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'Lil' John Buttera, and Boyd Coddington dead UPDATE
Boyd Coddington
Boyd Coddington died February 27th in Whittier, Calif., a few miles from his shop where the cable TV reality show “American Hot Rod” was produced, and where he spent much of his adult life. Mr. Coddington lived a life as highly stressed as any of his high-octane creations. On one hand, his vision left a legacy of elevating hot rod design and the use of chrome to high art. On the other, his hard-driving business practices created problems for himself, his employees and even clients.

Though Coddington was a Hot Rod Hall of Fame inductee, he also suffered through bankruptcy and a fraud conviction. He had a keen eye for design, as well as talents who could compete at his lofty, prolific level. His “discoveries” included the likes of Jesse James and Chip Foose, both of whom began their careers with Mr. Coddington before going on to fame, fortune and TV shows of their own in the customizing industry.

John Buttera
John Buttera, who left his stamp upon the drag racing world in the 1970s by building a series of winning Funny Cars and dragsters, created some of hot rodding's most beautiful street rods of the 1980s and 1990s, and built the first billet wheels, died March 2 after a long battle with cancer. He was 67.

He was a fantastic builder of street rods and was the guy that gave Sammy Swindell a ride at the speedway one year. We think it was 1988.

Buttera began his career in his native Kenosha, Wis., when he teamed with Dennis Rollain to form R & B Chassis. They fielded a very light unblown fuel dragster, but a chance meeting with Mickey Thompson in the staging lanes at the U.S. Nationals in the late 1960s led him to move to Southern California, changing his life forever.

Ironically, Buttera died just fours after the passing of his longtime good friend and hot rodding contemporary Boyd Coddington, who died Feb. 27 of liver failure at age 63.

Buttera is survived by his son Chris, daughter Leigh, son in law Ronnie Capps, granddaughter Katie, and grandson Max.


Carpenter turns most laps after celebrating birthday
Ed Carpenter was glued to the seat of the Nos. 20 and 2 Vision Racing cars during the second day of testing on the Sebring International Raceway course.

Carpenter recorded a field-high 171 laps on the 1.7-mile, 11-turn circuit in preparation for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 6. Carpenter and teammate A.J. Foyt IV combined for 314 laps, and exchanged cars midway through the afternoon session.

"We had a lot of things to test today, so that was a reason for a lot of the laps," said Carpenter, who posted a quick lap of 54.1869 seconds (110.949 mph). "A.J. and I swapped cars, which was part of the plan, and I wasn't that tired so I just kept doing laps. I was happy to be in the car and can't wait for the season to start."

Carpenter spent the previous evening celebrating his 27th birthday.

"At the hotel, (wife) Heather got some ice cream cake and I had the joy of my entire crew - not only mine but A.J.'s too - sing 'Happy Birthday,''' Carpenter said. "It's funny to hear a group of guys sitting around a hotel lobby singing, but it shows the kind of team we have and that we all get along."


Kanaan makes it two-for-two at Sebring
Tony Kanaan
Tony Kanaan made it two-for-two, topping the speed chart for the second consecutive day during an IndyCar Series Open Test at Sebring International Raceway. Nine drivers tested March 3-4. A second group of nine will test on the circuit's 11-turn, 1.7-mile circuit March 5-6.  [Editor's Note: The IndyCars are a pitiful 3 seconds per lap slower than the Champ Cars were recently.]

Kanaan took over the top position on the speed chart from teammate Hideki Mutoh with less than 15 minutes remaining in the day and then topped things off with his fastest lap as the checkered flag waved. Kanaan's 124th lap came in at 52.8609 seconds, 113.732 mph.

"The car got a lot better," Kanaan said. "We made huge improvements during the day. I gave some of my stuff to Hideki and to Marco (Andretti) and to Danica (Patrick), and I got some stuff from Hideki. Actually, the last change that we made on my car was something that he tried and he liked it, so I've got to thank him for that.

"It was a great couple of days for me. After Homestead, where I had a rough test, it's good to come out of here knowing that we got the job done. I have a lot of responsibility on my back right now with this team. I don't mind, but it's definitely a relief. Everything that was on the list, we got it done."

Mutoh and Andretti swapped positions from the previous day when Andretti was second fastest and Mutoh was third.

Testing resumes at 1 p.m. ET March 5 with drivers from A.J. Foyt Racing, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Panther Racing, Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske taking to the track.



Car Driver Name Time Speed Total Laps
1 11 Kanaan, Tony 52.8609 113.732 181
2 27 Mutoh, Hideki 52.9513 113.538 175
3 26 Andretti, Marco 53.2452 112.912 166
4 2 Foyt IV, AJ 53.3477 112.695 201
5 17 Hunter-Reay, Ryan 53.4570 112.464 170
6 7 Patrick, Danica 53.5015 112.371 146
7 24 Howard, Jay 53.8033 111.740 155
8 20 Carpenter, Ed 54.1869 110.949 206
9 20 Foyt IV, AJ 54.2430 110.835 25
10 2 Carpenter, Ed 54.3817 110.552 39
11 25 Roth, Marty 54.4976 110.317 184


RTL renews German F1 TV deal
German commercial broadcaster RTL had agreed a new four-year deal with Formula One Management for the TV rights for Formula 1 in Germany. The deal will run from 2008-2011. The German firm has been broadcasting F1 since 1991 but has struggled recently with a 23% drop in viewing figures in 2007, as a result of the retirement of Michael Schumacher at the end of 2006. Despite this setback the coverage still managed to attract an average live audience of 5.9m viewers, thanks to the culture of F1 that now exists in Germany and the fact that BMW and Mercedes-Benz are both major players. The Germans hope that a new hero will soon emerge to increase the viewing figures and thus the advertising revenues and with Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Sutil and Nick Heidfeld there is a chance that Germany could once again have a winner in the not too distant future. Grandprix.com


NASCAR says no to Texas Motor Speedway test date
Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage wants a test session held at his facility before the Sprint Cup teams race there April 6. But NASCAR says he's not going to get one.

Concerned by a track-record 11 cautions Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and comments from some drivers who say Texas will be a bigger test for the new racecar, Gossage sent a release to the media inviting NASCAR to test at the Fort Worth facility prior to the Samsung 500. Although Clint Bowyer and Juan Montoya took part in a Goodyear tire test in January at Texas, it was not one of the six tracks chosen for an official open test like the one held in Phoenix on Monday and Tuesday.

Gossage proposed adding a test session, opening the track the Wednesday of race week for an additional practice session, or adding a Sprint Cup practice to the speedway's regular schedule of events on Thursday.

"My concern is that they did have an open test at Las Vegas and still had a record number of cautions, including three serious crashes involving former Cup champions," said Gossage, referring to wrecks involving Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch. "We only have had a two-car Goodyear test so we could see a lot of crashes, and that causes me concern. I'm sure the teams would like as much data and track time as possible to reach that comfort level with the car and its performance at our speedway." More at NASCAR.com


Hendrick critical of Vegas walls
Gordon's mangled car
Team owner Rick Hendrick thinks NASCAR should not return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway until the retaining wall Jeff Gordon slammed into is improved.

Special barriers are located in the outside walls at Las Vegas. But the track did not install them along the inside wall, which the four-time NASCAR champion hit in the closing laps Sunday. The force was so violent Gordon's entire transmission was ripped from under the hood. If the teams are asked to spend $8 million a piece for a car that is a little bit safer, then we need to fix the damn walls at the track," Hendrick told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "That ought to be priority No. 1, and if the tracks don't have the walls, then we shouldn't race there."

Track officials said owner Bruton Smith was assessing the walls and anticipated SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barriers installed along the inside before the Truck Series race there in September.

"We would not do anything to the walls without first going to NASCAR, but Bruton has said to me we will take immediate action here before we have another NASCAR event," track president Chris Powell told the AP. NASCAR.com


Kobayashi tops day one in Spain
Kamui Kobayashi
Kamui Kobayashi set an outstanding lap time in the afternoon testing session for the GP2 series in Barcelona on Tuesday when he recorded a 1:26.806. The Dams driver ended the day at the top of the time sheet, beating the 2007 car’s best time on the Spanish track that was set last year by Andreas Zuber with iSport in a 1:27.024.

Also quick in the afternoon session was another rookie, Yelmer Buurman, who was at the wheel of the Trust Team Arden car, followed by Javier Villa and Davide Valsecchi. Frenchman Romain Grosjean made his way back into the top 5 after a frustrating morning session.

After last week’s very encouraging first run of the 2008 GP2 chassis at Paul Ricard, the 13 teams have gathered  this  week  in  Barcelona  for  a  second  two-day  testing session where the 2008 season  opening  event will take place on the 26th of April.

Although the morning session was stopped by a few red flags, nothing really out of the ordinary occurred with Pastor Maldonado topping the timesheet very closely followed by iSport International Bruno Senna, ART Grand Prix racer Luca Filippi and rookie Kamui Kobayashi at the wheel of his Dams car. The first 18 cars posted times within a second of each other.

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Gold Coast Indy secured for another 6 years
Will Power on the streets of Surfers Paradise in a Champ Car
The future of the Gold Coast Indy 300 has been secured for at least another six years with a deal being reached with the Indy Racing League’s new-look IndyCar Series and V8 Supercars Australia.

Queensland Minister for Police, Corrective Services and Sport, Judy Spence, made the announcement today after a visit to Indianapolis this week by event Chairman Terry Mackenroth and General Manager Greg Hooton.

The final piece of the puzzle, which will continue to give V8 Supercars equal billing with the IndyCar Series at the October event, was put in place after positive discussions with V8 Supercars chairman Tony Cochrane this week.

Now regarded as one of the world’s iconic motorsport events, the Gold Coast Indy 300 is now secure until and including 2013 with major plans already underway for a massive 20th anniversary celebration in 2010.

A decision to end an open-wheel split between the Indy Racing League and Champ Car last week was applauded as a significant day in world motorsport history. 

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Sprint Cup Top 35... On the Bubble
For the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams residing in the proximity of the 35th position in car owner points, the time has come to get it in gear. Atlanta Motor Speedway is the fourth stop on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, and the second to last chance for teams in the top 35 of the 2007 car owner points to guarantee themselves a spot on Sunday.

Dave Blaney (No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota) driving for Bill Davis Racing sits on the bubble this week - 35th in the owner point standings with 212 points. Casey Mears (No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet) is currently 34th in the points after having a turn around season last year winning his first race at Charlotte and posting five top-five and eight top-10 finishes. But Mears hasn’t been able to carry his momentum from last season to this year after being in accidents on two consecutive weekends — Daytona and California.

2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Points – After 3 Races

Position Points  Team Owner   Driver
32nd 230 No. 44 Toyota Michael Waltrip Dale Jarrett
33rd 230 No. 55 Toyota Michael Waltrip Michael Waltrip
34th 219 No. 5  Chevrolet Mary Hendrick Casey Mears
35th 212 No. 22 Toyota Bill Davis Dave Blaney
36th 200 No. 40 Dodge Felix Sabates Dario Franchitti
37th 193 No. 7  Dodge Robby Gordon Robby Gordon
38th 192 No. 77 Dodge Roger Penske Sam Hornish Jr.


Raybestos Rookie of the Year Update
The 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year class reads like a list of who’s who of open wheel racing over the past several years. Names like Sam Hornish Jr., Dario Franchitti and Patrick Carpentier.

Dario Franchitti (No. 40 Fastenal Dodge) Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 77 Penske Truck Rentals Dodge) and Regan Smith (No. 01 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet) are heading to Atlanta looking to improve their points positions because all three are sitting outside the top-35 — 36th, 38th and 39th respectively.

All three drivers have started the first three events on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, but Hornish Jr. has the highest finish of all three with a 15th at Daytona. Franchitti and Smith both got their best finishes this season at California — 26th and 31st respectively.

Patrick Carpentier (No. 10 Cintas Dodge) made his first start of the 2008 season last week at Las Vegas, but was caught in an accident on Lap 116 — he finished 40th.

The NASCAR Season-To-Date Loop Data shows Hornish Jr. with a Driver Rating of (58.6), Smith with a Driver Rating of (37.8) and Franchitti with a Driver Rating of (33.2).


14 Sprint Cup Regulars Enter Atlanta Nationwide
The Sprint Cup invasion continues as there will be 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup regulars in the starting field for Saturday’s Nicorette 300, including Peachtree City Ga.’s Reed Sorenson in the No. 40 Fastenal car as well as Unadilla, Ga.’s David Ragan in the No. 6 Discount Tire car.

Kasey Kahne is also scheduled to start the March 8 race and brings an impressive AMS Nationwide Series record with him, scoring five top-10 finishes in six starts.

"Atlanta is one my favorite stops on the schedule," Kahne said. "It’s wide and fast. The multiple grooves that it offers allow you move around on the track, searching for the best and fastest line. It’s a huge advantage to have those kinds of options as a driver."

Also entered in the Nicorette 300 are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Bobby Labonte, defending race winner Jeff Burton, Brian Vickers, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and David Reutimann.


Earnhardt Jr to make 100th Nationwide Start at Atlanta
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race in the Saturday, March 8 Nicorette 300, the first Nationwide race he has entered at AMS since he drove the AC Delco Chevrolet to a third-place finish in 1999. Earnhardt Jr.’s first Nationwide Series start at AMS in 1998 resulted in a runner-up finish. He will make his 100th career Nationwide Series start this weekend.

Earnhardt Jr. will drive the No. 5 National Guard Chevrolet in the event, owned by his company, JR Motorsports. Last weekend, Mark Martin piloted the No. 5 Chevrolet to victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, scoring JR Motorsports its first-ever Nationwide Series win. 

"We always look forward to Atlanta, it is the best track we race at," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It's bad-fast, fun to drive, and we seem to find ourselves near the front most of the time."


Harvick Daytona Nationwide Penalty Amended
On March 4, 2008, the National Stock Car Racing Commission heard and considered the appeal of Charles Wilson.  The appeal concerned a penalty issued by NASCAR following post-qualifying inspection on February 15, 2008 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Daytona International Speedway during which Mr. Wilson was the crew chief of record for the Kevin Harvick, Inc. #77 car. 

The infractions concerned Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing”; Section 12-4-Q “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the car, car parts, components, and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules” and Section 20A-8.4C:  “The oil reservoir tank cover was not fastened securely.”

The penalty assessed against Mr. Wilson was:

  • $15,000.00 fine; suspension from NASCAR for the next six (6) NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until April 9, 2008 (not including testing), and probation until December 31, 2008.

Separate penalties were also assessed against the car owner and driver in this matter, but those penalties were not appealed.

During the appeal, the rules violations were not contested.

After considering the testimony presented during the hearing, it is the decision of the National Stock Car Racing Commission by a majority vote to amend the original penalty assessed against Mr. Wilson by NASCAR as follows:

  • $5,000.00 fine; suspension from NASCAR for the next four (4) NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship Events from this date; suspension from NASCAR until April 9, 2008 (not including testing), and probation until December 31, 2008.

The Appellant has the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Commissioner.


Andretti added to Sebring lineup
Marco Andretti
More than 40 years after the name first competed at Sebring, the Andretti name is returning to the cockpit for the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. Marco Andretti will drive the XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01b entered by Andretti Green Racing, of which his father Michael is a principal owner. The youngest Andretti will team with Bryan Herta and Christian Fittipaldi in America’s greatest sports car race.

“I’m really looking forward to getting into the XM Satellite Radio Acura,” said Andretti, who will turn 21 on March 13. “I’ve had a chance to drive the car in a couple of tests and I’ve been very happy with it. The car has been really quick, fun to drive and has been incredibly durable.”

Sebring will be the first start in the American Le Mans Series for Andretti. In combining with Herta and Fittipaldi in the XM Acura, Andretti is jumping into a car that took the LMP2 class win at Sebring in 2007 in the first Series start for the team and Acura.

“What Bryan was able to do last year, in Acura’s very first start, was amazing,” Andretti said. “I think I’ll be able to contribute and, hopefully, run up front. My grandfather has won three times at Sebring and I hope to add my name to that list.”

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Goodyear schedules tire test at Darlington
Goodyear officials have scheduled a NASCAR Sprint Cup tire test for Monday and Tuesday at the newly paved 1.366-mile Darlington Raceway. Hendrick Motorsports’ Jeff Gordon, Roush Fenway Racing’s Greg Biffle and Penske Racing’s Ryan Newman are tentatively scheduled to conduct the two-day test.

tv news

SPEED adds 2 more NASCAR shows
SPEED adds two NASCAR programs to its lineup beginning this weekend with the introduction of NASCAR Confidential and NASCAR in a Hurry.

NASCAR Confidential premieres March 23 at 8 p.m. ET on SPEED, offering a new twist on the behind-the-scenes genre.  Instead of focusing on at-track competition, teams or drivers, the program will tell a unique and untold story on a variety of subjects through the eyes of several participants.  It will be a one-hour, highly-produced narrative covering a 24-hour period.

“SPEED knows how devoted NASCAR fans are and how much they want every tidbit of information and insight they can get their hands on,” said Steve Craddock, SPEED Senior VP of Programming.  “NASCAR Confidential will give viewers a different take on the behind-the-scenes workings in NASCAR.  It will bring NASCAR to the fans in more depth and detail than they’ve ever had before.”

NASCAR in a Hurry, a 30-minute weekly program hosted by Adam Alexander and a number of rotating SPEED on-air personalities, premieres Sunday at 11a.m. ET from Atlanta Motor Speedway.  It will recap the weekend’s early highlights from the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series, in addition to clips from various NASCAR on SPEED programs. 

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track news

Eurospeedway turns another profit
EuroSpeedway Lausitz has reinforced its position as the most profitable racetrack in Germany. The announcement came from the two managing partners of EuroSpeedway Lausitz GmbH, Hans-Jörg Fischer (41) and Matthias Tomasetti (40), with the publication of the company's 2007 financial statement. The operating profit of 1.2 million euros represented an increase just shy of 20 percent on the previous year's result (2006; 1.004 million euros).

In recording another record profit EuroSpeedway Lausitz GmbH has clearly extended its lead over all other permanent racetracks in Germany. In contrast to the usual subsidy practice at German racetracks, and contrary to the view still widely held by the public, EuroSpeedway Lausitz GmbH performed without one penny of public funding. Nor does the entirely privately run company have any plans to claim public subsidies in the future.

EuroSpeedway Lausitz GmbH has submitted another bid under the current public invitation to tender to run the racetrack and test circuit from 2009. EuroSpeedway Lausitz GmbH has also been granted a notarized pre-emptive right by its owner, Förderverein Lausitz Ring e.V., to buy the 370-hectare complex and intends to exercise this right. 

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Max Papis to pilot Rubicon Indy 500 entry
Max and his wife Tati
Driver Max Papis has been tabbed to pilot the Rubicon Race Team entry and attempt to qualify for the 92nd Indianapolis 500 on May 25. 

Papis, widely regarded as one of the most versatile race car drivers in the world, will attempt to make his third start in the famed “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in a Dallara/Honda/Firestone car owned by Jim Freudenberg and Jason Priestley and prepared by Sam Schmidt Motorsports.  Traveling to the brickyard with Papis will be his personal sponsor GEICO.  GEICO will be prominently displayed on the rear wing of the car, as well as the top of the sidepods, top of the nosecone and the tire ramp, along with Max’s drivers suit and the pit crew uniforms. 

The 2004 Grand-Am Rolex Series Champion, Papis was born in Como, Italy, and now resides in Mooresville, North Carolina.  He has made over 100 open wheel race starts, including starts in two prior Indianapolis 500’s, and 9 Formula One races.  Papis now also serves as a test driver for NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports and participates in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series, where he recorded a third place finish on August 4, 2007 in Montreal.

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track news

Silverstone releases images of proposed new pits
New Silverstone pit lane rendering
(GMM)  The owners of the Silverstone circuit on Tuesday released images of the proposed redevelopment of the British grand prix venue's pit and paddock complex.

The computer generated images depict the futuristic scene of the new start and finish area, pit garages and media centre, which would be located between the Club and Abbey corners, rather than Woodcote and Copse, the current turn one.

Silverstone's new layout, designed by Wembley stadium architects HOK and the first stage in a ten-year plan, would also include the reconfiguration of the Club and Abbey sections, the British Racing Drivers' Club said.

"It should go without saying by now, that in order to retain the British grand prix we need a venue of this kind of stature, and the grand prix is a key element in the whole project," BRDC president Damon Hill said.

The plans will be discussed at a full local council meeting later this month.


Le Mans 24 hours back on Eurosport
The Eurosport Group signed a three-year deal with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) to broadcast the "Le Mans 24 Hours" races in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The deal includes both the live rights for the prestigious car racing event held in June, and coverage of the motorcycling event in April together with all five events of the "Le Mans Series", the great 1000km endurance series*.

Eurosport will offer live coverage of the Le Mans 24 hours via a combination of its Eurosport, Eurosport 2, Eurosport Asia-Pacific and its websites.

The "Le Mans 24 Hours" motorcycling race will also have comprehensive live coverage on Eurosport, Eurosport 2, Eurosport Asia-Pacific and Eurosport's websites, while all the events in the "Le Mans Series" will be broadcast during the course of the season.

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Kerr and Jarvis for GB team
A1  Team  Great  Britain  announces  Oliver  Jarvis  for  Mexico,  Robbie  Kerr  for  Shanghai  and Brands Hatch, and a new rookie driver program

Oliver Jarvis will continue lead driver duties at the next round in Mexico City on 16 March before handing the wheel to Robbie Kerr, who will fill the driving seat for the penultimate round in Shanghai on 13 April and GBR's home race, and the season finale, at Brands Hatch on 4 May. In addition to this, the team is delighted to announce that it will be providing some of Britain's young and highly-rated drivers the opportunity to represent their nation in the forthcoming rookie practice sessions.

After scoring Team GBR's 22nd podium in the Sprint race at the last round in Durban, South Africa, Jarvis will return for duty for round nine of the championship in Mexico City in a fortnight's time. The Mexican venue was the location for GBR's fantastic maiden race win in the Feature event a year ago, with Oliver taking the spoils for the team.

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Hamilton expects to match Ferrari pace
A smug Hamilton thinks he can beat Raikkonen
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton believes McLaren will match the pace of rivals Ferrari this season.

"Ferrari were ahead by maybe three or four 10ths of a second, but now we are in equal cars," said the Briton.

"It was strange they weren't at some of the tests in Barcelona - it's an accurate measure."

"Perhaps there is more pressure but I feel there is less," he added.

"Last year I had so much to prove. There was the press asking 'can he do it or not?' I'm sure even people in the team were wondering.

"I was quick in testing but racing is a different thing. People wait for you to fail.

"I think this year is slightly easier. People know how well I can drive. I'm not going into an unknown world.

"I don't have any doubts that I will do a job this year but that means something different now. It means I want to win the world championship."


Monday overall Phoenix testing speeds
Martin Truex Jr.
Speeds following Monday evening's session of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test at the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway with position, driver, team and speed:

1. Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 130.326 mph
2. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 130.303
3. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 130.265
4. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 130.251
5. Mark Martin, No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 130.251
6. Kurt Busch, No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge, 130.241
7. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 130.227
8. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 130.208
9. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 130.152
10. Jamie McMurray, No. 26 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 130.119

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Wallace team wins appeal
On March 3, 2008, the National Stock Car Racing Commission heard and considered the appeal of Rusty Wallace Racing.  The appeal concerned three penalties issued by NASCAR following post-qualifying inspection on February 15, 2008 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

The infractions concerned Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing”; Section 12-4-Q “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the car, car parts, components, and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules” and Section 20A-8.4C:  “The oil tank reservoir tank cover was not fastened securely.”

The penalties assessed were:

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Briatore, Prost, slam modern F1
  • F1 switch not easy for Bourdais - Tost
  • Force India 'too slow' - Adrian Sutil
  • McLaren doomed without Dennis - Ramirez
  • Glock not ready to shine for Toyota
  • Mallya wants to recapture Jordan spirit

Flavio Briatore
Briatore, Prost, slam modern F1
(GMM)  F1 stalwarts Flavio Briatore and Alain Prost have hit out at the current state of the sport.

The pair, collectively with nearly half a decade of experience of the inner workings of the formula one spotlight, separately argue that grand prix racing has become boring and too easy.

"The races are too long and predictable," said Briatore, the Italian boss of the Renault team who has long advocated for radical change.

"Formula one is like the Sanremo Song Festival," he told RAI radio, comparing his arena to the beleaguered event.

"It is necessary to change."

Quadruple world champion and former team owner Prost also went public with his concerns about F1's current format this week.

He thinks new drivers can quickly adapt to life in the cockpit because the cars have become like PlayStations.

"It's more speed, less brains, less tactics, less strategy and much less work together between a driver and the engineers -- and that is not formula one I like," the Frenchman told BBC's Inside Sport.

Bourdais (R) talks to one of his Toro Rosso engineers
F1 switch not easy for Bourdais - Tost
(GMM)  Despite dominating Champ Cars in recent years, multiple series champion Sebastien Bourdais cannot expect to switch to F1 this year and be immediately at home, his new team boss Franz Tost insists.

Indeed, the 29-year-old Frenchman admitted recently that, although fairly close to the pace of his Toro Rosso teammate Sebastian Vettel in winter testing, his early weakness in 2008 is likely to be the qualifying hour.

"So far Sebastien has done a good job," Tost, the Red Bull sister team's principal, said.

"He has to get used to the rhythm of an F1 race weekend and the first few grands prix will not be so easy for him.

"But I expect he will be a front runner from the fifth or sixth race onwards," the Austrian added.

Bourdais, meanwhile, has expressed relief that he escaped the American series Champ Car before it merged with the Indy Racing League for the 2008 season.

"It's not a merger, it's the death of Champ Car," he said.  "I'm even more convinced it (moving to F1) was the right thing for me to do."

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Audi, Mercedes Honda up, GM, Ford, Toyota and Chrysler down
All 4 of NASCAR manufacturers (Ford, GM, Dodge and Toyota) saw sales drop in February, while the non-NASCAR manufacturers saw sales rise in February.

Audi of America, Inc. announced today sales for the month of February totaling 6,152, a decrease of 6.9% from last year’s figures. Audi Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) sales continued their record-setting trend; compared with last year’s February figures, CPO sales came to 3,021 units, an increase of 57%.

German car maker Daimler AG said Tuesday that unit sales at it's Mercedes-Benz Cars division totaled 96,600 vehicles in February 2008, an increase of 18% from the figure recorded for the same month last year, 82,000 units, setting a new benchmark. In addition, deliveries of Mercedes-Benz, AMG, smart, and Maybach brand vehicles over the first two months of the year rose 17% to the record level of 187,000 units, compared to 159,700 in the first two months of 2007.

The Mercedes-Benz brand also set a record in February by posting a sales increase of 13% to 87,800 units worldwide compared to 78,000 in February 2007.

A total of 170,100 customers worldwide opted for a vehicle of the brand with the star over the first two months of the year, up from 151,500 in the first two months of 2007, an increase of 12% from the same period last year, and also the best performance ever for that calendar period.

General Motors Corp. Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. today said their U.S. sales declined in February, while American Honda Motor Co. Inc. recorded a 5 percent gain.

Chrysler and GM each posted double-digit declines -- in part, GM said, due to a tough comparison with a strong month last February.


The last lecture of Dr. Randy Pausch
OK, this is not about racing, but we urge each of you take the time to watch this video.  Dying professor, Dr. Randy Pausch knows he is dying. This video will leave you thinking when it's over. Take 10 minutes of your time to watch it.  It would do us all some good. 


Williams says team not F1's third force
(GMM)  Sir Frank Williams says he is not convinced that his Oxfordshire based formula one team could be set to become the sport's third force in 2008.

Some sections of the press have lauded the performance of the new Toyota-powered FW30 in winter testing by suggesting that the car could emerge this season as the quickest after likely championship contenders Ferrari and McLaren.

As the car's 2008 tweaked livery was revealed on Monday, Williams was asked if he is cautiously optimistic about improving on last year's solid season.

"Personally, not in the slightest, I don't subscribe to what the press has said," he said.

"Our competitors around us, of which there are many, are just as competitive.  To think that we're going to sail into third place in the first few races is pie in the sky.

"If we do, it'll be a tight fit," Williams added.

In a F1 field dominated by works car manufacturers and the lucrative engine drink company Red Bull, Grove based Williams - alongside Force India - is now one of just two true independents.

But Sir Frank insists that this fact does not ease the pain of having failed to win a title since 1997.

"Ten years is a miserably long time, Patrick (Head) and I wince every time we think about it.

"Whether we've turned a corner, we will only be able to tell once the season gets underway," he said.


Top teams 'equal' for 2008 battle - Hamilton
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton does not agree that Ferrari will touch down in Melbourne next week as favorites to win the world championships again in 2008.

Before jetting off to Australia to acclimatize to the time difference, the McLaren driver insisted that the British team's new single seater, the MP4-23, is a match for the Maranello built F2008.

"Last year Ferrari were ahead by maybe three or four tenths of a second," he told journalists while training at the McLaren factory in Surrey on Monday.

"They have a very good car again but now we are in equal cars," Hamilton, 23, added.

Hamilton points out that, when the Big Two teams met at the same test circuits towards the end of the recent pre-season, Ferrari's earlier advantage seemed to have been closed down by McLaren.

"I thought it was strange that they were not at some of the tests with the other teams and I think Barcelona is a very accurate measure," said the Briton, referring to Ferrari and the final group test in Spain last month.

"It will be a lot closer than last time," he added, also rejecting widespread claims that, with his meteoric rookie season now over, he will be under more pressure in 2008.

Hamilton said: "Perhaps there is more pressure, but I feel there is less.  Last year I had so much to prove.  There was the press asking, 'can he do it or not?'"

"I'm sure even people in the team were wondering.  I was quick in testing but racing is a different thing.  People wait for you to fail.

"I think this year is slightly easier.  People know how well I can drive.  I'm not going into an unknown world."


Top Atlantic team quits
The 2007 Atlantic Champion Sierra Sierra Enterprises team will not return to the 2008 Atlantic Championship lineup to defend its championship title.  The split of Atlantic from the Champ Car World Series was one impact of the unification  between Champ Car and the Indy Racing League.  For the Atlantics, this split created a climate of uncertainty as well as a declining business model – both of which were major factors in the team’s decision. 

“We regret that this was a decision we were forced to make.  We examined all of our options very carefully and could not find a workable business model.  We do support the merge and see it as the only path to preserving open wheel racing in the U.S.,” said Diane Kottke, Team Owner.

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Sebring Day 1: Kanaan fastest
Andretti Green Racing drivers swept the top three spots during the first half day of an Open Test at Sebring International Raceway. Nine IndyCar Series drivers tested during the afternoon and will receive a full day of testing on March 4. Nine other drivers will test the afternoon of March 5 and all day on March 6.

Tony Kanaan turned the fastest lap on the circuit's 1.7-mile, 11-turn course at 53.5174 seconds, 112.337 mph. Teammates Marco Andretti and Hideki Mutoh were second and third, respectively, while Danica Patrick was edged out of fourth late in the day by Rahal Letterman Racing's Ryan Hunter-Reay.

A.J. Foyt IV, Jay Howard, Ed Carpenter and Marty Roth rounded out the time sheet.

Sebring International Raceway is located on the former Hendricks Field, a United States Army Air Forces Combat Crew Training facility that was constructed in 1940. Pilots used Hendricks Field to train on B-17s throughout World War II.

The field was deactivated on Dec. 31, 1945 and given to the city of Sebring in 1946. The first race was staged at the facility in 1950.

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Morning Phoenix testing speeds
Speeds following Monday morning’s session of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test at the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway with position, driver, team and speed:
1. Paul Menard, No. 15 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 131.186 mph
2. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 131.128
3. J.J. Yeley, No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota, 131.062
4. Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 130.976
5. Clint Bowyer,  No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 130.919
6. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 130.790
7. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 130.700
8. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 130.482
9. Martin Truex Jr. No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 130.477
10. Joe Nemechek, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, 130.354
11. Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 130.213
12. Regan Smith, No. 01 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 130.110
13. Dave Blaney, No. 22 Bill Davis Racing Toyota, 130.095
14. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 130.081
15. Mark Martin, No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 129.833
16. David Reutimann. No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 129.636
17. David Ragan. No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 129.576
18. Dario Franchitti, No. 40 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 129.320
19. Michael McDowell, No. 44 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 129.264
20. Bill Elliott, No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, 129.213
21. Mark Martin, No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 129.171
22. Robby Gordon, No. 7 Robby Gordon Motorsports Dodge, 128.723
23. Michael Waltrip, No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 128.214
24. Ken Schrader, No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge, 127.955
25. Patrick Carpentier, No. 10 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 126.458


Houston GP cancelled
The Grand Prix of Houston announced today that the 2008 event, originally scheduled for April 25-27 at Reliant Park, has been cancelled. Grand Prix officials made the determination that after the unexpected unification of the Champ Car World Series and Indy Racing League and the resulting exclusion of Houston from the schedule, it was not possible to stage the event in 2008. However, Grand Prix officials are already in discussions about the possibility of holding the Grand Prix of Houston in 2009 with the American Le Mans Series and Indy Racing League.

“The unification of Champ Car and IRL caught us by surprise, and we were informed that due to the last-minute nature of this unification the Houston date could not be accommodated for 2008,” said Michael T. Lanigan, owner and chairman of the Grand Prix. “We are saddened and disappointed to have to make this decision, but we remain optimistic that we will have the opportunity to bring the American Le Mans Series and the Indy Racing League to Houston in 2009.”

The Grand Prix of Houston was not involved in any way in the unilateral discussions between Champ Car and the Indy Racing League, and despite a contract with Champ Car for 2008 the Houston race was excluded from the schedule.

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Champ Car blowout sale UPDATE #2 The Champ Car sale that was announced on our website has been extended until March 15th.  See our Racing Store page above.

02/29/08 Due to popular demand, we will extend the sale 2 weeks on Monday.

Panoz DP01 diecast
We believe fans know this is the last collection they can purchase and are taking advantage of it!  The Champ Car DP01 diecast will be produced and available in Late April/May.

Speedgear, in conjunction with AutoRacing1.com is having a Champ Car blowout Sale - savings up to 78% on our Racing Store page.  This sale ends this weekend March 2nd as we will take all the remaining stock and pack it up for the Last Hurrah in Long Beach.


Q & A with Frank Williams
Frank Williams (C)
As the Williams F1 Team presented its 2008 livery today, Team Principal Frank Williams is looking ahead to the upcoming season which starts in less than 2 weeks time. It will be a very special season for the team as it celebrates its 30th birthday.

The team will mark several landmarks this season. Did you foresee such success when you first started your career?
"It never crossed my mind so no, not at all. Back then, my mind concentrated on yesterday’s and today’s problems."

This year also sees you become the longest serving constructor in Formula One and celebrate 600 GP entries. What has motivated you over the past 38 years and what keeps motivating you?
"It’s very easy to be hooked by Formula One. Once you’re in, you can’t get out. It’s almost an addiction, but an enjoyable one."

You had no connections to motorsport as a child. What propelled you into the sport do you think?
"When I was very young, motor cars were few and far between but I always loved them. I was just thrilled by their speed and their specification, I was hooked from the first time I came across one."

Formula One has changed considerably during your tenure, what has been the most significant change, in your opinion?
"Undoubtedly safety. The advances we’ve seen over the years are very much down to Max Mosley and the FIA."

Your relationship with Patrick Head is the most enduring partnership in the paddock. What do you think has been the key to its longevity?
"A common sense of purpose. We also have an understanding of what each other is good at so we very rarely tread on each others’ toes."

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Spyker says F1 team sale not complete
(GMM)  The Dutch sports car maker Spyker on Monday revealed that the sale of the Silverstone based F1 team to Force India is not yet complete.

The surprising admission was made in the form of a press release, in which it was made clear that Spyker had not yet "fully and definitively" passed the team to the consortium Orange India -- headed by Vijay Mallya and the Mol family.

Mallya and Mol have, however, already renamed the newly launched outfit Force India, changed the colors of the car, and are set to debut the team's new identity in Melbourne in 12 days time.

But while announcing massive losses for 2007, Spyker said there are still some "minor differences of opinion" with Force India to clear up.

"A number of issues of relative minor financial importance -- according to our expectations -- are still outstanding," Spyker confirmed.

"Unfortunately ... as per today, (Spyker) has still not reached full and final agreement with Orange India," it added.

In reaction to the news, Spyker shares dived more than 21 per cent.


Sand an issue at Qatar Losail circuit
The 2008 MotoGP World Championship will make history at Losail on March 9, with the first-ever night-time Grand Prix race. Losail hosts its fifth MotoGP race this year, but the 2008 Qatar GP will be very different from the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 events, thanks to its night-time schedule. Track temperature will be dramatically different from previous events and that alone changes the character of the circuit and the race. Riders had the opportunity to acclimatize to these very different conditions during night-time tests on February 28 and 29. The circuit is lit by an amazing 5.4 million watt lighting system, the biggest of its kind, which could illuminate a road from Doha to Moscow or 70 FIFA football fields.

The circuit itself, constructed in 2004 to bring MotoGP to the Middle East for the first time, is a sinuous test for man and machine, with the layout of individual corners inspired by famous corners at racetracks from around the world. Corner speed and machine agility are vitally important at Losail with only one straight worthy of the name – the 1.068km/0.664 mile start-finish, which demands plenty of horsepower.

Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says, “This certainly isn’t my favorite circuit. Most of the time it’s quite windy at Losail, which blows sand from around the circuit on to the track, making it dirty. The tarmac itself is grippy but when it’s dusty there’s not much grip. Also, it’s always dusty off the racing line, so if you get off the line you lose a lot of time because you have to be very careful not to fall. Fortunately it’s not bumpy and the safety is good. Technically, this circuit requires very precise bike setup, with good agility and good straight-line speed; these two factors are very important at Losail. When choosing tires we usually go for intermediate tires, neither too hard nor too soft. You have to ride quite aggressively at Losail, though there is a section – the three fast curves approaching the corner before the start-finish – which requires you to ride more carefully. Riding at night here is a new experience, but for my liking there is too much humidity as night falls, and you really notice it on the track.”


Hamleys renews with Williams
Williams today announced an extension of its sponsorship partnership with Hamleys, the iconic international toy store.

Hamleys, which has partnered Williams F1 since 2004, is extending its commitment to the team by agreeing a new sponsorship deal that will see the toy store’s distinctive logo graduate to the sidepod positions on the car. The Hamleys brand will also be featured within the team environment.

Hamleys is part of the Baugur Group, which recently confirmed mydiamonds.com and All Saints as sponsors to the team.

Nick Mather, Hamleys Chief Executive
“Our Formula One sponsorship has provided a novel and successful international marketing platform for Hamleys. Based on this success, we are delighted to be renewing the sponsorship and taking up more prominent positions on the car."

Frank Williams, Williams Team Principal
“Hamleys has been an enduring partner for AT&T Williams and we are genuinely delighted that today’s increased sponsorship commitment has been prompted by our successful relationship to date. Increased support from premium brands such as Hamleys will give our partner portfolio an invaluable international retail presence.”


Renault reveals pre-tax loss due to F1
Renault's Formula One motor racing team made a pre-tax loss of £3.6 million in 2006 despite winning back-to-back world championships.  Had they not spent so much money sponsoring their F1 team they would have actually turned a profit.

According to UK press reports, the latest accounts reveal that Renault's turnover in the year to 31 December 2006 increased by 10 per cent to £132 million after increasing its sponsorship, but its costs accelerated.

The team reaped a prize of around £15.7 million for winning the world championship in 2005 and added three new sponsors to its tally the following year. Existing sponsors got increased exposure from the victory and paid bonuses on top of their huge annual fees. Japan Tobacco paid Renault an estimated £33 million for title sponsorship of the team and was followed by oil company Elf which gave it £10 million per year for prominent car logos.

Renault, however, spent £134 million in 2006 with payment of its 526 staff comprising over a quarter of this.


Gordon upset at lack of Safer Walls at Las  Vegas
A Jeff Gordon crew member looks at the wrecked 24 car
Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon was critical of Las Vegas Motor Speedway following his hard hit on the inside retaining wall late in Sunday's race.

Gordon's spinning Chevrolet went headfirst into the wall for the "hardest I've ever hit" after contact with Matt Kenseth. Gordon was upset the wall didn't have the SAFER Barrier that is pretty much standard on the outside walls.

"That kind of hit shouldn't happen," Gordon said. "There is no reason why any track we go to should have that. I could have been really hurt bad."

Gordon anticipated being "really sore" on Monday when he reports to Phoenix International Raceway for two days of open testing. The hit destroyed his car and tore the transmission out from under the hood.

"It took me awhile to be able to catch my breath and to get out," he said. "I'm thankful that I've got an awesome team ... because they build a safe race car. Several years ago, those types of hits, you wouldn't be standing here right now." SI.com


Audi R10 TDI sets best time at Le Castellet
Ingolstadt/Le Castellet – Audi Sport Team Joest clearly set the pace at the official tests of the Le Mans Series (LMS) at Le Castellet (Southern France). At the end of the first test day both Audi R10 TDI cars had a commanding lead in the sportscar field. The fastest time was set by Allan McNish. The Scot was the only driver on Sunday to break the sound barrier of 1.40 minutes.

For Audi Sport Team Joest, the test at Le Castellet served as the roll-out for the racing cars fielded in the Le Mans Series that starts with the 1,000-kilometre race at Barcelona (Spain) on 6 April. The two newly prepared Audi R10 TDI cars reeled off a total of 162 laps (almost 1,000 kilometers) without any major problems. "The morning started off a bit slowly but in the afternoon and evening the drivers were very satisfied with the cars," said Ralf Jüttner, Technical Director of Audi Sport Team. "It was good to have the opportunity to extensively test the cars before the first race at Barcelona."

All four LMS drivers, Dindo Capello, Allan McNish, Alexandre Prémat and Mike Rockenfeller, participated in the test. With 1m 39.705s, McNish on soft tires clearly set the day’s best time. Prémat in the "sister car" set the quickest time on a slightly harder tire compound with 1m 40.777s. The Frenchman was at the wheel of an R10 TDI for the first time after more than six months and drove some additional laps at night in darkness.

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TV news

NASCAR TV announcers shopping logo rights
Drivers' uniforms are plastered with dozens of sponsorship decals, but keep an eye on the shirts of NASCAR TV announcers, because some of them are rumored to be trying to shop around the space for logo rights on their shirts to various racing sponsors — in effect offering to wear a sponsor's logo during telecasts in exchange for a fee, of as much as $250,000.  Some sponsors who have been approached by the TV journalists have expressed chagrin; however, some sponsors are apparently willing to pay for the extra TV attention.

A NASCAR spokesman said he was unaware of the issue and declined to say what the NASCAR's response might be. Of course, any such move could be considered an egregious violation of journalistic ethics.

Questions about TV journalism in this sport aren't new. But at Daytona, one top TV announcer raised eyebrows when he publicly castigated the general print-and-web media for what he considered negative reporting about some of this sport's top issues, such as the controversial car of tomorrow, sluggish ticket sales, and flat TV ratings. And earlier this weekend a TV executive sent out a five-point memo to TV announcers warning them of topics to specifically avoid — including ticket sales and TV ratings. Winston Salem Journal


Prost insists McLaren not spies
(GMM)  Alain Prost has thrown his support behind his former employer McLaren, as the espionage scandal continues to tarnish the name of the British team.

With the Ferrari saga and record $100 million saga now in the annals of 2007 history, quadruple world champion Prost spoke out about the situation as it continued to drag on last week with the raids on top McLaren chiefs including Ron Dennis.

"I was in grand prix (racing) for twenty years and I saw engineers, or even journalists sometimes, trying to get information about the (rivals') car.

"But a bit here and there doesn't help," he told the Daily Mail, also describing the FIA's response to McLaren's offences as not "decent".

Frenchman Prost, who raced seven seasons at McLaren in the 80s, and also ran a team between 1997-2001, said the improper exchange of information between teams recently has been over-stated.

"The car is a complete package.  You take one part from a Ferrari into a McLaren and it is a disaster.  So I cannot support the ($100m) fine for McLaren," he said as he raced in Paris in the Andros ice-racing series.

"There were a lot of teams I saw very much on the limit, but not McLaren," Prost added.


Heikki to push Hamilton - Alain Prost
Heikki Kovalainen
(GMM)  Four time world champion Alain Prost has earmarked Heikki Kovalainen as a potential threat to Lewis Hamilton's stated ambition to win the world championship this year.

Paddock speculation indicates that, after the departure of Fernando Alonso, Hamilton is now very much considered the McLaren team's de-facto 'number one' driver.

But Prost, the winner of 51 grands prix and F1's most successful driver excluding Michael Schumacher, is also predicting a strong season for Alonso's Finnish successor.

"Hamilton must not be complacent as Kovalainen will certainly be a very tough cookie," the Frenchman and former grand prix team owner told Italy's Autosprint magazine last month.

"Where the championship is concerned, the Finn looks definitely dangerous," Prost added, also agreeing that there will be "more pressure" on Hamilton now that his meteoric rookie season is over.

According to 23-year-old Hamilton, meanwhile, the Briton is under no illusions that the occupant of the sister MP4-23 will do anything other than push him in 2008.

"I have no doubt in my mind that Heikki's going to be one of the quickest guys there," he is quoted as saying by the news agency Reuters.


Alonso - Renault team lacking confidence
Alonso climbs aboard his Renault
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso says the missing element inside the Renault team garages at present is confidence.

The Spaniard told the French sports daily L'Equipe that, with back to back world championships under his belt, he left a team at the end of 2006 that was "brimming with motivation and belief".

On the back of the uncompetitive 2007 season while he raced at McLaren, however, Alonso reveals that he has returned to Renault this year and senses a slight change among the French team's ranks.

"I think what they need, or what we all need, is to regain that lost confidence," the 26-year-old explained.

Alonso said he is keen to personally ensure that Renault's team members return to top form soon.

"I do not want to see a single person in this team relaxing," he smiled.


Hamilton relaxed amid Dennis rumors
Lewis Hamilton
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton says he is not concerned about the strengthening speculation that McLaren boss Ron Dennis is set to imminently step back from the helm of the British team.

The 23-year-old driver has long been a protégé of Dennis, who at 60 is understood to be on the verge of announcing that Martin Whitmarsh will succeed him after nearly three decades in control of the Woking based outfit.

But even though Hamilton was groomed through his formative years at the personal behest of Dennis, the 2007 championship runner-up insists that he would be happy with the arrangements for the future.

"If Ron wants to go, then he will go," he is quoted as saying by the German news magazine Focus.

"My relationship with Mercedes-Benz is absolutely as strong as my relationship with McLaren," Hamilton added.

"On this issue, I am quite relaxed."

To the newspaper Bild-Zeitung, meanwhile, Mercedes' Norbert Haug rejected rumors that the German manufacturer - which holds a 40 per cent share in McLaren - pushed for Dennis' exit.

Indeed, he said the speculation, mere days out from the first race of 2008, has not been "helpful".

"I am now in my fourteenth year together with Ron, and in that period, only one out of all the other teams has been more successful," Haug said.

"As team leader, Ron has made a huge contribution.  Everything else is speculation that has certainly not originated from our side," he added.


Toyota won't be last in 2008, Trulli insists
(GMM)  Jarno Trulli recently topped the final group test time sheet on a qualifying run, but the Toyota driver insists that the Japanese team's 2008 pre-season has not been all smoke and mirrors.

Indeed, the Italian told Switzerland's Blick newspaper that the Cologne built TF108 is markedly better than last year's car.

"Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes will still be at the front, but we (Toyota) will be playing behind Renault and BMW Sauber," he promised.

However, with just twelve days to go until Melbourne, the pre-season expectations even from within the seemingly back-marking Honda camp are not all negative.

In complete contrast to Trulli, Jenson Button ended the final Barcelona time sheet dead last, but he insists: "Our car is certainly not as bad as the test results suggest."

racing news

Robin Miller's mother dies
We are sorry to report that Robin Miller's mother, Alene,  passed away at 87 years old.  The Viewing will be Monday, March 3 from 4 pm to 8 pm at GH Herrmann Madison Avenue Funeral Home, 5141 Madison Avenue, Indianapolis.  The service will be held at 11 am on Tuesday, March 4 at the Southport Presbyterian Church, 7525 McFarland Road, Indianapolis.

In lieu of flowers please make donations to the National MPS Society, Megan Weisenbach’s special Helping Hands Ministries account and Dancer’s Miracle Network.


Cup testing at Phoenix March 3-4
Sprint Cup Series testing at Phoenix International Raceway on Monday, March 3rd is open to the public, with free admission to fans holding a grandstand ticket to the April 12 Subway Fresh Fit 500 at PIR. The first 100 fans will receive autographed collector cards of driver and Phoenix native J.J. Yeley #96 DLP Toyota. Monday’s test sessions run from 9am to 9pm with hour breaks at noon and 5pm. Gate 7 will open for fans at 9am. April race tickets will be available for purchase at the Gate 7 ticket office. Tuesday’s March 4th sessions are closed to the public.  PIR PR


Keller to stand by for Kahne
Kasey Kahne was suffering through a sinus infection Saturday, but the illness didn't stop him from posting the fastest lap in Happy Hour. Kahne decided to skip the Sam's Town 300 Nationwide race Saturday because of his illness. Gillett Evernham Motorsports teammate Patrick Carpentier replaced Kahne in the #9 Nationwide entry. "After the first Cup practice, we knew we might do something to allow Kasey the time to get better for Sunday's race," said Mark McArdle, vice president of competition for GEM. "He's been taking fluids and getting plenty of rest." McArdle said they have Nationwide Series driver Jason Keller on standby just in case Kahne can't drive Sunday or needs to get out of the car before the end of the race. ESPN.com


Lewis better than Kimi, Williams suggests
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton is a better driver than F1's reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen, the boss of the British formula one team Williams has suggested.

Sir Frank Williams kissing up to fellow Brit
Sir Frank Williams told reporters at a media lunch in London last week that rivals McLaren will have some consolation this season if Ferrari's F2008 turns out as expected to be a quicker single seater.

Referring to 23-year-old rookie Hamilton, the 2007 championship runner up, Williams is quoted as saying by the Daily Record: "If the Ferrari is the better car this year, McLaren should be saying to themselves 'Thank god he is not in a Ferrari, otherwise there would be no point going racing'."

Williams, 65, is reluctant to declare decisively that Raikkonen, the Finnish driver, is simply not as good as Hamilton.

"I don't know Kimi well.  He is a gifted driver, as good as anyone, but Kimi's weakness is that he is not that interested.

"So if a man of equal skill, let's say, turns up in an identical car, with one working harder than the other, it is more likely that that man would have the upper hand," he added.


GP2 catching F1, Alonso warns
Fernando Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has voiced his concern that the demise of key technologies in formula one could allow motor racing's lesser categories to catch up.

F1's governing body has outlawed electronic driver aids including engine braking and launch and traction control for 2008, while the further reduction of downforce and engine capacity looms for future regulations.

But Spaniard Alonso, the drivers' world champion of 2005 and 2006, told the Times: "Maybe it's a good thing, but we are making F1 not the highest technology in the world.

"Everybody looking at F1 from the outside sees it as the maximum, but if GP2 keeps improving, and keeps their slick tires, they will do our time laps very soon while we are going back to the past," he added.


Aussie GP attendance row brews Down Under
The admission by operators of the Australian Grand Prix that attendance figures at the formula one race were "rubbery" came as no great surprise.

A representative admitted before a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal that his office didn't know how many people attended the race, and that the number of tickets given away was kept secret to avoid undermining the event's appeal.

A freedom of information application by the anti-race Save Albert Park mob revealed that attendances were inflated, enhanced by thousands of free tickets.

As well, the figures included every person who visited the track over the race week. It would be nice if the confessional spirit infiltrates V8 supercars, where almost predictable claims of record crowds are greeted like a bad stand-up comedy routine.

In the wake of another claim after the four-day Clipsal 500 last weekend, it is timely to ask for the numbers of payers. Domestic motor sport is in a healthy state right now, and the marketers should not have to inflate numbers. In doing so, they leave themselves wide open to court action from disgruntled sponsors. Sydney Morning Herald

tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE #2 The final TV reminders for Sunday have been added to the schedule below.

03/01/08 The final TV reminders for Saturday have been added to the schedule below.

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
NASCAR Live! Las Vegas 
1:00pm-1:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nationwide Practice Las Vegas 
1:30pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Sprint Cup Practice Las Vegas 
3:00pm-4:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nationwide Final Practice Las Vegas 
4:30pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
LVMS.com lists practice from 4:45pm-6:30pm
Go or Go Home Las Vegas 
6:00pm-6:30pm SPEED
6:00pm-6:30pm ESPN2
NASCAR Sprint Cup Qualifying Las Vegas 
6:30pm-8:30pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Las Vegas 
8:30pm-9:30pm SPEED

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2008 Star Mazda TV Schedule
The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear today released its 2008 television schedule, with all 12 races in the 2008 season to be broadcast as 1-hour, tape-delay shows on the SPEED Channel.  Continuing as hosts will be noted racer/broadcasters Ralph Sheheen and Johnny O’Connell, with features, color commentary and pit lane interviews provided by Jamie Howe. 

The 2008 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear begins with its traditional date at the 56th annual Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring International Raceway on March 14 and winds up at the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 18.  Due to the Champ Car/IRL merger, some dates during the course of the season may need to be changed or consolidated into 2-race weekends; announcements of schedule and TV broadcast changes will be made as the situation clarifies.

Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear 2008 Event and TV Schedule

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Bourdais calls merger disaster for Champ Car
Sebastien Bourdais
Four-times Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais says the reunification of US open-wheel racing has made him even more convinced he was right to switch to Formula One.

The Frenchman, who will make his grand prix debut with Toro Rosso in Australia on March 16, said the merger with the Indy Racing League (IRL) had effectively killed off the series he once dominated.

"It's not a merger, it's the death of Champ Car and the IRL taking over, the schedules, cars, everything," Britain's Autosport website (www.autosport.com) quoted him as saying after a Formula One test in Spain.

Bourdais said the agreement to reunite the series just 30 days before the start of the IRL season left Champ Car teams with no time to prepare.

"It's a disaster for Champ Car teams, obviously," he said.

"It's not a merger, it's the death of Champ Car and the IRL taking over - the schedules, cars, everything. It's the cars (the IRL teams) have been running around with for five years, so what are the Champ Car teams going to be able to do? Nothing.

"They had no time to prepare over the winter, because the winter is over. It's a disaster for Champ Car teams, obviously."

"Even if they start working on the cars now the season's going to be over by the time they start to be half-competitive," added the Frenchman.

"I'm even more convinced it (Formula One) was the right thing for me to do. I would not have been a contender in any way this year (in America)."

The two series announced last week they were reuniting 12 years after the former CART championship split, with Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George forming the IRL which had the rights to the high-profile Indy 500.

Both hope the unification will counter the rise of NASCAR, the stock car series which now dominates the American motorsport landscape. SBS World News


Happy Hour from Las Vegas
Kasey Kahne quickest in Happy Hour
Photo: Jason Smith - Getty Images

Kasey Kahne was quickest in Happy Hour for Sunday's UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway but decided to skip the Nationwide race due to a sinus infection.  Carl Edwards and Paul Menard were just a tick slower than Kahne, and Hendricks Terrible Trio of Gordon, Johnson and Earnhardt Jr were next quickest.

”The Budweiser Dodge was good" commented Kahne after Happy Hour. "It’s a little free in, a little tight in the center and off – we’ll keep working on that. We got better as the day went for sure. We’re looking forward to tomorrow. We have to come a long way back because of my poor effort in qualifying, but other than that we’ve got a good fast car. Vegas is always a lot of fun to run on Sunday.”

Clint Bowyer hit the wall in Happy Hour collecting Kyle Petty in the process.  Bowyer will start tomorrow's race in a backup car while Petty will... does it really matter?

See all Happy Hour Speeds 

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Carpentier to Sub for Kahne in Vegas Nationwide Series
Kasey Kahne has a sinus infection severe enough that Gillett Evernham Motorsports is replacing him in the Sam's 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Patrick Carpentier. The symptoms started two days ago and worsened Friday while Kahne took part in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice and qualifying, and two Nationwide Series practices, as well.

"Kasey was feeling absolutely terrible yesterday with a real bad sinus infection," said Mark McCardle, Vice President of Competition for GEM. "After the first practice, we knew we might have to do something to allow Kasey the time to get better for Sunday's race. It became more evident as the day went on, so we went with Patrick to drive the Nationwide race.

"As of this morning (Saturday), we were glad to hear Kasey is feeling and getting better. He has been taking fluids and getting plenty of rest. We have Jason Keller on stand-by if we need to go that route, but we're pretty sure Kasey will be good to go tomorrow."

Carpentier, who normally pilots the No. 10 Valvoline Dodge for GEM in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, made his first race of the year qualifying 12th for Sunday's UAW-Dodge 400. He jumped into the No. 9 Wisk Dodge for Saturday morning's NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying session without any practice laps and qualified 29th.

"I was very proud of Patrick on how he did getting in that car with no time behind the wheel here," McCardle said. "I waited until after he qualified the No. 10 Valvoline Dodge on Friday before I approached him about driving the Nationwide car. His response was, 'Really?! You want me to drive the No. 9 Dodge on Saturday?!' You would have thought I brought him the best Christmas present ever with how excited he was to drive the car.

"After he qualified 12th for the Cup race, he was already on cloud nine so this makes it even better for him."


Auby to make Lebanese debut
A1 Team Lebanon will give a chance to Jimmy Auby in the next round in Mexico City. Auby will drive for the team throughout the weekend, including making his race debut on Sunday. He will become the seventh driver to race for the squad.

The 21 year-old was present in Durban last weekend as reserve driver to Kahlil Beschir, who just missed out on a points finish after the red flag was thrown in the Feature race.

Beschir admitted after that race the decision had already been taken to race Auby in Mexico next month.

‘I’m just struggling to believe that we missed out by such a small margin.,’ he said. ‘I did everything I could, but it didn’t go our way.  I’ve always known that Jimmy was going to drive in Mexico, so I really wanted to bring home a good result today.’

Auby sampled the Lebanese car in pre-season testing at Silverstone last summer, and has recently been racing in open-wheel cars in Europe.


NASCAR teams fight counterfieters
NASCAR, apparel company Motorsports Authentics and several teams have received an injunction over renegade merchandise, and at least 10 people have had unauthorized merchandise seized since the start of the 2008 season. The teams and NASCAR received a temporary restraining order Feb. 8 in U.S. District Court in Charlotte that allowed for the seizure of merchandise that infringed on their trademarks. On Thursday, the U.S. District Court issued a preliminary injunction against producers of counterfeit merchandise. Materials can be seized within a 10-mile radius of a track from 48 hours before qualifying to 24 hours after the completion of a race. Ten individuals were listed in the most recent order as violating the order. None of those individuals challenged the injunction during a hearing Thursday. Among the teams and drivers that joined NASCAR in the suit are Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Jeff Gordon, JR Motorsports, Rusty Wallace Inc., Penske Racing, Dale Earnhardt Inc., Gillett Evernham Motorsports, Red Bull Racing, Michael Wlatrip Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing. NASCAR and/or teams occasionally file lawsuits in order to seize merchandise from unlicensed dealers. SceneDaily.com

tv news

Paul Tracy will be on Wind Tunnel
2003 Champ Car World Series Champion, Paul Tracy, will be a featured interview on Wind Tunnel this Sunday, March 2 at 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm ET on SPEED. Paul had planned on racing his 6th season with Gerry Forsythe’s Champ Car team this year, but those plans have changed after Forsythe announced this week that his team would close its doors effective immediately...choosing not to make the move to the unified IndyCar Series. With just a few weeks before the start of the 2008 season, one of the most popular North American open wheel racers is looking for a ride.


Inspection woes in Vegas
The Cup cars of #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #48-Jimmie Johnson and #17-Matt Kenseth were forced to go through the inspection line twice after NASCAR officials found minor violations on their cars. NASCAR officials said the problems were not serious, but the crews of the #88 Chevy, the #48 Chevy and the #17 Ford were told to correct the problems and go back through the line. All three cars were on the track for the first practice session. ESPN.com


Klien enjoys busy offseason
Christian Klien has enjoyed a busy start to his 2008 programmes with the BMW Sauber F1 Team and Peugeot Sport. Over the course of four days the 25-year-old Austrian completed 1425kms of testing in Valencia, Paul Ricard and Barcelona as he swapped between his top-level Formula One and sports car drives.

Klien’s driving schedule started last Friday when he made his debut as Test and Reserve driver for the BMW Sauber F1 Team in Valencia. In damp conditions he completed 32 laps in a program that included some practice starts and pitstops as he acclimatised himself to the BMW Sauber F1.08. He also used the opportunity to build his relationship with the team and was very impressed with the car in spite of the conditions.

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Williams turned down 'majestic' offer for Rosberg
Sir Frank Williams
(GMM)  Sir Frank Williams has admitted to turning down a handsome offer from McLaren for the services this year of Nico Rosberg.

It has long been known that Ron Dennis was keen to pry the promising 22-year-old driver from the Grove based team to replace Fernando Alonso, but it was not known that McLaren had actually made a solid approach to Williams.

At a media lunch with British reporters, the wheelchair-bound 65-year-old described British countryman Dennis' interest in Rosberg as an offer of "majestic proportions".

But "It was never a thought we entertained," Williams said.

"Why would we give away the crown jewels?  Why bother improving the car by one second if we then give away half a second with the driver?" he added.

Williams also admitted that he was "surprised" when Rosberg then decided to extend his contract to include the 2009 season, albeit with vastly improved financial terms.

"I feared he would go to McLaren.  He could not have gone there this year, but 2009 was going to be the worry," he said.


Williams, BMW, turned down Hamilton offer
Patrick Head
(GMM)  Williams and BMW turned down an opportunity to sign Lewis Hamilton, Patrick Head has revealed.

In a Williams media lunch for British reporters, the team's veteran co-owner and engineering boss said the 23-year-old driver and his father Anthony Hamilton attended a meeting at Grove in 2004.

"They came in and said 'Ron Dennis has dropped us'," Head explained, harking back to Hamilton's stint in the F3 Euroseries.

He explained that Sir Frank Williams proposed to the British team's then engine partner BMW, led by Mario Theissen, that they take over the backing of the promising youngster's formative career.

"I think Mario said they weren't prepared to provide any support and we weren't in a position financially where we could finance his racing," Head added.


McLaren hit back at Italian police claims
(GMM)  McLaren has lashed out at Italian police for issuing a "grossly inaccurate and misleading" statement earlier this week.

After the raids on the homes and offices of senior team bosses including Ron Dennis, the Italian authorities declared that evidence from which "clearly emerges the responsibilities of the management and some technicians at a high level" had been collected.

But in an angrily-worded retaliatory statement issued by the Mercedes powered team, McLaren hit back at the claims.

"In fact, the Italian police have not yet even been given access to any of the material taken, nor have they even started to review that material," the team said late on Friday.

Separately, a McLaren spokeswoman is also reported to have revealed that the team intends to bring the matter the attention of the British government's internal affairs-oriented Home Office.

track news

Fuji Speedway lawsuit planned
Fuji Speedway
About 70 people will sue the Fuji Speedway for what they say was gross mismanagement of the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix last September, the most prestigious race in Japan, sources said.

They said they will seek ticket refunds and damages because part of the circuit could not be seen from some seats, traffic jams delayed shuttle buses they were required to take, and the refund system for the mess was unfair.

It is very rare for problems at a major sport event to develop into a legal battle.

The group says the lawsuit will be filed against Fuji International Speedway Co. with the Tokyo District Court as early as April after soliciting more plaintiffs through the Internet.

The Japanese Grand Prix was held at the Oyama, Shizuoka Prefecture, course from Sept. 28 to 30, attracting 280,000 spectators. It was the first time in 30 years that the speedway, a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corp., hosted the top motor racing event.


SMI has asked NASCAR to swap fall Atlanta, California dates
Bruton Smith said Friday that he has asked NASCAR to swap fall Sprint Cup dates between Atlanta Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway.
The proposal is for Atlanta obtaining California’s Labor Day weekend date while California would get Atlanta’s Chase race in October.
“That is exactly what we are proposing,” said Smith, chairman and CEO of SMI. “The proposal has been made that we give California the October date in Atlanta and then the Labor Day event comes to Atlanta. Everybody will love it. … It’s the thing to do, and the people I have talked with within the sport, within NASCAR, they all agree that is the thing to do.”


Smith lobbies for 2nd Cup date
Bruton Smith stepped up his efforts in lobbying NASCAR for a second Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Friday, but refused to confirm that he plans to move a race from New Hampshire to Vegas.
Smith, chairman and CEO Speedway Motorsports Inc., purchased New Hampshire International Speedway last year, sparking immediate speculation that he will move one of the track’s two dates to Las Vegas, which currently has only one Sprint Cup race.
New Hampshire hosts Cup races in July and September while Las Vegas’ lone race is this weekend.
Smith revealed that he has asked the city of Las Vegas for $10 million if he is able to acquire a second Cup date, but refused to divulge his plans.
“I have a plan,” he said. “I can’t tell you that today, but I have a plan.
“… Las Vegas is a special place. More people visit Las Vegas than any city in the world. … With all of that and all the money we have spent here, maybe Las Vegas Motor Speedway has earned that other date. I think it has. … If you owned NASCAR, I feel confident that you would award us a second date. “ More at Scenedaily.com


McLaren to seek British government help?
McLaren says that it is going to contact the Home Office, the British ministry responsible for law and order, regarding concerns about how the Italian police are conducting their inquiries into the espionage affairs of last season. The team is upset at coverage in Italy which seems to have been created by the Italian authorities and is worried that the investigation is not being conduct in a suitable manner.

It remains to be seen whether Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, will get involved in the McLaren business. Grandprix.com


Sebring test entry list
Sebring Open Test entry list – March 3-4:

A.J. Foyt IV Hockley, Texas Vision Racing
Danica Patrick Roscoe, Ill.  Andretti Green Racing
Tony Kanaan Salvador, Bahia, Brazil Andretti Green Racing
Ryan Hunter-Reay Boca Raton, Fla.  Rahal Letterman Racing
Ed Carpenter Indianapolis Vision Racing
Jay Howard (R) Basildon, England Roth Racing
Marty Roth Toronto Roth Racing
Marco Andretti Nazareth, Pa.  Andretti Green Racing
Hideki Mutoh (R) Tokyo Andretti Green Racing

March 5-6

Helio Castroneves Sao Paulo, Brazil Team Penske
Vitor Meira Brasilia, Brazil Panther Racing
Ryan Briscoe Sydney, Australia Team Penske
Scott Dixon Auckland, New Zealand Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Dan Wheldon Emberton, England Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Darren Manning North Yorkshire, England A.J. Foyt Enterprises
Buddy Rice Phoenix Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
Milka Duno Caracas, Venezuela Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
Townsend Bell San Francisco Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Formula BMW

Formula BMW Americas confirms four 2008 Junior drivers
Formula BMW Americas confirmed today the four young men who will receive BMW Junior scholarships for the 2008 season. They are Ricardo Favoretto, 19, of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Mikael Grenier, 15, of Quebec, Canada; Alexandre Ruiz, 16, of Sao Paulo, Brazil and Gianmarco Raimondo, 17, of St. Catherine, Ontario, Canada. 

Favoretto, a 2007 Junior, finished second in the 2007 Formula BMW USA Rookie championship. Grenier, Ruiz and Raimondo won their scholarships at the scholarship shoot-outs held last year at the Formula BMW Racing Center at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo, in Valencia, Spain. Raimondo was awarded the scholarship when Juan Arenas chose not to participate. 

Each 2008 Formula BMW Americas Junior will receive $80,000 towards participation in the championship and automatic complimentary enrollment in the Education and Coaching program.

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Qatar testing Night 2: Lorenzo on top
Fiat Yamaha Team rookie Jorge Lorenzo proved he is more than ready for his MotoGP debut with an impressive display at the final pre-season test in Qatar tonight. The 20-year-old topped the time sheets on the second night of floodlit testing at the desert circuit, lapping half a second under the existing pole record on Michelin qualifying tires.

Lorenzo, who was victorious in the 250cc race here last year, was also fast throughout the day on race tires as he worked on refining the setting of his M1 in preparation for his competitive entry into the premier-class. His race simulation towards the end of the night’s work heralded impressive results before he tried out some qualifying tires, setting his lap of 1’54.552 on his 73rd and final lap.

Official Lap Times

1.    Jorge LORENZO (Fiat Yamaha) 1:54.552
2.    James TOSELAND (Yamaha Tech3) 1:54.592
3.    Randy DE PUNIET (Honda Lcr) 1:54.973
4.    Colin EDWARDS (Yamaha Tech3) 1:55.467
5.    Casey STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 1:55.485
6.    Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Jir Honda Scot ) 1:55.550
7.    Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda) 1:55.674
8    Chris VERMEULEN (Rizla Suzuki) 1:56.119
9.    Alex DE ANGELIS (Honda San Carlo) 1:56.249
10.  Valentino ROSSI (Fiat Yamaha) 1:56.256
11.  Loris CAPIROSSI  (Rizla Suzuki) 1:56.450
12.  John HOPKINS (Kawasaki) 1:56.612
13.  Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda) 1:56.704
14.  Shinya NAKANO (Honda San Carlo) 1:56.792
15.  Marco MELANDRI (Ducati Marlboro Team)  1:56.902
16.  Toni ELIAS (Alice Ducati) 1:56.986
17.  Sylvain GUINTOLI  (Alice Ducati) 1:57.055
18.  Anthony WEST (Kawasaki) 1:57.459

track news

MIA conference returns to Sebring
The Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) will hold its second annual conference at Sebring International Raceway prior to the 56th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. The March 13 event entitled “Developing Energy Efficiency Through Motorsports” will continue to address motorsports’ role in developing energy efficient solutions, focusing on the American Le Mans Series’ position as the global leader in green racing.

Earlier this year, the American Le Mans Series became the first racing series to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International as the only racing series to meet the criteria for Green Racing. This season, the Series will be the only major racing series in the world to race using three “street-legal” alternative fuels: clean diesel, E10 and cellulosic E85.

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Roush Fenway signs 12-race Nationwide sponsor
Roush Fenway Racing officials announced today that Save-A-Lot Food Stores has signed on as the primary sponsor for Carl Edwards and the No. 60 Ford for 12 races in the Nationwide Series in 2008.

The sponsorship begins with this weekend’s Sam’s Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“To be able to carry a Missouri-based company on the No. 60 Ford is great,” said Edwards, a native of the state. “… It’s great to represent a company whose dedication to addressing health issues and helping disadvantaged families is a top priority.”


Sprint Losses $29.5 Billion In Fourth Quarter
Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) reported Thursday a fourth-quarter loss larger than the company's market cap as it wrote off most of the purchase price of its 2005 acquisition of Nextel. The Overland Park, Kan., company also borrowed $2.5 billion to increase financial flexibility, suspended dividend payments and admitted that business conditions are deteriorating, more difficult than expected and unlikely to improve soon.

The news sent Sprint shares down as much as 18% premarket to $7.35, their lowest levels since October 2002. The stock recently traded at $7.88, down 12% from its close Wednesday of $8.95. Sprint, the nation's No. 3 wireless carrier by subscribers, has been losing wireless customers to rivals, while sales have been falling. The Reston, Va., company's problems are said to stem from poor customer service, a reliance on customers who are poor credit risks and a muddled marketing message.

The company's challenges are increasing as its three largest rivals are rolling out plans that charge a flat rate of about $100 for unlimited calling, a significant departure from the traditional model, in which consumers purchase " buckets" of minutes. As a result, Sprint is expected to announce a similar flat rate. Some expected the company to price that rate as low as $60, in order to regain market share. On the company's earnings conference call, Sprint announced a $100 rate for " everything" and $90 plan for voice.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Sprint reported a loss of $29.45 billion, or $ 10.36 a share, compared with net income $261 million, or 9 cents a share, a year earlier. Results for Sprint included a $29.7 billion goodwill write-down. money.cnn.com

tv news

2008 Daytona 500 Television Exposure
Ryan Newman’s recent victory at the Daytona 500 helped his primary sponsor, ALLTEL, receive in-broadcast exposure totaling $18.3 million during the live Fox telecast, ranking just below the all-time best showing at Daytona when Jimmie Johnson’s 2006 win earned Lowe’s $19.9 million of comparable exposure value.

According to research conducted by Joyce Julius & Associates, Inc. — which for more than 20 years has monitored every NASCAR race telecast — ALLTEL logos appeared clear and in-focus for a total of 17 minutes, 38 seconds (17:38) during the Fox race coverage, while the sponsor was also mentioned verbally on four occasions.  A value for the ALLTEL exposure is calculated by comparing the in-broadcast exposure to the record-setting cost of a commercial during this year’s Daytona 500, estimated at more than a half-million dollars.

Newman’s winning effort also benefited 30 additional brands, which appeared on his car, uniform or other team related sources.  The following chart lists the in-broadcast exposure totals for each of Newman’s sponsors.

2008 Daytona 500 Exposure Results for Newman 

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Track News

Earnhardt, Jr. Purchases First Condo in New Development
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., NASCAR’s five-time most popular driver, is the first buyer of a new upscale condominium near Talladega Superspeedway, site of five of his 17 of NASCAR Sprint Cup victories.

The Legacy Condominiums at Talladega are being marketed to race teams, drivers, corporate sponsors and die-hard fans.  It is located less than one mile from the speedway.

“I am excited to be the first purchaser of a Legacy Condominium at Talladega,” says Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolets for Hendrick Motorsports.  “I enjoy coming to Talladega.  It’s one of my favorite race tracks, because we’ve had so much success there.  I love the area, and I love the fans there.  I look forward to enjoying the place and all it has to offer.”

The condos offer a place to relax and refresh before and after races.  They also afford a unique networking opportunity because of buyers who will undoubtedly follow in Earnhardt Jr.’s lead.

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Kumho joins VICI
VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
VICI Racing and Kumho Tire are pleased to announce their participation in the 2008 American Le Mans Series (ALMS), in a collaboration focusing on an innovative new tire development program, which will center on the evolution of new compounds designed specifically for the GT2 class championship.

VICI Racing will enter a 2008-specification Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, starting at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, with a second car joining the line-up later on.

The most powerful race car based on the Porsche 911, which last year scored wins at the 24 hour races of Le Mans and Spa, the GT2 class win at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, and an overall victory at the Nürburgring 24 hours, the 911 GT3 RSR competes in the GT2 class at international long distance races. The most distinguishing visual feature of the new GT3 RSR is the front end which received major improvements to the aerodynamics. The majority of innovations, however, are hidden under the weight-optimized body.

After making a name for itself in several disciplines of motorsport, including a class victory at Le Mans and participation in the grueling Dakar Rally, Kumho Tire dipped its toe into the water of ALMS GT2 last year at Mid Ohio. Flushed with this experience, the company is now ready to press on in this tangent with a tire development program using ALMS GT2 as a focal point.


IndyCar Series Teams Prepare for Open Test at Sebring
The IndyCar Series completed its first Open Test of 2008 with two days of testing on the 1.5-mile, high-banked Homestead-Miami Speedway oval. Drivers got 10 hours of practice time under the lights, recording 3,463 laps in preparation for the season that includes 11 oval races, beginning with the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 29.

With the oval warm-up completed, IndyCar Series drivers turn their attention to road courses with a four-day Open Test at Sebring International Raceway. Half the field will test March 3-4 while the other half will run March 5-6.

The tests are equally important for newcomers and veterans alike. For Andretti Green Racing rookie Hideki Mutoh, who finished second in the Indy Pro Series in 2007, every opportunity to get laps in the IndyCar Series car is critical.

"These tests are important for me," said Mutoh, whose IndyCar Series debut came with Panther Racing in the 2007 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway. "I only had two days of testing at Phoenix and one day at Sebring in the offseason, so I'm still working on getting to know the team, learning how to communicate with them and learning how to set up the IndyCar Series car. It's totally different from the Indy Pro Series car. The two days at Homestead have been good. I've gained more confidence and am more comfortable with the team."

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Sebring Open Test up next for IRL teams
IndyCar Series teams switch their focus from the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval to the Sebring International Raceway road course March 3-6 to complete back-to-back Open Tests. (See home page for photos from this week's Homestead testing).

"We try to put everything into the car that we had studied over the winter that looks really good in the computer and in the simulations and see if it really works," Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan said. "It's the only two tracks and four days of testing we have before the season starts, so we're counting everything on this."

It will mark the first time the IndyCar Series has conducted an Open Test at Sebring. A modified circuit (11 turns, 1.7 miles) will be used. It also will be the first time all IndyCar Series drivers use the new paddle shift system on a road course.

"I look forward to seeing what the paddle shifting will be like at Sebring, where you've got your hair on fire and you're really driving aggressive as opposed to (Homestead-Miami) where you're really not shifting that much," Rahal Letterman Racing's Ryan Hunter-Reay said. "At Sebring, you can really dial yourself into the Sebring trap, and we've just got to be sure that we don't do that. We need to go about our changes, stick to our plan and get some feedback on the car and go to St. Pete. We know we can a get a good job done on road courses." IndyCar.com


Kumho joins LG Motorsports
Kumho Tire will provide tires for the LG Motorsports/3 Dimensional/Riley Technology Corvette in the GT2 class of the American Le Mans Series for the 2008 season. LG Motorsports is entering the ALMS after several successful seasons racing a Corvette in the SCCA Speed World Challenge.

“We’re looking forward to working with LG Motorsports and Riley Technologies to develop tires for the GT2 Corvette,” said Rudy Consolacion, Kumho motorsports manager. “Kumho has gained a loyal following among Corvette owners thanks to the success of Corvette racers in SCCA competition on our DOT race tires. Developing a tire for the GT2 Corvette is a natural extension of our work with Corvette club racers. We’re excited about this opportunity and I think a lot of Corvette owners will be glad to hear about this new motorsports partnership among Kumho, LG Motorsports and Riley Technologies.”

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Wheldon tops Day 2 test at Homestead UPDATE Former Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon led the field over two nights of IndyCar Series pre-season testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the first of four pre-season tests in the newly unified American open-wheel racing league.

Last Friday, leaders of the IndyCar Series and Champ Car World Series announced that the two organizations were merging, effective immediately.  The announcement came too late for Champ Car teams to participate in this week's test at the 1.5-mile south Florida oval, and they will have their own two-day test here prior to the season-opening race Saturday night, March 29.

Meanwhile, Wheldon continued to demonstrate his mastery of the Homestead oval.  The Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver has won the last three IndyCar season-openers at Homestead, and also headed pre-season testing here in 2007.  His best-lap average of 213.312 mph was set on Wednesday's opening night of the test.

Wheldon was followed by teammate Scott Dixon at 213.277 mph, who also set his fastest lap on Wednesday.  Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patrick sat out the first night of the test due to a severe case of the 'flu, but rebounded to lead the field today - and take the third fastest speed overall - at 213.162 mph.

Testing continues for IndyCar teams next week at the Sebring International Raceway road course in central Florida.  Champ Car teams taking part in the merged series will test at Sebring on March 19-20, and here at Homestead on March 24-25.

Combined Full Field Rundown:

Ps. Driver Team Chassis Best Time Average Speed
1. Dan Wheldon Target Chip Ganassi Honda Dallara 25.0619 213.312 mph
2. Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Honda Dallara 25.0660 213.277
3. Danica Patrick Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 25.0772 213.162
4. Ryan Briscoe Team Penske Honda Dallara 25.0920 213.056
5. A.J. Foyt IV Vision Racing Honda Dallara 25.1059 212.938
6. Helio Castroneves Team Penske Honda Dallara 25.1211 212.809
7. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 25.1227 212.796
8. Hideki Mutoh-R Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 25.1463 212.596
9. Marco Andretti Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 25.2465 211.752
10. Ed Carpenter Vision Racing Honda Dallara 25.2691 211.563
11. Vitor Meira Delphi Panther Racing Honda Dallara 25.3520 210.871
12. Buddy Rice Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Honda Dallara 25.3716 210.708
13. Ryan Hunter-Reay Rahal Letterman Racing Honda Dallara 25.3934 210.527
14. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Honda Dallara 25.5604 209.152
15. Darren Manning A.J. Foyt Racing Honda Dallara 25.5932 208.884
16. Marty Roth Roth Racing Honda Dallara 26.0641 205.110

02/29/08 Danica Patrick made an abbreviated appearance on media day at Homestead-Miami Speedway Feb. 26, didn't turn a lap on the first day of an IndyCar Series Open Test Feb. 27, then came out feeling less than 100 percent on Feb. 28 but still set the pace on the final day of testing.

Despite feeling ill, Patrick was the quickest of 16 drivers on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval, recording a best lap of 25.0772 seconds, 213.182 mph.

"I was sicker than I've ever been before on a day when I had to do something," said Patrick. "I was dizzy and my head was full of pressure. I didn't feel balanced - on top of other things. For me, it would have been silly to try and push it and go out there and try and feel the edge at a place like Homestead where the grip and the intensity level is pretty high compared to the rest of the mile-and-a-halfs.

"Today was a good day. It's kind of nice to go out there, skip a day, go out and be quickest. We were definitely struggling with the race car. Until the very end of the day we were really pushing to figure it out. We definitely didn't have it down. At the end of the day, we're all walking away pretty happy. The team did a good job of working in the offseason."

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Bridgestone announce tire specifications
Bridgestone has announced the compound allocations of Potenza tires for the first nine rounds of the championship.

The Bridgestone Potenza tires for the 2008 season feature minor changes, made in the interests of safety, from last season’s tires. The allocations for the first nine races of the season are the same as used in the respective events in 2007 except for the Bahrain Grand Prix, which will now use the medium and soft compounds, as opposed to the hard and medium compounds in 2007.

Also of note, the super soft compound, which will be used at the Monaco Grand Prix, is modified from the compound used in 2007. The other three compounds, hard, medium and soft remain the same, as do Bridgestone’s wet and extreme wet tires.

The tire marking of the softer of the two tires allocated to a Grand Prix continues with the bottom of the second from inside groove painted white. The FIA’s tire regulations are unchanged from those which occurred in 2007 as regards dry and wet tire allocation numbers.

Each driver receives 14 sets of dry tires for a Grand Prix, broken down into seven sets of each compound. Four sets of wet tires and three sets of extreme wet tires are additionally available to drivers.

“Tire allocation choice for the first half of the season has been made easier by the continuity of our tires from last year," said Bridgestone Motorsport Director Hirohide Hamashima. 

"We have made a minor evolutionary change to the construction of the dry tires for safety and we have modified the super soft compound, but apart from that the tires are the same. However, we should see faster lap times as teams and drivers now have a year’s experience with these tires and the cars are being developed all the time."

"For Bahrain, having looked at the data we accumulated last year, and data from the recent test there, we are confident about using softer tires. In the second half of the season we will have more of a challenge with tire allocation as we visit two new street courses at Valencia and Singapore.”

Tire compounds for rounds one to nine:
Melbourne - Soft, Medium
Sepang - Medium, Hard
Sakhir - Soft, Medium
Barcelona - Medium, Hard
Istanbul - Medium, Hard
Monte Carlo - Super Soft, Soft
Montreal - Super Soft, Soft
Magny Cours - Soft, Medium
Silverstone - Medium, Hard.


Rinspeed's new sQuba underwater car
Click image to watch video
Rinspeed will present its new sQuba, the worlds first diving car, at the Geneva Motor Show (March 6-16). The car is not only able to drive on roads autonomously with a push of a button (thus without a driver, passenger or further assistance), but can also transform into an amphibious vehicle which can be submerged in water up to 10 meters (33 feet). An electric motor with powerful torque drives the rear wheels, while the propulsion on the water is ensured by two propellers in the stern and two powerful jet drives in the bow propelling the vehicle under water while diving. When under water, the driver and passenger are enclosed in the vehicle thanks to light weight body components made of futuristic Carbon Nano Tubes and are supplied with fresh breathing air by the self-contained onboard system.


Carmichael to run East series for Schrader
Motocross legend Ricky Carmichael will be running for a championship this season in the Camping World East Series for Ken Schrader Racing with backing from Hendrick Motorsports, his manager Scott Taylor said Thursday. Carmichael will be sponsored by Monster energy drink. Carmichael, 28, who retired from full-time motocross racing after 2006 is trying to make his way up the rungs of the stock racing ladder. Carmichael had been under contract as a driver last year with former Sprint Cup Series team owner Bobby Ginn and raced about 15 Late Model events around Florida last summer. Carmichael won 10 consecutive AMA national motocross championships from 1997 – 2006. Carmichael, who began competing in Motocross at age 5, said he was feeling unchallenged by Motocross when he made the decision to retire. He competed part time in 2007 but said his only interest now is as a test rider for Suzuki. The Camping World East Series runs 13 events this season. Carmichael may also run selected events in the Camping World West Series. Hartford Courant


Garmin signs with GEM as a sponsor on #19
Garmin International Inc. announced that it will become an associate sponsor of the #19 Gillett Evernham Motorsports team in the 2008 Sprint Cup series with driver Elliott Sadler. Electronics retailer Best Buy is the car's primary sponsor. Garmin is partnering with Best Buy Racing for the second year in a row. The #19 car will sport a prominent Garmin logo that will also be found on driver and crew uniforms, and it will appear on other supporting vehicles throughout the 2008 race season. During the season, an interactive Garmin kiosk will be available in the Best Buy Fun Zone Technology truck as it makes race day appearances. Garmin will serve as the primary sponsor when NASCAR heads to Dover on June 1, 2008, and on September 28, when drivers compete at Kansas Speedway. Garmin is the premier provider of GPS (Global Positioning System) enabled devices and a leading designer and manufacturer of consumer electronics. PR Newswire


Former motorcoach driver re-files discrimination suit
David Scott, a black motorcoach driver who worked for Penske Racing, has re-filed his discrimination complaint against NASCAR stemming from a highly publicized 1999 incident at New Hampshire International Speedway. The incident occurred when Scott was greeted by a pair of motorcoach drivers, one of whom was wearing a white pillow case over his head as if he were a member of the Ku Klux Klan. NASCAR indefinitely suspended the two motorcoach drivers involved. Scott claims NASCAR and sister company International Speedway Corp. discriminated against him by not granting him a vendor contract he sought and that NASCAR discriminated against him for not following through with an alleged promise to hire him following the incident.

The new suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, lists NASCAR, ISC, NASCAR President Mike Helton and former Chief Operating Officer George Pyne as defendants and claims $40 million in damages. Scott had to re-file the lawsuit after a judge ruled in January that the statute of limitations had passed for other allegations. The new complaint details conversations between Scott and Helton and Scott and Pyne in the days and months after the incident where he says he was promised a job by NASCAR.

In past court filings, NASCAR says that Scott was given several work opportunities that were declined and he was not qualified for the racing official job he wanted. In the new complaint, Scott alleges that NASCAR and ISC conspired with Penske Racing to keep him from suing – he had signed a severance agreement with Penske where he was given a two-year severance package as long as he didn’t talk about the incident nor sue. He alleges the confidentiality agreement was broken because Pyne knew about the agreement. Scott claims damages of $10 million and asks for punitive damages against NASCAR, ISC, Pyne and Helton of $27 million. He indicated he also has incurred legal costs of $3 million. SceneDaily.com


Cold War ends, but Indy Car only heats up
Step 1 is complete, and the long overdue open-wheel unification is over.

Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven should be commended for finally ending the madness that nearly killed American Indy Car racing. "It was last fall on the anniversary of my grandfather's death that I was thinking to myself it really had been 30 years ago since the sport of open-wheel racing had been truly unified," George recalled. "Last month when the calendar turned over to 2008, I was wondering if it was possible this could ever happen.

"Lo and behold, I got a phone call that just made me feel really warm. I felt like this was going perhaps going to be the best year of my 48 to have a chance to do something that's very important to me and very close to me, and that is to help bring about the unification of open-wheel racing."

The phone call came from Kalkhoven, and despite several failed attempts to mend fences, this time it actually worked out.

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Team USA's Weidinger sees IndyCar revival
A1 TEAM USA owner Rick Weidinger strongly believes the top level of open-wheel racing in the United States has entered a revival period with the agreement between the Indy Racing League and the Champ Car World Series to unify and operate under the IRL's IndyCar Series organization.

"American open-wheel fans, and I'm proud to be a member of that group, now have a rallying point to support IndyCar racing," Weidinger said. "I'm very pleased and encouraged for the future of the sport. It's been said that compromise is what makes men noble and both Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven have shown character of the highest quality in doing what is in the best interest of IndyCar racing.

"Tony George has made it possible for the Champ Car teams to switch to the IndyCar equipment without financial harm. Kevin Kalkhoven recognized that one series was needed for IndyCar racing to prosper and, along with his partners, was willing to relinquish controlling a major racing series. It should have an immediate impact with more teams, cars and drivers, a couple of additional races in new markets and higher television ratings. The entire package will be much more attractive to sponsors.

"IndyCar racing was the favorite form of motorsport for virtually all of the last century and having one series again with the Indianapolis 500 as the nucleus is the beginning of its renaissance."

A1 TEAM USA has co-owned and sponsored entries at Indianapolis the past two years, driven by former 500 winners Al Unser Jr. in 2006 and Buddy Rice in 2007. Weidinger also was a co-owner in the IndyCar Series with Kelley Racing in 2004.

"We've supported the Indy 500 because we've wanted to support American open-wheel racing and A1 Grand Prix," Weidinger said. "A stronger recognition of the value and excitement of open-wheel racing is good for A1 TEAM USA. A rising tide lifts all boats."

A1 TEAM USA races in A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, which is searching for a venue in the United States.

"We'll take a look at the established road races that are not going to be a part of the unified schedule for IndyCar and see if there might be an opportunity for A1 TEAM USA to race on home ground," Weidinger said.  A1GP Team USA


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Italians collect evidence in McLaren raids
  • Hamilton's 'honeymoon' is over - Rosberg
  • Toyota to end shame as F1 host - newspaper
  • Rosberg not sure if BMW has made last step
  • Sutil must beat old-hat Fisi - Keke Rosberg
  • Renault to 'defend' in first three races - Briatore

Italians collect evidence in McLaren raids
(GMM)  Italian police have contradicted reports that no useful evidence was collected in the raids on the British homes and office of senior McLaren chiefs earlier this week.

A statement issued by the authorities said the searches, believed to have involved the cooperation of up to fifty Surrey police officers, resulted in evidence from which "clearly emerges the responsibilities of the management and some technicians at a high level in McLaren".

It also emerges that the Italians took copies of a number of storage devices relating to the senior McLaren personnel, including Ron Dennis and Martin Whitmarsh, and copied computer directories and email mailboxes.

McLaren said after the raids on Wednesday that the police were "completely satisfied with the co-operation they have received.

"These actions are part of a normal judicial process in connection with the ongoing investigation, and are supported by McLaren Racing," the team added.

Hamilton's 'honeymoon' is over - Rosberg
(GMM)  Keke Rosberg has joined a growing chorus who predict that Lewis Hamilton's second season in formula one in 2008 could be much more difficult than the first.

Hamilton, now 23, earned widespread acclaim as he won four races for McLaren in 2007 and only narrowly missed making history as the sport's first rookie world champion.

But Rosberg, the 1982 world champion, reckons last year was the young Briton's F1 "honeymoon".

"Only now will his normal life (in F1) begin," the Finn, whose German born son Nico races for Toyota-powered Williams, told the magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

Rosberg said of Hamilton, who in the departure of Fernando Alonso becomes McLaren's de-facto number one: "The expectations of him now are incredibly high.  He has big boots to fill.

"There will be highs and lows, and he has to get used to that," said Keke Rosberg, who in 2008 will travel to all the grands prix as a commentator for German TV.

Although he will be on-site for all the races this year, though, Rosberg ruled out assuming an Anthony Hamilton-like grip on his own son's career.

"Nico would rather talk to me about the weather than about motor racing," he laughed.

For the sake of Nico's career, he also promises to tone down his criticisms in 2008, after calling Michael Schumacher a 'Drecksack' - a rude German-language insult - a couple of years ago.

"My words harmed Nico," Rosberg admitted to the German newspaper Bild, "so I will be a little calmer in the future."

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