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Roger Hayden Will Not Race At Daytona  Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. announced today that road racer Roger Hayden has been granted a leave of absence from the team and will not participate in the upcoming Daytona 200 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

According to Mike Preston, Kawasaki Road Racing manager, the leave is because of personal reasons.

"Roger is a valued member of the extended Kawasaki family, and the relationship is one of mutual respect and understanding. We look forward to him rejoining the team as soon as possible," said Preston. More ...

With hometown boys up front LVMS anticipating sellout  Las Vegas Motor Speedway officials expect most every seat to be filled for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Shelby 427. "The recent surge in interest for Sunday's race is a testament to the strength of NASCAR and the true passion in NASCAR fans," said Chris Powell, LVMS president.  "In anticipation of a sellout, we are creating a $50 general-admission credential.  These admissions will go on sale Saturday at 9 a.m. and will remain on sale until Sunday's green flag at 1:30 p.m."

The general-admission credential will allow race fans to sit at the lower level of the speedway's Section 4, just outside Turns 3 and 4.  Seating in these rows has not been available for purchase since the speedway was reconfigured prior to the 2007 event. Powell added that today's announcement is great news locally. "Despite a challenging economy, this event continues to deliver great benefits for Las Vegas," Powell said.  "I had my doubts a couple of months ago that we'd get so close to a full house, but now it looks realistic." [Editor’s Note: He forgot to mention that not surprisingly the Busch brothers, from Las Vegas, will start 1-2.  Very timely we would say.] More ...

Barnhart not concerned about cut tires  Brian Barnhart, the president of the Indy Racing League's competition division, said today he isn't concerned about what seemed to be a high number of cut tires during this week's two-day open test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Twenty-one car-and-driver combinations participated. There were no accidents.

"We seem to (cut tires) each year at the open test, but it doesn't seem to be as bad during race weekends (there)," he said. "I think some of them are done on pit road, as there are a few places where the concrete boxes and the asphalt pit lane are a little rough and exposed.

"Because of the long track times, we go yellow for each reported cut, but during the ensuing track inspection, we rarely find anything significant on the track surface.

"Sometimes during race weekends, because the sessions are so much shorter, we don't always go yellow for a cut unless the observers see an object." Indy Star

racing news
Rockingham IHRA event postponed  Rockingham Dragway was forced to postpone its weekend of International Hot Rod Association pro-am racing because of rain and an unfavorable forecast. The event has been rescheduled for June 19-21.

“It was a tough decision and a tough way to start the season,” track owner Steve Earwood said. “It’s a no-win deal when you’re dealing with weather but, in this economy, we felt like the worst case scenario would be to ask everyone to sit around for three days hoping for a miracle and then still send them home without turning a tire.

“By making a decision this early, before most of our racers have started their travel, maybe we can save them the gas, motel and meal money for another time.”

The Carolinas’ fastest racetrack was to have played host to more than 400 IHRA racers competing in eight categories.

“The worst part is that it was going to be an incredible show for the fans,” Earwood said. “If you love early model hemi Dodges and Plymouths like I do, ’65 Ford Mustangs, ’69 Camaros, all of those classic muscle cars, they all seem like they wound up in Pro-Am drag racing.”

Ford expects February retail sales to plunge 40%  For the first time in five months, Ford Motor Co. did not gain market share, said George Pipas, Ford’s sales analyst.

From October through January, Ford gained market share even while its total sales volume dropped.

In February, U.S. retail sales for the industry likely fell about 40% from a year earlier due to a decline in U.S. consumer confidence that was partially driven by massive corporate layoffs, Pipas said.

With just one weekend left for the month, Pipas said Ford’s retail sales will likely decline more than 40% and said Ford will lose some market share compared with last February.

“This will be the first month in five that Ford’s market share falls,” Pipas said. “We had four months in which our share of the retail market was 13% or higher.”

Stefan Wilson signs Indy Lights deal  It was announced today that Stefan Wilson will be the driver of the #19 FIRST Motorsports entry in the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series. FIRST Motorsports is a division of the ASR Motorsports Group, LLC. Stefan, who hails from Sheffield, England brings with him an impressive resume including four wins in the 2008 British Formula 3 Championship. Stefan, the younger brother of Justin Wilson, IndyCar and former Formula 1 star began his racing career at the age of nine. In 2007, Stefan claimed four pole positions, four race wins, six fastest laps and two outright lap records on his way to finish 2nd in the Formula Palmer Audi Championship. Following that impressive season, Stefan beat five of the top racing talents Britain had to offer to be named Winner of the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.

“We are very proud that Stefan has chosen to join our team and we are looking forward to a very successful season this year,” stated team owner, Jon Lewis. “Stefan’s program currently will include all of the road course events in 2009 as we work together to increase the funding to enable him to drive the entire Series schedule.” More ...

Panoz Team PTG announces '09 plans  Panoz Team PTG announced today that it will again field one Panoz Esperante GTLM in the 2009 American Le Mans Series’ GT2 class with Dominik Farnbacher driving for the full season and another yet-to-be-named driver. Former Series LMP2 champion Ian James will join Farnbacher for the season opener at the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on March 18-21.

Sebring will start the third consecutive year of the partnership between PTG and Panoz Auto Development. Panoz Team PTG finished the 2008 season with a strong third place finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the extremely competitive GT2 class. In the offseason, PTG has continued to develop the Esperante GTLM.

“Since the end of the 2008 season,” said PTG boss Tom Milner, “PTG has continued to improve the car, and these improvements helped make us very competitive during the annual Sebring Winter Test in January. Based on the results of this test and further improvements since then, we are looking for a good result and hopeful for a podium finish. We know we are at a disadvantage with a five-year-old car fighting against the latest technology from our competition but that is nothing new to PTG.” More ...

Miloš Pavlovic completes the 2009 F2 line-up  
Miloš Pavlovic
Experienced former GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 driver Miloš Pavlovic is the 24th and final entrant to be confirmed in the 2009 F2 line-up.

Pavlovic’s rise through the international ranks began after he won the Italian F3 title in 2002 and World Series Light in 2004. He then spent three seasons in Formula Renault 3.5, scoring podiums in both 2005 and 2006 before mounting a serious championship challenge during the following campaign, where he ended the overall standings in third after taking two wins and four podiums.

The Serbian racer joins F2 after a season competing in the main GP2 and GP2 Asia series, where he scored points in three of the ten rounds. More ...
Alesi wins close finish in opening Dubai race  Jean Alesi held off a charging Christopher Zoechling to win a close finish in the opening Speedcar Series race at Dubai Autodrome on Friday afternoon.

Alesi grabbed the lead after a spectacular rolling start, over which surprise poleman Zoechling, a 21-year-old Dubai-based Austrian, complained that Jean had jumped ahead of him before the white line that marks the start of the race. Alesi disagreed, saying Zoechling was braking too much.

"I was on the power, he braked, so I braked, but I was straight back on the throttle," said Alesi. "It meant I had a bit more speed than him on the run to the first corner."

Alesi still had to brake late to dive around the outside of Zoechling at Turn 1, and they were followed by Vitantonio Liuzzi, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Johnny Herbert and Gianni Morbidelli. More ...

Bulgaria to host MotoGP in 2012  The Bulgarian Motorcycling Federation (BMF) has agreed a five-year deal to bring MotoGP to the country from the 2012 season.

The deal was struck with MotoGP commercial rights-holder Dorna Sports.

Reuters reports that BMF head Bodgan Nikolov announced the deal, saying, “We signed the agreement with [Dorna chief executive] Carmelo Ezpeleta and we’re very pleased because no country from our region has hosted a motorcycle grand prix.”

“It’s still not clear which track will host the races as we're still thinking over two options.”

Nikolov said that a new circuit set to be constructed near the northern Bulgarian town of Dolna Mitropoliya is the most likely location for the event.

In other MotoGP news, manufacturer Kawasaki announced it will remain in the series with a single bike for rider Marco Melandri, partially reversing its previous declaration that it would end its MotoGP program due to the global economic crisis.

It was also announced that British Eurosport would continue to show MotoGP coverage in the UK in 2009 alongside existing MotoGP broadcaster the BBC.

Latest F1 news in brief  UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Bridgestone confirms green circles for 2009
  • Rescued Honda to be called 'Brackley F1'
  • No USGP solution in sight yet - Williams
  • Barrichello back in frame with two F1 teams
  • Williams slams BBC over sponsor exit reports
  • Toro Rosso says Adria debut not open to media
  • New rules do not halt F1 innovation
  • Nakajima admits F1 Toyota exit possible
  • Gov't plays down Aus GP venue switch reports
  • Williams drivers have 2009 superlicenses
  • FIA moves to fill dwindling grid (New)
  • Button agrees to slash 2009 retainer (New)
  • Williams to pay off debts - Parr (New)

Bridgestone confirms green circles for 2009
(GMM)  Bridgestone has confirmed that it will visibly distinguish the softest compound of slick tires at grands prix this year by painting green circles around the edges of the sidewalls.

We reported recently that this new solution, necessary due to the end of the grooved tire era where a white line was painted inside a groove, was the most likely for 2009, after teams tested it at the recent Jerez test.

"The green color has been chosen to show Bridgestone's continued support of the FIA's Make Cars Green campaign," the Japanese manufacturer explained in a statement.

Bridgestone's director of development Hirohide Hamashima, meanwhile, also confirmed suggestions that the difference between the two compounds at races this year will be bigger than previously.

"We have changed our allocation strategy so that we can bring non-consecutive allocations to races," he said.

For example, with the 'super soft' being brought to Melbourne next month, the other tire will be the 'medium', not the next-hardest tire in the range, the 'soft'.

Bridgestone confirmed that this system will be in place at least for the first five races of 2009.

Hamashima added: "We hope that the change in allocations gives competitors a good challenge and the fans entertaining racing."

Rescued Honda to be called 'Brackley F1'
(GMM)  With a blank livery and Jenson Button at the wheel, the team currently known as Honda will return to action at a Silverstone shakedown of its 2009 car next Thursday, sources from inside the Brackley factory are reporting.

With the Ross Brawn-led management buyout now approved - but not officially announced - by Honda Motor Co.'s Tokyo board, information is leaking from the outfit that had until recently looked likely to be wound up ahead of the 2009 season.

Now, however, suggestions of at least one (and possibly two) full tests at Spanish circuits in March are gaining credence, and one source told us that these will be preceded by a run-out with Mercedes power at Silverstone late next week.

With the Honda board also insisting upon a name change, the frontrunner at present is 'Brackley F1', but a final decision on this has not been taken.

Also likely - but not confirmed - is the identity of Button's teammate.  Bruno Senna has all winter been named as the frontrunner, but given the nature of the challenge faced for 2009, it is believed the veteran Rubens Barrichello is now favorite to retain his seat.

Under Brawn's leadership, the funds for the team this year will come from increased and advanced FOM income, commercial sponsors, and Honda itself, who have concluded that it is cheaper to offload the squad as a going concern rather than fund the closure and compensate contracted staff, including the very highly paid Button.

The Swiss newspaper Blick said of rookie Senna: "The young Brazilian will drive in the DTM championship (in 2009)." More ...

Australian GP hit by sponsor withdrawals  Several major F1 sponsors have cut their spending on the opening round of the season in Australia, facing its promoters with the prospect of losing significant amounts of money. According to the Herald Sun BMW has axed its £450,000 (€507,000) corporate hospitality budget for the race, joining Foster’s in cutting its spending on the race. Race title sponsors ING has already announced it is ending its Formula 1 sponsorship at the end of 2009.

Autosport’s Dieter Rencken adds that moving the Grand Prix to a later start time of 5pm to suit European television audiences better has had several negative effects:

  • Pitched midway between Paddock Club and top line grandstand prices, a raft of corporate suites mainly situated on the runs to and from Turn 1 provide Australia’s high-rollers with civilized race experiences. Fine food and wines are served in air-conditioned comfort but in a more relaxed atmosphere than found in the stifling Paddock Club has in the past 10,000 to 15,000 booted and suited punters.
  • Being captains of industry they have generally accepted invitations on the basis of being able to head for Sydney, Perth, Adelaide or Brisbane by air on Sunday evening and be in their office with the kangaroos on Monday morning. No more is that possible.
Castroneves ready for tax evasion trial  Documents filed this week on behalf of Helio Castroneves indicate his defense in the tax evasion case that begins Monday will center on him not controlling the Panamanian company at the heart of the alleged scheme.

Castroneves, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, is accused of diverting $5.5 million to avoid U.S. income taxes. He and his sister, Kati, who served as his business manager, were indicted in November on six counts of tax evasion and one count of fraud. The case will be heard in U.S. District Court in Miami.

The defense will try to show that the company, Seven Promotions, was owned and operated by their father.

Involved in racing since 1982, Castroneves' father owned a stock car team in Brazil and created Seven in 1999 as a way to promote and sponsor his son's racing career. In earlier years, his company, Corpal Tubas, annually covered the six-figure expenses to develop the young driver.

Alan Miller, Castroneves' attorney, will also stand trial next week. Miller's witness list includes former CART and Indy Racing League driver Adrian Fernandez, NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, former U.S. congressman Jack Kemp, Kevin Savoree, a co-owner of Andretti Green Racing; and Roger Penske. The father of the late driver Greg Moore also is on the list. Indy Star

british F3
Nakajima joins Räikkönen Robertson Racing  
Daisuke Nakajima
Japanese racer Daisuke Nakajima will join Räikkönen Robertson Racing for the 2009 British F3 International Series.  The 20 year-old driver, brother of F1 racer Kazuki Nakajima, has already completed an extensive test program with the Double R squad.  Nakajima will join Carlos Huertas at the 2006 championship winning team. 

The 20 year-old racer comes fresh from the Formula 3 Japan championship, while in 2007, Nakajima raced in the Formula Challenge Japan championship where he finished fifth. 

Nakajima comes from a strong motorsport heritage, his brother currently races with the Williams F1 Team while his father, Satoru Nakajima, raced in F1 throughout the late eighties and early nineties, is credited with being a pioneer for Japanese racing drivers.

Nakajima is one of only seven drivers selected to be part of Honda’s Formula Dream Project – a program for cultivating the talent of young drivers inside and outside Japan. More ...

Maynard Bodine dies  Maynard Bodine, 75, of Chemung, NY, passed away February 24, 2009 at the Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, PA. He was the loving husband of Patricia J. (Wilcox) Bodine. The couple married August 29, 1970 and had 38 happy years together. Family and friends are welcome to gather from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on Friday, February 27, 2009, and again on Saturday, February 28th, from 10:00-11:00 a.m. at the Roberts Funeral Home, Inc., 279 Main Street, Wellsburg, NY. The memorial service to celebrate Maynard's life will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday at the funeral home. Burial will follow the service in Chemung Cemetery.  Elmira Star Gazette

The racing community is grieving the loss of Maynard Bodine, who built race engines for three generations of Bodines. The last of the five sons of Chemung Speedrome founder Eli Bodine Sr. died Tuesday at age 75 after a brief illness. Several members of the Bodine family from Chemung went on to make their mark racing stock cars, including Maynard's brother Earl at the Speedrome, and his nephews Geoff, Brett and Todd Bodine in NASCAR. Maynard also tried his hand behind the wheel in the 1950s but soon realized others, like his brother, were faster. More from  'Heart and soul' of Bodine racing family dies" at Star Gazette

Red Bank Outfitters to stay with #36 team thru Vegas  After receiving a large amount of media exposure during the Daytona 500 and Auto Club 500, Red Bank Outfitters has decided to continue its sponsorship of Tommy Baldwin Racing through the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. TBR finished 25th as an underdog in the Daytona 500 and crossed the finish line 36th last weekend after a mechanical failure ended a strong run during the Auto Club 500. Scott Riggs and the #36 Toyota is currently 32nd in the 2009 Sprint Cup point standings. “I am extremely happy that Red Bank Outfitters has decided to continue its sponsorship of TBR,” said Tommy Baldwin, owner and crew chief of the #36 entry. “I think it shows how impressed they have been by the amount of exposure they have received over the past couple of weeks.” TBR/Everest Marketing Group PR
Energizer on the #42 at Las Vegas  The #42 Chevy of Juan Pablo Montoya will sport the Energizer paint scheme this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Crew Chief Brian Pattie and the #42 team will bring chassis #805 to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. EGR PR
Robby Gordon gets associate sponsor for Vegas  Jim Beam will serve as the primary sponsor of Robby Gordon's #7 Toyota for Sunday’s 285-lap event. In addition to MAPEI and Menards, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will also serve as an associate sponsor this weekend. RGM PR
Golden Corral back to sponsor the #28  Golden Corral, America's favorite family buffet and grill restaurant chain, is extending its NASCAR involvement and has signed on to sponsor Yates Racing driver #28-Travis Kvapil for the next three Sprint Cup Series races [Las Vegas, Atlanta and Bristol in March]. It will also continue its "Race for America's Families" promotion. Each time Kvapil posts a top 10 finish, Golden Corral will give every kid in America a free buffet* as well as make a $5,000 donation to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). "Golden Corral was thrilled to sponsor Travis in the Daytona 500 and our customers, employees and veterans across the country told us they were pulling for him, too," said Chris Kuehn, chief marketing officer of Golden Corral. "We decided to extend our sponsorship because the response reinforced that this is a perfect fit for our brand and the start of the season is a great time of year to be involved in NASCAR." Chainleader.com
2009 Asian Le Mans Series will be held in Japan and China  The 2009 Asian Le Mans Series will be held in Japan and China at the end of October and the beginning of November on the Okayama and Shanghai circuits respectively.
The ACO is continuing its development in Asia, and the club will organize the first Asian Le Mans Series in 2009 open to cars complying with the supplementary regulations of the Le Mans 24 Hours, the American Le Mans Series and the Le Mans Series in the LM P1, LM P2, LM GT1 and LM GT2 categories.

12 hours’ racing!
The first event in Japan, initially scheduled at Mount Fuji, will now take place on the Okayama circuit between 30th October and 1st November.  The originality of this endurance meeting is that it will share the limelight with the Japanese round of the World Touring Car Championship.  In China, the event will be held on the Shanghai circuit on 7th- 8th November.  There will be a race on Saturday and one on Sunday, giving the teams a total of 12 hours’ racing split up into four 3-hour events. More ...

Track news
Martinsville Speedway Extends Ticket Office Hours  With the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 just a few weeks around the corner, Martinsville Speedway is expanding its ticket office hours. The ticket office will extend its office hours to Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Saturday, February 28 leading up to the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 on March 29. The speedway ticket office is also open daily 9 to 5. “We know it’s difficult for a lot of people to get to the track during the week, so this should make it a little easier for them,” Campbell said of the Saturday hours. Tickets for both the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 on Sunday, March 29, and the Kroger 250 Camping World Truck Series race, on Saturday, March 28, are on sale and can be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX.

Campbell announced that Toyota has become the Official Vehicle for the historic Virginia track. Toyota vehicles will pace both the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on March 28 and the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on March 29. “We are proud of our new partnership with Toyota,” said Campbell. “Toyota has become a driving force in our sport. We are excited about seeing Toyotas pace our races here for years to come.” The three-year agreement between Martinsville Speedway and Toyota begins in 2009, said Campbell. “Our new partnership with Martinsville Speedway as the official vehicle of the historic motorsports facility provides us an opportunity to showcase a diverse line-up of products to a wide pool of dedicated race fans,” comments Les Unger, Toyota national motorsports manager Martinsville Speedway PR

Bridgestone announces tire changes for 2009  Aside from the noticeable change to a slick tire surface, Bridgestone has taken into account other changes to their new tires for 2009. Among them will be the addition of a green band on the edge of the sidewalls to distinguish the softer compound, and a non-consecutive compound allocation for each race as well.

Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone's director of motorsport tire development, explained the changes on their official site: "From our perspective we have changed our allocation strategy so that we can bring non-consecutive allocations to races. The compounds will not only vary in terms of compound hardness, but also working range."

"We have tried to have one tire which has a quick warm-up and delivers a fast lap time immediately, and the other tire which has a higher working range, so will not deliver immediate fast times, but gives very consistent and durable performance when it is at its operating temperature."

Compounds for the first five GP's of the 2009 season are as follows:

Australian Grand Prix (Melbourne): Super Soft, Medium
Malaysian Grand Prix (Sepang): Soft, Hard
Chinese Grand Prix (Shanghai): Super Soft, Medium
Bahrain Grand Prix (Sakhir): Super Soft, Medium
Spanish Grand Prix (Barcelona): Soft, Hard

Honda F1 team saved from scrapheap  UPDATE The Honda Formula One team will be on the grid for the start of the 2009 season after a management buyout, The Times can reveal. Jenson Button will spearhead the team on the track after two months of intense work on a rescue package by senior managers.

Sources close to the Brackley-based outfit confirmed last night that the deal is going ahead and that the team will conduct a “shakedown” test of their new car at Silverstone next Thursday, which will be Button's first outing in the new machine.

The management buyout is being led by Ross Brawn, the team principal and former Ferrari technical director, and will be funded by a combination of money from Honda itself for this year, funds from Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One commercial rights-holder, and commercial sponsorship. Recent reports suggested that Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group could be a backer but this was being ruled out by informed sources last night. More ...

Weekly NASCAR cheaters report  UPDATE RAB Racing says the National Stock Car Racing Commission will hear its appeal of the penalty NASCAR handed the Nationwide Series team for rule violations at Daytona International Speedway.

The team and driver John Wes Townley were penalized 100 points each and former crew chief Blake Bainbridge was fined $15,000 for having a roll bar that did not meet NASCAR’s specifications.

The team said in a news release that a hearing date had yet to be scheduled but was expected to take place next week.

“I’m grateful to NASCAR for having a process in place for this type of instance,” RAB Racing General Manager Robby Benton said. “They’ve been very helpful, and we look forward to the opportunity to present the facts of our particular case to the commission so that the penalty may be reconsidered.”

02/25/09 Two NASCAR Nationwide Series crew chiefs were penalized for rules violations discovered last weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Brad Hicks, crew chief for JD Motorsports’ No. 01 Chevrolet driven by Danny O’Quinn, and Corrie Stott, crew chief for Stott Classic Racing’s No. 02 Chevrolet driven by Andy Ponstein, were each fined $2,000 for the same violation: Having a hollow jacking bolt instead of a solid magnetic steel bolt.

The infractions were discovered Feb. 21 during pre-qualifying inspection for the Stater Bros. 300.

All-new Chevrolet Camaro to pace 93rd Indianapolis 500  
2010 Camaro Pace Car
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Feb. 26 it has selected the all-new 2010 Chevrolet Camaro to pace the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 24, 2009.

The Camaro Pace Car was unveiled during a ceremony at the IMS Hall of Fame Museum with IMS President and Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood, and Indianapolis 500 winners Johnny Rutherford, Al Unser Jr. and Eddie Cheever Jr.

"The Chevrolet Camaro first paced the Indianapolis 500 in 1967 with one of the most loved Pace Cars of all times, followed by the 1969 Indy 500 Camaro Pace Car with the hugger orange paint scheme," Chitwood said. "Just 40 years after that car made its mark as a Pace Car favorite, we're pleased to have Camaro return to the streets and to the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to start our Centennial Era." More ...

Open Test valuable measuring stick for 2009  The first of two IndyCar Series pre-season Open Tests concluded Feb. 25, providing teams and drivers the opportunity to see how offseason developments made in the teams’ shops translated to performance on the racetrack.

The 10 hours of testing on the 1.5-mile, variably banked oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway allowed teams to prepare for the 10 oval races on the 2009 schedule and provided a measuring stick of the competition. The verdict: 2009 promises some of the closest on-track action in the history of the series.

The field of 21 cars was separated by just 0.7196 of a second after 4,698 incident-free laps. Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe, who finished fifth in the championship last year, recorded the fastest lap at 25.1984 seconds, 212.156 mph, while reigning champion Scott Dixon was second, just 0.0394 of a second behind (25.2378, 211.825 mph).

“I'm really happy with the way our only pre-season oval test went this week,” said Briscoe, who earned two victories last season, including on the 1-mile oval at Milwaukee. “We were able to work on a lot of different things and I'm satisfied with what we were able to accomplish. I think that what we learned here at Homestead will help us on all the 1.5-mile ovals this season starting with Kansas and moving forward. I think we're in great shape, and now we're one step closer to the beginning of the season.” More ...

Cardinal Technologies Announces Partnership with Team Stargate Worlds  On the heels of announcing its formation, Team Stargate Worlds TM  is pleased to announce that Cardinal Technologies, Inc., a leader in Program Management, will join its 2009 Atlantic Championship season campaign as a sponsor. 

Team Stargate Worlds drivers Frankie Muniz and Simona De Silvestro will compete in the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.  Both racers look to attack the 2009 season with tenacity and efficiency and partnering with Cardinal Technologies, Inc. is a step in the right direction for the duo.  Cardinal Technologies brings with it years of experience in the Program Management field and the Team Stargate Worlds team will be relying on that valuable knowledge to assist its operations throughout the 2009 Atlantic Championship season. More ...

formula BMW
Formula BMW Americas Preseason Testing Program Continues  With less than one month to go before the green flag falls on the 2009 Formula BMW Americas Championship season, the next batch of future open-wheel racing stars head to Carolina Motorsports Park this week for the series’ final preseason testing session.

Fresh off a promising opening test two weeks ago, the Formula BMW Americas Championship will take to the 2.3-mile road course in Kershaw, South Carolina for a two-day Introductory Test, where track time is balanced with education and coaching in preparation for the March 20-22 season opener in Puebla, Mexico.
Interest in the Formula BMW Americas Championship has continued to grow over the winter as the first test has already seen an increase in drivers over 2008. Last year’s Formula BMW Americas Rookie champion Gianmarco Raimondo will return for a renewed assault on the title with Team Autotecnica, battling alongside established outfits such as three-time team champion Eurointernational, Jensen Motorsport, and Team Apex, as well as new squads Andersen Racing, OS Racing and Robali Motorsports. More ...

ALMS well represented at LeMans  The entry list for this year’s running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is officially released with teams from the American Le Mans Series in prime positions to once again bring class championships back to the United States.

The GT classes see the heaviest concentration of American Le Mans Series content. As expected, Corvette Racing is the early favorite to capture its sixth GT1 championship with two Corvette C6.Rs. Le Mans will be the final race for GM’s factory road-racing team in the class with a move to GT2 coming in August at Mid-Ohio.

The team announced its driver pairings earlier this year - Antonio Garcia will join defending Series GT1 champions Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen in one car with Marcel Fässler alongside Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin in the other Corvette. More ...

racing news
House passes resolution to honor actor Paul Newman  Paul Newman, the late actor and 10-time Academy Award nominee, has been honored by lawmakers as a screen legend and humanitarian.  Newman died Sept. 26, 2008, at age 83 after a long battle with cancer. The House on Tuesday night approved a resolution recognizing Newman's achievements on and off screen.

The resolution said Newman's "humanitarian works and incomparable talents have made him an American icon who will never be forgotten."

The Hollywood star won one Oscar and took home two honorary ones, and had major roles in more than 50 motion pictures, including "Cool Hand Luke," "Exodus," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Verdict," "The Sting" and "Absence of Malice."

Newman and his popular food company, Newman's Own, have given more than $250 million to charity over the years. He also helped to start "Hole in the Wall" camps across the world for children with life-threatening illnesses. The resolution is H.R.18.

A1 Pakistan team readies for return  A1 Team Pakistan finally made a return to the race track last week, following the completion of the build program for its new A1GP car. The team shook down the new car at the Phakisa Freeway Circuit in Welkom, South Africa, on Monday, with a further two days of testing on Tuesday and Wednesday. Seatholder and driver for the team, Adam Khan, was behind the wheel and was pleased with the progress the team made over the course of the test session.

Khan completed 68 laps on the first full day of running and 74 laps on the second day, improving his times and developing the setup of the car with his engineer, John Gentry.

Khan said of the test, "It's been a long wait for me to have a car which I could safely and comfortably fit, but it's been worth it. I really enjoyed the handling of this new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car, and I was gaining confidence throughout the test. It was a very smooth running test and with the excellent reliability we had, we were able to quickly move on to developing our performance. More ...

Ecclestone says Rome GP possible in 2013  (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has told the mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, that a grand prix through the streets of the Italian capital may be possible in 2013.

Despite speculation that organizers were targeting an inaugural event for 2011 or 2012, the F1 chief executive wrote in a letter that years of preparation may be necessary, according to the Spanish news agency EFE.

However, the 78-year-old billionaire affirmed to Alemanno that Rome is among the "most important" candidates for a grand prix, but pointed out the "difficulties in organizing an urban" event and the need for a "long period of organization".

Ecclestone's letter was in response to correspondence last week from the Roman mayor, and the diminutive Briton pointed out that he is already in contact with the prospective promoter of the race, Maurizio Flammini.

"I am working with Maurizio Flammini and I have told him that, if certain conditions are respected, there could be a Rome race in 2013," Ecclestone is quoted by the Spanish news agency as saying.

GM loses $16.8B, teetering on bankruptcy  General Motors Corp today announced its fourth quarter and calendar year 2008 financial results, which were affected by the dramatic deterioration in global economic and market conditions during the year, declining consumer confidence and a 50-year low in per-capita auto sales in the United States.

For the 2008 calendar year, GM reported an adjusted net loss, excluding special items, of $16.8 billion, or $29.00 per diluted share. This compares to an adjusted net loss of $279 million, or $0.49 per diluted share in 2007. The 2008 results were driven by the impact of the U.S. recession and subsequent global contagion. Including special items, the company reported a loss of $30.9 billion, or $53.32 per diluted share, compared to a reported loss of $43.3 billion, or $76.52 per diluted share in 2007, which included a non-cash special charge of $38.3 billion in the third quarter related to the valuation allowance against deferred tax assets. More ...

55 teams invited for 24 Hours of LeMans  
Cars streak by S/F line in last year's event
The greatest Le Mans 24 Hours have always been the theatre of thrilling battles between works cars, and the 77th event is no exception to the rule. There will be 3 manufacturers at the start: Aston Martin, Audi and Peugeot with a total of 12 cars all out for victory.

You dreamed it: it’ll happen at Le Mans!
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest received 82 entries for the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours, each one as deserving of an invitation as the next for the 55 places at the start. The list (see below) of the 55 entries accepted designates the teams that will be present on Wednesday 10th June, after the test day was cancelled as a cost-cutting measure in agreement with the private teams and the manufacturers. It shows the healthy state of the Le Mans 24 Hours, and the large number of potential winners in the overall classification as well as in each of the 4 categories: 21 cars in LM P1, 12 in LM P2, 8 in LM GT1 and 14 in LM GT2.

12 works prototypes in LMP1!
The major surprise on the list comes in LM P1, the top endurance category for overall victory in terms of distance, thanks to entries from 3 major manufacturers with considerable resources.

Aston Martin has chosen the 2009 race to leave the LM GT1 category (victorious in 2007 and 2008), and enter LM P1 with 3 spanking new prototype Lola-Aston Martins powered by V12 engines. The aim is to recall that 50 years ago in 1959, the Aston Martin DBR1 snatched victory from Ferrari, the out-and-out favorite at the time. More ...

Le Mans - Two Porsche RS Spyders to compete  
Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 car
The successful Porsche RS Spyder customer project heads into the next phase. Two teams will again field a Porsche RS Spyder each at the Le Mans 24 hour race  June 13 – 14, 2009. The NAVI Team Goh from Japan and the Essex squad from Denmark are eager to  repeat  the  one-two  finish  of  the  RS  Spyder  in  the  LMP2  class  last year.

Porsche works drivers Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Emmanuel Collard (France) support the teams in their campaign. Maassen, 39 years-old, who already piloted a RS Spyder last year in Le Mans, will contest the event for the Japanese-based NAVI Team Goh. His team mates are the experienced Seiji Ara (Japan) and youngster Keisuke Kunimoto (Japan). Ara, 34, won the overall classification in Le Mans back in 2004 with  the  Goh  team,  whilst  the  20-year-old  Formula  3  pilot,  Kunimoto,  will  contest  the  endurance classic at La Sarthe for the first time this year. More ...
Three GCC drivers to compete at Speedcar Series race weekend  The Speedcar Series race weekend on February 27-28, 2009 will have 15 drivers representing eight teams at the Dubai Autodrome. The fourth round of the Series will feature three Arab drivers in the line up including Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum from the UAE, Hamad Al Fardan from Bahrain and four-time Middle East Rally Champion Nasser Al Attiyah.

Al Attiyah who is currently conducting rally tests is expected to arrive tomorrow just in time to race in the Series. He will be competing for the second time after the Losail International Circuit night event. Bahraini Al Fardan will be making his debut behind the wheel of a Speedcar while Hasher Al Maktoum is a familiar name having been in the Series since its first season.

Italian MotoGP rider and former 250cc World Champion Marco Melandri will also be back for another try at the Series after narrowly missing out on a win in the second race in Qatar earlier this month. More ...
Red Bull Racing Builds on a Solid Platform  Red Bull Racing announced today that its existing partnership with Platform Computing has been increased and extended for a further five years, until 2014. The new and far larger deal means the team will continue to work with Platform Computing on a greater level to develop its computing capabilities and efficiencies. 

Platform's solution, Platform LSF, intelligently schedules workload and dynamically allocates High Performance Compute (HPC) resource, ensuring that Red Bull Racing gets maximum return on its significant investment in simulation tools and hardware. More ...

Food poisoning strikes Villeneuve  Former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve will have to skip this weekend's fourth round in the Speedcar series as the Canadian suffers from food poisoning.

Villeneuve is one of the two drivers at Durango in the Speedcar series but the team announced on Thursday morning that the former Williams, BAR, Renault and BMW Sauber driver is unable to race in Dubai because of a food intoxication. Villeneuve will be replaced by GP2 driver Hamad Al Fardan.

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • RBS to depart Williams after 2010
  • New Force India makes Silverstone debut
  • Allmendinger possibly 'open' to USF1 switch
  • Schu invited to rescue Honda - manager
  • Stewart, Stoddart, muse future of F1 teams
  • New Toro Rosso set for debut next Wednesday
  • No test plans for USF1 in 2009

RBS to depart Williams after 2010
(GMM)  The struggling Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will withdraw its estimated 14m euro sponsorship of the British formula one team Williams at the end of next year.

The deal, one of the main sponsorships for the independent Toyota-powered team, began in 2005, and the current contract is due to expire after the 2010 season.

RBS was hit heavily by the global financial crisis, posting multi-billion losses and subsequently bailed out by the UK government.

"It is imperative that we respond to the reality of the situation we face and that we do so in an orderly way that respects the commercial agreements we have in place and the implications for our partners and the jobs they support," said the British bank's communications director Andrew McLaughlin.

He said Sir Frank Williams has been "supportive" in helping RBS reduce its costs - by as much as 90 per cent in areas such as hospitality - this year and in 2010.

RBS is the next in a line of recent lost sponsorships for Williams, including Lenovo, Petrobras and the multiple Icelandic Baugur brands.

But the Grove based team's chief executive Adam Parr said in a conference call: "No individual sponsor is make or break for us." More ...

NHL Racing completes Homestead test  Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) drivers Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos completed the first open test of the year in preparation for the 2009 IndyCar Series season today at the 1.5 mile Homestead-Miami Speedway.  Venezuelan driver Milka Duno joined them on track for the second and final day in an NHLR-prepared entry in a testing capacity.  Ryan Briscoe set the fastest lap time of the day at 212.156 mph.  Rahal was seventh fastest at 210.088 mph and completed 112 laps, Duno was 15th at 208.984 mph and completed 99 laps and Doornbos was 17th at 208.906 mph and completed 125 laps.  Following are comments from the drivers:

Graham Rahal
IndyCar Photo
Graham Rahal, No. 02 Dallara-Honda-Firestone:  “We had a pretty good day and, overall, a pretty good test.  There are still a lot of things we need to figure out here, a lot of things to make the car more consistent and a little bit quicker.  We definitely need to learn a lot between now and the time we come back here to race in October.  At the end of the day we were pretty quick on our own and ran a 209.7 mph and I don’t know how many guys can really do that so overall I’m pretty happy with our progress.” More ...
KV Racing's Moraes Has Impressive Test  
Mario Moraes
KV Racing Technology driver Mario Moraes put on an impressive performance during two days of open testing, February 24-25, at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida.

Moraes, #5 KV Racing Technology Votorantim Honda/Dallara/Firestone, placed sixth on the combined speed charts with a fast time of 25.3842 seconds (210.603 mph).  He was in the top-six in all four sessions run over the two days and in the top-five in three.  He ended the first day fourth fastest and the second day fifth.  Testing, which included a total of 21 cars, was conducted from 4:00 – 10:00 p.m. both days in an effort to give drivers and teams a feel for conditions on the 1.5-mile high-banked Homestead oval in anticipation of the season ending night race to be held here on October 10.

“KV Racing Technology had a good test.  We were sixth overall, but in the top-five most of the time,” Moraes said.  “Both days we were not worrying about speed.  We were concentrating on finding a good setup on the #5 KV Racing Technology – Votorantim car for the races.” More ...

Briscoe moves to top in Homestead  
Ryan Briscoe
Scott Morris/AR1.com
Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe moved to the top of the time charts midway through the second of two days of IndyCar Series "Spring Training", Wednesday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, to lead a 21-car field of Honda-powered IndyCars as drivers and teams began official preparations for the 2009 season.

Defending series champion Scott Dixon ran quickest on the opening day, and second overall, for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Dixon was followed by Andretti Green Racing teammates Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan in third and fourth, respectively. Returning to IndyCar competition after a one-year absence, Dario Franchitti was ranked fifth, tied to the fourth decimal place by Mario Moraes, the second-year driver making an impressive debut with the KV Racing Technology team after a season with Dale Coyne Racing in 2008.

Pre-season testing continues on the road course at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Alabama, March 22-23. The 18-race 2009 IndyCar Series season commences on with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 5.  More ...

Conquest Racing completes first 2009 test  Conquest Racing completed their first open test of the season tonight at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The team used the two-day test, that was deemed productive, to try out different setups on their #34 Dallara in preparation for the upcoming season.

The team, who called upon 2008 driver Jaime Camara for this test, learned different things during their on-track sessions and accomplished everything they had put on their “to-do” list prior to arriving at Homestead.

“We come out of the test with more knowledge and that can only be a good thing,” expressed team owner Eric Bachelart. “We’ll now go back to the shop and debrief on what we’ve learned in order to further our development while we anxiously await the start of the season.”

Conquest Racing now heads back to Indianapolis as they continue to prepare for their third season of IndyCar Series competition. The team hopes to make an announcement regarding their 2009 driver lineup in the coming weeks. The 2009 IndyCar Series season gets underway April 5 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

tv news
SPEED launches new NASCAR show  The quiet launch of the new SPEED weekly series NASCAR Smarts was intentional.

The late-hatching idea was to create an interactive 30-minute NASCAR trivia show using the enthusiastic crowds that congregate at the SPEED Stage before and after each weekend’s NASCAR races as participants. With SPEED personalities John Roberts, Kyle Petty and Rutledge Wood game for the unrehearsed effort, the crew rolled into Daytona still tinkering with formats, rules and production ideas.

In Fontana, NASCAR Smarts began finding its rhythm and the audience has responded, delivering an average Nielsen Rating of .75 (548,000 households), making it the third most-watched show of the day behind the popular pre-race program NASCAR RaceDay and NASCAR in a Hurry.

“Coming into 2009, we felt very comfortable with our lineup of at-track interview shows and wanted to find a fun way to get the audience more involved in what we do at the track each week,” said Steve Craddock, SPEED SVP of Programming. “We knew it was a bit of a gamble – we didn’t have the show graphics until just before we went on air in Daytona -- but everyone is having a lot of fun with it and the fans really appreciate being included.” More ...

Andersen Racing Becomes Presenting Sponsor  As part of its long-established role as a leader in the development of open-wheel talent, Andersen Racing announced today that it will be the presenting sponsor of the Toronto Racing Association of Karters (TRAK) Series in 2009.

The not-for-profit TRAK corporation plans to stage 14 events, primarily at Goodwood Kartways in Stouffville, Ontario, Canada.

Andersen Racing competes in karting, Formula BMW, Star Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights from its headquarters at Andersen RacePark in Palmetto, Fla.  Sponsored by Allied Building Products Corp., it is the official development team of Rahal Letterman Racing, a top IndyCar Series and American Le Mans Series team. More ...

racing news
Memorial Services for Larry H. Miller Announced  UPDATE
The viewing on Friday, February 27 is from 4-8 p.m. in the VIP room at EnergySolutions Arena.  This viewing is open to the public and attendees should enter the building through the main entrance on the plaza level where they will then be directed to the VIP room.  The family has requested that there be no media coverage of the viewing other than one pool still photographer who will then distribute still photos to all print and television media accordingly.  Details on how the distribution will take place will be available in the next few days.

The family asks that those in attendance (public) please refrain from bringing cameras or recording devices to the viewing.  Media is welcome to attend with the public, but is not permitted to bring still or video cameras or any other type of recording device.  There will be no media section and no credentials issued nor any other special accommodations for media who choose to attend.

TV stations that wish to park outside of EnergySolutions Arena at any time during the viewing may do so by contacting Trent Falcone, Marketing Director for EnergySolutions Arena.  We request that each station bring no more than one truck due to limited available space in the designated parking areas.  Trent will direct you to an appropriate parking spot.  tfalcone@energysolutionsarena.com or (801) 325-2063

The funeral on Saturday, February 28 is at noon in the arena bowl at EnergySolutions Arena.  The funeral is a religious service and the public is welcome to attend.  The family has requested that there be no media coverage of the funeral other than one pool still photographer who will then distribute still photos to all print and television media accordingly.  Details on how the distribution will take place will be available in the next few days.

The family asks that those in attendance (public) please refrain from bringing cameras or recording devices to the funeral.  Media is welcome to attend with the public, but is not permitted to bring still or video cameras or any other type of recording device.  There will be no media section and no credentials issued for the funeral nor any other special accommodations for media who choose to attend.

TV stations that wish to park outside of EnergySolutions Arena at any time during the funeral services may do so by contacting Trent Falcone, Marketing Director for EnergySolutions Arena.  We request that each station bring no more than one truck due to limited available space in the designated parking areas.  Trent will direct you to an appropriate parking spot.  tfalcone@energysolutionsarena.com or (801) 325-2063 More ...

Grand-Am gives out free ticket vouchers for fans  Grand-Am Road Racing and Homestead-Miami Speedway have teamed to reward race fans by offering free ticket vouchers for the March 14-15 Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge at the speedway.

Grand-Am Fan Appreciation Weekend will feature a pair of KONI Challenge races, with the Street Tuner class racing on Saturday and the Grand Sport class competing on Sunday in a pair of two and a half-hour races. Each day will also include a Ford Mustang Challenge race.

Ticket vouchers are available by visiting the www.grand-am.com home page and following the easy instructions to receive a free ticket voucher for both days of racing. In addition, the voucher may be reproduced as many times as needed to take the entire family and friends to the event. Tickets will be sold at the gate for $10. Parking is free. More ...

DuPont slashes NASCAR budget  DuPont, long recognized as the leader in hospitality among NASCAR sponsors, is drastically reducing its program this year as part of its companywide cost cutting.

Instead of entertaining the 17,000 guests it had at 37 races last year, DuPont will buy hospitality packages at just six races this season and will host fewer than 2,000 guests.

“The economy has had a huge impact on us,” said Larry Deas, DuPont’s motorsports manager. “The current environment along with the high cost of hospitality have forced us to make significant cuts.”

Whether DuPont’s cuts signal the beginning of the end for its sponsorship of Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet remains to be seen. DuPont, which has been on the car since 1993, has been the only primary sponsor Gordon has known at Hendrick Motorsports and together they own the longest driver-sponsor-owner streak in the sport. More ...

Milestone birthday for Yacamán  
Gustavo Yacamán
Gustavo Yacamán has been waiting for Feb. 25, 2009, since he signed with Sam Schmidt Motorsports late last year.

Yacamán turned 18 on Feb. 25, clearing the way for him to get behind the wheel of a Firestone Indy Lights car for the first time in a private test at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 26.

"I'm really looking forward to running," he said. "I've spent two days in the spotters' booth watching everyone run in traffic, and I've learned a lot without even being in the car. It's going to seem like it's not even my first day in the car with all that I've learned. I hope it's going to be a pretty amazing experience and that I can do a good job." More ...

Seen in Homestead  Several veteran IndyCar Series drivers attended the Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway to continue meeting with team principals in the hopes of securing a ride before the first race of the season on April 5.

Among those walking the paddock were race winners Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tomas Scheckter, as well as Bruno Junqueira, Oriol Servia and Jeff Simmons.

“It’s tough for the drivers, and it’s tough for the teams,” Servia said. “I’d say the two best transition teams last year had to change their alignment, so it just shows how it is. It makes you wonder what we have to do. I’m here because I want to do this. I haven’t looked at any other series, because this is what I believe, and I believe in the product.

“Everybody has the perfect excuse right now with the (financial) crisis. It’s tough, but I still think there is room for open wheel even with the crisis. People still want to see us racing. We provide a good show, and I’m a good driver. That’s why I keep my hopes up that something good will happen.

“There’s a new project that’s really close to getting the green light, but every day there seems to be a little issue that it hasn’t happened yet. There are a couple other teams that as soon as they get something ready I’ll get the phone call, but it’s just tough.”

21 drivers continue testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway  IndyCar Series drivers and teams continued preparations for the 2009 season with a second night of testing on the 1.5-mile, variably banked oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Twenty-one drivers were on track, one more than on Feb. 24, due to the addition of Dan Wheldon, who missed the first night of testing to attend a National Guard Foundation banquet in Washington, D.C.

At the 6:15 p.m. dinner break, Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe topped the speed chart with a best lap of 212.161 mph followed by reigning series champion Scott Dixon at 211.159.

Testing continues through 10 p.m. EST.

Photos from Homestead updated  We had a processing problem with our photos from Homestead last night resulting in poor quality images.  The photos have now been replaced with better quality images.  We apologize for the error.
McLaren's Whitmarsh backs return to US  
Martin Whitmarsh
McLaren's incoming team principal Martin Whitmarsh has said Formula One is looking to reassert itself in America and welcomed the arrival of the USF1 team in 2010.

"The United States of America is clearly a crucial market for all Formula One's car manufacturers - and for many of its sponsors, too," Whitmarsh told Autosport.

"The fact that at the moment the Formula One calendar boasts no United States Grand Prix is therefore a great pity, and it goes without saying that all at McLaren Mercedes would applaud the return of the United States Grand Prix to the F1 calendar - either at Indianapolis or elsewhere.

"Indeed, a desire to reinstate the United States Grand Prix has recently been discussed during meetings of the FOTA commercial commission, which is headed up by Renault's Flavio Briatore, so it would be fair to say that it's something that's already on the teams' wish-list for the future - and I know that both the FIA and FOM are supportive of that collective wish." More ...

GM losses mount  General Motors Corp., already surviving on $13.4 billion in U.S. aid, will probably report a fourth straight annual loss tomorrow as Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner asks the Treasury for more cash to finish the year.

Wagoner, 56, will be in Washington to meet with President Barack Obama’s auto committee after reporting an annual operating loss estimated at $26.83 a share and a quarterly shortfall of $7.85, according to 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. GM said Feb. 17 it needs at least $2 billion in additional loans next month or it will run out of cash.

The GM shortfall will accentuate the needs at the largest U.S. automaker as it struggles to endure losses totaling $73.1 billion since the end of 2004. A collapse in U.S. sales and eroding demand outside the U.S. have forced GM to seek as much as $16.6 billion in new aid to stay in business. More ...

Keith Wiggins Comments on New F1 Team  
Keith Wiggins
A new United States-based Formula One Team was announced yesterday in Charlotte, N.C.  The new team, USF1, will be the only Formula One entry based in the United States.

Keith Wiggins, the owner of HVM Racing in the IndyCar Series, is the former owner and principal of Pacific Racing and Pacific Grand Prix.  Wiggins led Pacific Racing through and won every rank of European open-wheel racing to Formula One.  Wiggins, along with Roger Penske, and Carl Haas are the only owners in the IndyCar paddock to have owned and operated a Formula One operation.

HVM Racing Team Owner Keith Wiggins comments on new Formula One operation: More ...

Team Stargate Worlds enters Atlantic Series  The worlds of gaming, racing, Hollywood, and women sports all merged today when it was announced during the annual MAZDASPEED Motorsports Media Lunch in Irvine, California that Frankie Muniz and Simona De Silvestro would be teaming up for the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda as part of Team Stargate Worlds™.

The team will be operated by US RaceTronics but will run under the banner of Team Stargate Worlds and features sponsorship from Stargate Worlds™ developer Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment™ and publisher FireSky™. The sponsorship is unique in that Muniz and De Silvestro will be featured in the upcoming Stargate Worlds massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). Based on Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (MGM) very successful Stargate franchise, Stargate Worlds features tactical modern combat vs. science-fiction weapons and instant travel across the galaxy in a story-driven MMO.

With a challenging 12-race 2009 schedule and a significant prize package that includes a $1 million prize for the series champion, Muniz returns to the Atlantic series after a solid season in 2008 in which he earned three top-10 race results and narrowly missed finishing inside the top 10 in the championship. This marks Muniz’s third year in the series and his second year with the team. More ...
Dakar Rally to return to South America  The organizers of the Dakar Rally have said it will return to South America next year, following its successful hosting in Argentina and Chile this January.

“Based on the success and popularity of the 2009 Dakar held for the first time in Argentina and Chile, A.S.O. (Amaury Sports Organization) and the two countries have decided together to renew the organization of the rally in 2010 in South America,” a statement on http://www.dakar.com/ said.

The race was moved from its traditional route in West Africa because of concerns about terrorism which had caused the 2007 event to be cancelled. The 2009 race began and finished in Buenos Aires.

The Dakar is controversial, particularly because of the 26 competitors and 25 other people that have now died because of the race. It was originally conceived 31 years ago as a trans-Saharan race from Paris to the Senegalese capital.

Williams F1 hit by RBS cutbacks  BBC Sport has learned the Royal Bank of Scotland is to end its sponsorship of the Formula One team Williams as a direct result of the economic downturn.

The partnership, which began in 2005, will conclude when the current contract finishes at the end of the 2010 season.  The move is part of RBS proposals to cut its funding of British sport by a massive 50% by 2010.  The bank also says it plans to review its sponsorship deals with individuals such as tennis star Andy Murray.

"We recognize that we are now operating in a very different economic environment and have been reviewing all of our activities since October," said Dr Andrew McLaughlin, RBS group director.  It is imperative that we respond to the reality of the situation we face and that we do so in an orderly way that respects the commercial agreements we have in place and the implications for our partners and the jobs they support."

The news is a blow to Williams, one of the few independent teams in F1, but team principal Sir Frank Williams says they would battle on.

"RBS has been a great partner for this team and we are grateful for the way that they have handled this difficult situation," he said.  "We are in a strong position to ride out the inevitable challenges of the next two years."

Homestead Notebook - Tuesday  UPDATE CORRECTION: Just to give credit where credit is due, Mark and Mike from the NHLR paint shop is responsible for the nice paint job on the #23 car, along with bodywork help from all the guys in the race shop.  There was no Haas Automotive involvement.

02/25/09 Tuesday was a perfect day to go racing in Homestead, a balmy 72 degrees.  Contrast and compare that to the +1 F the teams left behind in Indianapolis.  Nice paint job on the #23 car, done by the guys at Haas Automotive. The original tub came from Vision Racing, this one was in excellent condition, unlike most of the stuff the ex-Champ Car teams received last year. Rob from RuSPORT is the acting chief mechanic on the #23 car, hoping that the CITGO deal will go through so he can have a job for 2009...........Noticed some former Forsythe guys with AGR today.  Phil LePan is not one of them but he was there, walking around, probably looking for employment......We were told that only 2 guys are left at Forsythe. Kenny Siwieck is not one of them.  We do not know what he is up to, but just last year he was looking forward to the challenge of working with Tracy...... sad.......Milka comes with her own entourage, reminds us of the Brazilian drivers in CART in the '90s, camera crews, etc. Much was said about her signing with NHLR, most of it was negative, but the time sheets show that she is not last.  We heard the NHLR guys did not have to take a pay cut like the guys at
The car of "Bobby D" Robert Doornbos
Target [10%] and they won Indy and the Championship.........Bobby D appears to have embraced his American nickname - it is on his helmet design. Notice the sponsorship logos on his #06 car!!! The back of his overalls are sponsored by a racing version of the great all-American fix-all tool - duct tape ;).  We hope that ING money arrives soon so he can get some new threads. The crew was impressed with his effort and feedback. Apparently he did not ask for any changes in the setup that would have produced thrilling moments on the track and a lot of hours in the shop......Arie Luyendyk was with the team and on the radio with Milka, we assume he is there as a driver coach.

Looks like Al Jr. is working with IRL, have no idea what his job is though. Perhaps he is the poster boy for the 'don't drink and beat your girlfriend' campaign. Bobby D was pretty quick right away.......Briscoe drove car #3 and #6. Power did not get in the car until 1.25 hours after the start of the session. Then repeated yellow flags came out and he did not get much track time.......The new mufflers do change the engine sound but not by much. It is no longer painful but still annoying. The result of the reworked exhaust are two big 'bumps' on the bodywork that do not improve the challenged looks of the Dallara.....We now hear that the IRL will have a road course test at Sebring in the middle of March [12,13,14 we think or around those dates].  That info is not posted on their website.
Study touts Aus GP venue alternative  (GMM)  A feasibility study into the possible construction of a formula one circuit near Melbourne has been completed.

Headed by Linfox, an Australian transport company, the $200m venue would be capable of hosting the grand prix away from Albert Park, south of Melbourne.

The track would be located at Avalon airport, a 45-minute drive from the city.  Avalon is operated by Linfox.

The Victorian state government's support of the loss-making Australian grand prix is controversial, and Linfox director Andrew Fox said Avalon would be a cheaper alternative.

"If the Government could extend the agreement with Bernie Ecclestone then we believe we can justify a new facility of an F1 standard -- world's best practice -- at Avalon," he is quoted as saying by the local Herald Sun.

Fox said a permanent facility would cost less to prepare each year and that it "would be wrong of the government not to address something that might be of less expense for the taxpayer".

The Albert Park contract is set to run until 2015.  Linfox has not held any talks with the government, and a spokesman said moving the race is not under consideration.

Bernie, Lewis back F1-linked kart series  (GMM)  A Bernie Ecclestone-backed karting series will support formula one races in Europe beginning in 2010.

Britain-based Formula Kart Stars, formerly the Stars Of Tomorrow series, was launched recently with 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton in attendance.

Organizers said the series could spread to overseas grands prix in the future, and 23-year-old Hamilton is the official patron.

"He has always been supportive of the championship and has remained involved ever since he raced with us more than 10 years ago," said series director Carolynn Hoy.

Ford execs, workers to take pay hit  Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. and CEO Alan Mulally said they would take a voluntary 30 percent pay cut Tuesday as the struggling automaker asked union workers to accept major concessions that could cost them thousands of dollars a year.

The company also is eliminating bonuses for all salaried employees for a second consecutive year and is suspending cash compensation for board members to help meet its goal of returning to profitability in 2011, according to a memo e-mailed to white-collar workers by the two executives Tuesday afternoon.

"We know these are challenging times and we all are affected by the tough actions we are taking," Ford and Mulally said in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Detroit News. "Both of us have voluntarily agreed to accept a 30 percent reduction in salary for 2009 and 2010." More ...

Rahal, Doornbos & Duno Maximize Track Time  Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) drivers Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos made the most of the 4-10 p.m. session on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval today.  They were joined on the track by Venezuelan driver Milka Duno who is testing with the team here.  Following are comments from the drivers:

Graham Rahal, No. 02 Dallara-Honda-Firestone:  “It was nice to get back in the car for the first time since Australia overall, and for the first time on an oval since September.  The first couple of laps feel different for sure.  At the beginning the car wasn’t quite what we expected and we struggled a bit up until the dinner break.  We made some good, positive changes and kind of inched up on getting it better and towards the end the car was pretty good.  We still have a ways to go to get the car comfortable but we’re getting closer.  I think we have a good starting point tomorrow.  Hopefully we will make some good changes overnight and build from there.  Our lap times are pretty honest, we didn’t get a tow.  On our own we clearly need to be quicker but we will get there.  Martin (Pare; new engineer) and I are working together well and he gets along great with the guys which is important.  I think we will be able to get some good results down the road.  He brings a lot of experience after having worked at Andretti Green and that can help us a lot.” More ...

Papis hopes to debut at Vegas  Max Papis will make his 2009 NSCS debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Italian driver was the 2004 Grand-Am Daytona Prototype champion after a season in which he registered four wins, eight podium-finishes and 11 poles in 12 races utilizing a Lexus-powered entry. He earned the nickname ‘Mad Max’ for his never give up attitude during the 1996 24 hours at Daytona. Max and his wife, Tatiana, recently welcomed their second son, Matteo Fittipaldi Papis, on February 14. Matteo weighed in at 6 lbs. 10 oz., and measured 18 inches. Toyota PR
No blown engine for Harvick  Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines employees discovered a punctured oil filter on the engine of Kevin Harvick’s #29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevy after hard contact with the outside wall of Auto Club Speedway on lap 208. The filter was replaced and the engine restarted but the damage done to the car prevented the team from returning to the race and ending Harvick's DNF streak at 81, 3 short of the all-time record. RCR PR
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Bernie approves USF1 project for 2010
  • USF1 to begin carmaker engine talks for 2010
  • Stewart now willing to 'help' RBS amid crisis
  • A1 boss still interested in F1 foray
  • Brawn 'optimistic' of Honda team survival
  • Boats to boost Valencia ambience in 2009
  • Raikkonen friends with Guns N' Roses rocker
  • Drivers will pay for licenses - Raikkonen

Bernie approves USF1 project for 2010
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has given the 'USF1' concept the thumbs-up, British principal Peter Windsor admitted during the launch of the American formula one team on Tuesday.

"He said, 'Great, get it done,'" Windsor, a former team manager and now full-time grand prix reporter and writer, said of his conversation with the sport's influential chief executive.

The main media interest about USF1 so far has been the possible identity of the two American-born drivers to occupy the cockpits next year.

Racing great and 1978 world champion Mario Andretti joined the USF1 broadcast and insisted his 21-year-old grandson Marco would be an ideal candidate.

But Marco, who tested for Honda a couple of years ago and is currently testing his IndyCar in Florida, commented: "It would be risky because it's such a new team, that's all I would say."

It also emerges that Scott Speed, the most recent American to contest grands prix, has "no interest" in leaving his current NASCAR career to return to F1, the Californian newspaper Berrynessa Sun claims.

Graham Rahal, the son of Bobby Rahal, was also mentioned by the USF1 chiefs on Tuesday.

Windsor, and his USF1 partner Ken Anderson, confirmed that the former $48m FIA entry bond barrier to starting a team is no longer required, while admitting that the global recession is actually a help to their plans for a low-budget, small-staffed team.

"For those out there that say, 'Where's all the money?  Where's the huge facility?  Where's the money pouring out of the sky?' ... that isn't going to happen with USF1," Windsor, who has only sought investors wanting to buy small portions of the team, explained.

USF1 to begin carmaker engine talks for 2010
(GMM)  Principals of the newly-launched USF1 team will commence talks with every carmaker in the sport about a supply of engines in 2010, Ken Anderson has revealed.

The American engineer, setting up the Charlotte-based outfit with British reporter Peter Windsor, said on Tuesday that they will shop around for the best deal but are not expecting to have trouble finding a technical partner.

"(For) every manufacturer in formula one now, their biggest market is the United States, the only exception to that being Renault," he said.

Anderson admitted that the engine talks, as well as negotiations about possible US-born drivers next year, have not begun yet.

"We will be sending out proposals to all the manufacturers currently in formula one and let them know we are here," he said. More ...

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