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Dyson Racing wraps up Sebring preparation Dyson Racing wraps up Sebring preparationIn fifty-three editions of the 12 Hours of Sebring, 3,291 cars have raced a total of 2,189,821 miles. In preparation for the American Le Mans Series' season opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 18, Dyson Racing has tested three times, for a total of approximately 1,100 miles on their two new AER- powered Lola B06/10 race cars.

Yes a small fraction, but the important number for the team is 670 miles: last week at Road Atlanta, the team did 670 virtually trouble-free miles. The engine cowling never came off once for anything engine-related. The first outing for the new car and engine was the American Le Mans Series Winter Test at Sebring January 23-25. The car had not turned a wheel before being delivered to Florida.

The first part of the three-day test was devoted to basic system and installation checks, evaluating the aero package and doing long runs to make sure all the operating temperatures stabilized out. There were no major problems, and by end of the test the No. 16 car was starting to be pushed to it capabilities. It was decided at the end of the test that the second car would stay in England and the development from the tests would be incorporated into the No. 20 car at the Lola factory.  zzzz 

That included information from the second test back at Sebring the second week of February which targeted continued engine development and installation refinement. It was a strategy that proved itself with last week's successful test at Road Atlanta.

"These three tests have certainly been energizing for all of us on the team and the drivers," said Chris Dyson. "The results last week were the culmination of months of hard work for the guys. Road Atlanta was a big step forward for us. Guy Smith and I left very impressed with the car. It is well suited for the Michelin tires, has more downforce, is less pitch sensitive, and the AER engine is especially drivable. The car and engine ran like a train the whole test. Lola and AER have produced a fantastic product.

"It is the early days for a brand-new car, but we have to be cautiously optimistic for the 12 Hours of Sebring," Dyson added. "We like our chances for the year. The car is so much better in so many different areas, and this is only the beginning."

"This year has the potential to be best year yet for the American Le Mans Series," said team principal Rob Dyson. "You have top-flight commitment from the major teams and there will be eight to 10 of these exotic and exciting prototypes at each race. Audi and Porsche and Dyson Racing each have two brand new cars. There is a solid momentum to this Series that motivates all of us and forces us to raise our game. It will produce great competition and an unequaled show for the fans. It will be a year of first-class racing and Dyson Racing will be at the forefront." ALMS

Kerr's last chance for 2006 A1GP victory Kerr's last chance for 2006 A1GP victoryFollowing the announcement that Robbie Kerr will not be driving in the final round on the A1 Grand Prix calendar later this month due to other racing commitments, the races being held this weekend are his last opportunity to score that elusive first victory for A1 Team Great Britain this season. Darren Manning, the driver named to take over for the last event, will be on hand to pick up information from Robbie on the car and in return may well be able to give valuable advice to driver and engineers with his experience of the Laguna Seca track.

A1Team.GBR had a mixed weekend last time out in Mexico two weeks ago but moved up to third in the Series Standings ahead of Brazil. There are strong challengers lying only a few points behind and so both this weekend and the final event in China are going to be critical. With just nine points between A1Team.GBR and three other teams, competition is going to be strong for the third position in the overall 2006 Series positions so spectacular racing is on the cards. zzzz

Laguna Seca in California, USA is hosting the penultimate round and a spectacular sight is anticipated as the A1 Grand Prix cars tackle the track's most famous feature - the Corkscrew. The drivers will take the two turns from blind entry to a steep drop of around 7 metres/20 feet - the steepest gradient on any race track.

Robbie Kerr "I'm looking forward to the races and I'm focusing on what we need to do. The circuit's good and there'll be a few surprises - you can't predict how the car's going to be on the track but I think there'll be a few corners that will really suit the car. It's a case of heads down and going out there to be at the front as always. We should have been there before now but for whatever reason we've not made that top step and that's where we want to be."

TV News
Al Jazeera inks F1 TV deal Al Jazeera inks F1 TV dealNegotiations have been concluded to bring one of the biggest success stories in Formula One’s illustrious broadcasting history to fruition with the announcement that, starting with this weekend’s 2006 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, every round of the FIA Formula One World Championship will be available free-to-view on Al Jazeera Sports TV Network.

Over 120 million new viewers across the Middle East and North Africa will now be able to watch the drama and excitement of Formula One live and for free as a result of a deal between the Bahrain International Circuit, rights-holder for Formula One in the Middle East and North Africa, and the Al Jazeera Sport channel, a household name in broadcasting. Al Jazeera Sport is famed worldwide for its Arabic-language sports coverage and analysis, its state of the art production as well as its remarkable content portfolio, and the addition of Formula One to its roll-call of top-level sports broadcasting is an enormous coup for both sides. zzzz

Everybody knows Al Jazeera Sport and its commitment to broadcasting in the Middle East and North Africa,. said Martin Whitaker, General Manager of Bahrain International Circuit. .It is a huge honor for us here at Bahrain International Circuit not only to be the .Home of Motorsport in the Middle East. through the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix but also to see the rest of the Middle East and North Africa region now able to access the full 18-race season. The fact that Bahrain has been honored with the first race to be broadcast free-to-view is a source of enormous pride in the Kingdom..

Each of the 18 races in the 2006 season will be covered by the Qatar-based broadcaster, with a supporting program of news and features surrounding the race weekend. Live coverage of the Startline Presentation at this weekend’s race will feature strongly in Al Jazeera Sport’s debut broadcast.

For the first time in the sport’s history the lavish celebration of Arabic culture and heritage, planned for 13:25 on Sunday, a little over an hour before the race, will be covered live by FOM. The presentation is planned to be a major part of Al Jazeera Sport’s broadcast to the Middle East and North Africa.

You have to put Formula One right up there with the World Cup and the Olympic Games in terms of its global importance as a sporting event,. said Al Jazeera Sport Official spokesman Hedi Smirani. .Unlike those events, Formula One is currently in the Middle East, with the honor of hosting the first round of the season falling to Bahrain. With this strategic move Al Jazeera Sport would bring absolutely the right sporting spectacle free into every home. This also illustrates that Al Jazeera Sport is definitely after the hearts and minds of its viewers and this new addition would pave the way for broadening our loyal audience’s sports culture.

This new partnership also mirrors Al Jazeera Sport’s vision as best described by its slogan: ‘sport is our World and the World is our Field..

Joining the global network of rights holders to the FIA Formula One World Championship, the deal with Al Jazeera Sport has increased the sport’s viewership by potentially 30% for the 2006 season. With the groundswell of interest in the sport gaining momentum year-on-year and a large expatriate community in the region keen to keep up with the sport, this can only be good news both for Al Jazeera Sport and Formula One.

Until now Formula One has been a welcome guest in the Middle East,. said Bahrain International Circuit chairman Talal Al Zain. This new deal with Al Jazeera Sport opens up a regular, high-quality flow of coverage, information and insight into the sport that must be applauded. It is part of our mission to increase ownership of the sport and nurture potential champions from the Middle East region and North Africa, and having access to Formula One through the best broadcasting available is going to be a major asset.

Hildebrand Sets Torrid Pace in First Pre-Season Test Hildebrand Sets Torrid Pace in First Pre-Season TestBraselton, Ga. – The first round of the 2006 Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship is still more than two months away, but a dozen drivers took advantage of the opportunity to get a jumpstart on their campaign by testing for the past two days at the fast and challenging Road Atlanta circuit.

J.R. Hildebrand, 18, from Sausalito, Calif., set a stunning pace for the Cape Motorsports team, posting the fastest time in every single session and ending up with a best lap of 1m23.506s – more than a half-second faster than the pole position lap set by runaway series champion Jay Howard in the opening race of the 2005 season.

"I couldn’t be happier," said Hildebrand, who finished a close second in last year’s Pacific F2000 Championship and went on to win a prestigious Team USA Scholarship, which gave him the opportunity to contest the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy series in England. "The car felt great and I got along really well with my engineer, Dominic (Cape). The most satisfying thing is that not only were we fast, but we were very consistent, and I was always able to back up my quick laps. It gives me a great feeling going into the season."

Cape Motorsports teammates Charlie Donnelly, 21, from Naas, Co. Kildare, Ireland, and Dane Cameron, 17, from Sonoma, Calif., also dipped below last year’s pole time, while Englishman Neil Doran, 22, from Chelmsford, Essex, England, created a good first impression aboard a JDC Motorsports Van Diemen. zzzz

Donnelly, the reigning British Formula Ford Zetec Champion, overcame a severe sinus infection on the second day of the test to post the second-fastest time: "The grip, the amount of downforce, was the biggest thing to get used to, compared to the Formula Ford I drove last year, but I’m really starting to feel comfortable in the car and getting familiar with the team. There’s going to be some stiff competition this year – it’s certainly not going to be a walk in the park – but come the first race we’re definitely going to be racing at the front."

"We had a few mechanical problems with the car on the first day but we made good progress and are getting faster and faster," added Cameron, who will be flying the colors of Finlay Motorsports, Red Line Oil and the Jim Russell Racing School after winning last year’s SCCA Formula Russell Championship in California. "It seems like my driving style is a little bit different to the other guys [on the team], but [engineer] Dominic’s been really helpful."

Englishman Doran was forced to sit out the 2005 season, due to budgetary problems, but is looking forward to building on the solid background he developed while finishing a strong second in the 2004 British Formula Ford Championship Scholarship division.

"I’m concentrating on the U.S. and it’s looking very promising," reported Doran, who posted the fourth fastest time. "We had a really good couple of days. The cars are pretty awesome with the slick tires and wings; they’re really good fun to drive."

Noah Bystrom, from Eden Prairie, Minn., ended up just a tick of the watch slower than Doran in a second JDC Van Diemen, while talented Venezuelan Ricardo Vassmer turned some very competitive times for the Comprent Motorsports team. Vassmer was a clear winner of the 2005 Cooper Gold Cup Series, for older, Pinto-engined cars, and is expected to be a front-runner when the new season starts at Road Atlanta in May.

Andy Knight, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was another youngster to make good progress during the two-day test. Knight, 19, who has been a front-runner in Formula Ford and the Toyota Racing Series in his homeland the last few years, took a little time to get used to the conventional gearshift pattern of his G.FRO Van Diemen, but by Day Two at Road Atlanta was consistently among the top-five on the time sheets.

"I definitely wasn’t as quick as I would have liked to be," said the Kiwi, "but it was my first time in the car and at this track, so it wasn’t too bad. It’s quite a bit different from the Toyota Series car. It hasn’t got as much power and it’s much less stiffly sprung. I’m still getting used to it."

The only major incident of the test came this morning, when 16-year-old Philip Metzger lost control of his G.FRO Van Diemen and crashed in Turn Six. The left side of the car was extensively damaged but the Colorado youngster emerged unscathed.

"Overall it’s been a great couple of days," summarized series president Jon Baytos. "The boys set some amazing times. It’s a stellar group. I’ve been coming to this place since 1974, and usually the lap times don’t start coming down until a lot of rubber has been laid, so I’m shocked.

"What’s even better is that usually when we have a test this far before the first race, we only have four or five cars turn up. This time we had a dozen, and there are a lot more talented young drivers still trying to put deals together, so I think we’re in for a terrific year."

The Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship is sanctioned by the Grand American Road Racing Association and represents one of the first rungs on the professional open-wheel auto racing ladder in North America. It features modern, purpose-built, single-seat race cars powered by either four-cylinder, double-overhead cam, fuel-injected 2.0-liter Ford Zetec engines, which produce around 160 hp, or the older, slightly less powerful, carbureted 2.0-liter Ford "Pinto" engines which will be vying for Cooper Gold Cup honors. All cars employ "slick" (treadless) Cooper Zeon racing tires and are capable of speeds in excess of 140 mph.

Formula Ford 2000 originated in England in 1974. Alumni include Formula 1 World Champions Ayrton Senna and Damon Hill; Champ Car World Series title-winners Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy; Indy Racing League Champion Sam Hornish Jr.; and the past two Indianapolis 500 winners Buddy Rice and Dan Wheldon.

The 2006 championship will kick off with a pair of races at Road Atlanta as part of the Formula D Drift extravaganza on May 11-13. Of the remaining six race weekends, each of which will comprise two 30-minute races, four will be held in conjunction with the Champ Car World Series (at Portland, Cleveland, Toronto and Road America) and two will support the American Le Mans Series (Mid-Ohio and Mosport).

Best times for each driver (Hometown; Team Chassis):
1. J.R. Hildebrand (Sausalito, Calif.; Cape Motorsports Van Diemen), 1:23.506;
2. Charlie Donnelly (Naas, Ireland; Cape Motorsports Van Diemen), 1:23.902;
3. Dane Cameron (Sonoma, Calif.; Cape Motorsports Van Diemen), 1:23.903;
4. Neil Doran (Chelmsford, England; JDC Motorsports Van Diemen), 1:24.853s;
5. Noah Bystrom (Eden Prairie, Minn.; JDC Motorsports Van Diemen), 1:24.937;
6. Ricardo Vassmer (Caracas, Venezuela; Comprent Van Diemen), 1:24.977;
7. Andy Knight (Christchurch, New Zealand; G.FRO Van Diemen), 1:25.126;
8. Chris Meredith (Potomac, Md.; Cape Motorsports Van Diemen), 1:25.235;
9. Gerald Kraut (North Oaks, Minn.; JDC Motorsports Van Diemen), 1:25.642;
10. Philip Metzger (Littleton, Colo.; G.FRO Van Diemen), 1:25.815;
11. Olivier Comeau (Sherbrooke, Canada; Britain West Motorsports Van Diemen), 1:26.335;
12. Ira Fierberg (Manhattan Beach, Calif.; Dave Freitas Racing/JDC Van Diemen), 1:26.396.

John Walko adds Casey Neal at Sebring John Walko adds Casey Neal at SebringJohn Walko Racing has added yet another talented young driver to the mix as the team plans its inaugural assault on the STAR Mazda Championship.

Casey Neal, a 2005 Red Bull Drivers Search Finalist, will join the team at the season opening race at Sebring International Raceway on March 17th where the STAR Mazda series will compete as part of the 54th Annual Twelve Hours of Sebring.

The Cincinnati, Ohio based driver brings a stellar record in karting to the table, including wins in both the Stars of Karting and WKA national events as well as WKA National, regional and local Championships. His brightest accomplishment to date however has been his dominant performance in the Red Bull Drivers Semi-Finals where he set fast time en route to winning all eleven races.

That ability to quickly learn and adapt was evident to John Walko early on in a recent test at Roebling Road Raceway, “Casey’s first laps were essentially a shakedown run as we brought a newly rebuilt car.  We had some bugs to work out in the car early on but Casey adapted well and was very quick.”  Walko continued, “I was impressed with how quickly he learned.”

McLaren and BAE celebrate ten year partnership McLaren and BAE celebrate ten year partnershipBAE Systems, the premier transatlantic defense and aerospace company, this year celebrates a decade as a technology partner for Team McLaren Mercedes and the company marked the anniversary with a ground-breaking event at the McLaren Technology Centre, to showcase some of its cutting edge technologies.

With the Formula One season gearing up for launch in Bahrain this weekend (Sunday 12thMarch), scientists and engineers from BAE Systems’ Advanced Technology Centre promoted technologies covering a wide range of fields, from new Computer Aided Design and machining methods, to aerospace composites and electronics, and from weather sensors to communications, all of which might have a possible Formula 1 application.

BAE Systems and Team McLaren Mercedes are working on technologies to enhance the team’s chance of track success. Last year Team McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 car was the quickest on the grid, and only narrowly missed out on the Constructors’ title, despite winning 10 races – over 50% of the season’s Grand Prix. zzzz

In 1996 - when the partnership began – it was largely focused on aerodynamics. Professor Dave Gardner, former BAE Systems Group Engineering Director, who, together with Ron Dennis, Chairman and CEO, McLaren Group, was originally responsible for setting up the partnership recalls:

“The drivers at that time had been experiencing handling difficulties with the car and we helped the team to trace the problem to the aerodynamics of the front wing. We then got together with the Team McLaren Mercedes aerodynamicists and design engineers to optimize the wing design and Mika Hakkinen went on to win the Drivers’ Word Championship in both 1998 and 1999.”

Currently the partnership is researching and developing a host of other technologies to improve performance, including recent advances in carbon fiber techniques, wireless systems and fuel management.

Jonathan Neale, McLaren Racing Managing Director, said: “Obviously our ultimate goal is to improve the performance of the car, and BAE Systems has precisely the sort of technology that can do this.”

BAE Systems aims to learn as much from Team McLaren Mercedes as it gives, particularly when it comes to studying the speed of the build and operations processes in Formula One.

Ron Dennis, Chairman and CEO McLaren Group said: “By anybody’s standards, BAE Systems is a technology power house. It provides us with great technology at all levels, whether it be aerodynamics, simulation, mechanical design or IT. We share the same commitment to innovation and the pursuit of excellence through leading edge technology and we both have world-class aspirations. It is a true partnership in every sense.”

Memorable events during the decade long partnership include Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard testing their handling skills in a Eurofighter Typhoon flight simulator, Ron Dennis officially opening the BAE Systems led Systems Engineering Innovation Centre (SEIC) at Loughborough University, and a Eurofighter Typhoon racing a Team McLaren Mercedes F1 car. Mclaren

Red Bull in Spectacular Arabian Nights Display Red Bull in Spectacular Arabian Nights DisplayHours from the start of this year’s Formula One action getting underway in Bahrain, Red Bull hosted a spectacular Arabian Nights launch for Scuderia Toro Rosso’s debut in the sport and Red Bull Racing’s second year in F1.  (Red Bull livery pictured right)

The world’s press and a galaxy of VIP guests were invited to attend the “1002nd Arabian Night” on a private island off the coast of Bahrain. Oil lamps lit the way down a kilometer of carpet to the venue where everything Arabia is famous for was on show. Dancers and musicians entertained everyone as they feasted on delicious local cuisine, prior to the action speeding up on stage.

Film of the two teams in action culminated in some atmospheric footage of all four cars from both teams racing one another around the Paul Ricard Circuit in the South of France.

Then, in a moment straight out of every cliché of Arabian culture, a Red Bull Racing car and Scuderia Toro Rosso machine swept through the air on hidden wires to arrive on stage as if on a Magic Carpet (pictured right). The new liveries reflect the fact that Red Bull’s two teams are in competition with one another but are very much part of the same family. As the obligatory dry ice swirled around the cars, the six drivers stepped out on stage to an enthusiastic welcome from the one thousand strong crowd.

“What a fantastic venue,” said David Coulthard. “I think the film played before the cars swooped onto the stage conveyed the excitement of F1. The livery looked fantastic and all six of us are keen to get a good result this weekend.” zzzz

“As usual with Red Bull, everything about the venue and party is fantastic,” added team-mate Christian Klien.

“I’m new here, but I’ve been to Red Bull parties before and this lives up to their reputation,” reckoned third driver, Robert Doornbos. “The cars look great, so let’s hope they go as quick as they look.”

The Scuderia Toro Rosso youngsters were equally impressed. (Toro Rosso livery pictured right)

“I love a party,” said the team’s American rookie, Scott Speed. “After winter testing mainly in Europe, I love the warm weather.”

Tonio Liuzzi is an old hand at Red Bull parties so had a laid-back approach.

“Hey, it’s Red Bull, of course it’s an awesome party! But I’m going to bed early now, as I have a job to do tomorrow.”

 Neel Jani was enthusiastic about his first official function with Toro Rosso.

“Wow, the car looks fantastic, but to be honest I’m more impressed by the beautiful women here!”

The Bahrain event proved to be as spectacular as the Shanghai Red Bull party that brought last year’s Championship to an impressive climax. But with work tomorrow, the event did not go on too long after midnight, but was given the official seal of approval, by the presence of FIA President Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone. Source: Red Bull

Button buys Bahrain property Button buys Bahrain propertyF1 driver Jenson Button has reportedly bought a plush property in Bahrain.  Ahead of Sunday's grand prix on the Gulf island, the Honda star visited the $3bn 'Durrat Al Bahrain' development on Wednesday, according to Gulf Daily News newspaper.

Located on the south eastern coast of the island, 26-year-old JB's villa is not yet complete.  ''Coming (here) by helicopter you could really see ... how it's come along,'' Button - who lives in Monaco - said at the site. ''Bahrain is like a second home, I feel very relaxed here and I'm looking forward to when the property is built.''

Becker pulls out of Bahrain race Becker pulls out of Bahrain raceFormer Wimbledon champion Boris Becker last night pulled out of the Pro-Celebrity Race which was to be part of the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, according to one of the officials. The German will be replaced by national team goalkeeper Ali Hassan who will join 31 other celebrities and professional drivers in two 10-lap races set for tomorrow and Sunday.
A1 Grand Prix
Manning to drive for Great Britain team Manning to drive for Great Britain teamA1 Team Great Britain has secured Darren Manning as driver for the final A1 Grand Prix of Nations at the Shanghai International Circuit in China on 1st and 2nd April. Regular driver Robbie Kerr has driven in all of the events to date and will drive in the tenth A1 Grand Prix this weekend in Laguna Seca, USA. Robbie will be driving in the World Series by Renault in 2006 for the KTR team and the testing program gets underway at Le Mans over the weekend of the China event.

Darren, 30 from Yorkshire, England, has a wealth of international race experience and success to bring to the team which includes British and Japanese F3, test driver for BAR/Honda F1, F3000, CART and IRL. His two seasons in F3000 were with Arden, the team running the A1Team.GBR car. Darren will be at the Laguna Seca track this weekend for the A1 Grand Prix to become acquainted with the A1 team.

A1Team.GBR currently lies third in the Series standings but the pressure is on from A1 Teams Brazil, Netherlands and New Zealand, all theoretically within easy reach so the last round in China will be critical to the final result for the 2005/6 season. zzzz

John Surtees: "With the fight on for third place in the championship it is important for the team to have a driver with as much relevant experience as possible with only three practice sessions available. Unfortunately the rules didn't go the way we had hoped so reserve driver Alex Lloyd hasn't had the running opportunities we would have liked and Arden expressed their preference for a driver with extensive F3000 experience for this highly pressurized occasion. We are doing our best to help Alex find a seat in either a premier European race series or in the revitalized Champ Car Atlantic Championship in the USA to get his experience level up."

"Darren is one of the drivers originally put forward by the Arden Management team following their successful relationship in F3000. He brings extensive experience to the team, and his previous relationship with Arden will hopefully be of benefit. He's going to have a tough job given that Robbie has driven so well for us throughout the season but Darren's experience and speed in a wide range of cars together with his motivation augers well for China."

Darren Manning: "I've been watching the A1 Grand Prix Series growing. The number of cars on the grid and the racing have really good so to be asked to drive for my country is not just an honor but a brilliant racing opportunity as well. It will be great to meet up with the team again this weekend, renew relationships and get to grips with the A1 series which will give us a head start for the China race."

Alonso's new look Alonso's new lookOnce in a while, change is good for a man. That’s why Fernando has had his helmet re-designed for the 2006 season! Fernando has always been a man who enjoys change once in a while. A new look, new haircut, whatever it may be – sometimes, the fancy just takes him to do things a little bit differently.

So today, when he arrived at the official FIA portrait photographs, there was some surprise to see an unfamiliar yellow object under his arm. But there it was – a brand new helmet design for the world champion’s first race with the number 1 on the nose of his car.

The new design features stronger yellow colors than before, and a more modern look. “I thought the other design seemed a bit old,” explained the Spaniard this afternoon. “I was looking to use the red and yellow colors of Spain, the blue that symbolizes Oviedo for me, and then to have a modern feel to it. I am really happy with the result.”

Some people might be surprised to see a driver changing his helmet colors spontaneously. After all, isn’t this something they attach superstition to? “Not for me,” concluded the world champion. “I just felt it was time for a change!” Source Renaultf1

Junior Johnson movie in works Junior Johnson movie in worksJunior Johnson's life story could soon become a movie, says Fred Griffith of Follow Your Dreams Productions, Inc., a Beverly Hills, Calif., motion picture company that has signed a rights deal for the former NASCAR legend's life story.

The movie is to depict Johnson's life as a moonshine hauler and NASCAR race driver. Griffith, an actor and producer from South Carolina, is currently adapting a screenplay based largely on the book, "Junior Johnson, Brave In Life," written by Tom Higgins and Steve Waid. Veteran actor and producer Chris Mulkey ("Radio") is a writing producer for the film. NASCAR Daily Scene

Earnhardt to be inducted into Motorsports Hall of Fame Earnhardt to be inducted into Motorsports Hall of FameThe late Dale Earnhardt will be inducted into the France family's International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega, Ala., next month. And Earnhardt's birthday, April 29, will be celebrated at DEI in Mooresville that weekend. The Talladega Hall of Fame is just one of several prominent NASCAR stock-car racing museums, and many top Cup teams boast their own, such as Richard Childress' lavish layout in Welcome and, of course, Richard Petty's place in Randleman. The hoopla this week over the Frances' next proposed Hall of Fame, in Charlotte, is curious, particularly given the little promotional and marketing support the Daytona company has given its oldest Hall of Fame, at venerable Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, where the Joe Weatherly Stock Car Museum and National Motorsports Press Association Stock Car Hall of Fame has been in business for decades, on the site of this sport's first big race, the 1950 Southern 500. Salem-Journal
Servia added to Champ Car Turbo Tour Servia added to Champ Car Turbo TourFresh off the official confirmation that Oriol Servia has secured a ride with PKV Racing for the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season, the 2005 Champ Car runner-up was confirmed as part of the 2006 Champ Car Turbo Tour, which kicks off next Sunday in Long Beach.

The six-year veteran will make a number of appearances on the groundbreaking Turbo Tour, which is set to visit nearly every Champ Car race market in North America from March 12-17. The event will feature a number of the stars of the series with Servia joining a lineup that includes 2004 and ’05 champion Sebastien Bourdais, 2003 title winner Paul Tracy, A.J. Allmendinger, Mario Dominguez, Katherine Legge and Justin Wilson. In addition a number of Champ Car Atlantic drivers will be making appearance along the way including Alan Sciuto.

“For me it’s great timing because we announced my ride today and now I will get to go talk to media around the country,” Servia said. “It’s the first time that anything like this has ever been done and I think it’s really good for Champ Car. I think it’s great that we can go around the country and get out in front of the fans as well and the media and the sponsors.”

Servia posted the best results of his six previous Champ Car seasons in 2005, scoring his first Champ Car win by taking the checkered flag in Montreal and winning the first Bridgestone Pole Award of his career in Surfers Paradise. The former Indy Lights champion finished a career-best second in the championship and was named the winner of the 2005 Greg Moore Legacy Award. Champ Car

Snap-on extends with DEI Snap-on extends with DEISnap-on announced they have extended their sponsorship commitment with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. With this multi-year contract renewal, Snap-on will serve as an associate sponsor to DEI. "Snap-on has played an important role in our team's success through the years," said Teresa Earnhardt, president and CEO of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. "This long-term renewal reaffirms the strong relationship that Snap-on and DEI enjoy. We look forward to our continued partnership with Snap-on and its quality tools."

"Snap-on Tools has been a part of the DEI family since my father began racing," said Dale Earnhardt, Jr. "Their products have been in our shops for decades and we rely on them to help us win races. They've been a solid partner through the years, and it's great we can continue working with them well into the future." DEI is currently comprised of four teams - the #1 Bass Pro Shops, #8 Budweiser and the #15 Menard's Chevy teams which compete in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. They also field the #11 Menard's Chevy in the NASCAR Busch Series. Snap-on franchisees build relationships and distribute products directly to technicians via the Snap-on van, which has remained an icon for the company since the mid 1940s. In addition, products are sold directly to consumers via snapon.com. Ogilvy PR

SPEED Channel to air all '06 Star Mazda Championship SPEED Channel to air all '06 Star Mazda ChampionshipPacoima, California. With the opening round of the 2006 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear fast approaching, Series President Gary Rodrigues revealed the SPEED Channel broadcast schedule featuring prime-time weekend time slots and shorter tape-delays for this season.

“We are extremely pleased to continue working with SPEED Channel to present some of the most exciting racing in the world,” Rodrigues said. “In 2005 we expanded our coverage from 30-minute programs to one-hour shows dedicated to each event which allowed us to present more of the personalities that make this the most competitive development series in North America. We look forward to continuing this format in 2006 and improving exposure by having the events air closer to their corresponding race dates.”

SPEED Channel coverage will consist of 12 one-hour broadcasts following each event on a tape-delayed basis, with seven shows scheduled for Sunday afternoons and five set to air on Saturday afternoons. The first race broadcast, from the opening round of the championship at Sebring International Raceway, is scheduled to air on Sunday, April 9th at 4:00 PM Eastern Time.

Brooks signs Austrian to Atlantics team Brooks signs Austrian to Atlantics teamAfter an impressive performance at a recent Atlantic test session, Austrian driver Norbert Siedler has been named as the second driver for Brooks Associates Racing and will contest the full season in the upcoming 2006 Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

A polished 23-year-old pilot from Wildschönau, Austria, Siedler enters the Champ Car Atlantic series with a wealth of experience for a relatively young racer. With both Champ Car and Formula One test sessions already in his racing resume, the former European F3000 standout certainly came prepared to showcase his talents for last month’s Atlantic test at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix with the Brooks team. His quick lap times in the 2005 Atlantic car and his instant chemistry with the team spurred owner and former Atlantic racer John Brooks to act quickly in signing the focused Austrian. Siedler will join fellow rookie and Venezuelan driver Luis Schiavo in the BAR stable this season.

“We are happy to have Norbert on our team,“ said Brooks. “He was just extremely quick at Phoenix during our initial test and has a very good technical background as well. I am confident he will be in contention for the championship. His level of experience, his feedback and his ability to extract 100% of the car very, very quickly makes him a great addition to not only our team, but the Atlantic series as well." zzzz

A former Austrian karting and Formula Ford champion, Siedler made a name for himself in Europe, earning an F1 test with the Minardi team at age 20. He continued to excel in the European F3000 series producing four victories and 10 pole positions over the last two seasons. Siedler tested a Champ Car for Walker Racing in February of 2005 and he’s been focused on entering the Champ Car ranks ever since. He’ll get that opportunity this season, competing in the top level of Champ Car’s development system with one of the top teams in the series.

“I have a good feeling and I am optimistic that I will achieve something with BAR,” said Siedler. “In 2005 they were always competitive but had to end their title quest after their number one driver got hurt near the end of the season. The series looks to be quite competitive with all the new teams and drivers.”

The Brooks Associates Racing team, entering its 12th season of Atlantic competition in 2006, finished sixth and seventh in the final ’05 series standings with drivers Andreas Wirth and Al Unser III, respectively. Wirth, who gave the squad its first win last season when he took the checkered flag in Denver, was running second in the championship chase when a race-day practice accident at Road America ended his season in the second-to-last event of the year.

BAR looks primed for another title run this season with Siedler and Schiavo leading the way. The squad has taken delivery of its new Mazda-Cosworth/Swift 016.a/Yokohama cars and will be ready to make its debut at the series-sanctioned open test session at California Speedway, March 21-22. Brooks Associates

Schumacher supports Bahrain safety campaign Schumacher supports Bahrain safety campaignManama - The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix kicks off the 2006 Formula One World Championship Season on March 10-12. Yet even before the action begins, the sport's governing body, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), joined the Bahrain Motor Federation (BMF) and Bridgestone to announce the Kingdom of Bahrain as the latest nation to join its 'Think Before You Drive' global road safety campaign to invited media guests and VIP's.

Under the patronage of His Highness the Crown Prince and President of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sport, Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khailfa joined seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher on a panel of six to unveil the launch of this safety campaign in Bahrain. The media came out in force to see these two old friends reunited in a cause that will hopefully save the lives of thousands of people a day, worldwide.

The launch, held at the University of Bahrain, was attended by over 50 VIP guests and dignitaries from the Kingdom of Bahrain and around the world in addition to over 100 international and regional media which prized themselves away from the action at the BIC.

Joining His Highness and Michael Schumacher on the top table was David Ward, Director General of the FIA Foundation, Shaikh Rashid Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Minister of the Interior, Shaikh Abdulla Bin Isa Al Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Motor Federation and Yujiro Kanahara from Bridgestone. zzzz

Michael was once again excited to be in Bahrain and to be able to help in such a valiant cause saying "I always love coming to Bahrain and it makes my visit even more special when I can give something back to the people."

"The Think Before You Drive Campaign is one of great importance throughout the world and we have made people aware of the simple messages already in a lot of other countries. I'm convinced the Kingdom of Bahrain will also benefit greatly from such a program."

"The launch of this prior to the Formula-One-race makes perfect sense as the eyes of the world will be firmly focused upon Bahrain International Circuit for the next four days."

Think Before You Drive is a global road safety initiative of the FIA Foundation, supported by Bridgestone Corporation and affiliated motoring organizations such as the BMF.

The Think Before You Drive Campaign aims to promote safe driving behavior and to raise awareness about road safety, locally and internationally. The campaign promotes simple road safety messages:

Highlighting actions that take a few seconds but could save your life;
Identifying the main causes of serious or fatal crashes.

An estimated 1.2 million people around the world are killed on the roads each year - 3000 a day. The FIA and Bridgestone hope to dramatically reduce the number of deaths caused by road accidents each year and the Kingdom of Bahrain, through the guidance of the BMF and the support of the Bahrain International Circuit, is at the forefront of this initiative.

His Highness the Crown Prince is extremely supportive of the campaign and commented; "Traffic safety in the Kingdom of Bahrain is a very important issue that requires great attention and concern from everybody. Traffic statistics point to 3 fatal cases per 10,000 cars in Bahrain."

"Although this figure has been decreasing, our aim is to reduce it even more, to 1 per 10,000, in the next five years. The Kingdom of Bahrain supports motor-sports, and requires that all motor sport activities be practiced in their designated areas, and not on public roads."

"People are required to follow traffic laws and regulations, which have been set to ensure the safety of all road users. I hope this national campaign will achieve its desired goals, and I hope that everyone will take part and cooperate to ensure its success." BIC

Thursday FIA press conference from Bahrain - II Thursday FIA press conference from Bahrain - II
Thursday FIA press conference from Bahrain - I Thursday FIA press conference from Bahrain - I
Ross Smith signs with John Walko Racing Ross Smith signs with John Walko RacingSTAR Mazda Championship Series veteran Ross Smith has signed with John Walko Racing for the 2006 season.  This will be the third year of competition in the series for the Plano, Texas driver. 

Smith scored 10 podium finishes including 5 victories in the Southwest Formula Mazda Series after scoring dozens of wins and multiple championships in karting. He then moved to the STAR Mazda Championship Series in 2004 for a partial season followed by a full season in 2005, posting four top ten finishes.

Ross is excited about the prospects of getting the season rolling with a team like JWR, “I’m very happy to be part of a well organized team like John Walko Racing.  I think I can do well here and I’m really looking forward to Sebring.” zzzz

After watching the nineteen year old driver’s progress over the past few seasons, team owner John Walko is looking forward to having Smith as part of the team.

“We are thrilled to have Ross join our team.  Having him on board will put both our team and Ross in a situation to perform well.”

Ross has been working with JWR in pre-season testing, including a stint at Roebling Road Raceway in Savannah, Georgia where they have just concluded final preparations for the season opening race at Sebring.  According to Walko, the testing has been a success, “He’s done really well in the testing. Right now it’s all about the car and the setup. He knows what he wants the car to be able to do.”

Smith will join series Rookie Charles Anti at JWR as part of a multi-car effort to challenge for the STAR Mazda Championship. Walko believes that adding a veteran will be a benefit to the entire team, “It’s good to have an experienced driver like Ross. He’ll be a good teammate for Charles.

PKV announces Servia as 2nd driver PKV announces Servia as 2nd driverPKV Racing announced today that it has signed Oriol Servia to pilot a second entry for the team during the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.

Servia, who is entering his seventh Champ Car season, has made 98 career Series starts.  The 31-year-old native of Pals, Catalonia, Spain has earned 51 top-ten finishes including 25 top-five showings, 12 podium performances and one victory (Montreal 2005).  Servia had the best season of his Champ Car career in 2005, placing second in the standings.  After starting the year with Dale Coyne Racing, he replaced Bruno Junqueira in the Newman/Haas Racing machine after Junqueira was injured in the Indianapolis 500.  Servia made 11 starts for Newman/Haas, earning seven podiums including the win in Montreal, his first career Champ Car victory.  The resident of Miami, Florida started on the front-row a career high four times including his first career pole (Australia).  

“We tested several young drivers and looked a several veteran drivers,” said PKV Racing co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven.  “After analyzing all the data, we felt the best move for the immediate and future success of the team and our sponsors Gulfstream and Bell Micro, was to sign a veteran driver.  Oriol had a tremendous season last year and has proven he can compete for the championship.  We believe that Oriol’s skill and knowledge will not only be an asset to the team, but will significantly help in the development of Katherine Legge.” zzzz

Commenting on his signing with PKV Racing Servia said, “I feel very lucky and very happy to have been selected by Kevin (Kalkhoven), Dan (Pettit) and Jimmy (Vasser) to drive the Gulfsteam/Bell Micro PKV Racing car in 2006.  This is a fantastic opportunity and I look forward to continuing the success that I had last year.  PKV Racing is an outstanding team with veteran leadership from Jim McGee, who I have a lot of respect for, and Jimmy Vasser, who I was hoping would be my teammate, but is now going to be my boss.  I think Katherine and I will work very well together and we will be competitive on the track.”   

Pettit, the “P” in PKV Racing, echoed Kalkhoven’s remarks saying, “After reviewing all the data from the tests and the information we gathered on veteran drivers, it became very clear to all of us that the best decision for now and for the future success of the team was to sign Oriol.  He is an outstanding race car driver and brings a lot of technical knowledge to the team.”

Vasser weighed in saying, “I think it is only appropriate that since we have a rookie in Katherine (Legge) driving one of the PKV Racing cars that we have a veteran in the second seat.  And the best veteran out there is Oriol Servia.  I believe in Oriol’s ability to get the job done 100%.”
A graduate of the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya with a degree in mechanical engineering, Servia began racing competitively in 1988 driving go-karts.  From 1992-1997, he competed as a member of the Elf “la Filiere” driver development program.  Servia moved to the United States in 1998 and competed in his first full Indy Lights Championship season, finishing seventh in the standings.  In 1999, Servia captured the Indy Lights Championship for Dorricott Racing. 

Servia made his Champ Car debut in 2000 with PPI Motorsports.  He scored his first career podium finish in his seventh start with a third place showing at Detroit and was the runner-up for the Jim Trueman “Rookie of the Year” Award.  Moving to Sigma Autosports in 2001, Servia enjoyed another solid year earning season-high consecutive fifth place showings at Vancouver and Germany.  In 2002, Servia ran the first three races of the season with PacWest Racing scoring points all three times.  When PWR ceased operations he sat out the next six contests before signing with Patrick Racing.  Servia finished with six top-10 showings including two top-five finishes (fifth at Fontana and a season-high fourth at the Rockingham in Corby, England).  He ran the full season for Patrick Racing in 2003 scoring the first two front-row starts of his career, starting second in Montreal and Denver on consecutive weekends and earning career-high second place finishes in Milwaukee and Montreal.  Servia finished in the top-10 in the standings for the first time in his career placing seventh.  In 2004, Servia led Dale Coyne Racing to the best season of its 19-year history.  He scored eight top-10 finishes capped by a third place showing at Laguna Seca.  The podium finish at Laguna was the fifth of his career and the first for the team since 1996.   Servia finished the season tied for ninth place in the standings (second consecutive season in top-10).

Steve Wallace to Make First Busch Start Steve Wallace to Make First Busch StartIt wouldn't be surprising if Steve Wallace had mixed feelings about making his first Busch Series start at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 25, 2006 in the Sharpie MINI 300. In September of 2004, the then 17-year-old Wallace came to Bristol and in just second start on the World's Fastest Half-Mile grabbed the checkered flag in the Frito Lay 150 Late Model race. Undoubtedly, it was one of his most thrilling moments to date. "It was the best feeling in the world," he said. "To come to a place so dang tough that my dad (Rusty) had always raced so well and where he'd won so many times and be able to win myself was something else." On the flip side of that excitement, however, was a scary crash Wallace suffered just a month earlier in his Bristol debut at a Hooter's Pro Cup event. Wallace, who was transported to the hospital but suffered no injuries, shrugs off the incident with little thought. "If you're going to race, you're going to get into stuff like that once in a while," he said. "I wasn't hurt. It was wild though and it was a heck of a crash. It was something to see the pictures of afterward." Wallace is more than a little anxious about returning to Bristol Motor Speedway to compete in his first Busch Series event on the high-banked oval. "There's no way you couldn't be excited about this," said Wallace. "I've raced at Bristol three times now and I've won, crashed and been in contention to win again there last year. We've got brand new cars, a great crew chief (Bryant Frazier) and Bristol's like a second home to me. My dad's won nine races there and our family has a cabin about 30 minutes away. By far Bristol is my whole family's favorite track." Wallace feels he's well prepared for the upcoming season in which he may run as many as 15 Busch events. He's tested at Nashville, Las Vegas and Kentucky with excellent results. "Obviously, I'm where I am because of my father," said Wallace. "He's helped me so much and he's taught me so much - that's something I've got that nobody else has. He's won a ton of races and he's one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport. You're not real smart if you can't take advantage of that." Bristol Motor Speedway
It’s more than just merging It’s more than just mergingA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, your latest article by E. Rasmussen Holm really delves deep into the crux of the issues that must be addressed to ensure open wheel racing's future success in America.  I don't think the average race fan understands the monumental task Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven have before them and I suspect it is these sort of issues you raise that have delayed there being a merger before now.

I just want to say that I joined AutoRacing1.com less than a year ago and am completely blown away by the level of reporting and the vast information flow.  Nothing else comes close and I wish I had found out about AutoRacing1.com a long time ago. Christine Berman, New York

TV News
ESPN to shadow Kurt Busch ESPN to shadow Kurt BuschKurt Busch will take an ESPN film crew around his hometown of Las Vegas this week. "It won't be what you might think," says ESPN feature producer, Jeremy Louwerse. "You probably won't see a single clip of The Strip or what Las Vegas is most famous for. Our intent is to go back and take a look at Kurt's roots - the neighborhood where the 2004 NASCAR champ grew up, his high school, his favorite fast food joint - all the local color he experienced growing up in Las Vegas before making it big time in racing." The feature is set to first air on Friday morning's popular ESPN2 program, Cold Pizza. The two-hour, weekday morning show airs live from New York City between 10 a.m. -12 noon. The program is hosted by Jay Crawford and Dana Jacobson. Tom Roberts PR
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Red Bull wants carmaker deal
Ralf defends lack of title triumph
GPMA, Bernie, plan Bahrain meeting
'07 move won't harm Alonso's charge - Lauda
Rosberg expects Webber to beat him
Honda duo eye Bahrain win
Vodafone's F1 bigwig fired
Button buys Bahrain abode
NASCAR OK with 6th Roush team NASCAR OK with 6th Roush teamJack Roush says he had no problems asking NASCAR for a part-time sixth team to run Todd Kluever in seven races in 2006 in preparation for his rookie season in 2007. When NASCAR announced its four-car cap for every owner last November, NASCAR President Mike Helton indicated an owner could field a fifth part-time car for a rookie. Roush has five full-time teams, and NASCAR has said it would not force him to break any contracts to get down to four. Roush didn't have to lobby for approval for the extra races for Kluever, since NASCAR had already indicated that a part-time rookie would not count against the cap. "Our five cars are OK for the time being, and with Todd being a rookie deal, we got the same considerations," Roush says. "They offered me to start with that I was good if I needed to do that." NASCAR Daily Scene
Photos from Swift Atlantic Car event Photos from Swift Atlantic Car event
1st image:  Swift President and CEO Chuck Sprague addresses guests at today's Swift Engineering event saluting the delivery of 40 new Swift 016.a Atlantic race chassis.
2nd image:  New chassis awaits customer pick-up.  Teams picked up their orders today and will spend the next 12 days assembling them before returning to Southern California for an all-Atlantic test at California Speedway,
March 21-22.
3rd image:  Banner says it all -- 0-40 in 226 days!  From contract/letter of intent from Champ Car to Swift in July 2005 to today, it was just 226 days to build 40 brand new race cars.  Swift Thinking went to work.

4th image: Before and after pix of the assembly facility at Swift Engineering's headquarters. 



5th image: Teams arrived by 5:19 a.m. this morning to pick up their chassis.  All crates were gone by 3:30 p.m.

6th image: Forklifts were loading trailers and team carriers as quickly as possible.

Reminder: Portland to Host Fan Forum Reminder: Portland to Host Fan ForumChamp Car World Series superstars and officials will wing into Portland on the afternoon of  Monday, March 13th  as the third leg of the six day, three country,  twelve city Turbo Tour 2006.  The Turbo Tour 2006 is another in a long list of initiatives by the Champ Car World Series to grow the excitement for the series in 2006 and show their commitment to the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland presented by G.I. Joe’s to be held June 16-18, 2006.

The Portland Turbo Tour stop will be highlighted by the Turbo Tour Fan Forum to be held at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront on Monday, March 13th from 7:30-9:00PM. It will be an open Q & A Forum for all in attendance.

The forum is open for all fans, media and interested parties. Space is limited so those interested in attending will need to sign up at www.champcar.ws and click on the Portland Fan Forum icon on the front page.

Portland will be the third stop on Turbo Tour 2006 with 2005 Portland pole sitter Justin Wilson, being joined by 2003 champion Paul Tracy, 2004 Champ Car rookie of the year A.J. Allmendinger and 2002 rookie of the year Mario Dominguez.

This group of veterans will be joined by 2006 rookie of the year candidate Katherine Legge who comes off a remarkable 2005 Champ Car Atlantic Series (formerly Toyota Atlantic).   Legge became the first woman to win an open wheel race in North America when she took the checker at Long Beach in the Series opener and then put back to back wins together in Edmonton and San Jose. She finished third in the series standings in the Atlantic Series with 5 podium finishes. She will be driving for PKV Racing this coming season.

Champ Car President Steve Johnson will be leading a group of Champ Car officials, which also includes, Scot Elkins, Technology Director; and Lon Bromley, Safety Director.; as well as other drivers and personalities to be announced on the tour.

Tickets to the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland presented by G.I. Joe's are available at all G.I. Joe's/Fred Meyer Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or more information call the event office at 503.821.4344

track news
Milwaukee Mile announces new club Milwaukee Mile announces new clubRace fans attending the Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at The Milwaukee Mile on Friday night, June 23 will now have the opportunity to take part in the speedway’s new Victory Club hospitality offerings.

Interest has grown in the new indoor/outdoor fan hospitality venue since it was unveiled at the first of the year, leading to the speedway management’s decision to extend the number of events the Victory Club would be available.

“We are pleased to offer to our fans and corporate partners the opportunity to relax and entertain their customers in what has long-been considered an exclusive opportunity available only to large companies,” said Milwaukee Mile President & CEO Andy Randall.  “We are working hard at making corporate-level hospitality and a quality experience at The Mile available to everyone.” zzzz

The Milwaukee Mile Victory Club offers relaxation inside a climate controlled concourse with a huge open-air patio, an attractive surrounding with exclusive access to the party where food, drinks, comfort and good times are as important as who crosses the finish line.

Each $79.00 Victory Club admission includes a preferred parking pass, continuous gourmet food selections, unlimited water and soft drinks, tickets for beer and wine, full cash bar, indoor private restrooms and a Victory Club gift pack.

Opportunities to participate in Victory Club hospitality offerings are also available on Sunday June 4, in conjunction with the afternoon running of the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 Champ Car World Series race, the Saturday night, June 24 AT&T 250 NASCAR Busch Series event, and the Sunday July 23 ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225 IRL IndyCar Series spectacular.

For both the NASCAR event nights, a limited number of Milwaukee Mile Victory Club Admission Packages priced at $134.00 are available, a $24 savings.  Patrons who have already purchased Victory Club admissions for the NASCAR Busch Series can call The Milwaukee Mile ticket office to take advantage of this special offer.

A limited number of admissions will be made available.  Orders can be placed today by calling The Milwaukee Mile ticket office at (414) 453-8277.  For more details, check out the speedway’s website, www.milwaukeemile.com

Q and A with MidlandF1’s James Key Q and A with MidlandF1’s James KeyAs the three new M16s touched down in Bahrain for the first race of the 2006 season, the team’s official website conducted a brief interview with the MidlandF1 team’s Technical Director, James Key, where they discussed his thoughts on the progress made over the winter months, improvements on the car for the season opener and jus how he thinks the Silverstone based squad will fare this coming weekend…..

Testing is over, and we’re heading into the first race this weekend. Do you feel that you are well prepared?
In many respects, I feel confident, because the cars have run and they’ve been reliable. We are confident about cooling and that sort of thing, which is always a bit of an issue in Bahrain and Malaysia. But then equally, we’ve still got a lot of work to do. From lap time analysis, we know we’ve made up ground on the others. But we’re still playing catch up, and there’s more work to do for sure at the moment.

To what extent can you prepare for the hot weather when you’ve only tested in Europe?
Fairly well, really, because we’ve got a lot of historical data. We learned quite a bit about cooling on last year’s car, so we’ve played it safe with this one. Judging by where we’ve been in testing, we’re hoping that with the ambient temperatures we expect, it’s going to be about right. You always have a few things in the bag to help you out if it’s not.

Has Toyota provided data that has helped you prepare for the conditions?
To a certain extent. Obviously, they provided us with the heat rejection data for the engine in the first place, and that’s the first port of call for cooling. But we tend to run our own simulations for the general characteristics of the circuit, and we know what to expect. It’s based on empirical data and what we’ve learned, rather than any data from a dyno, for example. zzzz

What are your thoughts on the tire situation?
It’s been a bit difficult to tell in winter testing, because the temperatures have been very cold in Barcelona and Jerez. In Bahrain, we’ll have much higher track temperatures. Bridgestone have done a lot of work on a tire that should work well at hotter tracks, so we’re fairly hopeful. With regards to where we are compared to Michelin, it’s hard to tell, but the gap is smaller than it was last year.

Have you benefited from Ferrari’s recent hot weather testing in Bahrain?
Yes. Bridgestone have been very open with the information sharing within the teams, so we’ve got feedback on what Ferrari have done in Bahrain. The compound choices and constructions have largely been confirmed by the testing out there on a hotter track.

The V8 engines are still very new. Will you be conserving miles on, say, Friday, or is it essential for the drivers just to go out and do some laps?
I think we need to go out and do some laps, but we really need to play it by ear. Toyota haven’t given us any pressing constraints with the engine, and it’s proved reliable so far. We’re not in a situation where we can only afford to do X amount of miles for a race weekend. I think we’ll go out and judge track conditions, make sure it’s worthwhile running, and go from there.

You will have two different rookie drivers in the third car for both opening races. What can they contribute?
I think the third car plays an important part. We’ve obviously run the drivers that we’ll be running at the first few races in testing, and they’ve done a good job. I think we can rely on the information they give back to us, but no doubt their feedback will improve as we go along. There are a number of things we’re looking at, such as the basic track information, what is the tire doing, how the balance shifts from a new set of tires through five laps and 10 laps. Wear and degradation should be proven by the third car on Friday.

Is there anything new on the cars for Bahrain?
There are some new parts which are coming out, and we’ve gone down to the wire on them, because some of them are performance related. We’re not going to see any massive jumps compared to testing, but there will be a reasonable step with the new parts we’ve got.

formula bmw
Lee and Thorne Continue Formula BMW Testing Lee and Thorne Continue Formula BMW TestingSYOSSET, N.Y. - The Formula BMW USA season opener is still two months away, but Team Autotecnica and Twin tooth Racing drivers Matt Lee of Syosset, N.Y. and Robert Thorne of Sherman, Conn. have been testing extensively in the off-season as they prepare to pursue some lofty goals.

Lee, 16, (pictured right) will try to win the national championship, while Thorne, 15, hopes to earn the series' Rookie of the Year title.

Their team principals have been pleased with both teens' progress in the off-season.  "We're headed in the right direction," said Enrico Diano, Team Autotecnica co-owner and manager.  "We think we're in the right position to achieve those goals in 2006."

Both Lee and Thorne are participating in a three-day test at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton, Va. this week, just the latest stop in a busy pre-season testing schedule they're juggling along with their schoolwork.

Their team, Autotecnica, based in Toronto with a U.S. shop in Lake Park, Fla., won the title last year with another driver and it would like nothing better than to record back-to-back championships this year with Lee.

Lee finished 16th last year with another team as a rookie in the series.  zzzz 

The Formula BMW USA series prepares young drivers, many of who like Lee and Thorne have distinguished themselves in karting, for careers as professional race car drivers.

Thorne did not race in the series last year but he won one of five Formula BMW Junior scholarships for the 2006 season due to his performances at a two-day run-off at the Formula BMW Racing Center in Valencia, Spain last Aug. 31-Sept. 1.

Both teens have been working hard. The pre-season testing began immediately after Lee was the highest-finishing American at the Formula BMW World Final in Bahrain in December.

"We did two days of testing in Bahrain after the event with Matt, which really was our first test for the 2006 season," said Diano. "Then we did two days with both Matt and Robert in Louisiana at No Problem Raceway.  We went to Roebling Road in Savannah, Ga., for two days, and last week we did two more days at Carolina Motorsports Park.  This week we're doing three days at VIR.  Both boys participated in all those tests except Robert missed Bahrain because he had schoolwork that he couldn't miss."

The team will also participate in the series' first official test of 2006 on March 27-28 at Road Atlanta Motorsports Park in Braselton, Ga., followed by two series tests in April: VIR on April 8-9 and Carolina Motorsports Park April 29-30.  There is also one day of testing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio on May 18 prior to the season-opening doubleheader there May 19-21.

Diano said that the team has been pleased by both young drivers' progress.  "It seems like a lot of progress happens between the tests," he said while driving to VIR.  "Their brains put together what they've learned on the track the day before, or what they learned at the last test, and there is improvement almost automatically the next day and at the next test," he said.  "Their levels of concentration have improved immensely, and they don't make the same mistakes twice.   

"Matt has really come around 180 degrees from where we started; he's a totally different driver now," Diano continued.  "His commitment to the sport was already strong, but it seems unbeatable now.  He's very committed to improving himself in every way possible; technically he wants to improve his knowledge of the car and how it works, and he also wants to improve himself physically and emotionally, especially as it relates to the level of concentration required.

"We've worked with Matt longer than Robert; we've been working with Matt for six months compared to two with Robert, but nevertheless Robert is also improving by leaps and bounds," Diano added.  "Matt ran in the series last year but Robert is a rookie, and coming in with such a limited amount of experience in the car, Robert's strides are much bigger," he noted.  "We're improving by tenths of a second on the track with Matt and we've improved whole seconds with Robert.  Now Robert is within a few tenths of a second of Matt's times, whereas before he was a couple of seconds back.  He's been able to close the gap and he's feeling more confident. He's looking forward to working with Matt this season to learn from him and use it to his advantage to make up for the fact that he's a year behind his teammate in terms of experience."

Thorne will drive the car that won the championship last year, while Lee will drive another car that won four races in 2004.  "They've been switching between the cars, and Robert preferred the one he's going to drive and Matt preferred the one he's getting," Diano said.

Both teens are also working hard on their physical conditioning.  "Robert is signed up with the PitFit Training program out of Indianapolis as part of his scholarship, and Matt is working with our driver coach, Christian Boudon," Diano noted.  "He has many years of experience at every level of racing.  He was an official coach of the Formula BMW series in 2004, and he was an integral part of our team and our strategy in Bahrain.  He stresses physical fitness and nutrition; those are things we put a lot of importance on.

"Plus, in the end they still have to get good grades in school," Diano added with a smile.

Lee, who turned 16 on Nov. 27, is a junior at Syosset High School. Thorne, who turns 16 on March 24, is a sophomore at Canterbury School in New Milford, Conn.

Their race cars are sponsored in part by Auto Parts Warehouse/Bumper to Bumper. Both teens are searching for additional sponsorship too.

They also both volunteer for the not-for-profit Think First Foundation, which strives to prevent brain and spinal cord injuries by promoting safety and the wearing of protective devices such as seat belts and helmets by the public.  The foundation is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

The 2006 Formula BMW USA schedule, which features two races per event, follows:
May 19-21, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio;
May 26-29, Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Conn.;
June 23-25, Gilles Villeneuve Circuit, Montreal, Quebec (Canadian Grand Prix);
June 30-July 2, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, Ind. (U.S. Grand Prix);
July 28-30, San Jose Grand Prix, San Jose, Calif.;
Aug. 11-13, Grand Prix of Denver, Denver, Colo.; and
Sept. 1-3, Mosport Int'l Raceway, Mosport, Ont.

Racing News
Ford Australia Announces New Racing Manager Ford Australia Announces New Racing ManagerFord Australia today announced the appointment of Ray Price as the new Ford Racing Manager in Australia. Most recently Ford Australia's Service Engineering Manager, Mr. Price has an extensive engineering and technical background, built up over more than 17 years with the company.

Ford Australia President Tom Gorman said he was delighted to have a manager of Price’s caliber overseeing the chase for a fourth consecutive V8 Supercar championship.

"Ray worked very closely with Howard Marsden on Project Blueprint, developing the BA Falcon race car that has proved so successful on Australian race tracks. He has a long history of involvement and interest in motor racing and will bring a wealth of talent and energy to this important role.

“We have worked hard over the past few years to put Ford back where it belongs in Australian motor sport, and Ray Price is the right choice to keep Ford Racing at the top of the tree.

“We look forward to the 2006 V8 Supercar season with renewed optimism, aiming for a fourth successive V8 Supercar title and also looking for success in the Australian Rally Championship,” Mr. Gorman said.

Price's involvement in motor sport dates back to 1979 and his role as a mechanic for Allan Moffat Racing between 1979 and 1992, helping the four-time touring car ace on various Ford racing cars including the XD Falcon, the Sierra Turbo and the legendary EB GT.

Ford also wants Open Wheel unification Ford also wants Open Wheel unificationAfter publishing Honda HPD honcho Robert Clarke's quotes earlier today calling for the IRL and Champ Car to put an end to the war and merge, we solicited a reaction from Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology.

Davis replied, "We have always been in favor of one open-wheel series, and our position has never changed throughout all these years. We have done everything we could do in the past to help facilitate a reconciliation, and will continue to do whatever we can to help forward the process. We truly believe the best thing for the sport, the competitors, and the fans, is for there to be one, strong open wheel series competing here in North America. We have never wavered from that position."

There you have it, both engine manufacturers continue to want a unification.
NASCAR's 'Driven To Win' debuts tonight NASCAR's 'Driven To Win' debuts tonightNASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch will be featured in the premiere of The Biography Channel’s “NASCAR Driven to Win,” a 13-episode series that profiles NASCAR drivers, at 10:30pm ET tonight.
ALMS extends agreement for European TV coverage ALMS extends agreement for European TV coverageBraselton, Ga. - The American Le Mans Series and Pan-European broadcaster MotorsTV today announced the extension and expansion of a multi-year broadcasting rights agreement for MotorsTV to become the exclusive "live" television outlet for the Series in Europe through the 2008 season.

The new agreement also includes Internet enhancements via shared endeavors between the Series' official Web site (www.americanlemans.com) and MotorsTV.com, substantial upgrades in MotorsTV's promotion of the Series to its viewers (including a season-long watch and win promotional event) and mutual plans to develop additional American Le Mans Series programming opportunities to air on MotorsTV.

MotorsTV currently reaches more than 45 million households in 30 European countries and broadcasts in English, French, German and Greek. On March 18, MotorsTV will feature 10.5 hours of "live" coverage of the 54th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring beginning at 15:00 Central European Time (CET).

 "We could not ask for a better television partner in Europe than MotorsTV. Its involvement with the American Le Mans Series has led to millions of European viewers tuning in to watch the premium brand of motorsports in North America," said Scott Atherton, Series President and CEO. "The growth of the Series isn't confined to North America and the United States; awareness and appreciation of the American Le Mans Series continues to spread overseas thanks to partners like MotorsTV.  zzzz

"Sports car racing traces its roots to Europe, and we are proud to work with MotorsTV to deliver the world's best manufacturers, teams, drivers and professional sports car racing to such a desirable audience," Atherton added.

MotorsTV began broadcasting Series races in 2004, which immediately were met with overwhelming approval and fanfare. Viewers routinely have voted American Le Mans Series races as the best and most popular motorsports program in the MotorsTV lineup.

"This will mark the third year of our partnership with the American Le Mans Series," said Motors TV Head of Programming and Acquisitions Frédéric Viger, "and I'm very happy we managed to extend this deal on a long-term basis. MotorsTV's desire and capability of opening its air-time for long-lasting endurance events is unrivaled, and brings to the viewers the real essence of the sport.

"In the last few years of our involvement, the American Le Mans Series has been consistently rated by our viewers as one of their favorite MotorsTV programs," he continued. "We look forward to building on that experience as the 2006 season unfolds and for the next three years." ALMS

Indy 500 takes center stage in Washington DC Indy 500 takes center stage in Washington DCThe 90th Indianapolis 500 took center stage - literally and figuratively - during an event March 7 with The Smithsonian Associates in Washington.

A packed house of fans joined past and present Indianapolis 500 drivers and dignitaries at the U.S. Navy Memorial & Naval Heritage Center for an evening of "Celebrating the Spectacle" of the 90th Indy 500, scheduled for Sunday, May 28. A variety of presentations preceded a popular "town hall meeting" question-and-answer session between the fans and drivers.

"Take it from me, and I say this as a director and scholar at the Smithsonian Institute, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 and its amazingly talented and stellar drivers have been true icons of American culture," said Dr. Richard Kurin, director of Smithsonian National Programs.

Drivers who attended and participated in the event were reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford, two-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves, pioneering female Indy driver Janet Guthrie, and the father-and-son racing duo of Michael and Marco Andretti. Noted motorsports broadcaster Bob Jenkins served as the master of ceremonies.

"It was a fantastic event," Wheldon said. "There were fantastic people that I met, and the presentations were very interesting."

The event started with the Hulman-George family receiving The Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Outstanding Public Service in recognition of its programs to honor the Armed Forces for the last 60 years at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  zzzz

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Allison Barber (pictured left) presented the award on behalf of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld to IMS President and Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood.

Chitwood then presented Wheldon with his Champion of Champions ring for winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2005. Wheldon slipped on the ring in the shadow of the famous Borg-Warner Trophy, which was on display at the event, fresh with Wheldon's image added.

"Obviously, it's something I've been very anxious to get hold of," Wheldon said. "It's like Christmas has come early again. It's something I'm very proud of and will wear with a great deal of pride.

"I was happy to see Joie again, because every time I do, he seems to have some great gift for me."

Video presentations of each driver on the panel then were shown, and the floor then was opened for many questions for the driver panel. The memorable event ended with each driver being swarmed by fans for autographs and conversation, in front of a huge backdrop of the official "Celebrate the Spectacle" theme art for the 90th Indianapolis 500.

"We enjoyed the questions in front of the fans, and they were all very good, very pointed and informed," Rutherford said. "The fans seemed like they enjoyed it, and there were a lot of autographs, and I had a chance to sign a lot of my books and a few Sports Illustrated covers that I was on, so a lot of people came in that were race fans.

"You're always surprised at some of these functions just how much the fans know, and how deeply they get into it."

Said Guthrie, the first woman to race in the Indianapolis 500: "I thought the event went wonderfully well. It was a very lively and attentive audience. Looking at the catalog of events they (Smithsonian Associates) can choose from, I think it really says something for the Indianapolis 500 that such a large group came.

"It was a wonderful setting for the kickoff of the 90th Indianapolis 500." Photos and Text courtesy IRL

Hamilton joins IMS Radio Network team Hamilton joins IMS Radio Network teamFormer IndyCar Series driver Davey Hamilton will join the IMS Radio Network as driver analyst for the 2006 IndyCar Series season.  Hamilton, who had 22 top-10 finishes in 48 IndyCar Series starts, will be in the broadcast booth with host and lead announcer Mike King and color analyst Dave Wilson. All IndyCar Series qualifying sessions, races and pre-race and post-race shows are broadcast to IMS Radio Network affiliates nationwide, short-wave outlets, and on the American Forces Radio and Television Service.  They also are available via live web cast on www.indycar.com.

"Hopefully, I can help bring to the fans listening on the radio how exciting the racing is," Hamilton said. "I like to say it the way it is and bring a little humor to the show and information of what a driver feels when they're in the race car. I'll try to relate to the fans listening on the radio what the drivers are going through at certain times." IRL

Wheldon receives Champion of Champions Ring Wheldon receives Champion of Champions RingReigning Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon is fond of greeting Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and COO Joie Chitwood.

"Every time I do, he seems to have some great gift for me," said Wheldon, whose image on the Borg-Warner Trophy was unveiled in January at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

On Tuesday, March 7, Chitwood presented Wheldon his Indianapolis 500 Champion of Champions Ring during a public event to celebrate the 90th running of the 500-Mile Race at the U.S. Navy Memorial & Naval Heritage Center in Washington, D.C. The ring, designed by Herff Jones, contains a one-carat diamond.

"Obviously it's something I've been very anxious to get hold of," said Wheldon, who won from the 16th starting position. "It's like Christmas has come early again. It's something I'm very proud of and will wear with a great deal of pride.

"I'm not sure if I'm going to wear it all the time, but it will certainly be featured strongly in my trophy cabinet next to my Baby Borg and on special occasions it will be brought out and put on my finger."

An all-star driver lineup -- three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford; two-time winner Helio Castroneves; Janet Guthrie, the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500; and Michael and Marco Andretti - attended the event and answered questions from the overflow audience. IRL

Teams ready to take delivery of new Swifts Teams ready to take delivery of new SwiftsINDIANAPOLIS – The long wait is finally over. Today marks the day when 40 of the new-generation cars of the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda are delivered to series teams and the preparation for the much-anticipated 2006 Atlantic season can officially begin in earnest.

After committing last July to produce the new Swift 016.a Atlantic car, officials from Swift Engineering have completed a monumental task. Working closely with Champ Car Atlantic teams, officials and all of the series manufacturers, Swift has designed, produced and now delivered 40 high-tech racing machines, all in just a 226-day time frame. (Photo courtesy of Swift Engineering)

“We must commend Swift and all of the Atlantic series manufacturers on producing a superb racing machine,” said Kevin Kalkhoven, Champ Car World Series co-owner. “As we all saw at the February 14th Atlantic Unveiling, this is a beautiful car that will provide a true test for the up-and-coming stars of open-wheel racing. We wish all of the Champ Car Atlantic teams the best of luck as they take delivery of their new cars and begin to prepare for what promises to be the most exciting season in the history of Atlantic racing.”

Swift Engineering will celebrate today’s Atlantic delivery with a special event at its San Clemente, California plant from 3-5 p.m. Pacific Time featuring Champ Car Atlantic and Swift representatives, local dignitaries and special guests. zzzz

"This is an important moment in the history of Swift Engineering,” said Swift President Chuck Sprague. “When we agreed to design and build a new Atlantic car, we fully committed to the assignment right then and there. What we didn't know in July 2005 was that we would be building and delivering 40 race car chassis all at once. But we were always confident we would do it and are proud of the contributions of the entire Swift team. Forty chassis is a terrific accomplishment, but what's equally exciting is the tremendous number of Atlantic teams who have ordered these chassis and will take delivery of them today. That's a testament to the strength of the Atlantic series and open-wheel racing in general."

Several Atlantic teams have traveled to California to take possession of their new cars, while others anxiously await the shipment of the new Atlantic, featuring the new Swift chassis powered by a 300-horsepower Mazda-Cosworth engine capable of producing speeds up to 175 mph. While Swift has now completed the bulk of its work on the project, the hard labor is just beginning for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic teams. With just under two weeks to assemble their cars and get them ready for the first road test with the new Atlantic, series squads have a very tight and disciplined schedule to follow.

“We’ve been waiting for this day and I think everyone’s been rehearsing for weeks,” said John Brooks, former Atlantic competitor and owner of Brooks Associates Racing, which will take delivery of three of the new cars. “Now it’s just a matter of who does what once the new cars arrive.”

Like most series teams, the Brooks squad will unpack and inventory all of its car components once its shipment arrives from Swift. Then the real work begins. Most teams will then begin to assemble body work, sending the chassis off to get prepped and painted. While that’s being done, teams will typically concentrate on the sub-assemblies of the car like the suspension, gearbox and fuel system. These components will be completely disassembled, inspected and then re-assembled to exact manufacturer specifications. Once the chassis is back from the body shop, the car will begin to take shape from the inside out. Beginning with the wiring, pedals and fuel system and then, likely early next week, the suspension, gearbox and the engine will be installed in the cars. After all of the electronics are in place, teams will then focus on doing systems checks and then it’s a matter of fitting the drivers to their new Atlantics and putting a basic setup on the car before it’s loaded on the transporter for the first series test session at California Speedway, March 21-22.

At the two-day test, teams will concentrate on getting to know the ins and outs of the car while engineers will gather as much data as possible at the only on-track session with the new machine before the season-opening race on the streets of Long Beach, April 7-9. It will certainly be a tight frame for the competitors to get familiar with their new rides, but considering what has been accomplished over the last several months with the rebirth of the Atlantic Championship, it should seem like an eternity.

“It’s absolutely amazing how far we’ve come in such a short period of time since the new look of the series was announced last July,” said Brooks, entering his 12th season as a team owner. “It’s really a testament to the history and dedication of the series, the owners of Champ Car, the manufacturers and the competitors that Atlantics can continue to evolve and move into the future like we have.” Champ Car 

Autobiography Special: NASCAR countdown to Sunday Autobiography Special: NASCAR countdown to SundayNEW YORK – What does it take to pull together America’s most popular spectator sport, day-in, day-out?  A fast-paced, unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the heart-pounding world of NASCAR when the A&E Network airs the two-hour World Premiere special, NASCAR: COUNTDOWN TO SUNDAY on Friday, March 10, 2006 at 9PM/8C.

NASCAR: COUNTDOWN TO SUNDAY offers all the excitement and thrills of NASCAR, beginning with the roots.  The brainchild of the visionary Bill France, Sr., the special will examine its inexorable growth into the sport with the largest crowds, the most loyal fans, the most corporate involvement, and the second largest television audience on television. 

NASCAR: COUNTDOWN TO SUNDAY focuses on a typical week between two races, as the drivers, fans, and crews finish one NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race, and immediately start to prepare for the next mega-event.  For NASCAR pros, there is no day off – just a solid 10-month season of grueling – and exhilarating -- work.  A typical week begins as the teams pack their haulers for their next trip after a Sunday race; Monday is travel and shop work; Tuesday is spent on the car or with sponsors; Wednesday to work and travel; Thursday to get to the new track and start to tweak the car; Friday and Saturday to practice and qualify….and on to another rousing Sunday race!  NASCAR: COUNTDOWN TO SUNDAY chronicles the complex elements that have to come together in order to pull a race weekend off, from sponsors and media, to shops, crews and drivers.

Interviews include:  NASCAR drivers Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Kyle Petty, Richard Petty, Elliot Sadler, and Michael Waltrip; NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France; NASCAR President Mike Helton; NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton; Crew Chiefs Steve Letarte and Matt Borlin; owners Rick Hendrick and Ray Evernham; and others. 

NASCAR: COUNTDOWN TO SUNDAY is produced by Traveling Light Media.  Didi O'Hearn and Andy Berg serve as the A&E Network executive producers; and Adam Friedman and Bill Evashwick are the executive producers for NASCAR: COUNTDOWN TO SUNDAY.  Charlie Otte is the producer and Sarah Nettinga is the executive in charge of production for NASCAR. zzzz

About A&E Network
Now reaching more than 88 million homes, A&E Network brings viewers a diverse mix of high quality entertainment; ranging from critically acclaimed original movies to the very best dramatic series, the most successful justice shows on cable to the Emmy Award-winning BIOGRAPHY® series. Not to mention, the A&E Network's powerhouse Real-Life Series franchise. In 2005, A&E Network holds the distinct record for the most Primetime Emmy nominations (10) for a basic cable network
New original series premiered in 2006 include: Rollergirls, a richly captured non-scripted drama from the makers of "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County" that follows the antics and over-the-top athletic competitions of women from the TXRD Lonestar Roller Derby whom are united by the wildest and most American of sports, roller derby; and Dallas Swat, an action-packed new real-life series that explores the professional and personal lives of the Dallas Police Department's Tactical Unit.  Other series slated for 2006 include: King of Cars which reveals the secret life of one of America's most successful used car dealerships; Working Title: Polar Posse follows the escapades of a daring teenage arctic rescue squad; and Driving Force follows champion dragster John Force and his three drag-racing daughters as they compete not only in the high-speed field of drag racing but also face the day-to-day challenges of family life. Returning real-life series include Dog the Bounty Hunter, Intervention, Criss Angel Mindfreak, Inked, Flip This House and The First 48.
In addition to some of the best drama series on television including; The Sopranos, CSI Miami, MI-5 and 24, award winning original movies remain the heart and sole of the A&E Network brand. Upcoming movies include Flight 93 and Touch the Top of the World.  Also set to debut in 2006 are topical and timely documentary specials under the A&E IndieFilm® banner including multi-award winning Murderball and Rock School. 
The A&E Network website is located at www.aetv.com and the Biography® website is located at www.Biography.com.   The A&E Club is located at www.aetv.com/club.  For more information and photography please visit us on the web at www.aetvpress.com.

NASCAR To Have Say On All Aspects Of New HOF NASCAR To Have Say On All Aspects Of New HOFNASCAR will have “veto power ... about everything from designing exhibits to hiring an executive director” at its Hall of Fame in Charlotte, even though the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) “will own and operate the building,” according to Dodd, Rubin & Crouch of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. NASCAR “has a say in almost everything related to the hall.” When it is time to “pick a restaurant franchise, an advertising firm or even a garbage collector for the [HOF], Charlotte has to look first to a two-page list of NASCAR’s ‘exclusive partners.’” If the city cannot reach an agreement with a NASCAR partner after a determined amount of time, the city is then “free to go elsewhere.” NASCAR VP/Licensing & Consumer Products Mark Dyer said, “It is our [HOF], so we certainly wouldn’t want some content going in that we felt was detrimental to the sport and what it was all about.” CRVA CEO Tim Newman said, “They’ve worked for 58 years to build this brand. They’re very protective of how it’s used” CHARLOTTE OBSERVER.

MARKETING CHALLENGE: Dodd, Rubin & Crouch add that Charlotte “will have to deal with every driver and race team individually to get the rights” to their images, logos and memorabilia. Charlotte city attorney Mac McCarley said that that is because NASCAR “doesn’t own those rights and can’t transfer them to the city as part of the deal.” Karen Bednarski, Exec Dir of the Int’l Sports Heritage Association, a trade group for sports museums and HOFs, said, “It’s certainly a very unusual arrangement. None (of the other sports) has an arrangement like what NASCAR will have.” But McCarley “doesn’t expect it to be much of a problem.” McCarley: “The drivers have wanted for a long time this kind of recognition. It is our firm belief that all of the drivers ... will freely and happily give whatever rights need to be given.” Dyer expects “each hall inductee will be asked to sign a standard agreement” CHARLOTTE OBSERVER.

SPONSORS TO HAVE PRESENCE: In Atlanta, Mike Tierney examines the role sponsors have at different HOFs. Private Sports Consulting’s Max Muhleman believes that NASCAR may raise “its corporate sponsor fee to involve partners that want a deeper connection to the sport through the hall.” Newman said, “We want to have appropriate sponsorship recognition, but not corporate overkill.” Tierney notes Kodak and Visa have signage in a rendering of the HOF’s exterior. Muhleman: “I would think that is an indication they will tie (sponsors) in.” Tierney writes while other sport HOFs “are not so bold [as NASCAR], many are driving in the same direction.” The Pro Football HOF is “actively seeking dollar support” and has deals with EA Sports, Visa and Sharpie. The Basketball HOF allows signage on kiosks and the scoreboard above a court, but “more blatant commercial proposals have been rejected.” Sponsor logos at the Hockey HOF “are not overwhelming,” and the Baseball HOF “has but a trace of commercialism” ATLANTA CONSTITUTION.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for Friday

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Formula One Practice Bahrain
6:00am-7:00am (L) SPEED
Inside Grand Prix Bahrain
5:30pm-6:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Live! Las Vegas
6:00pm-6:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Las Vegas
6:30pm-8:30pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Las Vegas
8:30pm-9:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR: Countdown to Sunday 
9:00pm-11:00pm A&E
AMA Supercross Daytona
9:30pm-12:30am (SDD) -250cc SPEED
NASCAR Driven to Win
11:00pm-11:30pm (R) -Kasey Kahne A&E
11:30pm-12:00am (R) -Kyle Busch A&E

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

Honda says no NASCAR plans Honda says no NASCAR plansAt yesterday's IRL media conference Honda's Robert Clarke was asked whether Honda had any plans to follow Toyota to NASCAR and he clearly denied any such plans.

"Will we follow Toyota to NASCAR? I never say never. I've learned that in this business," Clarke said. "But we have no immediate or near term plans to get into NASCAR. We are quite occupied with our activity in the IRL and no plans for NASCAR.

"We're arch-rivals and we particularly enjoy fighting each other. But we are continuing to support the IRL.

"We believe strongly in open-wheel racing as a form of racing that Honda has historically competed in, and particularly in Formula One and CART and now the IRL.

"We very much enjoy that style of racing at the premiere level, and we are showing our commitment to the sport and to the IRL in particular, by making our commitment through 2009."

"Honda's racing historically has been focused on technology. Having not been directly involved with NASCAR, I think it's probably unfair for us to say that their technology is dumbed-down or at a lower level, but it's clearly a different kind of technology."

American Stock Releases NASCAR DVD American Stock Releases NASCAR DVDFERNANDINA BEACH, Fla.-- American Stock has released The Golden Era of NASCAR, a new DVD series that documents NASCAR's history from 1936 to 1971. The series takes a look at these early, formative years when stock-car racing emerged and began its rise as the fastest-growing spectator sport in the country.  The four-DVD set can be purchased for $79.95 at www.americanstock.us.
Racing safer than highways Racing safer than highwaysAn article in last Sunday's New York Times’ Magazine entitled “How Many Lives Did Dale Earnhardt Save?” provides some interesting statistics with regard to racing fatalities vs. the highway:
  • 345 cars were involved in crashes during the 2005 Cup season, an all-time high.
  • The frequency of crashes since Earnhardt’s death is higher, attributed to the enhanced safety of cars and tracks, which has made drivers bolder than ever before.
  • During the last three seasons of NASCAR Cup, Busch and Truck racing, more than 3,000 vehicles have crashed with no fatalities! The USA highway fatality rate is 5.2 driver deaths per 1,000 crashes, with 37,000 Americans dying annually in traffic accidents.

One could conclude that racing in NASCAR events is now safer than driving downtown, but that was not the case before the deaths of Dale Earnhardt, Adam Petty and others in rapid succession.

Honda’s Clarke supports open wheel unification Honda’s Clarke supports open wheel unificationRobert Clarke, the president of Honda Performance Development, told National Speed Sport News that Honda is a strong advocate that both the IRL and Champ Car need to become one series.

"When I met with Tony [George] and Brian [Barnhart], and when I met with Kevin Kalkhoven, it was to express how important Honda felt that unification was, to express that," Clarke said. "Honda is here, we are a key player, and we are committed to this style of racing. We want to help. You tell us what we can do to help. It's a simple message.

"We don't want to be any kind of road block. Honda is not a road block. We'd like to allow it to happen. All we want to do is facilitate something that will ultimately establish a series we want to be involved in for a long time."

"There seems to be a different mindset than in past discussions," Clarke said. "It seems more possible now than ever before. But it's a very difficult process, and it may not happen."

"It's a very necessary thing because both series will continue to struggle on their own. It's quite clear, and I think both sides realize that."

Track News
Bristol to delay track resurfacing Bristol to delay track resurfacingResurfacing of the half-mile concrete track at Bristol Motor Speedway will be put off until 2007 so that engineers and contractors have enough time to do it right, speedway officials said Tuesday.

Officials were considered resurfacing this summer, trying to squeeze the project between the Nextel Cup Food City 500 scheduled for March 26 and the Sharpie 500 on Aug. 26.

The company decided to postpone the Bristol project so that the company's preferred contractors and engineers could focus on the other two tracks, said Wayne Estes, vice president of communications and events for Bristol.

"We wanted to be sure that they were going to have our undivided attention here," Estes told the Kingsport Times-News. "It reached a critical point where we had to say go or don't go.

"We all felt like we'd be a whole lot more comfortable if when they tamper with the most popular racing surface in all of NASCAR that they get it right the first time."

The current surface was poured in 1992.  More at USA Today

Carpentier will drive in China Carpentier will drive in ChinaInstead of doing just two races, he will do three - Former Champ Car driver Patrick Carpentier has been confirmed as A1 Team Canada's race driver for the final race of the season in China next month.

"I'm really excited to continue with A1 Team Canada for the final round in China," Carpentier said. "I've never been there but it's another new experience for me but I hear it's going to be a major event."

A1GP drivers line up summer jobs A1GP drivers line up summer jobsIt's not just Robbie Kerr and Sean McIntosh who have reason to smile about the racing programmes that they have lined up for themselves until the second A1 Grand Prix series kicks off this autumn, as a host of their A1GP rivals have also signed on the dotted line for an assortment of single-seater, touring car and sportscar championships.

They will be joined in the World Series by Renault by A1 Team Russia racer Mikhail Aleshin who will be racing for Carlin Motorsport, with Hayanri Shimoda and Alvaro Parente of A1 Team Japan and A1 Team Portugal respectively on the brink of being snapped up by Victory Engineering.

A1GP's representation in Formula 1 will be A1 Team USA's original driver Scott Speed who will race for Scuderia Toro Rosso and A1 Team Switzerland's top scorer Neel Jani who will be the team's third driver.

On the test-driving side, A1 Team Germany's Adrian Sutil and A1 Team Russia's Roman Rusinov are down to perform this role for Midland F1, in support of A1 Team Switzerland’s new signing Giorgio Mondini who will be the team's third driver.

A1 Team France's in-form pairing of Alexandre Premat and Nicolas Lapierre have both confirmed deals to race in the F1-supporting GP2 championship, with ART Grand Prix and Arden International respectively. They will be joined in GP2 by opening A1GP winner Nelson Piquet Jr who will continue to race for his family team and by A1 Team Malaysia's Fairuz Fauzy who will be under Super Nova's wing.

A1 Team USA's Bryan Herta is retuning for another crack at the Indy Racing League with Andretti Green Racing, in which he'll be up against A1 Team USA's sporting director Scott Sharp who is all set to pedal the Fernandez Motorsport Panoz and A1 Team South Africa's Tomas Scheckter who will be racing one of the Vision Dallaras. zzzz

The Formula 3 ranks will be swelled by A1 Team Mexico's Salvador Duran who will race for Hitech Racing in the British series and by A1 Team Portugal reserve driver Joao Urbano who has signed to race for the Prema Powerteam in the Euroseries. A1 Team Germany racer Adrian Sutil will race for the TOM'S team in the All-Japan series in conjunction with his F1 testing duties for Midland F1.

A1 Team Lebanon's newest signing, Graham Rahal, is all-set to compete in the Formula Atlantic Championship which will be supporting the Champ Car series in which A1 Team Australia's Will Power will be racing for Team Australia. A1 Team South Africa's Stephen Simpson may also be set to compete in Champ Car Atlantic.

A1 Team India's Armaan Ebrahim is keeping the A1GP theme going by signing to race in the British Formula Renault Championship with Position 1 Racing, with A1 Team Brazil reserve driver 'Tuka' Rocha as one of his two team-mates.

Of those on the verge of clinching drives, A1 Team New Zealand's frontrunner Matt Halliday is tipped to join Kerr and McIntosh in the World Series by Renault as a candidate for the second seat at Tech 1 Racing, while his compatriot Jonny Reid is in line to race in Formula Nippon for Inging Motorsport.

Timo Scheider's winter form for A1 Team Germany has helped him to clinch a return to the DTM (the German touring car series) after a year away, with a deal to race an Audi for Team Rosberg. Among his rivals will be A1 Team Austria's Mathias Lauda who will be racing the third car in the Persson Motorsport Mercedes team.

Christian Fittipaldi of A1 Team Brazil has a packed programme ahead of him both in the Brazilian Stock Car series and the Grand-Am sportscar series in which he has already shared a Cheever Racing Crawford with A1 Team Canada's Patrick Carpentier in the Daytona 24 Hours, coming up against the Chip Ganassi Racing team that numbers A1 Team Mexico's Luis Diaz among its drivers.

Two further A1GP drivers have signed up for a season of touring car racing in A1 Team Australia's Will Davison, who is set to campaign a Ford Falcon for Dick Jonhson Racing, and the driver who took over from him in A1GP, Marcus Marshall, entered to race against him in a Paul Cruickshank Racing Falcon.

A1 Team Netherlands reserve driver Jeroen Bleekemolen is taking the sportscar route, having agreed to partner compatriot Mike Hezemans in a works Spyker C8 Spyder in the Sebring 12 Hours and the Le Mans Series.

A1 Team Ireland's Ralph Firman will do his sportscar racing in the All-Japan Super GT series, for the works Honda team run by Super Aguri Racing, looking to avenge last season when he was pipped to the crown. A1 Team Czech Republic's Tomas Enge will again be at the wheel of Aston Martin Racing's DBR9 in the Daytona and Le Mans 24-hour races. A1GP

McLaren lands major sponsorship deal McLaren lands major sponsorship dealEmirates Airline has entered the high-profile Formula One circuit, signing on as Partner of Team McLaren Mercedes in the days leading up to the opening race of the 2006 World Championship in Bahrain.

The announcement was made today by HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed AlMaktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group, and Ron Dennis, Team McLaren Mercedes' Team Principal and Chairman and CEO of the McLaren Group, alongside the International Tourism Fair (ITB) in Berlin, Germany.

Starting from the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend, the distinctive "Fly Emirates" insignia - one of the most recognizable brand signages at top global sporting events - will prominently feature on the Team McLaren Mercedes MP4-21 Formula One cars at race events across Europe, Asia, Australasia, and North and South America.

In addition, it will also be on the uniform of drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya, and in the team's pit interior. zzzz

Sheikh Ahmed said: "Formula One and Team McLaren Mercedes are at the pinnacle of a sport where success is determined by having leading-edge technology, quick responses to strategy changes, ambition and teamwork - all of which resonate with Emirates' own practices to stay at the top of our industry."

He added: "Grand Prix racing attracts millions of followers around the globe, and we believe it will be an excellent vehicle to further Emirates' brand awareness. We are very pleased to partner with such a prestigious team as Team McLaren Mercedes, and wish them every success for the upcoming season."
"Today's announcement makes the start to the 2006 Formula One World Championship even more thrilling for Team McLaren Mercedes - said Ron Dennis - Emirates is globally recognized as a world-class airline and a leader in its field. We are proud that they recognize the mutual benefits of an association with Team McLaren Mercedes. The 2006 Formula One World Championship promises to be an exciting season and with support from a company like Emirates we are off to a good start. Everybody at Team McLaren Mercedes is looking forward to the opening race this weekend and a successful relationship with Emirates."

Emirates Airline is an established supporter of sport around the world, as it believes that sport provides a platform to reach out to its customers and share in their interests. The airline also reflects many of the values embodied by top sporting events and teams - an ambition to be the best in the field, international appeal, and an unwavering commitment to its fans and customers.

About Emirates: Dubai-based Emirates is amongst the fastest growing airlines in the world and has received more than 280 international awards for excellence since its launch in 1985. It serves over 80 cities around the globe with a young and technologically advanced fleet of aircraft that are equipped with industry-leading comforts in the air. Source McLaren Mercedes

Renault’s Bahrain tech file Renault’s Bahrain tech fileRenault head to the opening round of the 2006 championship in Bahrain in a confident frame of mind following a largely successful pre-season test program with the new R26. Like any circuit on the Grand Prix calendar, Sakhir has its unique demands on the chassis and powerplant.

Bahrain Tech File: Chassis

Braking: Sakhir is a major challenge for the cars' braking systems. Along with Montreal, this is the most demanding circuit of the year in terms of brake wear. The drivers slow from over 300 kph to first or second gear on three occasions. Furthermore, between turns 4 and 13, the corners follow each other in quick succession, which means the brakes never really have time to cool down. This can cause oxidization of the brakes, and leads us to use the largest brake ducts of the year at this circuit.

Handling: The car must be well balanced to minimize oversteer exiting the slow corners, and to provide good braking stability, in particular for turns 10 and 13 where the drivers must begin turning in to the corner while still braking. This makes it important to find the best set-up compromise between a stable balance in the quick corners, and supple suspension in the slower sections to generate sufficient mechanical grip. To achieve this, we use bump rubbers which the car ‘sits on' at high speed when the aero loadings are highest, and which it rises from in slower speed sections, allowing the suspension to function fully and generate mechanical grip.

Tires: Owing to the presence of sand on the track surface, the grip level of the circuit is always relatively low. This means the drivers must stick to the racing line as much as possible to keep the tires clean. The circuit is not particularly demanding for the tires in overall terms, but we pay close attention to the rear tires, which do a lot of work under acceleration out of the slow corners.

Bahrain Tech File: Engine

The Bahraini Grand Prix is a very demanding race for the engines. They spend 70% of the lap at full throttle, which puts the circuit among the top 5 of the year.

In the high temperatures, the engines experience ‘acoustic offset'. This means that as the temperature rises, the revs at which the engine develops its maximum power increase – by approx. 300 rpm for every 10°C. Previously, this was compensated in part by the use of variable intake trumpets. These are no longer allowed in 2006, which means the teams must forecast more accurately the ambient temperatures in order to fit the most appropriate length of trumpets. Variable trumpets previously allowed the teams to adapt to a wider range of temperatures, but fixed trumpets must be tuned more precisely to the prevailing conditions in order to generate maximum performance.

The primary risk for the engine remains the possible ingestion of sand, which would have be catastrophic for the pistons, piston rings or valves. The team therefore pays particular attention to air filters. Although certain materials may cost performance, they remain the most effective way of protecting the engine.

Temperatures are expected to be extremely high, which means that a successful car will be one which is able to provide sufficient cooling to the engine. Although the V8 is less demanding than the V10 in this area, the lower power also means that the percentage of the lap spent at full throttle has increased. As always, the optimum cooling level will provide the best possible compromise between cooling capacity and the cost of extra cooling in terms of aerodynamic performance. Source Renault

Hall of Fame appeal denied Hall of Fame appeal deniedTroy Aikman and Roger Staubach's #96 Hall of Fame Racing team will have to live with its Daytona penalty. The team's appeal was denied Tuesday by a three-person review panel of the National Stock Car Racing Commission at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, NC. HOF Racing's #96 DLP Chevy team was penalized 25 championship points and crew chief Philippe Lopez was fined $25,000 on Feb. 21 for using a carburetor that didn't meet regulations during qualifying for the Daytona 500. The team appealed the decision because the carburetor and engine came from Joe Gibbs Racing, which is supplying equipment to HOF. HOF officials didn't have a comment after the verdict was announced. The points penalty is costly for HOF because the team needs to stay in the top 35 in the standings to have a guaranteed spot in the field at each Nextel Cup race. Terry Labonte, who is driving the car for the first five races, ranks 31st after the first two events. But the team would rank 26th if not for the points deduction. Labonte has a guaranteed spot as a past Nextel Cup champion, but he's only driving the first five races. Tony Raines takes over in Martinsville on April 2. Aikman and Staubach did not attend the appeal hearing. J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, went to the hearing with Bill Saunders, the managing general partner of HOF, and Lopez. Dallas Morning News
Racing News
Denso outlines 2006 motorsports plans Denso outlines 2006 motorsports plansDenso Corporation has unveiled its ongoing motorsports sponsorship for the 2006 season. The automobile parts manufacturer will continue to sponsor teams in Formula One and the World Rally Championship.

In addition to acting as a corporate sponsor for the third consecutive season, Denso will continue to support Panasonic Toyota Racing through the supply of spark plugs, radiators, oil-coolers and alternators to the F1 car.

The logo will appear on the engine cover, driver helmet, uniform, and upper-side of the entry duct of the side pontoon. Beginning this season, the logo will also appear around the neckwear of uniforms.

It will also continue to support the Subaru World Rally Team as a corporate sponsor, again for the third consecutive season, as well as supplying parts.

Denso's motorsport sponsorship began in the early 1970s and extends to teams and riders in two-wheel motor sports, in addition to four-wheel sports.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Kimi expects Bahrain struggle
New qualifying 'complicated' - Trulli
DC eyes 2007 Red Bull seat
'Mumm' sticks with F1
Bridgestone still lagging - Lauda
Schu tipped to reclaim title
Schu to become movie star
Alonso not moving for money - Haug
Ralf slams Kimi
Sato can feel Aguri car 'flex'
F1 doesn't cost too much - Fry
DC says V8s make F1 'F3-ish'
Swift delivers 40 cars today, 41st car ordered Swift delivers 40 cars today, 41st car orderedSAN CLEMENTE, CA – As Swift Engineering completes the first 40 chassis of its new 016.a race car to be delivered next week to Atlantic teams preparing for the 2006 Yokohama presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda, it has just received its 41st order, making it the 500th chassis to be built by the pioneering design and manufacturing entity.

Swift Engineering began designing race cars in 1983 under founder David Bruns.  Since that time, the company has completed 16 different chassis for Formula Ford classes, Champ Car and Atlantic series.

“With our delivery tomorrow, March 8th,of 40 new Atlantic chassis, we will reach 499 race cars,” said Chuck Sprague, President and CEO of Swift Engineering.  “This 41st order for our new 016.a chassis brings us to another milestone, our 500th car, which is a tremendously important accomplishment.”

The 016.a went from a blank sheet of paper to finished chassis in just 204 days when it was unveiled at the 2006 Champ Car launch party February 14th at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.  Just 22 days later, the largest delivery of race car chassis at one time in U.S. motorsports history will take place at Swift’s San Clemente headquarters.

Swift will continue to build 016.a chassis throughout the 2006 race season for the original fee of $79,500, and is committed to the design and servicing its customers for a three-year period. zzzz

“The very affordable price for our chassis and transmission package is another critical achievement,” added Kristen Helsel, Director of Sales, Marketing and Corporate Communications for Swift.  “This car is priced significantly less than its predecessor, an example of our company’s Lean Manufacturing techniques and Swift Thinking.”

“During the entire life of the 014.a, we built 41 cars, and we’ve already hit that number before we’ve delivered the first 016.a chassis,” noted Sprague.  “The orders coming in today are a testament to the new-found strength and interest the Champ Car Atlantic has generated this year.  We’re very honored to be a part of this program.”

Various state and local dignitaries have been invited to attend the March 8th event at Swift Engineering’s headquarters, as well as Atlantic team owners, Mazda and Yokohama employees, Champ Car staff, national and local media and other racing industry personnel.   Swift

Ethanol team has fruitful test at Homestead Ethanol team has fruitful test at HomesteadHOMESTEAD, Fla. --  The Rahal Letterman Racing crew walked away from three days of on-track testing Sunday with smiles on their faces.

The three-driver team, including rookie Paul Dana in the No. 17 Team Ethanol Honda Panoz Firestone machine in his first full test in 2006, completed successful runs on the Homestead Miami Speedway road circuit as well as the popular 1.5-mile oval track that will host the IRL IndyCar® Series season opener on March 26.

Working with RLR drivers Buddy Rice and Danica Patrick on setups, Dana also established a good relationship with his new engineer Al Bodey and three-time IndyCar mechanic of the year Jim Prescott, his crew chief, as the first two days of testing were on the 2.21-mile road course inside the oval track.  Dana, returning from a back injury in 2005, made his first road racing runs ever in an Indy car and his first open-wheel road competition since 2001.

The opening day was a strong learning curve for Dana as the Indianapolis driver gained more knowledge of the "left-foot braking" technique, the six-speed shifting rhythm and the g-force load on his body in 80-plus degree weather.  By the second day on the road course, Dana and his crew were more comfortable with the car and Paul set a good pace with a clocking of 1 minute, 13.001 seconds for a speed of 108.984 miles per hour.  zzzz

"I have to admit that I had a little rust to work off in the opening day on the road circuit," said Dana about his first runs making left and right turns.  "But we were able to learn a lot about the car and working with Buddy on certain chassis setups.  He has a lot more experience in these cars on the road circuits and it is great to have someone like Buddy giving me advice.  On the second day, everything just seemed much more in order and it was easier to pick up the pace.  I held up better physically than I expected, so I owe a big thanks to my trainer Jim Leo at PitFit.  The biggest surprise for me was how well the cars stop.  I have a bit to learn about getting the most out of the brakes."

A busy day (Saturday) of media interviews, press conferences and photo opportunities kept Dana on his toes with his new team.  In the meantime, the Rahal Letterman team worked on converting their Indy cars from road to oval engine and chassis setups.

The highlight of the "Media Day" was an IRL-Team Ethanol conference with Dana, Tom Slunecka of Ethanol Promotion and Information Council and IRL officials John Lewis and Jeff Horton.  Local, national and international media attended the press conference including five major newspapers from the state of Florida.  The media was definitely interested in the IndyCar Series' switch to ethanol fuel (10 percent in 2006 and 100 percent in 2007).

The final day of IndyCar Series testing returned to the cars to the 1.5-mile oval and it didn't take long from the drivers to get up to lightning speed.  The veteran of Rahal Letterman Racing, Rice, the 2004 Indy 500 champion, jumped to the top of the speed charts early in the day and assisted his less-experienced teammates Patrick, 2005 IRL and Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, and Dana.

"We use Buddy's knowledge and experience to work on new components on the car as well as helping Danica and Paul," said Steve Dickson, Rahal Letterman Racing's team manager.  "He is giving Paul a few tips that a rookie driver needs entering the racing season.  Paul looks to be more comfortable with every practice session.  Paul knows he is learning too and he is like a sponge with drivers like Buddy. He really picks up things quickly.  We have given Paul a solid team but he is new to the team and everyone is learning each other right now.  But overall Paul is doing a good job in testing of the Ethanol car."

Dana put in 192 laps on Sunday in oval testing and posted a best of 212.600 miles per hour.

"The conditions were much different than when we tested for a day a few weeks ago," said Dana. "Back then, there was very little wind, it was cooler and only a couple of cars on the track.  This time, the wind was stronger and the heat was up in the 80s.  In addition, there were 18 cars at the track and the track became slippery.  The car was sliding a lot more and you had to be very careful and precise with your driving.  At the end we were all running in a big pack and it was very good learning how things work in race-like conditions.  It is a pleasure to be a part of a world-class team like Rahal Letterman.  This team works so well together and everything is mapped out properly."

With 192 laps on the oval and 187 circuits on the road course (379), Dana was one of the busiest drivers in the three-day testing session.

Dana, Rice and Patrick will be back at the Homestead Miami Speedway on March 24-26 for the 2006 IRL IndyCar Series opener on the oval.  The following week, the trail moves to the streets of St. Petersburg for the Honda Grand Prix on the road course.

The Ethanol title sponsorship was created through the cooperation of a group of companies within the fast-growing ethanol industry, led by the major ethanol design-build firms Fagen Inc., ICM Inc. and Broin Companies. More than 30 companies from within the industry contribute to the program. A complete list of associate sponsors under the Ethanol banner will be announced shortly. Rahal Letterman Racing

Gunnar van der Steur awaits Radical SR9 Gunnar van der Steur awaits Radical SR9BRASELTON, Ga – Gunnar van der Steur can hardly contain his optimism for the 2006 season. It’s only natural given the news of van der Steur Racing’s newest purchase, a Radical SR9 that will compete in the American Le Mans Series’ LMP2 class later this year.

Van der Steur, who started the team with brother Erik in 2002 and debuted in the Series in 2004, recently announced the switch from a Lola B2K/40 to the Radical P2 chassis. Gunnar says the new car will be mated with the familiar AER turbo and will make its American Le Mans Series debut at Petit Le Mans followed by the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Until then, the team will continue to campaign the Lola in select Series events.

“In looking at everything, Radical presented us with the best offer and best package,” he said. “The final decision came two or three weeks ago. I saw everything I needed to see and knew then that’s what we wanted to go with. The tub itself and the crash test data were very impressive. It had every safety margin there and more. That’s what sealed it.”

The team will take delivery during the summer and will test the car at West Virginia’s Summit Point Raceway in between the Road America and Mosport rounds of the Series. The Radical will run on Dunlop rubber with the van der Steurs and Ben Devlin returning as the team’s driving tandem.

“Hopefully this will take us to the next level and get us up with the pack a little and improve my driving ability,” Gunnar said. “By the time this comes along, it will be a big jump. zzzz

“(The AER engine) was a no-brainer,” he added. “We have good experience with the engine. We’ve never had an engine problem. We ran a full season with just one issue, which was our issue. They’ve done a lot for us in return. They’re very quick engines, too.”

The van der Steur chassis will be the first Radical SR9 to compete in North America. It is the fourth such car constructed by the UK company and will benefit from testing and development of earlier cars that will compete in Europe.

“Ultimately, the first two will have been shaken down and some of the bugs will be worked out in ours,” van der Steur said. “That’s what we are expecting.” ALMS

Q and A with Robert Clarke and Buddy Lazier Q and A with Robert Clarke and Buddy LazierRobert Clarke, president of Honda Performance Development, and Buddy Lazier, driver of the No. 5 Dallara/Honda/Firestone entry for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing were guests on today's Indy Racing League teleconference.

Mr. Clarke discussed the frenetic pace at which HPD worked the past several months to be ready for the pre-season tests at Phoenix and Homestead as well as their ongoing engine development program.

Mr. Lazier discussed his recent deal to drive for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, as well as last weekend's test. Transcript

What Open Wheel drivers can learn from NASCAR What Open Wheel drivers can learn from NASCARUPDATE Another reader responds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, In NASCAR the Busch drivers get paid big money, in Atlantics the drivers have to bring money. Big difference. Jack Hammer, Orlando FL.

Dear Jack, The Atlantic Champion wins a cool $2 million toward a Champ Car ride the next year. It could be a drivers ticket back up into Champ Car if he wins the championship. Mark C.

03/07/06 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Why don’t drivers — like Ryan Hunter-Reay for example — who don’t get the Champ Car or Indy Car ride they want, run in the Indy Pro Series or the Atlantic Series to keep eyes on them? I see it happening in NASCAR all the time. Somebody will “wait it out” in the lower ranks of the sport, do well, then get approached about a better ride at the top. Seems to be a no-brainer to me. Beats sitting on your ass, plus they would still get valuable seat time.

By the way, what do you think Danica Patrick driving a silver, pink and white Victoria’s Secret Honda/Panoz/Firestone INDY entry. I think that would bring a new “fan” base in for sure. Paul, Des Moines, IL

Dear Paul, That is a very good question as it would also bolster the support series and give the new drivers something with which to measure themselves against.  We suspect it all comes down to money because most drivers in the support series bring money to the table.  As for Danica in a pink car - heck if Emerson Fittipaldi could drive a pink Indy Car, why not Danica? Mark C.

IPS champion lands Silver Crown ride IPS champion lands Silver Crown rideFormer Indy Racing League Indy Pro Series champion Thiago Medeiros has signed an agreement to contest the remaining USAC Silver Crown Series presented by K&N Engineering pavement races for PDM Racing, it was announced yesterday.

The 2004 IPS champion took nearly 20 laps in one of the new generation Silver Crown Series cars Feb. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida – the site of the next event on the series’ calendar – in preparation for the 100-miler on March 25.

“This is an exciting opportunity for me, and I can’t wait to get started at Homestead,” said Medeiros, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Cytomax signs on with karting series Cytomax signs on with karting seriesUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I see one of your news items is Cytomax, a long time Rocketsports TransAm and sometime Champ Car Rocketsports Sponsor, has signed on with the Stars of Tomorrow and pays tribute to the IRL in their announcement.......Is this another indication Rocketsports is finished as a Champ Car team? Jack Hammer, Orlando, FL

Dear Jack, Not sure what it means but word in the Grand-Am paddock is that Paul Gentilozzi might move his team there fulltime.  Last we heard he is still trying to land Montagny and the Brazilians Bernoldi and Pizzonia.  It's the 11th hour however and the clock is ticking toward the green flag in Long Beach. Mark C.

03/07/06 Cytomax has signed on to become the Official and Exclusive Energy and Sports Drink of the Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by the Indy Racing League.   In addition to the overall series sponsorship, the company will also become sponsor the elite ICC (shifter) class to be known as the Cytomax ICC class.   Cytomax first tested out the waters in the karting world last season by sponsoring talented and likable Snap-on Stars racer Conor Daly.   From there the company has decided to increase its presence in the sport,  “We at Cytosport have experienced exceptional growth due to our willingness & understanding of seeing the every day benefits of being involved in nearly every form of 2 and 4 wheel racing, as well as almost every other lifestyle sport that matters. It's in our blood here. We at Cytomax are pumped to be involved with a series that is truly making a difference to all involved," said Cytosport’s Director of Marketing Iron Montgomery.
Racing News
Hulman-George family receive military award Hulman-George family receive military awardThe Hulman-George family received The Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Outstanding Public Service in recognition of its programs to honor the Armed Forces for the last 60 years at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Allison Barber presented the award March 7 on behalf of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld during a celebration of the upcoming 90th Indianapolis 500 with the Smithsonian Associates at the U.S. Navy Memorial & Naval Heritage Center in Washington.

"Our family is honored to accept this award on behalf of everyone at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Tony George, IMS president and chief executive officer. "The Speedway and the Armed Forces have enjoyed a very special relationship since the facility opened in 1909, and we take every opportunity we can to thank America's military for its sacrifice, service and dedication."

The numerous programs to honor the military at the Speedway include: zzzz

  • An annual Armed Forces Day during the Indianapolis 500. All active military members in uniform or with identification are admitted free to the track on Armed Forces Day.
  • A military induction ceremony at the track, traditionally led by U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), on Armed Forces Day.
  • .Free admission year-round to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum to active military members in uniform or with identification.
  • Participation in the Department of Defense's America Supports You campaign, which started in 2005 and showcases and communicates America's support for its men and women in the United States Armed Forces and their families. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was one of the first companies to join the campaign.
  • The largest gathering of Congressional Medal of Honor winners in history, at the 1999 Indianapolis 500. The Medal of Honor winners were featured in the 500 Festival Parade and the pre-race ceremonies for the Indianapolis 500.
  • The playing of "Taps" and a military fly-over long have been a vital part of pre-race ceremonies for the Indianapolis 500, which has taken place on Memorial Day weekend since the inaugural event in 1911.

Terre Haute, Ind., businessman Tony Hulman purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1945 and led the track to great success and worldwide renown until his death in 1977. His daughter, Mari Hulman George, is chairman of the board, and his grandson, Tony George, is president and CEO.

The 90th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 28. Indy Speedway

"Motorcoach driver is not shaving until Edwards wins again" "Motorcoach driver is not shaving until Edwards wins again"CONCORD, NC  - The last time a razor touched the face of Tom Giacchi was a few days before the Texas race in November of 2005.  Giacchi, who is the motorcoach driver for NASCAR driver Carl Edwards made a pact with himself and Edwards that he wouldn't shave again until Edwards pulled his Ford Fusion back into Victory Lane.  It has been over four months since Tom has last shaved and needless to say, he is ready to trim it off.

What started as a joke between two friends has turned into a great story for everyone.  Giacchi told Edwards after his win in Texas that he wouldn't shave his beard until the end of the season.  However, during the off season, Giacchi took it a step further and told Edwards he wouldn't shave until Edwards won again in 2006.

Giacchi has been driving for Edwards since the beginning of the 2005 season.  Since then, he has driven over 40,000 miles on the NASCAR circuit.  On race days you won't find Giacchi relaxing in the motorcoach, he has positioned himself as a regular crew member on both the Busch and Cup teams.  zzzz

It is ironic that Edwards was recently inducted into the Gillette "Young Guns" program.  Edwards helps promote the Gillette Fusion, while Giacchi can't wait to use one again.

Giacchi said the beard makes him look older, but the time has come, he is ready to see it go.  "It's really funny to have this beard, you know, I have never really had one before in my life.  My beard now has gotten really, really long, to the point that it tickles my ears.  I made a promise to Carl that I would shave everything off right there in Victory Lane."

Edwards thinks it is great that Giacchi was able to contribute to the team saying, "Tom took it upon himself to dedicate his head and facial hair to the cause and hopefully he will be clean-shaven soon.  His facial hair is a direct reflection of the frustration of our team.  If he has a lot, it has not been a good year.  And if he is trimmed up, spic and span, that means we are doing good."

Giacchi hopes Edwards will land himself back in Victory Lane soon so he can "trim up" for the 2006 season.  Look for Giacchi this weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway as Edwards competes in both the Sam's Town 300 and the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.

Joest Racing to focus 100% on Audi R10 Joest Racing to focus 100% on Audi R10"Back to the roots” – this is the Joest Racing motto for the 2006 motorsport season.

Based in Wald-Michelbach in the Odenwald region the team, the most successful Le Mans team ever with seven victories, will concentrate solely on the AUDI AG sportscar program with the new Audi R10 this year. Reinhold Joest’s team returns to its roots: To sportscars.
"It’s no secret that my heart lies in sportscars,” explains Team Director Reinhold Joest. "We are proud to be able to continue our successful partnership with Audi in such an ambitious project as the Audi R10. This sportscar will make a lot of headline news.”
The Audi R10, which was unveiled to the public in Paris in December and will make its race debut on 18 March in Sebring (Florida), is powered by a completely newly developed V12 TDI engine producing almost 650 hp. Audi is the world’s first automobile manufacturer to attempt to win the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans with a diesel engine. zzzz
"The R10 project is the greatest challenge ever to have been handed to Audi Sport,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Wolfgang Ullrich. "The goal to be the first automobile manufacturer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a diesel engine is very ambitious. Our test and development program is so intensive that it precludes a parallel program in the DTM.”
For this reason Joest Racing will no longer compete as Audi works team in the DTM. "It goes without saying that we would have liked to have seen the fruits of our two years of labor in the DTM and brought home more success,” says Ralf Jüttner, Joest Team Technical Director. "In 2005 we were the best team with a year-old car and in 2006 would have certainly improved further still. A parallel program with the Audi R10 and in the DTM would have consumed a great deal of resources. That’s why we came to the conclusion with Audi Sport that it is better to concentrate solely on the R10 this year.”
Before the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 17/18 June almost every day is planned: Dynamometer tests, tests, endurance runs and the first test race at the 12-hour race in Sebring on 18 March – Reinhold Joest’s team will hardly have any time off before Le Mans.
There will however be no comeback after the Le Mans in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), in which Joest last competed in 2003. The R10 race program in America will be assumed by an American team because the logistical expense to commute permanently between Germany and the USA would be too high.
Nevertheless the 2006 Joest Racing motorsport program should not be limited to just tests and the two endurance classic in Sebring and Le Mans. "We would really like to compete with the new Audi R10 in the Le Mans Series (LMS) in Europe,” says Reinhold Joest. "We hope that this project comes to fruition because the European fans will have the opportunity to see the Audi R10 a little more often."
The Le Mans Series revives the classic 1000-kilometre races, including the 1000-kilometre race at the Nürburgring on 16 July which Reinhold Joest has already won several times both as driver and Team Boss – for the last time in the 1980 season.
Which drivers will sit at the wheel of the Joest R10 in the LMS is still open. In Le Mans there are six drivers who have all celebrated huge success together with Joest: Frank Biela (D), Dindo Capello (D), Tom Kristensen (DK), Allan McNish (GB), Emanuele Pirro (I) and Marco Werner (D). Joest-Racing

Industry News
ISC puts Nazareth back on the blocks ISC puts Nazareth back on the blocksUPDATE #2 Ashley Development Corp. and Wind-Drift Real Estate of Bethlehem, along with MediaBay founder and real estate developer Norton Herrick of New Jersey, formed NZSW LLC, the company that surfaced two weeks ago.  It has offered $18.8 million for the 158-acre Nazareth, PA track. According, to the agreement of sale prohibits it from being used as a track.

09/07/05 Local developer Abraham Atiyeh is taking his $174 million Monolithic Dome arena project away from Nazareth Speedway after an impasse over housing density developed with the township board of supervisors.

"I mean that's Wyoming," Atiyeh said after township supervisors asked him to reduce 421 housing units to 50 on Aug. 24. "That's not a reasonable request. It's not going to work for me."

Atiyeh appeared before the board's public session with a plan that called for 293 townhouses and 128 condominiums to be built to the north and west of the .945-mile paved oval. Supervisor Chairman Alan Dilsaver and Supervisor Patrick Murphy asked Atiyeh if he could reduce the density to one unit per 1.5 acres. The supervisors cited concerns over flooding on that part of the 157-acre lot and additional traffic volume on bordering state routes 191 and 248. Such a reduction, Atiyeh said, would not make the project economical. NSSN

07/28/05 ISC has put Nazareth Speedway back up for sale after the deal with a Bethlehem developer fell through. Developer Abraham Atiyeh withdrew from the preliminary $19 million sales contract because of questions raised by Lower Nazareth Township for his proposed $200 million retail, housing and entertainment complex with a Hockey Arena as its centerpiece.

What we want to know is why Roger Penske doesn't buy it. After all, he felt CART was wrong to drop their race their years ago because it was a money loser. The IRL and NASCAR failed there as well, yet he called it "a kick in the teeth and something he would not forget" at a press conference held at the Speedway after CART announced it would not be back. Maybe Roger can buy it back and make another go of it as a race track.
Intersport Racing team renews with sponsor Intersport Racing team renews with sponsorIntersport Racing and Very Berry Exotics have agreed to extend their partnership of the team's activity in the American Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the 2006 season. The Denver-based company will be the primary sponsor of Intersport's Lola B05/40-AER for the full season.

"We are thrilled that Very Berry Exotics will continue to partner with us in our efforts in the American Le Mans Series and at Le Mans," said Clint Field, owner of Intersport Racing. "We had tremendous success together last year and expect that to continue for the coming season."

Very Berry Exotics specializes in the sale and collection of high-performance, exotic sports cars. Company owner Richard Berry founded Very Berry Exotics in 2004 and is himself an amateur racer.
Fighting Grand-Am drivers kiss and make up Fighting Grand-Am drivers kiss and make upDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 7, 2006) –Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve drivers Chris Bingham and JC France have issued public apologies following their altercation during the Mexico City 250 on Saturday, March 4.

The altercation stemmed from a crash involving Bingham’s No. 40 Derhaag Motorsports Pontiac Riley and France’s No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar in Turn 8 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Both drivers have been suspended from Round 3 of the 2006 Rolex Series schedule, the Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 23-25. The drivers were also placed on open-ended probation, with additional sanctions possible. The drivers’ comments follow below:

“I want to express my apologies and regrets to the Grand American Road Racing Association, JC, and all the great fans for actions taken after a collision during the recent Mexico City race. It is unfortunate that these actions have deferred any attention away from what was a successful Grand-Am weekend, and a well-rewarded win for the No. 01 TELMEX car.

“My actions were precipitated in the heat of the moment after a significant collision. Regardless of circumstances, there is no scenario in which two drivers should come to an altercation. I fully accept the one-race suspension for the Homestead race as a result of my actions, and believe this to be a fair and just punishment given the severity of the actions that took place. I do not believe either of us was in the right and that we both reacted in an unprofessional manner.  zzzz

“Having raced professionally for over 10 years, many of those years with this organization, I have been involved in other accidents before. Never once have I reacted in such fashion and my past actions will show this as an isolated incident. I understand the need to place me under an extended probation, but can assure you I will give no cause for concern and no doubt as to my professional integrity and racing spirit.

“I once again do not condone what happened after the incident and apologize again for my actions.”

“I would like to take the opportunity to formally apologize to Grand-Am, the fans, my sponsors, Chris, and especially the fire safety crew. The little dust up by Chris and I was an unfortunate result of passionate people in exciting circumstances.

“The clips of the incident and crash, like any one-dimensional representation, could be interpreted in many ways. However, I was absolutely in front and on the race line. With that said, racing is racing and sometimes judgment goes right out the window. The desire to move forward in race conditions is powerful and I can understand anyone trying to stick their nose in anywhere there is a slight chance of fitting. Chris is a fine man and I look forward to racing him again at Long Beach. My hope is that we can leave it as a racing incident and go forward.” Grand-Am

Swift spy photos Swift spy photosAutoRacing1.com spies snapped off these secret photos from inside the Swift factory in southern California as they mass produce the 40 new Champ Car Atlantic cars that will be delivered Wednesday.  Looks like the teams still have a lot of assembling to do once they get them.


Racing News
Toyota outlines 2006 motorsports effort Toyota outlines 2006 motorsports effortTokyo, Japan - (JCN Newswire) - TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announced today the outline of its motorsports activities for 2006, which positions FIA Formula One World Championship (F1), NASCAR, Super GT and Formula Nippon as the main pillars of its motorsports competition, while including measures to further support the foundations of motorsports.

As detailed in the outline (available in full below), for its fifth year of F1 competition, Toyota rolls out the TF106 race car, developed in response to changes in vehicle regulations, such as those concerning engine displacement. Continuing from last year, drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli are aiming for Toyota's first F1 victory.

In NASCAR, Toyota is continuing its support for the teams driving its U.S.-market Toyota Tundra pickup truck, which debuted in the Craftsman Truck Series in 2004 and garnered nine victories in 2005. Toyota has also decided to begin competing in the Nextel Cup Series and Busch Series in 2007 with the Toyota Camry.

Along with continuing to support teams participating in Super GT, Toyota will begin supplying engines to Formula Nippon, a premier formula racing series in Japan.

To further support the foundations of motorsports, Toyota will continue to promote its Toyota Young Drivers Program (TDP), which cultivates young race drivers who hope to perform on the world stage by entering them in the GP2 series and F3 Euro series, which are geared as stepping-stones to F1. Toyota will also continue sponsoring one-make races in Japan, including the ESSO Formula Toyota Series, which is an entry-level formula category, and the Netz Cup races (Vitz Street-legal Series and Altezza Series). zzzz

The Motor Sports Division of the Higashifuji Technical Center is currently in charge of Toyota's overall motorsports activities, while Toyota Technocraft Co., Ltd./TRD in Japan, TRD, U.S.A. Inc. (TRD-USA) in the U.S. and Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Europe serve as local hubs for regional activities.


The Panasonic Toyota Racing team, competing in 2006 for its fifth consecutive year as a full-constructor team, is aiming to capture its first victory and to continue winning points. - The team will compete using a new racecar, the TF106, which is equipped with a newly developed RVX-06 2.4-liter V8 engine to comply with this year's engine regulation changes. It also features an updated chassis and suspension that have been developed to accommodate the new engine and a switch to Bridgestone tires. Improved aerodynamics are also incorporated. - The drivers will remain the same as last year, with Ralf Schumacher (Germany) and Jarno Trulli (Italy) behind the wheel, and with Ricardo Zonta (Brazil) as the third driver and Olivier Panis (France) as the test driver. - Toyota will also supply the new RVX-06 engine to Midland F1 (MF1) Racing. 

Castroneves on Cold Pizza Castroneves on Cold PizzaHelio Castroneves will be featured on ESPN’s “Cold Pizza” this Thursday, March 9th where he will be talking about the upcoming 2006 IndyCar Series season.
CDW a perfect fit for RuSPORT and Champ Car CDW a perfect fit for RuSPORT and Champ CarCDW President John Edwardson said today "What really hooked us on a fulltime sponsorship with Justin Wilson was the significant increase in sales we had in Toronto immediately following his win last year in Toronto. We realized then that there was a direct connection between the market exposure from sponsorship of the RuSPORT Champ Car and sales."

Q.  You obviously put your toe in the water last year and then made this decision to really go after it.  Can you tell us, you talked about the perfect fit and utilization of your other brands and components, but can you tell us what the key events or reasons were for you to really make this decision and push forward with this thing?
JOHN EDWARDSON:  Clearly what happened in the Toronto market was significant.  It was the first event in which we participated.  Justin happened to be the winner that day.  But the next week, we had a significant increase in the revenues of our Canadian subsidiary as a result of the publicity and reaction, the increased number of phone calls into the company.  So that was exactly what we were looking for.  What we want to do is more business. We do believe that the customers of our company and the coworkers at our company will have a great deal of interest in racing.  It has been one of the things that has been brought up to me numerous times by our co workers, and they believe that their customers will be very interested in attending the races.

Most of the money from this sponsorship will come from CDW USA, but some will come from CDW Canada. CDW will be very visible at the track both in the USA and Canadian races.

There is a technology element to this deal in addition to the monetary aspects. Team owner Carl Russo said that having a technical partner onboard like CDW, and the other technical partners they bring to the table, will help the team crunch through data and come up to speed on the handling of the new 2007 Champ Car faster than most teams.

Q.  This being a multiple year deal as I understand it, with a new car coming on board next year and everybody having to learn new setups and all that, will the technology partnership of this deal help your team?
CARL RUSSO:  I think there's a couple of things that help the team.  Earlier we spoke about the culture of the team and trying to build a learning organization.  I think that sets the tone for any time you get a new chassis like that; it's really about your learning rate.  But I think you bring up a very astute question, because frankly, we're going to be ripping through a ton of information trying to sort that out.  And so there's no question that CDW's expertise is going to help us there.  And John, maybe you want to amplify on that.
JOHN EDWARDSON:  Sure.  One of the things that we do for companies all over America is help them make determinations about what type of equipment they need, how much of it they need, based on what it's going to be used for.  So we will have CDW computer field engineers be active, they have already been active, they will get more active, and will clearly have the best technology in the world available.  We sell billions of it every year in the U.S. and in Canada, and so we have a big inventory to draw from.  When RuSPORT needs something, it will be there the next day.  Full Transcript

Another driver/team announced for Atlantics Another driver/team announced for AtlanticsINDIANAPOLIS – This Valentine’s Day brought about a unique opportunity for 2005 Atlantic series C2 class champion Justin Sofio. Not only did the 26-year-old native of Arleta, California get a chance to attend the unveiling of the new 2006 Atlantic car in Los Angeles on February 14. He also got the opportunity to sit in the new Mazda-Cosworth/Swift 016.a/Yokohama machine that evening, touching off a string of events that eventually led to today’s announcement that Sofio will return to compete with a full-season effort in the 2006 Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

“I basically went to the unveiling as a way to kind of say goodbye to my dream of racing with the big boys in Atlantics,” said Sofio who attended the much-anticipated debut of the new-generation Atlantic car at the Petersen Automotive Museum with his team owner from last season, Ray Mathiasen. “After the unveiling I got a chance to sit in the car and check it out Ray and I began talking. We found out that there was a car available to purchase and we basically just decided to go for it. I really have to thank Ray. He’s just as passionate about owning a race car team as I am about driving. He’s been a blessing and there’s no way I could do this without him.”

With support from Mathiasen, Sofio will graduate to the full championship class this season as he plans to contest all 12 Atlantic races, piloting the #26 Mathiasen Motorsports/RLM Investments car. zzzz

The move into a full-time entry in North America’s top open-wheel development category highlights a racing Cinderella story for Sofio. A former series mechanic who joined Binder Racing in 1997, Sofio always had dreams of converting his go-kart racing success into a career in race cars. He earned his first break in 2004 when he went from the garage to the racetrack, making his first Atlantic start for Binder Racing at Long Beach. Taking the green flag in front of his hometown crowd on his 25th birthday, Sofio made the most of his opportunity winning in the C2 class for pre-existing Atlantic equipment. He recaptured the magic at Long Beach last season, once again winning in C2 and Mathiasen Motorsports agreed to run the determined racer for the remainder of the season. Sofio went on to claim seven C2 victories in nine starts in 2005, clinching the class championship in his first extended season of racing.

With the overwhelming interest in the new breed of Atlantic car, featuring a Swift 016.a chassis powered by a 300-horsepower Mazda-Cosworth engine, the Atlantic championship will no longer feature a C2 category this season. But C2 will be well represented with its defending champion battling wheel-to-wheel with the other top up-and-coming stars of racing this season in the talent-rich Atlantic field.

Sofio will continue to do the bulk of the engineering duties on his car, much as he did last season. He’s also enlisting the help of former Atlantic racer and 2004 C2 champ Cam Binder, who will serve as team manager at Mathiasen Motorsports. The team will take delivery of its new car this week and will be prepped and ready to go with the rest of the Atlantic teams at the first test session with the 2006 vehicles, March 21-22 at the California Speedway road course. The Champ Car Atlantic Championship season officially gets underway April 7-9 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

"Last year was the first year that I have participated in any form of motor racing as a team owner and to have won the C2 Atlantic Championship was a dream come true," said owner Ray Mathiasen. "It's exciting to once again have Justin as our driver and Cam as team manager and together they bring the skills and passion for racing to enable us to compete and win in what will be a very challenging series in 2006. We're really looking forward to the first race of the season at our home track in Long Beach. It should be an incredible weekend and we can hardly wait for the season to start." Champ Car

Grand-Am driver killed in car accident Grand-Am driver killed in car accidentThe life of Grand American driver Josh Rehm was tragically cut short on Sunday, March 5, in a highway accident in Ridgeway, Wis. Rehm, 27, was a pioneer in Rolex Series Daytona Prototype competition, co-driving with Oswaldo Negri Jr., Darius Grala and Guy Cosmo in the 2003 Rolex 24 At Daytona--the first event to feature the Daytona Prototypes.

Most recently, Rehm competed in the 2006 Grand-Am Cup 200 at Daytona International Speedway for Rehagen Racing, sharing the No. 58 Mustang Cobra SVT with Joe Masessa. Rehm was also a two-time Formula Dodge champion, and an instructor at the Skip Barber Racing School.

The wake will be held on Friday from 4:00pm until 7:00pm at:

Bartlett-Garrity Funeral Home
338 Court Street
Plymouth, MA 02360
Tel: (508) 746-3456

The services will be held on Saturday at 10:00am at:

The Church of the Pilgrimage
8 Town Square
Plymouth, MA 02360
Tel: (508) 746-3026

The Grand American Road Racing community extends its condolences to Josh's family and friends during this difficult time. Grand-Am

French team withdraws from Sebring race French team withdraws from Sebring raceFrench team Welter Racing has withdrawn their LMP2 entry for the 12 Hours of Sebring. IMSA sources say that the team had problems clearing customs when the car was to be shipped.
Italian woman eyes American scene Italian woman eyes American sceneA few days ago Picchio finalized an agreement with Marika Diana, last year's Challenge Formula Ford winner. The eighteen year old girl from Colleferro (Rome) will be Picchio's official driver per signed a signed agreement.

The choice of Picchio management, who are currently evaluating various names within the "Professional Drivers" project, was made to invest in a young driver who is already a winner, with a strong character and highly developed skills. The collaboration program will provide the participation to the Italian Prototypes Championship in the 2006 season, to an Italian Six Hours race and, hopefully, a début in an endurance race in the United States.

She will perform all the preparation and development of Picchio cars, with the goal to take part, in the future, in Grand-American competition.

Grand-Am launches online merchandising Grand-Am launches online merchandisingAfter seeing great success with the introduction of officially-licensed Grand American merchandise at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in late January, the Grand American Road Racing Association has announced the unveiling of its new online merchandise store, with more than 20 items available for purchase now at www.grandamerican.com.

“As we learned during the Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend, there is a tremendous market for our new line of Grand American merchandise,” said Grand American President Roger Edmondson. “The same merchandise that will be available at virtually every Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup event this season can also be found in our new online store as a convenience to our fans. The new merchandise line is an important step in the growth of Grand American, and we expect both the online store and our at-track locations to become even busier as time goes on.”

While on-site sales will continue at each 2006 event, the online store will provide fans with limitless opportunities to show their support of both the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve and the Grand-Am Cup Series 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In addition to series merchandise, the online store also provides an opportunity for Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup teams to sell their products.

The online store is fully stocked with a variety of hats, t-shirts, yearbooks and DVDs among other items. Depending on the feedback received by fans, new products will be added periodically throughout the next few months, to give North American road racing’s best fans many items to choose from.

Teams interested in selling their products through the Grand American online store should contact Grand American at (386) 947-6681 or via e-mail to merchandise@grandamerican.com.

track news
Johnstone Takes the Wheel of the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto Johnstone Takes the Wheel of the Molson Grand Prix of TorontoToronto – Champ Car announces today that Charlie Johnstone has been named President & CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Toronto, promoter of the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto July 7, 8, 9 at Exhibition Place.

“This year marks an exciting new chapter in Champ Car’s long history with Toronto and it is important that we have strong leadership in place to help shape the event’s future,” says Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven. “We have every confidence that Charlie is the right man for the job and we look forward to many years of great events in Toronto under his guidance.”

Johnstone’s history with the Toronto entry in the Champ Car World Series is long, having been involved in 18 of the 20 events in some capacity.

“As a summer student I was hired by Molson to travel Ontario promoting the first Molson Indy,” states Johnstone. “That experience fueled my passion for both world-class motorsports and major event promotion.”

Following Molson, Johnstone managed, sold and executed national promotions in conjunction with the NHL, CFL and Toronto Blue Jays. This combination of major event and promotional experience led Johnstone to establish Quattro Communications Inc. in 1996. Motorsports and event management remained a core focus for Johnstone, including acting as Executive Director of the Molson Indy Foundation for 10 years and representing Canadian Champ Car driver Paul Tracy.  zzzz

“The opportunity to join the Grand Prix Association of Toronto combines so many personal passions of mine,” explains Johnstone. “An entrepreneurial spirit and single-minded focus will  turn the Molson Grand Prix into the Crown Jewel of the Champ Car World Series. I am thrilled to be here and you can expect many new and exciting announcements from us in the near future as we rev up for this year’s event.”

New ownership, a new name and now a new person at the helm make this a landmark year for the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto. For the past 20 years Torontonians have celebrated a long-weekend of racing on their streets and 2006 promises to be another spectacular festival of international racing and exciting off-track entertainment. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at www.grandprixtoronto.com and (416)-872-2222.

Racing News
This week's Midweek Motorsport show lineup This week's Midweek Motorsport show lineupThis week's Midweek Motorsport on Globecast (Sky Channel 0157, live at www.radiolemans.com and www.yoursportraio.com) is a frenzy of frenetic F1 frolics!

Almost the whole 2 hours of the show will be dedicated to a team-by-team preview of the coming season.  Joining presenter John Hindhaugh in the studio, will be Globecast's F1 correspondent Nick Daman who will provide his unique insight into the prospects of the runners and riders in 2006, Tim Gray will also be there to provide details of all of the test drivers and who is likely to break through from GP2 while Declan Brennan is there purely there to make sure the conversation does not get too deep and meaningful.

During the show there will be contributions from at least 8 of this season's protagonists as well as Mario Theissen from BMW. As with our recent Nextel Cup preview show, each presenter will be sticking his neck on the line by predicting the top six in this years Driver's Championship.

Later in the second hour of the show, we will be talking to former Indy Lights star and current Porsche Carrera Cup GB Champion, Damien Faulkner in Bahrain where he is racing in the first round of the Porsche Super Cup for Walter Lechner Racing.

If you are in the UK you can tune into Midweek Motorsport on the Sky Platform on Channel 0157, the show is also broadcast live at www.radiolemans.com and www.yoursportraio.com. If you can't catch the show live, it will be available as a podcast from iTunes several hours after the original broadcast.

Midweek Motorsport is broadcast live from London every Wednesday at 8PM GMT or 3PM EST.

CDW Becomes Primary Sponsor of No. 9 CDW/RuSPORT Car CDW Becomes Primary Sponsor of No. 9 CDW/RuSPORT CarVernon Hills, Ill. – CDW Corporation (NASDAQ: CDWC) a leading provider of technology products to business, government and education, today announced it is taking its reputation for technology and high-speed delivery to the racetrack.  CDW will be the primary sponsor of the No. 9 CDW/RuSPORT car driven by Justin Wilson in the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

As part of a multi-year sponsorship, CDW is providing technology equipment by some of its leading business partners to increase the team’s ability to quickly and reliably monitor and improve on and off track performance, giving the CDW/RuSPORT Team an added edge on race day.

CDW partners that are joining in this unique sponsorship with RuSPORT are HP, providing notebooks, printers and video displays; Plantronics, supplying communications headsets; EDGE Tech Corp., providing memory and portable solutions; and Targus, supplying notebook accessories.

“We’re known for delivering technology products to business and public sector customers with speed and accuracy,” said John A. Edwardson, chairman and chief executive officer, CDW.  “In racing, technology, speed and accuracy all come together, so this partnership with the RuSPORT racing team makes perfect sense for us.”

"We are proud to say that CDW is a true member of our team,” said RuSPORT owner Carl Russo.  “At RuSPORT we live in a world of time-based competition and CDW's experts have already given us a competitive edge.  Rapid and effective use of information has enabled us to get to the front and CDW will help us stay there." zzzz

In just two seasons of open-wheel racing, Wilson, 27, has quickly become one of the Champ Car World Series’ most successful young drivers.  In 2004, he was runner-up for the Roshfans Rookie of the Year Award, as well as runner-up for the coveted Autosport International Rookie of the Year Award.

In 14 races last year, Wilson earned 11 top-ten starts and eight top-ten finishes.  He won in Toronto and the final race of the 2005 Champ Car World Series season in Mexico City.  In January, Wilson also was among a team of four drivers to finish second in the famed 24 Hours at Daytona, an annual Grand American endurance race at Daytona International Raceway.  The 2006 season opens April 9 at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Calif.

“I’m looking forward to having CDW support me for the 2006 season.  The technology expertise and equipment they can bring to our team can help us make sure our car is performing at its best, improving my chances on the track.  It’s great to have a lead sponsor that can really be a part of the team and help contribute to victory,” Wilson said.

About CDW
CDW®, ranked No. 347 on the FORTUNE 500, is a leading provider of technology solutions for business, government and education.  CDW is a principal source of technology products and services including top name brands such as Adobe, APC, Apple, Cisco, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, Sony, Symantec, Toshiba and ViewSonic.

CDW was founded in 1984 and today employs approximately 4,300 coworkers. In 2005, the company generated sales of $6.3 billion.  CDW's direct model offers one-on-one relationships with knowledgeable account managers; purchasing by telephone, fax, the company's award-winning CDW.com web site, customized CDW@work™ extranets, CDWG.com web site and macwarehouse.com web site; custom configured solutions and same day shipping; and pre- and post-sales technical support, with approximately 120 factory-trained and A+ certified technicians on staff.

CDW is a registered trademark and CDW@work is a trademark of CDW Corporation.  Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Founded in 2002 and based outside of Denver, Colo., RuSPORT represents the very best in professional motorsports. As part of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford, RuSPORT competes in 15 race events throughout North America and the Pacific Rim. RuSPORT is a two-car team featuring drivers Justin Wilson and A.J. Allmendinger, as well as crew members and support staff from Formula 1, Champ Car, IRL, NASCAR, Trans-Am and Champ Car Atlantic. For more information, please visit http://www.RuSPORT.com.

Daytona Responds to HOF Selection Daytona Responds to HOF SelectionRegarding the selection of Charlotte as the location for NASCAR's Hall of Fame, Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig made the following statement: "While we are disappointed that NASCAR did not choose Daytona Beach as the preferred location for its future Hall of Fame, we are extremely proud of the tremendous efforts put forth by the Daytona Beach/Volusia County organizing committee and its supporters. The delegation submitted an innovative proposal that presented a formidable alternative to the bids developed by Atlanta and Charlotte, and kept Daytona Beach in the running down to the end of this competitive selection process. We are proud of the leadership demonstrated by the Daytona Beach Halifax Area Chamber of Commerce and the Central Florida Sports Commission. Their vision, complemented by the City and County, the State of Florida, the business community, thousands of volunteers and the multitude of fans was unprecedented in our area's history. We appreciate everyone's efforts in this initiative and congratulate the Charlotte delegation on a job well done." Daytona International Speedway
Furniture Row Racing joins with PPI Furniture Row Racing joins with PPINextel Cup's Furniture Row Racing of Denver has joined forces with North Carolina-based PPI Motorsports. The single-car teams agreed to share resources and manpower, according to Furniture Row backup driver Jerry Robertson of Arvada. Robertson, who might replace veteran driver Kenny Wallace in the No. 78 Chevrolet later in the season, will become teammates with PPI driver Travis Kvapil, who drives the No. 32 Tide-sponsored Chevy. Denver Post
Gordon gets waxed in Vegas Gordon gets waxed in VegasMadame Tussauds Las Vegas will make Jeff Gordon just the second auto racing figure to grace its SPEED attraction when it unveils a life-sized wax attraction of "The Rainbow Warrior" at 2:00pm/pt, Wednesday, March 8, at Madame Tussauds at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, 3377 Las Vegas Boulevard South. SPEED is an interactive attraction dedicated to auto racing that was opened in August 2005 with a meticulously recreated $200,000 wax figure of Dale Earnhardt, the legendary "Intimidator" of NASCAR. Gordon will now join Earnhardt in the attraction. Adrian Jones, general manager of Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, Chris Powell, general manager of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, will participate in the unveiling of the Gordon figure. The figure of Gordon will be unveiled in an official driving uniform and be situated in a high-energy, winning setting of Victory Lane. Visitors will be able to stand next to the figure and feel the sights and sounds of one of the most thrilling moments in NASCAR history. Madame Tussauds Las Vegas PR
What to look for at Sebring What to look for at SebringThe American Le Mans Series begins its season March 18 with a very special 54th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The storylines are as exciting as they have ever been in the history of this storied race:

• The world debut of Audi’s new R10 turbo diesel is expected to lead the pack. Among its team of LMP1 drivers will be Tom Kristensen who has won more titles (7) in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s greatest sports car race. Kristensen also holds a record six consecutive Le Mans titles going into this summer’s classic.

While Kristensen, Alan McNish and Dindo Capello pilot one Audi, defending Series’ champions Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro along with Marco Werner drive the other. Should Kristensen or Biela win at Sebring, they would become Sebring’s all-time champion with four victories.

Audi’s R10 replaces its R8 which won 47 of the 56 races it ran in the American Le Mans Series from 2000-2005 – an incredible achievement - including wins last year at the endurance classics of Sebring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans. The entire racing world awaits Audi’s newest rendition deemed by some to be the greatest sports car ever built! Time will tell. But it all begins at Sebring.

• Roger Penske, one of the most revered names in motorsports, returns to his roots at Sebring, where he first raced as a driver in 1961 and last raced as an owner in 1971. Penske Racing brings a two-car effort to the American Le Mans Series grid this year in the form of Porsche’s latest racing achievement – the RS Spyder, which dominated the LMP2 class in its debut last year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the Series’ finale. Sasha Maassen and Lucas Luhr return while Patrick Long, winner of the Series’ GT2 championship a year ago, gets his first taste in a prototype.

Meanwhile, Clint Field and Liz Halliday return in LMP2 to battle with Penske Racing and defend Intersports class championship.

• Corvette, led by the team of Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell, has dominated GT1 class since the series inception with 40 career Corvette wins. Fellows leads the Series in career wins along with teammate Johnny O’Connell and reigning champion Oliver Beretta with 24 – all Corvette drivers! O’Connell leads in career starts with 53. They will be challenged in ’06 by a formidable team of Aston Martins, headed by Prodrive. A year ago, an Aston Martin beat the Corvettes at Sebring.

• More than a dozen manufacturers and 37 cars will be on the American Le Mans Series Sebring grid, including the return of BMW and Ferrari. Newcomer Lexus joins the class in Round 2 at Houston.

[Editor's Note: 37 cars is the smallest entry list for Sebring for as long as we can remember. Back in 2003 67 cars were entered. Having two sportcars series in the USA is hurting both sides. Although Grand-Am has a healthy car count now, it's still being propped up by the France family and can't be justified commercially based on race attendance or TV ratings.]

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Toyota 'not fast enough' - Ralf
Police clock Frentzen at 210kph
Michelin still seething at FIA U-turn
Gene and Stoddart team up again
Murray Walker joins Honda
F1 gets permanent FIA steward
Haug plays down McLaren crisis
Renault gets new look for Bahrain
Early wins may be out of reach - Schu
F1 war is nearly over, Bernie says
Button's not a top-3 driver - experts
Rossi plans mid-year F1 decision
Bernie pushed for Rosberg debut
F1's Jordan returns to banking
Schu is still top F1 earner
Cosworth on top in V8 race
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