BMW V12 LMR and together along with co-driver Jorg Muller they won the very first American Le Mans Series race, the 12 Hours of Sebring.  One year later, Kristensen put the Audi R8 on the “sports car map” when he finished 1st again at the 12 Hours of Sebring.  Kristensen’s winning streak at Le Mans, five consecutive wins (four with the Audi R8) should also boost Team ADT Champion Racing’s hope for a win. 

Piloting the #2 Audi R8 will be the Audi “works” squad of Emanuele Pirro, Frank Biela and Allan McNish.  McNish scored his first victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring last year driving for Audi Sport UK.  Pirro has one Sebring win (2000) and Biela has three (2000,2003,2004).  Collectively this trio has seven Le Mans wins:  Pirro three (2000, 2001, 2002), Biela three (2000, 2001, 2002) and McNish one (1998).  Their goal in June will be to give an American sports car team, Team ADT Champion Racing, a victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a milestone that has not been achieved since 1967.             

Team ADT Champion Racing has yet to achieve a victory in either the 12 Hours of Sebring or the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  With this extremely experienced and talented group, this year could be the exception. 

Team ADT Champion Racing will compete in North America’s most prestigious and longest running sports car race, the 53rd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 16-19 in Sebring, Florida.  This inaugural American Le Mans Series race continues to attract the finest and most competitive sports car teams from around the world, 2nd only to the renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans race in Le Sarthe, France.

ROCKSTAR Energy Drink to sponsor Enge’s car ROCKSTAR Energy Drink to sponsor Enge’s carTwo-time IndyCar Series champion Panther Racing announced that ROCKSTAR Energy Drink will be the primary sponsor of the No. 2 Chevrolet-powered Dallara driven by Tomas Enge.

“We are looking forward to our partnership with ROCKSTAR Energy Drink,” said John Barnes, CEO and co-owner of Panther Racing. “ROCKSTAR is a high-energy, cutting-edge, innovative brand making its mark on the U.S. landscape – much like Panther Racing and the IndyCar Series. Together, we are going to make a positive impact.”

ROCKSTAR founder and CEO Russell Weiner and other ROCKSTAR executives and guests attended the IndyCar race at California Speedway in 2004 and decided the excitement of the IndyCar Series represented the philosophy of the ROCKSTAR brand and would be an ideal avenue to increase exposure for ROCKSTAR.

In addition to its sponsorship of the Enge’s car, ROCKSTAR Energy Drink will have an associate sponsor position on the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther entry driven by Tomas Scheckter.
Button leads final day of testing at Valencia Button leads final day of testing at ValenciaThursday test times from Valencia, Spain:
1. J. Button - BAR Honda - 1'20"288 (+0"000) - 87 laps
2. N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams - 1'21"606 (+1"318) - 68 laps
3. J. Trulli - Toyota - 1'22"303 (+2"015) - 33 laps
Eurosport Champ Car air times Eurosport Champ Car air timesHere are the various schedules for Eurosport's different channels. It's not so bad as some people have predicted.

Eurosport International: (times CET)
April 10 Long Beach 22:00-00:00 Live
May 22 Monterrey 18:45-20:45 Live
June 5 Milwaukee 23:30-00:30 Highlights
June 19 Portland, 22:00-00:00 30 min. delay
June 26 Cleveland, 22:00-00:00 2h and 30m. delay
July 10 Toronto 18:45-21:45 Live
July 17 Edmonton 00:00-01:00 Highlights
July 31 San Jose 23:45-00:45 Highlights
Aug. 14 Denver, 23:45-00:45 Highlights
Aug. 28 Montreal 21:30-23:30 2h. delay
Sept. 24 Las Vegas 22:00-00:00 the time slot will be changed
Oct. 16 Ansan, Korea 10:30-11:30 Highlights
Oct. 23 Surfers Paradise 07:45-09:45 Live or short delay
Nov. 6 Mexico City 21:45-23:45 Live

British Eurosport (times GMT)
April 10 Long Beach 21:30-23:30 30 min. delay
May 22 Monterrey 21:45-23:45 Live
June 19 Portland 21:00-23:00 30 min. delay
June 26 Cleveland 21:00-23:00 2h and 30m. delay
July 10 Toronto 17:45-19:45 Live
July 17 Edmonton 22:45-23:45 Highlights
July 31 San Jose 00:45-01:45 Highlights
August 14 Denver 22:45-23:45 Highlights
August 29 Montreal 08:45-10:00 Highlights (Monday)
Sept. 24 Las Vegas 21:00-23:00 the time slot will be changed
Octo. 16 Ansan, Korea 09:30-10:30 Highlights
Oct. 23 Surfers Paradise 06:45-08:45 Live or short delay
Nov. 6 Mexico City times unavailable

Eurosport 2: (times GMT)
June 4 Milwaukee 18:00-20:00 Live
July 17 Edmonton 21:00-23:00 1h. delay
July 31 San Jose 21:00-23:00 Live
Aug. 14 Denver 21:00-23:00 Live
Oct. 16 Ansan 09:30-11:30 short delay or Live

NASCAR fans to get Daytona Prototype sneak preview NASCAR fans to get Daytona Prototype sneak previewOver the next two weekends, race fans attending NASCAR races at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. and the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City will get a “sneak preview” of a Rolex Series Daytona Prototype in advance of the scheduled Rolex Series races at each venue.

The No. 31 Nolte Engineering Pontiac Riley prepared by Margraf Racing will be driven by General Motors pilot Paul Edwards on demonstration laps prior to each event. Just minutes before the green flag waves on this Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Auto Club 500 at California Speedway, Edwards will hustle the No. 31 Pontiac around the two-mile oval, giving fans a taste of what they will see on the Speedway’s infield road course during the weekend of April 1-3.

As the NASCAR Busch Series makes its first trip south of the border for the inaugural Mexico 200 next weekend, Edwards and the No. 31 will run several demonstration laps around the historic road circuit during the weekend. The Rolex Series will visit Mexico for the first time on the weekend of November 5, wrapping up the 2005 campaign in Mexico City.

Entry invitations mailed for Indy 500 Entry invitations mailed for Indy 500Entry invitations for the 89th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race were mailed Feb. 24 to race teams eligible to compete in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Entries must be postmarked by midnight Wednesday, April 6. All drivers named to an Indianapolis 500 entry will compete for one of the 33 starting spots in the world's most prestigious auto race. This year's event schedule features a variety of exciting changes designed to benefit fans and teams. Opening Day is scheduled for Sunday, May 8, with a full three weeks of activity during the traditional Month of May at the Speedway beginning with the Rookie Orientation Program on May 8-9. Veterans move onto the track for practice on Tuesday, May 10.

Changes to the schedule include:

.A new schedule for the Rookie Orientation Program. ROP will take place during the first two days of practice, May 8-9.

.A new schedule for practice days, with on-track activity taking place from noon-6 p.m. each day (except for May 8-9), one hour less of track time per day than in past years. The later start time will reduce costs for teams over the three-week span of the event while still providing ample time to prepare for the most prestigious race in the world and the marquee event of the IndyCar® Series season. Track activity will take place from noon-5 p.m. May 8-9.

.A new qualifying format designed to produce bumping on each day of qualifying. There also will be a return to the traditional four days of qualifying, expanding from the three days of recent years. MBNA Pole Day is scheduled for Saturday, May 14, with Second Day Qualifying on Sunday, May 15, Third Day Qualifying on Saturday, May 21 and Bump Day on Sunday, May 22.

.A new date for Miller Lite Carb Day, which shifts to Friday, May 27 from its past Thursday date. The Futaba Freedom 100 also moves to Miller Lite Carb Day, a new date for that Menards Infiniti Pro Series race.

.A new start time of noon local time for the Indianapolis 500. This is one hour later than in past years. The new start time moves the event into a better time slot for national television viewers and also provides more time for hundreds of thousands of race fans to arrive at the track on Race Day morning. ABC Sports and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will broadcast the race live. Indy Speedway PR

Williams team wraps up Valencia test Williams team wraps up Valencia testThe BMW WilliamsF1 Team today completed a four day test at the Valencia circuit, in Spain. Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld split testing responsibilities, both drivers spending the final test prior to Melbourne fine tuning the set-up of the FW27 and carrying out systems checks. Despite poor weather hampering the last two days, Webber and Heidfeld covered over 1,400 kilometers between them.

The conclusion of this week's test marks the end of an exhaustive winter testing period which has seen the BMW WilliamsF1 Team complete a total of 25,370 kilometers over 37 days on three different Spanish tracks. Over the winter months, Mark Webber, Nick Heidfeld and Antonio Pizzonia have all played a part in the development of the new Williams BMW FW27 in preparation for its race debut in Australia on 6th March.

Sam Michael (Technical Director, WilliamsF1) -- Mark and Nick shared testing duties in Valencia, with half of the test being held in wet weather conditions. The majority of the test was spent signing off last minute items in time for Melbourne.

Today marked the end of a hard, three month testing period before the first race of 2005. The team spent a lot of that time checking systems, improving reliability and adding performance to the car. With two new drivers and a new car for this year, we are all looking forward to the first race in Melbourne next week. The test team have been working extremely hard, with support from the factory, to do all of the preparation work necessary for the start of the season.

Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director) -- We used this week's test in Valencia to carry out some long runs in order to increase the mileage on the engine and therefore improve its reliability. We also completed some practice starts to improve our starting procedure. Everything seems to be working well so we are now looking forward to Melbourne.
NC lawmakers careful on NASCAR NC lawmakers careful on NASCARBoth Gov. Mike Easley and a state lawmaker made bows to NASCAR Wednesday in bids to keep as much of the auto racing industry in the state as possible.  Rep. Karen Ray, R-Iredell, filed a resolution Wednesday honoring several NASCAR drivers and encouraging NASCAR to build its Hall of Fame museum in the state.

Perhaps as a sweetener, Easley's budget said he provided $250,000 this year toward the Charlotte region's efforts to promote the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord.

Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tim Newman said the authority is also seeking $62,500 each from Charlotte and Mecklenburg County for the effort. In past years, the region has tried to step up the hoopla surrounding NASCAR's all-star race to keep the sport from moving it to another city.

Past efforts have included concerts and a promotional campaign of billboards and print advertisements. This year, regional leaders are planning a full week of events, costing $600,000. Other contributors include Concord, Cabarrus County and Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Likewise, Charlotte is one of at least five cities calling for NASCAR to build a museum. Ray and House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, have backed past state spending to keep races and racing-related business in the state.

A 1999 UNC Charlotte study found that the all-star race generates $75 million for the local economy. Crowds have grown since then, and local officials now estimate that the race is worth about $100 million to the region. That's Racin.com

Industry News
Anti-Tobacco Treaty becomes law Anti-Tobacco Treaty becomes lawOn Sunday the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control will become law in the 57 countries which have signed up the treaty. They will now uphold a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. It remains to be seen whether or not countries will try to snake out of the deal with special exemptions for Formula 1 races - there are bound to be some governments which will be under pressure to look the other way - but they will come under international pressure to comply and it is likely that any transgressions will be attacked by the fellow signatories of the treaty, indeed in the terms of the treaty, they are bound to oppose any breach of the deal. Grandprix.com
Industry News
Mid-Ohio season opener on CBS Mid-Ohio season opener on CBSThe 44th year of racing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course kicks off the season with a visit by the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) the weekend of May 20-22, 2005. The race is currently set to start at 12 noon to accommodate live national coverage on CBS.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course hosts the third race of the 10 race 2005 schedule for the ALMS a month earlier than normal. This allows many of the competitors a final test at one of the country's most physically and technically demanding tracks before going to Le Mans, France to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"I think it's important that we go to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and have a good showing before we go to Le Mans," said Clint Field, defending LMP2 class winner at Le Mans. "It's a great track to go to before the 24 hour race because it gives us a good reference point for where we are at as a team."
Industry News
Speedway Motorsports earnings up Speedway Motorsports earnings upSpeedway Motorsports Inc. reports 2004 net income of $73.7 million, or $1.69 per diluted share, up 26% from $58.5 million, or $1.37 per diluted share, in 2003. The Concord-based company (NYSE:TRK) had sales of $446.5 million, a 10% gain for the year. Fourth-quarter net income was $13.5 million, or 31 cents per diluted share, up from $11.1 million, or 26 cents per diluted share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 5% to $88.5 million. "Speedway Motorsports is extremely pleased to report another consecutive year of record revenues and earnings," says Chief Operating Officer Humpy Wheeler. "Our broadcast, sponsorship, display, hospitality and camping revenues all showed increases over the prior year." Speedway is a marketer and promoter of motorsports events. [Editor's Note: Yet they come to the city of Fort Worth with hat in hand wanting $500,000 to promote their second NASCAR date at TMS. Similarly we see ISC, who make even bigger profits, going to places like Seattle asking the government/criticizes to help pay for the track they want to build so they can make even more money. Greed breeds greed.]
Adjustments allowed after impound Adjustments allowed after impoundLarry McReynolds: You can obviously readjust the tape on the front end. Most teams will completely tape up the front ends for aero advantage in qualifying and then you open them up the minimum amount to race so air can flow to the radiator and oil cooler. NASCAR will also let teams add a minimum of four or five gallons of fuel to compensate for what they burned off in qualifying. As far as chassis adjustments, you can adjust air pressure in your tires, and you can adjust your shocks. You can't change the shocks, but they have adjusters on them that you can change. You can adjust wedge up to two rounds which will either tighten or loosen up the car, and you can adjust the panhard bar only on the right side. The wedge and panhard bar changes are allowed during pit stops through adjusters under the rear window, and teams will be able to make these changes before the race. These adjustments are enough to make it beneficial for Matt Kenseth to run the Busch race on Saturday (5:30 p.m. ET on FX). He will be able to give his Nextel Cup crew chief Robbie Reiser good feedback, such as, "Look, I know you weren't thinking about putting any wedge in the car, but my car was loose at Turn 3."
NASCAR Performance from the Track on SPEED NASCAR Performance from the Track on SPEEDNASCAR Performace from the Track on Speed: NASCAR fans will once again get an all access pass to the latest strategy and technology inside the NASCAR garage when NASCAR Performance returns to SPEED Channel Feb. 26. This weekly program, which will broadcast trackside Saturdays, 6:30 - 7:00pm/et, provides a sophisticated crew chiefs' perspective on the hottest NASCAR topics live from the SPEED stage each week. NASCAR crew chiefs Chad Knaus and Robert “Bootie” Barker will join the weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup pole-winning crew chief to discuss the technical side and the team side of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing. In addition to originating trackside from the SPEED stage venue, also new to the show this year is veteran NASCAR analyst Dick Berggren. Berggren, who will serve as host for the show, brings over thirty years of motorsports experience as a driver, journalist and broadcaster. NASCAR PR
Toyota will challenge BAR and Williams Toyota will challenge BAR and WilliamsToyota's revised TF105 will worry BAR and Williams, says Ralf Schumacher. Schumacher, new to the team this season after six seasons with Williams, said the new aero package was a “massive improvement” after testing it last week. He said it added to the car’s existing strengths of reliability, mechanical grip and a powerful engine and should allow Toyota to challenge its established rivals. “The new aero package has massively improved the car and gives us a lot more downforce,” he said. “It’s hard to say where we will be, but we seem close to the pace set by BAR and Williams. A points finish is a realistic aim for Melbourne.”
Aussie race celebrates 10th anniversary Aussie race celebrates 10th anniversaryAustralian Grand Prix boss Ron Walker has predicted a record turnout for the 10th anniversary of the event in Melbourne next week. Walker said Thursday March 3 had been designated a ‘people’s day’, during which the public will have free access to the circuit. Among the celebrities due to attend are actors Bo Derek and Nicholas Cage. “The figures prove that the grand prix is now Australia’s biggest sporting event,” said Walker. Autosport Magazine
Industry News
Mickey Thompson murder mystery Mickey Thompson murder mysteryA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Thanks for the feature story on the murder of Mickey Thompson. I am willing to bet a lot of younger readers don't know who Mickey was, but being an old timer, I remember Mickey and his murder was a real tragedy. Your article goes into much detail and is by far the best article I have read to date. Keep up the great work. I am so glad I found AutoRacing1.com. You guys are like a breath of fresh air and I love your tell it as you see it attitude. Ben Blackman, Oakland, C.
McLaren still looking for primary sponsor McLaren still looking for primary sponsorMcLaren is still seeking a new primary sponsor to replace tobacco brand West, despite the announcement this week of a new long-term partnership with whisky brand Johnnie Walker. West’s last appearance as a McLaren sponsor will be at the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 31st – the day on which pan-European tobacco advertising restrictions begin.
Gordon Thinks NASCAR Should Race in Canada Gordon Thinks NASCAR Should Race in CanadaDaytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon was asked to explain the differences between oval stock car racing and open wheel road course racing to Canadian race fans: “I think it has a lot to do with the types of cars we race. We’re the total opposite of an Indy Car or a CART Car. We have very little downforce compared to the amount of tire we run. I think that allows the handling and the driving of the cars to be crucial – not to mention that as long as our races are, we have a lot of pit stops so there can be a lot of shuffling going on. The biggest thing is that we’re on oval tracks. What makes great side-by-side racing and cars come from the back to the front, is oval track racing. On road courses, you see a lot less overtaking and cars moving from the back to the front. It happens but you don’t see it near as much. That’s why our sport has taken off like it has. We need to build a track up there. We don’t have one yet, but we need to be up in Canada. I think staying within North America is important. We’re going to Mexico – at least the Busch cars are. I think the next step would be Canada.” GM Racing Communications
Cosworth is confident Cosworth is confident“Champ Car owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Jerry Forsythe are very interested in Cosworth's F1 program and are very supportive,” Head of F1 Development Alex Hitzinger told F1-Live.com. “We obviously don't have the 'safety net' of a car manufacturer anymore and for this reason we push even harder to improve the efficiency in all areas of the company, to be able to do more development with the resources we have and therefore improve the engine on a faster rate.”

“The takeover did not have any big impact on the development of the TJ2005,” Hitzinger continued. “In fact we are still on track with our two-year development plan, which will ultimately result in the new V8 engine for 2006. In terms of reliability, we have run several engines to over 1500km on the track and to 1800km on the dyno. However we keep pushing the performance, to make sure we are right at the limit.”

In 2006, the FIA has determined that teams can continue running a V10 engine with a restriction on the rev-limit, or run an all-new V8 engine. Cosworth’s 2006 engine is dubbed the ‘CA’ is well into its design phase and Hitzinger and his colleagues have conducted a lot of research over the course of the last six months in the area of V8 related mechanical issues and performance improvements.

With ‘affordable engines’ very much the topic for debate in 2006 and beyond, Hitzinger is convinced that Cosworth will remain an attractive proposition for any team. “We think we will be competitive from a performance and a cost point of view,” Hitzinger concluded.

Nippon Oil joins BAR Nippon Oil joins BARLucky Strike B·A·R Honda is delighted to begin the 2005 season with the announcement of a new team partnership with leading Japanese oil company Nippon Oil Corporation (NOC).

This long-term agreement will see the supply of NOC's ENEOS lubricants to the B·A·R Honda team and the distinctive ENEOS logo appearing on the nose of the B·A·R Honda 007 and on the drivers' racesuits with effect from next weekend's curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix.

The new partnership is borne out of a long-standing relationship between NOC and Honda Motor Co., Ltd (Honda) which began in 2000. Then, NOC became the first Japanese oil refining company to supply engine oil for Formula One race cars.

Since that time, NOC has been a forerunner in the development of F1 engine oil. Under the terms of its new Lubricant Partner agreement with B·A·R Honda, NOC will work closely with Honda R&D Co., Ltd to further develop engine and gearbox oil for the team's racecars.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Karthikeyan helmet banned
'Ferrari won't be beaten'
Williams 'must' take Button
Schu - 'I doubt myself'
'No BMW deal yet' - Sauber
Sato's a 'rookie' again
Final F1 run affected
Keep an eye on DC - Frank W.
Sunday quali to proceed
Team owner to test F1 car
Onus on TV land - Raikkonen
Nick's not worried
Line-up 'too pricey' - team
'Team, driver to blame'
Newey to take sabbatical
Heikki to test again
FIA president 'corrupted'
A1-Ring restored
NASCAR beats Champ Car, IRL in ratings war and it’s not even close NASCAR beats Champ Car, IRL in ratings war and it’s not even closeThe NASCAR juggernaut continued as last Sunday's Daytona 500 tied an all-time high with a 10.9 rating on FOX and Friday night's Craftsman Trucks drew an all-time best for SPEED of 2.1. And, if that's not impressive enough, there's talk next year's Daytona race won't start until 5 p.m. so it can finish in prime time and really put up a staggering number.

To put that Daytona rating in proper perspective, we need to realize that a 10.9 was larger than all 14 Champ Car races added together and multiplied by three on SPIKE last season and it almost topped the Indy Racing League's total for 16 races on ABC and ESPN. The IRL averaged a paltry 0.8 rating in 2004 and Champ Car's was so pathetic it barely registered as a test pattern.

That's how lopsided this deal has become during the past decade.

And, considering all the competition for viewers among the USA's 109.6 million TV homes, it makes NASCAR's number even more jaw dropping.

But there was a time when the Indianapolis 500 ruled and pulled in nothing but double digits. More at SPEEDTV.com

Interviews with Tracy and da Matta Interviews with Tracy and da MattaThis South Florida Motorsports website has video interviews with Paul Tracy and Cristiano da Matta when they were testing at Homestead last week. Hear Tracy talk about Champ Car and what it was like to drive a Daytona Prototype. He said, "the Daytona car felt fast but I had not been in a Champ Car in 4 months. When I got back in, wow." Cristiano da Matta talks about getting back into Champ Car after a 2-year stint in F1 for Toyota.
Hemelgarn to field first woman driver in IPS Hemelgarn to field first woman driver in IPSMishael Abbott will become the first woman to compete in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series when she takes the green flag March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the No. 91 car of Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports.

Abbott, 23, tested on the 1.5-mile oval located 30 miles south of her home in Coral Gables, Fla., earlier this year. "I've driven the Homestead-Miami road course more times than I can remember, and now to compete on the oval fulfills a lifetime dream, especially in my own backyard," Abbott said.

"Being the first woman to compete in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series means the world to me. I've always been proud of my accomplishments, being the first female to win a professional shifter kart race in the United States, being the first to test the Infiniti Pro Series car at Las Vegas two years ago, and now the first woman to actually compete in the series fulfills one of my life-long goals."

Abbott is slated to compete in five races with Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports, which finished second last season with driver Paul Dana.

"This year will mark our fourth season in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series," team owner Ron Hemelgarn said. "We're excited to have Mishael on board for part of the season and expect good things from her. Since the beginning, we've won at least one race every season, and we're hopeful Mishael will deliver another victory."

Abbott, who began karting when she was 14, also has competed in USAC Midget events, Formula Mazda competition and the SCCA National Runoffs. Her ultimate goal is to be the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500.

ESPN, ABC Sports to provide continuous coverage ESPN, ABC Sports to provide continuous coverageESPN and ABC Sports' telecasts of the first two 2005 IRL IndyCar® Series season races will feature continuous coverage of race action through all national commercial breaks with "Side-By-Side," a split screen of the race and commercials.
ESPN will debut the new way of viewing auto racing at the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 from Homestead-Miami Speedway at 2 p.m. (EST) on March 6. ABC Sports will utilize "Side-By-Side" at the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 from Phoenix International Raceway at 3 p.m (EST) on March 19.

"It is exciting to see the creative ways ABC Sports and ESPN are looking at to present the IndyCar Series to viewers," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president of business affairs for the Indy Racing League. "With the speed and side-by-side racing offered up by our drivers and teams week-in and week-out, this initiative will give fans the opportunity to see even more of the all-out competition offered by the IndyCar Series."

With "Side-By-Side," ESPN and ABC Sports will stay with the race action during all national commercials. When the networks take a national break:

. The screen will be split into two pictures with the race action on the left and the advertiser's commercial with audio in a larger box to the right.
. A graphic above the race box will display the top three drivers of the race at the time of the break and the location of the event.
. The sponsor logo or name will be at the top of the screen and change in correspondence to the advertiser.

"We are pleased to include our sponsors in this innovative approach to televising open-wheel racing," said Ed Erhardt, president, ESPN and ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales. "Developing and effectively utilizing creative and inventive technology on telecasts is an ABC and ESPN hallmark. The enthusiastic and positive responses we received on this concept from our sponsors and IndyCar was tremendous.

"Auto racing is unique in that there are no set plays, stoppages or timeouts. Fans can now follow the race action from the green flag to the drop of the checkered flag. The race action is continuous so we felt this was the next logical step in open-wheel coverage."

The networks' five local commercial breaks during the race telecast will be full screen with no race coverage.

Gordon graces two magazine covers Gordon graces two magazine coversSporting News this week features Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon, with the header “Thrill Ride.”  Sports Illustrated this week features an action shot from the Daytona 500, with the header “The Great American Race.” The Daily


GP2 gets green light at Paul Ricard GP2 gets green light at Paul RicardThe GP2 series today sprang into life at Circuit Paul Ricard in the South of France. On a chilly but perfect day, the 12 GP2 teams and their drivers made their debuts on track, following weeks of expectation since their first chassis were delivered at the start of February.

The 20 drivers attended a short briefing session in the morning, while the finishing touches were added to their cars and the engines fired up for the very first time. A short trip around the track for reconnaissance purposes was carried out shortly afterwards, and at 12:30 CET the pitlane opened, ready for the test to begin. It was fitting that the first driver to take to the circuit was the very first driver to be confirmed at a GP2 series team – Nelson Piquet Jr, at the wheel of the Hitech Piquet Sports car.

Today will be used predominantly for systems checks and for the drivers to familiarize themselves with the circuit and, of course, their new machines.

To coincide with this date, the official GP2 series website, www.gp2series.com, has been re-launched. This new site will include a brand new news section which will be updated regularly and will feature the very latest GP2 series images available as copyright-free download. You will also be able to watch GP2 series videos, download press releases and listen to music from young and exciting unsigned artists, continuing our quest to seek out the best in young undiscovered talent.

Marlin to confront Newman Marlin to confront NewmanIf Ryan Newman hears a knock on the door of his hauler or motor home, or a tap on his shoulder at California this weekend, chances are it won't be anyone selling Girl Scout cookies, or looking to make a lunch date.

It most likely will be fellow Dodge pilot Sterling Marlin, who still is ticked off about Newman's slam-drafting during last Sunday's Daytona 500.

"Ryan Newman hit me going in (Turn) 3, and I about wrecked," Marlin said in Tuesday's Dodge Motorsports teleconference. "It darn near took out about 10 of us. "The point is, don't run into me going into the corner," added Marlin, who said he'll have a conversation with Newman this weekend.

"I don't care down the straightaway, but you can't be hitting somebody going into the corner. He was lucky he didn't wreck a lot of us."

Marlin, a two-time Daytona 500 winner (1994, '95) said the racing at Daytona was much hairier than in recent years, and he wasn't surprised there was a big wreck -- an accident on Lap 189 that involved 10 cars.

"It was nuts," said Marlin. "Restrictor-plate racing, if you run all day long and if you haven't had cautions to thin 'em out, with 40 to go it's just a mad house. Everybody is chopping each other off.

"I'd say it was more nuts than ever. If you were up front, it might not have been as crazy, but at the time, we'd got the penalty and had to start in the rear. We had to come through everything. It looked like they were running Martinsville, bouncing off each other. I knew it was going to happen." More at Florida Today

NASCAR announces slew of fines for Daytona NASCAR announces slew of fines for DaytonaNASCAR announced Wednesday that 15 penalties - including 11 fines totaling $102,000 - have been issued to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams, resulting from rule violations during the Budweiser Shootout and Daytona 500 race weeks at Daytona International Speedway.

Two of those penalties were issued to Robby Gordon Motorsports, including the most severe fine – $50,000 for crew chief Bob Temple – because of an unapproved intake manifold on the #7 Chevrolet discovered during the initial Daytona 500 inspection process on Feb. 11. Robby Gordon’s car owner Jim Smith was penalized 25 car owner championship points. The #7 was in violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components, and/or equipment that do not conform to NASCAR rules). Gordon currently has no driver championship points, because the #7 failed to make the Daytona 500 field. Smith, however, earned 31 owner points at Daytona. Per the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rule book, a car owner receives points based on qualifying results, if their car fails to actually qualify for a starting field.

Four penalties were issued to Wood Brothers Racing, because of an unapproved spoiler adjustment on the #21 Ford that took place after pre-race inspection for the Gatorade Duel at Daytona (Daytona 500 qualifying races) on Feb. 17. Ricky Rudd was penalized 25 driver points; Glen Wood was penalized 25 owner points; and crew chief Michael McSwain was fined $25,000. Also, crew member Marc Smith was suspended from NASCAR competition until March 31. The #21 also was in violation of Sections 12-4-A and 12-4-Q.

Pete Rondeau, crew chief on the #8 Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr., was fined $10,000 for an unapproved third gear transmission ratio. The violation was discovered during the initial inspection for the Budweiser Shootout on Feb. 10. The #8 was in violation of Section 12-4-A and 12-4-CC (unapproved rear end gear or transmission gear ratio).

David Charpentier, crew chief for the #14 Ford driven by John Andretti, was fined $10,000 because of improperly attached weight, a violation of 12-4-A and 12-4-W (improperly attached weight) determined during pre-race inspection for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20.

Also, the following NASCAR NEXTEL Cup crew chiefs were issued $1,000 fines:

  • Harold Holly (#32 Chevrolet driven by Bobby Hamilton Jr.), because of an unapproved fuel cell well (violating Section 12-4-U) found during the initial Daytona 500 inspection on Feb. 11. There were false panels inside the well.
  • Jimmy Elledge (#41 Dodge driven by Casey Mears), because of an unapproved window net (12-4-Q) found during initial Budweiser Shootout inspection on Feb. 10.
  • Jim Penland (#23 Dodge driven by Mike Skinner), because of an unapproved window net (12-4-Q) found during initial Daytona 500 inspection on Feb. 11.
  • Robert Leslie (#33 Chevrolet driven by Kerry Earnhardt), because of an unapproved window net (12-4-Q) found during initial inspection for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 11.
  • Beau Tiffany (#52 Ford driven by Larry Gunselman), because of an unapproved fire suppression agent (12-4-Q) found during initial Daytona 500 inspection on Feb. 11.
  • Stanton Hover Jr. (#80 Ford driven by Andy Belmont), because of an unapproved side window (12-4-Q) found during initial Daytona 500 inspection on Feb. 11.
  • Hover, because of an unapproved fire bottle (12-4-Q) found during the 500’s initial inspection process on Feb. 11. 


BAR gears up with Airespace BAR gears up with AirespaceAirespace, Inc.®, the leader in intelligent wireless networking platforms, and Matrix Communications Group Plc, a fusion of experts in information technology focused on delivering 'pure performance' solutions, today announced the deployment of a Wireless LAN (WLAN) system for British American Racing (BAR) at its Brackley Headquarters in Northants, UK. The Airespace Wireless Enterprise Platform, implemented by Matrix Communications, provides BAR with a secure and reliable wireless communications infrastructure for its commercial visitors and employees.

"Everything about BAR is state of the art when it comes to our Formula 1 business and we want to make sure this is also reflected in our communications infrastructure," commented David France, Head of IT at BAR. "The rollout of a wireless network to the main public areas of our Brackley HQ will enable clients, sponsors and key customers to access the Internet and other business services for the first time. We have a strong business relationship with Matrix and chose its Airespace solution because the infrastructure is capable of dealing with the vigorous demands we place on our network."

The WLAN solution covers the main 'public' areas of the BAR facility, including the reception and auditorium, providing visitors, clients, sponsors and partners secure and reliable access to the Internet and other business applications, such as Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony networks. The solution comprises multiple Airespace 1200 Access Points connecting into an Airespace WLAN controller, which provides centralized management for the entire wireless network. Key benefits include high Quality of Service (QoS), real-time radio frequency (RF) management, dynamic intrusion protection capabilities and robust WLAN security.

Toyota Pro/Celebrity race announces driver lineup Toyota Pro/Celebrity race announces driver lineupStars from film, television, music and sports will attempt to outpace and out-maneuver each other April 9 in the 29th annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race.

Celebrities in this world-renowned, 10-lap race for charity will tear through a 1.97-mile street circuit in downtown Long Beach, Calif. Part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Pro/Celebrity race provides fans with a little star-gazing to go along with the excitement that takes over the waterfront for an entire weekend.

The expected field of 21 includes the following group of fiercely competitive entertainment personalities, internationally known celebrities, sports stars and media:

-- Amanda Beard U.S. Olympic swimmer (7-time Medalist)
-- Simon Cowell "American Idol" judge, author
-- Patrick Dempsey "Sweet Home Alabama," "Iron Jawed Angels,"
"Once & Again,"
-- Michael Irvin 3-Time Super Bowl champion (Dallas Cowboys);
actor, "The Longest Yard;" ESPN commentator
-- Orlando Jones "Father of the Pride," "Drumline," "Say It
Isn't So," "The Replacements"
-- John Leguizamo "Assault on Precinct 13," "Moulin Rouge!,"
"Ice Age," "Summer of Sam"
-- Karl Malone Future Hall of Fame NBA Great; former
Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers player
-- Misty May U.S. Olympic beach volleyball player
(Gold Medalist)
-- Meat Loaf Singer, "Paradise by the Dashboard Light,"
"I Would Do Anything for Love;" actor,
"Fight Club"
-- Dave Mirra Professional BMX rider (14-time X Games
-- Mo'Nique "Soul Plane," "The Parkers," "It's Showtime
at the Apollo"
-- Aaron Piersol U.S. Olympic swimmer (4-time Medalist)
-- Ingo Rademacher "General Hospital," "Titans"
-- Henry Simmons "NYPD Blue," "Taxi," "Are We There Yet?"
-- Nicollette Sheridan "Desperate Housewives," "Knots Landing"
-- Mark Steines Anchor, "Entertainment Tonight"

Returning this year is the 2004 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race champion, Christopher McDonald (with three projects currently in post production - including Rob Reiner's "Rumor Has It"). As the 2004 winner, McDonald will now compete with three other drivers in the "Pro" category.

In addition to McDonald, the professional drivers competing for the checkered flag are:

Ryan Arciero (three-time Baja 1000 champion racer), Matt Scranton (NHRA sport concept car drag racer) and Rhys Millen (GTO Drift Team racer).

"The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race draws some of the most competitive celebrity and professional drivers because it offers the high-speed challenge of real racing, combined with a worthwhile charitable endeavor," said Les Unger, Toyota's national motorsports manager. "Last year's race was down to the wire and this year's race is sure to provide more of the same for fans."

Also racing in this year's event is Mike Sullivan, dealer principal for both Toyota of Santa Monica and Toyota of Hollywood.

Toyota will raise more than $100,000 for "Racing for Kids," a non-profit program benefiting children's hospitals in Long Beach, Calif. and Orange County. Toyota will donate $5,000 to "Racing for Kids" in the name of each celebrity racer, and another $5,000 to the winning racer's charity of choice.

Finally, a $15,000 donation is made in conjunction with the eighth annual "PEOPLE Pole Award." Sponsored by PEOPLE magazine, the award honors the pole-position winner of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race qualifying session on Friday, April 8. In the past 14 years, the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race has generated more than $1.2 million for children's hospitals in Southern California.

San Jose announces support races San Jose announces support racesSan Jose Grand Prix officials announced today that they have added four support series races and an exhibition to the program of events for northern California’s historic first downtown street race July 29-31.

In addition to the previously announced Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford race, drivers from the Toyota Atlantic Championship, Trans-Am Road Racing Series, United States Touring Car Championship and the Historic Stock Car Racing Series will contest races around the HP Pavilion and surrounding streets on the 1.3-mile, 10-turn San Jose Grand Prix circuit.  There will also be a Formula Drift (Drifting) exhibition.

“The addition of these four support series events and the Drifting exhibition to the San Jose Grand Prix schedule provides northern California race fans with one of the most exciting race weekends ever,” said San Jose Grand Prix Vice President and General Manager Bob Singleton.  “Each of the five races that will be contested is a main attraction in its own right, but when combined gives race fans everywhere something to cheer about.  We are proud that we have been able to assemble this line-up and look forward to an outstanding weekend of competition.”  

The Champ Car World Series features some of the greatest race car drivers in the world, competing in the most diverse and exciting series in the world.  Champions Sebastien Bourdais, Cristiano da Matta, Jimmy Vasser, who hails from the Bay Area, and Canadian Paul Tracy along with 2004 Roshfrans Rookie of the Year A. J. Allmendinger (born in Los Gatos and resides in Hollister), are among the drivers who battle for the Vanderbilt Cup, which is awarded to the winner of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.  In addition, Mexican driver Mario Dominguez will compete among an expected 18-car field.  The title is contested on oval circuits, temporary street circuits and permanent road courses.

The Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America.  The championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Tracy, Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve.

The Trans-Am Road Racing Series features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America.  The Trans-Am Series is America’s oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates it 40th consecutive year of competition in 2005.

The United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) is one of the best-known touring car racing series in the U. S.  It features some of the fastest drivers in the country battling wheel-to-wheel in high performance versions of everyday road cars.  The cars retain the shape of their mass production counterparts, but are bona fide racing machines.

The Historic Stock Car Racing Series (HSCRS) is committed to the restoration and preservation of authentic and historic NASCAR stock cars while providing for their continued competition in a safe and entertaining environment.

The Formula Drift exhibition will feature the hottest new addition to the world motorsports scene.  “Drifting”, which originated in the mountains of Japan, is the art of controlling a car sliding sideways and as close to out-of-control as possible, with drivers judged on style and showmanship, rather than speed.  It’s a total snub to the logic that says cars are designed, engineered and intended not to go sideways.  Experienced Drifters prefer rear-wheel-drive cars that are lightweight, balanced and handle well, such as the AE86 Toyota Corolla, Honda S2000, Nissan 350Z and the new 2005 Mustang.

In addition to the auto races and drifting exhibition, plans for the inaugural San Jose Grand Prix call for a week of activities including music, fairs, charity events and promotional activities.  The week long festival is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of fans to northern California’s largest city and become a mainstay on the Champ Car World Series calendar.

Long Beach race lands another sponsor Long Beach race lands another sponsorSalonpas, an over-the-counter external analgesic product designed to ease muscle pains and cool inflammation, will make its first venture into sports marketing with a sponsorship of the 31st Annual 2005 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 8-10. 

An arm of Japan’s Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical Co., Salonpas will utilize the event to promote its many products to the more than 175,000 race attendees and, through on-track signage, to a national NBC-TV audience.  “Normally, any initial marketing or sponsorship venture includes a certain element of risk,” said Kazuo Akiyama, vice president, Hisamitsu America, Inc.  “However, the reputation of the Toyota Grand Prix as a tremendous marketing vehicle for more than 30 years made our decision much easier.  We at Salonpas look forward to communicating the benefits of our products at America’s most popular street race.” 

As the event’s Official External Pain Reliever, the company will also conduct a pre-race retail promotion through Southern California Good Neighbor Pharmacy stores, offering race fans vouchers for free tickets to Friday, April 8 racing action. 

“We’re excited to have Salonpas join our family of sponsors,” said Kevin O’Brien, director of corporate development for the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.  “And, because Salonpas will be doing product sampling, we’re certain that our race fans with sore muscles will be glad they’re with us, too!”

Beneficial to Sponsor Two RCR Teams Beneficial to Sponsor Two RCR TeamsRichard Childress Racing (RCR) has teamed up with Beneficial in a multi-year associate sponsorship agreement for two of its NASCAR Cup Series teams.  Beneficial will sponsor and have decal space on the “B” posts of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet of driver Kevin Harvick and the lower rear quarter panels of the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet of driver Jeff Burton. It will also be the primary sponsor of the No. 31 Chevrolet for the June event at Michigan International Speedway. Finally, Beneficial will have status with the racing organization as the “Official Consumer Lending Company of RCR.”
Ferrari fastest at wet Valencia Ferrari fastest at wet ValenciaThird and final day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, working again today at the Valencia circuit, with both its race drivers. On a day characterized by adverse weather conditions and a constantly wet track, the program saw both drivers work on rain tire development. The final outcome: the World Champion, at the wheel of an F2004 M, completed a total of 60 laps, seven on the short version of the track, with a best time of 1'21"763. Barrichello managed a total of 14 laps, including five of them on the short version of the track, the quickest in 1'23"642. Ferrari Press.
1. M. Schumacher - Ferrari F2004M - 1'21"766 (+0"000) - 58 laps
2. R. Barrichello - Ferrari F2004M - 1'23"686 (+1"920) - 14 laps
3. P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes MP4/19B - 1'24"309 (+2"543) - 18 laps
4. N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams FW27 - 1'26"582 (+4"816) - 61 laps

The final day of testing at the Valencia circuit in Spain was a washout for Team McLaren Mercedes today. With torrential rain falling during the morning, conditions on track were treacherous and any running would have yielded limited results. As a consequence the team remained in the pits. As the environmental conditions began to improve slightly during the course of the afternoon, Pedro de la Rosa and Alex Wurz both ventured for a small number of reconnaissance laps on full wets to conduct some tire pressure work, with no focus on lap times. McLaren Mercedes

Nick Heidfeld replaced Mark Webber today at Valencia, driving a Williams FW27. The German driver completed a total of 61 laps on a wet track. The weather conditions were particularly difficult, preventing the team from doing the work it initially planned for the day. However it was a good opportunity to test Michelin tires for wet conditions and to go through systems checks on the car. Tim Newton, Test Team Manager "Unfortunately, Nick’s penultimate day of testing before the season starts was too wet to do any constructive testing, so we focused on systems checks and familiarization work with the FW27 in preparation for Melbourne. Hopefully the weather will improve for our final day of track work with Nick tomorrow.” BMW WilliamsF1 Team

Industry News
Pruett to co-host Wind Tunnel Pruett to co-host Wind TunnelWith two races already under his belt at Daytona, having run on both the Rolex 24 road course configuration and the 2.5-mile superspeedway for the IROC season opener, 2004 Grand American Rolex Series Champion Scott Pruett of CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will substitute horsepower for hosting this Sunday, February 27th as he joins Dave Despain on SPEED Channel’s popular caller-driven program Wind Tunnel (LIVE, 9:00 – 11:00 pm ET).
Atlanta voted best by drivers Atlanta voted best by driversAtlanta Motor Speedway is the best track in NASCAR. Just ask the drivers.  Sports Illustrated did just that, anonymously polling 36 NASCAR drivers. Results published in the Feb. 21 issue put Atlanta Motor Speedway at the top of the chart for favorite track, with 27 percent of the vote. Daytona (20 percent) and Bristol (17 percent) followed.  “Drivers love Atlanta for one reason: speed,” Sports Illustrated writes. “The 1.54-mile oval is the fastest track on the circuit, and its long, wide straightaways create plenty of side-by-side racing. … Add it all up, and Atlanta usually produces heart-pounding, outrageously fast races, which is why most drivers (and fans) relish a trip to the Capital of the South.”
No. 5 to run new colors in Fontana No. 5 to run new colors in FontanaThis weekend will mark the debut of a new-look paint scheme for the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets, as Kyle Busch's NEXTEL Cup ride will sport the colors of CARQUEST Auto Parts at California. The CARQUEST shield will adorn the hood in four additional events this season: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in April; Lowe's Motor Speedway in May; Kansas Speedway in October; and Texas Motor Speedway in November.
NASCAR hyping race on national TV in Mexico NASCAR hyping race on national TV in MexicoTuesday night NASCAR was on Mexican National TV. NASCAR was featured in one of the segments on one of the highest rated talk shows in Mexico, “Otro Rollo.” The host of the show moved from his studio to the “Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez” with his crew, were they had a competition against Michel Jourdain's Pit Crew. The team that could change 2 tires fastest was the winner. Obviously the professional crew won. Michel explained NASCAR and also hyped the race that will be held in Mexico City. NASCAR is not afraid of buying prime time space on one of the highest rated channels in Mexico. José Arrambide
Magic Johnson to serve as Grand Marshal Magic Johnson to serve as Grand MarshalBasketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson will join the excitement of the 2005 Auto Club 500 by serving as the Grand Marshal of the Feb. 27 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at California Speedway. Johnson will lead the pre-race festivities when he ceremoniously commands the drivers to "Start Your Engines."

"Magic Johnson is an icon in Los Angeles sports, and we are proud that he is serving as the Grand Marshal for the Auto Club 500," California Speedway President Bill Miller said. "The skills he displayed on the basketball court - intensity, determination and focus, along with an entertaining flair - will all be displayed by 43 of NASCAR's top drivers right after he gives the command. His accomplishments in business, including a position with NASCAR, are impressive and we applaud his efforts and welcome him to California Speedway."

Johnson is best known for his moves on the basketball court when he donned the No. 32 jersey for the Los Angeles Lakers. During his 13-year NBA career, he won five national championships with the Lakers, three MVP awards, a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics, played in 12 NBA All-Star Games, and was recently honored by the STAPLES Center and the NBA with the unveiling of a Magic Johnson statue.
de la Rosa says new McLaren easy to drive de la Rosa says new McLaren easy to driveMcLaren is in the best position to dethrone Ferrari,  test driver Pedro de la Rosa said. The Spaniard, who'll pilot the spare MP4-20 in free practice, was 'surprised' when he first took to the wheel of the new Mercedes-powered car.    "It's so easy to drive," he said, "and that's not often the case with a new car."   McLaren and Renault appear the two most likely to beat Ferrari, but remember, Ferrari has not rolled out their new car yet.  De la Rosa remarked: "We are being careful. Let's see. Let's say we are ready to go now."
Corvette C5R to contest FIA-GT Series Corvette C5R to contest FIA-GT SeriesChevy’s all-conquering Corvette C5-R will compete for FIA GT Championship honors for the first time this season. Dutch entrant Toine Hezemans has now agreed terms to buy one of last year’s C5-Rs. He has also received an undertaking from FIA GT boss Stéphane Ratel that the car will be eligible for the series for the first time. Hezemans will enter the Corvette for son Mike and Belgian Anthony Kumpen, who won one round of the FIA GT series together in 2002. It will be run under the GL-PK/Carsport Holland banner. The car will also race in the opening round of the Le Mans Endurance Series at Monza in April. Hezemans said he will switch series if the Corvette proves uncompetitive against Maserati’s MC12 in FIA GTs. Autosport Magazine
Ford's Roush to supply Chevy engines in Europe Ford's Roush to supply Chevy engines in EuropeRoush Technologies, the technical division of reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion team Roush Racing, has been appointed the official engine supplier for the SCSA Racing series. Roush will also provide repair and on-event support for the championship at Rockingham and EuroSpeedway Lausitz through its UK-based race engine division Mountune. Similar to Roush, which is one of the biggest names in American Stock Cars, Mountune has a strong reputation through its long-term involvement in Ford's WRC engine program.

Despite the Roush tie-in, there are no plans for SCSA to switch from Chevrolet to Ford
power in the future. Furthermore, there are no plans to radically alter the regulations to which the championship has run since its introduction four years ago.

Howard said: "What we've got here is a one-make formula. This deal doesn't mean we're going to bring in things from NASCAR. It's about adding value to what we already have. Consistency and continuity are one of the keys to SCSA's success in keeping costs under control. The Chevrolet LS1engine is an ideal control engine for our series, both in terms of performance and reliability."

Roush is one of the biggest names in American Stock Car racing, with Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth winning the last two NASCAR Nextel Cup championships. In addition to its racing commitments, it also has a sizeable technical arm in both the United States and Europe, which deals with a wide variety of manufacturers beyond Ford. Autosport Magazine

Williams could not afford Ralf and Juan Williams could not afford Ralf and JuanPatrick Head says that Williams simply could not afford to keep Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher in 2005.  Head said: "In truth, we could not continue to afford Ralf and Juan. That's just as plain as it is.  We entered a new deal with BMW, which starts this year. It was a very, very much less beneficial deal financially and it put us in a position where we could not afford those two drivers."

A BMW spokesman confirmed that Williams gets less money under their new agreement, but added that there were performance clauses to top it up.

Head said he was pretty happy with the team’s new line-up, despite the fact that Williams missed out on the chance to sign Jenson Button. I actually think we have been quite lucky and have got two drivers that I think will perform very well. I don't have the view that we're going to be let down by the strength of our drivers.  We know pretty much what McLaren are paying their two drivers and its a very, very large figure and certainly not justified by the sponsorship that the team is getting in.  In our case, and it's BMW's choice, they are not making any provision for that. And that's been the biggest thing behind the driver change.  But it's a complex situation. You'd have to say that Ralf had been with us six years, Juan for four years. Whether it was us disappointed with them or them with us, neither of us had achieved what we wanted.  So it was probably time anyway to move on and I certainly do not feel that we've taken a big step backwards."

Bridgestone renews with Champ Car Bridgestone renews with Champ CarBridgestone and Champ Car today announced a continuation of their relationship that ensures that the Bridgestone brand would again serve as the presenting sponsor and the official tire of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

This will be the third consecutive season that Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT) will serve as the presenting sponsor of the series and marks the fourth straight year that Bridgestone will serve as the exclusive tire supplier to the Champ Car World Series. This season will see an exciting new addition to BFNT’s commitment to the open-wheel series, with the manufacturer sponsoring the $10,000 Bridgestone Pole Award at each Champ Car event.

The award will go to the top qualifier at every event with $5,000 going to the pole winning driver and another $5,000 going to charity. $2,500 of that amount will go to the Association of Hole In The Wall Camps – “The Official Charity of Champ Car”, with the other $2,500 being awarded to other local and national charities. In addition, Bridgestone will award $30,000 at the end of the season to the driver winning the most poles during the year, with an additional $10,000 going to the winning team’s chief mechanic.

“The Bridgestone brand has been a great friend to Champ Car and we are excited about going racing with them again in 2005,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “Additionally we are very pleased with the addition of the Bridgestone Pole Award. Not only will the award add to the drama of qualifying, but it also helps us give something back to the community.”

Another aspect of the agreement brings back the popular Bridgestone alternate tires at selected events for the 2005 season. The alternate tires are made of a softer compound, which yields higher speeds and adds passing opportunities. Each team will be mandated to use one set of the alternate tires – distinguishable by red marking on the sidewalls – during the race, giving teams an additional tool to use when mapping out a race strategy.

“The Champ Car World Series has been a great platform to showcase the technological capabilities of the Bridgestone race tires and to develop innovations like the alternate tire concept,” said Al Speyer, Executive Director, Bridgestone Motorsport. “We’re pleased to extend the deal with Champ Car for 2005 and to continue growing the relationship with the Bridgestone Pole Award as well as other promotions planned during the season. We’re looking forward to another exciting season of Champ Car racing and seeing every car shod with Bridgestone Potenza tires.”

The 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season gets underway April 8-10 with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, one of the longest-running events on the series calendar. The 2005 season consists of 14 events run in five different countries, and ends on November 6 in Mexico City.

Industry News
Chevy's American Revolution in China Chevy's American Revolution in ChinaAs part of a plan to paste a Chevrolet bow tie logo on the whole world, General Motors Corp. is expanding its offerings in China, including one new Chevy that is to go on sale today. The Chevrolet Sail, a redesigned Opel Corsa that had been sold in China as a Buick, is $8,300 to $11,925. The Daewoo-based Chevrolet Epica, which is also sold under the same name in Canada, is to go on sale in April. Both models will be built at a Shanghai GM plant in Shandong province on China's east coast.

GM is looking to establish itself in China's large and growing auto market. Profits earned there help pay for U.S. workers' pensions and retiree health care. And sales in China help GM hang on to its position as the world's biggest automaker.

As part of that effort, GM is rolling out Chevrolet as a mainstream brand for the whole world, not just an American icon.

With two new models -- and possibly another this summer -- GM will have put together a respectable Chevy lineup for China's growing mainstream market, positioned below the established Buick and luxury Cadillac brands.
"It was a bit of an odd situation that GM entered China with the Buick brand," said Ashvan Chotai, London-based director of Asian automotive research for Global Insight. He added that he expects the Aveo small car to be introduced in China this summer. "I think it was a natural thing that the Chevrolet brand would gain prominence there."

GM used to make and sell the Chevy Blazer SUV in China, but that unsuccessful effort was killed last year.  Nevertheless, GM sales in China rose 27 percent last year to 492,000, bringing it within 175,000 of Volkswagen AG as the top foreign automaker in China. More at Detroit Free Press

Max the problem not Bernie says Sir Frank Max the problem not Bernie says Sir FrankSir Frank Williams says the major car makers involved in Formula One have threatened to form a breakaway Grand Prix series because they are fed up with motor racing chief Max Mosley's continual interfering. "The prevailing atmosphere stinks," Williams, a veteran of five decades in the sport, told The Independent.

"It is very unhealthy. F1 has never been like this before, even back in 1980 when we all fought the war against Max's predecessor, Jean-Marie Balestre. He never tried to interfere so much in the daily life of the teams.

"The biggest thing that is winding the manufacturers up is the autocratic 'they're all children' stuff from Mosley," he said.

"You can see why BMW were unimpressed with the new 2.4-litre V8 rules for 2006 when all the marketing for their new M5 road car centers on its V10 engine. It is this manner of governing the technical regulations that is the biggest problem. Not whether Bernie takes 50 per cent of the cash. The teams are saying that this is crazy and that they are no longer going to live with it."

"They are also unhappy at the rate Ferrari have been offered. More money for Ferrari is reasonable, given their heritage and success, but under their exclusive deal if they finish 10th they will still get a bigger share than some winners. Everybody is really pissed off by the deal he made with the FIA and Ferrari," he said.

"We would be happy with less technology, but not with the zero technology that Max wants. Bernie admits that he wants to keep the manufacturers, but Max wants them out. They are just too powerful for his liking." AFP

Midland boss selling Toronto home for $10.9M Midland boss selling Toronto home for $10.9MAs can be seen from this real estate property listing, Midland F1 boss Alex Schnaider is selling his 5,000+ Sq. Ft. Toronto mansion for $10.9 million (Canadian). In separate research we found that the seller is listed as Simona Schnaider, his wife.  Rumor in the area was that house belonged to a “Russian Arms Dealer” at one time.

Fontana Speedway pumps big money into local economy Fontana Speedway pumps big money into local economyTraveling by car, train, airplane and motor home, the NASCAR nation will be moving in on the Inland Empire this weekend, ready to cheer their favorite racers and providing a boon for the local economy.  With two NASCAR races each year, the annual impact from Speedway events will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $220million, said John Husing, a Redlands-based economist who studies the Inland Empire.

Tens of thousands of fans will crowd California Speedway in Fontana, as well as area hotel rooms, restaurants, bars, convenience stores, gas stations, airports and rental car agencies.  They will spend and spend and spend.  "It's huge,' Husing said about the race's economic impact.

According to Husing's research, one NASCAR race weekend alone injects roughly $84million into the local economy. In this regard, NASCAR races are unlike any other events in the area, Husing said.   The Speedway events begin Friday with a Craftsman Truck Series race and continue with a Busch Series race Saturday. They culminate with the Nextel Cup Auto Club 500 Sunday.  Based on past attendance, as many as 30,000 fans are expected to show up Friday. There could be about 65,000 on Saturday and 115,000 on Sunday.  Fontana officials expect as many as 20,000 to turn out for a downtown RaceFest which includes autograph-signing sessions, live music, a car show and a fireworks display Thursday evening. More at SBSun.com

Report measures F1 sponsorship exposure Report measures F1 sponsorship exposureThe F1 Brand Exposure Yearbook 2004 issued today will enable companies to gain an accurate view of the success of their corporate spending in Formula One during the 2004 season, and is likely to be mandatory reading for corporate sponsors and sponsorship agencies alike. Put together by image recognition experts Margaux Matrix, the report was compiled by analyzing brand recognition at televised races during 2004. This was carried out through the use of a new type of image recognition software developed at the Brain and Cognition Research Centre in Toulouse, and adapted by Margaux Matrix to provide a fully integrated end-to-end analysis service which should enable companies to measure the success of their brand placement. The results, however, may not provide the success stories that some multi-nationals had been hoping for.

“What this report shows is that some teams and sponsors have been failing to fully exploit brand positioning and values," Margaux Matrix director Joe Sweeney revealed, "This report shows, for the first time, where they have been failing and, perhaps more importantly, how they can put it right."

By providing an accurate picture of exact brand exposure, the report came up with several surprising results, many that showed that corporate sponsors have not always been spending their money wisely.

First, the report shows that sponsors and their agencies failed to recognize the impact of the increase in the use of on-board cameras, which, last year, created 50 per cent of all brand exposure on the cars. This resulted in brands placed on the top of the tub gaining a huge 29.55 per cent of the total car exposure. This was almost twice as much as the exposure of brands on the rear wing - which garnered 17.42 per cent - and nearly three times that of the brands placed on the sidepods. In addition, the engine cover - traditionally viewed as a premium spot for brands - gained just 7.12 per cent of exposure in return for the high rates that part of the car usually commands.

The changes brought about by the use of on-board cameras means that the wing mirrors are likely to take the place of the engine cover as a favored slot for sponsors. This was something that Renault alone spotted in 2004, placing the logo of fuel partner Elf on the top and side of the wing mirror cowls, pushing the branding on screen for just under a quarter of the car's total TV time. This was more than for any other area, including even the top of the tub, which took a 24.16 per cent share, and enabled ELF to gain four per cent of all brand coverage on television, making it the fifth most exposed sponsor last year.

This figure put the French brand only slightly behind Ferrari sponsor Shell, which gained 4.15 per cent exposure, a remarkable result for ELF considering that Ferrari had 40 per cent more coverage than Renault owing to its runaway success on track last season.

"The exposure for ELF was remarkable when you consider the exposure that Ferrari had compared to Renault," Sweeney commented, "This just goes to show the importance of proper, in-depth analysis to demonstrate just which brands are being seen on television and which ones aren't."

The other surprising result from the research was the increase of brand exposure on clothing, which has traditionally been seen as the poor relation to other brand positioning. Incredibly, almost half of all Formula One brand coverage came from logos placed on the clothing of drivers and other team members. This was something that little known brand DeutscheVemogens benefited greatly from, coming 21st in the league of 221 brands simply by having their logo on Michael Schumacher's cap during podium and press conferences.

The top five brands involved in last year's Formula One championship were, in order, Marlboro, Vodafone, Mild Seven, Shell and ELF - three from Ferrari and two from Renault, which finished third in the constructors' championship. While Ferrari drivers Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello won 15 of the 18 races, and finished 1-2 in the drivers' championship - Renault took one race win - courtesy of Jarno Trulli in Monaco - and claimed fourth and sixth in the title race.

How Toyota gets to Melbourne How Toyota gets to MelbournePanasonic Toyota Racing's General Manager F1 Operations, Richard Cregan, explains the intricate procedures behind sending an entire F1 team to Australia for the first race of the season and how the work of the mechanics at the race track can give Toyota a competitive advantage before the TF105 has even turned a wheel at Albert Park. More....
Q and A with Wurz and de la Rosa Q and A with Wurz and de la RosaWest McLaren Mercedes drivers Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa recently discussed their build-up to the 2005 Formula One season on the test track in a press conference at the West Media Day. Here is some of what was said: More.....
Q and A with Montoya and Raikkonen Q and A with Montoya and RaikkonenWest McLaren Mercedes drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya took time out of their busy test and training schedules in the build- up to the start of the 2005 season to take part in a press conference at the West Media Day. This is what they had to say: More....
Maserati MC12 gets green light by ALMS Maserati MC12 gets green light by ALMSThe International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) today announced that it has invited Maserati to enter the MC12 in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) as a guest of the sanctioning body. The invitation to Maserati contains several limitations that Maserati has accepted and intends to complete immediately. This announcement clears the way for the MC12 race car to participate in the opening round of the American Le Mans Series at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 19, and each of the remaining ALMS races in 2005. The new Maserati MC12 ALMS endeavor marks the first time in 48 years that Maserati has fielded a full factory race car in the United States. The last time a factory Maserati appeared on the grid at Sebring, Juan Manuel Fangio drove it to victory in 1957. Full Story
Toyota Motorsport Improves F1 Driver Conditions Toyota Motorsport Improves F1 Driver ConditionsDassault Systemes (Nasdaq:DASTY)(EURONEXT:DSY) today announced that Toyota Motorsport GmbH will develop racecar cockpits that optimize driver comfort, safety, and ergonomics with its CATIA V5 Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution for virtual product development.

The CATIA V5 Human Modeling Solutions will enable Toyota Motorsport GmbH designers to minimize the physiological demands placed on its drivers from heat, noise, vibration and the car's safety restraints. Using cutting-edge CATIA V5 Human Modeling ergonomics tools, Toyota Motorsport GmbH engineers will simulate driver behavior and measure key criteria such as reach, visibility, comfort, posture, biomechanics, strength and anthropometrics. This analysis will enable the team to make driver-oriented decisions about cockpit design, while respecting the overall aerodynamics of the racecar body.

To optimize cockpit ergonomics, engineers will first create a digital model of each driver using a combination of laser scanning and manual anthropometrical techniques. The resulting virtual models will be used to analyze and improve specific accommodation issues such as driver comfort and security, and accessibility and serviceability of components inside the cockpit during pit stops--without the need to involve the actual drivers.

"The cockpit is the nucleus of a racecar," said Waldemar Klemm, IT manager, Toyota Motorsport GmbH. "It's a very confined space that protects the vital elements of the car, most importantly the driver. An improved cockpit, with a comfortably and safely installed driver brings us closer to success at every race. The integration of the CATIA V5 Human Modeling ergonomics tools within our PLM product development platform allows us to manage ergonomics data in an efficient and intuitive manner within the overall development process of the entire car."

"We are particularly pleased that Toyota Motorsport GmbH has decided to use the CATIA V5 Human Modeling Solutions as part of their PLM deployment," said Mark Morrissey, general manager, Ergonomic Solutions, Dassault Systemes. "Toyota Motorsport GmbH's commitment to integrate their design process, including ergonomics studies for the driver environment, is the type of user scenario we envisioned when we integrated the SAFEWORK human modeling technology into the CATIA V5 architecture."

The first phase of the CATIA V5 Human Modeling Solutions implementation was recently completed when 2005 F1 drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli were measured and laser-scanned at the headquarters in Cologne in order to create the digital models that will be used to simulate and optimize their comfort and performance within the TF105 racing car. Press Release

Great article on CART traitors Great article on CART traitorsUPDATE Another reader writes, Mr. Anderson,  This article is the most honest and most loyal article I have ever read of Champ Car. Your opinion and views are exactly the same as mine.  Obviously, all both loved CART/Champ Car for the sport and entertainment.  However, when the defectors and Tony planned to destroy CART/Champ Car, the series needed the loyal fans and members' support.  Finally, it prevailed.  And now, things are heading the right way and where the old CART left off.  Thank you so much for a very encouraging article.  Good job! Hadji C. 02/22/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Your publication is worth every dollar and then some. Your latest article by J.N. Anderson regarding the downfall of CART led by Tony George and the traitors from within is thought provoking and intriguing. But I would expect no less from the best motorsports website in the world. May those guilty burn in hell. Peter P. Paterno, Philadelphia, PA
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Sauber win BMW grunt
McLaren slam one-tire rule
Pizzonia stays put - team
Sense of humor not frozen
Jordan confirm Dutch-Italian
F1 world 'stinks' - Sir Frank
Whiskey to replace 'West'
'We're fifth best' - Grove
'05 engine 'more powerful'
Renault 'nicked' Minardi star
F1's 'lonely' - rookie
'DC, grow a beard'
Williams' Webber in wind
Albers' 'net support
McLaren 'ready to roll'
Max's the catch - Grove
Russian race removed
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