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Camel Yamaha unveil final livery in Italy Camel Yamaha unveil final livery in ItalyWith exactly one month to go before the first race of the new MotoGP season, the Camel Yamaha Team today celebrated the start of its 2006 campaign with a Team Presentation in Milan, in front of 300 guests and international media. World Champion Valentino Rossi and his American team-mate Colin Edwards, celebrating his 32nd birthday today, were joined on stage by VIP guests from Yamaha and Japan Tobacco International, as well as Italian TV presenter Marco Mazzocchi, who compered the presentation.

The bikes were unveiled by the Festi group of acrobats, who descended from the roof to reveal the M1s of Rossi and Edwards in their final 2006 livery. Mazzocchi then welcomed Masao Furusawa, Executive Officer for Engineering Operations at Yamaha Motor Company and Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing Srl, onto the stage.

“Even though the basic M1 concept for 2006 is the same”, commented Furusawa, “this is a more sophisticated bike, especially with the increasing RPM of the engine. It is very important for the progression of the bike to keep Valentino and Colin together, as they are not just riders for us, but a key part of the development of the M1. zzzz

“Last year we got everything right with this team,” added Jarvis. “The rider combination, the bike and every other element. Now our goal with our new title sponsor Camel is to achieve all this once again and win the championship.”

Davide Brivio, Team Director for the Yamaha Factory Team then took to the stage to talk about his goals for the season and the new designs.

“I think that everybody will really like the new livery, and especially the riders’ numbers on the white squares. We needed to come up with something original for the livery without moving away from the Camel yellow, which we all really like, and now I think this final livery is going to look really spectacular on track. For the season, we’re ready! We’ve done some important and successful tests, and now we will just make the most of the six remaining days of testing before the first race to make some final improvements to the new M1.”

The audience was then treated to a spectacular video of the team and riders, before Rossi and Edwards mounted the stage together for their part in the day. “This new bike is really beautiful!” exclaimed Rossi, who this season aims to win a sixth consecutive World Championship title. “It’s exciting to be starting another season with Yamaha; these last two seasons together with them have probably been the best of my career. It’s also nice to be with Colin again, we’re very close in our team. The new M1 is already very good and we’ve been working very closely to develop it with Yamaha. Yamaha has done a very good job. This year I have many new young adversaries who will be challenging me, and I think there is going to be some spectacular racing!”

His team-mate Edwards, seeking to improve on his fourth-place in the championship last year, said “I really like the new bike design, it looks really great. I had the retro-style number five like this on the bike at Laguna Seca last year and I’ve used it again for this year. The new bike in general has been fantastic throughout the winter tests, I’m really excited. Yamaha has done a great job and everything about it feels better than last year. I honestly can’t wait to get back on board this week in Barcelona, we have a few things to work on still but we’re in good shape. My promise for the year is to win at least a few races and have a one-two for the Camel Yamaha Team at the end of the year!”

Japanese GT
Firman signs with Team Honda Racing Firman signs with Team Honda RacingA1 Team Ireland principal driver Ralph Firman has re-signed for Team Honda Racing and will compete in the 2006 Japanese Super GT series driving a Honda NSX run by the sports car team owned by new Formula One entrant Aguri Suzuki.

Firman, 30, attended Honda's 2006 Motorsport launch in Tokyo last Monday where he was announced as the only European driver in the two-car Team Honda Racing line-up. He will drive alongside co-driver Daisuke Ito in the Honda NSX-GT developed for Honda by Dome Co., Ltd and M-TEC Co., Ltd. The pair finished 2nd in the 2005 Japanese SuperGT series, taking a dominant victory in Round 7 in Autopolis.

"I am delighted to have signed to drive for Team Honda Racing and I am confident we will be highly competitive again this year," said Firman. "Last year was the first running of the new Super GT series and we developed the Honda NSX-GT very well during the season. We were unfortunate not to win the championship in my opinion, so this year our sights are firmly set on both the Team and Driver titles." zzzz

"It's a very competitive series and the battle between the manufacturers is hard fought. I'd like to thank both Honda and Aguri Suzuki for giving me the opportunity to continue as part of their program. Monday's event in Tokyo was very impressive as it reminded me of Honda's enormous commitment to motorsports world-wide, so it's an honor to drive for them. I will certainly be very busy in the coming weeks combining the remaining A1GP events with the start of the new Super GT season."

The 2006 Autobacs Super GT series comprises 9 rounds and will commence at Suzuka on March 19th, one week after Firman competes in the United States round of the A1GP series at Laguna Seca. Firman raced in Japan for six years before progressed to Formula One with Jordan Grand Prix in 2003, including winning the 2002 Japanese Formula Nippon Championship with Nakajima Racing. He has been a consistent points-scorer and highly competitive for A1 Team Ireland in the inaugural A1GP series, highlights including a podium finish in Portugal and fastest laps in both Dubai and Indonesia. Team Honda Racing

McLaren test report McLaren test reportPedro de la Rosa was at the wheel of an MP4-21 on Monday, as the McLaren Mercedes test team continued the squad's intensive program in the build-up to the start of the season in 12 days time in Bahrain. The emphasis of the Spaniard's work was long runs at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo for both engine and tire work, as he completed over 580km in the MP4-21.

During the morning the track was damp, which provided the opportunity to run intermediate tires and conduct development work with Michelin. Pedro switched to dry tires as the circuit conditions improved and continued putting in a number of stints over the 20 lap mark. Pedro's quickest time of the day, a 1m11.229, put him in second position on the timesheets.

Fellow Team McLaren Mercedes test driver Gary Paffett was also in attendance today. Gary, who was driving an MP4-20, continued the Michelin tire testing, which has been his main focus of the winter testing. As a result of the damp track in the morning, Gary only covered 10 laps, with the majority of his 71 laps taking place during the afternoon as his program required a dry track. The British driver covered 280km and set a fastest time of 1m13.053.

This was Gary's only day of the test, with Kimi Raikkonen joining Pedro on track tomorrow. Kimi will continue the program with the MP4-21, which is one of the chassis's that will go to Bahrain, with Pedro switching to the MP4-20. McLaren

Monterrey, Mexico postscript Monterrey, Mexico postscriptThe race was entertaining, although to a few fans it was a shock that the A1GP cars were a lot slower than Champ Cars. Most race fans were expecting this by just comparing the difference in horsepower....... Although the 2 races were entertaining the quality of many of the drivers was a big let down (some of them were having troubles finding the correct line through some of the corners)......... The concept of a nations cup is very interesting, the problem is that in reality some of the nations don’t have that many talented drivers, and some nations that do are not using them. Some are changing the drivers so often that the driving quality is not very good because each new driver must learn the new car and team......However, because you have a mixture of very good drivers, some not so good drivers and a few who are good but not used to the car, you get a lot of action. This made the races very entertaining.........Unfortunately, entertainment doesn’t mean quality, I was expecting more quality than entertainment......The truth is that after the 3 day race weekend I felt like I just attended a race but left before the feature race, it was like going to an F1 race but only watching the GP2 race.....That was the racing, the organization was very bad...... I remember Champ Car had troubles the first year they had a race in Monterrey, but A1GP had the advantage not being the first racing event in Monterrey, they could have used the experience of Champ Car for 6 years, but they were trying to cut corners, save a dollar here and there. The first-come-first-serve grandstand seating was an insult......The official attendance numbers was 37,400 on Sunday and 62,300 for the weekend, but out of those around 55% were freebies according to a poll from El Norte, which means they couldn’t even sell 17,000 tickets.......Then Mexican team managed to anger the fans. The driver soap opera was poorly managed by the team......The team had a lot of political infighting. Jo Ramirez who used to work with the Williams and Ferrari F1 teams was pressuring the team to use Salvador Duran while local companies were pressuring them to use Martinez. To make matters worse, Duran didn’t even complete the first lap of the first race.......They need to fix a lot of things if they want this race to be a success in Acapulco in 2007 and in the cities they choose after 2007......Selling 17,000 tickets or less is not what we would call a successful weekend. This not the closest thing to F1 like the series advertises, very far from it. Jose Arrambide
Autosports Media to help karters Autosports Media to help kartersAutosports Media has sweetened the pot for any racer who manages to take the checkers in the Stars of Karting Spec Racer class in the Snap-on Stars series this season.   Spec Racer winners on both the East and West coast championships will receive a free press release to be used whenever they wish in the 2006 racing season

Series marketing director Jeff Swoboda commended Autosports Media for their holistic approach to the program; “It¹s good to see Autosports Media use a program like this to add to their cliental and provide support in our series.   I think Autosports Media owner, Mike Maurini really has the right idea with the way he has approached the media business.”  

Autosports Media is a small promotional company that provides websites, ad design and press release work for aspiring motorsports stars. Established in 2002, Autosports Media has a huge distribution list and several contacts within the racing media to properly promote today’s drivers.

Autosports Media will kick of the press release contingency award at the MINI Cooper Race of the America’s over the March 17-19 weekend to the winner of the Spec 125cc class.

Boris Said has Expanded Role with Evernham Boris Said has Expanded Role with EvernhamLong time road course expert Boris Said is doing more than driving these days. In addition to his entry in the Busch Series race this weekend in Mexico, Said also serves as a technical consultant on the development of road course cars and as a driver coach to the Evernham Motorsports stable of drivers. Boris certainly has the qualifications for the job. Said has won pole awards in each of NASCAR's top-three series. His first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series pole position came at Infineon Raceway in 2003. In 1998, he captured the pole award at Heartland Park (Topeka, Kan.) in the NASCAR Truck Series and at Watkins Glen International in the NASCAR Busch Series. His one NASCAR win came in the Truck Series in 1998 at Infineon Raceway. Boris is certainly relishing his role with Evernham: "It's a thrill for me to be involved with Ray Evernham. I get to drive this cool car in Mexico and secondly I've been working on testing his cars for road racing and working with his drivers. I'll probably go down the line with all of them. In the past I've never thought of myself as a teacher because I barely got through school. I've been pretty good to relating to these NASCAR guys how I drive a road course and some of them, like Dale Jr., it's really helped. I'm glad to be part of his team. I hope maybe I can make the difference in Kasey making The Chase and not making The Chase. If he had done a little better on the two road courses last year he probably would have made it. That's my goal, to help him as much as I can and maybe win a couple of these Busch road races. That would be a big career booster for me." Doug Belliveau
New Zealand's Hamilton joins Indy Pro Series New Zealand's Hamilton joins Indy Pro SeriesJust days after celebrating his 23rd birthday, Matthew Hamilton finalized a deal with Dave McMillan Racing to compete in the Indy Racing League Indy Pro Series in 2006.
The deal unites two New Zealand natives who will try to make their mark in the series beginning with the Miami 100 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 26.

Hamilton, who celebrated his birthday Feb. 21, is completing his second season in New Zealand's Toyota Racing Series. He won the first two races of the season, including the prestigious Lady Wigram Trophy race, and is in second place in the point standings with two races remaining. "This is pretty exciting stuff," said Hamilton, who has won six New Zealand karting titles. "I've been working towards something like this for a long time.

"I was up here last year. I came to the Texas round and also to Indianapolis for the Grand Prix, and then I did the test at Nashville. That went really well. We worked our way up to it. After that, we were very pleased and thought that this was the way to go. It's going to be a bit of a learning curve, but I'm certainly looking forward to the road courses, and then we'll see how it goes on the ovals." zzzz

Hamilton will drive the No. 2 Indy Pro Series machine for McMillan.

"I'm very excited about this, particularly being able to run a fellow Kiwi," McMillan said. "I haven't seen him drive yet, but there have been some very good drivers coming out of New Zealand recently. We saw that with (2005 Indy Pro Series champion) Wade (Cunningham) last year. I hope Matthew can be as good as that if not better."

McMillan is fielding a team under his own racing banner for the first time in the Indy Pro Series, but he is no stranger to the circuit. McMillan was the team manager and engineer for Keith Duesenberg Racing in 2003 and 2004, helping the team to three victories. Last year, he ran Marco Andretti under the Andretti Green Racing banner.

As a driver, McMillan won several open-wheel championships in New Zealand in the early 1980s, and in 1982 became the first driver from overseas to win a Toyota Atlantic championship.

The Indy Pro Series is the premier ladder series for drivers, teams and sponsors striving to compete in the IndyCar® Series and the Indianapolis 500. The 12-race schedule in 2006 features six races on ovals and six races on road courses, including competing on both circuits at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Teams compete for $3 million in prize money in cars that generate 420 horsepower and speeds in excess of 190 mph. The races are telecast to more than 88 million homes in the United States on ESPN2.

Mexico City a milestone event for Finlay team Mexico City a milestone event for Finlay teamThe drivers of the No. 28 Make-A- Wish/Z-Line Designs Ford-Powered Crawford Daytona Prototype machine have more in common than their determination to win races.  This weekend’s Grand American Rolex Series event to be contested on the famed Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez race track will mark new career milestones for both Michael Valiante and Rob Finlay. Valiante, who signed with Finlay Motorsports in October of 2005, competed in a handful of Grand American Daytona Prototype races last season for the Mooresville, North Carolina based team. 

Setting the fastest race lap in the Ferrari/Maserati 400 at California Speedway and leading 22 race laps, the Canadian racing sensation was a shoe-in for the team’s open seat co-driving with Rob Finlay.  And now Valiante returns to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez facility, a venue in which he competed in his first ever Champ Car event driving for Walker Racing at the open-wheel season finale in 2004. “I’m looking forward to Mexico,” stated Valiante.  “We were quick there last season and set the third fastest race time.  My teammate, Rob, is doing a great job and he’s really getting up to speed quickly in his rookie season.” zzzz 

The Charlotte resident competed in the Grand Am Cup Series last year, and during his first full year of professional-level competition, he finished on the podium at the season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona an accomplishment he achieved again in 2006.  Finlay also made his debut as a Rolex Series Daytona prototype driver at the season finale in Mexico City last year, co-driving with Valiante. “I’m excited about going back to Mexico City,” said Finlay.  “I competed in my first ever Daytona Prototype race at the nearly three-mile circuit last year and I look forward to returning as a full-time Daytona prototype driver.”

On-track action for the Mexico City event is slated to begin on Thursday, March 2 with qualifying taking place on Friday, March 3.  The 250-mile/ 100-lap/ 2 ¾ - hour main event is scheduled to take the green flag at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 4.  The race will be broadcast at 8:00 p.m. on the Speed Channel.

JEANRICHARD announces ALMS promotional effort JEANRICHARD announces ALMS promotional effortTradema of America President and Chief Executive Officer Ronald Jackson today announced that its timepiece brand JEANRICHARD has conceived of a unique customer engagement program through its new sponsorship of Autocon Motorsports, a top team in the American Le Mans Series where JEANRICHARD is also the official timekeeper and watch of the Series.

“We’re really looking forward to this year’s program because what we’re doing is more than run-of-the-mill logos on race cars,” said Jackson. “What we’ve come up with will deliver added value to our clients, and help retailers grow their businesses.”

Dubbed “Watch, See, Win,” the promotion provides anyone who buys a JEANRICHARD timepiece during the promotional period and in the U.S. at an authorized retailer two free tickets to a 2006 American Le Mans Series (www.americanlemans.com) race of their choosing and a one-year subscription to bi-monthly magazine Auto Aficionado (www.autoaficionado.net). zzzz

All purchasers will then be entered into a grand prize drawing that will occur just after the last race. The grand prize winners will receive a three-day, two night (accommodations at Chateau Elan Winery & Resort) trip for two to Atlanta for a one-day racing immersion experience at the Panoz Racing School, and a replica helmet of that worn by Autocon driver Chris McMurry during the 2006 American Le Mans Series season.

The helmet’s dramatic, detailed graphic design depicts JEANRICHARD’s in-house manufactured watch movement know as the JR1000, which is the heart of the timepieces produced by the factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. The helmet painting is being produced by hand by the world’s leading motorsports graphic design firm Troy Lee Designs. The gift helmet is one of six such items in existence.

Additionally, one lucky retailer will be selected, based on each retailer’s JEANRICHARD timepiece sales during the promotional period, to join the winning customer on the trip and driving school experience, as well as in receiving a replica helmet.

“Sebring will be a big moment for us. We’ll roll out this program, Chris will publicly debut the Troy Lee helmet design, and our 2006 edition of the Sebring watch will be unveiled,” added Jackson. “And, we’ll be featured on the Autocon Lola EX257 LMP1 class entry, which should run upfront throughout this historic endurance racing event.”

The promotional program will run from the first race of the season on March 18 (12 Hours of Sebring) to the season finale on October 21 (Monterey Sports Car Championships). ALMS

SellYourCell.com to sponsor Guy Cosmo SellYourCell.com to sponsor Guy CosmoOrlando, FL -- SellyourCell.com, America’s Original Wireless Recycler, announced that it has become a 2006 personal sponsor of the American Le Mans Series 2005 Rookie of the Year, Guy Cosmo.

“For our initial foray into motorsports sponsorship we are particularly pleased to be associated with Guy Cosmo whom we have known and admired as a driver for a decade. He is a unique and accomplished individual who is tenacious enough to make it as a pro driver and sophisticated enough to be an excellent representative for our company,” said Keith Ori, CEO of SellyourCell.com.

“Guy is just a tremendous individual and his venue is an excellent fit for us. Professional sports car racing is a cutting edge technology business, and we feel that the American Le Mans Series in general will be a fantastic showcase for our company. The ALMS is one of the most technologically sophisticated racing series on the planet and demographically it is a good fit for our tech-savvy customer base,” said Ori.

SellyourCell.com will be behind Cosmo in his efforts to capture the 2006 American Le Mans Prototype 2 class Championship aboard the factory backed Mazda-Courage racecar, as well as assisting in his other racing efforts during the season.

“We have set up a co-branded promotional site with Cosmo at www.sellyourcell.com/cosmo where fans and consumers can get paid to recycle their cell phones and Apple iPods, with SellyourCell donating a portion of it’s profit on each unit to Cosmo’s racing efforts. The consumer receives full value for the phones they recycle. It is a win-win situation for everyone,” said Ori.

“Having known Keith for a number of years, I have followed SellyourCell.com’s growth and success within their industry. It is a distinct pleasure to be associated with his company for our 2006 campaign and I am confident that we will find success,” Guy Cosmo added. zzzz

SellyourCell.com is a six-year-old subsidiary of Sundog Inc., based in Orlando, Florida. Sellyourcell.com offers to pay consumers to recycle their used cell phones through their website www.sellyourcell.com. This process eliminates a number of hazardous and harmful substances from coming into contact with the environment and provides a financial incentive for doing so.

SellyourCell.com is one of the oldest companies offering this service and continues to be a leader in the wireless recycling industry.

Guy Cosmo is one of the most successful and versatile young racing drivers of his day. In 2005 Guy won the American Le Mans Series Rookie of the Year award driving for B-K Motorsports and Mazda in the LMP2 category, taking one win and eight podiums en-route to third place in the championship. Guy’s career began in go-karts at age 11 where he ignited a winning streak with championships and major success in karting, Formula Ford, Formula 2000, Star Mazda, Toyota Atlantic, Grand American and American Le Mans. Guy’s extensive background between open-wheel formula cars and sports prototypes make him one of the most diverse and accomplished young drivers in the world. Visit Guy at www.guycosmo.com.

Turn your old cell phone into cash at www.sellyourcell.com/cosmo.

Track News
Indy Speedway adds FreedomRoads as sponsor Indy Speedway adds FreedomRoads as sponsorFreedomRoads, the nation's largest recreational vehicle retailer, and Camping World, the nation's largest parts and accessories retailer, have become official sponsors of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The agreement provides FreedomRoads and Camping World with rights to promote all-inclusive race weekend packages for recreational vehicle users in the Main Gate parking lots, which are located directly across 16th Street from the Speedway's main entrance.

"We are very pleased to welcome FreedomRoads and Camping World to the IMS family of sponsors," said Joie Chitwood, IMS president and chief operating officer. "The recreational vehicle market is a booming industry in America, and thousands of Indianapolis Motor Speedway customers choose an RV as their comfortable home away from home during our events.

"FreedomRoads has grown exponentially in recent years thanks to great customer service and marketing, and we are confident in their ability to ensure the success of the lots near the main IMS entrances. Camping World has an unparalleled reputation in the parts, accessories and collision business, and we're excited about how our fans will benefit from this relationship with both companies." Indy Speedway PR

Fog and rain at Mugello for Ferrari Fog and rain at Mugello for FerrariFog at first, then cloudy, with rain at the end hampered the first day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, working at the Mugello circuit.

Official drivers, Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa had a 248 F1 each at their disposal, during a session affected by fog at first and rain at the end of the day. Michael concentrated on general set-up, with the emphasis on aerodynamics, covering 47 laps, with a best time of 1'22''623. Felipe's program targeted reliability and he did 32 laps, the quickest in 1'24''249.

The Scuderia continues testing at Mugello tomorrow, still with Schumacher and Massa at the wheel.

Williams Cosworth again tops speed charts Williams Cosworth again tops speed chartsThe little company that could, Cosworth, continues to pressure the factory teams in F1.  Nico Rosberg topped opening practice in Valencia as final pre-season F1 testing got underway.  He beat Pedro de la Rosa in a McLaren Mercedes by 2/10ths of a second.  Rosberg's teammate Mark Webber was third.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:11.030 85
 2. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:11.238 146
 3. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:11.327 67
 4. Kovalainen Renault (M) 1:11.450 54
 5. Paffett McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:13.055 71

TV News
SPEED adds episodes of Back in the Day SPEED adds episodes of Back in the DaySPEED has extended its order with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his newly formed production company, Hammerhead Entertainment, for eight more episodes of the new series Back in the Day, a modern adaptation of the vintage race program Car and Track.

“This is the right show on the right network at the right time,” said Robert Ecker, SPEED VP of Programming. “The decision to place the full-season order was a virtual no-brainer.  Dale Jr’s obvious affection for the material and his clever approach to presenting it instantly and understandably struck a responsive chord with the audience.  We are eager to respond to the demand for additional episodes as quickly as we possibly can.”

Back in the Day made its SPEED debut during Daytona Speedweeks on Feb. 13 and drew an average Nielsen Rating of .59 (387,000 Households). The show, now contracted for 13 episodes, settles into its regular time slot on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET.

Car and Track, a collection of American racing footage from the 1960s and early 1970s, ran in replays on SPEED from 1996-2000.

Earnhardt Jr., a longtime fan of the series, hosts the updated version, which revisits NASCAR in its infancy, touching not only on what was going on at the race track, but what was going on in America.

Euro F3
American after F3 title American after F3 titleCharlie Kimball, the 2005 British Formula 3 International Vice-Champion, has set his sights on winning the Formula 3 Euroseries Championship in 2006.  The young American will join forces with French powerhouse Signature to take the fight to the best young racing drivers in the world.  Kimball plans to build on his very successful rookie year in Formula 3 where he had 5 race wins, 6 pole positions, 2 track records, and a total of 13 podiums.  Signature, the only non-Mercedes-Benz powered car to win a race in the 2005 Euroseries, is looking to make the most of its switch to the ever powerful German power plant.  

Kimball commented on his new team, “I visited the Signature factory before Macau and was very impressed by their whole operation.  They have the determination and the capabilities to win.  I am convinced that now with Mercedes power, together we can take the fight for wins and the championship to ASM, the team that has been dominant for the last two seasons.” 

track news
California Speedway could help Fontana more California Speedway could help Fontana moreHotel rooms are booked from Anaheim to the Coachella Valley. Crowds wait outside restaurants. Registers ring up souvenir sales. Cars stack up at gas stations. All because an estimated 250,000 race fans are traveling to Fontana for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series this weekend at California Speedway. When the races come to the Speedway in February and again in September, they bring not only traffic, but money -- lots of it.   The economic impact of the track to the Inland Empire is $220 million a year with the two races, according to a 2003 report by Redlands-based economist John Husing. "We wipe out virtually every hotel room in the Inland Empire with that Speedway,'' he said. However, the lion's share of money from sales taxes and transient occupancy taxes does not go to Fontana, but to Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga instead because those cities have more hotels and sit-down restaurants, Husing said. Now Fontana wants a bigger piece of the pie and is hungry for developments that can feed off the success of the track. Suggestions include building more hotels, a restaurant row, and even an auto-oriented entertainment complex. "It is a major economic generator when one of those races goes on,'' Husing said. "The question is how do you lure people from the track into the restaurants and hotels and gas stations and into the city's boundaries.'' Even though the Speedway has been open since 1997, the window of opportunity for Fontana to recapture some tax dollars has not closed, Husing, city officials and planners agree. Daily Bulletin
Track News
French GP to mark F1 milestone French GP to mark F1 milestoneThe 2005 French Grand Prix was launched today in Paris with news that the event, which will mark the 100th anniversary of Grand Prix racing - will feature a unique musical event with Roger Waters, the creative talent behind Pink Floyd, performing The Dark Side of the Moon. Recorded in 1972, Dark Side of the Moon was one of the most innovative records of the 1970s featuring the latest audio technology available at the time. The album spent 491 weeks in the US charts and is the longest-running chart LP of all time. Waters, who will be joined for the concert by fellow Pink Floyd member Nick Mason, has not performed the entire album on stage since 1974. The concert will also feature songs from other Pink Floyd albums and from his own solo career.

The concert will take place on Friday July 14 - the annual French Bastille Day national holiday. A complete range of tickets is available with a special combination race-concert ticket on sale for 100 Euros ($118). Ticket sales to this event will begin tomorrow.

The race meeting will feature F1, GP2, a Porsche Super Cup race, a BMW Mini Challenge event plus a race of F1 cars from the 1960s and 1970s. In addition there will be a special centennial parade of historic Grand Prix cars, the chance for a spectator to ride around the circuit with Michael Schumacher, air displays and static exhibitions. zzzz

"By a fortunate twist of fate the French GP this year coincides with the French national holiday and will feature an exceptional concert," says Jacques Regis, the head of the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile . "The Nevers-Magny Cours circuit promises to be the location for a great festival of automobile racing eagerly awaited by fans in France and the whole of Europe." More at Grandprix.com

Montoyas expecting 2nd child Montoyas expecting 2nd childAutosport reports that Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya and wife Connie are expecting their second child, less than a year before they became parents to their first child Sebastian in April last year.  The couple are currently in the United States for some routine checkups.
Penske on cheating and Toyota Penske on cheating and ToyotaRoger Penske, the man who built California Speedway before selling it to International Speedway Corp., weighed in on a number of topics Sunday morning, including cheating and Toyota.

“I don’t want to get into a controversy at Daytona, but the rule at Penske Racing is that if we’re found with an infraction, which was one that was instigated by our people, you lose your job,” Penske said. “If a car was low because of an accident or something, I can’t opine on that. But if it was something we instigated, people would lose their jobs.”

Of rumors Penske Racing South would leave Dodge and align with Toyota, Penske said, “I have no contract with Toyota. I have a long-term commitment with Dodge, so we’ve not made any commitments at all with Toyota.”  More at SPEEDTV.com

Chargers beat Intrepids Chargers beat IntrepidsAlthough Kurt Busch sat on the pole for the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway in his two-year-old Dodge Intrepid, the three Intrepids in the race came up behind the current Chargers entered. Busch and Penske Racing South teammate Ryan Newman finished 16th and 20th Sunday, while Bobby Labonte was 31st in his Petty Enterprises Intrepid. Kasey Kahne, meanwhile, finished fourth in his Evernham Motorsports Charger, three spots ahead of Casey Mears, who backed up his runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 with a seventh. Speed Channel
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Injured DC not getting married
Alonso to nab 'easy' title - Webber
Button proves that V8 is no-slow for F1
Finn is fave, bookie says
F1 can cope without Schu - Ecclestone
JB on road to title assault
Kimi still undecided about 2007
Monteiro better than Karthikeyan - MF1
Kolles admits to 'tough' 2005
BMW don't expect '06 win
Ralf still in Schu's shadow
Max Mosley to quit in 2009
Michelin still in front - analysis
Senna to compete in Melbourne
Alonso braces for 'close' '06 contest
Schu's fitter than ever
British team overtakes Brazilian team British team overtakes Brazilian teamA1 Team Great Britain finished 6th in today's Feature Race at the Parque Fundidora Circuit in Monterrey, Mexico. This result secured five championship points and allowed A1 Team Great Britain to overtake A1 Team Brazil in the overall standings. A1 Team Great Britain now lies in third place behind A1 Team Switzerland and A1 Team France. A1 Team France's Alexandre Premat continued to mark France's domination of the series by winning both the Sprint and the Feature Races.
Mario Andretti a bobsleigh fanatic Mario Andretti a bobsleigh fanaticTURIN - Italy's and America's ex-Formula One world champion, Indy 500 and Daytona 500 winner, and 4-time Champ Car champion Mario Andretti revealed on Sunday that he also has a passion for bobsleigh events. Andretti, part of the US presidential delegation for the closing ceremonies at the Turin Games, got a taste of speeding on ice at the Calgary Games in 1988 and said one go and he was hooked.

"I was there for a promotional thing with Firestone and I was to come down in a four man bob," explained Andretti, the 1978 Formula One world champion. "I was to ride number two and I said to the them I would like to drive. Off we went and when we got to the bottom I was raring to go again and again. It was a blast. I was used to the g-forces. It was about 4, to 4.5," said the 66-year-old.

Premat gives Team France win in Sprint race Premat gives Team France win in Sprint raceMonterrey, Mexico – A clean start to the Mexican Sprint race led quickly to an action-packed half-hour as a collision between A1 Teams Mexico and Ireland saw both cars leave the track on the first lap. The safety car was deployed as the track was cleared and the remaining cars took their positions behind it.

(L-R): Enrico Toccacelo (ITA) A1 Team Italy, Alexandre Premat (FRA) A1 Team France and Neel Jani (SUI) A1 Team Switzerland on the sprint race podium. Photo courtesy A1GP 

Unusually, it was under this safety car session that the next big incident occurred. As the pack headed onto the main straight at the end of lap four Japanese driver, Hayanari Shimoda sped to close the gap between himself and New Zealand’s Black Beauty ahead. But as Matt Halliday braked while Shimoda accelerated the two cars collided with Japan flipping over New Zealand’s rear, rolling twice before landing upside down on the main straight. Bodywork covered the track and the safety car continued to lead the field as a safe route through the debris was cleared. A1 Team New Zealand headed into the pit lane at the end of lap five and the safety car peeled off one lap later.

As racing began again, the Netherland’s Jos Verstappen started his advance through the field, improving on his gains from the opening lap. A1 Team South Africa suffered its second blow of the day, retiring at the end of lap seven with Vulindlela losing power and dropping down the field.

The top four places looked set and the battle moved further down the field as Great Britain’s Robbie Kerr edged past experienced Monterrey driver, Patrick Carpentier in the Canadian car. Great Britain moved into tenth place and took on its closest Series’ rival, A1 Team Brazil. On lap 13, Kerr made his move, pulling alongside Christian Fittipaldi but as their wheels touched, the red, white and blue car spun, narrowly missing the Canadian he had overtaken just two laps before. A1 Team Brazil continued to race but as the damaged caused in the collision began to slow the car, Great Britain tried again and climbed above Brazil one lap later.  zzzz

Commenting on A1 Team France’s twelfth win, Alexandre Premat said: ‘I’m really pleased with the win, but the car was really difficult to drive. There was a lot of understeer and I will have to speak to the engineers to see what we can do for the Feature race. It will be important to get a good start here as it is difficult to overtake. We’ll see what happens.’

Second place man, Neel Jani commented: ‘It’s very difficult to overtake here, and it is so dirty off line there isn’t much you can do. It just isn’t worth the risk in the Sprint race, as the big race is coming up. Commenting on what will be his last race for A1 Team Switzerland, Neel said: ‘I would really like to win the race, we have lead about three Feature races before, some right until the last lap and still not won, so obviously I would like to add a Feature race win to my record.

Finishing third in his first race since Dubai, Enrico Toccacelo said: ‘We had a great result in Dubai and it’s great to be back in the car now. It is the nature of A1GP to try different drivers and focus on the nation, but I’m really glad to be back driving. We starting improving in Malaysia, and got better in Dubai, and I showed in this race that I am fast. We have a good set up and I’m confident for the next race.’

 A1 Team Driver Time
1 France Alex Premat 29.20.743
2 Switzerland Neel Jani 29.21.026
3 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 29.21.617
4 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 29.22.884
5 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 29.34.296
6 USA Bryan Herta 29.40.822
7 Malaysia Alex Yoong 29.43.613
8 Germany Timo Scheider 29.44.100
9 Canada Patrick Carpentier 29.46.979
10 Austria Patrick Friesacher 29.47.654
11 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 29.49.444
12 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 29.59.203
13 Lebanon Graham Rahal 30.02.149
14 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 30.11.492
15 China Tengyi Jiang 30.12.464
16 Australia Christian Jones 30.33.185
17 South Africa Stephen Simpson 9 Laps
18 New Zealand Matt Halliday 4 Laps
19 Portugal Alvaro Parente 4 Laps
20 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 3 Laps
21 Ireland Ralph Firman 0 Laps
22 Mexico Salvador Duran 0 Laps

LA Times slams Stewart LA Times slams StewartThis LA Times article pokes fun at NASCAR champion Tony Stewart. It even goes as far as calling him a hypocrite and making fun of his intelligence. This author certainly does not put NASCAR on a pedestal like most journalists.
South Africa and Brazil caught cheating, China changes driver South Africa and Brazil caught cheating, China changes driverA1 Team China has chosen to change their nominated driver for both the Sprint and Feature races at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Parque Fundidora, Monterrey, Mexico.

Following post qualifying scrutineering technical infringements were found on the cars of A1 Team South Africa and A1 Team Brazil and both teams were subsequently penalized. A1 Team South Africa will now move down to third on the grid from pole, as its fastest lap time has been disallowed, while A1 Team Brazil has been moved down two places on the grid from ninth to 11th.

 A1 Team Driver Aggregate Time
1 France Alexandre Premat 2.45.848
2 Switzerland Neel Jani 2.46.147
3 South Africa Stephen Simpson 2.46.455
4 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 2.46.657
5 USA Bryan Herta 2.46.820
6 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 2.46.894
7 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 2.46.975
8 Ireland Ralph Firman 2.46.991
9 Portugal Alvaro Parente 2.48.071
10 Malaysia Alex Yoong 2.48.447
11 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi (2.47.066)
12 Germany Timo Scheider 2.48.810
13 New Zealand Matt Halliday 2.49.025
14 Mexico Salvador Duran 2.49.090
15 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 2.49.147
16 Lebanon Graham Rahal 2.49.266
17 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 2.49.364
18 Austria Patrick Friesacher 2.49.343
19 Canada Patrick Carpentier 2.49.511
20 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 2.50.169
21 Australia Christian Jones 2.54.116
22 China Tengyi Jiang 2.56.400 *

* A1 Team China’s qualifying time was set by Ma Qinghua. A substitution is permitted between the end of Qualifying and the start of the Sprint race provided the replacement driver has completed at least three timed laps during an official practice session and has recorded a lap time within 102 per cent of the overall fastest lap time set by its Team in Qualifying.

Roush hauler in fatal wreck Roush hauler in fatal wreckA Roush Racing hauler was involved in a fatal collision with a car going the wrong way on Interstate 10 near Phoenix, Roush Racing President Geoff Smith said Sunday morning.  Neither of the two Roush hauler drivers was seriously injured, Smith said. A car that had no lights on was driving the wrong way on the expressway outside of Phoenix and ran head-on into our 60 hauler," Smith said. "Someone was killed in the car."

The hauler was on the way to Laredo to switch out cars with another Roush hauler carrying road-course cars for the March 5 race at Mexico City.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety is investigating a fatal accident that occurred near Phoenix at about 2:30 a.m., but a duty officer said he could not release any details. NASCAR Daily Scene

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for SundayUPDATE #2 Wind Tunnel has added Tom Jensen as another Featured Interview on tonight's show and Robin Miller will be on SPEED News Sunday at 7pm ET to talk about the rumored Champ Car/IRL merger.  The media have been asked to back off so as not to ruin the negotiations, but we assume Robin will surmise that there's more to the talks than Messrs Kalkhoven and George are saying, and there is.  If a deal happens (we have been here before), we don't expect any announcements before the month of May, which is when it should be made to have the biggest impact.

02/24/06 Wind Tunnel has announced two of their guests for Sunday night.  Burney Lamar, NASCAR Busch driver, will be the featured interview.  Alan Henry, F1 reporter, will be the expert analyst.

Courtesy of TVRacer.com

12:00am-12:30am SPEED
NASCAR RaceDay Fontana
11:00am-11:30am (L) SPEED
Back in the Day -with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  
11:30am-12:00pm  SPEED
Superbike World Championship Qatar
12:00pm-1:00pm -Race 1
1:00pm-2:00pm -Race 2 SPEED
NASCAR RaceDay -Green Flag Edition Fontana
2:00pm-3:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup  Fontana
3:30pm-8:00pm (L) FOX
AMA Supercross Atlanta
6:00pm-7:00pm -250cc SPEED
A1GP Monterrey, Mexico 
6:00pm-8:00pm (SDD) OLN
NHRA 2Day Chandler, AZ
6:30pm-7:00pm ESPN2
Speed News  
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
Featured Interview: Robin Miller on Champ Car/IRL merger talk
NHRA Chandler, AZ
7:00pm-10:00pm (SDD) ESPN2
NASCAR Victory Lane Fontana
8:00pm-9:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Featured Interview: Burney Lamar, NASCAR Busch driver
Featured Interview: Tom Jensen, SPEEDtv.com NASCAR and Automotive Analyst
Expert Analyst: Alan Henry, Formula One reporter
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
Dakar Rally Portugal to Dakar
11:00pm-12:00am (R) OLN

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

Dodge wants to hide Intrepid name Dodge wants to hide Intrepid nameThere's a dirty little word in the Nextel Cup garage among Dodge teams. It's not a word that will draw a fine from NASCAR.  You can use it without fear of getting your mouth washed out. It's ... Intrepid. You won't see the name across the nose of Kurt Busch's car that won the pole for Sunday's race at California Speedway. The bold print says Dodge where all of the other Dodge cars say Charger.

"I'm going to level with you,'' said Don Miller, the president of Penske Racing South. "They don't want us to say Intrepid, so we avoid it.'' That's because Dodge quit making the Intrepid in 2004 and introduced the Charger for '05. But because the nose of the Charger continues to cause aerodynamic problems at intermediate tracks such as California, particularly in traffic, some Dodge teams have gone back to the Intrepid. Or the '04 Dodge, as they've been ordered to say. "They obviously have put a lot of money behind the Charger,'' Miller said of Dodge. "They don't want the public to think the Charger isn't everything they say it is.'' Busch didn't help matters by winning the pole in the Intrepid. More at NASCAR.com
Industry News
Toyota to build more cars in China Toyota to build more cars in ChinaToyota Motor Corp will add two small cars to its Chinese production lineup in 2008 to ride growing demand for fuel-efficient vehicles amid rising oil prices, Japanese business daily Nihon Keizai reported on Friday. Japan's top auto maker plans to build the Yaris subcompact, called Vitz in Japan, at a new factory in Guangzhou owned jointly with the Guangzhou Automotive Group, and the RAV4 crossover at a joint venture plant with FAW Group in Tianjin, the paper said. A spokeswoman at Toyota declined to comment on the report. The newspaper said the move was also in response to a possible introduction by Beijing of tax incentives for vehicles with smaller engines. Toyota plans to build 70,000 units of the Yaris annually at the Guangzhou plant, the paper said. The factory is due to begin producing the Camry sedan later this year.

Toyota has said it wants to raise Chinese output of the Camry to 100,000 units by the year-end. An addition to the lineup would require more investment to expand the plant's capacity. The world's second-biggest auto maker is set to produce 60,000 RAV4s a year in Tianjin, the paper said. Toyota is currently constructing a third factory in Tianjin with capacity to build 200,000 vehicles a year by mid-2007. It is awaiting approval from China's central government to build an undisclosed model there. Toyota, whose presence in China is still small, is aiming to grab 10 percent of China's car market by 2010. More at Reuters

Yoong doesn’t underestimate the task at hand Yoong doesn’t underestimate the task at handThe rain of opening day practice at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Mexico, left Monterrey to be replaced with clear blue sky and bright sunshine, giving Proton sponsored A1 Team Malaysia and driver Alex Yoong a chance to experience the handling of the A1 car in the dry. In final practice Yoong posted 17th fastest time and in afternoon qualifying he finished 11th quickest.

Oil laid on the circuit from the support race cars running earlier in the day delayed final practice and also created a dusty track from the clean up operation. Yoong opted to wait in the pits for the first quarter hour leaving others to clear the dust and with previous experience of the circuit he could afford this luxury. His knowledge showed through as he got on the pace quickly and ran comfortably around the top ten for much of the session.

In qualifying Yoong also drove well and showed his talent posting eighth quickest time in the first segment and following this with another quick lap to position him ninth overall. Dropping to 13th place after the third segment, Yoong recovered with a strong fourth qualifying segment to finish 11th quickest.

Yoong reviewed his day saying, “It’s a tough, demanding circuit with high curbs and big bumps, which makes it a challenge to find the right setup for the car and the changing weather conditions. We weren’t pleased with the car in the morning and made a number of fairly radical changes. Happily, they helped to improve the handling of the car and we were able to improve our performance this afternoon. Even in the last session, though, we were still having trouble getting temperature into the tires due to the smooth surface of the track. I’m pleased we’re starting just outside the top ten; we have a real shot at getting more points for Malaysia in the Sprint race from there and if we can do this, we’ll be set for a good start position in the main Feature race. But the competition is tough and I don’t underestimate the task ahead tomorrow, particularly with the unpredictable weather we’ve seen so far this weekend.” zzzz

Jack Cunningham, Team Principal, A1 Team Malaysia adds, “A1 Grand Prix has become more and more competitive as it has progressed through the season. There are now a number of ex-Formula One and IRL or Champ Car drivers such as Jos Verstappen, Christian Fittipaldi, Tomas Enge, Patrick Friesacher, Ralph Firman, Bryan Herta and Patrick Carpentier, and there are also the up-and-coming drivers who are doing well in GP2.

"The competition is growing race by race. Against that background, our task will be more difficult each weekend as the series matures and we will need to respond to that challenge. Our qualifying position is, therefore, all the more gratifying. Alex is proving that he has the talent as a leading driver in the Series and the team is performing well. From 11th we know we can position ourselves well for another good result against this quality field.” The A1 Grand Prix of Nations Mexico culminates tomorrow with two races, a 30 minute Sprint race and a one-hour Feature race. Fans will also be entertained with the colorful pageant of the traditional A1 Grand Prix drivers parade, have an opportunity to obtain their favorite driver’s autograph at the official all-driver autograph session, and to watch the support races which include historic Formula One cars and celebrity drivers. "

Audi drivers train in Bavaria Audi drivers train in BavariaAfter one week of aqua jogging, spinning, weight training and many kilometres around the cross country skiing trail one thing is clear: The Audi drivers are in excellent condition for the challenges of a new motorsport season. At the long-standing, traditional fitness camp in Ofterschwang (Bavaria) the works drivers prepared themselves for the stress and strain of the DTM and the American Le Mans Series. The conclusion of Audi Team Doctor, Dr Christian John, was entirely positive: "The entire team is in excellent condition. The season can begin.”
The priority of the six-day training session was to optimize the drivers’ basic fitness level and stamina. The fitness level of each and every participant is analyzed before, during and after the program. "As a result of these results each driver has received a personal trainings plan for the next few months,” says Dr Christian John. The experienced team doctor stresses the importance of his protégées excellent physical condition: "Perfect fitness is an important component for success in motorsport. Whoever is unable of making the correct decision at important moments and under extreme stress makes mistakes – and these can make the difference between success and failure on track.”
In addition to works drivers Christian Abt, Frank Biela, Rinaldo Capello, Mattias Ekström, Pierre Kaffer, Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish, Emanuele Pirro, Frank Stippler, Martin Tomczyk and Marco Werner, Vanina Ickx also got to know her new team mates in the Audi family. "I was made to feel very welcome by the guys. They are all incredibly pleasant and passed on lots of valuable tips. There’s a fantastic atmosphere at Audi, I’m made to feel like a princess within their ranks,” says the Belgian. Timo Scheider, another newcomer to the DTM squad, also trained together with the Audi team in Ofterschwang. zzzz
Although the trainings program began early each morning and the drivers were occasionally driven to their absolute limits, there remained sufficient time for plenty of fun and games and interesting chats. "It’s great to see my team mates again after the winter break. Everyone had something to say, they are all looking forward to the new season and we have loads of fun. It’s almost as if you are out on the town with a group of friends,” reports 2004 DTM Champion Mattias Ekström.
The mix of fun and work is welcome. "Obviously work and fitness is the main priority. However, our fitness camp is also the perfect opportunity for everybody to get to know each other even better and to strengthen the team spirit. Motorsport is team work and this has always been one of Audi’s great strengths,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, who also trained with the drivers.
The Audi drivers will benefit almost immediately from their trainings program this coming week at the official DTM test at Vallelunga, Italy. Things start getting really serious on 18 March when the new Audi R10 contests its first race at the American Le Mans Series season opener at Sebring (Florida). The DTM season starts on 9 April at Hockenheim. Audi
Roush to expand to 6-car team Roush to expand to 6-car teamLater this season, Roush Racing will add a sixth Nextel Cup team, for seven races, to get Todd Kluever warmed up for his role as Mark Martin's replacement next season. Winston Salem Journal
Iceman not afraid to partner with Alonso Iceman not afraid to partner with AlonsoIt seems pretty clear these days that Kimi Raikkonen is unlikely to stay on with McLaren now that they have World Champion Fernando Alonso on board for 2007.

The Finn, however, is keen to stress that the Spaniard's arrival is not the reason is he looking at all his options beyond the coming season.

"I have not decided what I will do next year. But this cannot go on for too long," he insisted.

"At some point everyone needs to make a decision.

"I do not care who my teammate is, I am not afraid of anybody. That will not decide whether I stay or go somewhere else."

Track News
Long Beach announces track modification Long Beach announces track modificationUPDATE Below are some schematics showing the turn 1 area that will be widened for this year's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.


02/21/06 Historically, the Shoreline Drive straightaway at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has been one of the fastest stretches of any street circuit in motorsports, with Champ Car drivers pushing 190 mph heading toward Turn One. Today, because of necessary course revisions in bustling downtown Long Beach, Turn One is a tight left-hander. However, the days of hair-raising traffic jams in the turn may be over.

Beginning in the middle of next week, Turn One will be widened by twelve feet, resulting in an approximately 50-foot-wide track extending for 250 feet toward Turn 2. This will now afford drivers more passing options as they gear down from the 3,600-foot-long Shoreline Drive straight and set up to wind around the western end of the 1.97-mile circuit. “The widening of Turn One will allow for more passing, closer competition and a better show for our fans,” said Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.

“Credit our owners, Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe, for recognizing the situation and providing the financial resources to fix it.”

“It was a simple decision, really,” Kalkhoven said. “The circuit was just too tight and we’re improving it to maintain Long Beach’s status as the premier street race in America. It will not only make for better racing this year, but will provide much more excitement when standing starts are adopted for the Champ Car World Series in the future.” zzzz

Drivers in a record six racing series will put the new Turn One alignment to the test April 7-9 in the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Along with Champ Cars, Atlantics and the 30th Anniversary Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, the Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes and SCCA SPEED GT Championship will be making their debuts on the famed seaside circuit. The fan-favorite Drifting Challenge is also on the race card for the event.

Tickets for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach can be purchased from the Grand Prix ticket office by calling the toll-free ticket hotline at (888) 82-SPEED. A handy ticket brochure – which includes circuit map, grandstand and parking locations, ticket prices and order form – can be obtained by calling the ticket hotline. Tickets are also available online at longbeachgp.com or ticketmaster.com.

Ticket prices range from $35 for Friday/Saturday general admission up to $115 for a three-day ticket that includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seats in upper levels of the grandstands. Pre-paid parking packages are also available when ordering through the Grand Prix Ticket Office. Handicapped seating, Bosch Champ Car Garage passes, super photo tickets and a variety of hospitality club packages are also available. TGPLB

Midland team is really Jordan with a new wrapper Midland team is really Jordan with a new wrapperAs Tiago Monteiro and Christijan Albers gear up for the new season, MF1 Racing may be a new name to Formula One in 2006, but the Midland-owned team has technical continuity from the Jordan days as well as some fresh faces.

“We’ve only had minor changes, really,” Sporting Director Adrian Burgess explained. “We lost a race engineer, so Christijan has a new guy, and I’m confident he will be very good. However, Tiago has the same engineer for the third year on the trot – Bradley Joyce. He was with him at Carlin for the World Series in 2004, and stayed with him last year.”

“Between those two, there’s a bit of continuity,” Burgess continued. “And because they’ve got a year under their belt in F1, they will be more effective and proactive than they were last year, so that will be good for us. Tiago knows the mechanics, and he’s got familiar faces in the same places, and that always helps the drivers. It makes the job easier for him, and he’s settled in nicely already.”

On the driving front the fast and somewhat erratic Narain Karthikeyan has moved on to a testing role at Williams while Monteiro has been joined by former Minardi racer Albers.

“We gave Christijan a fair amount of mileage in December at the tests, to get him used to us and for us to get used to him,” said Burgess. “He’s quick, he’s got some good natural talent, and he works very hard, as well. I think there will be a good little battle going on with those two, that’s for sure! They are both extremely competitive, in and out of the car, and they’ll push each other forward.”  Source MF1 Racing

Kinser wins first two NST races Kinser wins first two NST racesStill recovering from a serious IROC wreck, Steve Kinser, showed his fans what winged sprint car racing is all about with an opening night National Sprint Tour win at the Tulare, California Thunderbowl Raceway on Friday night. Race fans packed the house for this event and there were no disappointments.
A-MAIN – 30 Laps [Starting Position]
1) Steve Kinser [1]
2) Tim Kaeding [2]
3) Jason Meyers [4]
4) Joey Saldana [9]
5) Sammy Swindell [8]
6) Jason Solwold [15]
7) Danny Lasoski [5]
8) Jason Sides [6]
9) Paul McMahan [10]
10) Ronnie Day [12]
11) Tim Shaffer [16]
12) Brooke Tatnell [3]
13) Ricci Faria [18]
14) Brian Paulus [14]
15) Robert Ballou [20]
16) Garrett Ishii [23]
17) Craig Stidham [24]
18) Jon Allard [11]
19) Kyle Hirst [22]
20) Lucas Wolfe [19]
21) Shane Stewart [7]
22) Dennis Moore Jr. [17]
23) Travis Rutz [13]
24) Kevin Swindell [21]  zzzz

The second night of racing at the Thunderbowl Speedway in Tulare, CA saw Steve Kinser once again show why he is “the King”.  After a third row start and getting passed by Paul McMahan and Sammy Swindell, Steve moved up the track and put on a show of how to go fast “up top.”
1) Steve Kinser [5]
2) Jason Meyers [4]
3) Paul McMahan [10]
4) Brooke Tatnell [6]
5) Danny Lasoski [9]
6) Tim Kaeding [11]
7) Brent Kaeding [23]
8) Kevin Swindell [15]
9) Brian Paulus [22]
10) Jon Allard [13]
11) Tim Shaffer [3]
12) Kyle Hirst [20]
13) Jason Sides [12]
14) Lucas Wolfe [26]
15) Sammy Swindell [15]
16) Robert Ballou [14]
17) Garrett Ishii [16]
18) Mike Henry [18]
19) Craig Stidham [19]
20) Shane Stewart [8]
21) Ronnie Day [1]
22) Jason Solwold [25]
23) Dennis Moore Jr. [24]
24) Joey Saldana [2]
25) Travis Rutz [21]
26) Ricci Faria [17]
Lap Leaders: 1-3 Ronnie Day, 4-18 Tim Shaffer, 19-28 Sammy Swindell, 29-40 Steve Kinser
Provisionals: Jason Solwold & Lucas Wolfe

Renault ready to go Renault ready to goThe Renault F1 Team’s Sporting Manager Steve Nielsen describes the atmosphere at the factory, and the logistical preparations before Bahrain.

Steve, what is the atmosphere like in the factory at the moment?
"We are all very motivated. Winter testing has shown that the R26 is a quick car, and we are feeling confident. Of course, there are still some things to fine tune, but we have prepared well and are ready to defend our titles. The equipment leaves for Bahrain in one week’s time… so Enstone is a busy place at the moment!"

Once again this year, the first three races are “flyaway” races outside Europe. Is that a problem?
"Not really because we are all used to it. This year, the races are in a different order, but in fact it is the same as last year – just in reverse. So that’s not a problem. There will be very few alterations: cooler weather in Australia, and just one week between Bahrain and Kuala Lumpur. It will be a tight schedule."

What is the schedule for the coming days?
"We have been testing every week since early January, and this week is no different. Today, the whole race team is in Barcelona and will be practicing pit-stops, qualifying simulations and trying out new procedures. It’s the first time they have all been together since Shanghai 2005."

Has the team changed compared to last year?
"Not especially. In the pit-stops, we have moved some people around and we have one new person. We have also split the former chief mechanic’s role into two roles: Gavin Hudson will perform the role of Chief Mechanic, while Paul Seaby will be our Engineering Coordinator. Gavin will be in direct contact with all the work on the cars, while Paul’s role will be more administrative." zzzz

So what happens next with the program?
"The race team returns home tomorrow, while the test team will be moving to Valencia ahead of our final test next week, on 27 and 28 February. Meanwhile, at Enstone, they will begin packing the freight for the opening races. This will leave the factory on 3 March: one of the cars from Valencia will be turned around and sent out to the first race as well. In total, we have around 30 tones of air freight and tones of sea freight. And we can’t afford to forget anything..."

Will some of the team be carrying ‘hand baggage’ which looks like Formula 1 car parts to the first race?
"It’s highly likely! Most of the team will leave on Sunday before the race, with the final team members landing on Thursday."

The team will be at the head of the pit-lane this year. Will that change much relative to last year?
"There will be small differences, yes. The position of the garage gives us a slight advantage during pit-stops: it will be either the first or last in the pit-lane, according to the circuit. For the drivers, that means they have a clear run into the pit-box, or out of the pit-lane. Next, we will have a bit more space, but there was already plenty in 2005. Personally, I am of the opinion that everybody should get the same working area in the pit-lane."

You mentioned pit-stops earlier. Does the return of tire changes mean you have to train differently?
"Even in 2005, we had to be ready to change all four wheels while refueling the car, in certain circumstances – in a wet race like Spa, for example. Of course, we have done a lot of training recently, but we are essentially going back to what we did in 2004."

So, is the team ready for 2006?
"More than ever. We can’t wait to go racing!" Source Renault

Juan and Kimi happy with McLaren progress Juan and Kimi happy with McLaren progressJuan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen were happy with McLaren's recent test in Barcelona and feel the team is beginning to reach its full potential as the start of the season approaches.

"We've done a lot of good work this week, there have been a few problems with the wet weather and a couple of small glitches with the car, but generally it has been a productive week," the former Williams ace explained.

"It has also been quite cold here in Barcelona, which means that you aren't getting the full performance, and also everyone is testing different things.

"So it is difficult to compare the performances of the teams testing here during the week."

Meanwhile, Montoya's McLaren teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, was also pleased with their week's work, but warned that the team still have a lot of work to do before the new campaign kicks off in two weeks in Bahrain.

"I feel that we have improved a lot over the last few weeks, we are continuing to develop the car to find the speed and reliability that we need and we are moving in a good direction," the Finn said.

"We have covered some really good distances this week in Barcelona, but we need to keep pushing as there is still work to be done." 

Bahrain gears up for F1 visa rush Bahrain gears up for F1 visa rushImmigration officials are gearing up for a huge rush as fans arrive for next month's Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Extra staff would be drafted in at Bahrain International Airport and the King Fahad Causeway, to meet the rush, says Nationality, Passports and Residence Assistant Under-Secretary Shaikh Ahmed bin Isa Al Khalifa.

"The average number of visitors using the causeway in and out is 30,000 daily," he said. "However, during the F1 event last year, we handled an average 64,000 passengers in and out each day.

"Besides people from G35 countries and GCC residents, who are granted visa on arrival, the airport handled more than 10,000 visitors from other countries during last year's F1."

Shaikh Ahmed said six extra immigration counters would be set up at the airport, on top of the normal 18.

"There will be two counters at Bexair terminal and additional counters for VIPs," he said. "We are trying to shift some of the staff from the headquarters to the airport and the causeway during the event."

Visitors to Bahrain who arrive on the F1 visas are being advised to abide by the kingdom's residency rules. The F1 visa is valid for two weeks from the date of first entry and is not renewable, said Shaikh Ahmed.

"Passengers can only use this visa for entry into Bahrain between February 26 and March 12," he said. "The multiple re-entry visa is being issued free of charge exclusively for the Formula 1 event which will be held from March 10 to 12. We request people who arrive on this visa to leave the country after the event, failing which they will be charged overstay fees." Gulf Daily News

Herta making progress in Mexico Herta making progress in MexicoBryan Herta gave Team USA its best starting position of the year by making steady progress on Saturday and will start in 5th place for the Sprint race on Sunday in Monterrey.  Herta (pictured right) saved his best for last by turning the third fastest time in the 4th and final qualifying session Saturday.  His time of 1m22.609s was the third best lap turned all weekend in all the sessions.  He should be a force to be reckoned with on Sunday.
Racing News
Shav Glick Retirement Party Shav Glick Retirement PartyLongtime LA Times motorsports writer Shav Glick had a retirement party on Thursday night in California.  The commemorative function featured NASCAR President Mike Helton, California Speedway President Gillian Zucker, Bill Center from the San Diego Union Tribune and Jim Short for the Riverside Press Enterprise as guest speakers.  Bill France sent his best regards via video.  Glick will be the honorary Grand Marshal for Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Auto Club 500.
Biffle races to Busch Series win in California Biffle races to Busch Series win in CaliforniaGreg Biffle dominated at California Speedway when he clinched the NASCAR Busch Series Stater Bros. 300 on Saturday night. Biffle, who stayed out on the last caution and did not pit, was able to pass Jeff Burton with under 10 laps to go in the race to take the checker flag, his third in his past five starts at the two-mile, D-shaped oval.

“We really needed that caution, we thought we would be a sitting duck by staying out, but it worked for us,” said Biffle. “The caution came out and the rest was history. We couldn’t pit because we had used all of our tires.”

Carl Edwards, who started on the pole, was one of the only drivers to pit on the final caution with 16 laps to go. This gave Burton the lead on the restart. Biffle caught up with nine to go to pass Burton and ran off with a win for the No.16 Ameriquest Ford.

Ryan Newman, who started on the front row was strong all day, but could not catch Biffle in time to capture the win. He finished second.  Edwards fought back to place third and Burton who fell backwards in the final laps placed fourth.  Jamie McMurray, Jay Sauter, Casey Mears, Todd Kluever, David Green and John Andretti finished fifth through 10th, respectively.

This gives team owner Jack Roush his fourth consecutive win at California Speedway in the Busch series.  “It has been a pleasure to come here to California. Greg was awesome as he always is at California Speedway,” said Jack Roush.

Biffle will start on the outside front row in the Auto Club 500 tomorrow for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.  The day will get started early with pre-race entertainment in the Jackson Hewitt West Coast Premiere of NASCAR and the race gets underway at 1:15 p.m.

Kerr can't get the power down Kerr can't get the power downThe British A1GP team is struggling in Monterrey, significantly off the pace.
Robbie Kerr: "We're nowhere near where we should be. For whatever reason the car's slow at the moment. I'm fairly happy with my laps. There's no way we should be 2.3 seconds off."

John Surtees: "Of course we've had extremely changeable weather conditions with the rain yesterday and then dry today. Frankly we were looking hard for grip that we didn't find. Obviously we'll discuss this with the engineers. We know that the engine's OK so it's purely not getting the power to the road for Robbie to produce results."

A1GP cars 9 sec. per lap slower than Champ Car A1GP cars 9 sec. per lap slower than Champ CarUPDATE It should be noted that the comparison that was made to the Atlantic machines is impressive taking into account the 1'26's that were mentioned but the Atlantic car was even faster than that, in 2004 Ryan Dalziel ran a 1'24'6 in the race. Also keep in mind that this was in 2004, after the series took the tunnel fences and tons of rear wing out of the Swift .014a.

02/25/06 The fastest lap turned in today for the A1GP race in Monterrey, Mexico was by young South African sensation Stephen Simpson at 1m22.078s. This is 9 seconds per lap slower than Sebastien Bourdais turned last year in qualifying for the Champ Car race in Monterrey. Simpson would not have been fast enough to even make the grid for the Champ Car race, but A1GP would make a good support series to Champ Car someday perhaps.

It will be interesting to see whether Simpson can beat his A1GP time when he qualifies his new Atlantic car for Gelles Racing in May. The old Atlantic car ran in the 1m26s range, so probably not.

Gelles happy he signed Simpson for Atlantics Gelles happy he signed Simpson for AtlanticsDear AutoRacing1.com, I spoke with Stephen Simpson and he is extremely excited to have bested some of the strongest drivers in the world to earn the Pole Position for tomorrow’s A1GP race fair and square - fastest in all 4-sessions combined.  He truly earned the Pole.

I am proud to have signed Simpson for Gelles Racing in the inaugural Champ Car Atlantic Championship.  I hope to prove Gelles Racing can be the “small engine that could!”  Robert Gelles - President, Gelles Racing, Inc.

Unhappy fans in Monterrey Unhappy fans in MonterreyMany more Monterrey, Mexico fans are complaining about the disorganization of the A1GP race. Not only are they complaining about the fact seats are not assigned, they are also complaining that there are no Jumbotron screens like when Champ Car races, and about the logistics of the event.

A lot of fans who have paddock passes were complaining that they were told that if they decided to leave the paddock to go to their seats (sections 5 and 6 have paddock access but are on the other side of the track) they could not go back to the paddock. Fans who had tickets with no access to the paddock argued that organizers said in newspapers and TV that the Historic F1 paddock would have access to everyone but in reality only people with paddock access were let in.

Every time someone complained to the people in charge they received the same answer, "We're only following orders, if you want to complain go and find my supervisor."

We have to agree with the fans, this is one of the most disorganized events we have ever attended. I personally went to all of the different parts of the track to witness the complaints. I talked with a lot of fans and they told me they are not asking for much, they just want what Champ Car has done for them in past years.

One fan told me, "They are using the same stands, the same track, why can’t they do what Champ Car has done." Another fan who was mad told me "The race is as disorganized as Team Mexico." He was referring to the fact they changed their driver once more. Jose Arrambide reporting from Monterrey

Edwards wins Busch pole, Foyt IV crashes again Edwards wins Busch pole, Foyt IV crashes againCarl Edwards won the Stater Bros. 300 pole by posting a speed of 182.588 mph Saturday afternoon at California Speedway. Ryan Newman will sit on the outside of the front row for the race, which is scheduled for a 6:40 p.m. Eastern start.

Anthony Foyt IV crashed during his qualifying attempt and will have to start at the back of the field with his backup car. Jon Wood also will start in the back for missing the drivers meeting.

Little interest in A1GP race in Monterrey Little interest in A1GP race in MonterreyA1GP organizers were still offering the free tickets to the Rolling Stones Concert and the free tickets to today's concert with RBD. According to the Monterrey, Mexico A1GP organizers they had 2,000 tickets for the Stones and 15,000 for RBD which means they haven’t sold even 17,000 tickets. Today's attendance was very bad. Most sections were almost empty, in fact, during qualifying section 14 was totally empty. No kidding not even one fan was in section 14. Jose Arrambide
Carpentier struggles to 19th on grid Carpentier struggles to 19th on gridIn  stark  contrast  to  yesterday's  rain-soaked  practice  sessions  Monterrey,  Mexico  was  bathed  in sunshine  today  as  A1  Team  Canada's  Patrick  Carpentier  qualified  19th  on  the  grid  for  tomorrow's Sprint race, the five-time Champ Car winner from Québec making his A1 Grand Prix of Nations debut in the ninth round of the inaugural 'World Cup of Motorsport.'

Returning to Monterrey and the 3.38km Parque Fundidora circuit for the first time since he raced in Champ Car in 2004, Carpentier faced the challenge of A1GP's aggregate qualifying format where the two fastest laps from four timed runs determine the grid order for the Sprint race.  An off at turn one  on  his  second  flying  lap,  his  first  on  new  tires,  impacted  his  progress  leaving  just  two  more opportunities to set a competitive time.  A 1m25.603s lap followed by a final effort of 1m23.90s, set on a second set of new tires, formed A1 Team Canada's aggregate time and 19th place grid slot.

Patrick Carpentier: "Things didn't go as I had hoped today!  On my second run I went off at the first corner which was frustrating as I was on fresh rubber for the first time this weekend.  After that the car was a little too loose for my liking.  We put on another set of new tires for my last run and I set a lap in the 1m23s which if I'd been able to put two laps together like that then we'd have been up there but it didn't work out that way.  We'll see what tomorrow brings, we have the Sprint and Feature races to go for points!"

TV News
Rick Benjamin to announce ASA Late Model Series Rick Benjamin to announce ASA Late Model SeriesLexington, Michigan - The ASA Late Model Series has announced a new television package for the upcoming 2006 ASALMS Challenge Division season!

The new agreement will showcase 11 ASA Late Model Series events on both the Men's Channel and iDrive Networks. The two Turner Media Group networks will air a combined 26 one-hour telecasts beginning in late September.  

Ron Varney, President of the ASA Late Model Series, was presented with the opportunity to join the two networks, which provide a higher level of promotional attention and greater opportunities for sponsors and series competitors.  

"We feel confident about this move to the Men's Channel and iDrive," said Ron Varney, ASALMS President. "The package from the Men's Channel and iDrive provides us a great deal of coverage and attention to our series."

"Instead of just a few airings with limited promotion, we now will have 26 shows plus a solid commitment from the networks to promote the series," Added Varney. zzzz 

The new package will also include award-winning broadcaster Rick Benjamin, who has committed to be the lead commentator for the shows. 

"I'm extremely pleased to be involved with this new project.  I believe the ASALMS brand has tremendous value and that the ASA Late Model Series will provide some of the toughest short track racing action anywhere." Stated Benjamin. "I know the Men's Channel and iDrive viewers will be on the edge of their seats each week this fall."

Benjamin has broadcast major motorsports events from Daytona to Long Beach to LeMans, France. His credits include broadcasts of NASCAR Cup, Busch, Truck, and Grand National events. He is currently host and play by play broadcaster for the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford on CBS, NBC, and SPEED Channel. 

The historical Music City (TN) Motorplex, on the grounds of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, will serve as hosts for the 2006 ASALMS Challenge Division opener on Friday and Saturday March 17-18. For more on the newly announced ASALMS Television package visit www.asalatemodels.com

The Men's Channel, a network for enthusiasts, is the home of the most comprehensive male lifestyle programming on television. The diverse editorial mix is guided by eight themed programming blocks that speak to the passions of men.

The Men's Channel entertains, informs and ultimately empowers viewers to act upon what they watch through enhanced and interactive applications. For more information, go to: http://www.menschanneltv.com/

iDrive TV (Interactive Television) is part of the Turner Media Group-subsidiary, The Networks Group, has launched an interactive TV channel, called iDrive TV, that is devoted to advertising automobiles and other motor-driven vehicles, including motor boats, motorbikes and airplanes.

ALMS to get two Audi R10's later in '06 ALMS to get two Audi R10's later in '06Audi AG announced Saturday that two of its new revolutionary diesel-powered R10 prototypes will compete in the second half of the American Le Mans Series in 2006. It signals Audi’s return to the world’s most popular sports car racing series at a factory level.

The Audi R10, which is powered by a V12 TDI engine with almost 650 hp, will celebrate its eagerly awaited race debut at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the opening race of the American Le Mans Series, on March 18. Sebring will see Audi Sport, Team Joest and Champion Racing cooperating closely on the R10 project.

America’s greatest sports car race will serve as a test for Audi and the R10 as the factory prepares for its two-car campaign at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

After the premiere at Sebring the two Audi R10 prototypes will be flown back to Europe to be prepared for the season’s highpoint at Le Mans on June 17-18. Afterward, Audi Sport North America will contest the remaining six American Le Mans Series races, starting with the Grand Prix of Utah on July 15 at the new Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City. Champion Racing, which has won the last two LMP1 team championships in the Series, will provide support throughout. zzzz 
At the three Series races between Sebring and Salt Lake City the Audi Sport North America squad will rely once again on the well-proven Audi R8, which has already recorded 61 wins in 77 races worldwide including 47 in the American Le Mans Series.
Audi already has competed with a factory team in the Series between 2000 and 2002. Audi of America continued its involvement in the following three years with Champion Racing and celebrated six successive Series championship titles.
”The main reason for developing the Audi R10 was to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as we want to be the world’s first automobile manufacturer to win with a diesel engine,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “From the very beginning it was however our intention to enter the R10 in every racing series based on Le Mans. The USA is an extremely important market in which the subject ’Diesel’ is currently coming in vogue. The American Le Mans Series program with the R10 is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of the Audi TDI engines in America.”
“Audi of America is looking forward to our seventh season of participation in the American Le Mans Series,” added Johan de Nysschen, executive vice-president of Audi of America. “The R8 success was very instrumental in building awareness for Audi technology and performance, and we hope the R10 will achieve the same success. With Audi Sport, Joest and Champion we have the ideal partners for a successful season.”

The American Le Mans Series begins its 2006 season with the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The 12-hour endurance classic is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. EST on March 18 at Sebring International Raceway. It will be televised live on SPEED Channel in North America and MotorsTV in Europe. In addition, Greenlight-Television will distribute the race worldwide to more than 510 million households. American Le Mans Series Radio will have flag-to-flag coverage available at www.americanlemans.com, along with IMSA Live Timing & Scoring. ALMS

Bernie says F1 does not need Schumacher Bernie says F1 does not need SchumacherBernie Ecclestone believes that if Ferrari's Michael Schumacher retires at the end of the season it will have little or no affect on the popularity of the sport in the future.  Ecclestone though believes the sport will find a new ‘superstar’ should Michael decide to hang up his drivers gloves.  "No driver, no person will ever be bigger than Formula 1 itself. It would take two or three races, then we'd have a new superstar", he told German magazine, Sport Bild.
Simpson puts South Africa on top in practice 3 Simpson puts South Africa on top in practice 3Soon to be Champ Car Atlantic driver Stephen Simpson turned the fastest lap Saturday morning in Monterrey, Mexico to lead the third practice session for Sunday's A1GP race. Next up is qualifying.

Pos. Team Lap Time Gap F. Gap P. Laps
1 SOUTH AFRICA (Stephen Simpson) 12 1'24.016 - - 12
2 IRELAND (Ralph Firman) 26 1'24.636 +0.620 +0.620 26
3 NETHERLANDS (Jos Verstappen) 25 1'24.892 +0.876 +0.256 25
4 SWITZERLAND (Neel Jani) 14 1'24.905 +0.889 +0.013 17
5 BRAZIL (Christian Fittipaldi) 22 1'24.952 +0.936 +0.047 25
6 GREAT BRITAIN (Robbie Kerr) 16 1'25.111 +1.095 +0.159 17
7 MEXICO (David Martinez) 27 1'25.153 +1.137 +0.042 27
8 USA (Bryan Herta) 21 1'25.248 +1.232 +0.095 22
9 ITALY (Enrico Toccacelo) 20 1'25.336 +1.320 +0.088 21
10 FRANCE (Alexandre Premat) 11 1'25.442 +1.426 +0.106 15
11 PORTUGAL (Alvaro Parente) 19 1'25.453 +1.437 +0.011 21
12 LEBANON (Graham Rahal) 24 1'25.684 +1.668 +0.231 25
13 GERMANY (Timo Scheider) 14 1'25.764 +1.748 +0.080 19
14 CANADA (Patrick Carpentier) 20 1'25.874 +1.858 +0.110 20
15 INDONESIA 14 1'25.986 +1.970 +0.112 15
16 AUSTRIA (Patrick Friesacher) 19 1'26.054 +2.038 +0.068 20
17 MALAYSIA (Alex Yoong) 14 1'26.064 +2.048 +0.010 18
18 NEW ZEALAND (Matt Halliday) 11 1'26.685 +2.669 +0.621 17
19 JAPAN (Hayanari Shimoda) 24 1'27.031 +3.015 +0.346 27
20 CZECH REPUBLIC (Tomas Enge) 6 1'27.684 +3.668 +0.653 8
21 AUSTRALIA (Marcus Marshall) 17 1'28.358 +4.342 +0.674 18
22 CHINA (Tengyi Jiang) 26 1'30.322 +6.306 +1.964 28

Martin to open Ford-Mercury dealership Martin to open Ford-Mercury dealershipRoush Racing’s Mark Martin will open his all new Ford dealership, Mark Martin Ford-Mercury, and museum on Monday, Feb. 27th in Batesville, Arkansas. Martin started construction on the state of the art facility over a year ago and is pleased with the fruition of his work.

“It’s just an awesome thing to be able to bring back all of these cars and trophies to the place where it all started and the place that I consider ‘home,’ said Martin. “We have a lot of stuff on display at the museum and I hope that all of the fans will get a chance to come out and share in all of the memories with us.

“Growing up I couldn’t wait to get out of Batesville and go out and see what I could do,” added Martin. “I went off seeking my fame and fortune and I was fortunate to work with a lot of great people and have a lot of success. Now it’s time to bring all of that back home where it belongs to Batesville.”

The state-of-the art museum features several of Martin’s past cars, including the No. 6 Viagra Coca-Cola 600 win car, the ’90 Folgers Thunderbird, the No. 60 Win Dixie Busch car, Martin’s 2005 IROC car that he used to win his record fifth championship, and the ’89 Strohs Thunderbird. Each car is a part of a display that includes hi-tech mantrons that tell the story of each piece of history.

The museum also has on display a variety of other memorabilia, including several of Martin’s past race helmets and historic firesuits. There are also several personal photo books on display that chronicle Martin’s early success, as well as thousands of pictures and newspaper articles that show Martin shows Martins climb from local dirt track sensation to NASCAR legend.

“We really wanted to do something that we could share with the fans and the people of Batesville,” said Martin. “It’s been a long road and it’s been a lot of fun and we really wanted to put all of that on display.

“We could have put the dealership anywhere,” added Martin. “But I wanted to bring all of it home. It means a lot to me and I’m excited to share what I’ve been lucky enough to experience with everyone.” Roush Racing

Kenseth and Stewart still not speaking Kenseth and Stewart still not speakingMatt Kenseth says he has yet to hear from Tony Stewart about last weekend's incident in the Daytona 500 that sent Kenseth into the wall. "I'm sure we'll talk eventually," Kenseth said Friday at California Speedway. "I don't feel like I need to go talk to him because I didn't feel I was in the wrong at all. Obviously, he does, but I don't feel like I did anything wrong." Stewart ran Kenseth into the grass in turn 3 last weekend. That came after Stewart said Kenseth nearly caused him to spin by taking the air off his spoiler earlier in the race. "He started the whole thing, and I finished it," Stewart said after last week's race. NASCAR penalized Stewart for aggressive driving after Kenseth hit the wall. Stewart had to restart at the rear of the field. Series officials did not talk to Stewart about his post-race comments this week and didn't plan to talk to him this weekend. Kenseth admits the incident has been difficult to forget. Kenseth ran well until the incident. He finished 15th; Stewart placed fifth. Roanoke Times
Johnson says Knaus went too far Johnson says Knaus went too farJimmie Johnson admitted Friday that suspended crew chief Chad Knaus erred in judgment by utilizing a device to raise the rear window of the #48 Lowe's Chevy to gain an aerodynamic advantage during Daytona 500 qualifying. "Chad is an innovator and has pushed hard on a lot of fronts, but it just isn't worth it, to be honest," Johnson said. "I think [the suspension] sent a message to all the teams. It sent a message to Chad. We've got to walk on the right side of the line." Johnson, who continued to reiterate his Daytona 500 winning car passed post-race technical inspection, is confident he will be a Nextel Cup title contender this season despite losing Knaus to a four-race suspension. "I think we've got to spin this and make it a positive for our race team," Johnson said. "And we're making our race team stronger right now by going through this. I hope it gives us what we need to win a championship." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Snap-on Stars and WKA extend partnership through 2010 Snap-on Stars and WKA extend partnership through 2010Seattle, WA – The Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by the IRL and World Karting Association announced today the Kart Expo Show in St. Charles, IL that they have agreed to extend their working partnership through 2010. The agreement continues the relationship which has seen the Stars of Karting and WKA work together to coordinate a cohesive and structured system of club, regional, and national level racing. “Partnerships are successful when both parties contribute their strengths to the relationship. Both the WKA and the Stars of Karting are a prime example of that. I look forward to more great opportunities as a result of our partnership,” said WKA President Randy Kugler.

Snap-on Stars of Karting President Paul Zalud was equally as excited, “The system that we have been developing with the WKA to structure a discernable ladder system in karting where everyone can contribute their key assets has reaped great dividends for both of us. I look forward to taking advantage of more opportunities to work together in the years ahead.”

COT blueprints delivered to teams COT blueprints delivered to teamsNextel Cup Series teams are in the process of being visited by a NASCAR representative bearing blueprints for the "car of tomorrow," which is set to debut on a limited basis in 2007. "We've been giving them out. We've been making shop trips with [NASCAR official] Randy Hedger over the past few weeks, trying to finalize all that with the teams," NASCAR Vice President Robin Pemberton said Friday afternoon at California Speedway. Pemberton added that Gary Nelson, who'd been heading up the car's development for NASCAR, will now begin accompanying Hedger to visit the teams. Earlier this week, Nelson left NASCAR to begin his own company; which signed NASCAR as its first client. The only areas of the car not finalized involved the wing and front splitter configuration. "We're trying to make our adjustments based off the team information when we do our track tests," Pemberton said. Track tests are tentatively set for March 27 at Bristol and April 3 at Martinsville. NASCAR SceneDaily.com
Penske plans to keep running Intrepids Penske plans to keep running IntrepidsPenske Racing South General Manager Don Miller said on Friday that the team plans on racing 2004 Dodge Intrepids at all 1.5.- and 2.0-mile tracks for the foreseeable future. Penske drivers #2-Kurt Busch and #12-Ryan Newman both brought Intrepids for Sunday’s Auto Club 500, as did Petty Enterprises for #43-Bobby Labonte. All the other Dodge teams brought the aerodynamically troublesome Dodge Charger, which was introduced last year. Asked how long Penske would campaign the two-year-old Dodges, Miller was blunt. “As long as Dodge will let us,” he said. Speed Channel
Racing News
Bobby says it's about Graham not him Bobby says it's about Graham not himGraham Rahal already knows that making the climb through the auto-racing ranks is as much about gaining recognition as pressing the gas.

That’s why the 17-year-old New Albany High School junior jumped at the chance to take part in the final three races of the A1 Grand Prix series, starting this weekend in Monterrey, Mexico.

"It’s a good deal for me because it’s an opportunity to open everybody’s eyes to me a little more," he said.

He is already scheduled to run the full 2006 season of the Atlantic series, considered the steppingstone to Champ Car or the Indy Racing League. Then he was selected for the A1 GP, which pits drivers from different countries or nationalities — Rahal will drive for Team Lebanon because of his family background — in winged, open-wheel cars on road courses.

"It’s a huge opportunity because most of the guys he will be going against are going to be much older than him," said his father, Bobby Rahal, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and a three-time CART champion. "It’s got international implications. Plus, the cars are pretty high-performance — darn close to Champ Cars."

After the race at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Graham is scheduled to compete in the U.S. stop at Laguna Seca in California and then in the season finale in Shanghai, China. He earned the seat after a sterling test drive for Team Lebanon in Italy a week ago.

"Everybody talks about me when his name is brought up, but I’m telling you it ought to all be about him," Bobby Rahal said. "What he’s doing compared to what I was doing at his age, he’s just in a completely different league." Columbus Dispatch

Industry News
Toyota takes on the Big Boys Toyota takes on the Big BoysYou might say Toyota is confident that the third time will be the charm as it prepares to roll its new jumbo pickup into showrooms this fall.

The 2007 Tundra will be "the biggest, boldest badass truck in Toyota history," declared a usually reserved James Press, president of Toyota Motor Corp.'s Torrance-based U.S. division, in unveiling the truck this month in Chicago. "It's a gargantuan leap to the head of the pack."

The bold talk may be understandable, given Toyota's rapid growth and expectations that it will eventually overtake General Motors Corp. as the world's largest automaker.

But in the big-truck segment, Toyota hasn't had much to crow about. Indeed, with the restyled Tundra, the Japanese automaker hopes to do what two previous models could not: carve out a significant slice in a full-size pickup market still dominated by the Big Three American automakers.  More at LATimes.com

Martin wins 2nd straight in trucks Martin wins 2nd straight in trucksNextel Cup star Mark Martin won his second truck race in eight days, adding Friday night's Racetickets.com 200 to a victory last week at Daytona.  Martin fought off a challenge from Todd Bodine in a two-lap overtime finish after a crash by Mike Wallace on lap 99. That brought out the eighth caution flag of the night and extended the race, scheduled to go 100 laps on California Speedway's two-mile oval.
Williams puts good mileage on V8 Cosworth Williams puts good mileage on V8 CosworthThe Cosworth powered WilliamsF1 team have concluded their penultimate week of testing prior to the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix with Nico Rosberg and Alexander Wurz finishing the scheduled session in the cold conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona Spain. Finishing the day in sixth place overall, Nico completed a total of 41 laps as he concentrated on tire testing for Bridgestone, focusing on their different compounds.

Meanwhile, Alex concentrated on long runs to investigate various mechanical set-ups and brake cooling. The team’s third driver managed 68 laps to record the tenth and slowest time of the day. The Grove based squad also tested some new aerodynamic parts for the FW28 over the course of the week and confirmed that they are all working as expected.

“Cosworth completed this week’s Barcelona test in reasonable shape,” said Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth. “The first day was difficult as we had to stop running Mark’s primary Series 2 test engine when it developed a leak which couldn’t be fixed trackside. In addition, Nico suffered an engine failure, although this was at high mileage and was an earlier spec engine. Fortunately, the remainder of the test was rather less eventful as Alex successfully exceeded the two race weekend target mileage on his Series 2 engine, plus we were able to complete valuable engine calibration work in preparation for Bahrain.” Williams F1

Honda wraps up successful off-season Honda wraps up successful off-seasonThe Honda Racing F1 Team race drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello concluded their pre-season testing program at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona yesterday.

After concentrating on final set-up work in the RA106 car, along with tire and aero programs, the two race drivers will now prepare for the first race of the new season. The Honda Racing F1 Team's final testing session will be completed by third driver Anthony Davidson in Valencia next week.

With this week's test program completed successfully in Barcelona, all three drivers were able to cover significant mileage as the RA106 continues to gain in pace and reliability. The team also took the opportunity to run the latest specification of the RA806E engine.

Barrichello and Button began the test on Wednesday in the new chassis RA106-04 and chassis RA106-02 respectively. Both drivers spent the morning session running through systems checks whilst waiting for the track to come up to temperature, followed by chassis set-up and aero programs in the afternoon session. Barrichello completed 65 laps over the day, with Button running for 87 laps. zzzz

The race drivers continued the program on Thursday with Barrichello continuing to develop the set-up of the new chassis followed by a tire program in the afternoon session. Button completed a series of tire evaluations over the day, alongside brake and aero programs. Barrichello completed 118 laps, with Button totaling 116 laps and setting the fastest time of the day and of this year's testing at Barcelona.
Anthony Davidson joined the team on Friday, taking over from Button in chassis RA106-02. He spent his early runs finding a good balance in the car before completing a tire evaluation over long runs, completing an impressive 129 laps today. Barrichello continued his program in chassis RA106-04, again focusing on chassis set-up alongside an aero evaluation. He completed 107 laps setting the second fastest time of the day.

Button set the fastest lap of the week on Thursday when he recorded a 1:13.920s best while Barrichello recorded a 1:14.265s best on the same day. Davidson's best was set on Friday with a 1:15.091s.

Rubens Barrichello "It was really good for me to get three days testing in the car this week and the team has done a superb job, particularly with the engine as we were able to cover a lot of kilometres which makes me feel very comfortable going into the first race. I had some issues on Wednesday with the brakes but we were able to resolve this and overall the test was very positive. The pace of the car has been improving every day, along with the reliability and with the amount of laps we can cover, this has given me more time to become familiar with the car. I feel happy with the car and am really looking forward to my first race as a Honda Racing F1 Team driver."

Jenson Button "I had a good two days of running this week to finish off my winter testing program. Reliability was once again very strong enabling us to complete a lot of laps, particularly on Thursday when we concentrated on chassis set-up and tire evaluations. It was nice to finish at the top of the timesheets on my final day in the car before Bahrain. I'm really looking forward to the start of the season and think that we will be competitive although we won't know until we start running in Bahrain where we stand in relation to the other top teams. It's really exciting to think that the season starts in only two weeks time and I can't wait to start racing again."

Anthony Davidson "It's been a good day today and my first chance to drive round the Barcelona circuit this year. I concentrated on long tire runs this morning and completed the work on some set-up evaluations throughout the day. The evident improvements that we've found are encouraging and we have certainly come a long way since I drove the Concept car here back in December which is a great achievement by everyone at the team. The pace of the car gives me confidence that we are looking strong for the first races. We have one final test in Valencia next week to complete the preparations before heading off to Bahrain."

Mark Ellis, Chief Engineer Vehicle Performance "This week has been a very satisfying conclusion to our pre-season preparations with the race drivers. We have completed over 2900km over the three days with excellent reliability and successfully used two of the latest specification RA806E engines to over the target two-race mileage. We have found some positive directions with the chassis set-up today and overall are pleased with the performance in the very cold conditions here."

Shuhei Nakamoto, HRD Engineering Director
"We were very pleased to run the upgraded engine for the equivalent of two race distances and are now very close to finalizing the engine spec for the first race." Source Honda

Bridgestone closes in on Bahrain compounds Bridgestone closes in on Bahrain compoundsIn preparation for the first round of the Championship, Bridgestone Motorsport has this week completed its test program to determine the final tire construction specifications for the Bahrain Grand Prix, which takes place in little over two weeks time.

“This week’s Barcelona test was the final test for deciding the construction specifications for the first GP in Bahrain," explained Bridgestone Motorsport Test Operations Manager Kazuyuki Hamamura.

"Having concluded the data gathering our teams will now make their final decision in conjunction with Bridgestone. Over the winter we have been testing some new constructions and we are confident that they will debut in Bahrain. The new construction improves many aspects of the tires, including grip and consistency, and this week our teams have been simulating race distances to determine the best specifications for the start of the season.” zzzz

Due to the cold conditions in Europe winter testing has not been ideal for compound work but Bridgestone has had the benefit of the Ferrari team testing at the Bahrain International Circuit, where tire programs were run in temperatures far more indicative of the conditions that the teams will face at the start of the season. This data has been shared between the other Bridgestone teams: Toyota, Williams, MF1 Racing and Super Aguri.
“The data from this test, which has been shared, is very useful for all our teams," Hamamura said. "This system has been a major improvement to our development this winter and has been working very well. In addition to our construction development we now have several options available for both the soft and hard compound positions for Bahrain and we are all looking forward to putting the various elements together with the packages and seeing their performances.”

“I hope that all our hard work and the work of our teams will be rewarded. You can never be 100 percent happy but we believe that it will be a very close, exciting and competitive season," Hamamura concluded.

As the days count down to the first race of the 2006 season, Bridgestone’s teams will make their final preparations next week with Ferrari expected to run at Mugello, Toyota and Williams at Valencia and MF1 Racing and Super Aguri at Silverstone. Source Bridgestone

Robby Gordon Public Appearances Robby Gordon Public AppearancesFAN ZONE > Appearances
The Robby Gordon Motorsports is located in front of gate 12 at the California Speedway.  Robby Gordon, who is from California and hence has a lot of fans in attendance this weekend, will make public appearances at the trailer at the following times this weekend:

Saturday 12:45p.m.-1:15p.m.
Sunday 8:50a.m.-9:35a.m. RGM

Penske Truck Leasing to sponsor Busch in Busch Penske Truck Leasing to sponsor Busch in BuschPenske is now the primary sponsor of car #39 Busch car to be driven by Kurt Busch. The car will appear in six NASCAR Busch Series events in 2006. Penske Truck Leasing PR
Carpentier debuts for Team Canada Carpentier debuts for Team CanadaPatrick Carpentier received a wet weather welcome to the A1 Grand Prix of Nations as he made his track debut driving for A1 Team Canada in today's official practice sessions at Parque Fundidora, Monterrey ahead of Round 9 of the 'World Cup of Motorsport' this Sunday, 26th February.

Stepping into the Canadian entry, piloted to victory at the previous round by Vancouver's Sean McIntosh, Patrick faced less than perfect conditions to debut in as a constant drizzle throughout the day kept the 3.38km track ultra-slick. As a result both hour-long practice sessions were littered with red flags as a variety of drivers were caught out by the damp.

With four career Champ Car starts at Fundidora, Patrick needed no introduction to the circuit but despite his previous experience today marked the 34-year-old from Québec's first taste of the track in the wet.  Recording 20 laps in the first session, Carpentier made an immediate impression placing seventh overall on the timesheets with a lap of 1m39.939s. In the second outing he was limited to just 16 laps setting a best time of 1m41.623s before the session was cut short with 10 minutes remaining.

Patrick Carpentier: "The car's pretty similar to what I've driven before, it's perhaps a little more nervous at the rear but we were up there in first practice. I think I spun the tires too much though and that had a definite impact in the final session. There was no back-end grip which was too bad as I wanted to keep us up there on the timesheets. We'll give it another shot tomorrow and see how it goes!" Team Canada

Graham Rahal weathers wet conditions Graham Rahal weathers wet conditionsA1 Team Lebanon took to the track today with the attractive parkland setting of Parque Fundidora hosting round nine of the A1 Grand Prix series, the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Mexico. The team's new recruit to the driver lineup, Graham Rahal, was given his first taste of the A1 car, with team mates Khalil Beschir and Basil Shaaban on the pitwall supporting him.

In the first practice session the wet weather that greeted the drivers resulted in a slippery track, but Rahal (pictured right) drove well and quickly got to grips with the challenging circuit. Running comfortably within the top ten for most of the session, he finished twelfth fastest. In the second one- hour session, the persistent rain kept the track very slippery. In these conditions Rahal used the time to further acquaint himself with the A1 car and the Mexican track. In this session he recorded nineteenth fastest time.

At the end of his first day with A1 Team Lebanon Rahal said, "It's been a good day. The first session was better than the second, but I've really enjoyed driving the car. It's a really powerful car and good in the rain. In the second session there were a lot of red flags, which made it difficult to get in a rhythm. I'm looking forward to driving the car in the dry, so I hope it'll be dry tomorrow."  zzzz

Tony Snook, Team Principal, A1 Team Lebanon added "The team has had a good first day in Mexico and it's very encouraging to see how quickly Graham has got to grips with the A1 car, despite the appalling weather. I hope he has a chance to experience the car in the dry at some time this weekend. Although he is the youngest driver in the field, Graham has already shown maturity in his handling of these conditions. He has had only two hours in the car so far, but is already demonstrating his talent."

The A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Monterrey, Mexico continues tomorrow with a one- hour final practice session before qualifying takes place in the afternoon. A1 Grand Prix qualifying comprises four 'flying lap' segments, with the fastest two laps aggregated to determine the qualifying time and grid position for the first of the two races on Sunday.

NASCAR drug addict given lifetime suspension NASCAR drug addict given lifetime suspensionFormer NASCAR Busch Series driver Shane Hmiel has been given a lifetime suspension from the sport – the first for violations of NASCAR’s substance-abuse policy.  Hmiel, who was indefinitely suspended from NASCAR on June 3 last season following a second violation of the substance-abuse policy, had been participating in a rehabilitation program directed by NASCAR.

While in that program, Hmiel failed a random drug test last month, prompting the lifetime suspension, NASCAR officials confirmed.

"Shane failed to fulfill the prescribed rehabilitation program outlined by NASCAR. As a result, Shane has forfeited his opportunity to compete in any NASCAR-sanctioned events," said NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston.

Shane’s father, Steve Hmiel – technical director for Dale Earnhardt Inc. – chose not to comment on Friday when asked about Shane’s suspension. ThatsRacin.com

Renault brings race team to test Renault brings race team to testWith two intensive days of testing ahead of the opening race in two weeks, the Renault F1 Team concluded this week's program of running at the Circuit de Catalunya and spent the final day practicing pit-stops and 2006-style qualifying.

Fernando Alonso was the first man to tackle the day's pit-stop practice. Tire changes, refueling and wing changes were all part of the drills that were run through to prepare for Bahrain. After a dozen successful pit-stops, the Spaniard then conducted a qualifying simulation to give the team a first taste of this new challenge for 2006, both in terms of time management and the strategies for managing it.

Giancarlo Fisichella followed an identical program to his team-mate, with a dozen pit-stops followed by a qualifying simulation during the afternoon. zzzz

Fernando Alonso "We have had an important and productive week. We made good progress for the first race, and now I want to see how we will perform in race conditions against the competition. I am feeling confident, the car is performing well and the team is more motivated than ever.”

Giancarlo Fisichella "I am pleased with my week. I feel like we have worked well, and made good progress with the car. We have been quick, and I am pleased with my lap-times this week. I now want to go racing again, and start the championship."

Christian Silk, Chief Test Engineer "This was a very important week in terms of the results we obtained. Once again, the cars ran extremely well without any major technical incidents, and the drivers are pleased with the car's performance. The entire race team was present today for pit-stop practice, which was an important step and went without a hitch. There are two more days of testing at Valencia next week, and then we will have the opportunity to see exactly what we are capable of in race conditions." Press release Renault F1 Team

Toyota on pole in Fontana Toyota on pole in FontanaToyota has wasted little time re-establishing its dominance in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season.  A week after Toyotas finished second and third in the season opener at Daytona, Toyotas - led by David Reutimann - swept the top-three positions in qualifying for Friday night's racetickets.com 200 at California Speedway.  The pole is Reutimann's fifth of his career and second in the past three races. He also won the pole in the 2005 season finale at Homestead, Fla.
Mexican fans not happy with A1GP organizers Mexican fans not happy with A1GP organizersMexican fans today found out today that although the A1GP organizers are using the same grandstands that Champ Car uses for their races, they do not have a seat assigned to them for the races.  The ticket only guarantees the section, but it will be a first come first serve. Why is this? The answer is simple.  When Champ Car builds the stands they need first to separate all the different parts of the stands in order, so the numbered seats can go from 1 to whatever.  This is time consuming, you need to hire a lot of workers to do it in time.  A1GP decided that it was easier to just assemble the stands without putting the pieces in order and have a first come first serve policy.  "If Champ Car can do it why can’t A1GP," said one angry fan. Jose Arrambide
Forsythe Champ Car team back on track Forsythe Champ Car team back on trackSEBRING, Florida– Throughout the winter of 2005/2006, the mechanics and engineers at Forsythe Championship Racing’s headquarters in Indianapolis analyzed the 2005 Champ Car season and set about massaging components and functions with a goal of recapturing the oldest prize in North American motorsport; the Vanderbilt Cup.  This week at historic Sebring International Raceway in central Florida, the crew, cars and drivers finally hit the track and officially began their assault on the 2006 championship as Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

“Overall the team had a very good test”, said Paul Tracy (#3 INDECK Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone).  “It was great to get back in a Champ Car after driving sports cars and stock cars this winter.  I got up to speed right away.  We had a mechanical issue around mid-morning and decided to shut it down after 50 laps so that it doesn’t count against our full test day allotment.  It may have been a bit of a blessing since conditions weren’t very good with lots of humidity and dampness that made the track very greasy.  These test days are very valuable since we only get so many, and you don’t want to chance using up a day without much to show for it.  It was the right call and now we’ve got a day in the bank.”

Tracy, age 37, is Champ Car’s active leader in victories with 30 career wins – 7th all time and one away from tying Al Unser Jr. for 6th, and Career Pole Positions with 25.  He’s also the active leader in Laps Led with 4,184 – 6th all time, joining Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Bobby Unser and Michael Andretti as the only drivers to lead over 4,000 laps.  The Canadian veteran begins his 16th season in Champ Car this year and will start his 237th Champ Car event at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in April. zzzz

Mario Dominguez of Mexico, recently resigned by Forsythe for the 2006 season, was particularly excited to join Tracy at the test since he signed with the team at the last minute in 2005, literally sitting in the car for the first time on Thursday afternoon at Long Beach.  Despite the lack of testing, Dominguez was 4th fastest in his very first practice session at the 2005 season’s first event, amazed everyone by qualifying in 3rd position for the race, and finished a strong 5th.

“The test went well”, commented Dominguez (#7 INDECK Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone).  “I was very happy to be back behind the wheel of a Champ Car since it had been a long time since I had driven.  It didn’t take long to get rid of the cobwebs.  We spent most of the day trying out new development parts that the team had been hard at work on over the winter.  When you are running a lot of experiments you have to expect some small problems, but overall it was very good.  And compared to last year when I didn’t get any preseason testing at all with the team, it’s a big difference.  We’ll be really well prepared and can develop the car specifically for Long Beach so it’s going to be a big advantage.  I’ll have more of a chance to establish the relationship with my engineers and the team, so I expect that we’ll be much stronger and consistent for the start of the season.”

Dominguez, 30, begins his 5th season in Champ Car and has recorded 2 wins and 9 podium finishes in his 61 starts.

Team Manager Phil LePan: “We didn’t do as much running as we wanted, and track conditions weren’t the best, but overall it was a good test and we were able to work through a fair bit of stuff.  Paul was limited to a 50-mile test so we weren’t able to get much accomplished with his car, but with Mario we were able to check off a big list of items.  We worked with some new car-to-pit radio technology, tried out some new telemetry sensors, a few aero pieces, some differential combinations and front suspension.  It was productive and we learned a lot about things we’ve been working on over the winter so we’re ready to step things up at the next tests in Houston and Fontana.”

Team Forsythe moves on to Houston Motorsport Ranch’s road course for a two day private test on March 7-8, then to California Speedway in Fontana for a Champ Car open test on March 29-30th.  For more information about the Champ Car World Series, please visit the official website at http://www.champcarworldseries.comForsythe Racing

Premat puts Team France on top in Practice No. 2 Premat puts Team France on top in Practice No. 2Monterrey, Mexico - A1 Teams France and New Zealand led the way in the opening two practice sessions for the ninth round of the World Cup of Motorsport, both recording consistently fast lap times.

(L-R): Timo Scheider (GER) A1 Team Germany, Matt Halliday (NZL) A1 Team New Zealand and Alexandre Premat (FRA) A1 Team France.


As the drivers struggled to get to grips with the wet conditions on a track new to all but four teams, several cars spun off the track but most managed to get back on and continue the session. The white car of A1 Team Japan was the only to suffer damage when driver, Hayanari Shimoda slid off in the first session hitting a tire wall, an accident that put the team out of the second session.

Finishing the day at the top of the time sheets, A1 Team New Zealand's Matt Halliday said: 'We had a really good day, we were fastest in the first and second sessions, and we managed to put together a really good set up. We have been progressing really well in the last two races and I think we have a good chance of ending the season on a high note. I'm feeling pretty confident for tomorrow.'

Second place man Alexandre Premat for A1 Team France said: 'The track is ok, it is slippery in places. We had a good day and I think we will do well tomorrow in qualifying.'

After setting the third fastest time, A1 Team Germany driver Timo Scheider said: 'We made a few changes to the car today which worked well. I didn't walk around the track beforehand like some of the drivers did, which made it a bit more difficult. It is a strange track as it is slippery in places and there is quite a lot of grip in others. I think we will have an interesting race and there will be opportunity for overtaking.' zzzz

Local hero, David Martinez, born and raised in Monterrey, is hopeful for a good result this weekend despite struggling in the wet conditions. 'It was harder than I thought, I was quick on the first sector but couldn't find the speed in the second and third sectors. When it gets a bit dryer I will feel more confident.'

Practice 1 Results

  A1 Team Driver  Time No. Laps
1 New Zealand Matt Halliday 1.38.067 27
2 France Alexandre Premat 1.38.300 23
3 Germany Timo Scheider 1.38.969 27
4 Switzerland Neel Jani 1.39.335 21
5 South Africa Stephen Simpson 1.39.803 21
6 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 1.39.827 20
7 Canada Patrick Carpentier 1.39.939 20
8 USA Bryan Herta 1.39.969 20
9 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 1.40.371 20
10 Malaysia Alex Yoong 1.40.810 13
11 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 1.40.813 23
12 Lebanon Graham Rahal 1.41.081 24
13 Austria Patrick Friesacher 1.41.118 18
14 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 1.41.133 11
15 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 1.41.338 11
16 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 1.41.630 20
17 Mexico David Martinez 1.41.730 23
18 Ireland Ralph Firman 1.41.864 20
19 Australia Christian Jones 1.42.408 23
20 China Tengyi Jiang 1.42.997 23
21 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 1.49.737 3
22 Portugal Alvaro Parente   0

Official Practice session 2 (16.00 - 17.00)

  A1 Team Driver  Time No. Laps
1 France Alexandre Premat 1.38.926 18
2 New Zealand Matt Halliday 1.38.985 21
3 Portugal Alvaro Parente 1.39.054 22
4 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 1.39.254 20
5 Germany Timo Scheider 1.39.524 18
6 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 1.39.556 16
7 South Africa Stephen Simpson 1.39.868 12
8 Ireland Ralph Firman 1.39.994 25
9 Switzerland Neel Jani 1.40.155 18
10 USA Bryan Herta 1.40.365 16
11 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 1.40.710 17
12 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 1.40.713 22
13 Austria Patrick Friesacher 1.40.787 16
14 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 1.40.837 26
15 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 1.40.946 21
16 Mexico David Martinez 1.41.021 21
17 Canada Patrick Carpentier 1.41.623 16
18 Malaysia Alex Yoong 1.41.861 16
19 Lebanon Graham Rahal 1.42.018 19
20 China Tengyi Jiang 1.42.239 19
21 Australia Marcus Marshall 1.44.171 18
22 Japan Hayanari Shimoda   0

Forsythe Racing Atlantic team completes 2-day test Forsythe Racing Atlantic team completes 2-day testSEBRING, Florida – Friday, February 24, 2006 – The second gathering of Forsythe Championship Racing’s four-car entry into the 2006 Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda went off smoothly this week as the drivers, crew and transporters returned to the venerable road course at Sebring International Raceway in central Florida for two days of testing and team-building.  All four drivers completed numerous laps with their fastest times blanketed by less than a tenth of a second in the soon to be retired Swift 014.a Atlantic chassis.

Left to Right – Leonardo Maia, Richard Philippe, Andreas Wirth, James Hinchcliffe

“We logged 940 miles over two days with all four drivers” commented Team Manager John Brunner, “which was quite a bit more than the previous test. The cars ran flawlessly after the preparation completed by our crew at the shop. Our drivers are very competitive with one another lap time wise, so it should be very interesting throughout the year. The team is coming together very well.  We are only short three positions and we’re hoping to fill those next week. We are now focusing on getting ready for the delivery of the new cars and getting down to business.” 

The Swift 014.a chassis is being replaced by an entirely new car for 2006 designated the Swift 016.a and powered by a 300-hp Mazda-Cosworth 2.3-liter engine.

The youngest driver of the group, 16-year old Richard Philippe of France, was thankful for the seat time.  “I’m coming off my first real formula car season (Philippe won the 2005 Formula BMW USA Championship after a successful karting career) so I really need these laps.  Once again this test was more about the team rather than the drivers since we’re all so new to each other, but it went very well.  We were all quick and consistent, and even though this car is going to be retired soon it’s very valuable seat time.  Now I’m back home and getting ready for testing the new car in Fontana (March 21-22 on the California Speedway road course) and for the first race in Long Beach.”

19-year old Canadian, James Hinchcliffe: "This test was really, really successful on a bunch of levels.  First we had some new guys there and nearly a full crew so it was great getting to continue to build the team with all these guys.  They are all such hard workers that it really makes the driver’s job easier.  And then on top of that we managed to actually get some work done!  We had a list of things that we needed to work through, both on the car and on the drivers, and we accomplished it all.  We are very pleased and now just cannot wait to get to work on the 016." zzzz

Leonardo Maia, a 25-year old American:  "It was another productive test for both the team and the drivers.  The crew worked very hard and we were able to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.  My teammates are very fast and we constantly push each other making everyone that much better.  I can't wait for the new car and the first official test in Fontana!"

21-year old German, Andreas Wirth: “First of all I have to thank the whole team for preparing cars so thoroughly.  We never had any problems the whole two days. Everything went very well and the team keeps getting closer and working very nicely together. We’re finding out how to use our advantage as a multi-car team and it is nice to see that it is working so well in just our second test together.  The mechanics and engineers are just awesome and doing a perfect job. Personally I had two very good test days and was very pleased with what we accomplished; lot of things that we can carry over to the new car which is important. It is always nice to be in a race car and if you can do it with such a team behind you it's even more!  We will prove that Forsythe Racing will be there to fight for the Championship. I just can't wait now to drive the new car for the first time!”

The official team debut of the new-era Swift chassis, Mazda-Cosworth engine and high-performance Yokohama Advan tires takes place at California Speedway in Fontana, California on March 21-22.  For more information, please visit the official website of the Atlantic Championship at http://www.champcaratlantic.com.

Tharp named NASCAR PR Manager Tharp named NASCAR PR ManagerNASCAR announced that Kerry Tharp will manage public relations for NASCAR's three national racing series and the weekly and touring series. In his new role, Tharp will be responsible for all at-track media procedures, public relations for the Research and Development Center and NASCAR media events in Charlotte, N.C.

“Kerry will further reinforce our at-track public relations efforts to ensure that we continue to be responsive to media requests and vigorously promote the sport,” said NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter. “Kerry’s ability to develop personal relationships and work with others will be a benefit to all.” Tharp joined NASCAR’s PR team in April 2005 as director for NASCAR’s licensing office in Charlotte and worked with NASCAR’s licensees to provide public relations support and strategy. He will transfer from his role in NASCAR’s Charlotte licensing office to NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. and will report to Ramsey Poston, NASCAR’s managing director of corporate communications.

Prior to joining NASCAR, Tharp spent 26 years in college sports public relations, 20 of which he was the Associate Athletics Director/Sports Information Director at the University of South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in PR from Western Kentucky University and a Masters Degree in Communications from the University of Tennessee. NASCAR PR

Hill and Shelby to Receive Glick Award Hill and Shelby to Receive Glick AwardMotor racing icons Phil Hill and Carroll Shelby will be in attendance at the NASCAR Auto Club 500, at California Speedway, to accept the seventh annual Eagle One-Shav Glick Award. The two were voted co-recipients by a panel of national and California motorsports writers. Presented by car-care products company Eagle One in honor of the recently retired, long-time motorsports writer for the Los Angeles Times, the award will be presented to Hill and Shelby during pre-race ceremonies. It is symbolic of distinguished contributions to motorsports in California. Hill, in 1961, became the first American to win a Formula One world championship. He also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times, the 12 Hours of Sebring three times and numerous other national and international racing events. Shelby, who was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1992, has gained fame as a driver, designer/builder and team manager. In 1959 he won the24 Hours of Le Mans and also set land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats. After health problems caused his retirement as a driver in 1960, the Cobra sports car he designed and built became the first American-conceived car to win the World Manufacturers Grand Touring Championship in 1965. As a team manager he helped Ford GT win the World Grand Touring title. Said Glick of both icons, "Hill and Shelby are both products of that era in the 1950s and 60s that has become known as the glory years of sports car racing, a time when ingenuity and industry were rewarded in the racing fraternity. Both were winners and both carried the California trademark with great success on the world racing scene." Previous winners were Dan Gurney, Wally Parks, Parnelli Jones, Rick Mears, Les Richter and J.C. Agajanian.
Time to get down to business for Cup teams Time to get down to business for Cup teams
Fontana Preview: With the long and tiring events of Speed Weeks at Daytona behind the teams in NASCAR, it’s now time to get to racing that separates the real teams from the lucky dogs, (no pun intended).

With Daytona and the advantage of restrictor plate racing, smaller teams have a better chance at a solid finish but when you come to the cookie-cutter two mile monster of the west, teams have to be on their A-Game when it comes to endurance and patience.

“What you do at California is solely based on what you and your team can do with your race car, not what drafting line you're in or how the car behind you is going to affect your next move,” Tony Stewart said. 

Stewart has been hot and cold over the last six seasons at California Speedway with three top-fives as well as a 41st in the 2003 Auto Club 500 after leading 100 laps.

Stewart believes that you have to have the whole package when coming to Fontana.

You need to have an aerodynamic car, but you've got to have the horsepower to pull it too.  You can't have one and not the other and expect to go to California and win the race,” Stewart said.

“Once you leave California, you feel like the season has officially started."

For Jimmie Johnson, coming off the Daytona 500 victory, he knows that it’s a whole new environment once they come out west. zzzz

“California has a different set of challenges than Daytona,” Johnson said.  “You are very limited with the changes you can make to the cars.  “That’s going to be the real challenge, how we work at Fontana together if we’re faced with this situation.”

Johnson has one win here in 2002 and has three top-fives in his career at Fontana.

At this weekend’s Auto Club 500, Nextel Cup teams will not only want to win but will prepare for the next couple of months as 4 of the next 6 races are on cookie cutter tracks.  How you come out of California may determine how the first half of these teams season will go. David Yaeck/AutoRacing1.com

New Zealand team tops wet Practice No.1 New Zealand team tops wet Practice No.1Matt Halliday driving for Team New Zealand was the fastest in opening practice Friday for this weekend's A1GP race in Monterrey, Mexico on a wet track. Alexandre Premat was 2nd quick for Team France followed by Timo Scheider for Team Germany. Another practice follows this afternoon.

Pos Team Driver Lap Time Gap First Gap Prev
1 NZL NEW ZEALAND Matt HALLIDAY 27 1'38.067 - -
2 FRA FRANCE Alexandre PREMAT 21 1'38.300 +0.233 +0.233
3 GER GERMANY Timo SCHEIDER 27 1'38.969 +0.902 +0.669
4 SUI SWITZERLAND Neel JANI 21 1'39.335 +1.268 +0.366
5 RSA SOUTH AFRICA Stephen SIMPSON 21 1'39.803 +1.736 +0.468
6 CZE CZECH REPUBLIC Tomas ENGE 20 1'39.827 +1.760 +0.024
7 CAN CANADA Patrick CARPENTIER 20 1'39.939 +1.872 +0.112
8 USA USA Bryan HERTA 20 1'39.969 +1.902 +0.030
9 GBR GREAT BRITAIN Robbie KERR 20 1'40.371 +2.304 +0.402
10 MAL MALAYSIA Alex YOONG 13 1'40.810 +2.743 +0.439
11 BRA BRAZIL Christian FITTIPALDI 23 1'40.813 +2.746 +0.003
12 LIB LEBANON Graham RAHAL 24 1'41.081 +3.014 +0.268
13 AUT AUSTRIA Patrick FRIESACHER 18 1'41.118 +3.051 +0.037
14 NED NETHERLANDS Jos VERSTAPPEN 11 1'41.133 +3.066 +0.015
15 INA INDONESIA Ananda MIKOLA 11 1'41.338 +3.271 +0.205
16 ITA ITALY Enrico TOCCACELO 20 1'41.630 +3.563 +0.292
17 MEX MEXICO David MARTINEZ 23 1'41.730 +3.663 +0.100
18 IRL IRELAND Ralph FIRMAN 20 1'41.864 +3.797 +0.134
19 AUS AUSTRALIA Marcus MARSHALL 23 1'42.408 +4.341 +0.544
20 CHN CHINA Tengyi JIANG 23 1'42.997 +4.930 +0.589
21 JPN JAPAN Hayanari SHIMODA 3 1'49.737 +11.670 +6.740

Pagenaud impresses in Atlantics testing Pagenaud impresses in Atlantics testing[Editor's Note: We hear this driver has some financial backing so when he says he expects to close a deal with a team soon, expect it to happen.]

Last week’s introduction of the new-spec Atlantic car has stoked a fire that was already burning brightly for young French racer Simon Pagenaud, who is working to find his way on the Atlantics grid for the 2006 season with a keen eye on a graduation to Champ Car in 2007.
Pagenaud has several successful Atlantic tests under his belt, most recently with the Newman/Wachs team in Jupiter, Florida.
"The team was professional, and I was really satisfied with my driving because even though it was my first time on the track and I only had a limited amount of time in the car, I was able to get up to speed quickly and set some very competitive times,” said Pagenaud. “I felt quite good in the car, and if I drive like this in 2006, it will be a very good year for me.”
Pagenaud, who narrowly missed out on winning the 2004 Formula Renault Eurocup Championship to American Scott Speed, made the step up to run the full World Series by Renault season in 2005, racing at tracks like Monaco, LeMans, Monza, and Donington in the 425-horsepower Renault/Dallara machines and taking three top-fives in the highly competitive category.
The new Atlantic combination, which boasts a 300-hp Mazda-Cosworth powerplant mated to the new Swift 016a, recently passed its first on-track testing with flying colors, and Pagenaud is anxious to try the machine out himself.
“I expect to find a deal with a team quite soon and hope to give an announcement about my future in few weeks,” said Pagenaud. “It has been a great opportunity for me to show my skill of driving and I am thankful that the team created this opportunity. This new season in Atlantic will be very exciting and I am motivated as ever for giving my best and graduate to champ car in 2007 and join my friend Sebastien Bourdais in this series." zzzz

The Champ Car Atlantic series will reward the 2006 series champion with a significant $2 million dollar bonus towards a Champ Car campaign, and will also feature a new car/engine combination with a new-design Swift chassis mated to a 300-hp Cosworth.

Simon Pagenaud information:

Birthdate: May 18, 1984
Resides: Montmorillon, France
Hobbies: Soccer, training, long-distance biking, fishing
Racing Career:
2nd in Championship Formula Renault Eurocup, 2004 (S. Speed/champion)
3rd In Championship Formula Renault Eurocup, 2003
3rd in Championship French Formula Renault, 2002
2nd in championship French Formula Renault Elf Campus
1st in ELF Driving selection
Started racing karts @ age 10

Patrick Dempsey to serve as Grand Marshal Patrick Dempsey to serve as Grand MarshalSebring, Fla. - Heartthrob actor Patrick Dempsey, star of ABC's top-rated television show Grey's Anatomy, will serve as Grand Marshal of the 54th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 18 in Sebring, FL.

"It is a tremendous honor to be the Grand Marshal at Sebring," acknowledged Dempsey, who's been labeled TV's biggest new star thanks to his portrayal of Dr. Derek Shepherd - a role in which he was nominated for best actor in a drama at this year's Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards. "I feel like I'm a kid in the candy store, and I am going to enjoy every minute of it."

Away from his role as a Hollywood sex symbol, Dempsey is a car enthusiast and an avid racer. When he isn't behind the wheel of his 1959 356 Porsche (the same make and model that James Dean drove), his auto interests take him to the track. At Sebring he will not only serve as Grand Marshal for America's oldest and most prestigious sports car race, but the day before (March 17) he will take a run at the checkered flag when he competes in the Panoz GT Series race at Sebring International Raceway.

"Maybe I need to win the Panoz race Friday so I'll know my way to Winner's Circle for the 12 Hours," said Dempsey, a Panoz Racing School graduate who has been racing in the Panoz GT Series since 2004. "That would be sweet!"

A1 Grand Prix
Rain slows cars in Monterrey Rain slows cars in MonterreyRain has hit the Monterrey, Mexico track after 4 slow practice laps in the first session this afternoon.  The cars all pitted for rain tires and the track is now green again.  Practice times before the cars stopped.  Pole time for the Champ Cars last year was 1'13.5 in the dry.

Pos. Team Lap Time Gap F. Gap P. km/h Laps
1 NEW ZEALAND 2 1'48.152 - - 112.7 5
2 GREAT BRITAIN 2 1'48.584 +0.432 +0.432 112.3 4
3 JAPAN 3 1'49.737 +1.585 +1.153 111.1 3
4 GERMANY 3 1'50.361 +2.209 +0.624 110.5 6
5 AUSTRALIA 3 1'50.603 +2.451 +0.242 110.2 4
6 ITALY 2 1'51.928 +3.776 +1.325 108.9 3
7 LEBANON 3 1'52.928 +4.776 +1.000 107.9 5
8 IRELAND 2 2'05.975 +17.823 +13.047 96.8 3
9 BRAZIL 2 2'06.036 +17.884 +0.061 96.7 2

Alonso fastest Friday in Barcelona Alonso fastest Friday in BarcelonaFernando Alonso couldn’t quite replicate Thursday’s blistering lap times in Barcelona, but his 1m14.081s was still within 0.1s of the winter best at the Catalunya circuit.  Rubens Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella completed the top three.  Doornbos just practiced pitstops, hence completed zero laps today.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Alonso Renault (M) 1:14.081 96
 2. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:14.422 108
 3. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:14.520 97
 4. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:14.613 53
 5. Davidson Honda (M) 1:15.107 129
 6. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:15.829 41
 7. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:16.024 100
 8. R. Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:16.288 41
 9. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:16.687 5
10. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:18.130 68
11. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) no time 1
More engine woes for Red Bull team More engine woes for Red Bull teamIt was a day of highs and lows for Red Bull Racing on the final pre-season session at this circuit. Christian Klien started off with some set up work in the morning before carrying out a simulation of the new one hour qualifying procedure. It went very well and our Austrian was the quickest man on track for much of the day. Next came a run through of all the pre-race procedures that take place on the grid and then it was time for the actual race simulation. Unfortunately, an engine problem brought this to an early close after a handful of laps. But at least the earlier laps proved that RB2 can produce some quick times. 

David Coulthard also had a problem, but this was more biological than mechanical, as he woke up with a trapped nerve in his back. Some physio work and the Scotsman went out for an exploratory run, but after just four laps, the pain meant he was forced to call it a day. Robert Doornbos arrived at the end of the day and took over DC's car to practice pit stops.  The team will now tackle a further couple of days testing in Valencia next week. Red Bull Racing  [Editor's Note: With all the Ferrari engine failures the team has suffered this pre-season, one has to believe the team is missing their reliable Cosworth powerplants.]

ALMS to be well represented at LeMans ALMS to be well represented at LeMansBraselton, Ga. - One of the great rewards of winning the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, recognized as one of the world's great endurance classics, is grabbing the attention of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, which sanctions and oversees the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The ACO recently announced its first 38 entrants for the 74th running of the historic race set for June 17-18. The American Le Mans Series was well represented. Eight U.S. teams were among those accepted with others expected to be named following the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 18.

"The tradition of these two races is unparalleled," said American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton. "The similarities are uncanny in terms of the quality of world-class teams, prestigious manufacturers and elite drivers - all among the best in the world. It is gratifying that the ACO recognizes the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as an exemplary test for the world's greatest drivers. There is nothing like the pageantry, tradition and excellence of Le Mans, and the 12 Hours of Sebring certainly represents the finest that sports car racing has to offer in this hemisphere."
Highlighting the ACO's first wave of announcements are three American Le Mans Series class champions from 2005 - Intersport Racing (LMP2), Corvette Racing (GT1) and Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing (GT2). Corvette, which placed 1-2 in the championship last year and won at Petit Le Mans (an automatic Le Mans qualifier), actually will field two teams. Corvette has won four of the last five years at Le Mans, and this year Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen will attempt to make it three wins in a row. Last year Gavin and Beretta won the GT1 championship as well as Petit Le Mans, while teammates Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell finished second in both. zzzz

Intersport Racing captured the LMP2 championship with lead driver Clint Field. Two-time Le Mans champion Petersen/White Lightning won GT2 behind the hot shoes of Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister. Intersport won the LMP2 championship at Le Mans in 2004.
Other Series teams that have been selected to race at Le Mans are Binnie Motorsports (LMP2), Miracle Motorsports (LMP2), ACEMCO Motorsports (GT1) and Flying Lizard Motorsports (GT2). In addition, Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz, which will run the entire season in the American Le Mans Series, was chosen to compete as a Canadian entry since it is now operated by Multimatic out of Canada.

Other teams, including those from LMP1, are expected to be named in the ACO's next wave of announcements. A total of 79 cars applied for entry. The ACO likely will set the field at 50 with eight additional teams chosen as reserves should there be withdrawals prior to May 26.

Winners last year at Sebring that were included in the initial ACO announcement were LMP2 winner Miracle Motorsports, GT1 champ Aston Martin Racing and GT2 winner Petersen/White Lightning. Champion Racing, which captured LMP1 a year ago, is currently working with Audi Sport North America and Joest Racing on the worldwide debut of the Audi R10 turbo diesel for this year's Sebring race.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for FridayUPDATE Today's schedule below: The Driver's Awards were removed and replaced with Back in the Day -with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 02/22/06
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
American Muscle Car -Carroll Shelby: Driven to Win  
1:00am-1:30am (R) SPEED
NASCAR Beyond the Wheel Daytona 500
2:00am-2:30am (R)
2:30am-3:00am (R) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Fontana
12:00pm-1:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Qualifying Fontana
1:00pm-3:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Fontana
3:30pm-4:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Five Years Later  
4:30pm-5:30pm (R) SPEED
Back in the Day -with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
5:30pm-6:00pm  SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Fontana
6:30pm-8:30pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Fontana
8:30pm-9:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck  Fontana
9:00pm-11:30pm (L) SPEED

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

Bremer still looking for sponsorship Bremer still looking for sponsorshipDenmark's Ronnie Bremer is still hunting for enough sponsorship to race in Champ Car in 2006.  One of his sponsors, Qbic, has bought an old Reynard and is using it as a show car in Denmark for them and for Ronnie.  Recall that HVM had announced that they had signed Bremer for 2006 last year, but it was contingent on sponsorship money being found.  The article to the right is from a local newspaper called Midtpaaugen in Skive, Denmark.
Tracy joins Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR for Mexico City Tracy joins Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR for Mexico CityColumbus, OH – After making a strong impression in the season opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, Paul Tracy will rejoin Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR in round two of the Rolex Sports Car Series season, teaming with American Mike Borkowski at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.
Tracy brings a wealth of experience to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in the Champ Car ranks, with two podium finishes including a win and pole at the track in his Champ Car World Series Championship-winning season in 2003.
Due to the unfortunate mechanical issues that plagued nearly half the Daytona Prototype field, Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR wanted to give Tracy a chance to capture his first win in the Daytona Prototype ranks.
"When we found out that Paul would be down in Mexico City to run the Busch car it was hard to pass up the opportunity to work with him again,” said Dennis Bainbridge of Fusion Racing. “Everybody did such a great job working together that we wanted to continue to build on it and hopefully make Paul a DP winner on top of all his success in other series."
Round two of the 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve will be carried by Speed Channel beginning at 8:00 PM ET on March 4.
Mi-Jack Conquest Racing fastest in Sebring with Heylen Mi-Jack Conquest Racing fastest in Sebring with HeylenIndianapolis, IN — Mi-Jack Conquest Racing (MJCR) continued its off-season testing program this week in Sebring, with Belgian racer Jan Heylen posting the quickest lap of the day on Thursday. The test was just the second day in a Champ Car for Heylen, who raced to the Formula Renault Megane Championship in 2005 after a strong career in the F3 and F3000 ranks.
Heylen, first got a taste of Champ Car testing in December with the team at Sebring, and relished his second run in the Mi-Jack Conquest Lola.
“It is very encouraging to be quickest even though I have so little experience in the car,” said Heylen, who posted a best time of 51.73-seconds. “I really enjoyed working with the team during my first test in December, and was happy to get more time in the car today. I felt very comfortable with the car straight away, and the team did a very good job. The car had a great balance and feel, and I am looking forward to getting more experience in a Champ Car.”
Several Champ Car drivers participated in the test, including Forsythe’s Paul Tracy and Mario Dominguez, HVM tester Gareth Ridpath (experienced ALMS driver) as well as newly announced Champ Car rookie Katherine Legge.
With the season-open race at Long Beach just over a month away, the team is looking forward to putting all the work from the off-season to use as preparations continue for the 2006 season. 
“After giving Jan an evaluation run in December, we were impressed and wanted to give him another day in the car,” said Mi-Jack Conquest Racing co-owner Eric Bachelart. “I’m quite pleased that he was quickest in just his second day in the car and it shows we have strong technical program and that Jan clearly has a lot of potential in the car. This test is part of our preparations toward the season, and it’s of course encouraging to be quick with a driver that is so new to the car.”
Mi-Jack Conquest Racing will campaign a two-car team in the 2006 Champ Car World Series and has expanded to prepare a two-car entry in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. Graham Rahal will pilot the Gehl-sponsored Swift 016a with the team in 2006, with his Atlantic teammate soon to be announced.  Mi-Jack Conquest Racing

Fastest Sebring Lap Times since November, 2005
1. Bruno Junqueira 50.63 seconds (N/H car)
2. Franck Montagny 50.8 (PKV car)
3. Giorgio Pantano 50.9
4. Ryan Briscoe 51.0
5. Ryan Dalziel 51.5
6. Katherine Legge 51.5 (PKV car)
7. Jan Heylen 51.73 (Mi-Jack Conquest) 
8. Charles Zwolsman 51.8
9. Alx Danielsson 52.1
10. Richard Lyons 52.2
11. Katherine Legge 53.2  (Rocketsports Car)
12. Dan Clarke 53.5
13. Tonis Kasemets 54.4

Bad weather wipes out final pre-season test day at Imola Bad weather wipes out final pre-season test day at ImolaDue to bad weather conditions in the north of Italy, the BMW Sauber F1 Team decided to stop the test prematurely. Today Jacques Villeneuve and Robert Kubica were unable to complete any timed laps at the wheel of BMW Sauber F1.06 cars with BMW P86 V8 engines. This was the team's final pre-season test.

Jacques Villeneuve: "Apart from the bad weather in Imola, pre-season testing went quite well because we did a lot of laps and we didn't have too many mechanical problems. We did a race simulation, which we completed, and did even more laps than a race distance. The performance is definitely a big improvement compared to last year. How this compares to the competition is very difficult to judge, but I strongly believe that we are looking better than one year ago. The BMW Sauber F1.06 is easier to handle than last year's car and the BMW engine is very good, very smooth to drive."

Robert Kubica: "As I am not at all an experienced driver in a Formula One car, the testing opportunities given to me by the team were extremely important. I have been learning a lot. I now understand much more about Formula One already. It is not only about the car and driving it, it is also about how to work with the team and with the engineers. After I started testing with the interim car, I feel the BMW Sauber F1.06 is a big improvement. I'm very much looking forward to Bahrain and my new job there."

Willy Rampf (Technical Director Chassis): "Overall we are very happy with the way the preparations are going. Since the roll-out on 17th January we have covered a total of 9,950 kilometers with the BMW Sauber F1.06 and have had no major problems. In terms of reliability, our car has reached a high standard. We had scheduled a very ambitious test program and were able to work through it almost completely. It ranged from the initial system checks all the way to a complete race simulation including pit stops. As far as performance goes, we're also making good progress there, but of course the only real benchmark will be the first race in Bahrain. I'm very happy with the integration process, which is already well advanced. The cooperation between Munich and Hinwil is working out extremely well. Our successful preparations have also been helped by the fact that the three drivers haven't caused the slightest bit of damage to the car. We will be heading for Bahrain well prepared." BMW Sauber

Audi DTM squad is almost complete Audi DTM squad is almost completeThe AUDI AG squad for the 2006 DTM is almost complete. Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline receives support from two new Audi factory teams in its efforts to retrieve the most popular international touring car racing series championship title back from Mercedes-Benz: Audi Sport Team Phoenix and Audi Sport Team Rosberg each enter two Audi A4 DTM cars. As before Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline fields four cars. Two privately entered A4 DTM cars run by the new Dr Colin Kolles managed customer team complete the squad.
Driving for Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline are three proven racers, former champion Mattias Ekström (S), Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen (DK) and Martin Tomczyk (D) who all competed for the Bavarian team over the last couple of years. The fourth cockpit is still open. All four drivers get a newly built car for the 2006 season.
Audi Sport Team Phoenix enters two A4 DTM cars from last year for Christian Abt (D) and Pierre Kaffer (D). The team from the Eifel region is no unknown quantity for Audi Sport: In 1999 the team lead by Ernst Moser, which has its headquarters a stones throw form the Nürburgring, entered two Audi A4 Quattro’s in the German Super Touring Championship (STW). Phoenix has been competing in the DTM since 2000. zzzz
New to the Audi family is the DTM experienced team of former Formula 1 World Champion Keke Rosberg, whose son Nico makes his Formula 1 debut this year. Audi Sport Team Rosberg also fields a brace of year-old cars, which will be driven by Frank Stippler (D) and newcomer Timo Scheider (D).
"All drivers have proven just how quick they can be in a DTM car, and each of them has at least one DTM season behind them,” explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "The past has shown that specific DTM experience is of particular importance in this hard fought racing series. This is also the case for our two new teams who must familiarize themselves with the Audi A4 DTM at first but not the DTM. They will form a strong combination together with our proven team Abt Sportsline.”
Audi Sport Team Joest, which competed for Audi in the DTM over the past two seasons, will concentrate entirely on the new Audi R10 sportscar project during the 2006 season. "The goal of becoming the first automobile manufacturer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a diesel engine is very ambitious,” says Dr Ullrich. "Our test and development program till Le Mans is so intensive that it doesn’t allow a parallel program in the DTM.”
Two of the Audi A4 DTM cars which were entered by the Joest team last year have been acquired by the team run by Dr Colin Kolles. Audi supports the program with its new works driver Vanina Ickx (B), who will drive one of the two cars originating from the 2004 season. A second driver has not been nominated by Dr Kolles yet.
The three Audi factory teams and the customer squad will be in action at the official DTM test at Vallelunga (Italy) in the forthcoming week. Further tests are planned from 20 to 23 March at Brands Hatch (Great Britain). The DTM will be unveiled to the public on 26 March in Düsseldorf (Germany).
The opening race of the DTM season is on 9 April at Hockenheim (Germany), where Saturday’s qualifying will be run for the first time in accordance with the new "Shoot-out” rules, which promises even more excitement. German TV ‘Das Erste’ broadcasts qualifying and the races live from all ten DTM 2006 events. Audi
Symonds says Midland is a wasted effort Symonds says Midland is a wasted effortRenault's Pat Symonds has slammed the Midland-owned 'MF1' team for doing 'nothing to enhance' formula one.  In a season preview for F1 Racing magazine, Renault's engineering director also said the team - which bought Eddie Jordan's Silverstone based squad a year ago - lacks passion.

Symonds wondered: ''Are Midland still around? I haven't looked recently.  I see nothing in them that has any passion ... so I see no reason to say, 'good luck to the little guys.  They had a damn good (Toyota) engine last year, but did nothing with it.  As a team, they do nothing to enhance formula one.''

A1 Grand Prix
A1GP giving away free Rolling Stones tickets A1GP giving away free Rolling Stones ticketsVeteran British band the Rolling Stones who rocked the USA by starring at the Superbowl recently, are expanding their sporting connection by playing in Monterrey, Mexico, venue for the ninth round of the A1 Grand Prix series.

A1 Grand Prix has secured 2,000 tickets to give away on a first-come, first-served basis along when people purchase tickets for this weekend's A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Monterrey. Each of these tickets will carry a special stub that will guarantee entry to the Stones concert at the baseball stadium situated alongside the track in Fundidora Park the following Wednesday, 1 March.

There will be a concert on race weekend, too, on the Saturday night, 25 February, with 10,000 race tickets bearing a stub for a concert by leading Mexican band RMB.

A feast in Bahrain A feast in BahrainVisitors to the 2006 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix can look forward to the best of everything from one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events. There is of course the on-track action from Formula One, the pinnacle of world motorsport, and a host of supporting races and track demonstrations that will bring entertainment and excitement in equal measure.

There is also the Yalla Bahrain! programme of sporting, cultural and community events designed to celebrate the Grand Prix and Bahrain itself in the eyes of the world and the people of Bahrain.

Then there are the state-of-the-art facilities at Bahrain International Circuit and the unrivalled infrastructure designed to provide the organizers, teams, media and race fans with the ultimate experience of modern motor sport. Meanwhile for the thousands of corporate and VIP guests attending Bahrain International Circuit over the course of the event, there is much to savor including a culinary tour de force.

The VIP hospitality in the Paddock Club™, the Oasis Complex’s 12 lounges and the iconic Sakhir Tower is provided by the Swiss-based Allsport Management, which provides for the needs of VIPs at every round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. zzzz

In the 35 hospitality suites in the Main Grandstand, catering is provided by the Bahrain International Circuit. For such a feast of motorsport action, with such a strong presence of VIP hospitality as the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix enjoys as international business leaders and decision makers gather for the event, the catering teams must be at peak performance. So too must they have the resources to cater for thousands of prestigious guests in a manner to which they must expect from one of the most prestigious events in the Middle East.

The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix musters enough premium quality staff, equipment and cuisine to service a host of five-star restaurants, including:

20 tones of ice
1500 cakes
2300 lobsters
1800 croissants
1.75 tones of beef
750kg of prawns
1.4 tones of fish
1 ton of pasta
6000 bread rolls
6000 eggs
5000 flat bread
900 liters of milk
100kg of mozzarella
5000 liters of orange juice
500kg of potatoes
400kg of chocolate
500kg of salad
1 ton of vegetables
300kg of chicken breast
400kg of strawberries
200kg of rice
3000 baklava

There is an abundance of talent required to prepare and serve the food, maintain the hospitality areas and manage the operations, together with an astonishing amount of cutlery, crockery and equipment including:

20km of cables
12,000 cut flowers
12 cooling rooms
4,000 flowering plants
42,000 glasses
400 green plants
80,000 pieces cutlery
250 chefs and kitchen staff
32,000 plates
400 waiting staff and security
19,000 cups and saucers
300 large pieces of kitchen
30,000 other crockery items

This equipment is In order to ensure the comfort of the guests in all hospitality suites, lounges, VIP areas and Paddock Club™ a sophisticated air conditioning system consisting of 20 air-cooled chillers, 96 air handling units, 8 rooftop packaged units, 23 mini split units and 6 heat pumps that is connected to a sophisticated computer control and monitoring system for optimum indoor climatic conditions.

The air conditioning at the Bahrain International Circuit provides a total of approximately 3000 tons of cooling capacity. Not only is Bahrain ready for the race, it is ready to deliver a successful and enjoyable event to its visitors and guests. BIC

Shorrock confident in Michelin’s progress Shorrock confident in Michelin’s progressMichelin’s Formula One programme director Nick Shorrock discusses the winter programme pursued by Renault and Michelin.

Nick, compared to 2005, has the Renault F1 Team changed in any way this year?
"No. The world titles haven’t altered the team’s motivation and determination. From the management to the mechanics, I have felt the same desire, the same hunger for success as last year. It’s clear that Renault wants more."

On Michelin’s side, will things be organized differently?
"With Renault, like with our other partners, we will have the same approach. We have simply reinforced a system that worked well last year. As you know, Michelin will be leaving Formula One at the end of the season, and we want to do so with our heads held high. I must stress that the collaboration between our partners has been very productive this winter. We have moved forward together."

What has been the impact of the transition to V8 engines for the tires?
"Two changes obliged us to develop new products: the introduction of V8 engines, which need a different driving style (as the cars slide a lot more), and the reintroduction of tire changes during the races. The lateral forces in the corners are similar to those in 2005, but we can still use softer compounds this year. We also worked very hard on the balance between performance on the first lap, and the laps that follow." zzzz

Are the tires 100% new?
"No. We didn’t start from a blank sheet of paper. A number of the developments that appeared last year will be used in 2006. This year’s tires are the product of all our F1 experience."

Pat Symonds, Renault’s Executive Director of Engineering, believes three teams are ahead of the pack this winter: Renault, Honda and McLaren. Do you agree?
"Well, Pat is often right! These three teams have been the quickest this winter, but Ferrari also look more competitive than last year. I don’t think we should forget Toyota or Williams either – they could spring a surprise or two."

Does this situation (Renault, Honda and McLaren are all Michelin teams), particularly in light of this winter’s regulations changes, represent a first small victory for you?
"I don’t know what the results will be in Bahrain on 12 March, but what I can say is that I am proud of the work Michelin has done this winter. We put every effort into being the best. All our engineers and chemists went to great lengths to rise to the challenge of the 2006 season." Renault F1
Midland seeks Russian personnel Midland seeks Russian personnelWith just weeks to go before the action kicks off in Bahrain, everyone at MF1 Racing is hard at work, readying the M16 for its debut race. The first weekend of the season will also see the team make history, as it becomes the first to enter a Grand Prix with a Russian entrant’s license.

The honor of representing a country brand new to F1 is not taken lightly, and it’s a key part of the team’s future plans.

“I’m not Russian, but my family was born in the former USSR,” explains Managing Director Colin Kolles. “And obviously, Alex (Shnaider, MF1 Racing’s owner) has very close ties to that part of the world. The Russian Automobile Federation has been very supportive of our efforts to go racing with a Russian license, which helps promote motorsport in their country. It’s something very positive for the sport of F1 and we hope it will be positive for our team, as well.

“We think it will be a good platform to raise awareness of the sport in Russia and attract Russian partners, or to help bring Western business ventures into Russia. We see it as a win-win proposition.” zzzz

Also benefiting from this East-West association will be a new generation of promising Russian drivers.
“We will also be launching a young driver programme in Russia to bring young drivers up through the karting ranks and so on, so we’ll be building up the sport at the local level, as well.”

But hot-shoes are not the only ones being targeted in Midland’s quest to bring Russia’s best and brightest talent to the team.

“Russia is renowned for its advanced scientific community, so we’ll also try to integrate young Russian engineers into our staff. Who we hire won’t be my decision; it will be (Technical Director) James Key’s. At the moment, we’re still busy with other things, preparing for the upcoming season, so it will take some time before we can focus our attention on this. But even now, we’re beginning to get some applications from Russia. They have a successful aerospace industry, and a lot of engineers could easily adapt their skills to F1. So there is huge potential for us in this area.”

Kolles says he is happy with the steps that the team has made over the winter, although he acknowledges that there is still a long way to go.

“Our plan is to work at full power, look forward, and give the maximum. That’s our plan. We will see how quickly we can achieve our goals, and without over-promising, it’s safe to say that our goals are definitely not to be ninth in the championship again.
“I hope people will realize how serious we are about succeeding in this sport. It was tough for us initially, with people not believing in us, or trying to spread rumors which were the opposite of reality, but that’s life. Now, it’s time to move forward, step by step. We said we would have a brand-new car for this season, and we do – that’s the first step. Next, we have to keep working hard, doing things our way. As for the rest, time will tell.”

Of course, this year MF1 is in the unusual position of being the only team able to make a direct comparison with another, because Toyota shares the same V8 engine and Bridgestone tires.

“It’s an interesting comparison,” admits Kolles. “But I’m not concerned about it, not at all. We have our own way, and we make the most of what we have. It’s not our main priority to reach the level of other teams’ resources. We don’t sit around thinking, ‘Toyota has this,’ or ‘Ferrari has that.’ Our main target is to improve constantly. We have to make progress on the track every day, and we have to work hard to raise more sponsorship, which we are doing. James (Key), of course, is working hard to get more resources for development, and that pushes me to secure more funds for the team!"

“But it’s really not a matter of having thousands of people; it’s a matter of working efficiently. We have a new car – a nice looking car – but the work has just begun. We haven’t achieved anything yet. I’ll be happy when we get the results.” Source MF1 Racing

Martinez has high hopes for home race Martinez has high hopes for home raceThe pride of representing your nation has been one of the keys to A1 Grand Prix. This pride is greater still if a driver gets to do so in a race in his own country. So, imagine how much pride A1 Team Mexico driver David Martinez must be feeling as he has been picked ahead of  Salvador Duran to represent A1 Team Mexico in this weekend's A1 Grand Prix of Nations in his home city, Monterrey.

David, who raced to 10th place in the sprint race on Durban's street circuit in South Africa last month, has raced in Monterrey before. Not in Champ Car like fellow A1GP racers Patrick Carpentier, Christian Fittipaldi, Bryan Herta, Marcus Marshall or Alex Yoong, but in two junior categories. He competed on his home patch in Formula Barber Dodge, winning the event and in so doing becoming the first Mexican driver to win a race of international standing on home ground. Last year, David was third in the Formula Atlantic race that supported the Champ Car bill-topper. And this, home-town interest aside, explains why he has been selected ahead of Duran ho has raced at Monterrey only on a kart.

Reflecting the pressure that's mounting as the full spotlight of the Mexican media has swung onto him, David described this weekend's race meeting as "the most important in my life." He's optimistic of a top result too, saying: "Salvador was really fast in Indonesia, so the A1 Team Mexico car is clearly a good car and I hope that I can do well." A1GP

DEI engines helping Gordon DEI engines helping GordonRobby Gordon’s average finish since switching to DEI engines at Phoenix International Raceway last fall is 11.7. The proof is in the numbers: an eighth-place performance at Phoenix, a 14th-place finish in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and skirting the top-10 in 13th at the Daytona 500. Gordon’s in good company. Only Ryan Newman (7.3), Tony Stewart (8.0), Mark Martin (9.3), Casey Mears (9.7) and Greg Biffle (11.3) have higher average finishes over the same stretch. RGM PR
Injured fan goes unnoticed at Daytona 500 Injured fan goes unnoticed at Daytona 500UPDATE A woman called police saying she has a key piece of evidence that could help solve a hit and run accident that happened after the Daytona 500. But she won't give it up unless she gets paid. When Robert Faulkner was hit by a vehicle along Tomoka Farms Road, everything went flying. His hat, cell phone, sunglasses went in different directions. Now a woman says she found the hat, but she's holding it for ransom. Now, to add insult to injury, a woman called FHP and said she found the injured man's hat and she'll give it back for a price. "She wants a reward for finding the hat," Atkinson said. FHP would like to know when the woman found the hat and if she happened to see a man lying unconscious on the ground in a pool of his own blood. However, the woman said she will give no information until she sees some money. "I just can't believe somebody would ask for a reward," Atkinson said. FHP said, right now, they can't charge the woman with any crime, but they would still like to talk to her. As for the bounty on the hat, Atkinson and her brother agree, information on the hit and run driver is much more valuable. "We both feel the same way, she can keep the hat," she said. Faulkner is recovering at home. His brain is bruised and he has a lot of cuts and scrapes. FHP believes it was a 2004 to 2006 Ford F-150 that hit him. If you have any information, please call the Florida Highway Patrol. wftv.com

02/21/06 As tens of thousands of race fans left the Daytona 500 on Sunday evening, a Longwood man lay unnoticed in a pool of blood 15 feet from a main road, police said Monday. It was more than seven hours before Robert Eugene Faulkner woke up with little memory of what happened. Troopers think the 39-year-old was struck from behind by a pickup about 6:30 p.m. as he walked to his car parked near the Daytona Flea and Farmers Market, Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Kim Miller said. "It's just amazing that he would lay there that long," Miller said. "How did somebody not see the crash?" Troopers found a piece of a truck's mirror at the edge of Tomoka Farms Road, near the entrance to the flea market's parking lot, Miller said. The lot, a popular spot for race fans, was full during the Daytona 500, but troopers did not know how many vehicles were parked there. Faulkner woke at 2 a.m. with a cut on his head, scrapes on his face and a swollen left ankle. He then drove himself to his parents' Seminole County house, more than 42 miles away. "He's stubborn and determined. He just knew he needed to be at work," his sister, Sherrie Atkinson, said while visiting Faulkner at Shands Hospital in Gainesville. He was transferred there Monday morning to see a neurosurgeon. He had more than a dozen staples in his head. When Faulkner walked in the door of his parents' home Monday, his father saw that he was covered in blood. Perry Faulkner had been waiting for his son, who has lived with his parents in Longwood for the past several months, because he had not been able to reach him all night. Robert Faulkner had driven to the race alone and parked at a home near the flea market. The Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan met up with some friends at the speedway and walked back to his car after the race ended. "He said he heard a squeal," Atkinson said. "He doesn't remember anything after that." Faulkner was thrown, his sunglasses going in one direction and his cell phone in the other, his sister said. She found those items but couldn't spot his Earnhardt hat. Investigators think the mirror they found at the scene came from a dark-colored Ford F-150 truck, made between 2004 and 2006, Miller said. "I can't believe people just walked by and didn't do anything," Atkinson said. Anyone who has information about the incident is asked to call the Highway Patrol at 407-737-2200 or *FHP on their cell phone. Orlando Sentinel

Mercedes announces Stoddart and Lauda Mercedes announces Stoddart and LaudaSusie Stoddart, born at Oban, Scotland (near Glasgow) will race for the Berlin-based team Mücke Motorsport. The blonde Scotswoman, who now lives at Northampton, started her motor sport career driving karts. After five years in this category, from 1996 until 2000, she made her race car debut in the 2001 Formula Renault Winter Series. In 2003, Susie ended up ninth overall in the British Formula Renault Championship and improved to fifth overall in this series in 2004. One year later she moved to the British Formula 3 Championship, however, she participated in only two races due to injury.

Stoddart is the first woman at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz touring car in the DTM after ten years. In both 2003 and 2004, she was one of the six finalists competing for the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award. Winners of this prestigious award have been Grand Prix driver David Coulthard, McLaren Mercedes test driver Gary Paffett and DTM driver Jamie Green, the 2004 Formula 3 Euro Series Champion.

Sport plays an important role in Susie Stoddart’s life. Apart from her fitness programme she likes water sports such as water skiing, jet skiing and swimming. She is the first woman at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz touring car in the DTM after ten years. Previously, Ellen Lohr was the only woman to drive for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM and ITC from 1991 until 1996. Ellen is also the only woman ever to win a DTM race, when she beat team mate Keke Rosberg, the 1982 Formula One World Champion, at Hockenheim 1992.

Susie Stoddart: “It’s great that I got this opportunity. The invitation to test a DTM car at Barcelona was really a surprise. I tried hard to make a good impression. I know the DTM very well from TV. Last year, Mika Häkkinen’s pole position lap at Spa and his race win were particularly impressive for me. I will push as hard as I can in the DTM field with so many stars, and I really look forward to my first race at Hockenheim. Of course, I have to learn a lot and it’s clear that in the beginning this will happen at the back of the field rather than at the front.“

Mathias Lauda with his father Niki Mathias Lauda, born at Salzburg and living at Barcelona, will race for Ingmar Persson’s team. Only four years ago he had his motor sport premiere participating in the Formula Nissan. He finished 12th overall in his first season and improved to eighth in 2003. zzzz

In 2004, Lauda took part in the International Formula 3000 Championship and in the Euro 3000 series. Last year, he raced in the GP2 Championship held as supporting races during Formula One weekends. In addition Lauda represents Austria in the A1 Grand Prix series.

Mathias Lauda likes sport also in his free time: Moto Cross, jogging, surfing and snowboarding. The Austrian speaks German, English and Spanish. He is managed by his brother Lukas.

Mathias’ father Niki Lauda, the three-time Formula One World Champion, has watched the DTM for many years with great interest and drove DTM cars on several occasions. The last time was at Austria’s A1 Ring in 2003. “I’m very happy that Mathias gets this opportunity from Mercedes-Benz to drive in the DTM. For me this series with its professional organization, huge attendance and impressive TV ratings is the most competitive after Formula One. Mathias has selected not an easy task to impress in the top-class DTM field.”

Mathias Lauda: “I’m proud to drive in the DTM for Mercedes-Benz. I have no experience with touring cars at all and certainly have to learn a lot. My first tests with the AMG-Mercedes C-Class went well. It’s my aim to attract attention with good results after a learning phase. I know, however, that there will be no “I came, I saw, I conquered”. First, I have to make my mark within my immediate surrounding.”

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “With Susie Stoddart and Mathias Lauda we have two likeable newcomers in our DTM team. During her career so far, Susie Stoddart performed well and was a finalist in the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award what distinguishes her. Mathis Lauda gained experience in his short career so far in several single seater series and he now wants to go his own way in a touring car. He’s a nice guy who started racing late and has gained comparatively little experience so far. The DTM and its environment will help him to improve. Susie and Mathias are a gain for the DTM. They have set themselves a great task and they can expect the support from all of us to resolve it.” Mercedes

TV News
Waltrip renews with FOX Waltrip renews with FOXUPDATE FOX Sports and Darrell Waltrip have agreed upon a multi-year contract extension that expands the top-rated NASCAR network’s relationship with the sport’s premier analyst into the new television rights contract that commences with the 2007 season.  The announcement was made today by FOX Sports Chairman David Hill and FOX Sports President Ed Goren.

"I firmly believe that whatever value that DW had to the sport when he was a champion driver, has been eclipsed many times over since he retired and became a NASCAR broadcaster,” said Hill.  “His knowledge, passion, and ever increasing skill as a broadcaster, has been instrumental in driving the dramatic growth of the sport since FOX Sports became involved with NASCAR in 2000. And you know what? He's only going to get better."

"I love FOX Sports,” said Waltrip.  “I love being part of a big sports family.  David Hill and Ed Goren have embraced me. I have said it before, it’s like being part of a championship race team.  They have surrounded me with the best of the best - Jeff, Larry, Mike, Steve and all the others.  Plus, FOX also has the best folks that work behind the scenes.  I love my job and now I get to do it for a long, long time!" zzzz

Prior to joining FOX Sports in 2001, legendary stock car driver Darrell Waltrip compiled 84 wins and three Cup series championships in an outstanding NASCAR career.  He was voted the Most Popular Driver twice (1989-90) and was the proud recipient of the prestigious Bill France Award of Excellence in 2000, honoring his lifetime of achievements.  In 2003, Waltrip was elected into the National Motorsports Hall of Fame, an honor followed by an induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2005.  In 2004, Waltrip’s autobiography, DW: A lifetime Going Around in Circles, debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list.

FOX Sports drops the green flag on its 2006 NASCAR on FOX season this Sunday, Feb. 26 (3:30 PM ET) in Fontana, CA, with a live presentation of the Auto Club 500.  Over 60 cameras and 100 microphones will be strategically placed in and around California Speedway as NASCAR on FOX presents the first of 14 Nextel Cup races in high definition and Dolby 5.1 audio.

In 12 years of existence, FOX Sports has earned 63 Emmy Awards, including six in five years of NASCAR coverage, more than any other network during the same stretch of time.   David Hill and Ed Goren are the Executive Producers of FOX Sports.  Bill Brown is Senior Producer.  Scott Ackerson is the Coordinating Producer of the NASCAR on FOX Prerace show. FOX Sports

02/23/06 Fox Sports and NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip have agreed to a multi-year deal that extends into the new NASCAR TV contract that begins in ’07. Fox Sports
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Ralf rules out brother's title bid
Police drop Klien assault probe
'My religion is Ferrari' - Todt who turns 60
Aguri pilots - We will struggle
Hamilton, Piquet, set GP2 pace
Midland lacks passion - Symonds
Facelift for Valencia ahead of F1 race bid
F1 parades, without F1 cars
'I've never been so motivated' - Schu
'My racing clock still ticks' - Wurz
Formula Nippon
No Champ Car for Wirdheim No Champ Car for WirdheimNTT DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing and Bjorn Wirdheim have announced today the signing of an agreement which will see the Swede race for the team in the 2006 Formula Nippon Championship.

Wirdheim, the 2003 Formula 3000 Champion and former Jaguar Formula One Reserve Driver, was invited to test with the team late last year thanks to Swedish friend and mentor Eje Elgh, who himself had a long and successful career in Japan, and a strong relationship was forged quickly between driver and team.

Despite talking to a number of teams in competitions all around the world, Wirdheim immediately felt at home with Team Dandelion, and a deal was quickly reached to race together in 2006.

“It became clear to me straight away that Dandelion is a serious, competitive team,” Wirdheim said at the announcement. “I have spoken to a number of teams in Champ Car, Formula Nippon and GP2 about this year, but Dandelion felt like the best opportunity for me to get back to what I want to do – win races. zzzz

“I had a lot of different opportunities, but I think this was the best one for my future career. Formula Nippon has always been a strong series, and looking at some of the drivers at the tests it’s clear that the competition is going to be stronger than ever, and I’m really looking forward to it.

When asked about the challenge ahead, he noted: “I have had a few tests with both the old and the new car, and they both suited my driving style and felt really good for me. The team has already let me run on a few of the different circuits, and we will test on a few more before the start of the season.

“I feel really confident about this year and I am just really pleased to get this opportunity; Formula Nippon is a really good series, and if I can win here then hopefully it will remind people of what I can do.”

Kiyoshi Muraoka,  President & CEO of Team Dandelion, was delighted to have signed a driver with the pedigree of Wirdheim, noting: “We only entered Formula Nippon in 1999, so we still a very young team, but in 2003 we won the driver’s champion title and last year we won our second constructor’s championship.

“2006 is a renewal year for Formula Nippon, and it is our aim to win the driver’s championship once again. We are very confident about working with Bjorn; he is a very experienced driver, and his achievements and spirit will be crucial in this important year.

“I’m sure his driving will make a big impression on the Japanese, Swedish and the world’s motorsports fans.”

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