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Grammy winners to IndyCar Series event Grammy winners to IndyCar Series eventTarget, XM Satellite Radio and Phoenix International Raceway announced March 2 that Grammy Award-winning Velvet Revolver will perform at the Phoenix International Raceway Speed Jam on March 19, following the IRL IndyCar® Series XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 race. The concert will begin immediately following the race with an opening set by Silvertide. The Speed Jam event also will feature the Indy Racing Fan Experience and an all-star lineup of motocross athletes. 

Velvet Revolver, comprised of Scott Weiland (lead vocals), Slash (guitar), Duff McKagan (bass), Matt Sorum (drums) and Dave Kushner (guitar) is touring arenas in connection with their platinum-plus debut Contraband album, featuring the Grammy Award-winning and No. 1 rock single "Slither," as well as the band's other No. 1 rock hit "Fall to Pieces" and their new single "Dirty Little Thing."

Contraband debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart, selling more than 250,000 copies.  Notably, this marks the best-ever debut for a new rock artist in the SoundScan era.  Contraband sold more than three million copies worldwide. Rolling Stone calls the album a "powerhouse," Newsweek describes the band as "truly explosive" and Maxim says "Slash and Scott Weiland bring unpredictability back to rock."

"Target wants the younger fan to check out the exhilaration of IndyCar Series racing and this unique partnership will allow that to happen," said John Remington, vice president of communications for Target.  "Target is very excited to bring together such an exciting entertainment package for the Phoenix area and IndyCar racing.  Fans will see a great race and be able to rock with Velvet Revolver."

Motocross athlete and Glendale, Ariz.-native Nate Adams, who took first place in Freestyle Motocross in the 2004 X Games, will appear at Speed Jam along with Tommy Clowers, multiple X Games medalist in the X Games Step Up. Jeff Tilton, first place winner at Adrenaline X and Vans Triple Crown Biggest Whip, 19-year-old phenom Niki Danielson and 1999 IFMA Rookie of the Year John Distler will appear as well.

The riders will sign autographs and perform freestyle motocross demos at various times throughout the weekend just outside of Turn Two at Phoenix International Raceway. 

Designed to bring fans of all ages closer to the excitement of the IndyCar Series, the IndyCar Series Fan Experience is divided into four properties -Pole Position, Tech, XM Live Stage and Pit Stop. Fans can experience what it is like to be an IndyCar Series driver or crew member and learn about the cars in an entertaining fashion.

"This will be the first concert held at Phoenix International Raceway, and we're pleased to have such a talented group like Velvet Revolver performing for our fans," said Phoenix International Raceway president Bryan R. Sperber.  "With the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200, Indy Racing Fan Experience, Velvet Revolver and motocross exhibition, everyone here will be in for an adrenaline-charged weekend."
Tickets for Speed Jam are available to the public for $20 and include admission into the IndyCar Series race on March 19, along with admission to the concert and motocross events.

Both events will take place outside the track near Turn Two following the race.  Fans can order tickets to Speed Jam by calling 1-866-408-RACE (7223) and mention the promotional code: Target.  Tickets also are available through the Phoenix International Raceway website at www.phoenixraceway.com.  The IndyCar Series XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 race will be nationally televised on ABC at 3 p.m. (EST) and nationally broadcast by the IMS Radio Network.

IRL to dump Methanol for Ethanol IRL to dump Methanol for EthanolGasoline Alley at the Indianapolis 500 will soon become Ethanol Alley: The Indy Racing League is switching from methanol to a new mixture relying on corn-derived ethanol. The league's IndyCar Series will start using ethanol next year, the league said Wednesday.  It's a small market for ethanol, involving 160,000 gallons out of 3.5 billion produced each year. But it's a big symbolic gesture meant to counter perceptions that ethanol doesn't perform as well as gasoline or other fuels.

"It's a performance fuel that's going to go around the track at 220 miles an hour," said Dave Vander Griend, president of ICM Inc., a Kansas company that builds ethanol plants.

Racing officials say they're promoting the importance of the environment and of homegrown fuel.   "In the last 10 years, motor sports has really broken into the mainstream in helping promote and publicize sponsors' products — it's not just motor oil anymore," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president of public affairs for the league.

"It's about a broad range of consumer products. The ethanol industry, as many other industries have, recognizes that motor sports is a powerful promotion tool," he said.

Indy Racing is announcing the switch Thursday in Washington with Talent and other lawmakers on hand.

In the Indy series, ethanol will replace methanol, a natural gas-made fuel that replaced gasoline on the circuit in the 1970s because it was less likely to ignite. IRL cars are built differently from NASCAR vehicles, with no fenders and an open cockpit.

Ethanol, too, is less combustible than gasoline, but engines will need fine-tuning to start burning it.

The changes will be slight, said race car driver Paul Dana. Engines will need alterations because ethanol burns hotter, Dana said, and horsepower will drop slightly while fuel economy rises slightly.  "All of those are extremely subtle," Dana said. "It's more of a software problem in this day and age of computer-controlled engines."

Cars in the Indy series will use a blend with 10% ethanol next year, then switch to 100% ethanol in 2007.

Methanol producers are disappointed in the switch, said Gregory Dolan, vice president of communications and policy for the Methanol Institute. Methanol still will be used in other racing series except for NASCAR, where gasoline is used.

"I think they'll find, switching to ethanol, their fuel costs will be rising, and they may find some period of adjustment as they try to transition their high-performance vehicles from one alcohol fuel to the other," Dolan said.   "This probably has more to do with the politics of corn than it does with the actual need for high-performance racing fuel," he said.  Excerpts from USA Today  [Editor's Note: The Superfund car's V10 engine also runs on ethanol, so this isn't the first time ethanol will be used in race engines, and it won't be the last.] 

MB2 Motorsports lands new sponsor MB2 Motorsports lands new sponsorWiley X Eyewear, the preferred eyewear of the U.S. Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies, has joined MB2 Motorsports as an associate sponsor on the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet driven by Joe Nemechek in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.  According to the New England Journal of Medicine (Dec. 9, 2004), Wiley X ballistic eyewear is one of the main reasons for the decreasing amount of eye injuries suffered by soldiers.   Along with manufacturing high velocity eye armor for the military, Wiley X produces a line of specialty eyewear for the motorcycle, mountain/street bike, boating and fishing markets as well as a line of sophisticated sunglasses for both casual and active wear.
Economic professor says don't believe NASCAR numbers Economic professor says don't believe NASCAR numbersIn this Portland Oregonian article, an economics professor cuts to shreds the exaggerated numbers being tossed around by groups in Oregon and Washington as to the economic impact a NASCAR Nextel Cup race would have on the local economy. The numbers are blown out of proportion by a factor of 10 and most of the money is spent inside the track where it lines the pockets of the France family.
San Jose schedule of events San Jose schedule of eventsSan Jose Grand Prix officials announced today the program of events for the inaugural running of northern California’s historic first downtown street race, July 29-31.

The San Jose Grand Prix, which will be contested on the streets of downtown San Jose, will consist of three days of practice, qualifying and racing plus drifting exhibitions, autograph sessions, a Fanfest and Fan Forum. In addition to the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series race, set for Sunday, July 31 at 1:30 p.m., the weekend will feature Toyota Atlantic and Trans-Am Road Racing contests. Event organizers have also reached agreement with the U. S. Touring Car Championship Series and the Historic Stock Cars to hold races thus providing a full and exciting weekend for northern California race fans. More.....

Yet another new sponsor for NASCAR Yet another new sponsor for NASCARUS Mortgage Corporation and its subsidiary, CU National, have finalized a deal to sponsor the Red Cactus Racing No. 73 Chevrolet driven by Eric Jones for a scheduled 19 NASCAR Busch Series events and two NEXTEL Cup events in 2005. Under the agreement, US Mortgage will be the primary sponsor of the No. 73 for the NASCAR Busch Series and NEXTEL Cup Series events at Watkins Glen on August 13th and 14th.

“As US Mortgage and CU National continue to aggressively grow, it makes perfect sense to partner with a talented, aggressive, growing NASCAR team,” stated US Mortgage President Michael McGrath. “It takes extraordinary teamwork to compete at the highest levels of NASCAR and it takes extraordinary teamwork to provide the very best customer service in the mortgage loan business. Red Cactus Racing’s commitment to excellence and teamwork mirrors our company values so we are thrilled to sponsor the No. 73 team.”

“We are all very excited about US Mortgage joining our team,” said Red Cactus Racing Owner Dan Griffin. “Their support and commitment is outstanding and we look forward to great success on and off the track for US Mortgage.”

US Mortgage will save NASCAR fans time and money by offering instant mortgage loan approvals and waiving any associated credit report fees. NASCAR fans will also enjoy the unparalleled customer service provided by the US Mortgage loan specialist team. As a thank you to the NASCAR fan community, US Mortgage will also send one lucky NASCAR fan on an all-inclusive trip for four to Homestead, Florida for the season-ending NASCAR weekend.  These four fans will be the official VIP guests of US Mortgage Racing.

“NASCAR has the most giving and dedicated fans in the world,” added McGrath. “We are dedicated to giving back to this community by becoming a ‘mortgage loan pit-crew’ for its fans.”

Mexican sponsor for Harvick Mexican sponsor for HarvickKevin Harvick will drive a specially painted No. 21 Chevrolet in the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series race – the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez – on Sunday, March 6, 2005, in Mexico City. Harvick’s car will feature graphics of one of Mexico’s leading brands of spicy candy – Pelon Pelo Rico.

Hershey Foods, sponsor of the No. 21 Reese’s Chevrolet Busch Series car, is taking the opportunity to highlight one of its newest brands, and to introduce the very popular Pelon Pelo Rico candy to the U.S. Hispanic market.

“Hershey is combining the excitement of NASCAR with one of Mexico’s best loved brands,” said Tom Hernquist, Senior Vice President, President U.S. Confectionery, Hershey Foods. “The Pelon Pelo Rico car will provide tremendous exposure for this brand in the U.S.  We are thrilled that Kevin will be driving this car in the first NASCAR race in Mexico.”

As for Harvick, he also is looking forward to this weekend, “I think Mexico will prove to be a great move for NASCAR. The reaction from the sponsors has been fantastic, as many will be sporting special paint schemes for the race,” continued Harvick. “ Fans in Mexico City love racing and I am sure that they will enjoy NASCAR.”

GP2 test beset with problems GP2 test beset with problemsAutosport Magazine reports that despite the positive press releases from the series, the first official GP2 group test at the Paul Ricard circuit was beset with problems for the Dallara-built car, which ultimately resulted in running being brought to a premature end. Some teams experienced a massive deterioration in performance after as little as 20 kilometers. Coloni Motorsport’s Gianmaria Bruni suffered a complete failure at almost 270km/h (167mph), although the huge run-off area at the French circuit meant the former Minardi driver came to a halt without damaging the car. Renault Development Driver Heikki Kovalainen had an even more scary moment when the rear wing of his Arden International car broke on the main straight. However, like Bruni, the Finn stopped the car without hitting anything.

Racing Engineering boss Alfonso de Orleans said: “I’m happy with the car. This is just the first test. If these problems still exist at the third test, then I’d be worried.”

A series of reliability issues with the brakes, steering wheels and bodywork meant that some teams were unable to complete any endurance running and led to an agreement not to issue any times from the test. The most persistent issue was with the steering wheel-mounted paddleshift systems, which were randomly selecting gears without any input from the driver. Some teams went through as many as five different units before the problem was cured.

Industry News
Luyendyk's father dies Luyendyk's father diesJaap Luyendyk, the former Formula Vee racer whose experience and car preparation skills paved son Arie’s path to the top of US motorsport, died last month. Luyendyk Sr looked after Arie’s Super Vee machinery in the 1970s, and continued to race himself. He was committed to helping Dutch drivers, the most recent being Jos Verstappen, for whom he built gearboxes.  Autosport Magazine
JV knocks Dave Richards JV knocks Dave RichardsJacques Villeneuve says that Dave Richards 'poisoned' the paddock against him.  Richards was angry at former BAR boss Craig Pollock for reasons which didn't concern me," he told British newspaper, The Guardian.

"His way of getting at Craig was to get at me because I was part of the team before him. Richards didn't like that. That's what he does with everyone. If you look at his career, even in rally driving, you'll see he spends a lot of time destroying people. I don't know why. Maybe it makes him feel good and powerful.

"The media and the paddock went along with Richards - and that disillusioned me. Now he is gone the paddock is positive towards me again and that's great, but I'm sure it will take only five minutes for them to turn. Whenever you speak your mind in F1, 90 per cent of the media will use it against you because they still want to go to the teams and have their meals and glasses of wine - and then a few years later they say, 'Oh, you did the right thing.'

"It doesn't help to be honest in F1; it just makes life difficult. But I guess you sleep well because you know you are true to yourself."

"I don't regret leaving Williams though - because BAR came good," he added.

"It was always going to take a few years for the hard work to come to fruition. Sadly I wasn't there when it came together. So the move from Williams wasn't a bad thing. The bad thing was David Richards.

"People always said that there was bad blood between me and Jenson Button. But that was just part of Richards' plan. It was never about me and Jenson - we actually got on. It was always down to Richards.

"Jenson is very fast. There's no doubt about that. He's also a hard worker. He had a strong season last year and that will give him confidence. Jenson's up there with the best but he's yet to win a race. That's the next step. But when he says him and Kimi [Raikkonen] and [Juan Pablo] Montoya are [Michael] Schumacher's equal, I just look at Michael's seven world championships.  He's far ahead."

Racing Greats Lobby NC Racing Greats Lobby NCRacing greats Bobby Allison, Junior Johnson, and Benny Parsons lobbied the Legislature to lend support for a resolution to honor the memory of NASCAR aces and promote a racing museum in the state. Lawmakers in both chambers unanimously approved the resolution as part of their effort to protect a $1.5 billion racing industry that employs about 10,000 people in North Carolina. As the sport increases in popularity, so does the competition from other states to lure it away. But lawmakers and others say North Carolina is the best place for a museum. Stock car racing started here and a few hundred race teams -- NASCAR and otherwise -- are located around Charlotte. Putting a museum in the Charlotte area makes sense for tourists who also could also visit their favorite race teams, Parsons said. "You can see all the past and in 15 minutes see the future," Parsons said between legislative sessions. The children of Wendell Scott, who in 1963 became the first black NASCAR driver to win a race, also attended. Scott died of cancer in 1990. Sen. Charles Dannelly noted the importance of diversity in the sport. Scott, who raced from 1949-1973, made his name when "the ruler of the South was the KKK," he said. Gov. Mike Easley announced a 19-member North Carolina Motorsports Advisory Council designed to recommend methods to improve and expand the racing industry in the state. Members include racing great and car owner Richard Petty, Hendrick Motorsports chairman Rick Hendrick and Chad Knaus, Jimmy Johnson's crew chief. The council's first meeting will be later this year. ESPN.com/AP
Eidswick sets modest goals for 2005 Eidswick sets modest goals for 2005[Editor's Note:  Recall our recent article stating that 2005 will be a year of laying a solid foundation for Champ Car, i.e. modest growth but establishing a sound footing.] "What we did in the first year of the new Champ Car was put on 14 fabulous races that featured strong attendance and competition and produced a great champion in Sebastien Bourdais," Champ Car CEO Dick Eidswick said. "The teams, the fans, the sponsors -- everybody stepped up and supported us. It wasn't just the three owners carrying the flag out front. We had a lot of help.

"This year, I would like to see improved distribution of our television product, both domestically and worldwide, because that is very important to our series. I would also like to see an improvement in the performance of the promoters so they see a better economic picture than they have in the recent past. And I'd like us continue to make progress for the longer-term future, by getting our schedule and television package and sponsor relationships out in the third quarter." National Speed Sport News (NSSN)

Brandon Miller on Standby for Harvick Brandon Miller on Standby for Harvick Kevin Harvick, scheduled to drive the PELON PELO RICO Chevrolet in the Mexico 200, is still sore from his crash during the Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 17. Brandon Miller will be in Mexico in case Harvick decides during practice for the Mexico 200 that he cannot drive.  Harvick’s ribs and sternum are sore. He says he has trouble getting in and out of the car. He plans to test his ability to shift the car in the turns during practice.  “I am extremely excited to run in Mexico,” Harvick said.  “Well, I am hoping I can drive the No. 21 Chevrolet.  My ribs and chest are still really sore from my crash in Daytona, and I am not sure if I can shift the car through the turns in the road course.  If I cannot run this weekend, Brandon Miller will take over.”

If Harvick is unable to drive this weekend in Mexico, it will mark the first race Harvick has missed due to injury.  This will be very disappointing for Harvick and crew chief Rick Viers. They felt they had a great chance to win the inaugural Busch Series race in Mexico City.    “Kevin has always been pretty good at road-course events,” Viers said.  “He will have a few road-course experts to deal with, but the experts always seem to have bad luck.  He will also have Robby Gordon to deal with, but in the past couple of road-course events, Kevin has been a thorn in Gordon’s side.  We really like our chances of winning this event.”

St. Pete ticket sales brisk St. Pete ticket sales briskBarry Green reports that things are going well for the April 3rd IRL street race in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Most suites and chalets are sold he reports, and RV sites are enjoying a brisk sale. NSSN
ALMS title sponsorship up for grabs ALMS title sponsorship up for grabsThe American Le Mans Series has a $5 million price tag on the title sponsorship it is currently offering for the first time. A three-year minimum is a condition for which the sponsor this year will get some 35 live TV hours on CBS and Speed Channel, branding on all vehicles and some driver rights. NSSN
Industry News
Getting close on Milwaukee Mile promoter Getting close on Milwaukee Mile promoterWisconsin racing fans are anxiously awaiting word on who the next The Milwaukee Mile promoter will be. State Fair officials say a dozen “bidders” have been trimmed “to half that,” and a decision is due shortly. The state ran the famed track the past two seasons with unsatisfactory financial results. This year’s race dates have been booked, so the winning bidder must observe them. National Speed Sport News (NSSN)
NASCAR pays off big for VISA NASCAR pays off big for VISAResearch by credit-card issuer Visa into its two-year-old NASCAR promotion revealed success on a grand scale, so much so Visa will provide members a two-week window in May to buy tickets to the 2006 Daytona 500 (a traditional sellout) before they are available to the general public. NSSN
McLaren's critical IT partner CA McLaren's critical IT partner CAIn the build-up to the start of the season, the technology partnership between McLaren Racing and management software company Computer Associates has continued to develop. Computer Associates (CA) have been a Technology Partner since 1997.

"We are not able to start our cars without IT but we are not an IT company. We are a racing team, with over 400 people working towards achieving success on track, and only nine of these are IT personnel to deal with all our IT needs," explained Jonathan Neale, Managing Director of McLaren Racing. "By working closely with CA, we are able to identify and integrate new uses of software to improve our handling of data, which has a direct impact on how well we can design, build and race our cars."

"We are a zero fault tolerance organization – on a race weekend it is not conceivable that IT would let us down. CA is helping us to build the systems to ensure this doesn't happen. For example, in the period from when work first began on our 2005 challenger, MP4-20, to its initial shakedown in January, CA's eTrust solutions have helped prevent over 350,000 attempted hacks into our system."

"Formula One is the pinnacle of motor racing but it is also the pinnacle of IT usage by a company," said Mark Bridger, Country Sales Manager, CA. "Helping McLaren Racing to better protect, store and manage the mountains of data they collate from a variety of inputs directly contributes to their ability to drive greater performance out of the cars. That is a very tangible and visible form of return on investment." McLaren

Australian GP - Red Bull Racing - Preview Australian GP - Red Bull Racing - PreviewWith the youngest driver in the field in Christian Klien, 22, as well as the youngest team boss in Christian Horner at 31, Red Bull Racing is all set to make its Formula One debut this weekend in Australia following a 'welcome party' in Melbourne on Thursday evening..

Thirteen times a winner, David Coulthard joins Klien on the driving front with 2004 F3000 Champion Vitantonio' Liuzzi handling the Friday testing duties.

David Coulthard “This is the start of an exciting adventure for Red Bull Racing, and following a promising winter testing program, I am looking forward to making my debut and I am optimistic for the season ahead."

Christian Klien “I learned a large amount during 2004 and I am really looking forward to this weekends race. I am enjoying working in the team and thank Red Bull for this opportunity.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi “It is a dream for me to be here and I am truly happy to be a part of the Red Bull Racing family from the very beginning. This is my first time at this circuit and I am looking forward to running on Friday.”

 Christian Horner, Sporting Director “This is obviously a significant event for Red Bull Racing who will enter Formula 1 this Sunday. We have prepared, within the time available to us as fully as possible and I am delighted with the effort and commitment made by the team. Hopefully people will identify Red Bull Racing as a team bringing new ideas as well as new spirit to F1.”

Cosworth "For the 2005 Melbourne Grand Prix qualifying Cosworth have delivered an improvement of more than 25 BHP and an increase of 300 RPM relative to 2004. This has been validated during more than 16,000 km of track testing since the end of the 2004 season, including more than 3,000 km on two engines at a recent Jerez test. The outcome that Cosworth and Red Bull Racing expect to see is a competitive and reliable 2005 engine." Red Bull Racing

A steep learning curve for Rookie Jordan squad A steep learning curve for Rookie Jordan squadAfter a frantic start of the year for Jordan Grand Prix, with its acquisition by Midland Group, a privately owned trading and investment-holding organization led by Russian-born Canadian businessman Alex Shnaider and a car and driver line-up presentation on Red Square in Moscow on 25th February; the team arrives in Melbourne with fresh expectations and hopes for the first race of the 2005 FIA Formula One World Championship.

With Eddie Jordan stepping down from his role has Chief Executive, the management of the team has undergone key changes. Dr Colin Kolles has been appointed Managing Director of Jordan Grand Prix. His first contact with motorsport was through Rally Racing twenty years ago. Since 2000, he entered the F3 Euro Series with his own team and then operated Germany’s most successful F3 teams.

At his side, newly appointed Sporting Director, Trevor Carlin has a long background in motorsport as well, starting his racing career in 1980 as a junior mechanic working on Formula Ford 1600 and Formula Ford 2000. Since then, he successfully managed various British F3 teams and in 1998, he started his own team Carlin Motorsport with Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan finishing twice on the podium at the end of the season. To complete the list, Adrian Burgess will act as Sporting Manager, Ricky Taylor as Chief Mechanic, Christian Geistdoerfer as Marketing Director and Salvatore Cuccu as Sponsorship Manager. The team has also appointed Paul Monaghan as Chief Engineer with Bradley Joyce joining as race engineer. Annouck Heinrichs has taken the role of Press Officer and will be the point of contact for all media enquiries.
Not only is the management new but also the two race drivers: Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro. At the age of 28, Narain Karthikeyan will be the first Indian ever to drive in the FIA Formula One World Championship. After winning the Formula Asia Championship in 1996 with a host of records and being the only Indian and Asian driver to win this Championship, he entered the British Formula 3 Championship. Since 2002, he started racing in Formula Nissan World Series as well as in the FIA GT Championship.

Tiago Monteiro also 28, from Oporto, Portugal, started his career in the Porsche Carrera Cup in 1997. From 1998 to 2001, he entered the French F3 Championship where he raced very successfully. After one season in Champ Car World Series, he decided to return to Europe and race in the Nissan World Series where he finished second in the Championship with five race wins with Carlin Motorsport. He was awarded Rookie of the Year.

During the presentation in Moscow, the team was also pleased to announce Robert Doornbos as official third and reserve driver. Doornbos was the team’s official test driver for the last three races of 2004 and will continue his work during Friday test and practice sessions at Grand Prix.

During the winter, Jordan Grand Prix became the first team to secure a customer engine deal with Toyota and 2005 marks Bridgestone’s seventh season as tire supplier to the Silverstone-based team.

Both drivers completed race simulations without encountering any specific car problems; adding over 3700km to the mileage of the new EJ15 cars, before they were sent to Melbourne. The progress of the EJ15 chassis throughout the month of February was very encouraging, with the drivers improving their lap times day after day.

With a new engine partner and the 2005 technical regulations, the control system of the car had to undergo constant development. The drivers also spent much of the allocated time of the test days acclimatizing to the environment of F1 cars, the levels of performance and handling available but also to the demands placed upon them, both physical and mental. At the beginning of testing, they focused on optimizing their driving position in the car, but then they worked on initial set up changes as they began learning more about the EJ15. Finally, key areas for the future and assessment of the vehicle performance were identified.

Trevor Carlin, Sporting Director “I am very excited to be here. We only had five weeks to prepare for this race so everyone at the Jordan factory has done a fantastic job to get the cars ready. Hopefully we can be reliable, get both cars to the end of the race, maybe have a bit of luck and finish close to the top ten. That is the best we can hope for.”

Narain Karthikeyan “This is my first visit of any kind to Australia. So far the circuit looks quite dirty but I think it is not too difficult to learn and it is going to be ok. I am looking forward to it. It is a steep learning curve as a rookie but I am up to the challenge and I will give my best shot.”

Tiago Monteiro “I was here last year and I was obviously dreaming of being here as an official driver but definitely not expecting it, so it is great to be back in that dream position and have my name on the board above the garage in the pit lane. It makes a big difference. So far everything has been great. We have been doing interesting PR activities, met a lot of different people and been around the track. It looks interesting, dirty and bumpy but we will have to deal with that and I cannot wait to be in the car. I have been here since Monday and although I have enjoyed spending time in the city, I just cannot wait to drive the car. That’s what I’m here to do and the moment that I get behind the wheel can’t come soon enough!”

Robert Doornbos “I am really happy to be part of the Jordan Team as I was last year. Obviously Friday is the most important day for my job. I look forward to helping the team and do the best job I can. It is a new circuit for me but that was also the case in the last three Grand Prix last year. I can find my way very quickly on a new circuit and I cannot wait to get back in the car. I am really excited.” Jordan

Mi-Jack Conquest ready with 2nd car Mi-Jack Conquest ready with 2nd carOne big unknown remains in the Mi-Jack/Conquest equation for ‘05, namely a second driver. But not for want of candidates. Over the winter the team has tested a variety of drivers, including Matt Halliday, Ricardo Sperafico, Alex Figge, Romain Dumas and Bruce Jouanny. Although no final decision has been made as to the name of the second driver, Mi-Jack/Conquest is fully committed to a two car program in ‘05.

“We’ve done quite a bit of testing with different drivers and are really busy putting a second program together,” says team boss Eric Bachelart. “Right now we are acting like we have two drivers signed . . . even though the second one is NOT signed. The second crew is on the same training program as the first one, we are working the same way on both cars, same with the engineers, so everything is in place right now. We’re not waiting to sign a second driver before we’re going to move. Everything is in place.

“We’d like to find something pretty quickly. A lot of drivers we’re interested with, it’s just a matter of putting the budget together. It takes time, but I think we are well-structured now to get the results.” Champ Car

SPEED World Challenge added to Champ Car slate SPEED World Challenge added to Champ Car slateSCCA Pro Racing Ltd. and the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland announced Tuesday the addition of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT and Touring Car Championships to the June 24-26 event at Burke Lakefront Airport, in Cleveland, Ohio.
The event will replace the Aug. 19-21 race weekend at Road America on both series’ schedules.

“We’re thrilled with the addition of the Grand Prix of Cleveland to our SPEED World Challenge schedule,” SCCA Pro Racing President and CEO Steve Johnson said. “Any time you can race within a metropolitan area, it’s a bonus, but Cleveland also offers decades of rich road racing history, with a great layout, great sports fans and great race fans. We know that our brand of racing will be a big hit along the shores of Lake Erie.

“Additionally, from a series standpoint, an event of this stature brings tremendous benefits to our current fans, teams and sponsors.”

“We’ve discussed having the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Championships in Cleveland for some time, and are happy to make that a reality in 2005,” Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland General Manager Rena Shanaman said. “These series bring a unique form of racing with cars that even casual race fans and automotive enthusiasts can relate to. We believe that we’ve made a tremendous event even better with the addition of the SPEED World Challenge at the Grand Prix of Cleveland.”

Industry News
New XM Satellite reaches orbit New XM Satellite reaches orbitXM Satellite Radio announced the successful launch of its XM-3 satellite. Liftoff occurred on February 28 at 10:51 pm EST off the Sea Launch Odyssey Launch Platform in open waters of the Pacific Ocean on the equator. The XM-3 satellite was inserted into a geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to an orbital location for routine testing prior to placement in its final orbital position at 85 degrees West Longitude. A ground station in South Africa acquired the spacecraft’s first signal an hour after liftoff, as planned.  Built by Boeing Satellite Systems, the XM-3 satellite is a Boeing 702 spacecraft, one of the most powerful satellites built today, designed to provide 18 kilowatts of total power at beginning of life. Like its sister spacecraft, XM-1 and XM-2 -- also launched by Sea Launch -- XM-3 will transmit more than 150 channels of digital-quality music, news, sports, talk, comedy and children’s programming to subscribers nationwide.
Industry News
Except for racing, Microsoft out of video game business Except for racing, Microsoft out of video game businessMicrosoft Corp. will stay out of the sports video game market for now, except in racing, leaving most of the category to other publishers, the head of Microsoft Game Studios said on Tuesday.  On Monday Microsoft said it sold the assets of its team sports games -- baseball, basketball, football and hockey -- to French publisher Ubisoft. It had previously sold the studio and assets behind its tennis, golf and snowboarding games to Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
'I'm F1 favorite' - Roman
Minardi 'D-day'

F1 parade in Melbourne
Ferrari crush test accord
Rain at Albert Park?
Nick vows to retain seat
F1 rookie 'not fit enough'
Alonso 'better than Webber'
Minardi won't run a 'third'
Schu fond of 19-race haul
Oz won't open F1 '06
F1 axe making life 'fun' - JV
F1 'tragic' - Damon Hill
Duo hope Toyota is 'lucky'
Schu - 'I may not win'
Slow lane saves F1 money
Sir Frank's not in Oz
Fisichella names team driver
Rubens 'sick of losing'
'Unique' Red Bull racer
NASCAR's NY City plan called "house of cards" NASCAR's NY City plan called "house of cards"After a two-hour sit-down with speedway developers in his borough office, City Councilman James Oddo says he needs still more proof that a NASCAR track on Staten Island won't be just a fast ride to traffic chaos. "I essentially have the same concerns as a few months ago," said Oddo, who has expressed skepticism about International Speedway Corp.'s plan to limit traffic to and from the races through a network of park-and-rides, buses and fast ferries. "They believe that this would work. I'm not so sure." Oddo (R-Mid-Island/Brooklyn), whose Council district would be home to the proposed 80,000-seat speedway in Bloomfield, on Friday became the third Island politician to meet individually with ISC representatives after company officials unveiled their traffic plan late last fall. So far, the meetings have garnered mixed results for the Daytona Beach-based speedway giant. Rep. Vito Fossella (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) referred to the track plan as a "house of cards" after meeting with ISC representatives Feb. 7. SILIVE
Photos from South Korea groundbreaking Photos from South Korea groundbreakingOfficials from Ansan City and Gyeonggi Province as well as from The Racing Korea and Champ Car event organizers (including Kevin Kalkhoven)  turning shovels at the site of what will be a 1.9-mile race course in Ansan, South Korea  Photo credit: Champ Car


Badoer completes first test of Ferrari F2005 Badoer completes first test of Ferrari F2005First day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro at the Mugello circuit. Today, Luca Badoer was at the wheel for the track debut of the F2005.  The Scuderia’s official test driver completed a total of 61 laps (9 of them on the short version of the track,) the quickest being a 1’22’’210.  'When a new car takes its first steps, it is always a very emotional moment,' said Luca. 'This morning there was obviously some tension, which quickly lifted, going out on the track and seeing that everything is fine. After these initial laps, I can say that we are satisfied.'  Testing continues at this track tomorrow, again with Badoer driving the F2005. Ferrari


Boxer and actress named for Homestead race Boxer and actress named for Homestead raceChampion boxer and native Floridian Roy Jones Jr. has been named the grand marshal and actress Tara Reid the honorary starter for the Toyota Indy 300 on March 6.

Jones will give the command "Drivers, start your engines" for the Toyota Indy 300, the race which will kick off the 10th season of IndyCar Series competition. He will be joined by Reid, who as honorary starter will wave the green flag to start the race.

In addition to Jones and Reid, nine-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres and NHL Hall of Famer and Florida Panthers broadcaster Denis Potvin will serve as race dignitaries.

“Fans have the unique opportunity to see some of America’s biggest stars get the racing action started at this weekend’s Toyota Indy 300,’ Homestead-Miami Speedway president Curtis Gray said. “We’re honored to have Roy, Tara, Dara and Denis as part of the Toyota Indy 300.”

Trans-Am races on AFN Trans-Am races on AFNNow entering its third year of providing Trans-Am Series racing to the men and women stationed overseas, the Trans-Am Series has announced the continuation of its relationship with the American Forces Network (AFN)

"The American Forces Network graciously thanks the Trans-Am Series for providing our men and women in uniform stationed overseas with race coverage for the 2005 season," said Jeff White, Director of the Department of Defense's (DoD) AFN Broadcast Center.

"Trans-Am Series racing on AFN is a tremendous morale booster for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines serving in harm's way," added White. "The most deserving audience in the world are our troops in remote and hostile locations defending our way of life against terrorism, and providing humanitarian support to those in need. We thank the Trans-Am Series for helping us bring them home during these telecasts."

The U.S. Armed Forces, along with DoD civilian employees and their families, can follow Trans-Am Series' 10-race calendar starting with the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Calif. April 8-10 on AFN and the U.S. Navy's Direct-to-Sailor (DTS) television service to ships at sea.

"We are privileged to continue to provide the opportunity for our men and women in uniform to experience Trans-Am racing," said Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett. "With the events taking place throughout the world, we thought it was only fitting to show our appreciation for our military. It is through the great sacrifice of our troops that we enjoy the freedom we have in this country today."

In agreements with Trans-Am Series and SPEED Channel, the AFN Broadcast Center plans to provide distribution of the 10, one-hour Trans-Am Series highlight shows via its AFN | sports and AFN | prime channels, along with the U.S. Navy's DTS television service.

"The AFN audience is as diversified as the Trans-Am Series fan base, and just like stateside fans our guys and gals in camouflage look forward to the speed and excitement of Trans-Am Series racing," said Tim Mattox, Chief of Sports for the AFN Broadcast Center. "The popularity of the Trans-Am Series continues to expand within our Armed Forces."

German company enters NASCAR German company enters NASCAR[Editor's Note: As NASCAR expands its global reach it won't be long before they are eyeing Europe - ASCAR races at Rockingham, UK and EuroSpeedway in Germany.] Henkel in North America announced today that it will expand its NASCAR presence through a Busch Series sponsorship of Greg Biffle and Brewco Motorsports. Several Henkel brands including Renuzit(R), Armour(R) Star, Dep(R) Sport, Purex(R), Loctite(R), and Duck(R) brand products will participate in the sponsorship of the #66 car as the primary sponsor for five races and associate sponsor for 23 others. The Loctite brand will also continue its associate sponsorship deal with Robert Yates Racing and the No. 38 M&M’S(R) Ford, which competes in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Photo "This is an exciting opportunity for Henkel to extend our reach and connect with the millions of NASCAR fans who use our products every day," said John Knudson, President and Chief Administrative Officer of Henkel of America, Inc., a U.S. affiliate of Henkel KGaA, Dusseldorf, Germany. "Henkel brands like Loctite(R) and Duck(R) are indispensable to racing teams among all series. Therefore, we put ourselves in an environment that offers both high visibility and immense consumer credibility."
Labonte changes rides Labonte changes ridesEven though Bobby Labonte has more wins than any other full-time driver at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he’ll be a rookie on Friday, March 18.  That’s when Bobby Labonte will compete for the first time at Atlanta in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck race. It will be his fourth career truck race and third in the No. 47 Chevy All-Stars Silverado, which he will try to drive to victory in the World Financial Group 200.   Labonte will be pulling double duty that weekend, also driving his usual No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet in the March 20 Golden Corral 500 NEXTEL Cup race. But Labonte was focused entirely on his Chevy truck on Tuesday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, when he was preparing for his Craftsman Truck Series debut at the fast track. His first few laps didn’t set any speed records, but Labonte said he was just getting warmed up when he turned a lap around the 1.54-mile speedway in 31.19 seconds (177.749 mph).  “I’m real excited,” Labonte said. “At night it’s exciting for the fans and drivers. Under the lights, the speeds just look faster.”
Karthikeyan hopes to do decent job Karthikeyan hopes to do decent jobNarain Karthikeyan, all set for his maiden Formula One race, said his fans must not expect “too much” although he is hoping to do a “decent” job.  “The response from India has been great, they’re all supporting me,” said Karthikeyan, who is almost certain to drive for Jordan Honda in Sunday’s season opening Australian Grand Prix. “My news is on the front page of every newspaper. There’s been a lot of coverage back home for me so hopefully I can do a decent job,” he said.  Karthikeyan admitted of being under some pressure before the big day, but was confident of coping with it.  “There’s going to be some pressure but I can cope with it, no problem. As long as they don’t expect too much,” he was quoted as saying by an Australian website. “The goal is to finish races, then try to get points along the way.
Germans rate Michael a Schu-in Germans rate Michael a Schu-inAn overwhelming 93 per cent of Germans believe Michael Schumacher will win an eighth Formula One drivers' title this year.  Ferrari driver Schumacher, 36, cruised to the championship last year and a survey by market research giant TNS Emnid concludes that no-one will be able to stop the German from making more history.  Out of those questioned, 93 per cent tipped Schumacher for an eighth triumph with Mclaren-Mercedes driver Kimi Raikkonen his nearest rival with 24 per cent of the vote.   Schumacher's younger brother Ralf, now at Toyota, and Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello both received 23 per cent of the vote.   The 2005 Formula One season begins on Sunday with the Australian Grand Prix. Agence France-Presse
NASCAR fines and suspends cheaters NASCAR fines and suspends cheatersNASCAR has fined Todd Lohse, crew chief for the No. 32 Chevrolet driven by Shane Hmiel in the Busch Series, $10,000 and suspended him until March 30 for violations last weekend at California Speedway.

During opening-day inspection Friday, the No. 32 was found to have unapproved hinged air deflector modifications. That violated Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Busch Series rule book (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used that do not conform to NASCAR rules).

The No. 32 team has filed a request for an appeal hearing with the National Stock Car Racing Commission. The penalties have thus been deferred, enabling Lohse to participate in this weekend’s NASCAR Busch Series event in Mexico City.

In addition, two other NASCAR Busch Series penalties were announced, coming out of the California weekend. Both infractions also were determined during opening day inspection.

Tommy Perkins, crew chief for the No. 16 Chevrolet driven by John Hayden, has been fined $2,500. The No. 16 had an unapproved third gear transmission ratio, a violation of Section 12-4-CC. Section 12-4-A also was violated.

John Vermillion, crew chief for the No. 7 Chevrolet driven by Jeff Fuller, has been fined $500. The car had an unapproved intake manifold, violating Sections 12-4-A and 12-4-Q.

The NASCAR elite, Champ Car take note The NASCAR elite, Champ Car take noteUPDATE In response to our comment regarding the high school bleacher seats at most Champ Car street circuits, we received this letter:  Dear AutoRacing1.com,
I read with interest your article regarding NASCAR and how luxury rules its events.  I think it is worth noting that at the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare luxury also rules.  Our guests are treated to a first class event from parking to seating to concessions.  Upon arrival at the Grand Prix circuit we have over 7,000 parking spaces within a short walk as well as regular light rail and bus service to the venue.  For our guests that have chosen grandstand seating for the event weekend, we provide seven grandstands that are built by a company that has done work for most major PGA events.

The grandstands are located in the most advantageous viewing points on our 1.65-mile street circuit and their quality is second to none.  The grandstands are easily accessible to the concession areas and restroom facilities.  Our concession areas are catered by Lundy's Special Events and provide a choice of over 25 different food items at a reasonable cost.  The guests that are entertained in one of our 40 suites get unsurpassed service, views and hassle free accommodations for the duration of the event.  In addition,  the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare has added the "Cool Mountain Pit Lofts" this year on the front straight of the race track.  The pit loft is catered by one of Denver's top restaurants, Braun's, and provides our guests with a luxurious seating area, big screen televisions with a live race feed and access to the Braun's restaurant for the entirety of the race.  As an additional service for our suite guests we have an on-site concierge that provides everything from valet parking, dinner reservations and shoe shine service to on-site spa services.  As you can see from our list of amenities and services for the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare that we treat the race fan as our valued guest and attempt to provide every luxury possible to make their race weekend an event to remember.
Jim Freudenberg
General Manager
CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver

02/27/05 This Washington Times article says, The days in which fans watched races while sitting on wooden slats straight from the sawmill are long gone at the tracks of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. [Editor's Note: Champ Car take note, you expect your customers to still sit on elementary school quality bleacher seats at temporary street circuit venues, and to top it off, the bleachers are laid so flat the fans can hardly see a thing.]
More and more these days, luxury rules:
•Condominiums trackside at the Atlanta Motor Speedway allow well-heeled residents to watch races from their living rooms or from a rooftop bar — free of the hassle of long lines and big crowds and safe from the smell of burned rubber and high-octane fuel.
•At the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, members of the Speedway Club can drop their children at its day care center and get a manicure and a Swedish massage — or take a kickboxing lesson — at the facility's health club and spa.
•The Daytona track just opened its exclusive 500 Club — membership fees begin at $2,500 — where patrons on race days get bar and buffet service and a seat above Victory Lane.
•The Indianapolis Motor Speedway offers golf packages — the regular greens fee is $90 — at the Brickyard Crossing, a course adjacent to the track that includes four holes on the infield.

"It's becoming more opulent all the time," says H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president of Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. "Even in flat times, you can't do enough for people. ... Look at the new NFL stadiums: They're showplaces. We have to do the same thing at speedways. People really want to travel first class."

Honda’s 3-year deal in St. Petersburg helps sales Honda’s 3-year deal in St. Petersburg helps salesThe IRL’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has inked a three-year title sponsorship deal with Honda, and event Managing Dir Barry Green indicated that he is “relying on a host of new sponsors and ticket sales of [60,000-70,000] to financially stabilize the downtown race,” according to Alan Snel of the TAMPA TRIBUNE. In addition to Honda, other sponsors are Bridgestone/Firestone, Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club and 7-Eleven. The inaugural money-losing event in ’03 had no major sponsor or title sponsor and was affiliated with CART. Honda also sponsors the IRL race in Colorado. The St. Pete race is “targeting speed fans from Orlando to Fort Meyers and is even adding temporary docks for yachts.” Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg VP Timothy Ramsberger said that slip rentals will start at $4,000 and 27 36-person suites will cost $25,000 (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/1). Andretti Green Promotions, co-owned by Green and fellow IRL team Owner Michael Andretti, “has a three-year agreement with the city of St. Petersburg to hold the Grand Prix” ST. PETERSBURG TIMES
Ron Dennis has high expectations Ron Dennis has high expectationsRon Dennis has high expectations for his McLaren driver lineup this year. "Spectacular" and "fearless" – that's how McLaren boss Ron Dennis is describing the partnership of Juan-Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen.

"I believe these two guys are going to be spectacular," he told the BBC. "They both have phenomenal car control and there is an intuitive approach to their racing.

"In different ways, they are both fearless. Kimi is a much cooler guy than Juan Pablo, but I don't think Juan Pablo will be as volatile as before."

"I think they will work exceptionally well together, although keeping [the atmosphere] light is going to be the key.

"The only problem will be if their only competition is each other. But the cultural differences between Senna and Prost and their characters were significantly greater than between Kimi and Juan Pablo and I don't envisage the same sort of problems."

"Juan Pablo has lost six kilos since last season," Dennis notes approvingly. "He is fitter. His eyes are lighter. You can see he has a much more focused approach."

"Ferrari have done such a good job you don't know how good he is. But one thing is sure. He is beatable and he has been beaten - twice by Mika Hakkinen and at other times by other drivers. We are very fortunate to have two of the best five drivers in the world in our cars."

"Based on our evaluation of everyone other than Ferrari, I would say that Renault and ourselves seem to be reasonably competitive," Dennis says. "But don't exclude Ferrari - they are a very good race team and I have no idea how competitive they are.

"But if they are able to beat us I would put it more down to them having done a better job on tire development. I can't believe we haven't done enough work to close the gap. I think we will see this year some of the best racing there has ever been in F1."

SPEED Channel To Provide 60 Hours of Rolex coverage SPEED Channel To Provide 60 Hours of Rolex coverageTopped by its 14 and-a-half hours of coverage from the historic Rolex 24 At Daytona last month, Grand American Road Racing Association and SPEED Channel officials today announced that the television network will carry a total of 60 hours of Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race action in 2005.

SPEED Channel cameras will be rolling throughout all 2005 Rolex Series races, with nine of the remaining 13 races scheduled for live television. The next event on SPEED Channel will be the Grand Prix of Miami from Homestead-Miami Speedway, which will be carried live beginning at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 5. The Grand Prix of Miami will be the first of five consecutive races with live coverage.

Round 3 from California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. will be televised live beginning at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 3, followed by the Rolex Series’ first-ever visit to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which hits the SPEED airwaves live at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 1. Round 5—the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant from Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada—will be televised in its entirety beginning at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, May 21, while the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen from Watkins Glen International on Sunday, June 12 will have two parts—both live—beginning at 10 a.m. ET and resuming at 12:30 p.m. for a total of four and-a-half hours of coverage.

The season’s first tape-delayed event will be the annual 250-mile sprint race from the famed Daytona International Speedway, which is scheduled to air on a same-day delay, airing in primetime at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 30. Round 8 from Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. will be carried live beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 31, followed by the second of three Rolex Series visits to Watkins Glen International, which will air on a same-day delay—again in primetime—at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, August 12.

The Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic will be shown on a one-day delay, airing at 12 Noon ET on Sunday, August 28. Likewise, the split GT and Daytona Prototype class races from Phoenix International Raceway will also be aired on a one-day delay, with the GT telecast set for 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 10 and the Daytona Prototype race scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 11.

The final three races on the 2005 schedule will all be carried live, beginning with the third visit to Watkins Glen on Saturday, September 24 to be televised at 3 p.m. ET. The penultimate round of the 2005 season from Virginia International Raceway will be aired at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 9, followed by the season finale from Mexico City at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, November 5. Grand-Am

Sarrazin replaces Enge Sarrazin replaces EngeThe official entry list for the Sebring 12 hours shows a change to the Aston Martin driver line-up.  With Tomas Enge having inked a deal to compete for Panther Racing again in the IRL, the Czech star has been forced to stand down from his drive with the Aston Martin team for the race due to a clash with the Phoenix IRL event.  His place in the six man driver line-up will go to Subaru WRC driver Stephane Sarrazin, with the Frenchman joining Peter Kox and Pedro Lamy in the #58 DBR9. David Brabham, Darren Turner and Stephane Ortelli will drive the #57 car.  “With Tomas getting a deal to compete in the IRL, he can't race at Sebring because of a date clash, so we have had to find an alternative,” an Aston Martin spokesperson told Crash.net. “However Tomas will still be part of our line-up for Le Mans as was originally announced.”
What is Champ Car waiting for? What is Champ Car waiting for?UPDATE Another reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Where is Champ Car? And why should I care? I have been a fan for many years. I have been to all the races in Toronto. Been to Cleveland many times and Montreal also. I have a passion for this form of racing.

Last year myself and many other fans waited in fear that we might lose this series only to have it saved at the last minute. That was agonizing and yet I am beginning to find this year almost worse.

The NASCAR steamroller keeps rolling along. The IRL (which I have absolutely no use for) is constantly promoting itself. F1 continues to be the wonderful theater it has always been. But from Champ Car all we are getting is the sounds of silence. Is the engine stalled? I have read more about the GP2 and PanAm Racing than Champ Car.

These gentlemen may know how to run huge corporations (that obviously didn't deal with the public) but they sure don't understand their own fans. Out of sight out of mind is not what I would call a great promotional tool. Also dithering is another tool they seem to embrace these days. Makes some decisions, stick by them; show the fans and the public that you have a direction. How many races are there going to be? How many teams, how many drivers? Give the fans something to cheer about.

Even their own promotion, the Inner Circle, is a joke. When I got the e-mail to join I signed up for everything they offered and so far I have got one e-mail that said I could get a discount for the Race Director. Whoopee!!

Lastly I live in Canada where we live and breathe hockey. I have watched it all my life. Last year alone, I probably watched 150 NHL games. Now with the lockout I have found many other things to do and I know that myself and many of my friends will never have the interest again. Champ Car to me is on that same slippery slope. Still a Champ Car fan though starting to wonder why. Bradford Dunlop, Toronto Canada

02/27/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Tuesday will be March 1st.  Long Beach is basically a month away and we still don't know who will make up half the field.  What are these Champ Car guys waiting for?  The NASCAR series are already stealing most of the headlines and the IRL seems to be sending their drivers around the country to try to promote itself and we sit here doing nothing and getting no publicity.
You don't even see a CCWS preview written by anyone because nobody knows who's going to be in the series.  When are the people in charge going to realize that promoting a professional auto racing series is a 12-month a year job, not a job that begins in June. 
You can't find anything being written about the series other than on this website, nor is there a TV presence.  Basically, the series starts to get some attention when it goes to Milwaukee in June and starts to get some momentum and then it's over at the end of August.   There's a month until the NASCAR race in Sept. and then the series leaves the country and is pretty much out of sight for American fans.  CCWS will never be a success in this country if we only hear about it for 3 months a year. Richard G., Springfield, Ohio 

Dear Richard, The reality of the situation is that many team owners are relying on ride-buyers to fund one or both of their cars because they are not capable of landing sponsorship on their own.  If no ride-buyer with enough money can be found, the team owner(s) will turn to OWRS to cough up some money to ensure an 18-car field. With no series self-promotion, a very late TV deal and the NASCAR juggernaut gobbling up every last sponsor dollar out there, some team owners find themselves between a rock and a hard place. With that said, we do know that some sponsor deals are done and will be announced. (See related article)   Mark C.

IRL looking for TV Ratings boost IRL looking for TV Ratings boostThis Indy Star article says, The Indy Racing League is hoping to finally be what's on television. Beginning with Sunday's season-opening race in Homestead, Fla., the Indianapolis-based sanctioning body will implement a series of broadcasting initiatives designed to boost TV ratings. Chief among them is a split-screen display that will allow continuous coverage of the Toyota Indy 300 while sponsor commercials air. Also, a unique arrangement with ESPN will allow a separate broadcast of the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway to air on ESPN2.

The latter, hosted by Gary Gerould and former Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack, will show the race almost exclusively from cameras mounted on the cars. NASCAR offers this option on pay-per-view channels. ESPN2 reaches 88.4 million homes, 1 million less than ESPN. The league did not buy the air time on ESPN2.

Both initiatives will be evaluated after the race. The ESPN2 broadcast is currently only for the opener; the split-screen format is scheduled through the March 19 race in Phoenix on ABC.

Terry Linger, whose Indianapolis-based production company helped increase the popularity of NASCAR in the 1980s and is now in its second year with the IRL, called both "good ideas." "It's about changing the paradigm, you could say," he said Monday. "We have to try new things. What do we have to lose?"

The IRL averaged a 0.8 rating for its Indy-car races in 2004 (1.4 on ABC and 0.6 on ESPN), much lower than all three of NASCAR's national divisions (Nextel Cup, Busch and Trucks). NASCAR's season-opening Daytona 500 posted a 10.9 on Fox. Each rating point is a percent of all TV households viewing a particular program at a given time.

"I've put all my eggs in that basket because fans want to stay with the racing," Linger said. "We've all gotten to the point of hearing the (going-to-commercial) music, seeing the leader board and grabbing the remote to see what's going on with golf (on another channel). This is something that can make a difference."

Improving TV ratings is a critical part of the IRL's agenda for 2005, according to Ken Ungar, the league's senior vice president of business affairs.

"It's as important as anything we're doing," Ungar said. "You need a quality TV package in order for your product to grow."

Ungar said the keys to improving ratings are a quality show, prerace promotion from TV partners, and overall promotion of the series. "And we've raised the bar with all three," he said. "The buzz word is synergy, and we think we've got that as we head into the new season."

Todd Harris, known for hosting Supercross races on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2, will be the new person in the IRL booth, joined by former Indy-car drivers Scott Goodyear and Gil de Ferran. Harris replaces Paul Page.

Ungar said attendance at races must improve, too. He said it grew by only 5 percent last year after an 11-percent jump the year before. "We need double digits (this season)," he said.

The IRL has pinned its growth hopes on a 13-city promotional tour of many of the country's largest metropolitan areas, including nine of the top 10. The tour, which features top drivers and league personalities, will wrap up in Miami this weekend.

Patrick Friesacher not fit for F1 Patrick Friesacher not fit for F1Speaking to Germany's Der Standard newspaper, Formula One's newest rookie, Patrick Friesacher, has admitted that he does not expect his fitness level to be at the required level in time for his debut with the Minardi team in Melbourne this weekend.

"I am not yet fit enough for Formula One," Friesacher insisted after his last test with the team before it packed up and headed to Melbourne, "In addition to my neck muscles, which were sore after 95 laps of testing, the vibrations through the steering wheel are far more than I am used to from F3000.  I want to finish the race," he insisted, "And, more than that, I don't want to be last."

Lauda to race in GP2 Lauda to race in GP2As reported on our rumors page days ago, after holding talks with the Forsythe Champ Car team Mathias Lauda, the son of three-time World Champion Niki, will not race in Champ Car and has now announced his plans to contest the new GP2 series this season. The 23-year-old Austrian has signed with the Coloni team to partner ex-F1 driver Gianmaria Bruni.  “I'm extremely excited and thankful to Coloni for their decision to go with me again this year,” Lauda revealed. “I am confident we will be front runners from the outset and I look forward to a successful year”.  Added team boss Paolo Coloni: “I'm delighted about the opportunity to work with Mathias again for the second consecutive year. I believe he will be extremely valuable to our team this year as our past experience of working with a driver for a second season has always provided excellent results.  The Lauda name has a long and rich history in the highest levels of international motorsport and I am happy to see that this tradition will continue in our inaugural championship," he said, "Mathias' appointment also means that, from the 22 confirmed seats, our 2005 grid will boast drivers from 16 different nations, thus making our championship one of the most international in the world."
Audi named official car of Sebring Audi named official car of SebringAudi of America has signed as the official car and pace car for the 53rd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The premier race of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) runs Saturday, March 19, at the historic Sebring International Raceway.

"Audi and Sebring are two legendary names in international sports car racing," stated Sebring President and GM Tres Stephenson. "We are honored to continue our marketing partnership with Audi."

Audi will be going for its sixth consecutive Sebring win this year. The manufacturer has also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four out of the past five years.

"Audi of America is honored to once again be the Official Car of Sebring," stated Rod Bymaster of Audi Sport North America. "Sebring International Raceway is a special place for Audi. It was at the 2000 Twelve Hours of Sebring that the R8 participated in its first race, and won. Now in 2005 the R8 is in its last year of competition, with high hopes of winning again."

Mexican drivers guaranteed spot in Mexico race Mexican drivers guaranteed spot in Mexico raceBecause of new rules that guarantee their cars' entry, Adrian Fernandez and Michel Jourdain will have no worries about making Sunday's first Busch Series race in Mexico City.  But truthfully, they had few concerns about qualifying on their home turf anyway.

"The fans will guarantee whether we're in," Fernandez said, smiling as laughter filled the room of a news conference at Daytona International Speedway last month. "If we're not in, we'll be in trouble, I can tell you that!"

Open-wheel veterans Jourdain and Fernandez are among 10 native sons who will provide a rooting interest for a crowd of at least 150,000 that is expected for the historic race. The event is central in NASCAR's thrust toward gaining a foothold in a Latin American fan market largely untapped by stock-car racing.

By putting Mexican stars in its cars, NASCAR is hoping to expand its popularity in the country and with 30 million Mexican-American whose passion for auto racing ranks high with boxing and soccer.

"The fans are rabid," said Chip Ganassi, who has fielded Champ Car and Indy Racing League cars in races south of the border for several years. "They love racing, and they love the automobile. They identify with so many American [makes]."

Felix Sabates, a Cuban native who is a partner with Ganassi in the Dodge that Jamie McMurray will drive in Mexico City, was instrumental in using connections with the Mexican government to help NASCAR schedule the event. Sabates said he jokingly told McMurray "there'll be 300,000 of us there. If one of you gringos touches one of the Mexicans' cars, it will be hard. When you see them coming, pull over!"

"Mexicans love following Mexicans," Sabates said. "So if you have a following in Mexico City, the Mexicans are going to follow NASCAR. You open a whole new market of people to follow NASCAR." Times Dispatch

Daytona and NASCAR Hall set Deadline Daytona and NASCAR Hall set DeadlineDaytona Beach hopes to be in victory lane this fall when NASCAR awards the bid for its $75 million hall of fame project. To help, city officials put the Central Florida Sports Commission and the Chamber of Commerce of Daytona Beach and the Halifax Area in the driver's seat by tapping the two entities to spearhead efforts for Daytona's bid for a hall of fame. If successful, the project would be an economic development coup for Daytona Beach and Volusia County. Building on Daytona's history as the original home of NASCAR, many believe the hall of fame would bring two new events -- a hall of fame induction ceremony and a race -- and attract 500,000 additional visitors to the area each year. Still, with the May 31 deadline looming, it is a gargantuan task, says George Mirabel, president of the chamber of commerce. "We've had a little time to gather our thoughts, and now we have 13 weeks to have the proposal to NASCAR," he notes. Biz Journal
UPS Delivers NASCAR to Mexico UPS Delivers NASCAR to MexicoUPS today announced coordination and logistics support for the first-ever NASCAR Busch Series race south of the border at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City on March 6.   With special document requirements, advance coordination between U.S. and Mexican officials, security and staging for expedited border crossings early this week, UPS has facilitated a complex planning and communications process.   UPS will manifest and seal all NASCAR and team equipment, coordinate international logistics and synchronize more than 80 team haulers, official trailers of technical scoring and template equipment, tires, emergency and safety vehicles and media trucks across the border in multiple convoys. This project leverages the rapid customs clearance, information management and consulting capabilities offered by UPS Supply Chain Solutions, the logistics and distribution arm of UPS, expanding UPS's sponsorship role as the official delivery company of NASCAR. "Equipment will be arriving at our UPS Logistics Center in Laredo, Texas, from multiple points around the country, and our specialized teams have the complex task of streamlining the massive cross-border activities," said Tom Page, director of solutions and marketing for Latin America, UPS Supply Chain Solutions. "Most of the Busch series teams will compete the weeks before and after the Mexico race, and NASCAR needs comprehensive knowledge of every detail on each of the shipments from coast to coast, as well as plans for exchanges of equipment in staging." Following the rapid clearance, convoy groups will cross the World Trade Bridge to begin the approximate 20 hour non-stop trip to Mexico City. Each convoy will have federal and private security escorts, as well as coordinated communications en route. Then, UPS will complete all procedures in reverse after the checkered flag at the Sunday race for reentry into the United States for the race the following weekend. At the track, UPS Trackside Services also will operate its unique service counter for urgent UPS Worldwide Express(SM) package delivery services to and from the controlled-access garage areas used by the race teams. UPS PR
Luca Marmorini discusses the upcoming Australian Grand Prix Luca Marmorini discusses the upcoming Australian Grand PrixToyota Technical Director Engine, Luca Marmorini, discusses the upcoming Australian Grand Prix and how the engine department has taken on new technical regulations in preparation for the 2005 season-opener in Melbourne.

How has the Toyota engine department tackled the new "one engine, two race weekend" rule?
We have been working on the design of our RVX-05 engine since the end of 2003, but more intensively since the inaugural tests with the new unit in September 2004. At that time, the engine was more of a hybrid version, utilizing the existing fixation points in the TF104B car. Although the engine was almost in its final configuration, we have only really been able to fine-tune the RVX-05 since January, when it was mounted on to the TF105 with new fixation points. The design concept was an extension of what we had in place when we had to develop an engine to last for one race weekend in 2004. To elongate the life of the engine to race weekends, we had to adapt the RVX-04 to this new ruling, by putting each and every component of the engine through rigorous reliability checks at our factory in Cologne.

What simulation techniques have been used in developing the RVX- 05?
We have made full use of our in-house research and development facilities and transient dynos to develop the RVX-05. Since the first moment when we started to extend the reliability of the engine components, we have always been getting closer and closer to a race weekend simulation. On the track, we have been more aggressive in our approach in order to pre-empt any potential problems. What is missing though is the unpredictable nature of racing. To simulate an engine to run over two race weekends has been even harder because this unpredictability is greater still. We do not do long runs with the engine for each individual track. Instead, we use the dynos to simulate running at tracks that place greater stress on the engine, like the old Hockenheimring or Spa, to gather more representative data. Our homologation process and approach remains the same, but the specific details become more refined to track usage.

What are the differences between in-house tests on the dyno, on- track running at tests and actual racing?
There are a lot of parts that can be fully tested and homologated in the dyno without even being run in the car at a track, internal reciprocating parts for example. However parts like the exhaust undergo varying stresses at the race track, so it requires a more detailed testing procedure. Gear-shifting is also a fantastic tool, once it is programmed in the dyno, but a driver shifts gears in a less rigid way in race conditions, so we have to take that into consideration as well.

What problems have you encountered during this process?
As expected, we found some problems in the first runs with the TF105, which is not a reflection on the car, but typical teething problems that we face every time a new engine is run for the first time – unexpected vibration levels, for example. These issues are relatively straight-forward to overcome, so we have been predominantly focused on solving the more terminal reliability problems that will actually stop us in race conditions. Putting mileage on the unit has been crucial to our development and I have been encouraged by how many kilometers we have been able to complete since January.

Can you tell us about any of the bigger problems that you have faced?
In the TF105, we are using a different shape of exhaust, so we initially experienced some difficulties with exhaust tuning. We have also seen reliability issues with other parts, related to the quality of the parts produced. I am pleased to see that we have reacted quickly and efficiently to these challenges and we head to Melbourne with confidence high.

Looking to Australia, what effects does the Albert Park circuit have on the engine?
The Australian Grand Prix is the first race in which we run in warmer conditions. Even though we test in Spain in the run-up to the race, it is still not as warm as Melbourne, and nowhere near the heat that we have in Malaysia. The opening race of the season is always a lottery, to be honest, but I feel that we have done all we can as a team to put ourselves in the best shape possible. Aside from the engine, we will also only see how the weather affects tire degradation levels, which – with the introduction of the one tire per race rule for 2005 – will be make or break for any team's performance in the race this season. We have tried to cover all angles when dealing with engine preparations for Australia, but we will only see the fruits of our labors in Melbourne.

How demanding is the Albert Park track?
Actually, Albert Park is not an especially tough track, but it is the first track we race it in the season and that is what makes is demanding. Only after the Australian Grand Prix will we know in which direction we are heading, whether we have got it right and in what areas we still need to improve. As a track, it is intermediate in terms of engine stress levels and approximately 60% of the lap is driven at full throttle. But it is the uncertainty surrounding all teams' performances that make the race unique.

What are the plans for developing the engine throughout the season?
With the new rules, we are not able to change engine between Australia and Malaysia unless there is a failure – and we are certainly not integrating that into our development plan! Usually, for the first three overseas races, we collect as much information about the engine as we can to see if everything works well. Only once we are confident with the reliability will we think about bringing in performance upgrades. We planned to introduce a new spec engine in time for the start of the European season, which in terms of engines and rules, means the fifth race of the year in Barcelona.

At what point of the season will Toyota turn its attention from engine reliability to performance?
We will never compromise reliability for performance, so developments during the year have to take both parameters into account. It is more difficult to gain horsepower with the technical limitations, so this has been a real challenge for us. We already have several development steps in our pockets for the season, but we have to assess the situation after the first four races of the year. I am confident in that respect, but reliability is and will continue to be the decisive factor – you can't score points if you don't finish the race.

What are your hopes for Australia?
My personal hopes as Technical Director Engine extend to the end of the race in Malaysia, where I sincerely hope we finish the Malaysian Grand Prix with the same two engines with which we race in Melbourne – and with some championship points as a reward. Toyota
Australian Grand Prix Q and A: Jarno and Ralf Australian Grand Prix Q and A: Jarno and Ralf
Jarno Trulli - Race Driver Car 16

What are your thoughts on this year's Australian Grand Prix?
It is always nice to go to the first race after a long break, so that makes the Australian Grand Prix a special event. Obviously it is a brand new start to a brand new season so it will be interesting to see how everyone performs. The whole event has a great atmosphere, too. The drivers usually arrive early to get used to the time difference and Melbourne is a good place for training outdoors.

What do you think of the Albert Park circuit itself?
I enjoy the driving at the circuit, especially the quick chicane at Turns 11 and 12. It is a street circuit, though, so the track is usually quite dirty. It will be interesting to see what impact that has on the new tires, which have been changed this year to comply with the longer running required by the 2005 rules. It will certainly make things more difficult for the drivers.

What are your hopes for the race weekend?
At Panasonic Toyota Racing we have done a lot of mileage during testing over the winter and I feel I am ready. The car looks reliable and we seem to be heading in the right direction. The whole team will be pushing as hard as it can and if we are lucky we can score some points in Melbourne this weekend.

Ralf Schumacher - Race Driver Car 17

Ralf, what are your impressions heading into the first race of your first season with Toyota?
Certainly the start of the season is always exciting because it's the first time that teams find out where they really stand. There are a lot of unknowns, and there's always the question of whether or not you make it through the weekend without too many technical problems. I also enjoy visiting the country itself, so it all combines to make the Australian Grand Prix a great event. The fact that I am making my debut for Panasonic Toyota Racing only serves to make it more special.

Being a street circuit, the Albert Park track is often quite dirty. How much of an impact do you think that could have on the new cars and the new tires?
From what we have seen so far in testing, warming up the tires has been a little bit difficult, so I am sure it will be an interesting factor when we come to Melbourne. It is not usually very warm during the race weekend and it is a dirty track, so it could be really difficult to find the grip, especially in the first lap of qualifying.

How have your preparations gone over the winter and what are Panasonic Toyota Racing's realistic expectations for Melbourne?
Here at Toyota we have been testing a lot and very hard, so I think we are well prepared for the first race. At the moment we have to expect a good, solid finish in the points. That is what we must aim for, but we will have to wait and see where we line up against the other teams. Until we hit the track, no team really knows their comparative competitiveness. Toyota

Schumacher excited season about to begin Schumacher excited season about to beginMichael left on Friday after the presentation of the new single-seater, the F2005. The World Champion wanted to be prepared for this year’s first GP that will be run in Melbourne on Sunday. The chilly European temperatures were a major factor in this decision as Michael has to adapt to the warmer Australian climate, as was the time difference. Also among the reasons for leaving early was the desire to get the season underway. “Finally we are getting started; at last all the speculation will come to an end. Each year is the same: everyone has an opinion after the winter testing but no-one knows exactly how things will turn out. In Melbourne we will see how things really stand and we will not be able to evaluate the work we have done before then. I can’t wait to find that out and I am looking forward to getting onto the track and race against the other guys”, declared the seven-time champion before boarding his private jet.

The commonest topic of discussion of recent weeks has been, naturally, the presentation of the F2005 and the fact that Ferrari has opted to begin the year with a modified version of last year’s model, the F2004M (pictured right with Michael driving at recent Barcelona test). It is a decision that Michael fully supports: “For sure, this could be a disadvantage in the first few races but we believe that it is the best thing to do, otherwise we would not have decided to do it”, stated Michael. “We will not allow anybody to alter our opinion. We are certain that taking more time to develop the car is the right approach. This season will be longer than ever and we take this into account when considering a challenge for the title. We will have a good car for four races and, in the subsequent fifteen, a superb car. If we had not taken this decision we would have to make constant modifications during the season. I think that many others would want to have our prospects… I really want to find out who will be the best. I would not to too surprised if we do well right from the start. As I have said though, Renault and Mercedes made the best impression during the winter tests”.

Michael will take part in a press conference organized by Shell late on Wednesday morning (11.00 at the Town Hall). On Thursday he will participate in a game of beach volleyball for Vodafone (11.30 at St Kilda Beach), before the official FIA press conference to open the new season (15.00). “The time has come”, declared Michael. “I can’t wait and am already excited”.

Luca Badoer to test F2005 Luca Badoer to test F2005While four jumbo jets have delivered the field of 20 cars for this weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Ferrari are also busy working toward the first test of its 2005 challenger unveiled last week - the F2005.

Luca BadoerJust one chassis has been built to date and will begin testing this week with Luca Badoer handling the driving duties. The team's second chassis will be available after the Malaysian Grand Prix.

"Of course, we want to race the new car as soon as possible and to do that we need to gather a lot of data," Ross Brawn said. "Badoer will do the first test, as the race drivers will be busy with the Australian Grand Prix."

Asked when the F2005 will make its Formula One race debut and Brawn stated that the fifth round of the Championship in Barcelona was most likely. "We will have to see how testing goes," Brawn said. "Maybe it might be possible to introduce it in Bahrain. It also depends how the F2004 M (pictured left with Michael Schumacher testing at Barcelona recently) goes in the races. If it is competitive, then we can get on with things more calmly.”  Ferrari

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Monteiro exposed F1 perk
Webber broke speed limit
Schu's in Oz
Trick squad to skip GP
BAR 'not a winner' - Sato
Russia GP 'coming' - Mr. E
'I aim to win' - Fisichella
Ralf must 'adapt' - Toyota
Sauber unsure
Ferrari to dominate - Haug
EJ defends 'unripe' lineup
Brit F3 'no longer best'
McLaren's 'huge' advantage
Indian 'kamikaze' - teammate
More teams to win - Michael
'Where'll EJ be?'
Nick 'better than Webber'
FIA tempt more boredom - Ron
A1 'chaos' in Pakistan
Alonso alert
Kimi keeps a low profile
F1 needs 'dictator' - EJ
Panther Racing files first Indy 500 entries Panther Racing files first Indy 500 entriesPanther Racing filed three entries Feb. 28 for the 2005 Indianapolis 500, becoming the first team to officially enter the 89th running of the world's greatest auto race.  2002 Indianapolis Bank One co-Rookie of the Year Tomas Scheckter and rookie Tomas Enge were named as drivers on two of the entries, with a driver to be named later on the third entry.
Correction to article Correction to articleSince publishing my article, Yes, blame Tony and the CART defectors too, AR1 readers have pointed out (the best educated fans in the sport!) and my own research has confirmed a couple of inaccuracies I would like to correct and/or clarify: 1.) Team Penske raced under Honda power from 1999 through 2001, their final season in CART. Team Penske raced with Toyota power in their 2002 debut season in the IRL. It was Chip Ganassi Racing that switched from Honda power to Toyota power for their 2000 season and they stayed with Toyota power through the 2002 season, their last in CART. Like Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing made their IRL debut with Toyota power.

The Detroit pop-off valve controversy, as best as I can reconstruct, had nothing to do with the CART issued pop-off valve but everything to do with the design of the plenum chamber used on the Honda motor. It was alleged that the design of the plenum somehow tricked a properly calibrated pop-off valve to allow more boost on the Honda motor than the same valve would have permitted on the Toyota motor. My apologize for the error. J.N. Anderson

Jim Beam announces Road to Sensible Drinking campaign Jim Beam announces Road to Sensible Drinking campaign[Editor's Note: These programs in both the IRL and NASCAR are so transparent it insults our intelligence. Just as with tobacco companies who sell product that kills people, the real goal of all the alcohol companies is to get the consumers to devour as much of their product as possible to maximize their profits. A lot of race fans leave the track in a drunken stupor already. If they consume potent Jim Beam products at the race track they will be drunk that much faster. Get the body bags ready.] Jim Beam® announced Feb. 28 it has partnered with the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to bring fans "The Road to Indy," an 89-day tour featuring the Jim Beam drink smart® two-seater car-a street-worthy version of an IndyCar® Series car that has been stretched to fit a passenger.

The program is part of the company's ongoing efforts to promote responsible choices about alcohol and underscore the importance of designating a driver, all while building excitement for the 89th Indianapolis 500 on May 29.

"Responsibility is a top priority at Jim Beam," said Keith Neumann, marketing director for Jim Beam. "The Road to Indy tour communicates our drink smart platform in key markets and reinforces our position as 'The Official Spirit of Racing.' We are proud to partner with the IRL and IMS to make this program a success."

The tour will kick off in Miami before the IndyCar Series season opener March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and continue to 13 cities before reaching its final destination at the famed 2.5-mile IMS oval, just in time for the Indianapolis 500, on May 29. In each market, the drink smart two-seater will be on location to assist with Jim Beam promotional activities at local retailers. Industry guests and media will experience what it is like behind the wheel of an IndyCar Series car - from the passenger's seat - as Indianapolis 500 veteran Davey Hamilton takes the two-seater for a ride.

"Jim Beam's commitment to IRL IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 is creating new opportunities to promote and increase the popularity of the sport," said Joie Chitwood, president and chief operating officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "The Road to Indy program, created by Jim Beam, is another example of their motorsports marketing leadership and why Jim Beam is a valued partner."

The Road to Indy program firmly establishes Jim Beam as a leader in motorsports and its position as "The Official Spirit of Racing". This program demonstrates the company's commitment to the IRL and is only part of its overall efforts to encourage legal purchase age adults who choose to drink to drink smart.

NASCAR gets it right with In-Car TV NASCAR gets it right with In-Car TVFor the serious Canadian NASCAR fan, the multi-channel coverage available on Rogers Cable would be worth it solely for the commercial-free, flag-to-flag racing it provides.  But NASCAR's eight channels of In Car service deliver more than relief from those endlessly repeated commercials, as I learned while watching the four-hour Daytona 500 race that opens the stock car season.
Overall, I have to say this multi-channel service is the biggest advance in auto racing coverage on TV ever, taking full advantage as it does of all that fabulous new multi-camera coverage that's been around for some years now.  Since each cable TV company offers different content, you should check with your local provider to see if the NASCAR In Car service is available in your area. What happens is that the cable TV company sets aside eight of the channels in its nether regions (on my Rogers service, it's channels 412 to 420) for the different video feeds.

There is of course a channel that shows the regular commercial-rich program with all of the commentator/apologists using their Formula Gump voices and attitudes to keep the casual race fan distracted.  Then there are the seven other channels each dedicated to a car, and they provide non-stop video for the whole race, plus whatever chatter there is between the driver and the pit crew, and some general atmospheric sounds. More....

Mosley tells rebels to just buy F1 Mosley tells rebels to just buy F1The president of motorsport's governing body, FIA, Max Mosley, has told the Grand Prix World Championship (GPWC) group that they can buy the Formula One series. The GPWC, which includes the leading Formula One teams, has been embroiled in a lengthy struggle with Formula One supremo, Bernie Ecclestone for control of the sport.

Mosley told the German magazine Focus that the GPWC could always buy Formula One. "Once they look into the figures they will realize that it is much cheaper to just buy the 75 per cent the banks hold. "It would probably be a billion (US) dollars."

Currently three banks hold 75 per cent of the shares in Formula One, while Ecclestone holds 25 per cent and the GPWC have threatened to stage their own series of Grand Prix races unless they are given more say in how the sport is run.

Mosley said that the amount of $US1 billion ($1.27 billion) sounds like a lot. "But in relation to what they would have to pay to their teams over the next four to five years it is not that much. "If each of the manufacturers goes to their board and says they need $US200 million, it is possible."

Mercedes boss confident in their engines Mercedes boss confident in their enginesMercedes-Benz motorsport vice president Norbert Haug has expressed his confidence of a strong season ahead for the McLaren team after pre-season testing passed without any major engine problems.

Haug said he was confident that Mercedes would have a reliable package on the grid for the start of the season – and one that would be capable of challenging at the front of the field.

“It was a positive experience to suffer not a single engine failure during the long period of track testing, which we have never achieved in the run up to the season in the years before,” he said. “As a consequence of the new regulation, which allows the engines to be replaced without penalty only after two race weekends, the engine's lifespan is doubled compared to last year. So the focus of our preparation work was on speed as well as on reliability, keeping our engine technicians and the team's chassis engineers very busy in the build up to the first Grand Prix at Melbourne's Albert Park.

“The venue of the Australian Grand Prix is a medium fast low grip circuit where the tire wear is comparably low. About 60 per cent of a lap is run under full throttle, so this will be the first serious check of where everybody is in terms of power and reliability.

“Taking the results of the pre-season testing into account there should be up to five teams being capable of impressing in Australia."

McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh also said that he believed the team could have a strong 2005.

"The Australian Grand Prix once again presents the teams with our first opportunity to run our new cars in a competitive environment, and the anticipation is definitely building,” he said. “We arrive in the southern hemisphere with our new driver pairing of Kimi and Juan Pablo, they have been working well together alongside Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa and we are looking forward to what promises to be an exciting season.

“Our ability to operate a third car on Fridays will enable us to get a much better set of data back out of Friday's session and Pedro will be behind the wheel for the first three races. Although we are fully aware of the challenge, we are hoping to have a strong start to the campaign and are looking forward to competitive action getting underway in Australia this weekend."

Industry News
GM and Ford shares fall on sales news GM and Ford shares fall on sales newsShares of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., the nation's two biggest automakers, declined Monday amid signs of disappointing February sales and downgrades by a Wall Street investment bank.

GM shares fell $1.80, or 4.9 percent, to $35.09 and Ford was off 48 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $12.52, both in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Analysts have forecast disappointing sales for GM and Ford when major automakers report February tallies Tuesday. Such results will most certainly play a part in GM and Ford announcing profit-eroding production cuts for the second quarter, following a course already taken in the first quarter.

Analysts at Banc of America Securities downgraded GM and Ford to "sell" from "neutral" on Monday, predicting continued market share losses for both companies. The firm said the carmakers, despite new products, are saddled with lower resale values than rivals, a turnoff for many consumers. Each also faces the same dilemma: Price hikes could exacerbate share losses, while price cuts could hurt earnings.

"Pressures of steel and oil prices are also likely to continue," the investment bank said. AP Story

Friday F1 fans to be short-changed Friday F1 fans to be short-changedGrand Prix fans are set to be short-changed by new regulations as the sport's star names limit running on Friday's opening day of the season.

They will see precious little track action from world champion Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella and Rubens Barrichello because new rules discourage them from putting miles on their engines. With the powerplants now required to last two grands prix, Friday practice mileage will be kept to a minimum.

Team boss Ron Dennis predicted the big names will do no more than 10 laps, while title contender Button reckons it could be as little as five.

While the top four teams Ferrari, BAR-Honda, Williams and Renault have just two drivers, the remainder - McLaren, Toyota, Sauber, Minardi, Red Bull Racing and Jordan - have the advantage of a little-known driver in a third car that can pound round endlessly because it will not race.

"One of the most challenging aspects of the new regulations is making high-performance racing engines last 1400km," Dennis said.

"We are looking for longevity and performance and, along with the top-four teams, I do not see these regulations conducive to running on a Friday, save for the third car, which is going to pound round.

"Our race cars will do in the order of five laps on Friday afternoon, while our third car will do 50 laps if there is time available."

And the top four teams?

"I would be very surprised if they do more than 10 laps," Dennis said.

Button, a championship hopeful, feels the same.

"The worry is that everyone is going to sit in the garage and we are not going to see any testing," he said. "If the cars are doing five laps, Friday could be pointless."

Dennis said the governing body had been warned of the impact of the changes.

"We predicted all this," he said. "The other ludicrous thing will be the pitstops with no tire changes. They will be boring; fuel will go in, teams will maybe clean a visor, check tire pressure and off you go again."

The upside though was that it could mean a race day bonanza with punished tires and engines leading to drama close to the finishing flag, instead of at the start, as was the case last season, Dennis said.

"Tires are extremely consistent and we now get true performance gain as fuel drops out and cars get faster which could be a contributing factor to have exciting races," Dennis said. "That's going to be interesting to see. The heat of Melbourne will be another factor." Herald Sun

ALMS LMP1 Class Battle at Sebring ALMS LMP1 Class Battle at Sebring With just over two weeks until the eagerly anticipated American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series is poised for another extreme endurance battle at the world famous Sebring International Raceway.

Leading the fastest and most powerful prototype class at Sebring International Raceway is the No. 1 Champion Audi R8 with 2004 ALMS Champions JJ Lehto and Marco Werner. The duo competed in the entire ALMS season a year ago winning six of nine events together. Tom Kristensen will join Lehto and Werner as the third driver for the event. During his impressive racing career Kristensen has taken overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours Sebring with Audi. Champion Audi will field a second entry at Sebring with Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Allan McNish piloting the No. 2 Champion Audi R8. Biela and McNish return as last season's Sebring champs, which they won driving for Audi UK. Pirro, who helped Lehto and Werner place second to their Audi competitors last season joins the reigning Sebring Champions in hopes of helping the duo repeat.

Looking to challenge Champion Audi is the Dyson Racing Team with two entries of its own. Dyson will run its No. 16 Lola EX257 AER with James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace at the helm. The second entry will include Chris Dyson as well as Guy Smith in the No. 20 Lola EX257 AER. At press time a third driver was not planned. The Dyson Racing Team entries frequently battled Champion Audi in 2004 providing countless memorable laps for ALMS fans. Off-season tests point to a strong challenge from Dyson.

Autocon Motorsports has also entered the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in hopes of making a podium appearance with drivers Michael Lewis, Tomy Drissi and Bryan Willman in the No. 12 Riley & Scott MRK III C. Willman competed with Team Bucknum Racing in the LMP2 class of the ALMS from 2001 throughout 2004. Lewis and Drissi made two appearances in the ALMS with Autocon Motorsports in 2004 with a best finish of sixth in class at Sebring.

Rollcentre Racing will join the LMP1 ranks again at Sebring coming off a fourth in class finish at the season opener in 2004. Joao Barbosa, Didier Theys and Michael Krumm will pilot the No. 88 Dallara Nissan.

NASCAR drivers on Larry King Live NASCAR drivers on Larry King LiveUPDATE #3 The show tonight was about the BTK killer so look for the NASCAR drivers to be rescheduled. 02/28/05 Just now checked on CNN.com, and the NASCAR drivers are still listed as guests on Larry King Live tonight. But it's very possible the CNN.com listing has not been updated. If you really want to see this interview, we suggest you watch the show tonight just in case they do appear. 02/27/05 According to Jayski, this show may be postponed to a later date we hear so Larry King can cover the BTK serial killer capture. 02/26/05 Jeff Gordon, Darrell Waltrip and Richard and Kyle Petty, will appear on CNN's "Larry King Live" at 9:00pm/et Monday, Feb 28th. Richmond Times Dispatch
Industry News
SPEED Channel rides ratings boost into March SPEED Channel rides ratings boost into MarchSPEED Channel closes the door on February with history-making ratings and rolls into March ready to keep the momentum going by bringing viewers three major live events -- the Formula One season opener, Bike Week from Daytona Beach and wheel-to-wheel sports car action from the legendary 12 Hours of Sebring.

After a very strong off-season on the network, SPEED Channel opened the year with extensive live coverage of the popular Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction from Scottsdale, Ariz., setting up a monster Daytona SpeedWeeks for the fast-growing Fox Cable Group network.

In February, SPEED Channel earned a Nielsen household rating of 2.1 -- a stunning 36 percent increase over 2004 and the highest in network history -- for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season opener, reaching more than 1.3 million households and eclipsing ratings marks set for the NASCAR series by ESPN and ESPN2.

SPEED's live coverage of the ARCA and IROC races also broke previous year rating marks.  NASCAR This Morning's move from Fox Sports Net to SPEED in 2005 paid immediate dividends, as the debut scored a 1.29 household rating. SPEED's other signature NASCAR TV programming -- NASCAR Live, Trackside, Inside Nextel Cup, SPEED News and NASCAR Victory Lane -- also delivered strong numbers with their season debuts at the 11-day event.

Adding to the excitement surrounding the strong first-quarter ratings, SPEED Channel also debuted four new weekly series in February - NASCAR Nation, Unique Whips, Build or Bust and Truck Universe.

"There has been a growing sense that 2005 would be a breakout year for SPEED Channel," said SPEED Channel President Jim Liberatore. "The first few years after purchasing SPEED, I often compared the network to a pimple-faced teenager, not sure what it wanted to be when it grew up. Well, I think we are coming of age and just beginning to show glimpses of our potential. We're certainly not all grown up yet, but we're getting there and viewers and advertisers are starting to take notice."

SPEED Channel's March programming highlights:

The Formula One season opens with the Australian Grand Prix.  Live coverage begins with qualifying on March 4, at 9 p.m. ET, followed by the race on March 5 at 9:30 p.m. ET. Veteran broadcaster Bob Varsha returns to head the five-star SPEED Channel team of David Hobbs, Steve Matchett and Peter Windsor.

SPEED heads back to Daytona for Bike Week in March.  Over 11 hours of live coverage begins March 10 at 3 p.m. ET, with Formula Xtreme qualifying.  Live race coverage of both the Superbike event and the Daytona 200 begins March 12 at 11 a.m. ET.  The SPEED on-air talent consists of Brian Drebber, Greg White, Freddie Spencer, Rick Johnson, David Bailey, Rick Matheny and Larry Maiers.

"Their are several major rites of spring -- the swallows returning to Capistrano, the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio and motorcycles to Daytona Beach," said Rick Miner, SPEED Channel's Sr. VP of Programming/Production and Executive Producer. "There is no greater icon in the world of motorcycles than Bike Week in Daytona Beach and SPEED Channel is honored to be a part of it."

SPEED follows the American LeMans Series to Sebring, Fla. for the famed 12 Hours of Sebring.  Live coverage begins March 19 at 10:30 a.m. and continues at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET.

There will hardly be time for viewers to catch their breath, as coverage of the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach classic car auction begins April 1 with hundreds of classic cars auctioned for big money at the third annual event.  Spring also brings the debut of SPEED Channel's Texas Hardtails, a comical ride along with infamous motorcycle customizer Rick Fairless and his crew from Strokers Dallas. And in July, the network will launch the highly anticipated series PINKS, where the losers turn over the pink slips to their rides.

Late Night with Buddy Rice Late Night with Buddy Rice2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice will appear on "The Late Show" with David Letterman on March 2.  Rice, driver of the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone, will present the "Top 10 List" on the popular late-night talk show hosted by Rahal Letterman Racing co-owner Dave Letterman.
Mactaggart joins Indy Racing League staff full time Mactaggart joins Indy Racing League staff full timeThe Indy Racing League has retained the services of Les Mactaggart on a full-time basis. Mactaggart, who has been the league's technical consultant, will serve as senior technical director and will oversee the day-to-day operations of the technical department for the IndyCar Series and Menards Infiniti Pro Series.

Mactaggart is primarily responsible for the design and development of the chassis, engine and transmission. He will continue to write the annual rule books and approve technical bulletins and memorandums.

Mactaggart's hiring allows Phil Casey, senior technical director, to focus more closely on safety-related projects, specifically the SAFER Barrier project at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"During the last nine years, Les has served as the primary IRL liaison with the European-based manufacturers and commuted to races, open tests and meetings from his home in England," said IRL President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Barnhart. "His vast experience in mechanical engineering, incredible work ethic, and innate ability to work well with team owners, drivers, engineers, aerodynamicists alike will be great assets in his new role with the league."

Mactaggart brings more than two decades of motorsports managerial and design experience to the Indy Racing League.

He entered motorsports as a factory manager for March Engines. While with March, he coordinated the design and production of the March Orbitor Indy car, the March Can-Am car and the March 811 and 821 Grand Prix cars.

From 1982-99, Mactaggart oversaw March car construction efforts that won five consecutive Indianapolis 500-Mile Races. Notable customers included Penske Racing, Patrick Racing and Forsythe Racing.

Mactaggart joined March's re-entry into Formula One in 1988 as coordinator of design and production. He joined Larrousse UK Ltd., in 1991 as director of operations, where his responsibilities included coordinating the design and construction of its Formula One cars. Mactaggart received the Indy Racing League Special Achievement Award in 2002.

A lap of Albert Park with Juan Pablo Montoya A lap of Albert Park with Juan Pablo MontoyaJuan Pablo Montoya takes us on a lap around the Albert Park track in Melbourne, Australia and explains just how he plans to drive it this coming weekend.

“Powering up through the gears along the start-finish you reach some 305km/h in seventh gear, before braking hard for the right-left weave of turns one and two. Your speed drops to 140km/h in second gear and then increases through the left weave to some 200km/h.

You apply the throttle on the exit for the Aughtie Drive straight, reaching some 300km/h in sixth on the approach to the tight right of turn three, which is taken at 80km/h in second gear, which marks the hardest breaking point on the track as you pull some –3.5G.

This is again immediately followed by turn four, a sharp left hander which flicks you onto the short Whitford straight. Power on, you reach 240km/h in fifth gear along the straight before dabbing the brakes for the long, flowing right hander of turn five, which sees your speed decrease only slightly to 230km/h in fourth gear. It is one of those corners that you take flat in qualifying.

You need to maintain as much speed as possible through this sequence of bends to ensure you have a good exit as you power down the short straight that takes you to the tight right of turn six, reaching 285km/h in sixth, before braking for the second gear right hander which is taken at 120km/h. Exiting, you take it completely flat through the sweeping right of the Lauda curve, reaching some 285km/h in sixth gear on the approach to Clark. This sharp right is negotiated at 100km/h in second gear.

Hard on the throttle, another long, sweeping bend follows. You need to accelerate through the left of turn ten you as your speed increases to some 294km/h in sixth gear, before the fast left-right chicane of eleven and twelve. Maintaining fifth gear through this section of the track, with your speed not dropping below 210km/h, you keep on the throttle as you exit along the short straight that leads to Ascari.

Another hard braking point, your speed drops from 300km/h in sixth gear to 125km/h in second for the tight right hander. A short straight leads to Stewart, another right hander, which is taken at 180km/h in third gear. Again a short burst of acceleration on the approach to the 90-degree right of Prost, you reach 235km/h in fourth before braking hard for the final two corners.

The first of which is a tight left hander and is negotiated in first gear at 70km/h. On the exit, you apply throttle momentarily and short shift into third gear for the last bumpy right hander that flicks you back onto the start finish straight to begin another lap.”

TV Ratings up for Fontana TV Ratings up for FontanaFox's broadcast of Sunday's Auto Club 500 from California Speedway drew an overnight Nielsen Media Research rating of 7.1 and a 14 share, today's Sports Business Daily reports. The rating is 12.7 percent higher than the 6.3 overnight rating for last year's second Nextel Cup race, the Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway at Rockingham, and 26.8 percent higher than the 5.6 for 2004's first race at California, the May 2 Auto Club 500. NASCAR Scene
IRL fans can join Toyota IndyFest IRL fans can join Toyota IndyFestTo kick off the season-opening Toyota Indy 300, at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Toyota IndyFest roars through Alhambra Circle in Coral Gables on Thursday, March 3 from 5:00-11:00 p.m. This free-to-the-public, outdoor race-themed extravaganza will feature driver autograph and fan question-and-answer sessions, IndyCar show cars, interactive racing displays, live entertainment, food and beverage, and much, much more. "We invite all of South Florida to feel the excitement of the IndyCars up close and personal at this year's Toyota IndyFest on Alhambra Circle in Coral Gables," said Curtis Gray, President of Homestead-Miami Speedway. "Coral Gables is the perfect location to throw a party to kickoff the big race weekend."

Toyota IndyFest will include driver autograph sessions and an exclusive IRL IndyCar Series driver question and answer session hosted by local radio legend Paul Castronovo of BIG 105.9 FM and Mike King, the voice of the Indy Racing League where fans can ask their favorite driver a question. IRL IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Sam Hornish Jr, Scott Dixon, Darren Manning, Ryan Briscoe, and A.J. Foyt IV and Rolex Series drivers Scott Pruett, Luis Diaz, Stefan Johansson, and Cort Wagner are scheduled to attend the autograph and fan Q+A sessions.

Fans can also enjoy a multitude of IndyCar Series show cars, interactive displays, and entertainment. Interactive displays at Toyota IndyFest include:

" IndyCar Challenge: Race against your friends and family on this high-performance mobile racing simulator using real IndyCars on real IndyCar tracks including Homestead-Miami Speedway.

" IRL TECH: Where you can see the safety and innovation of the IRL.

" IndyRacing Live: Home to the Exclusive Pre-Season IRL IndyCar Series Driver Preview; Driver Autograph Sessions; and Live Entertainment.

" Indy Racing Pit Stop Challenge: Where you and your friends can compete against each other in a simulated IndyCar pit stop.

The Globe Café and Bar in Coral Gables will serve as official party headquarters providing delicious food and beverages throughout Toyota IndyFest in addition to their location at 377 Alhambra Circle. The Globe will also host the Toyota IndyFest VIP party, the place to be and be seen the night of March 3rd.

"The Toyota IndyFest promises to be a successful event for both fans and merchants alike," said Coral Gables' City Manager David L. Brown. "The event's economic injection to local businesses will be valuable to the entire community. We are very excited to be working with Homestead-Miami Speedway on this special event."

Convenient parking for Toyota IndyFest is available at the following Coral Gables parking locations; AMPCO System Parking at 355 Alhambra Circle, and Gables Grand Plaza Parking Garage at 353 Aragon Avenue.

Andretti and Bourdais to celebrate Andretti and Bourdais to celebrateUPDATE This Champ Car article by Lino Manocchia highlights the career of Mario Andretti.  We also alert you to this tribute we put together for Mario Andretti, Driver of the Quarter Century. 02/21/05 A heads-up on the upcoming birthdays of a legend and (hopefully) future legend...Mario Andretti and Sebastien Bourdais will celebrate their birthdays one week from today -- On February 28 Mario will be 65.  Bourdais celebrates his 26th birthday the same day. 
Only 12 drivers in first IPS race Only 12 drivers in first IPS raceA mere 12 drivers for 15 cars are entered for this weekend's IPS race at Homestead. Three additional cars are entered for drivers named TBA. Bring a suitcase full of cash and you can be one of those TBA drivers.
Gelles Racing takes delivery of 2 more Renault V6 cars Gelles Racing takes delivery of 2 more Renault V6 carsGelles Racing announces today the arrival of two more Formula Renault V6 cars to its Virginia-based workshop, joining the first example to come to America last month. To this date, Gelles is the only team in North America who has received this fabulous single seater that will star in the forthcoming 2005 PanAm V6 series. Testing has started some time ago with the first car and more testing days are coming in the month of March.

“We think this new Renault V6 will be the next top-ladder series, says team owner Bob Gelles. This race car is but a scaled Formula One model with plenty of power and the latest on-board technology. Our first test day at the track drew a lot of attention and we believe the V6 is the talk of the track. We think every driver who wants to make it to the major leagues will benefit from this awesome car.”

First to the track with Ranger  Andrew Ranger was the first driver to take the V6 to the track two weeks ago. The young Canadian driver was impressed with the car as a whole but said the power and the drivability were the strong points. “Andrew lapped Road Atlanta for a full day and the V6 was flawless, continued Gelles. We had four engineers supervising every session and logging data. This V6 is really the next generation that can bridge the gap between entry level series and the big leagues. No other series can compare with this race machine.”

Coming test sessions  Gelles Racing will have all three PanAm cars ready for a mid-March training camp, as the new cars will be flown in this week. “We were happy to have Ranger on board for the maiden test, added Bob Gelles. We are looking for experienced drivers who want to compete in this exciting car. Even Ranger said the V6 would be a very good alternate if his chances for a Champ Car ride do not materialize. We believe other drivers should have the same attitude. All they have to do is contact us and file for testing.”

A1 Grand Prix
Pakistan team launches Pakistan team launchesPakistan is buzzing with the launch of A1 Team Pakistan in Lahore. The launch was attended by the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, as well as many other prominent Ministers, Governors and business leaders.

A1 Team Pakistan launched its entry into the World Cup of Motorsport at the stunning location of Lahore Fort, a World Heritage site, which has over 1,000 years of history, while also becoming the first country to announce its driver - Nur B. Ali, a graduate of the Skip Barber Racing School and previous Champion of the US-based Formula Mazda series.

L to R: A1 Team Pakistan Chairman,  Arif Husain, A1 Team Pakistan Managing Director, Chaudhry Salik Hussain, Chief Minister of Punjab, Chaudhry Pervez Elani, Sheik Maktoum, President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, President of the Ruling Party, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Governor of Punjab, General Kalid Maqbool

A1 Team Pakistan Chairman, Arif Husain said "Tonight's event is truly noteworthy as it heralds Pakistan's entry into a sport that is totally new to the country. I am very honored and proud that Pakistan's people, industry and businesses are supporting us in the pioneering and exciting World Cup of Motorsport".

Founder and President of A1 Grand Prix, Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum added "I am honored and privileged that A1 Team Pakistan has launched its team as a contender and has taken this opportunity of showcasing Pakistan and its national companies on a world stage. I commend the vision of Salik Hussain and Arif Husain, who will lead Pakistan's challenge in the World Cup of Motorsport, and wish them every success".

Sheikh Maktoum also took the opportunity to announce the arrival of the latest team to sign up to the A1 Grand Prix series, stating "I am happy and delighted that A1 Team Pakistan is hosting the event where I am able to announce the participation in the series of A1 Team India. It shows how sports can bring people together in friendly competition. It is the first time in history that a launch of a Pakistani national sporting team has been a platform for the announcement of an Indian national sporting team - one of its oldest rivals".

The A1 Team Indian franchise has been acquired by the Gupta family, who own the Sahara Computer Group - a #100,000,000 turnover business. Mr Atul K. Gupta, Managing Director of Sahara Holdings (Pty) Ltd said, "We feel honored and privileged to be the seat holder for India and believe that A1 Grand Prix brings back the real passion to motorsport where the talent and technique of the driver supersedes the machine he is driving. A1 ignites the fire of patriotism which has been lacking in the sport for some time and I would like to thank Sheikh Maktoum and his team to have bought this concept into reality, which I think is an invaluable contribution to not only the motor industry but to the fans of motorsport in general.

History was made on the streets of Lahore on Monday, 28 February, the day after the launch when a racing car was run in Pakistan for the very first time. Sheikh Maktoum drove the A1 GP car on the closed public roads in front of a crowd of 15,000.

PitFit steps up to shape up karting Junior Champs PitFit steps up to shape up karting Junior ChampsPitFit Training and world-class motorsports personal trainer Jim Leo have extended their reach into the karting arena with a prize program announced during the Snap-On Stars Series press conference in St. Charles, IL today. It was announced that the PCH Motorsports JICA and King Taco 80 Junior national champions would each receive free QuickFit training programs that include a one-day fitness and diet evaluation and consultation in Indianapolis, continuing consultation with an assigned trainer, and various training accessories.
"I know that as young drivers work their way up the ladder from karting into the Indy Racing League that becoming more aware and strategic with the way you train becomes more important.  That's why aligning some of our young champions with someone who works every day with the best drivers around is a really special prize," said series marketing director Jeff Swoboda.  Penske Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Scott Dixon, and Sam Hornish are just a few of PitFit's highly accomplished clients.
The announcement was made during the Snap-On Stars series press conference at the KMI show. The series kicks off on March 11-13 with an East vs. West shootout event that is listed on the CIK World Calendar. The race is expected to draw competitors from overseas as well as all of the North American hot shoes.  Those with any media or promotional inquiries should contact Jeff Swoboda at media@starsofkarting.com.  For more information about Corby Concepts visit www.pitfittraining.com.
Jordan supports dictator Bernie Jordan supports dictator BernieFormer Formula 1 team boss Eddie Jordan has come out in support of Bernie Ecclestone in the on-going battle for control of the sport. Jordan believes that F1 needs a 'dictator' at its helm in order to remain healthy, and that the rival manufacturer-backed GPWC series is unlikely to succeed because its key players cannot 'agree among themselves'.

"The really successful sports and businesses are run by a dictator," he said in an interview in today's Daily Mail. "I'm not suggesting that Bernie is a dictator – well, actually, he is. It may be dressed up as democratic with meetings and all that, but if he feels strongly about something, it happens.

"The groups are not together," he said. "Bernie owns the circuits, so, if these guys want to put on races, they have to find circuits for them. There is not a promoter who would not want to be on Bernie's side.

"Without Bernie you do not have a race, there is no business. In some parts of the world you would have to start answering to government officials."

As for why Jordan sold his team, "The Ford thing made my mind up," he admitted. "It knocked the stuffing out of me. I realized I was fighting a losing battle. It was time to let someone younger do it.

"I did not want to stay after my sell-by date. I wanted to be sure of leaving on my terms. I could see no chance of Jordan being able to win again. That was always what kept me going."

Two or three stops per race Two or three stops per raceThe 2005 rules do not allow the race drivers to pit for fresh tires as in the past, meaning that in any given pit stop, team personnel will be just be fuelling the race car. Some believe that this may result in less pit stops than in the recent past. Ferrari Technical Director Ross Brawn believes that pit stops will still play a vital role in the eventual race outcome.

“We will have to see how things go at different circuits," Brawn began. "I do not expect a big change in the number of pit stops and I think there will usually be two or three stops. Obviously, now the calculations will be based purely on the fuel load, given that the tires do not change and so the strategy will vary from circuit to circuit.”

Drivers will have to carefully manage race tires this year and the levels of fuel on board at the start of the race following qualification will make a big difference to tire wear.

“In a short space of time, we will find the right way to go between a little and a lot of fuel in relation to tire wear," Brawn continued. "We like this challenge. Those who do the best job will create interesting opportunities.” Ferrari

Inspection Process Not Changed Inspection Process Not ChangedInsider Racing News spoke with NASCAR's Robin Pemberton and one of the drivers, Kirk Shelmerdine, who didn't make the top-35 in points last year about the way NASCAR inspected the cars. Some of the nine teams that weren't fortunate enough to be in the top-35 were complaining that NASCAR was putting them at a disadvantage with the way the inspection process worked. "NASCAR's not holding anyone up," says Pemberton, "you get inspected according to where you are in points, so it's not any different than it has been for the last ten years. Inspection goes by the order of the garage layout with goes by the points," Shelmerdine said. "That's the way it is. That's only on the initial inspection to get into the garage, when you go through the tech line, it's first come -- first served. That's something that us here at the back have always had to deal with, you're last in line, that's the way it is. You've got to move up the ladder if you want to get more practice time. That's the way it is at this end of the garage and my heart bleeds for them." Insider Racing News
Industry News
SPEED Channel looking for new building SPEED Channel looking for new buildingSpeed Channel outgrowing it's building: Two motorsports-related media companies are searching for new homes, with the potential for collaborating on a 125,000-square-foot hub in the region opening as soon as 2007. Speed Channel, owned by News Corp., which also owns the Fox network, and NASCAR Images, a joint venture between the stock-car sanctioning body and News Corp., have outgrown their existing facilities. Speed Channel occupies 19,000 square feet on Southern Pines Blvd.; NASCAR Images, a film archive and video production company, has 30,000 square feet on Stuart Andrew Blvd. Speed Channel works closely with NASCAR Images on much of the network's stock-car programming. There have been informal talks of an uptown location, though real estate sources say higher land costs may squelch those plans. Speed Channel's lease runs out at the end of 2006. Since the network was acquired by News Corp. for $750 million in 2001 and relocated to Charlotte in February 2002, its staff has grown to 66 employees, up from 44 three years earlier. In addition to considering various sites for a shared headquarters with NASCAR Images, Speed Channel is mulling an expansion at its present home if current co-tenants MediaComm and The Inspirational Network move to Lancaster County. There is also an outside shot Speed Channel could become part of the Lancaster County site favored by MediaComm. Charlotte Business Journal
Edwards does road course test at VIR Edwards does road course test at VIRCarl Edwards, who has no road course experience, tested the #60 Busch Series Ford with accomplished road racer Boris Said at Virginia International Raceway. The tests were in preparation for Sunday's road race in Mexico. Said was thoroughly impressed with Edwards' work ethic and potential. "I told (MB2 G.M.) Jay Frye he should have hired Carl," Said says. "He's one of the nicest kids, the real deal. He was a good listener and great learner. He's got quite a future." Edwards finished sixth in Saturday's Busch race and is third in points; he finished fifth in Sunday's Cup race and is fourth in points. FoxSports/Sporting News
Gateway announces post-race concerts Gateway announces post-race concertsGateway International Raceway announced today the 2005 T.R. Hughes Homebuilders concert series will feature country music artists John Michael Montgomery and Chris Cagle in post-race concerts following the NASCAR Truck and Busch Series races. The announcement was made live on the air this morning, by the presenting sponsor 93.7 The Bull. The 2005 season gets under way with the Dodge Ram Tough 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on Saturday, April 30. This year's race will be a one-day only show with practice at 9:15 AM and qualifying at 3:30 PM. The Green Flag will drop at 7 PM.

The NASCAR Busch Series returns on Saturday, July 30 for the "Wallace Family Tribute 250". The race will feature Rusty, Kenny and Mike Wallace as Gateway salutes St. Louis' first family of racing. Local Nextel Cup product Ken Schrader leads the field in the ARCA Series to open the weekend on Friday, July 29 at 8 PM. The Friday night festivities will also include a Busch Series practice session. Saturday will be a full slate of Busch Series action as practice will run from 9:45 AM to 11AM, and qualifying will take place at 3:05 PM. The Green Flag flies at 7 PM. Following the race will be a spectacular fireworks show and a concert by country music artist Chris Cagle. The Baytown, Texas native will entertain fans with such hits as "What A Beautiful Day", "Chicks Dig It" and cuts from his soon-to-be-released new album.
Oregon back in running for NASCAR track Oregon back in running for NASCAR trackUPDATE Talladega Superspeedway President Grant Lynch has been to Washington five times this year in search of a Northwest site for a new NASCAR speedway.

Tomorrow, in a sixth Northwest trip, he will head to Oregon.

The demise late last year of a plan to build a 75,000-seat NASCAR track in Snohomish County created an opportunity for other sites. Kitsap County is back in the running and now the Portland area is getting another look. Other Washington proposals in Yakima and Moses Lake have been ruled out this year because they were too far from Seattle.

The developer, Florida-based International Speedway Corp., or ISC, has made it clear that tax breaks and help covering the infrastructure costs of a track will help them choose their location. Giving Oregon consideration could force the two states' legislatures to compete for the track, though corporation officials say it's not their goal to pit them against each other.

Several communities say they want a track for the notoriety and economic benefits it could bring. A racetrack could generate between $87.3 million and $121.8 million in revenue every year, according to a study commissioned by track proponents in the Seattle area last year. More at Seattle Times 

02/21/05 This Portland Oregonian article says, Last Tuesday, Talladega Superspeedway President Grant Lynch boarded a plane in Birmingham, Ala., and flew to Daytona Beach, Fla., site of today's Daytona 500 Nextel Cup stock car race.  Lynch met with industry peers, watched qualifying for NASCAR's season-opening extravaganza and even went on a fishing trip with marketing executives.  But he didn't plan to stay for the race.

Instead, he booked a flight back to Alabama this morning to begin preparations for his next trip -- to Portland and Seattle.

International Speedway Corp., a Daytona Beach-based company that has built or bought more than a dozen major racetracks across the country and is a sister company to NASCAR, has hired Lynch to be the point man for its latest construction project. Lynch is the senior vice president of Great Northwest Sports, an ISC subsidiary specifically created to develop a major speedway that would play host to a Nextel Cup race and other events in Oregon or Washington.

"He's very knowledgeable about developing these things," said Lee Combs, ISC's senior vice president for corporate development and Lynch's boss on the initiative. "He'll be moving around up there even more than I will."

Lynch has been moving around the region on a regular basis since the New Year. He said he researched and scouted potential track sites in the Northwest for four consecutive weeks between Jan. 10 to Feb. 5, and he plans to return Tuesday.

Oregon's place on Lynch's itinerary is a sign the state remains a contender for the final U.S. project on ISC's construction agenda. But ISC says it wants its interest and enthusiasm to be matched by the places it visits, and although that is happening on a community level in Oregon, it hasn't happened at the state level. Even that, however, might be changing.

Despite naysayers, race a success Despite naysayers, race a successBy most accounts, and that would include virtually every media outlet in Southern California, Sunday's Nextel Cup Auto Club 500 at California Speedway should be considered a success.
That may not be the case on the other shoreline of our country. Especially in the Southeast.

Once again, Eastern bias reared its ugly head. The fact there were empty seats in the grandstand was more than enough reason for some of NASCAR's traveling media to label the weekend less than a success.

The fact it was not a sellout, not even close, was good enough for some to gloat. Never mind the crowd at Fontana was larger than any race ever conducted at North Carolina Speedway at Rockingham, which lost its date to Fontana.

But that isn't the issue. It is whether Southern California fans ever will embrace NASCAR like their Southern counterparts.

Perhaps they are fighting the war once again. No, not the Civil War as the uneducated might want to believe, but the NASCAR battle to gain mainstream acceptance throughout the country. Stock car racing is growing in popularity, experiencing television numbers once enjoyed only by the NFL and is not lacking for big-dollar sponsors.

But NASCAR has not overwhelmed the Los Angeles market, and that's what our Eastern brothers can't accept. It is the biggest market NASCAR visits, and it can't draw 93,000 fans into the stands.  What's wrong with Southern California? What's wrong with the track? More at SBSun.com

Roth hopes to run Indy and IPS Roth hopes to run Indy and IPSMarty Roth reports that he is aiming to compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the entire Menards Infiniti Pro Series season again in 2005.  Roth was one of only two drivers to compete in both the IPS and the IRL races at Indianapolis in 2004, finishing 16th in the Futaba Freedom 100 before being classified 24th in the Indianapolis 500 – both for his own Roth Racing team.

"We're working hard to get a sponsor for the Indy 500," he said. "We definitely are trying to get the big car out for the big show.  We've got a great team of guys. [Team manager Mark Moore] has put guys together he's worked with in the past, and we're real happy with them. We're getting used to working with each other and getting out there and running.  I'm looking forward to the season. We're starting off right. Everybody is on the same page, so it should be an exciting year."

Zanardi tests new hand controls Zanardi tests new hand controlsIn Monza Alessandro Zanardi (pictured right) has tested a mechanical hand-operated throttle on his BMW. “He had used an electric one so far, meaning that there was always a short gap between his action and the moment when the butterfly valve was operated,” explained Ravaglia. “The mechanical solution presents a new problem: the handle is very hard and requires a great energy to be operated. In the next test we’ll work on both options, before taking a decision on which way to go.”
5 mph Tolerance on Pit Road 5 mph Tolerance on Pit RoadIn enforcing its pit road speeds under the new electronic scoring system, NASCAR has built in a five mph tolerance, Nextel Cup Series director John Darby said.  "What that tolerance is for is the difference in cold air pressure and high air pressure, whether you're the car behind the caution car or 15 cars back, tachometers are a little off," he said. "I strongly urge everybody to use this five miles an hour as an insurance, not as something to go up trying to gain an advantage."  Darby said the new system monitors every car on pit road from the beginning of pit road to the end, so drivers should not be concerned about what other drivers are doing on pit road. Mercury News  [Editor's Note: NASCAR caught three drivers speeding on pit lane in Sunday's Auto Club 500]
Official 2005 race distances Official 2005 race distances

06-Mar  AUSTRALIA  5.303 km 0.000 km 58 307.574 km
20-Mar  MALAYSIA  5.543 km 0.000 km 56 310.408 km
03-Apr  BAHRAIN  5.417 km 0.246 km 57 308.523 km
24-Apr  SAN MARINO * 4.933 km 0.237 km 62 305.609 km
08-May  SPAIN  4.627 km 0.126 km 66 305.256 km
22-May  MONACO * 3.340 km 0.000 km 78 260.520 km
29-May  EUROPE  5.148 km 0.017 km 60 308.863 km
12-Jun  CANADA  4.361 km 0.000 km 70 305.270 km
19-Jun  USA  4.192 km 0.000 km 73 306.016 km
03-Jul  FRANCE * 4.411 km 0.184 km 70 308.586 km
10-Jul  GREAT BRITAIN  5.141 km 0.105 km 60 308.355 km
24-Jul  GERMANY  4.574 km 0.000 km 67 306.458 km
31-Jul  HUNGARY  4.381 km 0.007 km 70 306.663 km
21-Aug  TURKEY  5.340 km 0.000 km 58 309.720 km
04-Sep  ITALY  5.793 km 0.309 km 53 306.720 km
11-Sep  BELGIUM *  6.976 km 0.000 km 44 306.944 km
25-Sep  BRAZIL  4.309 km 0.030 km 71 305.909 km
09-Oct  JAPAN  5.807 km 0.198 km 53 307.573 km
16-Oct  CHINA  5.451 km 0.190 km 56 305.066 km
* The pit lane speed limit will be increased from 60 km/h to 80 km/h (instead of 100 km/h) after the fourth practice session for the remainder of the event.
Renault previews 2005 season Renault previews 2005 season With 17 wins and 30 pole positions to their credit, Renault head into the 2005 season on a high following a very successful pre- season test program. Armed with the new R25 chassis and the driving talents of Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella, are keen to get the 2005 season off to the best possible start as they chase the first title for the French manufacturer. More....
Australian GP - Sauber - Preview Australian GP - Sauber - PreviewAfter 6500 kilometres of testing with the new Sauber Petronas C24 the team is looking forward to matching itself against its rivals as the 2005 FIA Formula One World Championship kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, on Sunday, 6 March. Jacques Villeneuve joins Felipe Massa at the team in 2005 replacing Giancarlo Fisichella who has moved to Renault.

The new C24 is the first chassis completed by Sauber with the advantage of the teams high-tech wind-tunnel and pre-season testing saw the team tying various front wings and other aerodynamic parts to try and claw back downforce and grip lost due to the rule changes.

Jacques Villeneuve "Heading from Europe to Australia is like going on holiday because it is really so far away. I like it there because the atmosphere is really nice, it is a really special GP. I definitely like the track too, it's certainly one of my favorite and I have been pretty competitive there in the past. Right now I don't know what we can expect from this race; nobody does. But we have been working hard over the winter to get a good result there. Psychologically the first race of the season is very important - it sets the pace for the rest of the season in a way, so you really want to start off on a high note..."
Felipe Massa "Melbourne is a good track, but very hard on the brakes. I made my Grand Prix debut there back in 2002. That year I was involved in an accident at the first corner, however, and last year I had an engine problem, so this time I hope I can turn that around! It's very difficult to know what to expect, as we cannot definitely say yet who will set the pace. It will take a while before that becomes apparent this weekend, but I am confident after all our testing that the Sauber Petronas C24 is a good car. It's not difficult to drive even with the reduction in downforce. We did manage altogether nearly 200 laps at Imola despite the snowy weather; the track is very similar to Albert Park, and we went well there. I think we are in good shape with the car and the Michelin tires which have been very consistent, and I'm very fit myself after training a lot and the hundred laps a day I was doing in testing. So I'm optimistic, and looking forward to getting the year off to a strong start."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director "It's going to be a very interesting start to the season, because of the new regulations. The new aerodynamic rules are quite drastic, with heavy revisions to the front and rear which have cost everyone quite a lot of downforce and made the cars a little more nervous. The new tire rules will also make things very tricky for qualifying and the race as you may now only use one set of tires from Saturday qualifying onwards. You have to choose from your prime and option tires on Friday, and between Saturday qualifying and the end of the weekend the single set you choose will have gone through several heating and cooling cycles, will have done two qualifying sessions, one on Saturday afternoon and one on Sunday morning, and the whole race. It will be crucial on Friday, therefore, to choose the tire option that not only gives you optimum performance but also durability.
"Qualifying will now be different too. We will run with low fuel for maximum performance on Saturday afternoon, and then with race fuel on Sunday morning, and the times will be aggregated. Thus the effect of the fuel on the qualifying time will be less and the grid will be a more accurate reflection of true performance. Preserving the tires in the race will be a major factor. During our long runs and race simulations in testing we have been quite pleased with the performance of our Michelin tires.

"The tire issue will also affect race strategy. There will be fewer refueling stops. Most races will probably be two stops, possibly even one, though there is a penalty in terms of car performance trying to get by with one because the tires have a great fuel load to carry. Overall, it is very difficult to make any predictions prior to the weekend. We have not always run at the same venue as our competition during winter testing and we will only find out in Melbourne exactly where we are. That's what will make Saturday afternoon and Sunday in particular so exciting. And it is no longer about the performance of the tires on the first lap or in the early laps. Now the last part of the race will be absolutely crucial, and if they have conserved their tires better than their rivals I think we will see some people being able to improve their positions in the closing stages after the final pit stops. There will be much more focus on the end of the race and a little less perhaps on grid position, and I think this is going to make things also interesting for the spectators." Source Sauber Petronas

Summary of 2005 technical changes Summary of 2005 technical changesA raft of sporting and technical changes have been made to the 2005 Formula One world championship which gets underway in Melbourne on Sunday. The following is a summary of the main changes to watch out for:

Qualifying The new qualifying format sees two sessions taking place on separate days and the grid decided by aggregate times. The first single-lap qualifying session will take place on the Saturday afternoon and will run in reverse order of the results of the previous race. The second session will take place on Sunday morning, which is also race day, and the running order will be the reverse of the first session. The times from both sessions will be aggregated to determine the grid.

Tires During Friday practice drivers can use two different dry tire compounds and, prior to Saturday practice, they must choose one compound for the rest of the weekend. Three sets of the chosen tires will be allocated: one set for Saturday practice, one for qualifying and the race and the third as a reserve set in case of punctures. No tire changes can be made during the race except for a puncture or damage, and refueling is not permitted while such a change is made. If the race director decides the track is wet, extreme or wet- weather tires may be used.

Engines An engine must last for two races and a failure prior to qualifying will result in a 10 place grid demotion penalty. If an engine change is required between qualifying and the race, the driver will have to start from the back of the grid.

Chassis Changes made are aimed at cutting downforce. Alterations in aerodynamics have led to rear wing being brought forward while front wing has been raised. AFP

Races There are a major series of changes to the procedures for incidents and restarts in Formula 1 this year, with the possibility that the race can be "suspended". If this happens the red flags will be shown and the cars will line up on the track near the pitlane. The timing will continue. The Safety Car will be driven to the front of this line. During the period of suspension teams may work on the cars although refueling is forbidden.

The race suspension will be as short a period of time as is possible. The resumption time will be indicated on the timing monitors and teams will always get a minimum of 10 minutes before a race is resumed. Any car not ready to resume must start from the back of the grid or from the pitlane. The race will be resumed behind the Safety Car although this will go into the pits after one lap.

In future the Safety Car may lead the field down the pitlane if there is an obstacle on the start-finish straight. Cars may stop at their garages if they chose to do so when the cars pass.

There is also a change to the starting procedures to avoid wasted time. If there is a problem with a car on the grid after the final parade lap the race director will decide whether to delay the start or simply have an extra formation lap. That decision will be signaled with lights. In he case of an extra formation lap green lights will come on two seconds after the start has been aborted. There will also be a board indicating an "Extra Formation Lap". When this happens the race will be shortened by a lap. If the race director decides that the start should be delayed the cars will stay where they are and a new parade lap will begin five minutes later. Grandprix.com

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Austrian set for shaky start
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